robertisenberg

India: 1

In India on September 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

India 2

To complement my play, Chai, performing this week at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, here is an essay I wrote about India for InPittsburgh in 2000. These photographs were taken during my five-day sojourn in Chennai and Mamalapuram. Chai is produced by the Theatre Factory and is directed by my esteemed colleague Christine Pini. See www.pittsburghnewworks.org for details.

Raj drives casually through the monotonous afternoon traffic, barely touching the steering wheel as he maneuvers past ox-carts, sand-matted lories, rusty bicycles, and freely wandering herds of cows – the holiest sentient beings in Hindu lore. A brutal sun and impervious clouds of dust make it impossible to see clearly through the windshield. I squint, trying to make out the thatched roofs of distant fishing villages, the stone carvers in their shops, the ocean. The Indian countryside is like an overexposed photograph, so bright that it’s invisible. Centuries ago, before the colonists arrived with cannons and bacteria, the Pallava kings rode their chariots across the plains, sacking villages and building the legendary port of Mahabalipuram, one of the most powerful cities in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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