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It rained heavily at Heggodu, this culture camp,
it rained stealthily.
It rained words, big and small,
words from stalwarts, pretenders and all.
The culture village was made up,
dressed-up hearty and hale,
to pry on matters of its bully,
to listen to the city’s tale.

Covers were off, to begin,
and a pantheon of wisdom revealed,
a reflection of a glorious past,
dusted, sparkling and cleaned.
Standing in for URA,
whom Frankfurt lured with books;
Gray-haired Gireddi, a Gulbarga gaffer,
announced Akshara’s arrival into history’s nooks.

Samik-da, the intellect inside a frame, short and old,
had about modern cities, an opinion formed;
splitting gluttonous cosmos from the creative polis,
he laid bare a conformity that had deformed.
As an adjunct, citing literature,
Manu Chakravarthi came learning, swarming,
with a chronicle of tales, he regaled,
a feast awaited, as he was just warming.

The debate on Cosmopolis rested,
for another storm was brewing.
Shakespeare has many followers,
but this Tempest, even he must be ruing.
Dull, loud and showy,
this had none of Ninasam’s fire,
evidently, next morning,
burning fiery was Sudeshna’s ire.

Prakash Belawadi tried hard,
with a speech, unprepared and undercooked,
trying to rip the politics of technology,
an assault over monopoly, it looked.
This was better, as followed
from Raghunandan, a theater-man,
a tirade, utterly uncontrolled,
seeking justice for the also-ran.

Keeram watched, surprised with irritation,
so when the time came for all to be told,
he tore into theories questionable and derisive,
with the calm of a man, wise and old.
A pleasure after all, it had been earlier,
when this man of Kannada wisdom,
dribbled all past questions and riddles,
posed by the language’s literary kingdom.

The second play was even worse,
worse than Birugaali of yesterday.
Crass, it was, no class to be seen,
a dramatic arsonist, it made us pay.
Undadi Gunda, or whatever it was,
had pleased even Sudeshna, a volte-face?
Had it not been for Manu C,
this would have been a biased case.

Manu C, came armed to the mike,
with scalpels, scissors, made of words,
used it like an inch-perfect surgeon would,
or how a Samurai brandished his swords.
Teasingly, questioningly, needling, he asked
“Do you not respect your intellect?”
By blasting its patrons for celebrating a dud,
he had killed an uprising, before it could collect.

The platform was set,
for the most serious of speakers,
Lakshmish Tulpadi, serene and calm,
who thoughtfully untied, philosophical creepers.
On the theory of awareness, he deliberated
espousing the struggle, turmoil and twirl,
when the inner mind tries to connect,
with the awareness of the world.

Clouds were clearing,
as entered the storyteller, above par.
Mischievous, funny and street-smart,
he was Chandrashekar Kambar.
Making fun of concepts,
yawning intentionally at theory,
he showed how it is told,
with truth and lies, a story.

“We might forget to tell tales,
like we have always told.
If children aren’t taught to concoct and invent,
our culture, like American, will be sold.”
So saying, Kambar mimicked,
the utter western paucity,
where an American kid’s average story,
goes “… 480, 260… 120”.

Ashish Nandy revitalised the city’s tale,
the city, dark at times, while at times, lost.
“Nostalgia enlivens what time overlapped,
modernity prospered at the city’s cost.”
In the eyes of the loyalist,
lies a view of the city,
which being his own when the city dies,
brings with melancholy, a kind of self-pity.

To substantiate the theory of a city’s life,
screened was a visual document,
Seven Islands and a Metro,
on the city of cities, being an insider’s comment.
Madhushree Dutta’s view of Mumbai,
exposed its niceties and warts,
a good account of a city diverse,
which, if anything, is a sum of its parts.

To wrap it up for cosmopolitanism,
Vaidehi forwarded a splendid cry.
A story-teller of rare honesty,
a magnificent recipe, did she try.
She told her true story,
a transformation from timidity to confidence,
a tale so simple; she exuberant,
told with no high-handed pretence.

The air that theater had jarred,
could music refresh and clean?
Yes (emphatically)! Two performances,
that pleased ears, for soothing, keen.
Alka Devi Marolkar, with Hindustani,
Sikkil Gurucharan, a Carnatic,
refreshed the cultural evenings,
energising what had become static.

One master-class waited,
as Manu C laid claim to further honours.
Gurucharan took his queries,
while the former cut no corners.
No easy questions were asked,
the singer, the connoisseur engaged in a healthy spar.
“Why, what, how, is it?” followed,
by the end, who was the bigger star?

As if to suggest
the worth of simplicity,
with substance apropos,
and practising austerity,
Ganesh and friends produced,
the saga of a criminal caste,
in a jam-packed theater,
Uchalya, untouchable, made chaste.

Fortunes had changed,
dramatically (pun intended) for sure,
Akshara’s Krama Vikrama,
gave Measure for Measure.
Played by non-professionals,
and directed with respect,
despite the profanity,
this was a winning prospect.

Rounding off in style,
Tarkovsky lay siege.
Solaris, for the untrained viewer,
came with no ready ease.
The story of loss, science, humanity,
did put some to sleep.
But as a film of importance,
this was a clean sweep.

A week had passed,
a village witnessed an event,
where the city’s hidden rags,
were displayed, perhaps to prevent,
more such cities of future,
being built on cultural destruction.
Yet, prevention may not be possible,
for, doesn’t history practice recursion?

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