Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Mambo number 5!

First, May 3rd marked the four month anniversary of the ATK-Mr. ATK union. That's like twice as long as a Kardashian marriage. Yay us!

Second, I officially started my job so I am no longer a lady of leisure. I request a moment of silence please, as we remember those halcyon days of yore when I played Plants vs Zombie all the time and walked the dog four times a day. Now I am a part of "the establishment" working for "The Man."* Happily, I finally have a reason to wear those dress pants, dresses, and nice shoes I brought with me. I'm makin' it work!

Third, our household effects finally arrived. No longer will the maid have to mix banana bread batter in a cooking pot for we now have mixing bowls. We also have a knives that cut, more than four of each utensil, several crockpots, and tupperware for food storage. It's glorious! Honestly, it's a bit like Christmas--opening up all those boxes and seeing your stuff. Plus, the maid had taken to bringing her own tupperware to our house so she had somewhere to store the food she made. Borrowing kitchenware from the maid! Can you imagine? If I were wearing pearls, I would actually be clutching them right now.

Anyways, because of these exciting events, Mr. ATK and I decided to take our first trip to an Indian movie theater to see The Avengers! (Well, I really wanted to see it, Mr. ATK was like, "whatevs." I just love that Iron Man!)

Mr. ATK did some pre-movie research and with the help of our driver found a theater near us. The website only indicated that The Avengers would be showing on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Now as a working couple with a puppy that wakes us up at 5:30 am, we would have preferred a Friday or Saturday showing obviously. And though it is hard to believe that the second biggest blockbuster of the summer** would be pulled after a week (I think it came out last weekend) we were warned by people that due to the sheer volume of movies put out by Bollywood, most movies (American and Indian alike) don't stay in the theaters for longer than two weeks. So we decided not to risk it and went on Thursday night (which coincidentally was our anniversary).

Going to the movies was quite an experience. First we arrived at the ticket counter, only to be told there were no tickets purchased under our credit card, so we bought some more. Then we had to go through a metal detector and get a pat down. I'm not kidding. Literally, I went behind a screen and some Indian ladies frisked me. It was really half-hearted though--just a boob and tummy grab (two body parts that every woman wants strangers to touch.) At first I was a little nervous because there was a sign that said NO HANDBAGS ALLOWED. It also said no phones or other electronic devices, etc. Like you couldn't bring them into the building. But they didn't really seem to care that I had two phones with me, and after patting my stomach to be assured that it's all real, they let me in.

Then we went to the concessions stand. Now it was about 7 pm and we hadn't eaten dinner yet so I was anticipating some movie food goodness. Prices were reasonable; they had a wide variety of food--including a sign taped to the cash registers encouraging folks to try their "!!!yummy pasta!!!" (punctuation theirs). I decided I would get a Paneer Kathi Roll combo. I don't know exactly what that is, except it's some kind of roll with paneer (an Indian cheese) and it came with popcorn and a drink. Mr. ATK ordered the chicken hot dog combo only to be told there were no hot dogs, so he switched to a chicken sandwich. I asked if I could have Mountain Dew instead of Pepsi and the guy was like, "OK." (There's a reason for this level of detail, I swear.) Well, Mr. ATK's chicken sandwich ended up being not the chicken-fillet-on-a-bun sandwich he was expecting, but one of those little triangle sandwiches that come in the plastic container. The seal was broken and it was a curry chicken salad. Not what he was expecting. I just ended up with a large Mountain Dew for some reason. When I inquired about my Paneer Kathi Roll, the guy said, "No paneer." I'm not sure why he didn't tell me that when I ordered the roll in the first place and give me the option of ordering something else (like he did for Mr. ATK.) When I complained to Mr. ATK he said, "You know they don't like giving people bad news here." To which I replied, "But they did give me bad news. They prolonged it by five minutes, but ultimately I did receive the bad news." And in reality, that strategy makes the news worse, because you are expecting something, you know? If you don't tell me right away there is no Paneer Kathi roll, and I watch you prepare our order, I am anticipating receiving (what I assume to be) a delicious Paneer Kathi roll. When I am presented with a tray holding a large Mountain Dew, I am disappointed.

