Monday, May 31, 2010

My Sunday.

It's Memorial Day weekend and while I have no BBQs or binge-drinking to take part in, it's still been an interesting weekend, particularly yesterday. I had the second day on a shoot I was observing, being shot by Ravi Chandran's former assistant Bose, who recently shot "Kites."

First off, I couldn't find a rickshaw driver who knew where Film City was (despite having no problem the first three times I went out there). Finally found one who nodded and I got in but about 5 minutes later, he veered off in the wrong direction. "Bas! Bas!" (enough! stop! or something to that effect) I yell. He gets out of the rickshaw and comes back with another man who asks me where I want to go. "Film City, " I say. The man turns to the driver and says, "Film City" in English. "Ah!" says the driver, head-bobbling furiously. "Enjoy your time in Film City!" the man says to me as we do a wicked u-turn and head off in the correct direction. Of course.

At just about every light, the driver turns to me to carry on a conversation entirely in Hindi even though I plainly don't speak it. I think at one point he was telling me I needed water. I think he thought I was going hiking, due to my camera backpack and the fact that Film City is based inside a state park (I saw monkeys there 2 days ago! I filmed them! Unfortunately, I also managed to accidentally film some blase monkey sex before I realized what was going on). At the third light, a little street girl pops up next to me. She's maybe 7 years old, in dire need of clean clothes and a bath. She asks me for money. You're not supposed to give money to children (or able-bodied adults) but guidebooks do say it's okay to give to the elderly and disabled because there's no real welfare system taking care of them here.* So I shake my head and turn away and as I do so, she reaches into the rickshaw.... and honks my boob. Sorry, but that's the only way I can put what she did. "HEY!" I yelled and tried to swat her but she was already gone.

Off we go and as we get closer to Film City, my driver starts prattling on about the star trailer that's rumbling along in front of us. "Anil Kapoor! Anil Kapoor!" he says. Another rickshaw driver pulls along side of us, and they have, what I'm assuming is, an animated conversation about who might be in the star trailer. Right then, a motocyclist attempts to pass in front of the star trailer and across the other side of traffic and is creamed by an oncoming rickshaw. The motorcyclist is fine and stands up immediately. The rickshaw driver is also fine and faces the guy he just hit. They're clearly about to start screaming at each other, a spectacle for which all of traffic has stopped in eager anticipation. For the record, drama / rubbernecking is encouraged here. Traffic accidents are rarely calm events where you exchange numbers and get on with your life. No, first there's a lot of screaming and arm-waving and blame. Doesn't matter is one person was clearly in the wrong, they'll still get in on the screaming/ gesturing. A friend of mine told me about how his car was parked (and he wasn't inside) when he watched a young woman back right into it. He walks over to his car to inspect the damage while she gets out and proceeds to yell at him about how could he park there (it was his apartment parking space), how stupid etc etc. Anyway, the rickshaw driver and motorcyclist have squared off, tension is zinging between them, and every car/rickshaw driver, pedestrian and random bystander is waiting for the show to begin, when you can pretty much see the sudden realization cross the driver's face -- and he takes off in a sprint after his rickshaw WHICH IS STILL TRAVELING DOWN THE ROAD. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to it before it crashes into another rickshaw, but I don't think it was going particularly fast and no one was hurt. Everyone watched the scene for about a moment.... and then traffic just started moving again.

Got to the shoot at last. Not particularly thrilling and it was a short day. Afterward, I grabbed another rickshaw driver who couldn't stop talking about America -- but in particular Angelina Jolie. "Hot and sexy," he breathes. He's very young, cute and a little chubby with a mustache I'm sure he's quite proud of. He asks me if I like Angelina or Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or Madonna. I tell him sure but I like Hrithik Roshan best. Oh, he LOOOOVES Hrithik apparently. Then he's asking me if I have a boyfriend (yes, I always have a boyfriend). We get back to my apartment building and as I'm digging in my purse for some money, he sees the People Magazine I've just bought with Hrithik on the cover. As I pull out the money (plus a small tip), he casually slides out the magazine from my lap to look at it, and casually places his hand on my knee underneath and squeezes. Cheeky little.... I swat his hand, hand him his money, and scold him, "Be good!" He smiles this little boy smile... and then asks me for 20 more rupees! Which is like fifty cents but since my 30 minute drive was a total of 2 bucks, that's a bit much.. and I tipped him already. Just then Sonia, my roommate rolled up in another rickshaw and walked over. "How's your day," she asked. "Fine, until this kid tried to rip me off," I said gesturing at my driver. Sonia asks him if he's trying to get more money out of me to which he just grins cheekily and denies it in a so-what-if-i-was? manner.

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