A Shaheb’s Guide to India
How a simple father-son craft project became a global, epic diorama
Five years ago this month my wife Bidisha and I got married a full Hindu wedding in India. Four years ago our son was born.
This past Thanksgiving while carving the turkey at our Philadelphia home I got to the bone that my granny from rural southwestern Virginia used to save and make into a turkey bone Santa sled decoration at Christmastime every so often. It’s a morbid Appalachian thing, you wouldn’t understand. In a fit of nostalgia I decided I’d give it a whirl and introduce my young son to a part of his cultural history.
To make sure I was really remembering correctly I Googled “turkey bone sled” and one of the first things that came up was someone’s Pinterest page about turkey bone sleds with the header, “My granny made these.” Yep, I was on the right track.
My son and I often do multi-stage, multi-day art projects so I told him we were going to embark on this “small” project. I’m thinking the whole thing will be five or six inches long with a couple of ceremonial reindeer pulling it but he insists that it be the full 9 reindeer, and that there be a full moon, and a Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters), Aldebaran (the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the bull’s eyes), a small pine tree like the one we have in a planter outside our house, and our street sign, and snow on the ground, and hovering in the sky above Santa there should be Kartik. Without missing a beat I told him fine but that he’d need to design it on paper first so we’d know exactly what we were making and not leave anything out.
Kartik? That would be the Hindu god Kartik, less famous brother of Ganesh. Kartik is the Pete Best of major goddess Durga’s children. I later learned it’s impossible to find an altar figurine of just Kartik alone, so I convinced him instead to CONT’D at medium.com>>
On Tuesday 1/24/12 @ 4:00pm as part of my PDC@Plays&Players residency in Philly we’ll be presenting a rehearsed reading of my unproduced play Virginia Dare. There’ll be a Q&A afterward and I’d dearly love your feedback on this work in development.
VIRGINIA DARE is a multidisciplinary, multicultural play; a 21st century Southern Gothic drama gone global. Set in a not-too-difficult-to-imagine near future in which the US has boots on the ground not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but Pakistan and even India, the play is a high stakes tale. An Appalachian brother and sister plot patricide against a backdrop of perpetual war and cosmic collisions. With a touch of magic realism and a
spike of Eastern religion, the plot focuses on two irreparably damaged working class siblings who are struggling to deal with memories of their violent childhood, a forgotten murder, an impending murder looming on the horizon, and even a trip to the afterlife. Startling images and verbal sparring send them both hurtling toward a dark decision.
WHAT: Reading of Virginia Dare featuring Pardon My Invasion actors Emily Gibson and Joe O’Brien, directed by Daniel Student
WHEN: Tuesday 1/24, 4pm-6pm.
WHERE: Plays & Players, 3rd floor Skinner Studio; 1714 Delancey Place (in Center City), Philadelphia, PA.
[images via todayontoday.com, wisdomlaughterhealing.com and dismalworld.com]