Bharatnatyam

December 12, 2007

I realise that the cost of doing one particular thing is that you can’t do another thing. And honestly, I loved computer symposiums and quizzing, and would regret never having done them in favour of something else. But I really wish I had learnt Bharatnatyam at some point in life.

This is not because of any newfound love of dance. It’s more because while I was researching fundaes for last month’s quiz, I realised that Bharatnatyam is not so much a dance form as a language which uses gestures, facial expressions, and body movements as its basic units. Compare this with Sanskrit, where the basic unit is a sound (or phoneme); Mandarin, where the basic unit is a character (or lexeme), and English, where there are really no atomic units – meaning is concentrated at the level of the word or even phrase thanks to English borrowing from other languages so relentlessly.

And right now I find that so totally cool. The whole idea that I can communicate a message without having to rely on words (spoken or written) is mindblowing. It’s a conceptual leap similar to understanding – grokking really – how for loops or function calls work for the first time.

Of course, the problem is that even if someone had pitched Bharatnatyam to me as a language instead of a dance back in school, I probably wouldn’t have been all that enthused. My fascination with languages didn’t really get ignited until after probably¬†first or second year¬†in college, where I learnt the joy of C++ and object oriented programming.

This is kind of tragic, considering learning Bharatnatyam is a tough ask now. It’s a three year commitment at least, and I have no idea if I’ll even be in the same city six months from now. As for other languages, my Mandarin lessons have been on hiatus for the past two months thanks to preoccupation with work and quizzes.

Sigh. Such are the things I miss out on.