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The DiploFam recently won a drawing at the Consulate for free tickets to the circus. Rambo Circus, the largest circus in India (http://www.rambocircus.in/ ), was in town for a few weeks to provide thrills, chills, and the real possibility that someone in the audience could get harmed.

The last time we went to the circus was about two years ago, in DC, at the Verizon Center. We paid $13 for the tickets, which was the average ticket price. We were seated in the nosebleed section and directly in front of the lighting rigging, so that it was nearly impossible to see any of the high wire acts. When we moved down two rows after intermission, the security guards gave us Hell, even though the seats weren’t taken and my at-the-time-4yo was so upset that he couldn’t see that he was actually crying.

We arrived on a Saturday night to the fairgrounds in Bandra, and the place was brightly lit with everyone in a festive mood.

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We went to the entrance and were escorted through the tent flaps to the front row.

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Now, this was pretty cool. I would not have to deal with a small child who couldn’t see.

Looking around, I noticed that the seats were all pretty good. Unlike in the West, you’re not in an area. You are in a real, honest-to-Siva circus tent! The kind you saw being set up in Dumbo; the kind your mom or dad (or maybe your grandmother and grandfather if you aren’t my age) told you about coming to town. Cool. The seats weren’t fixed – they were plastic outdoor chairs, which you could adjust if you wished. I saw signs that marked the sections by cost – R200 all the way up to R1000. For the price of my nosebleed ticket, I could have front row here.

The circus ring in front of us was a bit worn, but serviceable. Worn red carpets were all around to help keep dust down. A few things needed a coat of paint, but otherwise, it looked pretty darn good.

The show started with some trapeze artists, who were not that awesome, but the benefit here was that we could actually see them. A few other acts followed, such as

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the dog act (brilliant),

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the hula-hoop girl (how does she DO that?),

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and some stunt guys

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and contortionists and acrobats. All of them were very talented, and you were so close you could see what a great time they were having.

Midway through, we went to get some snacks, and two cotton candys, two popcorns (with spicy masala!) and four drinks set us back about $10. Beats the cotton candy I purchased from Ringling for $14 a pop.

At intermission, they began to ready the ring for the swirl thing stunts – that open barbell-shaped cage thing that spins while two guys do crazy things on it. The lead stunt guy for that was about, um, my age. While he appeared to be in decent shape except for a middle-aged belly, I was a little skeptical about him actually making it through the performance safely. I mean, DiploDad just isn’t able to do what he could when he was 20, and I imagine that someday, even regular circus folk have to face reality. I was biting my nails, and he hadn’t even taken the stage.

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Turned out, I was wrong. Yes, it was stressful. But he was wonderful. He played to the crowd, and soon we were all standing, cheering, and hollering.

But the best thing about the Rambo Circus was the way the children were treated. I noticed about halfway through the show that children had begun to take up space on the carpets leading up to the stage, and were slowly sneaking their way closer and closer.

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In contrast to our Ringling Experience, the Rambo performers and staff encouraged it, walking around the kids and smiling and patting them on the back. When it was time for the obligatory audience volunteer portion of the clown performance, every single kid who wanted to was in the ring, jumping rope, and then participating in the happiest and craziest dance party I have seen this side of Ibiza. It wasn’t just the corporate sponsor’s kids or the wealthy kids whose parents sprung for the $350 tickets.

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I cannot tell you how happy that made my heart. Every kid, from the last row to the first was there, having a great time, being able to see, and definitely leaving with lifetime memories. The DiploBoys even said it was “better than the last time”. I couldn’t agree more.

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