Indian evening has global audience dancing

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS
Friday, October 29, 2010

NAGOYA - India took over the final evening of the UN biodiversity summit here with a show of Bollywood and Bharatnatyam, plus a whiff of samosa, while negotiators from 192 countries continued to bicker over an agreement that aims to save the world’s animals and plants.

As host of the next biodiversity summit in October 2012, the Indian government delegation here organised a reception at the open-air central courtyard of the sprawling Nagoya Congress Centre Friday.

As the final plenary session of the Oct 18-29 summit had to be adjourned due to lack of agreement over how much rich countries would pay poor ones for the traditional knowledge of medicinal plants, well over 3,000 delegates spilled out into the courtyard to watch a troupe of Japanese dancers, called Mayuri, start the evening with Bollywood number “Chhaiya chhaiya”.

The food came, and went before it could reach those still scrambling to elbow their way to the pantry entrance. There was a whiff of samosas and a promise of kebabs, but only a few platefuls of sausages and fried potatoes managed to battle their way into the crowd. Japanese waiters scurried and Japanese officials looked stunned as the usual sense of quiet order at the summit broke down into chaos.

The audience loved it, even as many looked at the dancers on stage and refused to believe that “chhaiya chhaiya” had originally been seen on top of a moving train. But at the beginning most had other things to worry about than watching the dancers - it was the first time in two weeks they had seen queues break down and bottles of beer and wine disappear as fast as they could be opened. Those who did not join the scrum went thirsty.

Meanwhile, sitar player Koki Yoshida - a native of Nagoya who has learnt to play the instrument in Kolkata under the tutelage of Amit Roy - led his troupe on stage to pay raag Hemant. Few in the audience were in the mood for serious music, though Shiodi Ishida from Yokohama got huge applause for her deftness on the tabla. She had also learnt to play in Kolkata, under Shubhankar Banerjee, and had been playing for nine years, Ishida told IANS.

With the summit going to the wire, perhaps it was apt that the dancers of the Mayuri troupe next came on stage with a homage to Lord Ganesha in Bharatnatyam. The food was running seriously short by this time, the beer was over, and waiters were desperately cutting up fruits to take out to the hungry delegates.

Perhaps the only thing that could get their minds off the shortage of food and drinks was “Jai Ho”, the next number on offer by the dancers. In no time, the bureaucrats were tapping their feet and then dancing, Latin Americans, Indians, Scandinavians and New Zealanders all together in circles.

They danced through “Kudhi Ghooma” and “Dard e Disco” and would probably have danced to just about anything by now if the harried organisers had not brought the reception to a close. It was time to get back to the horse trading and conspiracy theories where developed and developing countries started to blame each other once again, forgetting the bonhomie of the moments just passed.

But they promised they would not forget India had set a very high standard in hospitality here, and would have to live up to it two years from now.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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