After a hectic day of brainstorming deliberations, evenings are supposedly earmarked for informal chitchat over a dining session. Not all dinner events are, however, relaxing affairs. The one, organized in connection with a regional summit in January 2009 was certain to last in memory for a substantial period.
Mansha, having left an indelible mark over the participants, made it in time at the beautifully lit, partially open setting of the Akshara Theatre. Formally dressed as also donning casual attires, young men and women of the region too arrived at the expected hour. They were helping themselves generously with drinks and ‘eats’. Apart from informal seating arrangement, live performance of the orchestra became icing on the cake. One after another, popular English numbers were melodiously sung by the young boys & girls. The overall coordination between the singers and the accompanying artists was so good that it became difficult to judge whether the vocal chords had the supremacy or the excellent guitar support. Promising young faces cheered the performers more than anyone else.
Mansha went round the tables to personally welcome the guests and exchange a few informal notes. The photographers, did not miss any opportunity to capture the memorable moments. Soon, the hosts, Gopal Sarman and his beautiful wife, Jalabala, wearing informal, yet attractive dresses were introduced by Mansha in his true inimitable style. Majority of the invitees were impressed by the visual appearance of the couple. Very few could recall their unusual theatrical experiments of projecting Ramayana and its multiple characters to western audiences, nearly three decades ago which was followed by their powerful and memorable serial on Indian cultural ethos over the national television.
One more western number, in the meanwhile, was sung by a youngster having a deep soothing voice. Unfortunately, expected applause did not come through. Perhaps the guests were getting engrossed with gossip and tasty food. At this juncture, Mansha came back to the podium in the company of a young, smart lady, wearing a long red coloured coat with a contrasting black trouser. It appeared that she was also going to perform.
Displaying requisite charm and poise, she began well, soon to be interrupted by Mansha. This break, however, brought more smiles to the listeners. While he took out a piece of paper and whispered something to the young lady, it was time to hear an old memorable song entitled “Its
now or never……………………My love will not die”. The song had a captivating and mesmerizing effect. In addition to providing a pleasing experience, it brought back the beautiful memories of a bygone era. One more duet from them succeeded in holding the rapt attention of the audience. Some of them began swinging their bodies. Clap and verbal applause followed. Once again Mansha was the focus of attention.
By this time, it had become sufficiently cold for those having failed in ‘warming up’ themselves. Long queue next to buffet layout was worth it. A large number of delicious dishes awaited the hungry jacks. Some serious drinkers, nevertheless, were still glued to the bar area. Interactions between the strangers, simultaneously, took place on the dining table.
Close to 11.00 p.m, it was the time to bid good bye. Mansha, now in the company of his graceful life partner, made a quiet exit. Offering of a colourful booklet with mouth-watering ‘Paan’ (betel-nut)proved fitting parting gifts. Wen, the faithful Secretary of Mansha too tried his hand at singing at this late hour. Why should he be left behind, when his mentor was calling the shots throughout the day? While the fully occupied premises slowly began giving a deserted look, the parking area became full of activity. The guests, one by one, zoomed off in their respective vehicles by carrying sweet memories of the pleasant evening remarkably organized and catered to, by the personal attention of Mansha, the dynamic bureaucrat turned political celebrity.