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All about gold

ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS
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A presentation by two German theatre professionals throws light on the angst over the yellow metal

What is gold that man is mindful of? Is the precious metal worth its weight at all or does the Midas syndrome kick in somewhere? What drives people so crazy over the yellow metal?

In a recent presentation by German theatre professionals Cornelius Puschke and Christian Winkler who are bangaloREsidents@Jagriti on their work-in-progress of their on-going research under the current project title “Golden Angst”, these were some of the questions raised during their investigation on the social, economic and spiritual value of gold.

In a try-out performance, Cornelius and Christian explore the significance of gold and its ambivalent role in human relationships, especially in an international context with a light-hearted theatrical presentation.

The presentation opens with Mr. Light Bulb. Glowing ethereally in the dark as he hangs from the ceiling, the bulb talks to the audience and welcomes them. In typical theatrical format, the duo presenters control the light and sound presentation giving a fluorescent-coloured vibe over the audience on the shimmering topic of the evening – gold. Once Mr. Light Bulb has shed light on the topic and faded back into the darkness, the audience is given a vivid projection of articles in Indian newspapers that talk about the yellow metal almost every day.

Seated around a table surrounded by gold-coloured candles, Christian and Cornelius share their research for the last few weeks in Karnataka and Kerala. “Astrophysicists say 4.5 billion years ago when the Earth was still forming, two neutron stars collided and billions of tons of heavy metals were formed. That was the moment gold was created. It spread across the universe and became a part of stars and planets such as the Earth,” explains Cornelius.

“Man has being digging and extracting gold for centuries now. Till today, we have extracted 1,80,000 tons of gold. So we asked ourselves who likes gold the most. Surprisingly, the Chinese overtook the Indians in gold consumption recently according to statistics. Without gold, money would not exist today. The first form of money was gold. Economics and capitalism has a very close bond with gold,” presents Christian.

“Gold is also a major part of trade and the Gold Standard was introduced in the 19th Century as the new exchange rate. The sum of a nation’s money, including national debt and trade, has to be covered through the worth of gold. Until 1990, India had a gold prohibition, so Indians were not allowed to own gold except for jewellery.” A man in Kerala told them that this is why almost any Indian on the street will know the gold price. The duo goes on to test that theory with the audience and is promptly proved correct.

The presentation then veers to a godman in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh who dreamt that a huge horde of gold was buried about 110 kilometres from the state’s capital. “The quantity of the gold could help tide over the rupee crisis and the gold could help India. His followers began digging but the results were in vain. So much was the uproar created by the seer that even a speech by Narendra Modi was ignored by the media and people who preferred to watch the excavation instead. The project however failed to garner the required impetus and the government officially decided to stop the operations and focus on the upcoming general elections.”

Christian and Cornelius go on to present their experiences at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, where a huge horde of gold is supposedly kept in a dark room. They repeat numerous trips to the Temple and discuss the various theories behind the gold’s whereabouts. They also shed light on a trip to Kolar Gold Fields where the world’s deepest gold mine is located. They conclude with a mythical fable of a girl and her half-golden dog and their quest. They also ask any member of the audience to come and take one gram of gold that they freely place on the floor which was promptly taken by a beaming gentleman from the front row. The presentation ends with Mr. Light Bulb humming away a happy tune.

Speaking after the presentation, they say their interest in the subject developed as they wanted to do something that deals with economics. “Everyday there is an article about gold in newspapers so we found that it is a good subject to work on. It is a global phenomenon and we will travel to other countries to study this subject further.” They conclude: “People here grow up with gold and share a personal relationship with the yellow metal.”

ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS

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