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Magical Musings from Nakul Shenoy - Issue #102

Magical Musings from Nakul Shenoy - Issue #102
By Nakul Shenoy • Issue #2 • View online
Hello there!
I hope you and your dear ones are safe and well in the weird times we live in. I last wrote to you in mid-February, apprising you of the things happening in this corner (room?) of the world, even as we continue in our attempt to keep the virus at a safe distance.
The biggest news I have for you is the live on stage show that I presented after more than a year! That this is the most exciting news for me, speaks volumes of the times we live in. I also thought of making a few book recommendations for you, in the different genres that I delve in. It is just the tip of the iceberg, but we have to make a start somewhere.
The most important news, of course, is that we in India appear to have let our guard down and that our health services and populace are facing an impending doom. That we are in the midst of some state elections, definitely did not help our cause and the full devastation of this may only be known in a few weeks.
Still, if we all continue to do our bit and adamantly take the precautions of physical distancing and wearing masks, we may yet be able to drive this enemy away. I wish you and your close ones good health and prosperity.

A Magical Evening with our Brave Policewomen
Even as I was resigning to the fact that I would not get back on stage for a live show in a long time to come, I received a call from the inspirational officer DCP Isha Pant asking if I would be available for a Bangalore City Police event to celebrate Women’s Day. I jumped at this rare opportunity to entertain the brave and selfless women cadre of the BCP, and of course, the one-off chance of getting up on stage performing my brand of Magic.
On a whim, I called up my dear friend and internationally-acclaimed ‘Shadow Caster’ Prahlad Acharya to check if he was in town and available for this event. He was, and so off the two of us went to St John’s Auditorium in Koramangala on the 13th of March. The Udupi-connection became all the more stronger with the presence of the former SP of our district (and currently DCP Admin), Nisha James IPS, who was one of the chief organisers of the event.
BengaluruCityPolice
Big thanks also to the artists who were part of the entertaining evening the melodic @reena_hebbar,hilarious comic @aiyyoshraddha,delightful magician @nakulshenoy and shadow artist @prahladacharya and incomparable @actressharshika for making it an unforgettable experience for all https://t.co/Ogj7XO21y6
The audience was made up of lady officers and hundreds of women personnel of the City’s police force, and what an enthusiastic audience they made! They absolutely loved my magic and mind reading performance, and were over the moon with Prahlad’s inimitable Shadow Play acts. I mean, we have never really been whistled at by an auditorium full off ladies before!
Isha Pant
@NakulShenoy @BlrCityPolice @PrahladAcharya @bcpdcpadmn Thank you so much for coming. It was one of the best shows ever! All the women police personnel had an amazing time, all thanks to you and @PrahladAcharya 🙏
The proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating. And to me it was in the 115 photographs (I am not kidding you!) that the official photographer sent me a day later. And what fantastic captures each of them were: crisp, bright, and happy, capturing each moment at the perfect time. I only dread if this person was in charge of photographing all the traffic offences in the City!
"I am excited to be here and you are in for a helluva ride!"
"I am excited to be here and you are in for a helluva ride!"
The joy of seeing a prediction come true is really unmatched!
The joy of seeing a prediction come true is really unmatched!
The one thing that gives me immense joy and satisfaction looking at these photos is the smiles – both on my face and that of the volunteers and the audience. Clearly they enjoyed themselves as much as–if not more than–me, and that is a good day out on stage.
Magic as they say is the art of wonder and astonishment.
Magic as they say is the art of wonder and astonishment.
Some acts have always been socially distanced! The masks are new.
Some acts have always been socially distanced! The masks are new.
For Prahlad and myself, this was just a small way of saying “Thank You” to the Bangalore City Police for all that they do to keep us safe. Especially now, during this pandemic time. Now we look forward optimistically to a time when getting back on stage, in auditoriums overflowing with people, is normal and mundane.
Prahlad taking stage after my act, thinking, "So you thought that was the best you can see?"
Prahlad taking stage after my act, thinking, "So you thought that was the best you can see?"
Building Communities and Fostering Innovation
In February, I wrote to you briefly about an Indian magicians community I founded and helped grow to 750+ members during the first few months of the pandemic, with over 50 interviews with top magicians and mentalists from across the world. In addition to this, I have been involved with reviving and keeping active The Bangalore Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), USA.
Officially Ring # 177 of the IBM, the Bangalore Ring was founded in 1964 by Prof. Vasantha Kumar and friends in Bangalore. Supported by a bunch of magician friends, we revived it in March 2011 and we have been going strong having recently bagged the 30th member for our Ring.
If you are one of those interested in Magic, be it as a hobby or an amateur in the field, you should definitely join one of our meetings. Given the pandemic, we meet online via Zoom on the second Sunday of every month and then some!
For more details about The Bangalore Ring, our history, and articles about our magic escapades, I invite you to drop in at ibmring177.com. Our meetings and jam sessions are fun catch-ups, where we perform magic, share thoughts, and even exchange a few closely held secrets. After all, the best way to build a community and foster brotherhood is to have common secrets!
