My local sound guy Ajay is
picking me up at the airport. He had worked for my friend and
client Cyrus and is the cousin of Cheuk’s Toronto South Asian
friends. The world is getting way too small. As he shakes and
swags his head from side to side, he tells me he was spotting
for some dude who looks like Jackie Chan. But he managed to spot
me in the crowd anyways… there aren’t many Asian dudes in cowboy
hats in Mumbai. On the way in from the airport, we pass by a
hand painted larger than life Jackie Chan billboard for some
Western that I’ve never seen… now I get the joke.
Cheuk is held up by the crossfire in the Middle East as the
outbreak of Iraqi War messes up flight routes. He’s taking the
long route over Russia to Delhi and will be a day late. Ajay and
I made good use of the day shooting ambient around town and
picked up the audio rentals in Mumbai. We finish up shooting
around Juhu Beach with the magic hour sun falling behind the
Arabian Sea. If all goes well, Cheuk should make it here in time
for morning breakfast.
After Ajay went home, I hung out that night on Juhu Beach behind
the Holiday Inn where I was staying. My neurosis was calming
down although I was still uncertain about dropping by SARS-infested
Hong Kong at the end of this shoot for the world premiere of
“Song Of The Exile”. It’s supposed to be a big deal… kinda like
“homecoming for prodigal sons”. We are apparently even invited
to some propaganda dinner thing with the Chief Executive, Mr.
As I sat watching the lapping waves from the Arabian Sea, I was
confident that I’d live through the world calamities of the week
and see Fai again. Something in my heart was telling me she’s
gonna be the ONE, and I don’t think it was heartburn from my
spicy Punjabi meal.
Ajay shows up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for breakfast at the
hotel coffee shop. Cheuk finally shows up with blood-shot eyes
after breakfast. Looks like KLM did a good job dodging the
American fighter jets after all. We go back to my room to sort
out and check gear before we face the scorching taxi ride
through the Mumbai smog.
It takes us over an hour of tortuous detours to get to Ling’s
Pavilion. But Check tells me that it’s worth the haul because
the food is exquisite. We arrive in Ling’s oasis and it’s not
what I expected from the chaos and hustle of the surrounding
neighbourhood outside. It’s near the Gateway of India in an area
reminding me of a 60’s Tsimshatsui in Kowloon. It’s full of
souvenir shops and street hawkers. The sidewalk traffic is worse
than the road.
A street hustler stuck his hand out in front of my lens and
ruins my shot when I was tracking Cheuk towards Ling’s through
shoulder-to-shoulder traffic. That’s the worst thing you can do
to a camera, dude. It’s like worse than walking in on him during
orgasm. I could have killed him.
Cheuk and I have travelled halfway around a SARS-infested world
in the middle of a war, and through the horror that is Bombay
rush-hour traffic. We finally made it to Ling’s Pavilion.