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face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun. --Romeo & Juliet, Act III, Scene 2
lightlove: a candlelight tribute to Gaurav “Gigi” Gopalan dupont circle, washington, dc, september 25, 2011, 7pm
I. Opening and Welcome – Jason McCool II. Reminiscences of Gaurav/Shakespeare readings III. Remarks by DC Councilmember Jim Graham IV. Shiva Subbaraman, UMD V. Remarks by Gaurav’s partner Bob Shaeffer VI. Candlelight walk to 11th St.; more tributes there
special thanks to: Anne-Marie Dittman, Puesh Kumar, Shiva Subbaraman, Leigh Anna Fry, Zoe Cowan, Jay Hardee, Christopher Henley, Allison Stockman, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Cartwright Moore, Councilmember Jim Graham, KhushDC, Capt. Edward Delgado (SLU, MPD), Sgt. Carlos Mejia (GLLU, MPD), Robbin Owen at National Park Service, Jeffrey Richardson, and the office of DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. --Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, quoted on Gaurav’s website
“There is no judgment… only light and dark, only truth and ignorance. What is true is good; evil is quite simply ignorance.” “My mother told me if you were to take the next ten years and memorize all of Shakespeare, I guarantee it you will become an amazing person. It breaks you down and makes you a better person. It is a guarantee.” "No matter the obstacle, you just say ‘F*ck it, I love this honor of burden, and I will overcome.' Then you do it."
“It’s as important as life, and as unimportant as life, because at the end of the day it’s all a drama, an illusion to begin with. Does that sort of answer the question?”
“You are judged by the nobility of your character.” “I love this table as much as I love Heather Haney, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love Heather Haney.” –Gaurav Gopalan
reminiscences of gaurav
gentle, generous, dynamic, magnificent, eloquent, infectious intellect, devoted, loved by all who met him –Martha Karl
his genius was always so impatient to get out of his heart and into ours o Gaurav how unquenchable you always were now I understand why of course so little time –Sara Barker
“He lived with divinity and we will remember him with serenity.” –Munish Puri
“Echoes of everyone's words and love, as well as the brilliance of Gigi's direction, spiritual and theatrical, that had such a profound impact on my life and the lives of so many others.” –John C. Bailey “I will be there with love in my heart for the spirit of this most brilliant, generous man.” –Allison Stockman
“There was this incredibly beautiful voice asking me to audition for the Scottish Play." She'd realize when she met him that Gopalan was beautiful in person, too. Not just handsome—though he was certainly that. He was joyful, kind, sweet, his friends say. And what made him beautiful was "an insatiable appetite for life. He was always looking to learn more, about himself, about others, about theater—he was always discovering something." –Heather Haney
“How could he serve was the philosophy he brought into the room.” –Kathleen Akerley “It’s overwhelming to see the sheer number of folks who love him so dearly. What a beautiful soul he was. He was my first friend in life. We shared every moment growing up: playing bathing sleeping fighting exploring studying passing failing. Not one day has gone by in 30 years without a mention of him in the day. He was so much a part of me–my daughter can narrate all our childhood incidences! I love you Gaurav, I always will. So much of what I am today is because of you and your continued faith in me. I can still see you smile.” –Alpana AndNeeraj
“I feel fortunate and blessed to have reconnected with Gopi, and spent a brilliant time on my last US trip. I remembered him as a brilliant, creative, musically inclined person. How could someone be so noble, brilliant, childlike all at the same time? Gopi, you've touched all of our hearts in a multitude of ways. How will we ever stop missing you?” –Geetanjali Kasliwal
“I have absolutely no doubt that he went out on a high. Never born, never died, only visited.” –Pawan Mishra
“As we mourn and grieve Gaurav's passing, we also strengthen our support to one another. Let the death of this young bright life bring us closer, in healing and in compassion and in the warmth of the thought that we are there for each other.” –Rakesh Modi “Gaurav was a wonderful soul... you raised an amazing man and he touched everyone he came in contact with.” –David Becker
“Gaurav and I studied in school together. He was one of the warmest people anyone could come across. I don't have words to express my grief for your loss.” –Anuja Rehani Mahajan
“Words can't sufficiently express my sympathies. Gaurav touched so many souls in DC; he was a bright ray of positive energy and I will never, ever forget what he contributed to my life. To me, his spirit will remain forever alive and present.” –Jason McCool
“Gaurav was love incarnate - spontaneously generous. He made everyone feel beautiful, talented, and brilliant, because he saw the divine in everyone and everything around him. He made this world a brighter and warmer place.” –Sue Jin Song
“Guarav was like my son. Thank you so very much for raising such a wonderful, amazing, fun-loving, talented, positive, generous, kind hearted young man. I am honored to have known him. I will miss him so very much.” –Urmi Mukherjee
