"I can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
I am the greatest. The boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest."
- American boxing and cultural icon Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
"Time is the curtain, a walled city with doors that let you in and not out."
- Opening lines of THE RAMAYANA, written and directed by Gopal Sharman, writer, poet, musician, culture catalyst and co-founder of AKSHARA THEATRE, New Delhi (1935 - 2016).
As we mourn two very different individuals, we also mark the power of creativity and conviction. Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali became more than a sporting legend. He was the conscience keeper of the USA, sparring with his government and delivering the knockout punch when he refused to enroll in the army to fight the Vietnam war.
Gopal Sharman was not a sporting icon or a politician. He was the quintessential free spirit - creating, dreaming and manifesting his passion in the arts through the charming Akshara Theatre in the nation's capital. A generous host, many remember his warmth and bonhomie during the numerous plays that were staged or nurtured at Akshara.
Three more giant trees fell late last month. Aruna Sundarlal, the music patron and iconic Bengaluru cultural figure, breathed her last. Nearby, in Kerala, the giant savant Kavalam Narayana Panikker bid farewell in a peaceful final transition in his home. Another renowned artiste, noted Hindustani classical musician Veena Sahasrabuddhe, made the final transition. Odisha lost Odissi guru Kanduri Charan Behera. They are going. Fast. Quickly. Quietly. Our cultural landscape is looking sparse. Retilling the soil is becoming more and more urgent.
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