Reading in Any Way, Shape or Form is a Most Welcome Habit
As a regular reader of my missives, you would know that I am always having my nose in a book or two. And more recently, this has also meant having a book or two being read into my ear, by the likes of Stephen Fry, thanks to Audible. I am also not averse to viewing books via the TV adaptations of Holmes, Poirot, Marple, and the ilk. Truly, knowledge in any form is knowledge, and reading in any form or factor is that - reading.
The best way to inculcate a habit of reading is to imbibe the practice of reading at least one line before hitting the bed. And if that book you have chosen to keep by your bedside is one that piques your interest, you will find yourself reading a tad more than that one line. Remember to experiment with genres and authors, as much as you experiment with the place and mood of reading. You just have to put the effort to find your perfect liquor. Mine is Tea, but we will keep that discussion for another day!
Over the years, I have come to realise that I love reading comedies. And mysteries. Not necessarily in that (or any) order. I of course love reading Magic and Conjuring books, and they do make up a fair share of my readings. Then there are books related to (Mass) Communication along with Psychology & people behaviour that never fail to kindle my interest. Most recently, I have been reading up on the history of magic and its impact on life around us, via this fantastic journal published by the Conjuring Arts Research Center called ‘Gibeciere’.
So, Yes! You have to find your happy themes and topics, and until you get there (and even after that!) read far and wide. Do not fear to experiment. There is really no such thing as a bad book, unless you actually found one that is! Then just drop it and move on to the next one. The last thing you want to be doing with books is fall prey to the vagaries of investor bias / logical fallacy. This is always about you and what you like, not what others say you should like.
This reminds me of an article I was interviewed for, 10 years back, called “What book type are you?” Having stated that caveat, I will share a few recommendations that I have liked and enjoyed. Hopefully a couple of them may match your interests. If not, they will at least guide you in what to avoid!
Comedies:
PG Wodehouse rules the roost. I read, listen, watch, Wodehouse in literally any form and shape. If you are new to this, I highly encourage that you look up “Jeeves and Wooster” in books, radio shows, Audible Books, or even television (YouTube). And among that, you will find Stephen Fry a couple of times too, as he played Jeeves in the long running TV series, and most recently, released an Audible Book (UK) as the narrator. My recommendation is to try Wodehouse via the eyes and words of Jeeves, and then visit Blandings Castle and even meet the wonderful Psmith.
Mysteries:
I have always loved the ‘faction’ books by Jack Higgins, including his most wonderful Eagle Has Landed. This too is available as a most lauded movie, if that is your wont, but I would always recommend reading the book first.
The other all-time favourites have remained Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and most books by Agatha Christie, especially Hercule Poirot and the Miss Marple series. All these are again available in all formats and are just a search away. Both the recent adaptations of the great detective, Sherlock and Elementary are fantastic and worth a watch.
And if you are (or intending to get) into Audible, what can be better than 72 hours with Stephen Fry reading the Complete Sherlock Holmes? Yes! That’s all the 56 short stories and four novels read into your ears by Mr Fry!
Communication, Psychology, and People Behaviour
The recently departed Gail Sheehy’s Passages and New Passages are both wonderful works if you want to understand the reasons to how and why most of us behave. It also draws attention to age and phases in life, and how it has a bearing on what we go through.
Ben Blatt’s Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is an eye-opening textual analysis on what words make an author and perhaps even a bestseller, while Sheena Iyengar’s The Art of Choosing shares insights to why and how we make choices and what ate the factors that may be influencing them. If you like this, you will also like Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein and Sway by Brafman & Brafman.
A couple of audiobooks that I liked immensely were Curious with Micael Dahlen and Putin - Prisoner of Power. Curious answers so many of the questions in behavioural economics that we always had in mind, but did not know who or how to ask, while the Putin story raises a lot of realisations to the politico-economic situation around the world and at home.
There are many more where these recommendations came from, and perhaps I should send out a separate mailer focusing only on some recommended readings. But if none of the above caught you fancy, may I leave you in the incredible works of Neil Gaiman? I am sure The Sandman (Books | Audiobook | Netflix?) will have enough magic up his sleeve to capture your attention and keep it enraptured.
Hmm… I think it prudent to stop here rather than never. I do hope you found something in this letter that captures your imagination, and brings you some cheer and optimism.
I loved reading replies from so many of you for my last letter, and I do hope to hear from you this time too. How about writing in about a couple of books or shows or anything at all that has influenced you and/or gives you comfort and peace? God knows we could all do with a little more of that right now.
Thanks for reading my musings. Stay safe, stay well. And do write in.
Yours magically,
Nakul
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Nakul Shenoy

Master of the Mystic Arts. Indian Mentalist. Author: ‘Smart Course in Magic'.

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