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Posts Tagged ‘fingerbowl’

05/16/2009
9:35 am EST        7:05 pm IST

Have been on this plane for eleven hours now, and was actually able to sleep for about seven of those. There’s not much to say really: the food was the best I’ve ever had on a flight (granted, that’s not saying much), there is an appalling Spanish woman in the row in front of me who yelled at everyone for the first few hours, and a couple of amazingly well behaved children behind me. Seriously – they are about two and three, and have been wonderfully quite the whole time. Maybe it’s just American children who are evil.

05/17/2009
1:16 am IST

I am now in my (freezing cold, how does one turn down the AC?) apartment in Mumbai. Our rooms are basic, with two beds and a closet, one drawer each, and a bathroom. It’s kind of like being in the dorms again, only on the other side of the world.
It took a while for the idea of being in India to set it. All airports look alike, so other than the fact that everyone besides us was Indian, there was nothing to distinguish the Mumbai airport from Newark. It was not until we walked outside that the difference literally hit me in the face. 10pm, and it was 92 degrees. Hot and humid enough that you could almost take a shower just by standing outside – not that you’d want to, since you can practically smell the pollution. Small, mangy dogs prowl the streets, and entire families walk hand-in-hand along the side of the road – where they could be going at this hour, I don’t know.

05/17/2009
8:18 pm IST

Family on MotorcycleMumbai is a place of juxtapositions. It is a third world country, make no mistake, but it is also a highly developed one, and this contrast is startling. To exit a large shopping mall and encounter an emaciated family begging for change; to drive through city streets amongst Audis and BMWs and see women sorting through trash and children hauling bricks by wheelbarrow; it makes one wonder how this is possible.

There is no middle ground – there is rich and there is poor, and the poor is far more so than I have ever seen. I have seen women and children begging for money before, but that was in Europe, where the poor are relatively few and far between, and therefore better fed. Here, there are simply too many. There is not enough charity to go around, and the result is abject poverty for a fairly large percentage of the population. The thing that kills is that there really isn’t anything I can do. I gave a young girl some money today, and then took her picture, and I think that is what I will continue to do – in the hopes that someone might get some food they otherwise would not have, and so maybe by seeing a photo more people will begin to care that there is something seriously wrong with the way we live.

Girl in Orange Dress
05/17/2009
Dinner

TG requested a blog post about finger bowls – I shall give her a haiku:
Warm water with lime.
Dip your fingers in the bowl;
Now, digest your meal.

05/18/2009
12:06 IST

Just a quick recap of the day: after a breakfast of cereal and chicken tikka pizza (gotta love India) we drove in Mumbai proper and shopped. First stop was a street market where we bought clothes for ridiculously low prices (150 rupees for a shirt is about $3). It almost seemed wrong to haggle with the vendors – what’s a few dollars to me when they probably need it a lot more, but they seemed to look down on people who didn’t try to get a bargain. Got four tops (one doesn’t fit, must go to Rachel, the pixie), a pair of Indian leggings and a skirt for the equivalent of about $20.
After that we drove to a large shopping mall where we got lunch and bought groceries. There was something very surreal about standing in a grocery store in Mumbai and listening to what appeared to be the disco karaoke station – ABBA, the Beegees and the Village People seem a whole lot weirder when everyone around you is speaking not English. Speaking of surreal, one thing that boggles my mind is the fact that all signage and billboard ads are in English. All of them! Some have Hindi translations, but most don’t. This makes sense for ads – as someone pointed out, who but the educated and English speaking would be rich enough to afford perfume? – but even the command “Honk Ok Please” on the back of all trucks? This, incidentally, is to tell people driving behind the truck to honk and let the truck driver know of their presence, since side mirrors seem nonexistent.
Must sleep now – we are waking up early tomorrow and will be meeting Loveleen Tandan!

05/18/2009
8:23 pm IST

My bedroom smells like pigeon, the bathroom ceiling is caving in, and there is a gecko on the wall! Welcome to India. Also, apparently dirty clothes attract cockroaches, so now I have to worry about that too. Agh!

05/18/2009
9:15 pm IST

Regardless of my last entry, I am so far enjoying my stay in India. Today was our first at Whistling Woods, and goodness, was it a long day. I was awake at 7am, still not quite un-jetlagged, and we did not leave WWI until about 8pm. First we took a tour of the school – the facilities here are amazing, and if I had interest in production, I would be very into the idea of going here for graduate school. Ironically, the only thing they do not seem to stress here is screenwriting, which, from what I can tell, is a rather neglected aspect of Indian cinema. A story or concept will be formulated, and the script written along with filming. The idea of writing a full script and making the movie from there seems like a relatively uncommon practice. Anyway, I digress.
We were given talks by the Dean of Whistling Woods, John Lee an American who somehow ended up here, Anil Zankar, a professor for Film Appreciation, and Rahul Puri, the Executive Director of Mukta Arts Limited. They all had interesting things to say, and made some points that I had not thought of before. For instance, Mr. Zankar compared Hindi cinema to Indian food – a full Indian meal is served all at once, with all courses on the same plate. That is what film is like too – the sweet, the sour and the spicy all together.
IMG_4955In the evening, by a pure chance of fate, we got to meet with Loveleen Tandan, the co-director of Slumdog Millionaire. She is one of the nicest, most down to earth people I have ever met, and being able to talk with her was a great privilege. In a sense she created her position as co-director as she began simply as the casting director, and then became so involved in the making of the film that she was given her own crew. I’m really glad we got to meet her – made for a very good start to the trip.

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