Magic on the streets

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lean, lanky men with glistening blue eyes, one looking prim with his neatly coiffed hair, while the sparse stubble and tousled hair lent an adorable charm to the other. The

Published: 12th February 2011 04:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 07:57 PM   |  A+A-


Kolija Kaldun (left) and Jan Gerken| Express Photo: Rajeev Prasad.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lean, lanky men with glistening blue eyes, one looking prim with his neatly coiffed hair, while the sparse stubble and tousled hair lent an adorable charm to the other. Their creamy white bony hands were seldom at peace, juggling the cards and flicking the coins. On the teapoy in front of their cushy sofa, rested a dull brown magic wand. One of them wore a garish pyjama that billowed whenever the breeze sneaked in.

It is not one of those eerie dreamy sequences that come along with the chill air and break off in the middle during our early morning slumber. We were meeting a German magic duo, Kolija Kaldun and Jan Gerken who were in the city for a reason that in fact brought us together.

For a month, they have  been traversing from one Indian city to the other performing magic ever since they landed in Mumbai early January.  They have been serving magic not in comfy jam-packed halls but on the dusty streets in India to a crowd who had to pay absolutely nothing to get awed.

Would someone ever think of coming all the way from Germany to perform magic on streets for free, especially when they happen to be much respected magic teachers-cum-popular magicians at a reputed magic school back home?

"Yes. There is something called experience which we magicians value beyond everything. Different people react to the same trick differently. The way Indians broke into screams of joy over  some of our tricks was more pricey than the bucks we earn back home," Jan gulps his words abruptly as he makes a card float in the air and gives me a wink.

My wide gaping mouth betrays ‘I have seen this a zillion times’ look I had  tried to put on. "They are too quick to be snapped,” our photographer mutters, acknowledging Jan's pace.

“You got to be quick as a magician. The most difficult thing in this world is to astonish someone.  People hardly get surprised in life,” Kolija chips in. These men do not need huge props and colossal settings for magic.

“You can do it even without anything in your hands," Jan says holding his palms together and pushing his right thumb to the elbow and bringing it back, all in a flash.

“Once more,” my ego fails to bridle my awe and lets it out.Our photographer looks at me with a humiliating sneer as if I should not have asked that.

A journey that spanned for a month has gifted these men many moments to cherish. Performing at an orphanage in Mumbai was indeed touching, as they put it.

“We went there without any intention of doing magic. It began when a little kid came to us and asked to do a trick for him. Once we started, more and more children came and eventually we performed for three hours in front of around 600 children who kept cheering us till our show ended. If you can’t call that special what else should be called so?," asks Kolija.

The elders did not disappoint them either. Wherever they went, be it in a road side hotel or on a wide open street or the Kovalam beach, people just came to them.

“We never expected to evoke such response. Even magicians have their own magic moments. We long for that moment. It might not happen in a booked show. It could very well happen before a crowd at the most unexpected places. India has gifted such magic moments for us which happen very rarely,’’ says Jan.

Cards, coins and a piece of cloth could work spectacles that would match breathtaking illusions, they say. “We pick small and do big. The theory is simple, small can make it big for you," laughs Jan.

As we are about to leave, Kolija holds out a pack of cards on which are seen signatures that also include that of Patricia Quinn, the famous Irish actress.  He befuddles me with a trick and my curiosity is aroused. “Secrets hold the key for every magic which are not meant to be disclosed. I know how Jan does his tricks and the reverse. But we never try each others tricks. Once we start doing that the fun ends there," says Kolija.

They say that a magician need not always offer new tricks. “A good magician performs the same trick over and over to different people. But the point is you have to be damn good. To create magic is about flitting attention of the audience at one time and bringing it back at the other. Only a good magician can do that."

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