29 February, 2008

she works hard...

on tuesday night i did a night shoot. it was for a nothing little film...no big stars..crappy sets. i was nervous because the next day i had to do a commercial and my call time for that was 6:30am so i would be cutting it close...luckily the shoot got done at 2am. the only other thing interesting about the shoot was VaCrazy was there and was nice to me. there were three other Americans there and he was talking to them and then they started yelling at him...later they told me he was trash talking America.

next day i go to the commercial. it was for a clothing store here called pantaloons...kinda of like the Macy's of India/Mumbai. they put me in a pink shirt...a white guy in a pink shirt...whatever. the whole thing only lasted two hours and i made rs.4000 so it was great.

that night (wed.)i did the night shot again...VaCrazy managed to make another group of people mad at him...it was a boring (the shot and fight). it was supposed to go a third night but thankfully was cancelled.

thursday this guy called me about doing voice-over work for friday. he is sort of a friend trying to coordinate his own projects so i agreed. i got there and it ended up only lasting 45 mins. and i got paid rs.1500 so it was a score plus thru it i met another agent. it was a good day. i have nothing lined up for the weekend and it feels good. all i am going to do is see "Sweeney Todd" which just opened today here.

oh, i got cast in the corporate video i auditioned for on monday, it shoots next week.

i went to see "jodha and akbar" it's a big film here and it stars the guy with two thumbs on one hand...it was four hours long, i thought my head would explode...but it was a costume drama piece, beautiful to look at...but four hours jeez!

and that's my week in India all i did was work...i want some fun...although my work is fun...anyway tomorrow is saturday...there is a party...well shall see

here's a pic of 'ol three thumbs...enjoy!

26 February, 2008

the rest

when last i left you i had...been working on Yavraaj, seen a bunch of bollywood stars, met a great crew and was heading off to an audition.

first a couple other things about last weeks shoot...i met Salmon Khans hairdresser, he was really very very nice...he is sort of a big deal and is about to do his own version of a reality show like "blowout"...anyway he said i should come by his shop he could cut my hair. i pointed at my blading head and he said "sorry"...it was priceless...i think we may be friends...

the last day of the shoot..literally as i was leaving the shoot i got in a fight with the Russian crazy guy....all week long he would say the really nasty things about America...when people do (always Russians) i ignore them cause...i know that if you went up to any Indian in the street and said would you rather go to America or Russia...America would win. Russians seem to have really deep rooted hatred for the states, to them the cold war is still very much alive. so all week i ignore crazy cause i just don't won't to get into it...on the last shot, they put me in a scene instead of vacrazy. he asks why, which you shouldn't do. i looked at him and said "cause America's number one" and walked away. after i walked away he apparently acted all sad like i was being a mean American. outside the crew, my friends, were trying to comfort him. it really got me that all week he was talking smack and he was getting sympathy so i laid into him.

Sunday i went to audition at SRK's offices. i don't like to go on auditions. i don't think i am good at them. they are always in some really remote place that you have to spend your own rupees to get to...but when you get called to SRK'S you go...so i did...and i wasn't as impressed as i wanted to be...and i don't think i have any chance at the part...it's for a cricket coach..

Monday i went on two more auditions, glutton for punishment that i am...the first is for this new agent i am working with, whom i haven't met yet but i really like. it was for a corporate video, which i think is beneath me, but it pays well so. I had to make up my own lines while trying to "act" as they video taped me, which was difficult. when i was leaving another guy showed up, he was "traditionally" handsome and tall two things they love, i felt defeated. then i went to a voice-over audition. i have only done one voice-over job and i hated it. every one tells me that was just that one job and that they are fun and there is no dening the money is great...so off i go to another far away suburb of mumbai. the part is for an animated "Archie's" movie they are doing here? i think?. i was to be the dad. it sucked! i am just not good at or trained in voice and so i end up feeling crappy and i don't give a good product....

today, Tuesday, i start a four day night shoot. tomorrow i shoot a commerical i was cast in...it's a big pay day so i am thrilled.

here's my new favorite song, this week, it's an old one but i's love it...and i know a couple of the dancers in the video as well...

