Sunday, February 14, 2010
The Roof Salon at the Park Hyatt Hotel was dimly lit, although there were many chandeliers. The venue of Diaspora Dialogues’ A Midwinter Night Dream resembled a meeting place in bazaar; the only thing missing was a hookah beside the pillows and cushions strewn across the room.
The ambience inside the room was a combination of A Jewel in the Crown and Lawrence of Arabia. AR Rehaman’s music from Slumdog Millionaire played softly in the background. A pair of tabla was placed in the room, and a few painted cages, too.
The cages were a mystery; they must have belonged to a nautch girl in Cawnpore before 1857. They had somehow reached Toronto.
Autorickshaw, a fusion group that combines jazz with Bollywood, later performed at the venue.
I met Helen Walsh but didn't recognise her initially because she was wearing a multicoloured mask; Philip Adams was wearing an admiral’s jacket. Writer Antanas Sileika was a literary fortuneteller for the evening and another writer Sean Dixon played an antique banjo and sung a couple of postmodern songs, one of which even had lyrics about taxation.
Then the writers – Michelle Wan, Anar Ali and Andrew Pyper – read from their works. Wan read from her mystery novel. Ali read Baby Khaki’s Wings and Andrew Pyper from his work-in-progress novel.
The view outside was stunning – downtown Toronto’s skyscrapers and the CN Tower – all brightly lit. It reminded me of the Queen’s Necklace in Mumbai from the Oberoi.
I had wanted to attend both days the event was held to coincide with Toronto’s Wintercity festival. I had been invited as a blogger to the event.
I couldn’t go because I went to Che’s school to see him perform at the concert. My son plays the clarinet well. He’s part of his school’s honour band. You’re included in the honour band when you take your music seriously.
Image from Diaspora Dialogues' website