Back from Mumbai, still tired from eight hours of sleepless night flight in a packed aircraft. The trip was everything I imagined, and more; heat, dust and traffic, unexpected friendship and incredible hospitality, innumerable colours and tastes, and new deep insights in Indian everyday life and about the Bollywood film industry.
Below the glamorous surface of Bollywood as seen in magazines, TV and the movies themselves, there is the most ruthless and competitive industry I've ever known. People can be made to work for three or four days and nights at a time without a break, just because some shooting schedule demands it. I have seen it happen to some of my friends last week, who slogged nonstop from Wednesday morning till Friday night, for more than 60 hours without sleep. If someone is not up to these work times, he'll have to leave his job. There will be 20 young, strong guys waiting to get an opportunity like this...
But you (at least Jackie) will want to know more about my own Bollywood story. It's gone into it's next chapter, but there's no happy end as yet. There was one moonlit, romantic evening at Juhu Beach, a dinner and some talk. We met twice again at a friend's house for a glass of chai, but otherwise he worked (see above), and during our few short meetings he was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open, let alone make conversation in English. And in fear of losing his job, he never dared to take even a few hours off to be with me.
I felt as if the guy I had met in March, the one who loved to laugh and to cheer me up, had changed into a kind of robot on auto-pilot, able to move, but without any spirit of his own. It was sad, and a little frightening.
Now, after my time in Mumbai, I hope he loves me, too. He said so. But I don't know if I can trust him, or if there will be a future for us. Maybe this is the end of my Bollywood romance, and it isn't even interesting or dramatic enough to make a good film script.