Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bengali Players - 2 (Mansur Bhai)

"Mansur Bhai, wherever you are, please report to the stage."

This, and similar calls, are familiar to any Bengali show attendant. The show, slated to start at 6 pm SHARP (printed in bold on the ticket), indicates an 8 pm start. We arrive at 6.30, and once our hands are stamped with a dollar store toy, directed to our seats by a well-dress female volunteer in a sari. A couple of deckhands are on stage, arranging the lights for Act 1 when the above announcement rings out.

"Mansur Bhai, aapni jekhani thakun, monch-e ashoon."

We find our Mansur Bhai, a harried 26 year old who has long left university but still helps out the students due to this female student he had met in his final year who is completing her Masters, hurries over to the MC.

The MC is a second year guy with glasses, hair that could need combing, freckles. He looks like Bill Gates, minus the dollars.

"Mic 1 and 4 are not working." He proclaims in a self-important voice. He feels proud that he has organized the Mics into numbers.

"Mic 1?" Mansur Bhai scratches his head. "Which is that?"

"1 and 4." The MC waits patiently. When it is clear Mansur Bhai is not getting it he utters in frustration, "In Ghorer Alo, 1 is to be used by Jashim, while 4 is Adiba’s."

"Oh, then why didn’t you say so?" Mansur turns towards the dressing rooms, leaving behind the MC muttering something about Bangladeshis never progressing due to lack of organization. He finds Jashim in the guy’s room, and looks at Mic 1. And turns it on. Utters something about universities turning out dumbasses and walks to the girls’ room. Pausing outside, popping a Polo Mint into his mouth, making sure he is zipped up, knocks. Firmly, he hopes.

"Come in."

He hesitatingly enters. Adiba looks at him enquiringly.

Adiba, the Bangladeshi who would fit smugly in Bollywood. Always impeccably dressed, with the pallu of a sari slung seductively over her shoulder at a Bengali meet, or in tight Gucci jeans and Schenze T-shirt at a club, Adiba could flirt outrageously with just her eyes.

"I am here ... you said Mic 3 ... 5 ... your thing is not working?" Mansur Bhai blurts out.

"Oh yes." Adiba sashays over to him. "Dekhen na. Eta kaaaaaj korchena." She stares straight at him.

"Oh." Mansur Bhai chokes. "Where is the mic?"

"Here. On the lapel of my blouse."

"Oh," Mansur starts to sweat. "Can you give it to me please?"

A hint of a mischievous smile plays across Adiba’s lips. "I just put makeup cream on my hands." She held them up as if she had applied henna. "You have to take it out."

"I … I … ", Mansur Bhai was saved further anguish by the door slamming open and Reshma Apu storming in. Older, slightly overweight after skipping the gym once too many times, Reshma was the picture of the harried organizer. She clearly wanted to say something to Adiba but focused on Mansur Bhai.

"Why are you here?"

"He was looking at why this is not working." Adiba had meanwhile unclasped the mic and handed it to him. She did not want trouble with Reshma Apu. Glad for the effort, Mansur looked at the mic. It was set on the incorrect broadcast channel. He quickly reset it and spoke into it.

"Tesh-ting, Ha-one! Two! Di-ree! Tesh-ting, Ha-one! Two! Di-ree!"

The MC heard the sudden outburst of accented counting. Immediately he rushed into his stall and grabbed the broadcast mic, labeled Mic 0.

"Mansur Bhai, wherever you are, please report to the stage. AT ONCE."

A snippet, inspired by the announcement I heard recently at an Eid function. Based on a true story. No point to it really, except that it's so easy to critize shows that are produced by hardworking volunteers whose only rewards may be some kind words. By some Adiba.

BTW I encourage all to attend the BSA shows. They are well produced, starts on time, and feature excellent variety.


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