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‘Modernity’ and my mother’s dilemma

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N J Ravi Chander

In the winter of December 1980, the popular ice show, ‘Holiday on Ice’ arrived in Bengaluru. The huge hoardings prominently displaying European girls clad in the shortest of skirts, strutting their stuff on the ice rink caught the fancy of city dwellers.

The show boasting of an ice rink, snowflakes and professional performers was a first for the city, and we were glad that it was coming to town. A big top sprung up at the Rajendra Singhi Stadium on Mahatma Gandhi Road, and advertisement of the event splashed in the local dailies.

The ticket for the show cost a bomb – a steep Rs.300 – but this did not curb our enthusiasm. The extortionate price of the tickets though did not enthuse our parents, M N Jayaraman and Padma Kumari. It took plenty of pushing and prodding to prevail upon them to accompany us to the event which also boasted of mesmerising lighting displays, music and special effects. We had watched many a circus under the big top, but a skating performance by top-notch professionals was new to us.

All of 21, I had just got into a state-run bank, which was a stone’s throw away from the venue. The news that a bevy of beauties would perform at the venue set the pulse racing, and I snapped up seven tickets from the counter outside the venue. The show became the talk of the town and many a friend or colleague who beat us to watching it, heaped lavish praise on the impressive performance put up by the skaters.

We arrived early for the show, so we were left twiddling our thumbs for half an hour. A long serpentine queue had formed at the entrance to the stadium, and many were impatient to get in.

Lathi wielding cops stood guard and kept the crowd in check. After what seemed like an eternity, we got in and occupied our seats, in the gallery’s middle rows. The sparkling icy white rink was a sight to behold, and we could not hold back our excitement for the show to begin. Mellifluous soft music played in the background, and bright lights flooded the arena. It was a full house with the spectators attired in their Sunday best itching for the show to begin.

The spectacular spectacle on the ice soon got underway amid much cheering and clapping. The skaters, all dolled up, entered the rink and twirled and floated around like fairies to the amazement of the crowd.

We looked on in awe as the magic unfolded and transported us to a different world of glitz, glamour and fashion. It was a captivating performance of an hour or so, that had the crazy crowd going bonkers. The performers befittingly got a standing ovation from the audience at the end. ‘The Holiday on Ice’ was an instant hit with Bengalureans, and we were never fortunate to witness such a spectacle again in the ‘Garden City’.

But my mother was a bit peeved about the show. She found it disconcerting to watch ‘pretty things’ in short skirts performing on the ice. Showing off her disgust in no uncertain terms she lamented, “Did you bring me here to watch all these skimpily clad ladies”. Roundly ticking us off as she vowed never to attend such an event again.

(The author is a former banker who has taken up writing as a pastime. He writes for the Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express, The Tribune, The Hitavada, The City Tab, Bangalore Mirror, The Hans India and Kashmir Vision)

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