The Mela was an experience. The Mort Ka Kua was particularly impressive - 2 guys doing mental tings in a centrifugal fashaan with motorbikes and a car. They would be genius in traffic, although you might shite yourself if you were their passenger. Somewhat less impressive was the circus (bit of a misnomer really as it was effectively only a short magic show). The extensive signage looked (unintentionally) hilarious and alluring with promises of levitating skulls, vampires and Bollywood babes being saw-milled in half. Sadly, but not surprisingly, this was merely a ruse to fill the seats (which had no bottoms to them so when you sat down you got stuck – I think this also may have been a deliberate ploy to keep punters from leaving after the matinee had begun and did not live up to its promises). Men had to sit to one side of the tent and women the other. I’m not sure what they were expecting to happen if men and women sat together. I myself did not find the show over stimulating or especially arousing.
After extensive hyping by the guy outside the tent for about half an hour or so, the magic began. We waited with baited breath.... Two masculine-looking hijras (transgenders – look out Debbie McGee) stood on stage looking bored out of their skulls (disappointingly no levitating was involved with those) and a “magician” who looked like a Desi version of the Lone Ranger ran through some outrageously bad tricks in a similarly comatose fashion. The “best” trick was a floating/moving ball held behind a sheet, which he held in front of his crotch whilst doing a little dance. This gave the impression of a pulsating erection. There were children in the audience, shame on him. All the while the Desi Ranger was flanked by his two swaying/pouting hijra assistants. This scene will be indelibly etched into my mind for time immemorial (in the section that stores surreal and ludicrous experiences).
During the performance the Desi Ranger made use of an exceptionally loud sound system to explain what he was doing (forget sleight of hand – I think the sound system was used for the purpose of distraction as we sat wincing with fingers in ears). The soundtrack to this magical extravaganza was a manic Bhangra mashup of what I think was “Club Tropicana”. The local attendees seemed to absolutely love the show. Indians are a great crowd to play to. Penn and Teller would send them into a frenzy. No wonder I had such fun last year when I played music here. You can basically do anything and they will love it (perhaps that doesn’t say much about the quality aspect, but the enjoyment aspect goes through the roof!).
Nix found the only hijra in the village (Mangla tells us that Angelina is Omkareshwar’s solo transgender) at the show. She was sitting next to her in the female section, so Nix took the opportunity to get her number and ask her if she can photograph her to continue her hijra story from last year.
Komal, God (or should I say Bhagawan) bless him, kept us plied with chai throughout the night. He seems to know everyone in town, and jumped on various chai stalls to brew us up VIP teas as we moved about the festival. Nobody seemed to mind, and we loved it. Chai is good any time. Mangla acted as bodyguard against drunken Indian guys ;) I wouldn’t mess with her. She might be tiny, but she can give a serious ear bashing.
Nix found a snake in the toilet today. Who needs Toilet Duck when you have Toilet Saap? We were told that it’s poisonous. I have no idea if it was or not but it was fascinating to watch nonetheless. It was quite beautiful in it’s in own right – shining brown coloured with white/grey stripes running along the body. I let Mangla know we have a guest and her normally smiling face turned to one of horror and she started screaming for Mamaji. I was somewhat taken aback by the strength of her reaction and asked her not to kill it (as it wasn’t actually harming anyone), but her response was that a snake is a snake and that one had badly bitten her father.... All a matter of perspective I guess, like everything else in life. At this point Mamaji leapt (literally) into action with a stick, nearly knocking the tin roof off the toilet in her eagerness to chase the snake away. Nix and I were canning ourselves with laughter to see this little old lady in a sari going after the snake in full power mode. The snake began to writhe around (I would have too) and slid off to the relative safety of the darker recesses of the roof. We think it’s still lurking there somewhere. Should keep us on our toes during late night toilet trips ;)
I keep smacking my head on doorframes all over the place. They are way too low for me in India. I’m not exactly what you would call tall, but I seem to be a Goliath compared to the average Indian. Darth Vader would get properly hacked off moving about here. “Luke, join me and together we can.... Ouch! For fuck’s sake.... Goddam these bloody doors.”