What was the most embarrassing moment of your life?
This week I share mine with you. For that I must go back to school in 1955 or 1956 - I am not sure exactly which year. However, it was the year when the school play was the comic opera entitled "Aladdin and Out" by Fred Edmonds and Thos. T. Hewitt.
I was a member of the Cathedral church choir. As the late Charles Velu, who lived in Birmnigham, England, the organist of the church choir and choir master was in charge of putting the opera together, there was no way I could escape my role as a washerwoman in the laundry maintained by the mother of Aladdin (58er Michael Colaco).
The opera was excellent. It was directed by the late Mr. C. J. Oliver who was also responsible for all the stage sets and organisation.
One of the dramatic moments was when Aladdin (Jehangir Kaka) rubbed the magic lamp and the genie appeared. Aladdin requested the genie to transport him somewhere (I think to the palace of the king). As the genie was granting the wish, the stage lights were switched off for less than a minute. When they switched back on, the entire cast of about 20 of us were taken off the set and the whole complex scenery was changed from a laundry to a blank stage. A masterpiece of stage direction which took place in just 30 seconds.
In all the rehersals everything went like a dream. We were all herded off the stage in those seconds in a very orderly fashion.
The day of the final performance arrived. My parents were seated in the front row watching their son in his multiple roles as waherwomen, etc. etc. At the crucial point, after a very beautiful solo by Michael Colaco, who played the role of Mrs. Mustapha with his great soprano voice, the genie (Clive Ciel) appeared and Aladdin made his wish. The lights were then switched off.
In all the rehearsals there had been a certain amount of daylight which had helped us get off the stage by watching this through the wings. On this evening, being dark outside there was no such guide. When the lights were switched on after those crucial few seconds, yours truly was still in the corner of the stage at the footlights, totally blinded by their sudden brightness. As I was rubbing my eyes as the gust of light hit my face, in a flash I was rudely dragged of the stage by some desperate unseen hand. My chance for a soliliquy had been dashed just when I was in the spotlight!
I do not know whether anyone in the audience noticed I had been left behind. No-one dared mention it, probably out of kindness, but I was a quivering wreck, knowing that all the washerwomen and Aladdin and his mother had been transported off to wonderland, but I had been left behind!
I have never wanted to act in a play again after that mortifying experience.
Last week, those who took the trouble to read my other alma mater page Kooler Talk (Web Version) would have noted how small this world is. This week I can show you how the world is very small for us Cathedralites as well.
I use Alta Vista to search the web. I decided to run through a couple of names of my Cathedralite classmates. The first one I chose was a good friend that I had lost complete touch with after I left school. His name is Parasuraman, and I seemed to vaguely remember his pet name was Bala.
The search yielded about two dozen references, most of them relating to a Prof. A. Parasuraman, a marketing wizard of some sort in an American University. I knew he was certainly not my classmate. Sure enough, amongst the list there was a 59er Bala Parasuraman somewhere in the US. So I sent an email message asking this gentleman whether he was from Cathedral school. Bingo - I hit jackpot as Bala replied recalling many of our classmates and asking after them. I was able to fill him with news of several with whom I have kept in touch.
If any of you want to use an economic fax or gift service between India and the US, or for that matter between any two countries, do contact Bala and I am sure he will give you the very best service. I recall him being such a nice guy in school with a very sharp wit.
A few days later I got a message from the email address of 89er Ari Singh Anand, a Cathedralite of the eighties, with a cryptic talk of what the hell was this dinosaur doing on the list being maintained 93er Vivek Sikri. The email was signed by none other than the father of Ari, 57 / 59er Bhupinder Singh Anand. Bhupi, also Savage House, had been School Captain the year I was Savage House Captain. He was two years my senior and in the X11th at that time.
Ari has not been well. Bhupi is in US to look after him and using his email address to keep contact with his business in India. I hope all of you will pray for a speedy recovery for Ari. Anyone in the vicinity could offer to lend Bhupi a hand, if he needs it. I know how difficult it is for a father to manage a sick son, especially away from home.
Ari is the clasmate of 89er Akiva Elias, son of 59er Ooky Elijah Elias, one of my dearest friends in Bombay. Akiva had sent me a message a few weeks ago asking whether I knew his dad. Ooky is the only classmate who has come and stayed with us in this remote corner of the world, where, believe it or not, it snowed last week. I think we saw spring and summer come and go last weekend!
It is a very small world - and the internet has made it even smaller. God bless the internet. Do not forget, if you have something to share with other Cathedralites of any generation, mail it to me, and I shall put it up on this page as a record for posterity. Take care. See you in a fortnight.
Savage House Captain1959