24 February, 2008

Robert is Yavraaj

I came up with about twenty different names for this blog but "Robert is Yavraaj" seemed to tell all...Yavraaj (the prince) is the name of the film I worked on the past five days and Robert was my character...it was a jammed pack week beyond belief..

First the bad news...I didn't get the reality show...I know, I know...I sooo wanted to be on it...what to do!

Back in Mumbai on Monday I got a call to go on a four day (turned into five) shoot at Flimistan studios which is really close to home so I was thrilled. I get there and the first person I see in one of my most hated frienimeis Vasily, he's an insane homeless Russian that gets jobs (somehow) and is a total freak. I have him in my phone book as VaCrazy. Sometimes his whole "insanity thing" is fun, most it's torturous. This is a typical Vasily conversation.

v: why do you live here
c: I love mumbai
v: I think thailand is better
c: than go live there
v: I think you will like thailand better
c: I have been
v: why don't you live in thailand do hate thai people
c: no I just...
v: why do you hate thai people you should live in thailand is much more green you should live in thailand, why don't you live in thailand
(craig slits his wrist - end scene)

So anyway Vasily and I find our studio and it turns out to be beautiful. The most amazing set I have worked on. I could tell straight away there was money behind this movie, which means, to me, that despite Vacrazy, it would be a good five days.

Now days later I forget all the details of the first day...I played the butler of one of the main characters whose house the set was. Whenever he had any scenes I sort had to be standing or milling in the background. normal bolly fare. My characters name was Robert; it became the name that the crew just started calling me on and off camera. It became hard to tell where Robert ended and Craig began...maybe Vasily wasn't the only crazy on set!

The director is Subhash Ghai. He started a film school here in Mumbai called "Whistling Woods International Institute for Film, Television and Media Arts". It is basically THE film school of India. It produces smart, smart graduates! His production company, which Yavraaj is part of, is called Mukta Arts.

There were three white extras...me, vacrazy and a German girl named Angela. It was my first time meeting her and she instantly became my new best friend. She is living here in Mumbai and has had many of the same experiences that I have, it was nice to talk to someone "living my life". She found Vasily crazy as well, so I had to love her.

The star of the film is Salmon Khan. Salmon is really, really famous. In 1994 he stared in "Hum Aapke Hain Koun" it was the first Bollywood film I ever saw. it came about as I was just starting to be "india crazy" adding fuel to the fire. it is a perfect film. It was really really special to know that now I would "be" in a film with Salmon...it was truly one of those "life is great" moments. tear!

The first day Salmon was not going to be there and I was sad...then...all of the sudden...out of know where Hrithik Roshan showed up. Who? Right! Hrithik is a big time actor here blah, blah, blah. Where my obsession with him lies, is in his hands...his right hand...it has two thumbs! a regular one and then a little baby one on top of that...it's so gross, I love it...every time I see his picture its like all I can see is those thumbs...so to see them, both of them, was the highlight of day one.

Because the director of the film is a big deal the entire week was a cavalcade of Bollywoods finest just stopping by the set to say hi...Sanjay Dutt, Ranbar Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Irfaan Khan, just to name a few...I know those names mean nothing to most of you but in this new life I am living they are important so seeing them was fun.

The production crew: if you work on a production more than one day you are bound to meet one, two at the most, crews members that are awesome you can really "bond" with. This production had about 40. I have never been around such a friendly, warm, and FUN bunch of people. Even thought I was excited to see all the stars...the crew became...I kinda want to say "family"...but that sounds cheesy...but it totally fits. I miss them already.

So I just got a call to go audition at Shah Rukh Khan office...(YES!) so I gots to go I’ll fill in the rest later…you don’t keep King Khan waiting.

19 February, 2008

reality whore...who me?

So I loves a good reality show....and more than a good reality show, I loves me a bad one. But NOBODY loves reality TV more than India. Every night of the week there are tons on TV. They especially love singing competitions.

