Being an extremely shy person, I tend to err on the side of the polite and try to lean as far away from the female as possible. This gentlemanly disposition of mine however was becoming increasingly untenable with each passing minute of Call Me Be Your Name. The more I leaned away from the female, the more I leaned towards the male- and what at first could simply have been construed as leaning away from was under the danger of being mistaken as leaning towards. I was lost and stuck in my own head and out of my goddamn depth- a recurring theme of this post and of my life. Am I too old to be self-deprecating? Is there an age beyond which only Jews are allowed to be so? Well, I didn’t get the memo.
The Girls (part 1)
I felt like a peasant boy around the girls of south Mumbai. They had flair and elegance and charm and style and diction. I only had my adjectives and starched linen shirts that creased up at the sneeze of a cat.
Speaking of things that I have,
HIV I have a cousin who’s very critical of my sartorial choices and I’m on his side. You wouldn’t need a pair of pliers to make me admit my wardrobe looks more like that of a girl’s dad’s than of her suitor’s. Am I accidentally playing at Oedipus Rex, four shows a day, every day of the week? Or am I just a lousy dresser? Occam’s razor suggests it’s the latter. In the British movie Apostasy, a conservative Christian girl goes shopping with her mum, chooses something predictably overly conservative and asks her mother concernedly if it is too immodest. That’s how I do my shopping too.
“Excuse me, is the line for the biopic of my life, aka Loveless?”
In the Norwegian movie Thelma, a Norwegian dad admonishes his Norwegian daughter for feeling superior to her Norwegian peers. He says just because you have a little more knowledge doesn’t mean shit. I too have been readily susceptible to feelings of superiority and the Norwegian dad might as well have been speaking to me.
In the movie On The Beach At Night Alone, when the protagonist talks about her experiences of dating handsome men and finding them all incredibly vain, I was sitting in the audience nodding my head knowingly thinking she’s not wrong, I’m incredibly vain. And when the writer protagonist of Scary Mother was outed as someone whose work amounted to nothing more than maintaining a diary, there I was once again sympathizing with her lack of creativity and her need to live it before writing about it.
I hate writing. It’s terribly presumptuous.
I hate writing. The writer has all the power.
I hate writing. It’s worse than shooting fish in a barrel.
I propose to write a book devoted entirely to the conversations of people I overhear while traveling by UberPool. I have at last reached the stage where I’m willing to set my earphones and music aside for the sake of a story. They say a writer shouldn’t leave one’s house without a pen and a notebook and a nose for other peoples’ business. In the same vein, I propose to not travel by any means apart from UberPool. Adam Driver’s eavesdropping bus driver from Paterson shall be my patron saint of the arts.
You wouldn’t believe the first story I overheard once I decided to overhear. This couple in their late 20s got in. At first they spoke about the man’s distaste for coffee but then the man began to tell her about AB hitting 176 off 115 balls. I meant to interrupt him at this point as it was actually off 105 balls, but the girl beat me to it. She reprimanded him for not knowing how to talk to a girl. It would have been funny had I pipped the girl to the buzzer and corrected the man and outed myself but it wouldn’t have been professional – which I’m on the way to become. Paterson willing.
In the midst of a bruising therapy session straight out of Goodwill Hunting and with me on the verge of a breakdown, the therapist comes up with one last desperate ploy to help keep me afloat and my hopelessness at bay. “Surely, you have interests. Tell me about one of them and we can build on that.” I am practically Brad Pitt’s crying face at the end of Se7en by then but even in that state frivolity is all I have to offer. So I reply “Ryan Gosling,” and the therapist in a move smacking of unprofessional behavior brings the session to an end right there.
The idea was to catch a screening of Blade Runner 2049 in IMAX, something which was denied to me in Hyderabad. But once in Mumbai, I couldn’t make time before Diwali (being too busy watching other movies) and the movie was out of IMAX by the day of the festival. This meant a fatal blow to my hopes of breaking the monotony of the #MeToo status updates on Facebook with my Ryan Gosling-themed check-in. I even had a pithy one-liner all lined up to play the escort. “Hey Supreme Court, try banning the fireworks in my heart.” In my mind, that would’ve killed.
The Girls (Part 2)
The elocution that escaped from the lips of the lass was revealing of an education that must’ve cost her family a bomb and a half.
Over the many years of going to the fest, I have gathered enough courage to initiate conversation with an attractive stranger on just two occasions. And I remember them both very well. Aren’t I a serial killer. The first time, we were seated for a Noah Baumbach movie waiting for it to begin and the second time, we were in line for a Joachim Trier movie waiting to be let in. The girl with the pristine elocution was the one at the Baumbach, and when I asked her if she were a fan of Frances Ha, she replied her favorite Baumbach was The Squid and the Whale. “Ah, the one with Eisenberg,” I contributed.
The chat with the one in the Joachim Trier line, I’m ashamed to say, took on a mansplaining vibe straight off the bat. I asked her if she was familiar with the earlier work of the director and when she replied ‘no’, I insisted she make it a priority to go seek out Oslo, 31st August. I stopped short of saying it’s one of my favorite movies of all time and when she asked me if I had seen a Hungarian movie that had screened earlier in the day, I was dismissive of it and didn’t even deign to ask how she had felt about it.
I have this vision of being a Jehovah’s witness, except I’m going door to door exhorting people to seek out the work of Joachim Trier.
The Hijras of Hitech City
Apart from Thailand and GTA and movies, where could a virgin like me (call me virgin monkey) have come across prostitutes? You’d be surprised. Come midnight and you can see a group of hijras openly courting customers in the environs of the Hitech city train station. So while watching the excellent Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, I had this Eureka vision of social service – distributing bootlegged CDs of the movie (my own version of the early morning paper route) to this group. There are very few movies with a transperson as the protagonist after all.
I am going to break my right hand one of these days. I keep smashing it against walls and wooden partitions. All this hidden rage, so much rage, virginal rage. In the movies, how a character is allowed to deal with their inner torment is a nice creative question. Some simply scribble furiously onto their notepads while others meticulously demolish their entire house, like Jake Gyllenhaal in the aptly-titled Demolition. Vince Vaughn gives rage a good name when he destroys a car with his bare hands under its influence in the B-movie Brawl in Cell Block 99, but I digress- I didn’t see that movie at the fest. I should’ve kept a running list of all the ways the characters dealt with rage through the fest but the idea didn’t occur to me back then. Next time, definitely. “If not later, then when?”
And Finally A Word To Our Sponsor
The pathways of the world are treacherous and without the right kind of shoes, you’re liable to end up on your backside. Take it from me. Flailing like a newborn fawn on an ice rink, I slipped in slow motion and ended up right on my back. The path doesn’t matter when the final destination is the same. My first thought was thankfulness that no one was around and my second thought was fuck you Puma.