Warning : this is a mood (mildly annoyed) piece, I believe the very first one, but I just HAVE to publish this post.
Two nights ago, I attended a concert in Hyderabad. This is a rare occurrence. First of all, baby-sitting is often an issue. Second, cultural events are often organized at the most inconvenient times for a mother of small children (read weekday, 6.30 or 7 pm, etc). The last reason is that Hyderabad cannot exactly boast of having a very happening and exciting cultural life. But this is changing, along with so many other things.
On Sunday night, the Duo Rosario was here, from France, and I decided I would not miss this. As an opera lover who used to live in New York, London and Paris, I have been starved for this type of performance. As luck would have it, our car decided to break down on Sunday, the taxi supposed to come and fetch us couldn’t find its way (the new taxi companies created after the new airport opened often hire drivers who come straight from their village; some speak English, others not a word, and some know their way around Hyderabad, and others have absolutely no clue as to where they are, or where they’re supposed to be going), but we still managed to arrive... two minutes late, but a few minutes before the concert began.
The first part of the evening saw diverse musicians, some professionals, others amateurs, before the main performance by the Duo Rosario.
There was no reason for me to be so stressed out at the thought that we were late...
As Aleksandra Mikolajczyk, who happens to be my daughter’s piano teacher, started playing an Etude by Chopin, I was amazed to see that people continued to come in and go as if they were entering a supermarket or a restaurant. Even more incredible: a swarm of photographers started taking pictures of the pianist from all possible angles, their noisy flashes blinding her! I couldn’t believe it. Later on, when Celine Laly from the Duo Rosario sang (beautifully!) a cell phone rang, and a few minutes later, another one. I could see her eyes zeroing in on the person whose phone was ringing, even though she did manage to finish her song flawlessly.
Question: Is this really cultural? The lack of punctuality is a fact of life, here. I know it, I’ve lived with it for the past few years, and I’ll never get used to it, but I also understand that there isn’t much I can do about it. Still, how difficult would it be to address such issues, at least when being late becomes downright discourteous, not to say blatantly disrespectful - then again, isn’t it always discourteous and disrespectful to be late? Seems to me a few simple rules would do the trick:
1. Latecomers will not be allowed to enter while the artist is performing.
2. Cellphones must be switched off during the performance.
3. Photographers are to wait until the performer is done to take pictures, or at least do it in the most unobtrusive way.