Saturday, November 24, 2007

Movies and Doctors

Liked the first. Had a crush on the second.

Tessa and I got off the night train in Bombay after a pleasant night with a french couple (who also ate next to us at a Pizza Hut earlier in the day) and a nice older indian couple. Trains rides can be interesting because nobody has anything to do. Therefore, whenever you do anything, everyone around you watches. If you get ready for bed, kick Tessa's butt in rummy, charge your electronics or make any kind of motion, you can feel everyone's eyes on you. I like it. Anything that puts me at the center of attention has to be a good thing.
We took a cab down to the University of Mumbai. The city banned my beloved autorickshaws from Mumbai proper so they have these groovy looking 50's style cabs everywhere (and I mean everywhere, I think Bombay's sea of black is larger than NYC's sea of yellow). I plan to post a picture next time I grab the pics off my camera.
Anyway, that cab ride through the city turned into love at first sight. It felt like I had come back to NYC. I have to admit that Dehli made me nervous about this whole venture. The city seemed dirty, small, heavily segregated by sex, lacking in cultural events and full of rude people. It turns out that is the exact description most people have of it. In contrast, Bombay seemed better in every respect. On the cab ride and during the day, I noticed that in contrast to Dehli, the cleaner streets , sexes that interacted like friends, better maintained roads, prettier girls, guys that stared less often and seemed embarrassed when caught (the Dehli men often stared at Tessa unabashedly until she left sight) and a prevailing general air of friendliness. Hell, even the dogs seemed smarter and in better shape (secret dream: to ride around India in a motorcycle with a sidecar containing one dog and one orphaned indian child, both intelligent, loyal and picked up off the street. I thought about naming them both Sancho but my Don Quixote similarities are a little too true for my liking). In conclusion, I loved this city from the first few minutes. It got me excited to get back here and start a life.
We wandered around the University in awe of the beautiful French Gothic buildings. I talked to some people in the office only to discover that the other campus north of the city houses the biotech department. That disappointed me because I really like the area around the school. It had a giant open area filled with kids playing cricket, many museums and a slew of restaurants.
We sat down on a bench at the school and watched some students interacting. It reminded us both of middle school: girls and guys sitting at separate benches and yelling, joking, posturing and flirting across the gap. We wandered into the park and laid down for a few hour nap. As we continued our walk, Tessa started felling sick and couldn't hold down our lunch. I could barely hold it down either but that's because I don't think I've ever tasted worse pizza. We got her to a homeopathic doctor that we noticed.
After a short wait for the doctor (in a waiting room that smelled of kerosene, I've been to two doctors in India and both had the slight odor of kerosene), she ushered us into her tiny office. She was the cutest little thing with these giant glistening eyes. She did a great job. She patiently listened to all of Tessa's symptoms and then gave her a long lists of do's and dont's plus a prescription of some unknown substance. When she found out how long we had been in Mumbai, she gave us a flood of advice about the city including great places to see theater, near and dear to my heart. When she found out that I am a scientist, she mentioned her brother's involvement with a program getting internships for people abroad and in turn, getting them internships here. I got the information from her and am curious to learn more about this. It could be that this turns out to be a fortuitous meeting for me.
After the doctor, we decided to take it easy for the next few hours while we waited for our friend from to get home (will explain in next post). We got two tickets (80 Rs or 2 USD for both) for "Jab We Met" at the Eros Theater. Luckily, our first movie in India turned out to be typical Bollywood fluff: Sugary, silly and filled with weird random dance scenes (my favorite being the song that started with them driving in the mountains on a road surrounded by eight feet of snow and ending up a fashion show in a tiny chinese village in the middle of nowhere). It also happened to be in Hindi but this turned out to be a good thing because I didn't like the lead girl very much and I think if knew what she was saying, I would have liked her even less.
Even more than the movie, we enjoyed the movie experience. The assigned seating placed everyone in the quarter full theater right next to each other. I had two little Sikh boys next to me who adored me for my Nintendo DS Lite. I had to keep playing in the theater before the movie, I had almost beaten the game. Whenever I stopped playing to watch the funny advertisements or theater notices, they would poke me to remind me to concentrate on what really mattered here. They spent the rest of the movie alternatively watching the screen, sleeping and watching me makes smart ass comments to Tessa. Right before the movie started, we all had to stand for the national anthem and I heard it being sung by a number of people throughout the audience. During the movie, people spent a lot of time laughing and talking while a big group of male hyenas in the back would make their own jokes and howl. I liked the more relaxed atmosphere. It may arise because these movies apparently tend to be so formulaic that you don't need to pay that much attention.
Overall, a good start in my new city.

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