Friday, June 6, 2008
Wednesday 4th of June
I'm conscious that some of this is going to get repetitive since already, two days in, things appear to have developed their own pattern: up at 8.30, breakfast, shower and off to meet Mr Bhatia in the foyer. So before I drone on about my day, let me tell you something about the hotel: it is, as I keep repeating to the countless smiling young people in uniform who insist on asking me, very nice...very nice indeed as a matter of fact, in spite of the musty smelling bedroom. It is also by anyone's standards colossally expensive and I would assume way beyond the means of most of the inhabitants of Mumbai. I don't know whether I should feel discomfited by that. Perhaps one of the reasons I don't is that it's way beyond my means too and I would never be staying here under my own steam. It is also very convenient for the Actor Prepares school, being only 2 miles away, and as I have discovered, this city suffers from extraordinarily heavy traffic and very little reliance on traffic signals which makes getting from one side of town to another something of an odyssey. But, as has become our wont, Mr Bhatia and I braved the honking chaos outside and headed off to AP for tea and a cold-eyed look at the marketing plan and acompanying press release for the AP/UK launch with Mr Kottary, Mr Jadhav (Dean of the Mumbai school) and Mr Kker. There were some eccentric references in the press release which caused some specific concerns, but it was the breathless use of vulgar hyperbole which most enraged Mr Kher and claims which were optimistic at best and fraudulent at worst. You've got to love the PR industry! Anyway a bit of a rant ensued, entirely justifiably in my view, changes were suggested, actions delegated and then we went off for lunch. At this rate the plane will charge me excess baggage just for getting on the damn thing. The four proles clambered into Mr Bhatia's hatchback while Mr Kher's chauffeur-driven sedan purred on ahead of us. We had a very congenial if not entirely relaxed time; the three AP chaps do seem a little tense in Mr Kher's presence. He is good company during those snatched moments when he is not on one of his three (or was it four) mobile phones. It turns out that he is shooting in London after the 11th and we agree to meet up when he's in town. He also suggests what an excellent idea it would be were I to teach a class at AP before I return to blighty. "Oooohh errr...indeed...splendid idea!" was my not entirely sincere response. It's been a while since I taught a dama class but on reflection the idea quite appealed. After lunch we returned to the school and I sat in on one of Mr Jadhav's classes. It was conducted in Hindi predominantly with the odd excursion into English at times, I thought, for my benefit, but mostly because that's the way things are done. It soon became apparent, as the students worked their way through readily recognisable exercises, that all my concerns about the level of training which AP was delivering were unfounded. These were drama students, the same as drama students from London to Lhasa, speaking the same language, asking the same questions and being given the same answers by their teachers and mentors: "There is no answer, this is an exploration, you are on a journey." Blimey, what a relief. I watched Mr Jadhav conduct his class with the same mixture of amused supportiveness and dictatorial authority which I have seen so many times before. I watched the students go through feezeframes of adverts which they had been asked to recreate and generally had a very agreeable time. By now it was the end of the day and Mr Bhatia offered to drive me back to the hotel. But I had decided to walk the 2 miles or so back just to...I don't know really...just to breathe the air, I suppose. It wasn't a particularly nice walk but it was relatively enjoyable, past Juhu Beach, past a rather grand statue erected in 1994 which celebrated a noted "navel soldier". That was just one of several touching but rather high-profile misspellings I picked up on. The other which springs to mind appeared on the trailer on Star Sports TV for the NBA PlayOff World Series (or whatever) between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics couched in the usual bombastic sporty way: "AT LAST...ITS NOW...THE SERIES THE WORLD'S BEEN WAITING FOR...THE AGE-OLD RIVARLY IS BACK!" Rivarly? Shome mishtake surely! Anyway I eventually tottered into the icy interior of the Marriott, drenched, with bizzarre wet patches round my knees and limped towards the shade of the pool. You know the pattern after that...bar, dinner, sleep. I am nothing if not a creature of habit.