Maya Bazaar

posterBangalore Little Theatre (BLT) is back with yet another production, an original English language adaptation of 1950’s movie, Maya Bazaar. My father was a die-hard fan of the movie, and naturally, we watched it – not once, but several times. The original was in Telugu, a language I don’t understand much, but the movie had such a connection with its audience, we just connected with it. But it was then. Today’s audience cannot go ga-ga over S V Ranga Rao’s magic, or N T Rama Rao’s style or Relangi’s tomfoolery. This is exactly what drove BLT’s Sridhar Ramanathan to present the story in a modern context.

I admit I had my reservations. My mind said, “No, nobody can do justice to SVR, NTR, ANR and Savitri.” Last evening, I watched Maya Bazaar at Alliance Francaise – and, it was just awesome!

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img_20161204_165230What an adaptation! Dang, I cannot reveal anything! Because you must watch it yourself to enjoy the production in all its glory. Superb comic timing, fantastic connections with current issues, and img_20161204_163742great performances. It is hard to pick a favorite, because everybody gave his/her 100% – including the percussionist sitting in the corner without a spotlight on him. But I cannot resist – I have to say that I absolutely loved the bird – the actor brought the bird to life, in looks and behaviour. My other favorite characters were Hidimbi, Ghatu and Lakshmana – had he been around, SVR would have joined the chorus of his evergreen song, this time in English, going “ta ding ta ding ta ding ding” 😀

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Maya Bazaar, the epic fantasy film, is an adaptation of a popular folk tale, Sasirekha Parinayam,  from Mahabharata. It is set during the Pandavas’ exile or Aranya Parva; and hence, features in our blog 😉 The production gives out relevant messages to care about our environment, and needless to say, that’s close to my heart. Yet, I do have a small request to the team – if you can just replace some of the important props in the play with reusables (instead of disposables like paper cups, tissues and straws), your message will become that much more stronger and credible 🙂img_20161204_175512

There are three more shows in Bangalore – don’t miss them. You can book them on bookmyshow. Sit back and laugh out loud. Get lost in the magic of Maya Bazaar. And, here’s a special shout out to two friends in the production – Poornima Kannan (production and PR) and Anand Rajamani (actor, playing Ghatotkacha).

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Behind the scenes of Maya Bazaar. Image credit: BLT

EDIT: The Maya team updated me today that they reuse all the paper cups, straws, tissue papers and every prop, across all the shows. During rehearsals, they bring their own reusable cutlery. Anand, the actor playing Ghatu, says,  “Our backstage team cribs if the articles are not found. The tissues are meticulously picked up by co artistes during the run of play. The crushed tissues double up to stuff the bag and make it appear bulky while it remains light.  And we printed the script just 8 or 10 copies for individuals who struggle to read off devices.”  —- isn’t that super cool?

Kudos, team Maya Bazaar. And thank you for this update – you guys made my day 🙂

“Sugandhi

Einstein: A Stage Portrait

You must be wondering what Einstein has to do with the theme of our blog, Aranya Parva. The “Man of the Century”, Einstein, also wondered why he had to do anything with the ‘Bomb’! The stage was set, and we watched Albert Einstein in his study.

Saturday are always hectic in Bangalore, because of Rana’s theory (of relativity) – some of the IT folks who use office transport – bless them – own cars and need to use them. So they get the cars out on Saturday and strangle the Bangalore roads. Despite that, Saturdays can be great, like the one that just went by. We reached St. Joseph’s College auditorium, said a quick hello to our good friend, Poornima Kannan, who was ushering in the audience for the play Einstein: A stage portrait. Bangalore Little Theatre and Azim Premji University, in association with St. Joseph’s College, have brought this play to Bangalore.IMG_20151205_193124728

The only thing missing was a glass of whiskey in our hands, because the whole experience felt like Einstein was sitting across the table, narrating the story of his life to us, in person. At the end of the play, it was hard to decide whom to appreciate better, the playwright or the artist. Williard Simms has woven the story of the Einstein in an intimate and riveting way, transporting us to a different world. The

Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

playwright has drawn details from Einstein’s letters to his son and daughter-in-law, and has presented every relevant detail in the manner of an intimate conversation. From the days when Einstein chased butterflies (Poornima would have definitely loved this part of his life story), to the days when he wrote to Roosevelt, Simms gives us the many facets of Einstein’s character that we would hardly know about. The scientist was charming, witty, funny, sensitive, and maybe sometimes selfish, arrogant, and most important of all, humane.

