Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When The Table Turns The Other Way

You’re busy twirling that boy around your finger. He loves you, he adores you, he says it ten times a day. You frustrate him, you tease him, you coax him, you push him away. Always playing games. Till one day the table turns the other way. Suddenly you’re waiting for his calls. He said this…does he mean that?! Two days and he hasn’t been online! Am I blocked or unblocked?

My tryst with the temperamental table coincided with Backstreet Boys releasing Quit Playing Games when I was a teenager and continues till date.

The second big time fate’s itchy hand spun that table around was when I was in Africa. Now, I am not a brown skinned desi. I am a desi with wheatish complexion. Difference? You have to be in Africa to fathom the huge difference. Before I knew the local word for hello, I knew the word muzungu. It means white person. And I was a white foreigner. . . according to African standards and even according to Indian diaspora standards.

The tables had turned and spun me into a tizzy. I was all of a sudden ‘superior’ just for my skin color. A little black kid bit me “to taste your skin” I was told. I was given preferential treatment everywhere- I got a table at a restaurant when there was none, I got an appointment when someone was "in a meeting", I got ripped off Ugandan shillings because I most definitely looked like I had the monies. And in reality, this was me- a struggling student… one of 1 billion Indians and counting.

My latest freelance assignment is centered around the IPL after match parties. It’s my first project as a writer. I write lines for the anchor to say on screen which means I have to be present at the parties with the latter in the event of changes to the script. And as I watched the anchor deliver her lines, I realized how surreptitiously the tables had turned again.

I hadn’t before written lines that somebody else had to deliver. For two years I had been in front of the camera. Just a month ago I had anchored another show. I had had my dresses sorted out, someone to do my makeup, give me the script; it was me who felt the heat of the camera light and the curious stares of onlookers. And now, I was part of the anchor’s entourage. I watched her get made up, read the script, face the camera, plaster that smile and deliver her lines. Crazy.

It’s like a heady drink- being on the other side. Of course, it puts circumstances into perspective, but it’s also an out of body experience… because it seems so unreal. I couldn’t possibly be groveling for love, I couldn’t possibly be white, I couldn’t possibly not be in the limelight. But I am. I’m on the other side, that's for sure. And there’s definitely grass here too. I just don’t know which is greener.