Remember the good old days of simple pleasures? The time when happiness wasn’t governed by the latest app on your smartphone and when you didn’t need Zomato to tell you where to go in the weekends. Yes, the days when ‘entertainment’ as we know it was simpler. The very mention of a trip to Alipore Zoo, a joy ride on the tram or a visit to the Botanical gardens brought a certain gleam in our eyes which can simply not come back. And one such event in our childhood which will be remembered always is the visit to the Magic Show- an experience that simply left us awestruck and flabbergasted!
The magician in all his grandeur, holding his wand in one hand and twirling his graceful assistant with the other had all our attention in captivity while preparing for his next trick. You’d follow all his moves closely, you’d keep your eyes fixed upon the movement of his hands and fingers and kaput, a pigeon would come flying out of his vest. And like this the magician would become your hero for ever after. You’d come back home and decide that you want to be the cool magician when you grow up and have a packed house clapping away at your every move but then, life happened and you eventually forgot about this newly found passion of yours.
But. Here’s the story of a man who didn’t give up on that passion, a man who clung on to the magical dream. Presenting Mr. Kaushik Bhaduri, a Calcutta man who was a senior employee at Microsoft in Seattle for much over a decade but is now back in the city for good, waving his magic wand around town. Here’s his story.
Tell us about your Journey from Microsoft to magic
Well it would be wrong to call it a journey. I learnt magic when I was 10 years old I just never let the magician in me die. I was obsessed with it during school, earned my pocket money from it while in college and survived through it when I began working. So magic has not been a part of my journey, it has been my journey.
How did it all begin?
When I was about 10 years old, I had a maternal uncle visit our house at times. He used to often show us some magic tricks in the evenings and while all used to be awestruck, I used to keep asking ‘How did you do that!?’ After constant attempts of getting answers out of him and not getting any I took the mischievous path of going through his luggage when he’d step out of the house. And no matter how dexterously I’d arrange all his stuff back, I got caught soon. This is how it happened
On a fine afternoon, my uncle showed a magic trick to my Kakima, and she inevitably asked ‘How did you do that?’ and being the kid I was back then I yelled ‘I know how he did that!’ and came my grumbling uncle “Of course he will know, he’s been going through my bags from the time I have come”.
What was the first trick you learnt?
Well, after I got caught, my uncle forgave me soon and taught me the first basic trick in magic, ‘The French Drop’ – the art of making any tiny object vanish in thin air! He showed me how it was done asked me to practice it till perfection.
What happened after that?
Well, after that I never got enough of magic. When I was 12, my uncle took me to Shyamdalal, a magic equipment shop on Park Street and from 12 to 15, I spent all my pocket money on all sorts of junk that I could buy from there.
But, when I was 16, I met the legendary Gautam Guha. His advice to me was simple. Buy 1 bridge set 777 cards and 4 – 1 Rupee coins; get Henry Hay’s handbook; stand in front of the mirror and practice. No fancy gadgets needed, no shortcuts! That changed my journey.
But then, how did you manage magic between studies and career?
I simply never let go of magic. During college I used to perform magic at a restaurant to earn some extra pocket money. When I was working, I was always the in-house magician of the company at all gatherings.
Why do you think street magic has not evolved as a profession in India?
Magic is not considered high art here. The art of magic is in the concealment of the art. And when people here don’t understand what’s happening, the label it under ‘cheat’ or ‘omnious’
What is magic to you?
To me, magic is a way of life. It encapsulates my understanding of other people and the world.
I use my 5 senses to give an impression of the 6th