Sunday, June 24, 2007

Denver Diary

It's been a month and ten days since I set foot in Denver. It's definitely been an interesting experience. I must say life when you're working full time, is very different.

The company I work for has five employees, including myself. We're all Indian, and that has meant that I've had very few conversations with Americans. My little rendezvous (I just learnt the word has its plural spelled the same way, but pronounced differently, interesting.) with people behind the counters at shops, has left me, undeservedly so for Denverites, with mixed feelings about their friendliness. Sometimes they were rude, sometimes they were very friendly. Undeservedly, because I guess people behind the counters can't be real people: at Starbucks they'll always be warm because I hear they can lose their jobs if they aren't (but I wouldn't discount that it's difficult being so).

On my street for over a mile, there're many automobile related shops: car parts, car washes and the like, but no supermarkets, which is wonderful considering that I can't drive, and don't have a car. There's a grocery shop opposite my apartment run by a family from Pakistan , where I get some things, but not all (another reduced opportunity to talk with an American, but the family is friendly and helpful).

It's a little strange to be living in the United States, and interacting only with Indians for the most part. Not that that's bad, but I think part of the interesting thing about being in another country is to interact and make friends with the people there. So my interactions, being in the workplace, concern javascript, html and the like. Some other interactions happen on the way to work and back home also with people from the office. The company is only a ten minute walk away, so these conversations are short, but thankfully about other things, and I must admit I do look forward to these conversations.

I had a roommate, for the first 30 days or so before he left to India, and during that time, I would have some conversation with him. He always took about two minutes to respond to what I said, so my patience meant that the conversation was mostly short. But these conversations were a respite, allowing me to vent any apprehensions and fears about my new workplace as he seemed to listen, and then there were Telugu movies and cooking for the day (we took turns) to talk about. Now I am all by myself in a two bedroom apartment, and need to move to another place in the middle of next month, when the lease expires.

It's my theory that people need to talk about things that make them happy, not just do them, to be happy. So my experience watching a movie, walking a street in a new city or eating at a good restaurant, are seldom complete until I tell people about them, and have them tell me back what a wonderful time I was having! I don't know if that's true for most people. It might be something worth investigating and might hold the answer to what motivates people to write blogs, share photos, set status messages and the like. So my theory leaves me looking for places to start conversations, and that's how I've been spending most of my time in the evenings: chatting online and ocassionally on the phone. Once or twice a week I get a movie from Netflix, having taken the one-DVD-at-a-time subscription. And last week when I received a damaged DVD, for lack of anything else to do, I fell prey to Youtube. For almost a week, I've been watching bits and pieces of David Letterman's and Ellen Degeneres' chat shows all evening. It's left me feeling a little shallow at the end of the week, and I should be changing course. Not that they're not entertaining, but I guess I was taking in too much at a time.

So that's how I live. At the workplace from 9.30-6.30, and then at home spending time as mentioned. I must say it can be very lonely if not for the chats online and on the phone. Weekends add colour to the week, as I get to do something else, thus get something to talk about, and then get to have to find somebody to tell it to. Thanks for reading and being that somebody.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Inspired by Paris je t'aime

I went to see the film Paris je t'aime (Paris, I love you) yesterday. It has about 20 short stories about love, set in different locations in Paris. I loved the film, as it has like 20 different directors for each of the short films, and a host of brilliant actors. I particularly liked the ones by Wes Craven, Gurindher Chadha, The Coen brothers, Alexander Payne, Tom Tykwer and Gus Van Sant.

Inspired by Paris je t'aime, I set out to write a script for a story set in Hyderabad. A husband and wife on their way to buy a necklace.


Raju and Sunitha are driving to a jewellery shop on their motorbike. They halt at the traffic light near Sarathi studios. Sunitha has her arms clasped on Raju's chest, and her head over his shoulder.

Sunitha: How much do I have to buy the necklace ?
Raju: They don't sell necklaces for Queen Victoria there, I am sure I'll have enough for you.
Sunitha: Alright then, I'll have the best one.
Raju: Yeah you should get something enough to keep you quiet for five years.
Sunitha: I never asked you for one, you said it was a gift for our first anniversary.
Raju: Yeah, like that is indeed some reason to set me off by a lakh.
Sunitha: Is it then because you love me so much.

Sunitha is laughing. Raju is smiling.

Sunitha: A lakh is something, I thought you would buy me something to the order of 10, 000.
Raju: Okay then, we'll make it 10, 000.

The traffic moves. Raju and Sunitha drive through to get to Ameerpet, the traffic moves at snail's pace. They move past the footwear store Bata.

Sunitha: Can I get new footwear too ?
Raju: Anything for madam. It will be closed by the time we get back, we'll go another day.
Sunitha: Okay.

They move on again only to come to a halt after a short distance.

Sunitha: There is a lot of traffic today.
Raju: Yeah, maybe all husbands are buying things for their wives.
Raju: You should learn driving. I also don't use the car often, it's always at home.
Sunitha: Yeah good idea, you should get me a credit card too, in that case.
Raju: I take back my idea. Anyways, isn't my driving you around, oh so romantic ?
Sunitha: It just seems hectic to me, with all the traffic.
Raju: I should have listened when my aunts cautioned me about marrying an intelligent woman.

The traffic moves on and they reach the building where the jewellery shop is located. They enter the jewellery shop, and the owner of the shop, on seeing them approaches to welcome them. They exchange hellos. Sunitha is looking around to see where necklaces are located. The owner and Raju smile at each other.

Sunitha: They're there, I'll go look.

Raju follows Sunitha, as the owner moves ahead of them to get ready to show them the necklaces. The owner opens up boxes and puts them before Sunitha for her to look. Sunitha looks at them, and immediately picks one up.

Sunitha: Look Raju, this one's similiar to the one Shobhana was wearing in what film was that, ..., and I said I loved it, remember ?

Raju is smiling.

Sunitha: How much is this ?
Owner: 95,000 madam.
Sunitha: Can I take this Raju, it's anyway 5,000 short of the budget you had in mind.
Raju: Yeah, take it.

Sunitha closes the box to hand it over to the owner, when on the box she glances at an engraving.

Sunitha: For Sunitha ?

Raju is smiling. Sunitha smiles back, overwhelmed.

Raju: Thank god, you didn't pick any of the other ones, I paid all that money to have this one made for you.