After a week off, I'm back with my nineteenth post for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My prompt this week comes from one of my favorite writers in the competition -- Jen O. Her prompt will be at the end.
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India is one of those places where you fall in love over and over and over again. It has a way of doing that to you. It's so magical sometimes. And you find yourself falling in love when you least expect it -- perhaps while seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise, sunset or by moonlight or while throwing colors during Holi or while admiring the beautiful lights of the Diwali festival or while participating in a Hindu puja or while rafting in the Himalayas. You suddenly find yourself feeling the magic and falling in love over and over again.
When I found out I’d be working in Bombay for a week, I got in touch with an American friend who lived and worked there. She was really excited for my visit and promised we would have a good time. I told her I’d be up for anything. When I arrived at her house on a Saturday night, she quickly led me to her room and dressed me up in a turquoise sari that was three times too big for me (but that happened to conveniently match my glasses) and then told me we were going to an Indian wedding. I was expecting fun, but I'll admit that I was not expecting Indian wedding type of fun.
After the traditional wedding ceremony, we made our way inside the beautiful five-star hotel for the reception and were seated at a table with a handsome young Indian man. He was wearing a black bandhgala and was rather dashing. He introduced himself as Sachin and immediately offered to get us drinks. Before long, I was sipping on a vodka and soda. And then not too long after that, I was sipping on my second vodka and soda. He was very polite.
After dinner had been served, the music started. The bride and groom were the first to make their way to the dance floor, and then when the other guests were invited to join them, Sachin asked me to dance. I was skeptical of dancing with a stranger, but he insisted that I dance with him and said he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I finally agreed, as it was a slow song and I did okay with those, and admittedly Sachin was sort of dreamy in a Bollywood movie star kind of way and was very hard to resist.
The song that was playing was ‘As I Lay Me Down’ by Sophie B. Hawkins. I loved that song, and it turned out that Sachin was a great dancer. When I stepped on his foot, I was really embarrassed, but he quickly smiled and told me not to worry. I eased up a bit and actually let myself enjoy being led around the dance floor. But after the song ended, I tried to make a quick escape back to the comfort of my seat. He immediately jumped in front of me and led me to the center of the dance floor. Then there were at least 15 Indian men on the dance floor surrounding me and the other women. An Indian song started playing, and Sachin smiled and winked at me. The men were all surrounding and facing us, and they started clapping along with the music. Then they waved their arms up and down and from side to side. As the tempo increased, they moved faster and faster. In typical Bollywood fashion, their cheesy grins and facial expressions perfectly matched their dance moves. Sachin sang along with the music. He knew every word to the song and dramatically acted it out as he danced.
After the song ended, he led me back to my seat and went back out to the dance floor to join the rest of the wedding party in a traditional dance off between the ladies and men. After the last choreographed number, he pulled me back out on the dance floor, and we danced the night away. At one point, I accidentally let my one signature dance move slip out – the one my friends at home in the States had always teased me about. Sachin laughed but then incorporated it into a dance he was doing. I decided to follow his lead and dance along with him. We were eventually synched together perfectly. This felt like a daydream come true. Even before I had ever moved to India, I had longed to be in a Bollywood musical. This was probably as close as I would ever get. For just a moment, I allowed myself to feel like Aishwarya Rai and pretended Sachin was my Shar Rukh Khan. He was handsome and dreamy, and I was totally crushed out as every good Indian actress might be as well. It was the best dance I had ever shared and was one I knew I would never forget. It was so magical and wonderful that I got deeply lost in the moment, and I fell in love with India all over again.
When I returned home to Delhi, I told my colleague and friend stories of my trip and shared my photos with her. She gasped at the photo of Sachin and said that he starred in a soap opera she watched. I didn’t believe her, so a few weeks later, when a new season of the show was airing, she invited me over to watch. She told me that in the last episode of the former season, the lead characters had gotten married and that the new season would start out with the wedding reception. When the show started, sure enough, he was right there. The stranger I had danced with during my very own Bollywood musical moment. My dreamy dance partner at the wedding reception, Sachin. He was right there. On the television. My very own Shar Rukh Khan.
In typical Indian wedding reception tradition, the male characters rivaled the female characters in a dance off. As the men started to dance, I saw the same cheesy grins and facial expressions I had seen the night he had danced with me. My friend and I watched as they waved their arms in the air and clapped their hands, and then I saw it. My signature dance move. It was on the television. Sachin was doing my dance. I found myself squealing like a young schoolgirl with a crush and jumped up and danced along with him. My friend started laughing but then jumped up and started dancing along with me. As we danced around her living room that night, I closed my eyes and easily remembered that moment where I felt I was in my very own Bollywood musical. I felt the magic and fell in love with India all over again.
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Dance with a stranger
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I'd like to take a moment and say that my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Bombay who may have been injured or who may have lost loved ones during the attack this week. My heart goes out to you and yours during this tragic time.