Thursday, November 29, 2007

Welcome to the Bollyhood!

We coined a new name for our little district of Macy's the other day: The Bollyhood.

The whole Bollywood thing started back in April with an earlier post (see "Bollywood Fever") and has continued like a train running full steam down the track. What a great ride it is! Along with some very helpful tips from our Indian friends, we have begun to fully explore this highly entertaining genre of movies, and for that matter, the whole of modern Indian culture.

On Diwali, November 9, a group of our friends all dressed in the more traditional style (see picture above). Later that evening, a crew of about 17 of us went out to dinner at Phoenix Noodle Cafe and then to the Galaxy Peachtree Funplex 8 to see Saawariya, the first Hollywood-produced "Bollywood" movie. Although the consensus among many of us was that the movie was somewhat slow, we enjoyed each other's company immensely and decided to follow up with a more animated movie in short order.

Now, we have movie posters in the office, Bollywood music emanating from first one cube then another, tasty snacks appearing from time to time, music and videos being shared, and a general sense of the world having become much smaller. This led to a spontaneous suggestion last week that our area should be labeled with a sign reading "Welcome to the Bollyhood!" So be it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Diwali!

Last night, I attended my first ever Diwali festival, and it was such a fine time! Diwali is a holiday celebrated by many members of the Indian community worldwide. It is commonly termed the "Festival of Lights" -- celebrations are marked by lights and lamps which celebrate the victory of good over evil.

This year, the suburban community of Duluth, Georgia (popularized recently as home of the "runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks) sponsored its first Diwali outdoor festival in its town center. There were hundreds of people in attendance, and we were treated to wonderful finger foods, classical and modern dances, and vendor booths full of fascinating gifts, clothing, and decorative articles for the home.

I was particularly captivated by a booth chock-full of Indian movies, videos, and CD's, many of which I've recently become more familiar with as a result of my Bollywood fascination. I purchased copies of Lagaan, Devdas, and a video performance by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistani master of qawwali singing.

There was a definite chill in the air, and my tasty dinner of hot chicken samosas, chicken 65, and hot tea made for a pleasant and memorable evening. Families, couples, young and old all joined together to create a true community experience -- it reminded me of fairs which I had attended as a child, only this time with a totally different and distinctly international flavor.

Coupled with seeing the new Hollywood/Bollywood movie Saawariya on Friday night with a group of friends from all over the world, I feel that I've made a virtual trip to India this past weekend. What fun! I'll be back at the Diwali Festival next year, and perhaps I'll see you there!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Che macello! (What a mess!)

My ears are still ringing, and I don't even hear that well.

Tonight, my daughter and I headed out to a popular Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. It's one of those places where you can always get a nice hand-tossed pizza or a tasty plate of piping hot ziti. It's a predictable little cafe, nothing fancy, just good food prepared well. And it's also popular with families. Sometimes, TOO popular.

A few minutes after we were seated this evening, I noticed that two or three children were playing around the video games in a back room of the restaurant, adjacent to the restrooms. Ordinarily, this would not have attracted my attention, but tonight, the natives seemed particularly restless. Within minutes, several of these munchkins were jockeying for position at the video games and attacking with ferocity a large candy dispenser, which was loaded with colorful, perfect-for-choking sized balls of gum. Mind you, the parents were sitting not twenty feet away, enjoying their beer and wine while the children ignored their food and ran around the restaurant. I'm guessing that they must have been on their second or third drinks by this time.

As the situation escalated, several of us in the immediate area became nervous when a group of the kids barricaded a couple of the others in the ladies' room. The trapped victims began to kick the bathroom door, and after a few minutes, a waiter walked over to the kids and asked them to stop. By this time, a sense of general pandemonium had ensued, except around another table, where a lady sat with her two boys, both of whom were extremely well-behaved in the midst of it all.

There were a few moments of relative quiet, and then it began in earnest. Two of the crazy kids (there were six in total) had come from a far table at the other end of the restaurant, but four were from the table next to ours. They all began to shove each other, and at one point, a girl of about seven years of age from the next table kicked a little boy, who had fallen to the ground, in the back. By this time, our fellow diners were visibly perturbed. Two of us said something to the waiter, who again approached the kids and reprimanded them.

Finally, after all this, the totally oblivious "mother" at the table next to ours, home of the four hellions, said to the waiter, and I quote, "Oh...are they causing trouble back there?" It was all we could do not to burst out laughing. These couples had been sitting there the entire time, while their ill-mannered children not only spoiled all our dinners, but in effect, put themselves in danger of being seriously injured. To see parents so unaware of the situation at hand was downright sad.

I can only imagine what the home dinner table must be like for these children: a veritable running track surrounding the table, bruises and other injuries sustained while trying to down a slice of cold pizza, and parents literally living outside it all. And I say I can only imagine, because our own children were always interested in the food when we went to a restaurant...they would never dream of disturbing the other diners, because they knew that such behavior would at the very least nix the next "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" or "Barney" episode.

I know it's a novel concept, but children will behave given just the slightest bit of guidance.

And, as Forrest Gump was so fond of saying, "That's all I have to say about that."