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The Happy Fish Narratives Always with a backpack full of sunshine

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INDIA | Thursday, 1 May 2014 | Views [307] | Scholarship Entry

I took off my dusty, blue scarf, the only thing covering my head throughout the 18-kilometer drive on a national road whilst on a motorcycle with my new friend, Nachiket. The entire trip was spent with him unperturbedly telling me the non-necessity for a head protection. I folded my scarf as I shake off the thought of how fast we went as people nonchalantly crossed highways out of freaking nowhere. I silently calculated the courage points I have earned for the ride as we waited for our friends in the parking lot of the cinema.

The movie house gradually filled up. Right by the middle is the best spot to listen to the unfamiliarity encircling me. I can hear them speak words that my brain refuses to process. Two weeks prior, I only had a total of 10 Hindi and Telugu words in the bag. It has then skyrocketed to 36. I listened intently to random people’s conversations and waited for a word I recognize.

The first few seconds of the movie played and I got some you-can-do-it glances from my new friends. I momentarily questioned my logic for wanting to watch a Bollywood movie without the subtitles, more so deciding to see it with people who will be closely observing me like chemists waiting for their mixtures to properly react. I focused on the screen. Oh, look! It’s John Abraham. I don’t remember being hugely excited in the past to see someone familiar in a movie. Oh wait, he’s starting to speak random sounds.

It didn’t take long for me to get the general idea of the film. I laughed at the parts where everyone else laughed, cried as the others cried, too. I completely allowed everything to make sense to me, even the scenes where people doing mundane things arbitrarily become participants of an intricately choreographed song and dance. Words spoken weren’t supposed to mean anything to me but they did. I almost believed I speak Hindi.

The film ended and my only thought was what have I just done? I can’t stop wearing a smile. I watched an entire Bollywood film with no subtitles! I should put that in my résumé. For some reason, for something that some people would not even consider a triumph, I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment, immense enough to render my fear of the ride back home inconsequential. I sat at the back of Nachiket’s motorcycle, less the fright of the earlier ride. Let’s freely roam the streets of Hyderabad in high speed, with our heads unprotected! I have just magically learned a new language! I can do anything!

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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