For the uninformed, Senate Hall, right here in Trivandrum, is playing host to a so-called international magic conference, Vismayam 2008. Ma procured a couple of ‘hard to get’ passes. Since I enjoy freeloading as much as the next person, I went. And so it was that an extremely-irritated-owing-to-a-dreadful-may-day-and-lack-of-nicotine-and-alcohol g-man made his way to Senate Hall. Upon entering the hall (it’s a pretty big one, with a balcony n shit) yours truly was given the option of sitting anywhere in the last 12 rows of seats. Apparently, the 1000 seats up front were reserved for ‘delegates’. ‘Delegates’, here, literally meant any person related to one (or more) of the magicians or members of the Magic Academy who were there to attend the conference, the relation being not in any way more distant than an umpteenth cousin, thrice removed. Obviously, there was a lot more than just 1000 people who came in that category. Thankfully, I was sitting in a seat where I could see what happened on stage, unlike the poor people whose view was stymied by three giant camera crews, bang in the middle of the central aisle. Later, I would wish I was one of those people whose view was stymied or even one of those cameramen so that I could throw one of those huge, bulky cameras that blocked everyone’s view so that their view would no longer be blocked and they too would be prompted to throw something huge and bulky and dense on to the stage. But we’ll get to that later on…
The ticket said ‘Be seated by 6.15’ and so we (dad and I) were. After a seemingly interminable 30 minute wait, huge hairy guy (let’s call him Bear) walks on stage and goes all EmCee-ish on us. He did speak pretty good English though. And, he introduced the first act on stage, a Japanese magician by the name of Fukai. He did some pretty neat umbrella tricks. But after a while it got so boring I started composing parodies of bad nursery rhymes. It was like
Old Jap Fukai had an act
E I E I O
And in his act he had umbrellas
E I E I O
With an umbrella umbrella here and an umbrella umbrella there
Here umbrella there umbrella everywhere umbrella umbrella
Well, you get the picture right? There were big ones and small ones and medium ones and really small ones. It was almost as if he had umbrellas stuffed up every stuff-able place in his body and attire. After a while, one started wishing it would rain indoors so that he’d conjure up a big one, hold it over his head, and haul his umbrella-stuffed butt out of there. And finally, with a flourish of umbrellas, his 10 minutes came to an end. Not before he conjured an Indian flag out of thin air. That one sure got the audience going.
Then, Bear came out again and initiated the inauguration ceremony. It started way later than scheduled, obviously! The reason was quite guessable. The chief guests were all politicians, including the Chief Minister himself. After a long, drawn out speech session, in which each of the three Ministers spoke, in bloody Malayalam. One thinks they were under the impression that every single er…delegate in there (described as coming from all over India and also the world – outside the world, actually, as said in the inauguration ceremony) had a universal translation unit clipped to their ears. Twenty minutes later, the speeches and crap were all over. Or so one thought…Bear came out again and announced that they had some entertainment for the magicians.
Then came a long, drawn out program, organised by none other than Soorya Krishnamoorthy himself! It was pretty interesting at first…the chenda group and the two Kathak dancers with giant head dresses. But then they kinda lost me with the gay-looking people with parted moustaches, dressed up, I think, to look like kings (they had crowns anyways), hopping and prancing about (I don’t even need to say that this part looked gay, do I? Aw c’mon!!! Grown up men with parted moustaches dressed up in pink and blue and green and purple shiny dresses, jumping about to an ancient mucho gay Tamil song!?!). All of this went on like forever. Then there was a Kathakali scene – Draupadi’s vasthrakshep. It was all well and good, but there’s a time and a place…just try to imagine this…people who’ve come to see some magic sitting there from 6.15 up until 8.15, and they’ve gotten just 10 minutes of it. To no small wonder, quite a few people just left at this point.
After that whole thing got over, they finally moved on to the actual show. We had another guy who came on stage and introduced the magicians. He performed some pretty neat tricks, and he was funny too…too bad the bloody audience had no idea he was even making a joke! I laughed though, causing the lady sitting next to me to stare at me with a mixture of bemusedness and ‘shit, of all the people, I had to sit next to this paranoid moron!’ O well, the rest of the show was pretty eventless. We had two more performers performing kiddy magic – an American dude in a purple dress, who kept displaying the word ‘ice’ everywhere, and saying it was ‘hot hot hot’, talking to the audience in a barely audible mutter, and a Russian dude, who conjured cards from thin air and magically joined up three separate necklaces to make a really big one. All thoughts of wanting to be one of the cameramen had vanished by this point, and one was left wishing that one were in the Atlantic coastal forests of eastern Brazil, watching a three toed sloth climb up a really tall tree for a couple of weeks. But by 9.05, it was all done, and we were asked to haul our butts out of there.
Having sat through the entire torturous 3 hours of it expecting some Criss Angel-esque performances, one was left dreadfully disappointed. The feeling was the same as that experienced after watching 10,000 BC a few months back…it was one of ‘can I get a refund for my free pass?’
P.S. The author is still suffering from a serious lack of alcohol and nicotine. Invites and/or contributions to ease this delicate situation shall be wholeheartedly accepted. I'd like to say, for the record, that i like vodka, and i prefer Davidoffs