Wednesday, December 15, 2004

SOMI TO ZETTE: FedEx will pick up the package this afternoon. They say it will be delivered Friday. I will mail you the Airway Bill and Tracking numbers.... It is coming as an unsolicited gift as advised by the FedEx person.... It will have a lock on a latch. The key will come in an envelope with the FedEx guy. I will bring the spare key with me.

The box will weigh 17kg and will contain:

1 Potloi [bride's wedding dress]

1 raw silk bride's blouse

1 gauzy Innaphee Bride's wrap

1 Bride's tiara

3 imitation jewelry necklaces

4 imitation jewelry bracelets

1 Groom's cotton pheijom (dhoti like, with purple printed pattern)

1 Groom's cotton pumyat with fake buttons (kurta)

1 Groom's cotton shawl

1 Groom's turban

2 white presentation cotton innaphees

2 fuschia cotton wraps

10 paper Bride dolls

5 mini braziers made of recycled cans

Do I see you Sunday at 2 for Yoshiko"s. Shall that be our get-together if she is not too tired? I leave tomorrow for Bangkok and will have dinner with Manuel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

ZETTE: Yes, send [the wedding dress] etc to Valrae - I can hardly wait to see it.  Is the jewelry going to be in there too, or will you bring the small bits with you? 

It really is Christmas in overdrive here,  and the weather is about to turn cold, so get ready!  It's been mild since we all got back, but that's about to end.  I ran into Jacob without Yoshiko at a Hanukkah party on Friday!  It was funny to hear his version of how Yoshiko described the trip.  He did know about her interest in the guards.   Please have a safe trip - it was not so bad coming back packed into coach class, as long as you have a neck pillow, sleep mask, and are sitting on the aisle.  Much better than I thought it would be. 

Monday, December 13, 2004

BONNIE: I am sending regards to all the Manipur Field Trippers from New York City.  Please stop by to see the new show by Yoshiko and friends at Asia Society, information below. I hope you are all getting back to normal.  My jet lag is insufferable! 


Conceived and directed by choreographer Yoshiko Chuma, Game/Play is a madcap, cross-cultural performance which explores the world of games through dance, music and words. Dozens of games are packed into the performance - from children's clapping games to jump rope to rhyming word games, to gambling - which is at times provocative, at times contemplative, but always playful. The stage includes 4 seven-by-seven foot cube frames, which rotate and change position evoking dice, a chessboard floor and video projections. The piece is performed by 12 dancers and musicians from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Myanmar (Burma) including a Japanese children's song singer, Balinese and Korean child dancers and a classical Burmese dancer. It can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

MIKE'S NOTE TO A FRIEND: When I unpacked my treasured T-shirt I found it reads "Manipur Baseball" not "Manipuri Baseball" (which I think is what I told you.) It also has a small round logo on the back shoulder which reads Manipur Amateur Baseball Association (and something in Manipuri) in a circle; and inside the circle there is a silhouette of a baseball hitter and an image of the lion/dragon which symbolizes Manipur. I forget what it's called, but I can find out these things from Somi if you like.  Anyhow, it's a great T-shirt (black on grey) and I've asked Somi to try to bring some more when he comes back to New York in a couple of weeks. This is because I've found people here fascinated by this whole story and I've decided to form a Board of Directors for the project and I want them to have the T-shirts.  These will be people from baseball itself (players and others), writers, influential people who love the game.

For Americans, baseball is such a joyous game.  We love the look of it, the dual emphasis on the individual and on the team, the fact that it has no time constraints (theoretically a game could go on forever), its beauty, its history. I think the Manipuri players feel much of the same thing.  They really love the game and they want to see it flourish in Manipur. So do I.  It's a graceful game that somehow seems right even in such a remote and different culture.  But it can have its place in a land of grace, of subtle dance traditions and delicate music and glamorous polo.  An enchanting juxtaposition.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

ERIN: Have been asked by Leila's school to do a little presentation on
Manipur for 4-5 year olds. Trying to figure out what to do. Have them dance to
Dave's music, maybe show them a video of one of Rase's dances. Maybe a
thang-ta exercise. Any ideas?

Am also about to write Theatre Journal and ask if they want a performance
review of Rose of Lidice.... That's my news for now...

Monday, December 06, 2004

ERIN: And I really want to send you a report on the Women's Market -- because for me it wasn't as much about shopping as about a visit to a place where women are powerful in the real sense of the word, a place that is a political center, a place where women really cooperate rather than compete with each other, a place where Bonnie and I (on our first visit with Ranjana) were joyously welcomed (both in phanek so that had something to do with it) and the women were so pleased -- it was like a social visit. None of that pull to buyt this, look at that.

When we went later in the week with Teja, he took us all around and then took us to meet his aunt. So we made a personal visit at the Women's Market -- which seemed perfect -- the idea that you go to the market to visit a friend, to gossip, to talk about pollitics, to do whatever. In other words, it is a social center. Who are the govt officials trying to move them inside to a structure? I'm sure they ahve good impulses (in the rainy season it can't be easy to sit out there all day) but it will ocmpletely change the tone of the place.

