Sunday, June 08, 2003

Last night I went to see a hindi movie. When i got to the ticket counter with my friend, we were asked "which show?". "What the hell does it matter!" we thought, "they're all the same! Boy loves girl, girls family dont like boy, boy and girl sing while 1000's of extras dance whilst changing costumes very few seconds. Boy get's wrongly accused of awful crime and has to run away and track down his enemies and beat them up for at least 30 mins until they are covered in blood, then they all sing and dance again, then eventually boy proves his innocence and has to choose between shooting bad guy and going back to jail or letting police take bad guy. He chooses to shoot bad guy, but police decide he was bad afterall so let him off."

However, we were wrong. The movie we had bought tickets for was part of a new breed of Indian movie that tries to push the boundaries of hindi movie making. It was called "Into the woods....again". I dont know if this means it was a sequel or if it is just the name. Under the name on the poster is written in big letters "bought to you by Surinda Coconut Oil"... Anyway, the movie started with a girl in bed who was traumatised by watching the news showing images of ppl suffering as a result of war that she screams and throws the remote control at the tv. This is a bad start, I thought. Then there's lots of talking and eventually these two middle class families head of into the woods...again. Occasionally the music wen a bit eerie and i thought maybe it was going to turn into a horror movie, but i was always disssapointed. There was even a scene where one guy went down on his wife! obviously the camera didn't follow him but you saw her face and she moaned a little. Anyway, after half am hor of watching this drivel, with not the slightest bit of violence, singing, or dancing, we gave up and went to see X-Men 2 instead. :)

Today I went out to see the Victoria memorial, which is a big old british building from the time when britain "liberated" India (notice i'm using post Gulf war2 terminolgy). On the way there I was stopped by an old indian guy who wanted to chat to me. He was very friendly and I chatted to him for a bit. His name was Clifton, and he was from Goa originally, so he was Roman catholic, spoke very good english, and had recieved an english education. Now he worked as a gardener at the Victoria memorial and earned 1000 rupees a month (about 12 quid). I told him I was going to get some breakfast and he told me he knew just the place. After walking for about 30 mins I realised that we had just done one huge circle and ended up back where we started!! I pointed this out to him and he said "Yes" and smiled at me, as if that somehow explained why I had been walking for 30 mins in the sweltering heat and humidity! Then he led me to a restaurant that we had already passed and said "It's still closed, but we can eat at the canteen at Vic Memorial if you like". Ok, I said, not caring where we ate, i was hungry! So we walked for a while longer and eventually arrived at the memorial, which is a big old building like the ummmm, you know ....the big one in london with the dome and stuff..... anyway, we went to the canteen and it was closed apparantly, so he continued walking. I followed like a sheep and eventually I had to stop before i fell down. This is a little emaressing considering he is 66 and I'm 25, but hey, he's had more practice than me! So we sit on a bench for a while and chat, and so far he hasn'r asked me for anything, so i'm feeeling quite comfortable with his company. He does mention that i I have any old clothes i want to give him they'd be appreciated, which is fine, and I say no worries.

Eventually after lots more walking we arrive back at the first restaurant, and it's open! We go inside and order some food and then he tells me about this great new job he's got. Apparantly one of his friends at the church has offered him a job as a security guard. Instead of his current 1000 rupees, he'll be earning 4000 rupees, and all he needs to do is turn up at the beginning of the month with 2 pairs of khaki trousers and 2 khaki shirts and some black shoes. It's at this point that i start to feel it coming.... the classic guilt trip. And this ones a beauty. So after the food is finished, He tells me that he has a favour to ask. He needs 400 rupees to buy the clothes to start his new job, and anything I can do to help would be appreciated. So there it is, the classic guilt trip dilemma. There's 2 possibilities here, and in both of them I lose:

1: He's telling the truth, and I have an opportunity to make a real difference to his life by giving him that little helping hand he needs.

2: He's been engineering the conversation towards this point from the moment we met and has been working on this story for weeks.

So, I'm left with two options:

1: Give him the money and feel like a gullable fool who's just been conned.

2: Dont give him the money and feel guilty for not helping a possibly genuine friend in need.

Neither is particularly appealing. I opt for a compromise and give him 200 rupees. This way i feel a bit conned and a bit guilty, but both are kept at an acceptable level!

So anyway, enough of that, I've bought my ticket to Bangkok, and I should be flying on tuesday. woo hoo!


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