I’ve deleted what I’ve started with about six times, trying to get at the right words to describe this experience. But, like a house of cards, the words I put together just don’t hold up how incredible a show this was.
We played at Someplace Else in Kolkata, by all measures a successful gig. But when we decided to do something offbeat, like playing at a home for abandoned kids, we had no clue what to expect. And there was plenty on our plate that night.
On March 1, 2009 Swarathma showed up at Child Care Home, more a fortress (with barbed wire icing on the 12 foot walls) than a home for children, and began unloading strange boxes and cases before the bemused staff. Cassini’s Division and the Supersonics generously donated stage amps and one Dolon from Gol Park did sound for the princely sum of Rs 1,600. (Yes!)
The venue was a covered terrace atop the home, and there was no stage. But this show was about the audience: girls from 4 to 16, picked up by cops, rescued from traffickers, children of sex workers… kids so far removed from the kids we’ve met that we wondered whether we would be able to connect to them at all.
The fun didn’t end there. The neighbours, incensed that these children from another planet were having fun, called the police. Tense moments ensued, as they threatened to shut us down. We stripped down the sound – unmiked the kit, used just a snare and no toms, switched off the PA and played on monitors. But who cared! When the Ghodi made her entrance, there were frissons of delight that ran through the 100 odd girls. They danced like there was no tomorrow!
The girls were beside themselves with joy, serving us tea and snacks with much care in the ‘after-party’ if we might call it that. We had an interesting chat with the people that run it – the Women’s Interlink Foundation. We intend to do something more with them, but that’s another post.
Each of us felt at a loss for words when they eagerly thrust the guest book in our hands. Just as I am now.
Text: Jishnu Dasgupta
Images Courtesy: The Red Bantoo