There is an exercise that is mostly used as an Ice Breaker, where two strangers sit in front of each other, describe each other precisely and then fantasize about each others life.  Within the last week that the Indian collegues have come to Mannheim, this exercise has started to take up more and more workshop time and crept into leisure time, we find doing it in the tram and sometimes even missing the station. We have spent a week of getting to know each other, which happend while wokshopping, walking, changing hotels, dragging extremely big suitcases with saris all over the place, watching plays and swimming. Language does play a huge role – in the workshop and in the rest of our time. The actors Shrunga and Pallavi say “Danke” and “Leitungswasser” and in the workshop we listen to the actors speak in Kannada, Russian, Spanish, Swiss German, French, Kannadised English, Russian sign language and creative Bharat Natyamised Pantomime – as of today I know what jogging looks like in Bharat Natyam (a classical Indian dance form). Our German brains have worked hard on rythmical patterns called “Konokol” and we learned form Kirtana how to “konokol-rap” some weird & funky stuff today. Which brings us to the word “Scheisse” which the Germans do not agree on how bad the word actually is – while eating “Mannheimer Dreck” (a chocolate biscuit that wants to visually resemble a heap of scheisse!) in the evening, we heard the word on stage in the Schnawwl play “Risiko” at least five times. In the audience simoultaneous whispered translations af the whole play for our Indian friends, pissed of audience members changing seats. And then we do audio plays for each other in Kannada and German and later have a discussion on the phrase “I love you” and how overused it is, we tend to all agree on that. Language is not a problem anymore when we meet for real, it is music, a difference of beauty we feel after we read part of our play today (title not to be publsihed yet), simultaneously in Kannada, German and English.

We can talk and talk and we do – but the artistic director of Rangashankara, Arundhati Nag, says “I know you when I eat what you eat” and so she comes fresh from the plane directly into Sandra’s small kitchen where she spends the next five hours cooking for 50 people with her manager Gaythri and young German volunteers who heroically dissect the first chickens of thier lives. We all – who cooked – wonder how we will ever get that garlicgingeronion (yes I am randomly connecting several nouns into one word, as Germans do) smell of our skin, which becomes an issue two days later, after attentding a party in Casino. We all smell like ashtrays, which is not such a big problem if you are German and have short hair but if you have long Indian hair, to get rid of that smell is quite a task. But on friday we smell like new born babies because we ditched Verdi for the swimming pool where the actors Pallavi and Shrunga learned the breast stroke and freestyle breathing in just two hours. Pure water talent in action. With wrinkeld skin and burning eyes and very content with life we sleep like logs, while the washing machine works hard on our ashtrayed gingered garlicy workshop-sweaty clothes.

A footnote on food – on the second day in a workshop exercise we discover, that almost all of us love good food and so we have to mention that excellent Black Forest Cake we all had in the castle restaurant of beautiful Heidelberg. We know each other quite a bit better now. Currently we are all visiting the festival Schöne Aussicht in Stuttgart.
Sophia Stepf (Projektleitung)

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