We are waiting to meet Nini
Ling at the Crawford Market. Itís an ungodly hour of 6:30 and we
even got here earlier to miss another torturous ride through
rush hour traffic jam. Itís still dark with street people
scattered all around sleeping. Eerie and surreal like dead
bodies lying about after a battle scene.
Soon as Nini arrives, weíre off to the races. Having grown up in
Shumsuipo, I was prepared for a trek through the Mumbai swamps
with my rubber sandals and shorts. Ajay tells me how this white
camera dude from Canada was so freaked by the conditions that he flew
back after not more than a day, and he was nowhere near a place
like the wet market we are about to shoot in. I, being
Cantonese, am always leery of buying dead fish in pristine
packaging. Iíll take my chances with the wet market over any
pristine North American supermarkets for my fresh live seafood.
We have a saying in Cantonese. ďIf itís not moviníÖ I ainít
Iím wearing my headsets not to monitor but more to muffle the
loud noise and protect my ears. Itís so noisy in this echo
chamber that you canít tell the vendors from the buyers as they
badger and yell at each other for the best bargain prices.
People are munching their food on the go and drinking chai next
to animals dead and alive. It is surrealistically Fellini meets
John Waters. The flood of animal blood and pungent mystery
sewage soaks my naked sandal feet. The only thing Iím trying to
keep clean is my camera.
The Crawford Market is one huge maze. If I blink, Iím likely to
lose Nini during this tracking exercise and Iíll be lost here
forever. I stick with him through his routine and we eventually
emerge back out into the glistening Indian sun shower.
Just a quick drop off at Lingís to get the fresh seafood out of
the blazing heat and weíre off again to Sasson Docks to get
more goodies off the source, the fishing boats coming in with
the days catch from the Arabian Sea. It turns out to be a wild
goose chase as the dayís catch did not satisfy Niniís high
standards and we ended up back at Lingís empty handed. Heíll
have to settle with what he got earlier at the Crawford.
Later in the day, we stroll over to Churchgate capturing ambient
along the way. Cheuk wanted some footage of crowded commuters at
the train station. The light was gorgeous. But we got busted
again. It was worse than Israel this time. We got hit with
legislation B.S. a mile long. Not even our ďfixerĒ guy could get
us off this time. We had to give up the footage and still pay
off a fineÖ or bribeÖ depending on how you look at it.