The Act of Looking
I am writing this a day after an important commercial building in Karwan Bazaar has caught a major fire and become a major news story. Interestingly, the biggest hindrance to mobility around that area was not the disaster itself, but curious onlookers who had clogged up the roads. No matter how often we use words like “horrible” to describe these things, there is an almost primordial need to look, and keep looking. We are spectators.
Our cover story is also an account of a spectacle, a very old rural tradition called “Shong Uthshab”, a festival of jesters. This is a kind of interactive performance, viewers don't just sit there passively looking at the song and dance, but are somehow incorporated into the show as active participants, whether they want to be or not. There is plenty of ad-libbing, and anyone from the audience might be the target of a satirical stanza or two.
Let's get on with it.
From the Insight Desk
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