Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fly on the wall reporting from film festival party

Now for the Sunday bit. Urmi's already talked about her experiences of volunteering for the Indian Film Festival of LA on Saturday. So she was a volunteer veteran and I was a bumbling novice on Sunday morning when we showed up for duties. We spent most of the morning setting up the tables for the evening reception at SIR, a recording studio/performance venue that seems to have been around since zoot suits were the "thing" in the city. That's probably not true, since the parent company in NY is only 25 years old. But the place definitely had a very retro feel, with old art nouveau style framed champagne ads, and a little baby piano in the corner.

So morning was spent lifting a lot of heavy stuff, and it felt just like a college fest in India with the same casual bonhomie. That illusion was a bit shaken in the evening when I volunteered at the actual closing event, where my responsibility was at the buffet table. Now normally, I'm pretty cool with being a food serving volunteer, but I wasn't supposed to be one and was randomly assigned to it. I was dressed in my dressy best, a lovely white kurta with beautiful chikankari (bought in Lucknow with Fazal) which I proceeded to ruin with chicken curry stains. Aaargh!!

And then, the lines at the buffet tables were crazy, and I had to keep serving food non-stop for almost two hours. Which was actually fun, because I got to see almost half the guests at the do. Some of them were adorable, they asked me if I was enjoying myself, if I was too tired, if they could get me a drink, etc. And then there were some middle aged South Asian women with a greater than average sense of entitlement. These women were unsmiling, brusque, and more than one complained about the amount of curry I served out (I was giving out very generous portions!). One of them actually looked at her serving of curry, then looked up at me and said "Where are the chicken pieces?" Huh????

I enjoyed my post, but the entertainment for the evening made me miserable. Initially there was an interpretive dance performance, which I could barely see as I was at the back of the room. Whatever I could take a peek at looked interesting though. But then, we had the privilege of suffering through the music of a group comprising entirely of white American musicians that apparently does "chant music", singing in Sanskrit. I am usually pretty lax with pronounciation and would have enjoyed the music if they hadn't been so goddamn tone-deaf! When I left my post and joined a bunch of Greeks talking to Soto and S, one of them, trying to be polite meekly said - "Mmm..is this Indian music? They seem to be a bit out of tune". I reassured him that a)they would be booed off the stage if this was India, and b)they are completely out of tune.

Celebrity sightings were pretty minor. There was Purva Bedi, who looks prettier in person than in the movie American Desi. And Anurag Kashyap, who either was born with those droopy eyes, or was really tipsy. I also saw Madhur Bhandarkar. I met a strange woman, wife of a director she resolutely refused to name, and her Bangladeshi friend who was equally cagey. Also spoke to a music video director, who seemed to have resolved to speak to every reasonably good looking woman in the room that evening.

The crowd was an interesting mix of India-curious anglo types and Indians of all ages and immigration status. The woman who wore her sari more elegantly than anyone else was a white redhead, accompanied by a man looking equally adorable in a kurta. There was a lot more colourful attire than I'm used to seeing in LA. All in all, it was an interesting evening, but I do think my Saturday was much more fun, with a far more interesting cast of characters randomly assembled.


Blogger Urmea said...

Thanks for the very descriptive write-up! I have been feeling a bit left-out of all the most fun part of the festival, so your description a. give me a flavor of what went on, and b. makes me feel less like I missed something.
I am glad S. and Soto were there to keep you company! How was the grub?

6:09 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Never found out! I realised that after you've served chicken curry to the 273rd guest, it doesn't look very appealing anymore. Was bummed that they ran out of liquor by the time I finished serving.

As for S and Soto joining me, he he he...they just came to pick me up, and managed to sneak in :)

10:52 PM  

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