Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Saturday night.

My friend sends me a Facebook invite to a desi baby contest and a fashion show.

"Please let's go to this. It will be terrible."

"You know I hate babies. Wait, there's going to be food right?"

"There will be food but I also hear there's a great Bengali place next door."

"Fine. What time?"

So we get to the damn thing but not before getting lost. We have GPS yet somehow miss a turn and travel atleast 4 miles in the wrong direction. I expect to see lots of bengali people but strangely everyone looks Gulti. I finally realise it's a Gulti function at a bengali temple and no wonder because the awkward guy on stage is definitely speaking telugu.

We find seats and settle in to watch some babies fight it out on stage but instead awkward man is motioning for couples to come forward. 'Aao samosa kaaye' is about to happen. 'Aao samosa kaaye' is exactly what you think it is except for the pronunciation of khaaye. Couples get on stage and try to feed each other samosas in a timely fashion or something. We roll our eyes and look around for familiar faces. My friend suggests checking out the food. We ask a guy what he's selling. "Palav, gobi, biryani-noodles."

We run away before he shows us a plate of biryani noodles.

Just as we're fleeing some type of singing competition begins. This poor little kid comes on stage to sing a medley of (mostly shreya goshal) Hindi songs, complete with her lyrics sheet and giant glasses. You want to feel sorry for her especially because she's way off key. As it gets worse we decide to go for a walk to the temple next door. The temple is beautiful and smells great and oh look a family taking a group photo with Ma Durga. Everytime the door opens we hear the terrible singing.

My friend decides to go ask awkward Gulti man who looks in charge when the fashion shown will start, or worse, if we've already missed it. He comes back giggling. "It will start at 8 and last 3 minutes, it seems."

"So we'll be late for the movie?"

"Fuck it. Let's just go."

We decide to go see his friends backstage first. Well he does. I was not walking into anyone's dressing room. We then get the hell out of there.

"Alright now can we eat some Bengali food?"

"Yes please. You know where this place is?"

"Err no."

We ask random people in the parking lot. No one knows. We try google. Nothing.

"Fine. Let's just go to Annam. It's really close."

"Oh great. Now I have to eat vegetarian oota?"

We get lost on the way but eventually find it and turns out they have an exciting menu featuring gobi manchuri, chapathi and appam. Also chicken!

I study the menu pointing to fifteen different things I want to try. Two different waiters keep walking up to us. We're confused and place orders with both of them. The food is great, well mostly the gobi.

Now stuffed, we have to drive across the city to watch a Bengali movie called gandu. Our problem is the movie is showing in the media center of rice university. We have no idea where the media center is and apparently no one else does. We drive around asking students. One girl gives us pretty detailed directions which I would have followed except my friend sees something and makes me reverse (on a one way street) which I do and take the unnecessary left turn after which we are really lost.

"Let's just park here and walk."


So we walk across campus. It is way past 8 o'clock.

"They're doing an introduction to the movie first so we won't miss much."

Thankfully I'm wearing my comfortable mojaris. Funfact: there's no left or right shoe in this pair. Either one can be worn on either foot. Earlier that evening I had demonstrated to my friend this exciting feature outside the temple. Also luckily it was 65 degrees that evening or I would've had to sit down on the pavement and call me a taxi.

We continue walking for miles singing mohabbat hain mirchi and other random songs until we find the damn media center. On the way we spot many stranded vehicles with blinkers on and no one inside. We wonder if this is a rice university makeout ritual.

When we finally locate the media center we notice tons of visitor parking all around. I am too tired to shove my friend to the floor so I keep walking. Once inside we realise there is just one entrance to the screening room and it is right past the screen. We're already more than thirty minutes late so we decide to walk in shamelesssly and find seats. I try to place my water in the cup holder but there isn't one being that this isn't an actual movie theater.

The movie itself is bizarre like you cannot imagine. It's in black and white and Bengali. It features a rapper named gandu and a sidekick named rickshaw who looks sort of like cut-piece nehra and who worships Bruce lee and practices slow motion kung fu. Lots of sex happens between a neighbour aunty with ridiculous cleavage and her mustachioed boyfriend who insists on keeping his sunglasses on the whole time. Gandu watches them. Gandu gets caught. Gandu thinks about killing himself. And then the credits roll and we're like oh thank god but turns out there's still twenty more minutes of serious porn. There's a rare penis sighting except this movie is too cool for just one flash of penis so we're shown close ups, every angle imaginable and lots of effort by gandu's lover who seems to enjoy meowing. Ten painful minutes later the lights come on and I'm surprised to see the room is filled with desis, none of whom will make eye contact with me.

We leave, sort of in shock, dreading the walk back to the car. No one remembers where we parked. I do remember the direction we came from. I point towards it but my genius friend suggests walking the other way. "It's like a circle. This way we'll get there faster."

Somehow we manage to leave the campus. We walk along the pavement. I fear for my life, happy to see the occasional jogger. Twenty minutes later we're back inside the campus but nowhere near the car. Another ten minutes and voila it's my car. I hug it and sit down to cry. Alright I'm being a little dramatic. I giggle hysterically.

We drive back home talking about how tired we are. My friend has to go pick up his car from my house, drive it to his house, change into clothes appropriate for a gay bar and then drive himself to the bar to hang out with his friends and the straight guy he's been crushing on, who's leaving the country the next day. So that's the plan.

"I will get us home in 15 minutes. There's no traffic at this hour."

Two seconds later we hit crazy traffic. 610 is a parking lot. "Take this exit. I know another easy way."

Magically we're now practically right by the gay bar my friend is supposed to go to. "Maybe we should just stop by and say hi."

"No. Maybe I should drop you off so you can be with your doww and I can leave. I will play mujhse juda hokar as I drive off."

I start to sing it. Then I realise I have it on my iPod. I play it for my friend who is begging me to stop.

We find shady parking by which I mean a guy moved his car, took 5 bucks from us and let us park in his spot in a small store parking lot.

I refuse to get out of the car. "I am not going to a gay bar wearing a salwar kameez. Are you crazy?"

"You look fine. People will think it's a sparkly tunic. And you're wearing jeans."


"Please. Just ten minutes. I promise."


I have never been to a gay bar. This place is gay central in Houston. Every corner you turn a new cloud of perfume hits you.

"Everyone smells so good." I realise I'm sniffing strangers. Lots of well maintained eyebrows are being raised. It's what you get when you're wearing a salwar kameez and seem to enjoy sniffing people.

We meet my friend's friends. I meet tall bisexual guy who owns a boutique for drag queens (true story) and a super friendly bollywood dance teacher and some other incredibly shy guy. Then I spot straight guy who's all the way over there talking on the phone. We bid farewell to the happy desi threesome and walk towards straight guy who, turns out, has an adorable accent. We talk about a range of subjects - how 99% in statistics means nothing, whether or not it is sanitary for the people to be doing HIV testing at night time in the middle of the road, the straight guy's trip so far. The whole time my friend is staring adorably at straight guy who is staring adorably back at my friend. I'm confused. I decide it is best to leave them alone for their last evening (where nothing will happen) together. We come up with a plan. I assure everyone there is no way I'm going inside with them and leave.

My friend walks me to my car which is somehow still where I left it. I hand him a face towelette, deodorant and gum and advise him to get rid of the old man sweater. I then get home without getting lost and have the best 12 hour sleep ever.

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