“Gaurav asked Dan Eichner and me to do a scene for a WSC fundraiser several years ago. Miranda had never really caught my attention but in rehearsing the scene with Gaurav I fell utterly in love. "Elizabeth, Miranda is every woman, just as you are every woman. She grew up in the forest. She is a woodland creature!" He said these things with authority, love, trust and delight and it was infectious. Dan and I delighted in working the scene with Gaurav. A director who finds the right words to inspire, guide, and free his actors all at once is a beautiful thing. He is teaching still.” – Elizabeth Jernigan
“I'll never forget his joy, support, enthusiasm, energy, and his love for all. He was a light in our lives, and I'll miss him greatly. My love and thoughts to you and yours, Mr. Gopalan.” –Frank Britton
“A life cut short, but meaning so much to so many and such a variety of people! For all his talents, it was his love for life and others that has touched us the most deeply. Gaurav clearly was an exceptional man.” –Lee Ordeman “What a brilliant guy! I still can’t believe that he is no more. I remember good ole GBS days and those numerous projects, dramas, talks and involved discusions to which he give his 100%. Gaurav, we feel lucky to have met you.” –Jayant Deval “The passion he had was so infectious it was all we could think of. He had memorized lyrics, dance moves, stage movement, expressions to such detail that it could not go wrong. He was the strictest yet sweetest director one could have! We had so much fun during those few weeks and thankfully that's my memory of Gaurav! Laughing, clapping his hands to get everyone working and then laughing some more!! I still remember the endless number of times we all sat and listened to the song 'Seasons in the sun' and now I cannot listen to the song without thinking if him! RIP Gaurav, you shall be remembered fondly forever.” –Manavi Ghosh “I was in the same class as Gopi and have fond memories of him. I raise a toast to a life well lived... a successful professional and a much loved friend - an inspiration to many. Adieu dear friend.” –Ruchika Sood “I was friends with Gopi at school. Gaurav was one of the brightest persons I have met and when I see his accomplishments it is not surprising at all. Deeply saddened. My thoughts are with his family and friends. Gaurav, may your soul be at peace.” –Anurag Kumar
“He contacted me out of the blue in 2006 and said he would do anything for us, he was so devoted to the plays of Shakespeare. He told me that to work with us on them would be a dream.” –Christopher Henley
“He touched so many of our lives in so many ways. I remember our arguments, our discussions, our fierce conversations. He teased me endlessly ‘cos I was old enough to be his mom, and he said he was not used to fierce Desi aunties! My thoughts are with his partner, his parents, family, and all of us who knew him in so many ways.”– Shiva Subbaraman “How can I ever forget this beautiful man with endless energy. His stature in physical proportions might not have daunted most - but a couple of minutes in his presence and you knew you were with a very large spirit and mind. A visionary! May Bhaiyu live forever as a symbol of greatness, boundless energy, endless compassion and true grit and genius. He seemed to have had it all. From looks to brains. That he was still so generous and kind - a rare discovery - anywhere. As I mourn his loss from our world, I also wish great strength to all that have been touched by him in any way. To his family I offer the deepest most heartfelt condolences and all the strength that another can give them. This is not easy, but they should find strength in knowing that their dear Gaurav, lives on in many ways and forms in the hearts and minds of all the countless many he touched through all his many wonderful ways. Wish words were easy or came with poignant clarity at times like these. Forgive me please. Forgive me dear Gaurav. If the roles had been reversed and you were writing in my place, I know you would have fared better. That is who you were. Forever gifted and endlessly talented and able. You shall always live in my heart, mind and spirit.” –Suvir Saran
“Gaurav was a remarkable man. As a very talented engineer, he asked me if he could sit in on my large Shakespeare class for undergraduates at Maryland. I said only if he'd participate. He did. He was smart, humble, imaginative, creative--all qualities he took into the theater and, I suspect, into his engineering work. This is a terrible loss.” --Maynard Mack, Prof. of English, UMD “Today in a few hours, Gaurav's mortal remains will arrive. He will be bedecked with a 700 garland of marigold and roses, his favourite flowers, and will be taken to the Holy River Baghmati on the banks of which, to the chant of holy hymns, his final religious rites will be performed. All his relatives, friends and admirers will see his soul off in a gilded chariot drawn by the seven white steeds journeying to the Heavens;.the angels and the gods will herald his arrival. Shakespeare, Chekhov, Milton, Keats and the like will be there to receive him in their open arms. Join us in saying a prayer to rest his soul in peace.” Urmila and Raj (Varadarajan) Gopalan , Siddhartha and Namrata It is strange how a covering can be an uncovering, how a flimsy layer of makeup can be a revelation
Stranger still how a body can lay three days in a morgue and walk on soft feet through a condemned warehouse talking drippy British vowels
