I have been wanting to have the Indian movie experience since I first arrived. Preferably I wanted to go with an Indian, as I had visions of myself causing a scene, if left to my own, American devices. After all, I am good at making an exhibition of myself in foreign lands as I am
unfortunately awkward spectacularly graceful, though sadly I did not inherit my father’s social savvy. (If this topic interests you, please enquire with Doug for a copy of the bestselling book, “Stuff Doug Fleming Likes.”)
Day after day I have been checking the papers, trying to see what’s playing in English at a decent time and also looks findable according to Google Maps. Using this criteria my options were narrowed down to Silver Linings Playbook at Metro BIG Cinema at 2pm.
I know, that name is intimidating, right?
And because I didn’t fully trust myself to find the place, I took an absurd number of screenshots of the map on my phone from varying distances and angles just to be on the safe side.
So after work, I bought something called Jim Jam from the food vendor at the train station, not because that’s what I wanted, but because we were having language problems so I settled. This is off subject but they are basically strawberry Poptarts, but rather than being disguised as a breakfast food, they own up to being cookies.
I really liked this name because Kimmy calls James, Jim and I call him Jam, so i felt like it was a metaphorical Fleming sister sandwich-cookie and I was eating it.
After getting off the train and consulting my 14 screen shots, I found the BIG Cinema and took a few photos along the way.
This is Ganesha! He is everywhere in India.
Let’s just say the movie experience didn’t disappoint. As always, my cultural incompetence led way to good times and I think everybody, myself and the employees, had a great time.
This is what happened:
You know how in the US they say you can’t bring outside food into the theatre, but people inevitably do and nobody ever checks or really cares? Well, they mean business here in India because THEY HAVE A FOOD DETECTOR. I kid not. After buying your ticket you have to walk through this door frame that scans you and I really just figured that it was the type of detector that scans for weapons and explosives or something. That’s what you would think, too, right!? That’s what an American would think. I am showing my bias, I guess. Anyhow, I am just as oblivious as any person possibly could be as I waltz through the entry way like Mary Poppins…
…Only to realize that I am being yelled at, pursued even, by a woman with a wand in her hand. She drags me back and puts me behind a black curtain where I am kind of freaking out on the inside because everything feels really serious and this woman is frisking me with a lot of determination…
“Ma’am, I need for you to empty your pockets for me.”
“There’s nothing in them?” (I pull out a crayon wrapper from work yesterday because Daksha likes to peel them off and it keeps her really occupied.)
“What’s in your bag?”
(I open my bag, look at her with distress on my face as I pull out my water bottle, chapstick, phone, wallet…GASP…granola bar…)
She gave me the most disgusted look in the world as she snatched that cinnamon Nature Valley bar up and threw that thing in the trash. Truth be told, I didn’t even know it was in there. It’s been in there for two months probably, you know, just in case of an emergency or something? Who knows, I just had it there, but I was not planning on eating it in the theatre.
“You can’t have chocolate!” I didn’t correct her, it didn’t feel worth it.
So that’s when I panic, because granola bars are like gold here (six or seven dollars for a box of Nature Valley) and I did not want that to go to waste.
“You can’t throw that away. Can I come back for it? You won’t throw that away, you won’t!” (okay, I wasn’t that dramatic out loud, but on the inside I was even more dramatic.)
And then I got a weird stare and head tilt, just the way dogs do when they know you are talking about them but don’t understand why, and then she handed me a coat check number for my granola bar. You’d better bet I guarded that sucker with my life.
Coat Check! Granola #47
That was hurdle number one.
Hurdle number two? Well, I guess you can’t get to the movie too early and sit like you can in the states because I got there twenty minutes ahead of time and they wouldn’t let me in the theatre. In order to dilly dally I took a forever pee break. This was fascinating because there was a woman in there distributing toilet paper and paper towels to everybody who entered. I guess they don’t trust us to self serve. I get it, sometimes we help ourselves too much. It’s fine.
When I exited my forever pee break I just sat there, sort of staring at the wall while the boy guarding the door stared at me. Then ten minutes til show time he escorted me in. Like he personally came over, got me, and escorted me through the doors.
Ah, and did you know, you can’t sit anywhere you want? Because I tried to do that and got told by the door guard/escort that seating is assigned, as he asked for my ticket and directed me to my exact seat. Whoops! I should have forecasted that and avoided the weirdness, but alas I did not.
I will take this moment to say that during a sold out show, the idea of assigned seats makes a lot of sense. But really? I was in a theatre with a couple of school girls, and a gaggle of elderly ladies and we were all crammed in the back, left corner of the theatre side-by-side like canned sardines, the rest of the theatre vacant. The thought of this made me laugh.
And then the movie started and I was thinking, yes, I just get to sit here and not think about anything for two hours and it will be awesome and peaceful and fabulous…
…and then the Indian flag appeared on the screen and everyone was standing, which I gathered meant the national anthem was happening. So much like the pretend-catholic Jen I was pretend-Indian Jen and I mimicked everybody else even though I was not sure if I was supposed to…
…Then a thundering voice came over the speaker that said, “Smoking can be highly injurious to health. It can cause cancer and kill you.” This sentence was repeated twice, and enveloped the theatre in a way that felt like God was speaking to us…or maybe even Voldemort in the final Harry Potter movie…
…The movie starts, and we are about half way in, and I am completely engrossed, completely lost in the plot, and the screen just cuts out, mid scene. So I am thinking, oh darn, technical issues…
…The screen says “interval” and the next thing I know the door guard boy/escort is shoving a menu in my face asking if I want to order something. It all happened so quickly, like a tornado, and I couldn’t process what was happening…
…but in my head I am too preoccupied for food thinking, but the movie! How? Why? What? NO!? so I got my phone out to take some notes and record my anxious feelings about the ill placed mid-scene stop until the final half continues after a SECOND ROUND of previews…
…Then the movie ends. And I try to exit back the way I came in. WRONG AGAIN, JEN. I got directed down to the bottom of the theatre where there is an exit that spits you out back, on the other side of the building. And all I was thinking was, but my granola bar!…
…So I trekked around to the front of the building, handed over my coat check number to the new frisking girl on duty, who consequently had a difficult time finding my granola bar and seemed slightly confused about why I had checked it, but determined all the same to do her job. So after fumbling through shelves and drawers she found it, handed it over, and I said thank you! Before I took the granola and bolted.
All in all my Indian movie experience was a success. At least I didn’t grope anybody’s butt on my way out of the theatre, then again I did have mine groped over a granola bar. In my book blog, this is a win.
A nice souvenir with which to remember my fabulous Indian Cinema experience.
Oh, and Silver Linings Playbook is a good movie, by the way. You should see it!