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Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

When a playwright does such a fantastic job of characterization, an artist can only hope to do justice to the role. Tom Schuch does that, giving his everything to it, including his age. Delivering 46 pages of script is no mean feat, and to do that flawlessly with a slight hint of German accent takes not just dedication, but passion for one’s profession. Being a drama artist of All India Radio, and having had a brief stint with theatre/TV, I understand what goes behind portraying a role. All I can do is tell the artist, take a bow, for we stepped out of the auditorium with a feeling of having met the scientist himself. The reviews are spot on – that he is an actor’s actor and that this play is a “drama-logue” par excellence. Watch the trailer here. If you think the hair and make-up look awesome, listen to Tom laughing – I just loved it 😀

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Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

One of Einstein’s quotes says, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. This brings the connection to our blog. Watch the play to understand and appreciate the man’s connections with what was happening around him and his train of thoughts. When he talks relativity again and again, you can’t help but think of the various projects that are being done at such a rapid pace, with little thought on their impacts. Remember, Einstein also said this: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space … Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

albertviolin_AFP_BIGThere are different shows scheduled for specific audiences across Bangalore. If you know it is scheduled in your organization, be there half an hour early 😉 Wherever in the world you are, if you hear about this play by Spoli Productions International in your locality,  don’t miss it! There is an additional bonus at the end of the play – a question and answer session with the actor and the playwright. Ask away and enjoy 🙂

 

Sugandhi

 

2 bin 1 bag

Bengaluru, once known as garden city, is now notorious as the garbage city. Thousands of tons of solid waste are generated in our city, everyday. Have a look at these shocking images from Mandur landfill. The residents protested enough and their voices were heard. 20141203_164556Dumping has been stopped at Mandur. But the day isn’t far away when some other area becomes a Mandur, unless we take responsibility.

That’s exactly what proactive citizens from Bellandur ward in Bengaluru did.  They formed a group called Kasa Muktha Bellandur, KMB, began managing their waste responsibly and are also being humane to people who handle waste. They began a citizen initiative called 2bin1bag, to segregate garbage at source. The entire process is well documented on their website, the formula itself is very easy and it instantly cuts down on plastic bags. It also ensures that very little goes to the landfill, because if we manage waste, then 95% of it can either be recycled or composted. They have tied up with other groups and vendors who manage garbage – which means that a vendor would actually *pay* to collect dry and/or wet waste from your homes!

So, our blog is Aranya Parva, and what does the “book of the forest” have to do with garbage? A forest definitely doesn’t have to do anything 20141203_170112with garbage, but the sad reality is that forests are being taken over for garbage dumping. We cannot write about the forest if forests no longer remain. And hence, this blog post.

Sugandhi and I got an opportunity to work with  the KMB team  on a short film that explains how easy it is to segregate 🙂 We made the film in English and Kannada, with one professional artist and some first timers, including a very smart young boy and a lovable, well-behaved puppy! There were two Malayalis who managed to speak well in Kannada, and there was one father-in-law, mine. I’ll stop the description there 😀 It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience where we learnt a lot. Please watch these films, share them widely, and more importantly, begin segregation 🙂

We are also in the process of gathering volunteers in our ward. Hopefully, our street will hop onto the 2bin1bag bandwagon soon. Until then, adios!

English version:

Kannada version:

Please take a moment to sign this petition and help the KMB volunteers take this plea to BBMP to ban plastic in Bengaluru.

Rana

References:

Our iceberg is melting

If you are fighting for the environment, they’ll brand you a “boring activist”. If you are fighting to bring about policy change, they’ll yawn and say, “No please, no gyaan!” These are tough subjects, tough to get people to listen to you, tough to draw their attention to see the problem. But someone in Bangalore has found a fun way to do just that!

