What's in a Name

Written: 1992

Prithvi Theatre, Bombay

I wrote this play while trapped in my hotel during Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay. They had been sparked off over a dispute about a mosque that had been built on the site of a temple dedicated to the God Ram: which is why he turns up in the play.

I hadn't intended to write a play. I was supposed to be leading a Playwright's Workshop in the Prithvi theatre; but while the riots raged, everyone, guest and staff alike, remained trapped in our hotel.

The riots went on for four days; about a thousand people died. From my window I could see the smoke rise from the burning city.

The management tried to maintain a semblance of normality; but it was obvious, from hints dropped by the staff, that supplies were dwindling and could not last for ever. I wrote this in the hotel's business centre to stave off boredom and terror: and showed it to the (by then sadly depleted) workshop when something like normality returned.

Then I lost it again, and only discovered it last month when I was looking for something else. It seemed to be worth preserving.