Rang De Basmati Rice

Okay, I am very upset right now. I just spent half an hour writing an enormous blog post, and Blogger.com ate it!! I must now take a deep breath and try to recreate most of it…

First, happy birthday to Ceri M., who I’m sure is reading this.

Second, thanks to Cousin Ajay for telling us about blognomics, because blogging has become that geeky. Ajay also lets us know about chess boxing, ’cause we need to know. No, it hasn’t caught on in India yet, but Bollywood is pushing this ridiculous looking movie called Fight Club, which appears to be a direct rip-off of the Hollywood version.

Speaking of Bollywood, the big film here is Rang De Basanti, starring Amir Khan. They are pushing this thing to the moon. What I find interesting is that the music videos spun off from this film are Westernized in the sense that they feature snippets from the film accompanied by the song; whereas, traditional Bollywood music videos are the song and dance numbers from the films, featuring the impossibly good-looking actors lip-synching while the (presumably less attractive) studio musicians do the actual work. I intend to see Rang De Basanti before I leave India, but so far the theatre down the street is only showing Narnia!

Today was a day of experiments. First, there was the battle of Western pharmacology vs intestinal bacteria vs Indian Ayurvedic medicine. This morning saw the first appearance of the dreaded Bombay Belly (you know what I’m talking about). I wasted little time in popping loperamide pills because I had to make my 1pm appointment to have an Indian Ayurvedic massage. This was quite an adventure, since the massage involved undue vigorous focus on the lower abdomen. I am pleased to report that loperamide reigns supreme… so far.

I was so content with its performance that I immediately set out on my second experiment, to see how much I can reasonably blend in. So leaving my bag at home, I set out in (locally bought) jeans, running shoes, a t-shirt, dark glasses and a cell phone clipped to my belt –just like every other Indian man here. And you know what? No one noticed me! In fact, I just concluded a commercial transaction entirely in Hindi, with my mouth to my face to slur my accent, and I don’t think the vendor realized he was dealing with a foreigner. Or maybe he did and didn’t care. Who knows?

But for my part, I hapily conclude that much of what distinguishes me –racially an Indian– from the local Indians is my damned bag, a thing clinged to by tourists worldwide. Of course, my haircut, gait, body language and physique are all decidedly Western, so my stealth act is only so deep. Whatever; this is what you do without TV.

To celebrate, I broke out the visa card and spent $100 on clothes. This might not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that last night I bought dinner for three people for less than $6 total!

I leave you with this discovery. Weird. The article is 6 years old, but it’s presented as if it’s brand new.