June 6, 2012
A very uneventful—yet luxurious day. Today’s main event was reading: plays of Girish Karnad and Dickens’ “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” When I thought about this trip in Tucson, I kept dreaming of the day that I could spend just reading for leisure, living the life of a professional actor. Today was that day. It felt wonderful, though getting my energy up for the show was a little more of a chore. We had a good show, though, so no worries!
June 7, 2012
A day of Bangalore adventure today: we ventured out to see Tipu Sultan’s summer palace and the Bull Temple. We hired a car to drive us to the other side of the city—always an enjoyable adventure in and of itself. Watching the city roll by outside the car windows is fascinating. Besides the cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, scooters and autorickshaws, there is the occasional cart drawn by oxen. Dusty shops selling sundries for daily living sit beside Nike outlet stores and McDonalds (oh, why is that the symbol of America the world over?).
Our driver dropped us off at the palace and we proceeded to what we thought was the entrance. We were immediately accosted and told to remove our shoes (dumb Americans). I was actually kind of delighted that I got to wander inside barefoot, unencumbered by footwear! Inside, there was some wonderful sculpture and paintings of Indian gods and goddesses, but not much else. We could see some fancier buildings over one of the walls, and we had seen some gardens on the way in, but could find no way to get to them.
Disappointed, we left and were putting our shoes on again, when one of the attendants told us that the entrance to Tipu Sultan’s palace was around the corner; we had actually wandered into a local temple! So we headed around the corner and enjoyed a visit to the summer palace. The palace was built about 1790 and there wasn’t much left of it, but it was still cool to see the structure and the Indian architecture that was intact. We had fun taking photos of each other standing in ornate doorways. We even had young Indian boys asking to take their photos with us (“Let’s get a photo with the big white guy!”), which was an experience I would never have at home!
Next, we went to a nearby temple that featured a massive sculpture of a bull (Nandi). Again, we had to be reminded to take our shoes off (dumb Americans). The sculpture was a monolith about eight feet high and twice as long, decorated with garlands of flowers. As we entered, there was an attendant holding a small tray with an oil lamp and a bowl of red pigment. I had seen this in Indian movies and watched others do this ritual as they entered before us: one cups one’s hand over the flame and then gestures as if pouring the essence of the flame over one’s head. Then, one dips a finger in the red pigment and puts a dot on one’s forehead (in my case, the attendant did so for me). Then we walked all around the sculpture and, before leaving, touched its side and asked a blessing. It was an unexpectedly moving moment. I’m always deeply affected when one culture shares its spirituality with another. I was quite privileged to have that moment at the temple.
Next, we headed back to Whitefield and to lunch at a restaurant run by a young couple: Mariannick’s. If anyone is ever in Bangalore, do not miss this restaurant! The wife is French, the husband is British (of Indian descent, I believe) and they make the most mind-blowing pizza you’ll ever taste. The meal started with a huge salad which was delicious (all the books about India warn you away from fresh produce, but Patty had eaten here earlier in the week and had no problems). I then reveled in a goat cheese and red onion jam pizza that was out of this world. We splurged for dessert and split a crème caramel and crème brulee and took home two slices of cheesecake (chocolate toffee and banana toffee; dessert came with the prix fixe meal). It was a world class meal and a jewel in the middle of Bangalore. I’m definitely goin’ back!
It was a good show tonight, though I felt I was a little sloppy. I think it was just a bit of fatigue from the activities of the day. Cindy assured us that the small audience was extremely impressed, so even a sloppy show seems to be accomplishing something. We’ve been talking about how nice it is to have an extended run of this play. I’ve always said one never really knows a play until about the 25th performance. I think today was our 20th, so there’s still more learning yet to come – hooray!