Drib­ble, in­ter­rupted

As part of a world­wide ini­tia­tive by Canada’s na­tional air­line to re­vamp bas­ket­ball courts, an aban­doned space in Matunga opens to­day. It’s a burst of colour, but falls short on ba­sic ameni­ties

Mid Day - - THE GUIDE - Ro­hit Gaik­wad THE GUIDE TEAM theguide@mid-day.com

‘Sadly, even the best hip-hop dancers in the coun­try still make `10,000 to `15,000 a month. You tell me, is that enough?’

tion dawned that it wasn’t pos­si­ble for us to make a vi­able ca­reer out of our pas­sion. So, many peo­ple dropped out,” Gaik­wad rues.

The 26-year-old adds, though, that the main­stream ac­cep­tance of hip-hop mu­sic did give dancers re­newed hope af­ter 2015. paddy would then be taken home and placed at the door or the al­tar, while fam­i­lies would in­dulge in cel­e­bra­tory food. But with ur­ban­i­sa­tion of land, the fes­ti­val fell into dis­use in most parts of the city,” ex­plains Dr Fleur D’Souza, for­mer HOD of the De­part­ment of His­tory and re­tired Vice-Prin­ci­pal (Arts), St Xavier’s Col­lege, and a mem­ber of the East In­dian com­mu­nity. She adds that har­vest fes­ti­vals are also oc­ca­sions to thank God for the yield, and with few farms re­main­ing, Agera is now tak­ing the shape of a thanks­giv­ing day.

To re­mind the com­mu­nity of its cul­ture, the Mobai Gaothan “We could now work in com­mer­cials, and main­stream dance crews also started look­ing out for B-boys since it’s an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult art,” he says, mak­ing a point that Jo­hanna Ro­drigues, one of his fel­low judges, cor­rob­o­rates when we speak to her later.

“The thing is that break­ing is such a dif­fi­cult art form that it takes at least two years be­fore you can even in­cul­cate the move­ment into your body, so that you ex­press your­self. And the peo­ple who are pi­o­neer­ing the dance form in Mum­bai, I feel, are at an in­ter­na­tional level al­ready,” says Ro­drigues, who goes by the moniker B-Girl Jo.

Show them the money

At the same time, how­ever, both she and Gaik­wad are of the opin­ion that there is still a dis­cernible lack of sup­port for hip-hop dance in In­dia. “Brands usu­ally pay the per­form­ers in kind, say a re­ally ex­pen­sive watch or a shoe. But that’s not go­ing to pay your bills. And sadly, even the best dancers in the en­tire coun­try still make `10-15,000 a month. Now you tell me, is that enough?” he asks. The so­lu­tion he thus of­fers is to make B-boy­ing fi­nan­cially vi­able, so that young­sters have the courage to tell their par­ents that this is what they want to do with their lives. And an­other one that Ro­drigues of­fers is to gen­er­ate an in­ter­est in the dance form at the school and col­lege level. “It should be as ac­knowl­edged as other forms of art and move­ment. Most schools have dif­fer­ent kinds of sports and some­times even other dance forms like Bharatanatyam. But break­ing should also be in­tro­duced since it’s such a com­plete art — there’s cre­ativ­ity, there’s fit­ness and it has so much to do with build­ing your self-con­fi­dence. So, it’s as pow­er­ful as, say, the­atre,” the 22-year-old says, voic­ing the hope that one day this art form will find its place in cam­puses, with­out be­ing re­stricted to non­de­script build­ings in the sub­urbs. NO mat­ter how beau­ti­ful this looks in a movie, a shot of the scorch­ing sun lin­ger­ing on our face isn’t close to ro­man­tic. But we’ll tell you what’s worse. Walk­ing in blis­ter­ing heat only to dis­cover closed gates. That had been our ex­pe­ri­ence at Matunga’s Hooper’s Ground in a nut­shell, un­til we man­aged to get through the guard’s ini­tial dis­ap­proval and pro­ceed with our job. Here, en­closed in iron bars that give it a cage-like ap­pear­ance, are two bas­ket­ball courts and a vol­ley­ball court ac­com­pa­nied by a lit­tle gar­den that wel­comes se­nior cit­i­zens ev­ery now and then, we’re told. Of the two bas­ket­ball courts, one is in sham­bles, while the other has been re­vamped as part of a global ini­tia­tive by Air Canada and will open to the pub­lic to­mor­row.

So, when we ask the guard if the court pre-ren­o­va­tion looked as aban­doned as its coun­ter­part, he re­fuses to say any­thing more than “bekaar” — so we won­der where the R2.5 crore spent by the BMC for its beau­ti­fi­ca­tion in 2016 van­ished. The re­vamped court rightly res­ur­rects the gar­den with its pop of colour and an­i­mal mo­tifs; the beige, white, red, and black all give it a sense of its own iden­tity that de­fine the Indo-Cana­dian re­la­tion­ship. El­iz­a­beth Lin­der, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Beau­ti­ful Des­ti­na­tions, a part­ner of the ini­tia­tive, says, “We cel­e­brate travel as a mind­set: we be­lieve that whether travel is de­fined as a global or lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, it sup­ports a cu­ri­ous mind, an in­clu­sive com­mu­nity, and a di­verse per­spec­tive. We are proud and de­lighted to be here.”

Be­hind the art­work, is painter Sa­jid Wa­jid of ST+ART In­dia Foun­da­tion, who tells us that his main chal­lenge was con­vey­ing the air­line’s mes­sage of di­ver­sity and in­clu­sive­ness in two weeks. “In­dia and Canada share very lit­tle vis­ual sim­i­lar­i­ties. So, we had to rep­re­sent that dichotomy in the best pos­si­ble way, and our ap­proach thus was de­void of hu­man fig­ures. So in the cen­tre, you can spot one gi­ant fig­ure — the top of which is a moose [na­tive to Canada] and the bot­tom de­picts an ele­phant,” Wa­jid ex­plains.

But be­sides its colour, the dress­ing rooms or san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties are miss­ing, even though the space is lo­cated in a neigh­bour­hood that is home to the city’s most well-known col­leges. Seats for spec­ta­tors are also limited to one stand with two rows that could seat 40. All this shouldn’t be an af­ter­thought in a pub­lic space, we feel.


Hooper’s Ground, Matunga.

Ro­hit Gaik­wad aka Lil Rohn


An East In­dian pro­ces­sion, com­plete with a band, pro­ceeds to the IC Church in Bori­vali dur­ing Agera cel­e­bra­tions on Oc­to­ber 7.

Sa­jid Wa­jid

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