Anyways, we get to the theater, get our glasses, find our seats, etc. Like in the US they show commercials before the movie, expect here we are informed that the commercials are brought to us by... some company I've forgotten. The point is that the commercials have sponsors! Crazy!

Eventually the movie starts and we are enjoying the Whedon-ian banter and plot. Then right when Iron Man is about to shoot lasers at a bad guy, the movie stops and the lights come on. Mr. ATK and I naturally assumed that the projector broke or something. But everybody (well, 80%) of the theaters gets up and starts leaving. Then Lou Bega's late 90's classic Mambo No. 5 starts blaring over the sound system. At this time, Mr. ATK and I are really confused. I just kept repeating, "That's not the end. The movie's not over. That's not... he was just about to shoot that guy!" After Mambo No. 5*** segued into The Venga Boys are Coming which turned into the Macarena and people started coming back into the theater, we surmised that this was some sort of bathroom break. Apparently they just stop the movie at the midway point, regardless of what is happening on-screen. Mr. ATK and I found this (along with the Mambo No. 5) to be unintentional comedy gold. One of those truly awesome "What the what?" moments that are so common when you are living in a foreign country. Eventually, you stop noticing them.

Anyways, the rest of the movie was good. I really just wanted to talk about the Mambo No. 5 thing and unofficial intermission. I also hear movies shown in India are heavily censored (mainly they take out the sexy times.) My version of The Avengers had no sexy times. Let me know if I missed something.

*Not his real name.
**We all know The Dark Knight Rises is *the* summer movie this year
*** Mambo No. 5!

"Ba" se "Baloo"

That means "B" is for "Bear" in Hindi. Yes, I am learning Hindi. Mr. ATK is also learning Hindi, but who wants to hear stories about him?

Hindi is an interesting language. Perhaps you've seen it before. It looks like this: नमस्ते! (That says "namaste" or "hello." I'm not sure if the script will show up on all your computers. Especially if you're using Internet Explorer. I'm guessing you guys will just get a series of random wingdings.) It has a phonetic alphabet so you just need to learn the letters. It can be pretty tricky because there are about four ways to make a "t" sound, but with practice, I think I've memorized most of the letters.

Well, Mr. ATK and I have Hindi class twice a week and for about 15 minutes each time we practice the letters. And by "practice" I mean "rote repetition" like what you do with kids. (You know, "A" is for "apple." that kind of stuff.) So one day we get to "B" (or "Bh" as it is usually written. A heavily aspirated "B.") The teacher says, "Bha se Bhalu." And then he's like, "Bhalu is bear. Like in The Jungle Book." Well, Reader, let me tell you something--there are very few things I enjoy more than Disney cartoons and if they contribute to my educational enrichment, so much the better. So I started to ask about all the Jungle Book characters. Mr. ATK says I was quite belligerent about it, but the teacher did bring it up.)

Basically the conversation went something like this.

Me: What about Sher Khan?

Teacher: Sher means lion.

Me: But Sher Khan is a tiger.

Teacher:  Sher means lion. The bad guy in the Jungle Book is a lion.

Me: No. Sher Khan is a tiger. The bad guy is a tiger.

Mr. ATK (to me): You are talking about a Disney cartoon. Have you read the book?

(Side note: Since I had not read the book, I did not continue to press the point that the bad guy in The Jungle Book is a tiger not a lion. Disney does tend to take creative licence with those kinds of things anyways. But I looked it up and indeed it is a tiger who is the villain in The Jungle Book. And lions don't live in India. But Sher still means lion and not tiger. I guess Kipling's Hindi was limited.)

Me: Does Bagheera mean anything?

Teacher: What?

Me: Bagheera. Bagheera. Does that mean panther?

Teacher: No. It doesn't mean anything. Well, Bagh means tiger. "Eera" is suffix you can use.

Me: But Bagheera's a panther.... bagh doesn't mean panther?

Teacher: No, bagh means tiger.

Me: What about Kaa? Is that snake?

Teacher: No.

Me: How about hathi?

Teacher: Hathi is elephant.

Me: Colonel Hathi is an elephant!

Mr. ATK: Are you done?

I did not bother asking if King Louie meant chimpanzee, because I was fairly sure that was some Disney creativity at work with that one.

So yeah. I can name a few animals and fruits and vegetables in Hindi. Also the English word for bell pepper here is capsicum.