Iceberg-is-melting2Rana and I got front row seats at ADA Rangamandira on Saturday evening. Oh wait, we had to a fair bit of fighting to get there, fighting against traffic, and glad to be on time to watch Bangalore Little Theatre’s annual production, “Our iceberg is melting”.

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Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan

This lovely musical took us into a land of snow and ice, where the penguin wobbles and the seagull flies. A jolly group of young Emperor Penguins goes about its daily routine, while one of them, Fred, notices a rather alarming situation. Their home is melting and something has to be done, immediately, before winter sets in. The play is about the challenges Fred faces in getting his community to understand the problem. Do the penguins get together and find a solution? It is for you to watch and find out!

This musical is an original adaptation, based on Harvard professor, John Kotter‘s well-known management parable by the same name.

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Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan

This is the time when all global leaders are talking about climate change, and this musical couldn’t have asked for a better time! Whether you are interested in tacking climate issues, or understanding how to apply the lessons the penguins learnt in your own situation, this musical is for you. We could face challenges at our workplace or at home, where we know that a problem exists. While some might see the magnitude of the problem, some won’t see any problem. It is one challenge to see a problem, help others see and feel, but it is another mammoth task to arrive at a solution. The musical throws insights into how that can be done.

Here is a promo video for the play. We enjoyed that evening of song 20141115_193209and dance, matched with a great laser show and Chris Avinash’s catchy tunes. Young and old joined the penguins in their plight and partying. The show is on for the rest of the Fridays and weekends of November 2014. Do book your show and be there. Kids will love this, because this will most probably be their first close encounter with cute penguins, some tall, some chubby, some chatty and some naughty!

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Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan

 

 Sugandhi

 

How to file an RTI

Over the last year, Sugandhi and I have filed a few RTIs to obtain information about projects/proposals that we felt were against the environment and needed more information to understand what was going on. We have been successful in obtaining the information we sought. How we have used this information, we will share in a later post.

Initially it was a little difficult finding out what to do. Everything is on the net but we had to search a lot for it. We had to speak to different people to understand the process. I decided to collate all this information into one blog post so that others can benefit from this. Note this information is a collation from different sources and credits have been provided to them at the end of the post. The information is by no means complete but is enough to get one started to file an RTI.

Here is a high level overview of the process:

RTI

So what is RTI Act?

It is an Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

You can access the complete Act from the link http://rti.gov.in/webactrti.htm

What is RTI ?

Right to Information is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Every citizen has a right to know how the Government is functioning. Right to Information empowers every citizen to seek any information from the Government, inspect any Government documents and seek certified photocopies thereof. Some laws on Right to Information also empower citizens to official inspect any Government work or to take sample of material used in any work.

Right to Information includes the right to:

  • Inspect works, documents, records.
  • Take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records.
  • Take certified samples of material.
  • Obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video , cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts.

Filing the RTI

Under section 6(1)

1. Understand the goal you have in mind and then list the information you want to seek.

2. Fill in the application. The RTI form is available on the website of the department concerned. For example: the forest dept website has the RTI form under the RTI section.

Sample form can be downloaded from here.

3. Write a covering letter along with the RTI form. Just a good habit and practice. Be polite and courteous. This is after all an official communication. Ensure you ask for Attested copies of the documents you need.

4. Every public authority should have a Public Information officer (PIO) in every Administrative Office. The Karnataka Government has a “Know your PIO” website. You can find the right PIO by clicking the link below.

http://dpar-rti.kar.nic.in/frmknowpio.aspx

5. Pay a fee of Rs 10 in the form of Postal Order at your local Post Office and mail it to the Public Information Office (PIO) for that department as Registered Post or Speed Post with Acknowledgement Due. Make sure that acknowledgement due slip is not missed out. This helps you know when the post was received by the department. Some states have different fee for RTI. Please check accordingly. You can also hand deliver it and collect an acknowledgement from the concerned department/office. In case the documents requested is more, the PIO can request for a further fee. We had paid Rs 20 Postal Order in order to reduce the turn around time (if any) for one RTI that was urgent.

Additional fee requests and name of Information Commissioner for Karnataka can be found at the link below. At the time of writing this, the Karnataka State Information Commission website which has this information was not working (www.kic.gov.in) so I have provided an alternate one.

