For those of you who know me less well, my three favorite actors are Christian Bale, Tim Roth, and Aamir Khan. So that’s kind of a big thing. Now, to start from the beginning…
Sunday morning (and by morning, I mean about 1:30pm) Nya, Andrea, Hannah and I decided to go to South Bombay for the day. We had been the day before as well, to shop and explore, but with little else to do, we decided to go back. Upon walking down to what I shall refer to as the rickshaw station, we discovered an unprecedented lack of rickshaws. There was exactly one, when there are normally between seven and ten. And that one was already taken. Not to be deterred, we waited. And waited. Eventually the man sitting in the sole rickshaw asked where we were going, and said that since we were going the same way as he (he was going to Bandra), two of us could ride part of the way with him. At this point another rickshaw rattled up and Nya and I hopped into that, while Andrea and Hannah joined the man, later known to be Praffle.
At a certain point along the highway rickshaws must stop and trade their passengers into taxis, as the unsightly rickshaws are not allowed within the posh South Bombay. As I stepped out of our little death-trap I noticed Andrea nearly exploding with excitement. Apparently, in talking with Praffle, they discovered that later that day he would be filming a commercial starring none other than Aamir Khan, and he had invited us to the set! He told us where to go, and we swapped numbers so that we could keep in touch.
When we arrived in South Bombay we decided to get lunch before heading to the shoot, as it was about three in the afternoon and none of us had eaten. I, for one, am terribly unpleasant when very hungry. We went to, get this, a pizzeria where I ate an actual Hawaiian pizza – ham and everything – and listened to Barbie Girl.
A quick side note on the music I have heard in this country: Our first day while grocery shopping we heard what appeared to be the karaoke back up music for the Beegees, ABBA and Queen. We occasionally hear thumping rap coming from passing cars, and I have heard Linda Ronstadt and Brian Adams on the radio more than any other artists. Meanwhile, on my iPod, I have the soundtracks to Fanaa, Rang De Basanti and Dhoom 2. Go figure.
Shortly after hearing Barbie Girl I finished my lunch. Everyone else was still eating and not talking, so I became bored, staring out the window absent-mindedly. In doing so, my eye was caught by the profile of a man in the car across the street. He looked oddly familiar. My mind momentarily not working, it was not until he turned and looked at me that I realized why I recognized him. I was staring, at this point literally openmouthed, at Aamir Khan. According to the other girls, my first reaction was to laugh, point him out, and give him a thumbs up – this last part makes sense, since I did a similarly dorky thing to Lewis Black a few months ago.
All four of us waved energetically and here’s the best part: he smiled and WAVED BACK! We were loud enough that the rest of the establishment caught on to who we were looking at and patrons and waiters alike crowded the windows waving. He kept smiling and waving back until the car drove off, but not before I got a photo.
Later we did in fact make it to the set, along with over a thousand other people, and were allowed to sit off to the side and observe the shoot. While there, Mr. Khan spotted us again and, probably thinking he was being stalked by four crazy American girls, smiled and waved at us again. We watched the filming for around an hour – look for the commercial later on YouTube, it’s for something called Smart Chips – until Mr. Khan was herded away by a posse of bodyguards.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, although I did at one point get to exercise my Spanish language skills when asking for directions. A very European (he kissed all of our hands as he left) Indian man who owns restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona and the Canary Islands attempted to show us where a sari shop was. He couldn’t, but he did compliment my Spanish, making me feel less like an ignorant American than I have in the past month. Communicating with people by pointing and repeating English words in a steadily louder voice does make one feel like an asshole. Nothing else of import happened until the following night.
In thanks for allowing us on the set, Andrea and I agreed to go to dinner with Praffle on Monday night. He said he would pick us up between 9 and 10, and we would figure out where to go then. We got dressed and waited. And waited. And waited. We listened to some of the music from Dev D (a very odd combination of hip hop and Disney princess theme music) and waited. We watched The Making of Aamir Khan’s Body on the special features of Ghajini (I recommend that EVERYONE do this) and drooled and waited. Feeling as though we might actually starve, we ate some McVities digestives and waited.
At midnight, Praffle called and said he was on the way. We went downstairs to wait for him outside. Liz, Madeline and Kate returned from their dinner, which they had left for as we were getting ready for ours. We waited outside. We watched a large gecko climb along a wall, a creepy stray dog came to say hi, and as I was making a joke about tigers in the area, the bushes across the street began to rustle ominously. We ran inside, laughing with borderline hysterics. As I was saying that I would give Praffle until 12:30 to get there before going to bed, I watched a large rat scuttle across the street. My point here? The reason we have not gone to a zoo in Mumbai is because we don’t need to.
At 12:29 (I looked at my watch, so I know) Praffle pulled up, or rather, his driver did; Praffle was in the passenger’s seat. The commercial shoot he had been working on ran far longer than anticipated, explaining the tardiness. A valid excuse. Quite loopy from lack of sleep and food, Andrea and I didn’t care very much – we were just happy that we were finally going to be fed. We acted like normal, intelligent human beings until we turned a corner on the road we always take to go to Whistling Woods and were faced with what appeared to be a very large posterior, backing up towards the car with great speed.
We swerved around the first elephant, only to encounter another. As soon as we had successfully avoided being trampled, I completely lost it, laughing hysterically until I cried. I am pretty sure that both Praffle and his non-English speaking driver thought I had lost my mind. We finally made it to dinner, where I had an admittedly delicious spinach and cheddar panini and were home after 2 am, but absolutely nothing could top almost being squashed by an elephant at 12:45 at night. Except maybe the fact that I am writing this in the office I work in and a man just walked by carrying a sword. Maybe that.