Vantage point

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mormons and Lagaan

So I am sitting in the bus, talking to Sharwari on the phone. And this white girl comes and sits besides me. On her chest is a tag saying "Sister (something)" and in her hand she holds the Book of Mormons. As I am talking on the phone, I sense that she is waiting for me to end my conversation so she can say something to me. Those just noticeable glances in my direction show that. So I think to myself - ah, I am going to get a "would you like happiness through christ" spiel. How nice.

So I hang up the phone, and the Sister turns to me a few seconds later and asks "This might seem like a funny question but..." here it comes I think .. the proselytisation pitch... "does matlab mean 'maybe' in Hindi?"

Taken aback, I fumble with words... say "Yes"... then think about what I said... then say... "No No no, it means "means"".

"i beg your pardon?" the good Sister says. So I explain to her that matlab means means. Not the ones that take precedence over the ends according to Gandhigiri. The word used to convey meaning.

"Thanks" Then the bee buzing in my bonnet bites. My conversation with Sharwari was in marathi and she could not have heard me say 'matlab'. So I ask her where she heard it.

She said she heard it in a lot of Hindi films. Apparently she was a hindi film afficionado. Her favorite are Lagaan and Dil Chahata Hai. And a few more films. She said she was a South African missionary and her best friend back home was an Indian who got her hooked to hindi films. The next few minutes were spent discussing Hindi films, with me filling her in on the new hits like Lage Raho Munnabhai which she is very excited about watching. And then she got off the bus.

If in the morning you'd have told me that a white Mormon missionary will talk to me about Hindi films, I would have bet my scholarship against it. Yet funnily enough, that is exactly what happened!!

Anyway, off to the Big Apple for the weekend. My first trip to NYC. Grand plans have been made. Plan to have kati rolls, Ethiopian food, walk around Manhattan, visit IMPROV, and try to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.