Bowled Over

by Maya Matthew (India)

The last thing I expected USA

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The husband was very keen on Las Vegas. Gambling doesn’t get me excited but for Ramesh it’s beyond excitement and I didn’t have the heart to throw culture and art at him and see his eyes go blank. The lyrics ‘like a circle in a spiral, a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning’ best describes the way Las Vegas functions - seamlessly. One of the many Cirque Du Soleil shows on offer would be a good example. We settled for Mystere at Treasure Island. The stage is dynamic. Rising up in different levels through smoke or filling with water to create a pool and artists with exaggerated hairstyles and costumes which look like they have been painted on, achieve impossible feats on the trapeze suspended high above the stage. You watch with your heart in your mouth because there are no safety nets in sight. The dramatic descent of the Taiko drummers with some humungous drums from the darkness up on high and the tempo of the drumming had me enthralled. The clever lighting added to the mystery. For those who designed the casinos and entertainment you got to dream wild and actually had a budget to realize your concepts and design. We went to Rumjungle in the Mandalay Bay Resort which boasted of having all the rums from around the world, I had to see if they had Old Monk rum from India. They didn’t but the bar was a hundred and forty four feet long and nineteen feet high stacked with a plethora of bottles of rum. The musical fountains of the Bellagio. Wonder what the design brief for this one was. Jets of water which look like lengths of satin ribbon twirl, swirl and bend in sinuous unison like visual lyrics for the piece of instrumental music and lights which are all synchronized. We waited to witness this truly mesmerizing sight like a number of others because at the time there was nothing comparable anywhere in the world. My favourite was the Fiori di Como in the lobby of the Bellagio. I am a huge fan of Dale Chihuly’s work and here were 2,000 hand blown unique glass flowers positioned on the 2,100 square feet ceiling and you can’t help but stare. The seduction is so subtle you end up loosening your purse strings. The Wheel of Fortune and the slot machines got a lot of my money but I was happy at the end of the weekend because I came back with a container full of quarters to feed the washing machine and dryer. I wasn’t expecting to come back a gambler and nor did I expect to be rooting for Las Vegas as a destination to indulge in an art and design treasure hunt.