Wednesday, November 17, 2004

When I was in college, my Orthodox cousins offered to pay for me to go to Israel for my study abroad. I appreciated the offer but declined, announcing (very dramatically) "My heart is in India!" It was true, in a way. I've been fascinated by India for many years. In high school, my friend Laura and I went on a quest to eat at every Indian restaurant in the Chicago area. We didn't come close, but we had a lot of fun trying. I swathed my dorm room (and my closet) with Indian print fabrics. I still have a fondness for those paisley hippie clothes.

Given this India fetish, I guess it's not surprising that I had an amazing time as an extra in the Bollywood film over the weekend. Sunday night, I was invited to take part in a party scene at a mansion (my kids and three of our friends came, too.) We were on set from 5:30pm to 1am. Most of the women were dressed in exquisite saris--lime green saris, hot pink saris, dove gray saris, saris of all colors, dripping with beads and spangles. The party was supposed to be a traditional Dewali celebration. Dewali, we learned, is the festival of lights; the yard sparkled with Christmas lights and small oil lamps that kept blowing out in the wind (the poor production assistants had to keep relighting them, just to have them blow out a few seconds later.)

The best part of the evening--aside from the delicious catered Indian dinner (which the crew called "lunch", even though it was served around midnight)--was the dancing. The Punjabi dancers had amazing energy, and we were invited to dance in the background as we watched them bound around! It felt so good to dance; I wanted to jump into the choreography (I probably could have done it--we watched them dance so many times, I think I learned most of the steps.) I studied East Indian dance when I was in college--a woman taught it in her garage, which she had converted into a studio. All the other students were 10 year old Indian girls. The teacher told them I was 14, I guess so they would feel closer to me. They always looked confused when I got into my car and drove myself away after class!

Anyway, I'm so grateful I stumbled upon the filming. I never in a million years would have imagined that I would end up in a Bollywood musical, especially in Riverside. The cast and crew were all so sweet and accomodating. My daughter told me Sunday was the best day of her life!

I never did make it to India in college (although I did make it to Indonesia.) Maybe some day...

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