Saturday, March 29, 2014

So.... Are you gonna eat those almonds?

I get to my Jodhpur... Which is semi remote. And I need some Jennifer food. Aka almonds and apples would be great!

I head down the road where I know I saw some road side stalls with apples.
Apples and animals (Photo: JLewis)
But I can't recall where the one was where they looked.... Um...good.

I ask around. They point me to... Let's just call him Bob for the point of the story. So Bob has a little place... with some produce ... and four apples.... all covered in flies. Hmmm. Now the whole little village is staring at me. Will she buy Bob’s four apples? What do you think? Feces and disease won't be inside them right? 

So yeah... Got the apples. Now what about almonds?
They have cashews packaged. So I say...ok…No….not those but what about the brown oblong looking things? The little kid behind Bob says all excitedly YES! They then pull open the old drawer with the almonds... Not packaged like the cashews... Just laying there where the rats probably ran across last night and where the flies are currently resting. Of all the crazy things to go through my mind... I just thought... Maybe if I boil them?

Down time in India…What?

Day off?

Today I actually don’t go all the way to Bihar. So good news is…I GET TO LIVE TWO MORE DAYS! AND….I have a day off! I know! WTF! So I decided to travel to Jodhpur.

The plague

It seems….am sick…ish. My non stop cough from hell I developed in Kathmandu now scares everyone away. How non-stop? Let’s just say I need enough losenges so I can constantly have one in my mouth to keep from hacking on everyone. Otherwise I am totally out of control and gross and frightening.

Problem…. I could not locate anything remotely resembling a losenge in the Kathmandu airport. I finally end up with a giant bag of Werther’s caramels. I had to eat the whole bag of to get through flight number one (aka cough control). I do not even WANT to know how many calories that was! I just know…I am no longer hungry…for maybe ever….and …..I think I have a new cavity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jennifer’s sometimes get worn down…but like a weeble wobble…they always get the fuck back up! (Don’t you think Hasbro wishes they could have phrased it that way?)

Well whaddya know! Pooh is a Weeble too!
I get to the Kathmandu airport, get through security and sit down in the waiting area. I have not been able to connect with anyone from home the last day or so….I am sick and exhausted….and just generally worried about the film. And lets just say….I am having an interior meltdown. Sometimes you just need someone to push you back out there and say GO get em. But…I did not have that today. No one here but me. Finally I realize….it’s up to ME to push myself back through the door……..interiorly…..I  say….Jennifer…SHUT THE FUCK UP with your whining bullshit! There is simply no time for that. You need to get the fuck up….go to that kiosk….buy some menthos so you can stop your incessant coughing that is scaring EVERYONE in this waiting room….sit your ass down…pull out some paper and a pen and come up with a plan to ensure you will get what you need at this final location. Ok….I will. So I do. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Last eve in Kathmandu brings….um….concerns. Yes….let us call them that

Film making as a novice can be ….worrisome

So it is the end of the day…..I am about to leave Nepal and head to India…..and I feel good about a lot of what I have been able to capture….but I am still worried.  Do I have what I need to make this work? It has not been easy… come at this with absolutely no experience…..having to learn on the fly….I admit this.

Photo: JLewis
I am getting more and more paranoid about missing things. Now….I wonder…could there be some setting on my camera that if I did not have right….would mean something horrible… it would never have good enough resolution to be blown up on a big screen…Something over the top critical like that. So now….I am going back through settings…checking all that I know….and everything seems fine….but I am terrified of missing something…because I simply do not know better.

I also worry do I have enough b roll? This is some of the hardest stuff to get right at times because you find interesting events….unfolding in front of you….and time has no freeze frame….so you gotta get the camera ready to shoot fast and then capture before the moment is gone. I am still slow many times getting the lighting right….getting the angles right….remembering all the rules of filming to make it pretty in the frame…and because of this I know I have missed some really amazing things. Many.

The biggest issue however, is my concern about the story. I had a really great instructor before I took off who said to us all….if you can make them laugh and also make them cry….then you have gold in your film. These I have found are incredibly hard to capture. The laughing part….fine…whatever…can’t force that. But the feeling. The ability to make people care because what they hear or see touches them. 
I HAVE to get this right. The reason behind this docu is very important. And I feel a weight on my shoulders to do the best job I possibly can for that reason. Because..maybe…just maybe….it could provide a break towards conservation of this species before it disappears just like so many other species have recently.