Last night the roomie that won't leave (he promises on the 21st) said that he gave my photos to a producer of a new reality show. What? It’s a dance competition. What? What? They match 9 regular folks with a Bollywood star (which am I?) they practice for three days and then they dance and someone gets voted off. Just like dancing with the stars. So I may be on it. They want a white guy but it still to early to tell. I am already practicing my winning speeches. Sameer says if I am on it, I will "become much famous". The best put I would get paid to hang out with a real Bollywood star...fingers crossed!!!

I am working the next four days which is nice cause I spent more than I wanted to in Nepal. It’s a bit like Target, you shop around and spend $5.oo here, $2.00 there and at the end of the day, you are broke. The studio is very near my house and I think it's a dance scene (they must have heard that I am a dancer now).

Anyway that's my life today!

p.s. i tried to send jessica and mom e-mails today and they wouldn't go...i got your e-mails and will respond later!

18 February, 2008

like a bad headache...Nokia!

I am back...in Mumbai!

I brought home a bit of a cold so this won't be long because I want to nap. The journey home was largely uneventful. The Maoist blocked the road my bus had to take from Katmandu so we had to travel an extra six hours to go around them. Which wasn't so bad cause sitting all around me were 8 monks. I was so trying to be there friend and they were so trying to avoid me. Which made me try harder...they won.

Back in Mumbai it's warm and I showered.

Oh, one cool thing. I ended up having to stay at a hotel half way home because I couldn’t get a train ticket Friday. While at the hotel, I saw a Nokia commercial I am in. It's was one of those "blink and you'll miss me" moments but, anyway it's with SRK and it is below!!!

I am at 34 seconds in, walking out of a bakery with a bag in the background...don't blink!!
Enjoy, I think it's my best work yet ha ha!

13 February, 2008

V-day

So here it is the eve of yet another Valentines Day to be spent alone...the difference this year is that I AM in love...with me!!! This year I feel better about myself, who I am, and the things that I am capable of more than I have in a longa time. Yeah me!! So while alone, I WILL be with the one I love.

But the V I am most excited about this Valentines is the Visa that I will pick up tomorrow letting me return home....home to Mumbai. In just over four months it HAS become home to me... I look forward to getting back, back to life. However, I don't look forward to the intensive job search that I have realized I have to do when I get there. Despite what most Indians think, just cause I am an American that doesn’t make me Donald Trump. But job worries are next week...

I made a Nepali friend. He sells Pashmina sweaters and I visit his shop daily. We drink tea and talk about our countries. He is hilarious and hates everybody. Last night we went to dinner, when we were parting he said "be careful of the glue sniffers". I laughed, not really understanding...his English is kinda bad. No sooner had I walked twenty feet away a gang of about 15 little kids (6-13 years old) came from nowhere and everywhere asking, nay, demanding money...each one more strung out than the next and each one dirtier than the next. Most, fortunately, were too busy holding plastic bags to their little faces (sniffing glue) to be bothered with money. Just as I was about to get scared, sweater guy came and chased them away...he said "don't worry, they won't kill you". Thanks?
Nepal is currently in political strife. The Maoist are trying to take over the government and you can feel the tension on the street. there are daily marches/rallies through town; it always feels like the city is step from civil war. It is sort of scary but exciting. The elections on April 10th will change this country forever. Time magazine has a cover story on the situation that sort of makes you feel for the Maoist. My sweater friend tells a different story. They come to his parents house and demand food and money threaten to bomb the house them if they don't provide.

So hopefully next time I blog it will be from Mumbai. The journey home proves to be blog worthy as the route seems a bit longer home as if it could get longer…

Peace out and congratulations to winehouse

11 February, 2008

better in the 00977.

I am feeling better...I was crabby last night, I guess I just needed to vent cause now it's better.