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=501&Itemid=429

6. Wait up to 30-40 days. (Invariably it is more than this). Always give the benefit of doubt to the PIO and wait for extra 10 days to allow for the transit time. Governments work slowly.

7. If you receive the information requested, use it in the appropriate and constructive way. If not, you will either get no response or a refusal letter with the reason specified. If additional fee is requested, then ask for calculation of the fee and pay the amount within 15 days of receiving the request and inform the PIO accordingly.

If you are not satisfied with the information received (partial information), have no response or refusal to request, then go in for the first appeal.

NOTE:

  • If you do get a response, ensure you keep every single document with you, including the cover that was sent.
  • On speaking to a lawyer friend, he mentioned, a common reason for RTI to be rejected is when opinion is sought/solicited. Framing the question correctly is very important. Example : “Does the authority have power to pass the order?” might not get you the right information you need, but asking “under when section or rule has the Order been passed?” might get you more details.

First Appeal

This is done under section 19(1) of the RTI Act

1. If no response to your RTI request, write a complaint letter and fill up the first appeal. However, if you have received a response that you think is not correct, then you have 30 days to file an appeal. Sample for can be downloaded from here.

2. Find the right Appellate Authority. If there are multiple AAs and you are not sure which one is correct AA for you, just send it to anyone. He will either deal with your appeal himself or forward it to the right AA under intimation to you. The first appeal could be to the designated senior office in the department.

Example : In the case of the Karnataka Forest Department, we were asked to send the First Appeal to the PCCF, we had initially sent it to the First Appellate Officer at MS Building.

3. Send the first appeal via Registered Post or Speed Post with acknowledgment due. Make sure you have a covering letter stating the issue apart from the Form.

4. Send the same via email if you have the Appellate Authority’s email to speed up the process. Do mention that a hard copy has been sent via speed post as well.

5. Suggested “Relief Sought”

  • The information sought be provided immediately free of cost.
  • Compensation be provided for not supplying me information within the prescribed time limit.
  • Disciplinary action be initiated against erring officers for not complying with the law.

6. There is no fee for first appeal though some states explicitly mention it in their website if there is a fee.

7. Wait 30 days.

8. Some AAs may call you for a hearing, whilst many other do not. If you do not attend the hearing, a decision will be given in your absence on the basis of documents/merit. If you go for a hearing, take all relevant documents (everything) with you.

9. If the information is important but not urgent and you feel that the PIO has no vested interest in the information, be kind to him and allow him more time.

Click here for a workflow for the process for filing the first appeal.

Second Appeal

We havent yet been to this level. 🙂

1. If you do not receive information in 30 days or the information is insufficient or the information sought is refused, you can send a second appeal to the Appellate Authority of the state

2. Form for Second appeal can be downloaded from here

3. Make all PIOs Respondents. You may also like to include AA as a Respondent.

4. If there has been no response from the PIO and the AA, you must also include proof of dispatch/delivery of the application/appeal.

5. You need to send the form and all relevant documents in triplicate to the Appellate Authority and the Information Commission. Appellatte Authority for Karnataka can be found at http://kic.gov.in:8080/contactus.do

Click here for a workflow on how to file a second appeal.

I would like to thank the various websites that have put up information on the RTI. They have a lot of detailed information, sample forms, and even help people in need. Many of our friends have also helped us by providing us contacts and information. Hope this information helps you and you get the information you need! Its your right!

Note: There is a freewheeling talk by Biswajit Mohanty in Bangalore on August 18, 2013, about RTI for wildlife conservation. Click here for details. Venue: Vittala Eye Hospital, Banashankari III Stage, Hoskerehalli, Bangalore. Time: 6 PM – 8 PM.

Credits and more detailed information about RTI can be obtained here:

http://www.rtiindia.org/

http://rti.gov.in/webactrti.htm

http://www.conservationindia.org/resources/right-to-information-rti-%E2%80%94-a-powerful-tool-for-wildlife-conservation

http://right2information.wordpress.com/

http://nyayabhoomi.org/right-to-information/step-by-step-procedures

http://rtiradio.blogspot.in/2009/09/process-of-filing-rti-applications.html

http://rtiradio.blogspot.in/2009/09/process-of-filing-rti-appeals.html

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