Wonder to him was air, recycled with every breath, and he exhaled the last of it on us We cynics who have forgotten how to love have one less reminder It is strange above all to pull out the threads of memory and try to weave a life Strange and hopeless What briefly was uncovered, shining, full, now darkened and obscured to all but the ghosts in a condemned warehouse -Evan Crump “Russia Is Not a Land of Cherry Orchards” –program notes for WSC’s THE CHERRY ORCHARD by Gaurav Gopalan, 2009 Life is essentially a comedy (my view). In equal parts farcical and ironic. With a certain impenetrable sadness to it. Chekhov of all great playwrights, gets closest to capturing the essence of the soul of the ephemeral nature of being. If Shakespeare’s is a theatre of Character, Chekhov’s is a theatre of the Spirit, of the poetry of soul, of Truth. He captures the spirit of human character, through juxtapositions, ironies, missed connections, disconnected portraits of characters, mis-communicating in the most terrible way. His observations are always marked with empathic warmth and scientific sincerity. Chekhov thought of all creatures, including himself, as half-baked bunglers. Imperfect beings, full of folly, making a glorious mess of their lives and of the world around them. Chekhov respected people who recognized this about themselves and who at least made an effort to rise above their conditions. Even if they eventually failed miserably. He admired people who had the courage to ask the bold questions. Wait – is this a farcical Hamlet, a Beckettian Twelfth Night, or is it Chekhov? A symphony by Tchaikovsky or a grotesque dance of sidestepping clowns? Well … all of the above!
A letter to friends – Gaurav Gopalan, Aug. 28, 2011
Hi Everyone, I am Gigi. I am a very naturally feminine person, always been. I want to thank all the wonderful members on this website who have contacted me and encouraged me along my journey, especially my fellow CD sisters, love you all!!! You gentlemen really know how to make a girl blush – bless you ! I was born very feminine. Since my childhood, everyone treated me like a girl and I have always felt like a girl inside. I love to dress like a lady ... no that’s not quite right … I LOVE BEING the lady I really am on the inside, in every way, and dressing up simply enhances the illusion on the outside. I do love feminine, beautiful, fragile things. I am refined and cultured (was beaten into me in my childhood), well educated, and, I would like to think, a kind, giving, gracious person. I am Asian, petite, smooth.
I plan to use this website to enshrine my transition – a transition from a cocoon to a butterfly, so that my outer manifestation mirrors my inner femininity. I worship my mother and want to be a lady like her in every way - in fact if I can ever hold up even a candle to her radiant sun, I will die a happy happy lady. The butterfly has always been a metaphor for a lady – In M. Butterfly, a young cross dressing lady says In classical drama and opera, the lady is traditionally played by a boy because only a man really knows how a woman should ideally behave. Of course the reverse is always true.
Along the way I got encouragement, kindness, even love from a lot of elegant ladies and kind gentlemen. I stopped dressing up at age 15, and stifled my inner woman, stamped put my own butterfly wings and camouflaged my femininity with masculine clothing. It was like living in a coffin as a functioning corpse. I am tip-toeing back out now, at age 30. But as I stepped into my first towering stilettos, my femininity came gushing back to me, like an old friend that had cowered in the wings, dormant, neglected, humiliated, terrified by the world, but now somewhat empowered. It’s amazing what age, and a little bit of vodka and a stiff smoke can do - LOL!
As I sat in my dressing chamber, giddily unpacking the hoards of dresses I had purchased from thrift stores around town, with Piaf crooning encouragingly in the background, the rain pouring down outside, the cherished memories of my mother's divine grace embracing me like a healing balm on my life-long wounds, I started to put on the costume of womanhood, the silicone breasts, lacy bra, gossamer panties, an elegant evening dress, a ladies hat, silk stockings, rouge, lip color, wig, my mothers precious jewelry, pumps and Elizabeth Taylor's fragrance, I peered at the mirror before me, and there standing like a demure young lady, frightened, fragile, excited, but still innocent and gracious stood someone wholly new, and yet very familiar, and recognizing my real, inner self I said to her kindly "Welcome back, dear old friend, I will never let you leave me again!"
One then incanted silently Shakespeares' Sonnet 20 as a commemoration to this occasion.
A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion; A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted With shifting change, as is false women's fashion; An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling, Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling, Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth. And for a woman wert thou first created; Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting ...
Here’s to you mama, who gave me life, Shakespeare, grace and countless other treasures, I love you and I miss you, heart! I hope I can make you proud of me someday.