Monday, July 28

Bombay it is.

I realize I haven't updated this place in a considerable while. For that I'm unabashedly unashamed and utterly and absolutely unapologetic. So nyeah. But you have to admit. I was able to keep you occupied with images of humping cows.

This day finds me in Bombay, the city of dreams, the city of love. Well fuck, I have no idea if it actually is all of those, I'm just there. A not-so-early morning flight which I left the house way too early for, despite living rather close to the airport, later, I found myself in the cramped confines of a largely empty Go Air plane, which refused to leave the ground. The pilot would allow it to traverse a few feet, and then just when the engine (not to mention the passengers) figured it was time to leave the ground, he'd slam down on the brakes and the sound of a bell would chime through the plane, as if to reassure us that the pilot wasn't in fact fucking with us, and we were only progressing a stage of lift off.

To reiterate, lift off we did. I figure the pilot was a former drag racer (possibly a member of Street Devils), the last time he seemed on the verge of teasing us with another possible take-off and the engine took an even deeper breath; he chose that moment to floor it. A cramped, excessively turbulent, drowsy two hours later, all the while being stared at by a tiny spectacled girl, I looked out the window (my only respite from said girl) to see the plane lowering itself from the clouds, to what I dubbed the 'nether clouds', a phenomenon that has seemed to hang over Bombay for the month I've been here. At some point, the neat, blocks of farmland gave way to a mass of land that for some reason that defies logic reminded me of a wet dog.

Soon after viewing the little peninsula-like bit I couldn't (and still can't) name that I'd spotted on some map, and keeping an eye open for what I had been informed was the world's largest slum which I was unfortunately unable to catch, flight E717 (or something) landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, where upon reviving Ralph and catching my network in the curiously fish-ily tinged Bombay air, an obscene number of very obscenely worded messages arrived, the gist of which seemed to promise death by paper cut for not meeting before leaving or calling and saying farewell, in this day and age where everyone and their great aunt has a cell phone attached at the hip. As the tiny spectacled girl seemed to be struggling with her suitcase, I offered to help get it down, at which point she squeaked and immediately sat down, with her hands over her head as if hoping to catch the suitcase if it fell. I decided to get my own hand bag and make my way to the little bus offering to take the lot of us off the runway and into the bowels of the airport.

I chose this bus ride to make my first phone call from Bombay, to the voice I can never get out of my head. The voice I dream about at night, and have done so for over two years now, the voice I was lost to from the instant it first fell upon my ears, when I got knocked on my ass in a way so fulfilling, so satisfying, that to this day I still remember with vivid detail that fateful Saturday evening at Le Meridian, two years ago November, when the owner of that voice's first glance in my direction sent a lightning bolt down my spine. But unfortunately, this post isn't about her, I don't feel I can do her justice here. We will get back to her though.

Received by an uncle's assistant, followed by a maiden voyage down a highway I was unfamiliar with, I felt as if I was exploring some part of North Delhi, excepting the fact that there were a lot of billboards advertising films and TV shows, and the cabs had regions of Bombay written on the backs of them . Of note would be Thane. Now for some reason I've been convinced that Thane is pronounced in a way similar to the title brought into popular culture by the play about MacBeth, The Thane of Cawdor. That (crazed) notion was shattered by someone beloved, with an unforgettable voice, which made the conviction-shattering permissible, if not acceptable and encourageable.

I'm yet to actually visit Thane, or really have an idea as to where in Bombay it is, or Worli for that matter (I know it's at the other end of this incomplete bridge next to some fort in Bandra) but I have begun to understand the layout of this city, and I can claim to have taken a ferry from Andheri to Mud Island, something a lot of the folks I worked with at that particular studio in Mud Island couldn't, as they drove (suckers). I've also mastered the train system, walked up and down Marine Drive four times (in one day) and fallen in love with the chocolate chip cookies from Candies, not to mention just about everything Mad Over Doughnuts has to offer. Yes, my cast and crew are into a lot of junk food.

I should specify as to what exactly I'm doing in Bombay. I'm working on one of the multitudes of dance reality shows on air at the moment. The only difference being that this one's somewhat newer, it's got better known faces, and it was aggressively advertised on the channel it airs on, the sister channels, the internet, the radio, every second freaking billboard on the aforementioned highway, and (apparently) all the ‘artists’ went to the PVR (I’m not sure if PVR is something different in Bombay) or something and promoted the show from there. As I'm with the production house, I have the usual production duties that include floor managing, writing out time codes during the actual shooting, supervising construction of props, and later, the editing, as well as interacting with the various 'artists' (some of which have gotten to hear the voice I love so much over the course of the numerous phone calls I make to hear that voice myself), and finally, visiting the rehearsal halls and overseeing the choreographers' progress.

What I didn't count on happening within the first two weeks, but did intend for eventually was to work with the director. He initially gave me the slightly creative task of assisting the chap who handles all those funky colored moving lights all over the set and picking out appropriate color schemes for the various performances. Fortunately, the same chap found me amiable enough to teach me how to use the majority of his own, as well as the DOP’s lighting console. Following this, I got to handle camera cues during the actual shoot, and finally, wound up with director during the technical rehearsal, making sure the performance rehearsals were being shot and any and all openings and color changes were duly noted, and conveyed to the camera crew during the actual shoot. I don’t think I need to mention just how elated I really am throughout our three shoot day each week. I am still convinced I’m screwing up on a regular basis, something I keep asking a colleague of mine to point out for me.

I’m yet to truly explore Bombay, and I really think I ought to get started on that, considering I’ve been here a month and spent most of my time at work, or else in the loving arms of the woman with the unshakeable voice (over the phone though, unfortunately, she’s in Delhi). I’d appreciate any and all recommendations; I may have this Thursday off.

For the record, I didn’t think this post would do adequate justice to my beloved, so there’s a whole post about her coming up. Just keep pushing me to post it.