There is a Bengali social institution called an adda that is very hard to capture in mere words. It is much more than a conversation because usually at least three people are talking at the same time. It is at times a debate but then some of the debaters are liable to argue for both sides of the subject if they are feeling particularly excitable.
Fascination with ‘Otherness’ manifests it- self in many ways; whether it is the intrepid 16th century European explorers embarking on dangerous journeys time and again to find strange new lands, or writers travelling across cruel landscapes to meet new people and create new genres or painters reaching out to exotic settings and subjects for their art.
As a dance critic, I came to know of the work of Bhanu Bharti, through his friend and celebrated director Ratan Thiyam. Bhanu’s adaptation of K.N. Pannikkar’s Malayalam play Pashu Gayatri, a community theatre of the Bheels of the Mewari region of Rajasthan had drawn the attention of serious theatre practioners.
It is indeed ironical that I was reading to review this absolutely brilliant book by Sylvia Federici around Halloween, which narrates the dark saga of Witch Hunts in Europe during the 15th-17th century. In fact Witch Hunts had consumed Europe for more than 200 years, a practice that coincided with the rise of capitalism in Europe.