Back in the Delhi-belly of the beast

Well here I am again. After a long hiatus in America, where nothing weird enough to justify a blog entry happened, I’m back in India, where the weirdness comes thick and fast – faster than I can write it down. Here are some snippets.

The original point of the trip was to finish shooting “The Flag”, the historical epic I banged on about interminably in previous posts. However, shortly after arriving in India at horrendous expense, I was informed that the shoot had been postponed to January. But I wasn’t about to let this little setback foil my plans to become the David Hasselhoff of the subcontinent. Ally, a fellow guest at the Kishan Hotel, kindly took some very good photos of my very bad moustache, to use as a folio. I sent them to Harry’s agent, and sat back waiting for Bollywood’s biggest producers to trample over their own grandmothers to secure my talents.

The phone remained strangely silent. Meanwhile, I went out to see some live music with Harry and some other aspiring Bollywood goras from the Kishan. Rajiv Raja and friends, local jazz musicians, put on a great show. One of the tracks was an extended jazz version of “Smells like teen spirit”. Any musicians reading this are probably gagging at this point; I’m sure Kurt Cobain’s corpse is trying to shoot itself again. But it actually held up brilliantly. Afterwards we went for coffee at a local chain. A stray cat leaped up on Harry’s lap, and proved to have a taste for cappuccino. Now there’s a moggy with style. I’ll bet he wouldn’t touch the god-awful dishwater that passes for coffee in Boston.

It then imposed itself on me. Being in polite company, I stifled the urge to kill it and turn it into clothing.

(L-R: aspiring Bollywood goris Lara, Barbara and Ally).

On the cab-ride back, I learned something about Mumbai taxis. The meters (often cutely decorated with “Don’t touch me”) are mechanical, with a fixed rate in rupees per kilometer. However, the rate was set decades ago, and is now hopelessly out of step with inflation.

Rather than fix the meters, the brilliant solution settled on was to publish conversion tables (eg. in our case, the meter read 13 rupees 40 paise, which converts to about 170 rupees). Our crafty driver had a fake table with an inflated conversion rate.

But Harry’s been here long enough to spot the trick, and loudly refused to pay, which started to attract a crowd. The driver made a big show of demanding to go to the police station, which Harry agreed to delightedly. Once they got round the corner he gave a sly grin and pleaded just for petrol money. Harry offered to pay the full amount if the driver handed over his cheat card, but he refused, and consequently baby gets nothing.

1 Comment

  1. nalband

    December 4, 2007 @ 12:37 pm


    I love it. The pics are great. That cab driver needs a good zip-bap.

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