I went to the "monkey" temple yesterday...a beautiful stupa (Buddhist temple) that is home to about 200 monkeys. I am fascinated by monkeys...I have always wanted a helper monkey (Google it). These monkeys were kind of scary. 200 hundred of any kind of wild animal is scary. They move really, really fast and are all around you. I had been to this temple before. To get to the top of the mountain where the stupa is, you climb stairs, about 4000 of them. Lore has it that if you reach the top without stopping you will reach enlightenment in this birth cycle or lifetime. When I was 24 I did it...there was still hope of saving me. At 38 all hope is gone, I stopped twice.

Today I went to see about going to Mt. Everest. I don't want to hike it, obviously, but I thought it would be cool to go to it. Last time I was here I climbed a little mountain, more of a hill, where you could get to the top and look across a valley and see Everest. This time I wanted to be closer.
I went to an agent, told him I just wanted to see it and he said...

Agent: "ok you can go, do you have a tent or will you rent one and how about gear"
Craig: "I didn't want to stay the night but isn't there a hotel to stay at there"
Agent: "yeah, it's an eight day hike to get to base camp at the bottom of Everest"
Craig falls into laughter.

Could you see me hiking for eight days? I wouldn't hike eight days to a hello kitty convention where bjork is performing much less to the bottom of a snow covered mountain!!
He then tells me that there is a plane that will take people on 45 minute sky tours around the mountain. I’ve seen the film "Alive", forget that. So I won't see Everest.

I got two tee-shirts made here. They do hand embroidery and will put anything you want on a shirt. I am in heaven. I got "I keep it reals in the 065" and “I drop rupees by the core"...065 is my post code, rupees is the name of the money I use, a core is like a million rupees.

Nepal uses the rupee too but a different one than India. When you get your change back at a shop or restaurant they will combine types of money you get back...ie you'll get some US dollars, some india rupees, and some nepal rupees...it's werid.

so Nepal is beautiful...if you like nature, great food, and nice people this is the place for you...it is nearly perfect (cold). the people here are so nice, they say hello and smile. the locals are really attractive as well, half Asian half Indian, a great combo. the girls are really shy but somehow seductive and the guys are really into rap and are all thugged out. India try’s to be hip, but Nepal gets it.

I also went to Kumari house which is where the keep this little girl they pick as a child to be a princess. she has to leave her family a live in this temple. she is worshipped and holds court doing rituals. she stays until she "bleeds", not necessarily her period, just bleeds. it could be from a cut or scratch. they think that shows she is not divine but merely human. then she is removed and they pick a new one.

alright that's Nepal today...live it!!

10 February, 2008

getting here: part 2; Ka-Ka-Ka-Kathmandu

So when last I left you I had been traveling 50 hours;
and still not in Katmandu.
I had taken:
One local train
One cycle rickshaw
One long distance train
One jeep
And 2 auto rickshaws.

So I am on the bus at the Nepal boarder. Enter Paul, my seat mate and new best friend (for the next 13 hours). A British kid traveling in India for the past 3 months on his way to the Kat to meet a friend. He hadn’t had the best time in India. It was so nice after the past few days when conversation was broken English, "I go" "you sit" to talk freely with an English speaker. The bus was cold, uncomfortable, slow and it was kinda scary going through undeveloped mountains roads. Once in the Kat it just sort dropped us and we didn't know where we were. Paul had pre-booked a hotel I had the name of two different hotels so we got a cab with some weird Jewish kid and headed for the tourist district. It was 4am. Once in the area, the Jewish kid left for some Jewish hotel. There we were on the street walking and walking, looking for a hotel we couldn't find. We both had our second winds so it was kinda fun. We finally found his hotel and I checked in as well. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend but it was 5am...

So it's Thursday...I got up earlyish considering I went to sleep at 6am. I wanted to see the town, get food and warm clothes. They sell these great yak wool sweaters I always remembered how great they were. Unfortunately my opinion of them has changed in 14 years; I didn't/don't like them. Anyway I wanted to find a cheaper hotel so I went just looking round. I couldn't do passport/visa stuff because the embassy was closed Thursday for some holiday.

By walking around I found a hotel I had stayed in last time. It was cheaper I told them I’d come on Friday. Spent that first day just trying to get "the lay the land". I also got visa photos taken, terrible visa photos.

