Friday, March 19, 2004
SANSKRIT FOR "GARLAND"
SPANISH FOR "BAD"
Yesterday Bindi and I went to a Kannada fillum ("Malla") with Jyothi, the eldest girl in Suddha's coconut family (they own a small store not far from the city center, where they sell cigarettes, coconuts, candy, beedis and bananas). It was her first fillum in six months and there were so many people going to see it that all the balcony seats were sold out by the time we got there (to buy a ticket you walk over and talk to what is basically a small slit in a solid concrete wall). There were even scalpers! Who knows what they were charging for the Rs 30 (65-cent) balcony seats, which are top of the line (and the best place for ladies to sit). Rs 35? We didn't find out, because the next thing we knew, Jyothi had three newsprint tickets in her hand and was leading us up the stairs.....to the main floor.
The place was full of thin Indian guys in Oxford shirts and perfect hair and moustaches with some brightly-colored sari and salwaar-clad women sprinkled among them. Can you say "close?" The only seats left were in the first three rows, and that's where we ended up. The sound was amazing and the fillum started out brilliantly -- first there was a longhaired female Shiva, then a male one; everyone in the village wanted to *get* them but they were so tough no one could. Then something happened and suddenly the music came up and the screen was filled with a grinning fat dhoti guy with a moustache and mushroom-shaped Mac Davis perm-fro, riding a motorcycle covered with flowers and made of sand (no joke). For the rest of the fillum we had to watch this really unattractive man fight off four evil brothers and try to win the favor of the slutty westernized girl, whom he ended up seducing (of course she then became a demure, sari-clad, puja-mad picture of perfect motherhood).
Only at intermission time -- which was a madhouse as crores of men *ran* to the side lobbies to mainline cigarettes and snacks -- did we learn from Jyothi that pretty much THE ENTIRE FILLUM was a flashback. The place was so swarming with (horny) men that we did not dare get up and buy a much-needed chai and instead ended up watching some crooked, overhead-projected PSA's for things like having fewer children and not getting AIDS.
Throughout the second half I could not stop yawning or sweating (for some reason, most of the time one's ass is sweaty here in India -- many westerners have also told me this -- but on that day it was my entire body). We couldn't leave since Jyothi liked it and had treated us. Also just before the film started we noticed that two mystery seats had appeared out of nowhere in the aisle in front of us, effectively blocking it off entirely (and creating a *major* fire hazard). The only thing worth mentioning about the second half is the magical moment when Bindi and I looked at each other, each realizing the other one recognized that the song we were hearing was built around the bass hook from the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun."
No one groped us on the way out. Bindi went to Gokalum and Jyothi and I back to her house -- basically a one-room place behind the store which is half the size of my room at the Kaveri Lodge, and where four people live. More chai, and then we said our goodbyes.
Today is Friday which meant led primary series (and, later on, another cricket match against Pakistan). I went to Sharath's 6:30 class (rather than Guruji's 5:30 one; after last night's bomb-drop -- see yesterday's blog -- and subsequent late-night call of support from the Man in the US, there was no *way* I could get up in time for it. Besides I *love* Sharath's led primary, esp. on Fridays). There are a lot fewer students here than there were last month, because the entire class fit into just three rows (about 30 students). Last month they were selling out both primary classes; there were 120-150 people here, now only about 90. March is the time to come, if you can stand the heat. Anyway it was small and intimate we held Navasana and Urdvha Danurasana for what seemed (to me) like forever -- and *once again* I held Utpluthith for the entire interminable count to ten (more than I can say for certain senior teachers in the class). The other news is that Bick-the-coconut guy has "bhuja nawoo" or shoulder pain from all of the coconuts he cuts each day....
Now we have two days off -- Saturday and Sunday, which is Ugadi or the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It's basically a spring solstice fest not unlike Purim, in which sweet and bitter items are consumed. For me it means two days late sleeping....and getting ready for taking my leave on Wednesday. On the one hand I'm not ready to go at all, and on the other (the left one, I think) I'm *so* ready to go.