Festival of India 2006

After the Croatian festival, I didn't think there could be a smaller gathering that advertised itself as a festival. I was wrong.

The Festival of India, which I attended on Saturday October 28th 2006, was located in a house near Golden Gate Park. The bottom two floors were devoted to the community center -I forget the name-; the top floor was rented out.

Like the Croatian festival, this was expensive ($10). And also like the Croatian festival, one movie made the trip neat. And I got to talk to someone interesting for a while. (However, the movie and the festival as a whole weren't as fun as their counterparts at the Croatian festival.)

I arrived at noon, intending to use the festival as lunch. This didn't work. The only food they provided was typically boring snacks: carrots and dip, bread, cream cheese, peanut butter, etc. The artichoke cream dip was the only thing that made eating anything worthwhile.

I spent fifteen minutes exploring the festival: the small book scale, a few saris hanging from the walls, and a few other trinkets for sale. Other than that, I mostly sat, read, eavesdropped on the astrologer/fortune teller, and waited for the movies to begin. With the awesomeness of the Croatian movie still fresh in my mind, I wanted to stay and give the showings here a chance.

While waiting, they brought out (surprise!) some real Indian food they brought. I had a tasty and perfect samosa, though perfect may be my exaggerated happiness at finally getting something good, a large potato pancake thing, and a decent though overly minted garbanzo bean stew.

Digression: One surprising feature of the festival was the crowd. It was half-white, mostly typical Californian yoga fanatics and people obsessed with Indian mysticism.

Anyway, let's get to the movies. They were showing two shorts by Satyajit Ray, a prolific Indian director. They were nicely introduced by a UCSC professor who has dedicated much time to tracking down the prints and restoring them. He told us some interesting stories, including one sad one about a fire in England that destroyed some reels of film. The company holding them was reluctant to reveal the fact that they burned.
* The Inner Eye. A documentary about Binode Bihari Mukherjee, a famous painter who goes blind after a failed cataract operation. Could've been much better. For instance, after he lost his sight, the film pans silently over works he later produced. We don't see his struggles with his lack of vision. We don't know how art critics reacted to his post-transformation work.
* Two. A poignant silent (music and sound effects but no speaking) film about a rich kid with many toys and a poor (and darker-skinned) child that lives nearby in poverty with few toys. Excellent. A tale about envy, schadenfreude, one-up-man-ship, and simplicity.

Besides Two, the festival had only one other redeeming feature: a person I met named Charles. We had a neat conversation in which he mentioned two performance groups I hadn't heard of: a high-quality Balinese orchestra based in El Cerrito (they have music videos online; apparently their performances involve more than just music -- I don't really understand it), and a troupe of shadow puppeteers based in SF (also with videos and pictures online). I should one day go to a performance by one of these groups.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your sidebar about the samosa was cute :)