A Passage From India / by Courtney Mehlhaff

A few years ago, my friend Linnea traveled in India and treated us all to a hilarious blog. What follows is one of her posts that I specifically saved for future enjoyment. And now, because she is brilliant and because I think this account deserves the widest audience possible, I pass it along to you.

I went to a movie in McLoud Ganj Friday night. I saw the DaVinci Code. Perhaps you are imagining your own experience at your local cinema? Perhaps you also saw the DaVinci Code? Though we may have seen the same movie, it is unlikely that there are any additional similarities in our experience. First, the theater had the look and feel of the inside of a bus - most likely because the theater’s seats came from a bus. I believe there were still seat belts attached to some. There were only about 30 seats in the theater and no screen. The movie was shown on a large television. Barb – not exaggerating – it was half the size of yours. If you could haul that thing to India, you could set up shop. It might not be the most lucrative endeavor however as I only paid 30 rupees for my ticket (less than a dollar). You may be shocked to learn that the version of the film I saw was a bootleg – it was grainy, a bit off center and the opening credits were in Russian. Though the film is in English it was shown with English subtitles displayed. It was clear that the subtitles were written by someone for whom English was a second or possibly fifth language. I don’t think a single line of dialog was correctly represented in the subtitles. When Tom Hanks exclaims “it can’t be, a fleur de lis” the subtitles read, “it can’t be, flute is bleeding!” I found myself wishing I couldn’t hear the dialog because it would have been fascinating trying to decode the plot from the subtitles. Knowing the magical “holding grill” people kept talking about was actually the holy grail would have been key. At least, perhaps sensing its importance, they actually attempted to translate that. Unusual words and those with more than two syllables were frequently spelled “….”

I have heard the movie is not good. I can’t really say whether it was good or bad but I can say the version I saw was the funniest movie I have seen in a while.

Saturday evening ended with an encounter with the largest spider I have ever seen. The spider was perched on Sherry’s ceiling. The spider had fangs. The spider had biceps. The spider was flashing gang signs and waving a stick at us. We had encountered the spider earlier that morning and had attempted to capture it but, when poked with a broom, it spewed a bunch of tiny spiders and ran for cover. Oh, the humanity.

There was a fair amount of high pitched squealing and some scurrying in and out of the room (people scurrying, not the spider – the spider was frozen in place on the ceiling) as we discussed a plan to rid our flat of the menace. A vote was taken as to whether this would be a catch and release operation or if the solution to our spider problem would be final. It’s a do-gooder lot, the volunteers, and we’re surrounded by Buddhists monks everywhere we go. Given this it was surprising how narrow the victory was for catch and release. The plan involved a bucket, Elliot, a fellow flatmate, on a chair with aforementioned bucket pressed against the ceiling over the spider and me sliding the cardboard from a board game along the ceiling. Thankfully the plan worked. The spider plopped into the bucket and was rushed outside. It was deposited a safe distance from the house and order was restored.