A Brimful of Asha: A staged anatomy of arranged marriage

Published: January 15, 2014
Theatre

A Brimful of Asha: PuSh Festival and Arts Club present this heartwarming, hilarious true story of a mothers love and a sons devotion put to the test when Asha tries to arrange Ravis marriage. Submitted/Cylla von Tiedemann

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Most families keep their arguments behind closed doors — but Ravi Jain shares his with an audience full of strangers.

The now 34-year-old Toronto-based director can still vividly recall the many years he spent fending off his parents’ seemingly endless efforts to arrange his marriage.

“There (was) a bunch of different girls that they (kept) pushing on me,” Jain recalled, explaining that with an arranged marriage the potential couple meets, followed by a meeting of the families, then within a couple of hours, a decision must be made. “I freaked out.

“How can I decide in two hours?”

As he talked to friends about his comical (for outsiders) grief of how it all “went horribly wrong,” he got the idea to make a one-man-show out of it.

He jokingly told his mother: “I’m going to make a show and tell the world what a terrible mom you are.”

To which she responded: “If the audience saw my side of the story, they would see that you’re a terrible son and they’d agree with me.”

And so A Brimful of Asha was born, starring Jain as himself and his mother, Asha Jain (who is “just a normal mom” with no acting experience), playing herself as well.

The show began in Toronto in 2012 and is currently touring Canada, making its stop in Vancouver Jan. 16 to Feb. 8 at the Revue Stage, presented by the ArtsClub and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

“The show is really the two of us telling the story from both of our perspectives and arguing about why things happened the way they did,” said Jain. “We’re just telling the story — it’s no flash and pizzazz.

“It’s as if you came over to our house, you walk in, we welcome you and give you a samosa and we sit around the table and make fun of each other and tell stories and just laugh.”

According to Jain, the story begins in his early 20s, before he went to grad school, when he found out — to his horror — that his parents tried to arrange for him to marry a close girlfriend.

“I’m going to coffee with my friend and she says, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but your parents are trying to get us married,’ ” recalled Jain. “They called her parents to try to set us up and I was mortified.

“I was so embarrassed, because I felt like such a loser … my parents asking to get married — are you high? Are you nuts? This is so insane.”

He only found himself in similar and more uncomfortable situations for years to come. After grad school, he was off for a trip to India and about a week before he left, his parents “conveniently” booked a flight to tag along.

His parents, an arranged marriage themselves of 40 happy years, “orchestrated” a number of meetings with a young girl and her family while in India.

“This is actually nuts. I don’t know this person,” Jain recalled telling his parents as he refused to follow through with the marriage.

But his lack of interest and refusal only resulted in numerous arguments and more parades of girls, not only while they were in India, but even back home in Toronto.

“It was always something that was going on,” he said.

A Brimful of Asha, Jain’s most personal and cultural performance yet, is his exploration of why immigrant parents “are so obsessed with having their kids married.”

And while for some it may seem an unbelievable tale, it’s relatable for many immigrant families.

“Both of us are stuck between these two cultures and I think a lot of people will get that now, especially in Canada because there are so many people from everywhere else,” Jain said.

“I had two worlds — I had my Indian friends and my school friends . . . so you had these two different lives. On holidays and traditions you’d dress in Indian clothes for those things and then you change for your normal life.

“So you’re always stuck in these weird places.”

Fortunately Jain was able to translate his childhood issues into more than just the comic relief that is A Brimful of Asha — while touring the performance, he managed to snag he and his mother’s much sought-after wife, but “one of my own choosing.”

lcahute@vancouverdesi.com

twitter.com/larissacahute

INFOBOX
On stage
A Brimful of Asha
Where: Revue Stage, 1601 Johnson St.
When: Thursday to Feb. 8
Tickets: $25-$35 at artsclub.com


Tags: , , , , ,





Featured

homeless-poverty

Surrey’s homeless struggle with winter shelter options

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The time is 6:30 p.m. The sun has set and the temperature hovers around freezing point in Whalley. Driving…
Continue Reading »

Abbotsford-desi-medicine-crime-HIV-AIDS

Abbotsford acupuncturist’s clients urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Health authorities are urging clients of an Abbotsford acupuncturist to get tested for HIV and hepatitis after determining she failed to…
Continue Reading »

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Kesler

Spice Sports: Ryan Kesler returns, Lions fire head coach

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI The return of beast mode descends upon us once again. Former Canuck Ryan Kesler makes his much anticipated return…
Continue Reading »

homeless-poverty

Surrey’s homeless struggle with winter shelter options

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The time is 6:30 p.m. The sun has set and the temperature hovers around freezing point in Whalley. Driving…
Continue Reading »

Abbotsford-desi-medicine-crime-HIV-AIDS

Abbotsford acupuncturist’s clients urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Health authorities are urging clients of an Abbotsford acupuncturist to get tested for HIV and hepatitis after determining she failed to…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

op-ed

Aziza Sindhu: How do you grieve for a tyrant father?

AZIZA SINDHU CALGARY HERALD My father, Salim M. Sindhu, passed away on Nov. 10. As a child, I wished he smiled at me, as a…
Continue Reading »

India

Honour Killing: Delhi girl killed by parents for marrying her boyfriend

HINDUSTAN TIMES Three days after marrying her boyfriend in a temple, a 21-year-old Delhi University student was murdered and secretly cremated by her parents for…
Continue Reading »

violence against women

SFU grad bringing local attention to issue of violence against women in India (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After spending more than a year researching violence against women in India as part of her U.K. Master’s degree program, Surrey’s…
Continue Reading »

Punjabi Chura

Punjab Chura: Not just pretty bangles

KIM TREHAN VANCOUVER DESI Here comes the bride… all dressed in …red.  From head to toe adorned in red is your traditional Punjabi bride. But…
Continue Reading »

india

Man isolated at New Delhi airport after traces of Ebola virus found in his semen

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — A 26-year-old Indian man who recovered from Ebola in Liberia has been placed in isolation at the New Delhi…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.03.20 PMdesi

Bollywood actor Salman Khan shares sister Arpita’s wedding photos on Instagram

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actor Salman Khan shared photos of his sister Arpita Khan’s grand wedding with businessman Aayush Sharma on Instagram. “Hav put up sm…
Continue Reading »

Ileana D'Cruz

Happy Ending: Flawed but feisty and relevant (w/trailer)

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Happy Ending”; Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz, Govinda, Kalki Koechlin, Ranveer Shorey; Director: Raj Nidimoru/Krishna D.K.; Rating: **** Okay,…
Continue Reading »

desi sex-nude photos

Kim Kardashian’s trip to India and appearance on Bigg Boss cancelled

HINDUSTAN TIMES And IANS American reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s much-hyped maiden trip to India has been nipped in the bud, owing to visa issues….
Continue Reading »