Friday got up early to go to embassy. You have to go early cause there is a long line. People start lining up at 4 am I had heard. I took a risk and left at 6:30. it turned out fine. To get a visa you fill out a form which they fax to Washington DC to see if you are a wanted criminal. You go back in couple days (I go Thursday 14th) and turn in another form in the morning, then back at 4:30 to pick up your visa.

After the embassy I went and checked in the new/old hotel. When I first went in the room I thought, "14 years has been hard on you old girl" I just dropped my bags in the room and headed out. I came back at round 2 and was sitting in the room thinking I don't want to stay here, it was a shit hole. So I went to find a new hotel and plan my escape. I found one, went back to my hotel and told them I didn’t like it and was leaving...they tried to make me pay for the room. I didn't.

So that means that basically I am "stuck" in Nepal until Thursday. Which I know sounds crappy to say stuck but...it's cold and sort of miserable or I am miserable here. The power is always out so after 5pm it's dark and all you can do is sit in your hotel room in the dark and freeze. Or go to the internet cafe that has a generator and blog. I am bored and did I mention cold. So I am just walking around during the day and eating. I should explain all this so much better but right now I am at the height of my crabbiness I need to chill out and blog later.

09 February, 2008

gettin here: part one

The journey here...I left my house at 7pm on Monday, 4th Feb. I was not really sure how i was getting to the train station. In Mumbai you have many travel choices, all falling along the scale of expensive to cheap. I always want to say "fuck it" and go expensive, but then I remember "I choose this life I have to live it" and go cheap. I took a auto-rickshaw to the local train. Local train to Santa Cruz station then another rik to the long distance train station. The local train was unusually not crowded, which I took to be a good omen, normally it is impossible. The rik to the long distance train however took forever, one and half hours. I was nervous my train was to embark at 10p and it was 9:30 when I arrived. At the end the driver asked for more money, I just laughed and walked away. I had never been to this station before but was able to find my train easily. on the platform you have to wait under these signs that are labeled according to which train car you are booked in. under my car sign was a midget Muslim family...I though I had died and gone to heaven...if only one of those Mexican wolf guys had been there I might have spontaneously combusted. Sadly they moved to a different car when we were told to board. Tear. Unfortunatly my compartment mates where not as interesting. They sort of ignored my existence for about the first 20 minutes. A conversation started between the guys there and they kept pointing at me and speaking to me in Hindi, they wanted something. I called my Indian friend xerxes (the date) and he figured out they wanted me to switch cars so a family could travel together. Since i wasn’t enamored my with the folks in my car I was fine with the shift. I went to the other car. It had the warmth of a morgue. There were, as best as I could count, seventy five thousand crying babies and just as many old women in burqas. I went back to my car and announced to nobody imparticular "fuck that" and retook my original seat.

Each individual car is divided into 9 areas for seating/sleeping. Within those 9 areas is place for 8 fold out beds and eight passengers. In true Indian style my area had 12 passengers. While I slept at night a guy sat on the edge of my bed...all night. When I bought my ticket I requested upper berth...I asked repeatedly "is this top berth?" "I have to have top berth!"..."yes!" "yes!" "yes!" I was told...I had bottom berth. Also known as "the suckiest berth". You have to wait for everyone to decide to sleep because the shared seat becomes your bed. Around 12:30 everyone went to sleep. So me, the guy at my feet, and my 12 new best friends all turned in.

It got cold at night, everyone was freezing, I didn't think it was bad. We got up at 6am. They were still not really interacting with me...language was a major problem, nobody spoke English. I took breakfast, then a nap, then lunch, then the boredom set in...1 hour...2 hours...they crawled by. I couldn’t really read because the train is so noisy with people talking and hawkers selling everything under the sun up and down the aisle. I had an idea...I pulled out my notebook, numbered the page one to twenty and asked the one guy that knew some English to teach me to count in Hindi. It turned out to be just the ice breaker we needed...we all became fast friends.

