& occasionally about other things, too...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire

It was only after I started living in Toronto did I realise the romance of streetcars. As frequently as we can, Che, Mahrukh and I take a trip from Queen Street to Long Branch in a streetcar. It doesn’t matter if the insides of the streetcar feel like a cauldron on a hot, burning stove in summer.

Summer in Toronto, incidentally, is sometimes hotter and more humid than in Mumbai.

I’ll write about the summer some other time. It’s about streetcars today.

Today’s email alert from The New York Times has a brief review of A Streetcar Named Desire (the classic movie based on Tennessee Williams’ play). The movie, of course, is remembered for Marlon Brando’s performance.

In Williams’ play, the centre-stage belongs to Blanche DuBois (enacted by Vivien Leigh in the film). It’s a character that is at once independent, and yet so dependent, so fragile.

One of the lines from the play that is set in stone in my mind is when a stranger helps the down and out Blanche and she says, “I’ve always depended upon the kindness of strangers.”

It’s a line has acquired an iconic status in popular culture (try Googling it and see the astounding results!).

A personal anecdote. Last year, when I was writing email messages to just about everybody in Canada who I thought may help me, I also wrote to Nick Noorani (originally from Mumbai), the publisher of Canadian Immigrant.

To his credit, Nick was among the few people who responded immediately to my message. However, nothing came out of that initial exchange.

Then I met Gavin Barrett (also from Mumbai) and told him about the exchange of emails with Nick. Gavin suggested I should write again to Nick.

I wrote a thank you note to Nick, referring to our earlier exchange and quoted the ‘depending on strangers to help’ line from Williams’ play.

This time Nick not only responded, he even telephoned and spoke to me.

The power of Tennessee Williams or the good nature of Nick Noorani? Or Both?

A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic. If you’re not a reader, hire a DVD of the 1951 movie. It’ll be a time well spent.

Image: Andy Warhol (left) and Tennessee Williams (right) talking on the S.S. France, in the background: Paul Morrissey. World Journal Tribune photo by James Kavallines.

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