By V Karunasagari
The easiest way to get to a good kutcheri is by an autorickshaw. No need to worry about parking spaces. No need to worry about signals on the main road because if your Google map shows you the route to your destination, your Auto Anna always has a better route. No need to haggle your head off before or after a wonderful (or not so wonderful) concert because now you have the meter as well. So the protagonist of every concert is an autowala!
Why? Because he knows the in and out of all the sabhas!
Hold it right there!
He knows the ‘out’ of every sabha, but does he really know the ‘in’?
It was two days before my concert at one of the Chennai sabhas. I took an auto from T.M Krishna’s concert. It was late and I could say that my Auto Anna was really tired. Before I opened my mouth to ask, he answered.
“Meter thaan. Ukkaarunga (You will pay only according to the meter, sit down).” Both of us relaxed after that. He started the conversation, “Amma, I want to ask you a question, if you won’t be offended. Can only Brahmins sing or dance?”
I was quite astonished at the general perception we artists have caused, but hid my shock and simply answered, “Anna, if that was true, I wouldn’t be dancing either. Besides me, our institution also takes class in rural and tribal areas; in a few years we will have great dancers from the remotest of places!” I really wanted to convince him that it was not really the way he thought. So I invited him to my concert at Mylapore Fine Arts. I was so happy to say it was free and he didn’t need to worry about buying tickets. He still looked uncomfortable. He said, “It might be free, but the place will be filled with people like you, won’t it? See, if I am coming, I will come with the same uniform and I will really look odd among people like you”
That really stung me. I was dressed in a very simple cotton saree with jewellery picked from the gypsy who sits outside the Kapaleeswara temple, but he still said ‘People like you’
I was almost home. I got down, paid and gave him an invite and asked him to attend my dance. He said he would try if he didn’t have a savaari at that time. This Auto Anna really disturbed me. I didn’t share the incident with anyone but I had a dream that night.
It was a huge sabha. I could feel the tension because the slot was mine. I could see the parking ground of the very prestigious sabha.And LO! It had only Autos!!
Here’s the dream inspired by my dream: The next Touching Society initiative of my school Bhakti Natya Niketan will be a show for the autowalas of Coimbatore before June this year. Wish us success! If you can make it to the show, do take an auto!