The rest of the trip was not too bad for being 35 hours long. A guy in the next birth spoke English. He became our translator. They all asked about sex in America. It’s a topic that every Indian man asks about. They have this idea that you can just have sex with any girl you want and anywhere you want. It’s really crazy and sort of upsetting the screwed up views some have about the US. At around noon on Wednesday we arrived at Gorakhpur, where I would catch a bus to the boarder of India and Nepal. It was strange how sad I felt when leaving the guys from the train. On some level we had actually become friends. I also was aware that my sadness came from the knowledge that I was not just leaveing these new friends but my beloved India as well.

In town I was told I would have to wait for 2 hours to get a local bus boarder. Then I was approached by this guy that took people in his "hummer like" jump for rs.100. I jumped in a truck built for six with ten other people and headed for the boarder. Two and half cramped hours later I was in Sunuli. the town is nothing but the boarder crossing between countries. Crossing the boarder was strange. First the jeep drops you just far enough from the boarder that you have to take one of the waiting cycle-rickshaws. Then they drop you in front of the "disembarking" customs office, which is no more than a store front with a desk. With passport stamped as “exiting India” you walk down this busy road to the boarder. There is no signage to tell you where to go or anything, it's really confusing. There are people everywhere, pushing, shoving and you’ve got baggage to boot, not fun. I asked a police man and he pointed across the street and turned his back. I found the visa/customs office and my visa was issued with no fuss or muss. Back on the street you just keep walking until you guess your now in Nepal. I turned and gave India one final look and set about booking a bus to Katmandu.

Just before I boarded my bus a guy putting luggage on top of the bus fell off and lay on the ground in front of the bus with blood pouring from his head. I went around to the other side and got on; people grabbed his legs and dragged him away.

Alright so that's part one...internet place is closing, its 10:30pm and this is the night of Nepal’s New Year...the year of the rat!!!

07 February, 2008

NEPAL

after a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, journey from mumbai i have arrived...i will give you the low down later...(my keyboard does not have the keys labeled and i am having to rely on my memory, yikes)...i go to see about my visa tomorrow and i also check into the same hotel i staied in 14 years ago...cool. oh and ot's cold here...like almost snowing cold...and there is no hot water...i thinka i stinka, cause i no showera. but its beautifil and the food is amazing and cheap...it's 3pm and i have eaten 3 times and on my way for a 4th.

ok take care...show love!!!

speaking of love...there was a really good second date! ha ha!

02 February, 2008

ticket and stuff

My ticket is bought and i am, Monday at 10pm, heading for the green, green mountains of Nepal. Tuesday when i went to inquire about my ticket, i asked if i need to show my passport, which i had on me, and the lady said no. Thursday when i went to buy the ticket she said i needed my passport. That’s sort of India in a nut shell you never know what you going to get at any moment. that works for good stuff as well...i was late for an appointment sitting on the train and this Indian came over and said "not sure if you know this but, this train terminates at the next station, there you have to transfer for “Churchgate" he saved me about an hours worth of travel time...but you know it is hard to live here and that’s part of the excitement...the excitement of any large city...Philly was hard sometimes too.

As i was walking away from the ticket counter i got a call a bout a job that would last for a month of shooting at rs.800 per day...and it starts the day i leave for Nepal...damm! Then another call from this agent, Paras, who i have been trying to butter up because he gets good, high paying jobs. He had a job for me on the 11th...a modeling job i might add...and i can't take that either…Nepal better be awesome!!!

I found out you can't view ABC TV on-line out side of the US so no "Lost" for me.
I got this book on Mumbai, a street by street map; i don't know i have lived without it. My fake diesel bag is dying, that's what you get why you buy bags for $3.00 on the street. I found this place that sells wicker furniture and i actually like the stuff and it’s affordable. While not a big wicker fan, wicker seems to suit India somehow.
I also found how to get a water cooler sent to my house...i have been hunting this for 2 months. Turns out it is much cheaper than i thought.

That’s it for now...enjoy!

Oh crap i almost forgot...the date went really well...there just may be a second one