I was visiting my cousin recently. I had a very very limited time in his city, New York. In order to save myself from future guilt arising out of poor choices, I decided to ask him what was must-do in his city, for someone like me who were kind of allergic to things like shopping.
Among other things, he suggested we visit broadway. One of the shows we attended was an improvised presentation. The way my cousin described it, I got very interested in it and we decided to go for the show.
The format was, there would be about thirty-forty people in the audience. The show would be presented by two musicians and about seven other performers on the stage. One person would open the show by inviting someone to say something about themselves – who they are, where they come from etc.
This information is then used to devise impromptu dialogues, music, dance sequence and a kind of a story. How creative!
Coming from India, I thought improvisation was about taking something and then making changes in it. But the show I am talking about, has a blank slate. The artists create music, dialogue and dance there-and-then.
Now- my cousin told me that if I volunteered to provide them some stuff to make the show up, it would be something new because they might not get someone from India very often. Well, I agreed to be the vol.
I did not know what I was walking into.
After they anchor asked me what my name was, what I did and where I came from, she asked me what I did for fun.
Cooking, walking and blogging zoomed past my mind, but then I remembered how I sit on the swing at any time of the day to relax, to unwind and to sing or just – be blank and not have to DO anything.
So, I said “I enjoy swinging”.
What, do you think, happened?? The anchor appeared confused, her face reddened, and she seemed to have an urgent need for clarification. She confirmed, “Do you mean you do swinging for fun?” I told her that I did. More embarrassed look. She asked, ‘Do you mean the kiddie swing?” I said, no – we have swing for adults” – but then my cousin next to me, was rocking with laughter and so were several others – whom I could see from the corners of my eyes. The house was a riotous place.
Confused and embarrassed answers and questions rallied back and forth, and with each round I sensed that there was something terribly wrong – What was so wrong with an adult who enjoys swinging?
I told the anchor, that she had to know what an Indian swing was – of course, she was interested in moving the show on, so there followed some dialogues, musical lines and a storyline – all indicating the swing as I genuinely meant – but when we came out, my cousin and brother (who said he wished I would shut up or say something less stupid) enlightened me on what swinging meant colloquially, informally and locally.
What does swinging mean to you?? I just found out!