My other issue is I still don’t have plans squared away with the next research team. They have given me a general guide for how to get to them. But….it iturns out it is not do-able. It includes a train from Calcutta to Bhaglapur (where they are located), but you cannot as a foreigner buy train tickets online. And if you show up day of….you may have to travel standing
Yep…might be tough to find a seat….that I want
in coach (which would be a problem because of all my gear). So I have to come up with another way….and I can’t seem to reconnect with them again. Argh!

So I look for the nearest airport to Bhaglapur. It is in a place called Patna. And there I find online a place where I can hire a driver to take me between these last two cities. Done. Still not sure where to stay in Bhaglapur, but at least I know I am gonna show up. Well…ha….that is what I thought…see next few days of Jennifer’s great fun.

On top of everything…I am also pretty sick right now. Chest cold from hell. No voice…which makes asking interview questions….well…harder…and my ability not to cough until they finish their answer. Oh Man. It has been a tough weekend.
I am exhausted. But I just have to push through this last part.

Life….Death…Life…Death…Hmmm. Roll of dice?

Source: wikimedia
So…the area of India I am heading next is called Bihar. Which….I have just been told by the kids that work the front desk at this hotel in Kathmandu…who are Indian…is a pretty dangerous area. They then look at my face, backtrack…and say…for Locals. For locals… is dangerous. :) Well….being it is remote…..and no airports within a 6-7 hour drive….I am guessing not a big tourist hotspot. So…hmmm. Yep.. gonna register with US embassy tonight. “Dear America….you can find my bones and my awesome camera system….probably along the long ass road between Patna and Bhaglapur… eaten clean by the camels. Or the cows. Because cows eat everything I have now found. And I think they are….um….gross.”. I wonder if it should worry me that both my Nepal students heard where I was going and got…worried also. Intriguing…this place…..Bihar. :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Will I finally get arrested?

Finally got a 2 hour break to get some b roll of the old part of Kathmandu.Decide to basically stay put in an area around a large temple. I wander around the blocks nearby. Am taking my time, really working all angles when I start to notice one officer is watching me, and following me and looking more and more concerned. 

Temples in old Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo: JLewis)
See what I mean? (Photo: JLewis)

Could it be the fact that I also filmed American tourists? A lot! Why the hell did I do this you might ask? They are terribly fascinating that’s why! When they travel they only come in packs, and they form very tight little circles, all moving as a unit…kinda of like an amoeba. How can you not watch this? I admit…a white girl…filming white people might seem….odd. I get that. 

Now look at the white people compared to everyone else in the square. Oh for the love of God…Americans. Loosen up. Drink more. Learn to go….ALONE! (Photo: JLewis) PS. Big thumbs up to Kathmandu for very big effort to raise Aids awareness (I am taking moment of seriousness here. Was really impressive). 
Could it also have been … what I did when I got to the area? Well…I had a bit of a shit chip on my shoulder. It is huge tourist attraction…meaning every other sales person is approaching you to sell something. So you have to get tough, no smiling…or they work harder to pull you in. So this one officer yells at me at some point saying I have to pay to get back down the street I just walked in on. I think…BULLSHIT! Are you kidding? I got pissed but since he looked official and said I would be arrested otherwise I bought a damn ticket from him. I was rather angry at him and said something about being bullshitted. Maybe that was not the right thing to do? :) Sometimes Jennifer forgets she cannot get away with being a Jennifer everywhere.
Armed people are people too! And they deserve to be
 filmed just like all the rest of us! (Photo: JLewis)

Let’s see…what else could it have been? Could it have been the fact that I also filmed some armed servicemen in the area? For gods sake…it’s the b roll! They are part of the landscape….so they needed to be filmed too! Right?

Anyway, I am continuing on, when I realize out of the corner of my eye… the officer is now following me everywhere I go and looking like he thinks I am doing …..something….wrong. …..Something. But he can’t decide what yet. Great! Finally he comes right up to me to see what is up. And then…saved!!! My taxi driver comes over to me and asks if we can go now!!! YES…Taxi driver! We CAN go now! :)