Setting: Two 11th grade boys standing on stage compering the annual farewell of The Mother's International School. 30th of January, 2007.
Compere One: "I have a playing card in my hand. Hocus Pocus. See.. it vanishes." (nervous laughter)
Compere Two: "Ummm.... it's still there, in your right hand."
Compere One: "Oh well, I hope our in house magician Karan Singh will be able to do better."
And then I stepped on stage. Walking towards the edge, looking down at my feet, remotely aware of two hundred and fifty pairs of hands applauding and five hundred eye balls of my seniors and teachers looking up at me, waiting in anticipation for what was going to be my first ever performance on stage. Quick deep breathes and I looked up, my hands started trembling because of stage fright. Thoughts of every thing I'd planned to do going horribly wrong started entering my head. The next seven minutes on stage felt like the four years of practicing magic prior to that all coming together.
Setting: Applause from two hundred and fifty people as they see a skinny boy of 16 taking his first ever bow.
Applause. Wonderful, all consuming, beautiful applause. Seven minutes were enough. Enough to make me realize that I'd be willing to spend the rest of my life on stage, entertaining people, performing for them. Because like Hugh Jackman said in The Prestige...
"The audience knows the truth. The world is simple. Miserable. Solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, and if you can make them wonder, then you know, that you've achieved something really special. It was the look on their faces."
It was the look on their faces. That look of being fooled and entertained. That look of wonder, that look of wanting to know how something is done, at the same time not wanting to know how it's done. That look that's been driving me on and on and on for the last six years and counting.
Scene One, Act Two. - The Turn
Setting: Spread across 6 countries and 13 cities in India.
The last six years of my life have been undeservingly beautiful. I've performed for more people than I can remember, I've learnt an awful lot from exceptionally talented people and I've spoken to a Broadway performer who said these words to me, these exact words. "The life of a performer has more highs and lows than a girl on a period."
I've come across people who can't stand the sight of me and I've come across people who want to get a picture clicked with me. I've gone wrong on stage in front of 300 people and I've got a standing ovation from close to 1,000 people. I've gone three years of doing magic and not getting paid a single rupee for it and I've been paid by the minute by various companies for the last three years of my life. I've had people telling me not to dream of a career in magic and I've had random people stopping me on the streets and asking me to perform. I've stood alone in front of a mirror hoping for an audience to magically appear in front of me and I've had one million people watch me perform on national television.
And then, there is silence....
And as I sit here on the 30th of January 2013, six years from my first stage performance. As I sit here, backstage, sipping on coffee, writing this post and waiting for a couple of non 11th grade women to introduce me to my audience for tonight. I wait, I take deep breaths. In a moment I'll hear my name and I'll begin to walk towards the edge of the stage, looking down at my feet, taking in the applause of two hundred and fifty pairs of hands, feeling the gaze of five hundred slightly nervous excited eyeballs looking at me and then I'll look up.... and I'll smile.
(Somewhere in the distance, a voice says, "Give him 30 seconds of your attention, and I assure you, you'll be hooked on for the next 30 minutes. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Karan Singh Magic)