Plug Pulled

 

I never imagined that I would be so devastated upon hearing the news that our event, just a mere 5 days away, had to be canceled for “reasons beyond our control.” (I can only now begin to write about it.) I had heard the day before that our partners in Delhi had received a security threat and that they were going to be meeting with officials from the Home Ministry as well as the Intelligence Bureau to report the threat. Intellectually I knew there was a chance that we could be shut down, and I did my best to stall flight and train bookings for the balance of the crew and invited guests going up to the Atari/Wagah border, but I never really internalized the grim prospect.

 

While the Intelligence Bureau set about to investigate the security threat, with Mark and our partners pacing the floor of the office in Delhi, I went to the bank in South Bombay to get a demand draft for the insurance we were purchasing for the event. Then, I made my way by taxi to the Air India office to request waivers for 400 kilograms of excess baggage that our musicians would require both from Madras and Bombay. As I reached my destination at Nariman Point, I got a call from Mark: our event was canceled – the Government of India “advised” us not to proceed with our event as planned.

 

I sat in the cab, as waves of emotion hit me, in shock. I had been given the task of contacting our event producers, but was unable to make those calls immediately. I proceeded to the Air India office, even though the need was no longer there and sat in an anteroom for about 45 minutes, waiting for the designated official. Since I was already there, I’d decided to inform him in person of the cancellation and to thank him for the “intention.” But as the realization sank in, I needed to leave the office (a dead cell zone) to start making the phone calls. I left a note and walked outside.

 

My first thought was: escape. I was in Nariman Point, so called a friend who worked close by to see if she and her husband wanted to have dinner. The answer was yes – they would be busy for the next couple of hours, apartment hunting, but would be around the Fort area and free around 7pm. OK. I would make the rest of my phone calls and find a café nearby to hang out until then. My second phone call was to the insurance agent, who was expecting me to fax a copy of the demand draft to his office. I called to say that we would no longer need a policy. His reaction was unexpected and very touching. “Where are you? OK, wait right there – I’m coming to get you. I’ll drive you back to Bandra.” Of course, he was right. I needed to get back to the office and start emailing all the invitees that were expecting to be at the border on 14 August. Got a raincheck with my friends and called our television producer, who was still in Bombay – he was scheduled to leave the next day for Amritsar. He didn’t believe me. He hung up and called Delhi. I tried calling our ground production manager on site. He did not answer his phone. I sent a text message. Either he was getting the news from our team members already at the border, or his cell phone service did not work there. (I found out later that he and his core team could not bear to watch as the stage, which had been 70% completed, was torn down by the crew.)

The car ride back to Bandra saved me. Our insurance agent, who insures all the major events and the top-rated shows on all the TV channels, voiced all my thoughts, and ended up by saying: “You should do another show.” In fact, that was the universal reaction from all of our production partners, TV channel partners, and sponsors. And after a day of mourning, we tried our level best (as they say in India) to come up with an alternative for the same dates, but with four days to go, and with two of them weekend days, we just ran out of time.

A representative of our PR company came up with the line we have since been using: our show has been “postponed,” perhaps indefinitely.


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1 Response to “Plug Pulled”


  1. 1 Kendall Mau August 25, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Mark and Yoo-Mi, I’m so sorry to learn of the cancelation of your event. After seeng your presentation in June, we were all behind you. I wish you a mountain of strength and stamina to get through it all.

    We’ll be in Paris from the 15th until the 21st of September. Please let me know if you’ll be there and how I can reach you.

    Kendall


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