So, in other words, when you write about the Women's Market I would love to see you write about it as a social and political center, a meeting place, and a place where women have control, where women call the shots, where women treat themselves and each other with respect, and how Bonnie and I felt drawn into that. It's much more than a place to shop. Oh, did I mention I think it's probably also a cultural center in many ways? But that's just a guess -- the first observations areclear to me just from experiencing the place.
ERIN: Just for the record we did see some of the [Maha Ras] rehearsal. Not endless amounts, and we did get
stuck doing all the puja stuff, but enough to see how rehearsal works and is structured, and the range of dance abilities, and the range of reasons for doing it -- which are so evident in the body language. It's really clear that some of the women love to dance, some of them are there for the social life of it, and some are clearly forced to be there by their families.

And some of them love to use their bodies, and some of them wish they could get through life without bodies at all.

ERIN: Thanks for the reassurance about Lokendra Arambam. I just want to make sure we don't behave caually with respect to people'e time.

Can't wait to see the Lidice video -- I'm still planning to run away from home and join the sumang lila. As for WTC, although I think your video is great, it didn't do justice to the live performance -- video rarely does. And I know that I liked the video but was absolutely BLOWN AWAY (oops -- maybe that's not the right choice of words) by the WTC show when it was live. I think it's one of the best things I've seen, bar none, in recent years.

And I wasn't joking when I told the performers and Dr. Nara that I think i'ts a really important piece of work. (By the way, think Dr. Nara is doing amazing things with this sumang lila troupe -- using these plays as a way to spread peace. That's a very savvy use of performance, and his scripts are quite savvy too.)
ERIN: Does Dr. Nara have the scripts for Lidice and WTC? I know they improvise as well, but some scnes are tightly
scripted. Also: at some point would love to have him articulate his vision for these plays, why he does them, his role as producer, etc. Maybe via an email exchange?
ERIN: Just read through your blog, which is absolutely fantastic. Really loved reading it. Need to fill you in on trips to the Women's Market, however, which is, as you know, an absolutely amazing place, I don't want to articualte it right now, becuase my head is not in the right place, and I won't do it justice, but will soon.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

ZETTE: I have been labeling photos since I got up this morning - no end in sight, I was just sending you an email when I got your blog - I willfill in the museum visit that Bonnie and I made - I also have the complete list of attendees. The photos of groups will be precious to those who werethere. Lots of good ones, many duds of course too, but they may be of historical interest.

We will make Sibley squirm with shame when he sees the Thanksgiving documentation, ha ha ha...

It's hard to talk about the trip here, people are so busy and cluelesss, butit's what I expected. I want to call you tonight, about 7:30 a.m. yourtime, and ask about potloi updates. I still want some dolls too, samples. I will try to figure out how to email you some photos without the files being too large. I'm going swimming, and then back here to the computer again for the rest of the day. weather is nice, but coldish. I can hardlywait until Bonnie and Yoshiko are back.

Love to Imasi, tell her I saw the original of her portrait at the NGMA, andeveryone knows her there - Rajeev L. the director was impressed.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

SOMI: I am still savoring the aftertaste of your visit. I truly enjoyed it so much. It was a most amazing experience for me after, what, these two years of planning?

I have met and talked to most of the folks you met - some drop by, missing you - and you have made such an impression, and gave so much in a way Manipur has really never seen before. You have all made some real friends. I am sure only good things can come of this and i am dying to sit down with all of you and shoot the breeze.

For now, I have done my final schedule which i will send on to Ralph, insert into the website etc. Soplease take a look and see if i have gotten anything wrong, missed out on anything? I must have for there are like 75 listed. As you will see, i want to give the range of all your interaction,s both as a group and individually.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


It was an extraordinary visit, full of magic and beauty and revelation.
You did an amazing job of pulling so much together, and must be
exhausted but hopefully happy.

I'm sure you want our opinions, so let me summarize what I most loved
as well as some pitfalls to look out for in the future.

The best, as they come to mind:

Your mother, her still center. We can all learn so much from her.

Dave, who is a remarkable young man, sensitive, responsible,
intelligent. I know all of us in his house felt he made a huge contribution to
our visit.

Just about everybody we met for their unstinting generosity and
kindness. I'm happy that they are your Manipur. Of course, particularly the
incredible kindness of the Thoudam family.

The first evening at your house. The delicacy and power of the music.
I was transported. I'd gone to a new world.

The dance rehearsal. Grace, subtlety, control.

Manipuri polo. The glamour of the hills. The thrill and joy.

The field. of dreams, which I thought perfect for our needs. How
wonderful that you found such a perfect place. We must now make it happen.

The baseball games, tears in my eyes, I was so happy.

Ras Lila, the unbelievable spectacle, the mournful delicate sound of
Radha's voice. I wish I could have stayed to the end for the union,
but I was building a fever which actually lasted into Calcutta where I
slept 13 hours and began a recovery (sadly couldn't make it to
Prit's performance).

There were hundreds of other wonderful experiences, but those I've
listed affected me most personally.

On the pitfall side:

Overprogramming. I know you want to show us everything wonderful, but
some prioritization must happen, some selection. We had insufficient
time to digest what we experienced, and most of us were exhausted,which
is why so many fell ill.

Proper preparation for the weather. I know I suffered particularly
from the cold because I didn’t get you last emails, but in any case
people must be aware of the temperature shifts and the conditions (that is,
that so much is done outside at night).

I think that's all for now, except to say I hope some concrete good
will come of all this. I have developed great admiration and affection
for the Manipuri people.