Published: 04th February 2019
Bengaluru's Chaos is juggling stress, tension and concentration to make life better. Here's how
Chaos is a group of flow artists with juggling being the dominant art form for them. They also have members skilled in hooping, poi, diabolo and more
A double masters degree holder quit a pretty successful job at one of the leading semiconductor companies in the world to go to juggling home-school. Three other engineers, also fascinated by juggling from an early age, got sucked into the 'Chaos' soon. Yes, that is what these group of talented engineer-jugglers based out of Bengaluru call themselves — Chaos!
It's a six members team — Mahit Warhadpande, Gunjan Saraf, Shrinivas Bhat, Shivam Agrawal, Arjun Kishore, and Felix Stephen. They are a group of flow artists — juggling being the dominant art form. We had an exciting conversation with Chaos about their ventures and how juggling can be used to improve concentration, solve problems and more. Excerpts:
What is Chaos all about?
Well, if we knew that, we wouldn't be calling ourselves "Chaos"! Jokes apart, we are a group of flow artists with juggling being the dominant art form for us. We also have members skilled in hooping, poi, diabolo etc. Over a period of time, people heard about us and offered us events. But we realised that event managers were completely unaware that juggling could be much bigger than just a sideshow to attract an audience. We at Chaos, are focusing on building unique acts that have the potential to belong to the stage as the main act. For example, our act "Juggling Friends and Foes" was very well received and was the feature act at a couple of events.
You have a very interesting set of members, who are also working professionals. Tell us more about them.
Gunjan Saraf was the extracurricular activities coordinator for Bethany High school and also facilitated the Oratory Club. To enhance his own skills he took part in a theatre workshop conducted by Bangalore Little Theatre. In the workshop a ball passing game was played that showed the difference between concentration and focus. This was in 2004. Today Gunjan still hasn't lost his focus!
A protege of Gunjan as far as juggling is concerned, Shrinivas is an electronics and communications engineer currently working as a principal engineer at Sankhya Labs and holds 6 US patents. His fascination with juggling began when he saw his father do a basic 3-ball cascade but it took some time for it to rise from his subconscious to his conscious mind at which point he joined Fundamentals, Gunjan's juggling school.
The self-styled "Jigyasu Juggler" is a double Masters (Physics and Electrical Engineering) from IITs Kanpur and Mumbai. After working at Texas Instruments, Bengaluru for over 16 years, Mahit is now "retired" and spends a lot of time "studying" juggling and is fascinated by the mathematics that it obeys.
An electronics engineer from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK), Shivam got introduced to Mahit and inevitably, to juggling, when he joined Texas Instruments. Currently working at Aura Semiconductor, he continues to pursue juggling as one of the most regular members at the Chaos weekly practice sessions.
Teasingly referred to as "Babaji" within the group, Arjun is perhaps the most dedicated flow arts practitioner in the group. He holds a day job as an IC design engineer at Sankalp semiconductor but manages to religiously make time to improve his juggling and poi skills apart from constantly exploring other flow arts.
Rounding off the list of engineer-jugglers at Chaos is Felix. Employed with Dell and has interests ranging from Python programming to Transcendental Meditation, Felix joined Gunjan's juggling school to explore the art of juggling as a precursor to exploring the art of magic and soon got sucked into the Chaos!
Juggling for fitness: Chaos is making exercise fun for kids and adults and is also helping them to improve concentration, solve problems etc (Pic: Rukmani Vinay Dasarapu)
It's very interesting how you use juggling to achieve better concentration, ability to set goals, analyse and solve problems, and build confidence. How do these relate?
For all of us at Chaos, the primary reason for juggling is fun; the other benefits that accrue are gravy. But for those for whom mere fascination is not enough to take up juggling for themselves, all these reasons might change their mind:
Concentration is one of the obvious benefits as you have to disengage your mind from all distractions and focus on every small deviation in the flight of the ball if you have to have a hope of catching it while not dropping any of the other balls you're juggling! An interesting and hugely beneficial side-effect is that you also completely forget the stress and tension of daily life as you get hypnotised by your juggling pattern.
Setting goals and solving problems: A juggling trick is a complex problem made up of many building blocks. Knowingly or unknowingly, what every juggler is doing when learning a trick is to break it down into more easily solvable component problems and then stitch those solutions together to arrive at the complete solution. Once you become aware of this, you will start seeing obvious parallels in applying this technique to other problems.
As for building confidence, the knowledge that you can now do something that looked so utterly complex and impossible just a short while ago does wonders. Performing, whether it is a full act on stage or a half-a-minute demonstration for a close circle of friends, is another way in which juggling boosts confidence.
What did you have in mind when you started Chaos? How has it changed as the group has grown?
The initiation of Chaos can be traced back to mid-2014 when Gunjan at Fundamentals and Mahit at Texas Instruments became aware of their common interest in juggling, thanks to the internet and YouTube. While Fundamentals was a juggling school, Mahit had also been teaching his colleagues at the office how to juggle and members from these two groups combined to create Chaos. When we started, we were just thrilled to have found other jugglers with whom we could discover/invent/try-out juggling tricks requiring teamwork between multiple jugglers. As we evolved, we seriously started considering performing on stage and as mentioned in answer to Q1, re-defining the perception of juggling as an entertainment art. That would be our little tribute to this art that has brought so much joy and learning to our own lives.
Juggling between work and fun: Chaos is a group of talented engineer-jugglers based out of Bengaluru (Rukmani Vinay Dasarapu)
Staying healthy is the mantra for almost everyone around us. How will Chaos help in that scenario?
Juggling is not just about fitness, it is about wellness. A great thing about juggling is that there is no wrong way of doing anything, just a different way. That freedom immediately makes it so much more fun. Having said that, practitioners must listen to what their body is telling them to avoid stress injuries, but apart from that, jugglers can have a ball exploring different variations of any trick, for example, making the throws (or catches, or indeed, both) from behind the back, between the legs, around the head and so on. One can also combine juggling with other activities like running, tight-rope walking, unicycling, acrobatics, dance, etc. to increase the overall fun factor. Juggling is also very accessible, requiring no infrastructure and minimal investment and is great for both outdoors and indoors (just watch out for that precious china vase).
Are you planning to perform, teach in other cities as well in the future?
As a group, Chaos is based in Bengaluru and as most of us are working professionals, it is difficult to tour other cities. However, Chaos does encourage individual members to go for shows/workshops etc. to other cities as per their availability. Schedules permitting, we would love to perform as a group in other cities as well.