James Bond: Octopussy was shot in Udaipur and people are proud of that around here. Why shouldn‘t they be? In fact, they are so proud of it that this movie is shown every night year round at some of the restaurants and hotels downtown. My birthday passed by earlier this week and what better opportunity to head down to the old city to watch this Bond movie at one of the restaurants?
As I was walking towards the old city with another intern to meet the third intern, I got this great idea that we could take a short cut and reach Jagdish temple (the meeting point) in like… matter of seconds instead of ten minutes. That was to be done by walking through one of the narrow side streets, so that was what we did. Before we knew, we were surrounded by kids that seemed to pop out of nowhere. They laughed, smiled, screamed, said “Hello!“ and all kinds of words. They ran around us as we were walking, like a tornado except there are no kids in a tornado…but the fast rotating movement and the noise were definitely there. They followed us for a while and more and more joined in but after some time they gave up and left, when they had realized that we weren‘t as exciting and crazy fun as they had thought at first.
Soon after that, we discovered that we had entered a maze; there was nothing but more narrow side streets everywhere we looked. But they were very lively, because apart from all the kids we saw on the way, there were hens and roosters jumping out from windows, a woman feeding two giant sheep (double the size I‘m used to seeing) with salad, a cow would suddenly walk out a door right in front of us and block the road etc. In short, our walk through this “maze” was loaded with randomness.
It reminded me of an incident back home from summer last year. A small Icelandic town has established a celebration of the Big Day of Fish, as they call it. It started a few years back and has been growing each year since in terms of attendants. Apparently, many Icelanders see crowding into a small town with their trailers to get fish free of charge as an ideal way to spend a weekend. There are some musicians playing there as well but free fish is the main thing. On that same weekend, I was driving with family members to a big family reunion up north and we decided to drop by at the Big Day of Fish to see what the big fuzz was about. We had been listening to the radio in the car and the hosts who were broadcasting live from the venue could hardly control themselves, it sounded like they were on the verge of wetting their pants: “This is where things are happening! There is fish! There is fun! Some musicians are up on stage, playing jolly songs now on the accordion; people are really having a quality time here at the Big Day of Fish! Hey look! The chef is ready with a new portion of fish soup!”
Unfortunately we didn’t see any fish there when we arrived, the place was overcrowded so we decided to go back to the car after a little walk around. On the way back when we had managed to get away from the fish craving crowd, I ran into the president of Iceland because he popped out of a house all of a sudden as an unexpected obstacle, followed by his wife and then the mayor of this small town (just a wild guess: the couple was invited for a fish buffet at the mayor’s house). This was just as random as the hens, kids and cows that popped out of doors and windows downtown Udaipur the other day. There is some resemblance between Iceland and India after all.
James Bond: Octopussy is easily one of the worst movies I’ve seen, but it was nice to see the scenes from Udaipur and what has changed and what not. The autorickshaws look for example exactly the same as they did back then in 1983.
Diwali is the biggest Hindu festival and it’s going on this weekend. It will be among the topics of my next post.