Travel Part 1: Inside Dumb Drunk & Racist

 “Begin at the beginning,” the king said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop”

Into  Sydney- Episode 1 (part 1 )
It moves so fast in the 1st episode I just saw!
The tightest editing possible. 50k miles of experiences and footage condensed into a few minutes- the edit suite must be full of really determined  talented scissor-hands. 

I’ve been to  Sydney before but this time around is  different. Anticipation, 3 strangers as fellow travelers, a crew,  cameras and a brain exploding with questions. 3 Strangers and Joe Hildebrand. So it’s actually 4 strangers I’m traveling with on the Aussie road trip for the next three weeks.
The four of us meet for the 1st time  on a roof-top of  a typical old-Delhi  house  with the famous Jama Masjid in the background. The flight is just a few hours later.
First impressions: Amer- Young, smart, confident,  out to have a great time.
Mahima- First time out of her home, excited.
.Gurmeet- Politically suave, worldly naive, nice guy.
We connect instantaneously. It  may be the result of the collective apprehension  of the unknown and safety in numbers, because ordinarily, we are as different as they come.

Until that  evening of the day we leave for Aus, none of us know what kind of people the other 3 are, and have no idea about  the host of the series, except that he is famous.
I have been hoping he is  not  a cricketer ( am so un-Indian in my disinterest in the game),  and the mental  check-list reads a bit like this- Okay, Russell Crowe? Heath Ledger- Not possible. Hugh Jackman? Steve Irwin- Sadly,  again not possible,  Mel Gibson- Cordell did say “He is famous”, Eric Bana- YES!  YES! You get the drift?
Basically a very stereotypical list of famous Australians . And somewhere on the plane to Sydney I ask  Amer-“Tell me the host’s name again..”
Amer: “JOE HILDEBRAND” The man in question looks up from the seat in front.
Me: “Shushhh, but can you spell it for me, can’t get that second part..”
I have absolutely no idea who he is, in fact none of us Indians do. All that  is  about to change of course, many  Indians across the world will know his name after the show.  Who knows, there may soon be a temple built in his name- Some  Indians,  a small minority,  like to deify people, and I can visualize that uniquely Indian perception- “This really white* man has taken care of  our 4  fellow Indians while  in his country,  and even though we can’t understand a word of that accent, we can see he is one of us.”  hahah.
Joe you chose well- a show with Indian travelers. Can Q & A, Sunrise …, (and all those hard to count Australian shows you pop up in) get you your own  temple? I sense a dejected “no.”
 White*- A color of skin many people in the sub-continent (not only India)  would want. Just as any white person would want a tan. A growing population in the sub-continent is wont to using fairness creams, just as a growing population of white people take tan-showers. Is there any difference? Not really. Although fading and on the decline, the colonial hang-over still exists in some pockets,  and that has added somewhat to the desire for white*. But a new crop of  dusky Bolly heroines have changed perceptions towards the color bias. Caste system dictates Fair/ Dark color- No longer applies in India. We have moved on a few steps from that stereotype. Slowly, but surely.

Day 1: Joe leads us through the touristy bits around the harbor, and everything seems nice and simple.  We pose with the painted  aboriginal (faux?) person playing music, there’s that boat ( is that too low- down a noun for that vessel?) ride and  basically it is all fun and games.
Calm before the storm? Joe Hildebrand has this look in his eyes, and I haven’t found out yet that it is his favorite look. I think he cultivates it.

As I sit in the shade (while Amer goes chasing waves at  Bondi ) on the curb alongside an older couple resting there,  we start talking , pretty much what I love best- talking to strangers (ma, you thought you did such a good job with all those warnings, but..),                        and  the lady goes-
“Lovely here isn’t it? You from ?”
 Me: ” Guess ?
She: “Latino?”
Husband: “Middle East?”
Me: “India”
She: “No! You speak normal English. And you’re wearing Davidoff  Cool Waters! My favorite perfume” hahhahhaahhhhh.  Indian not wearing a perfume called ‘Curry’-  inconceivable?  Racist?
I don’t think so;  just speaking her mind.
There’s a fine line between this and racism. Is it  about the attitude behind the words, the intent?
But it is just the first few hours into Dumb Drunk…, and many of the namby-pamby ideas I have about the R of the DDR are yet to crumble. “White pride motherf*****” from the promo’s  is still an encounter away. So is the Hitler salute. There’s a name for it from all those  books I read in my teens, but it just won’t come when I need it for the 1st time ever since.

And then Amer and I go for that thrilling Shark-Dive. How could the DDR editors cut out the best part of the show??? I am so disappointed.  I wanted my friends to see how brave I was. Thankfully I have that cd. I can still   post all those scary- sharks- just- an-inch- away- from- me  pictures.
My grand-dad thinks I posed with wax-replicas. He says to me “Better to pose with them than those actors. Only tourists pose with actors.”  Basically we all  love wild-life  more than actors, so these words are  no surprise to me.
I wish it was you Steve Irwin ( but Joe I love you too!)
I still wonder why those humongous creatures  didn’t chew us down. They have to be vegetarian like Mahima and Gurmeet who ironically opted out of the shark dive. Well, too bad these sharks don’t live in a tank in India; they’d

fit right in.              (Next post: Sergio the Burqa-phobic & his assistant you didn’t see on DDR)    


10 thoughts on “Travel Part 1: Inside Dumb Drunk & Racist

  1. Dina has provided a link to your blog on her blog – she is very good at finding interesting blogs or web-pages. DDR was quite intriguing – I’ve only one more episode to catch up on. Each of you quite naturally has a distinct personality, so I warmed to you all for different reasons. Your suggestion that the ban the burqa sign could say ‘discuss’ was so quietly and confidently put that I would love to know what you thought and didn’t say as much as what you did say. I’m also happy to see you are a fan of Lewis Carroll.
    I shall be back!

    1. Jane, Actually I said a lot more but it was lost in the edits due to time constraints.
      Thank you so much for watching, warming up to us (that’s so lovely to hear) reading the blog and writing in!

      Dina, thank you so much again!!

  2. I just finished watching the series. I’m so glad you have a behind-the-scenes blog. I love it so far (the first post). I like your sense of humor.

    I did the shark dive too!! I’m sorry that adventure of yours got cut. A shame.

    1. Thank you Dina. Actually it’s such a shame… but I’m just glad I got the opportunity to do that dive, since you’ve done it, you know what I mean.
      Thanks for watching the series, reading the post and for writing in.
      I’m going to read your blog too, interesting name 🙂

  3. DDR was an excellent TV show, and I really appreciated your opinions and input. I’m also glad I could find this blog to read all the behind-the-scenes goings on! I can’t really tell from the blog so far, but, overall, did you like Australia?
    All the best.

    1. Hi Campbellisaac, Thanks for liking the show, my input and the blog. Undoubtedly, I enjoyed the Australian experience and interacting with the really wonderful people I was lucky to meet both on and off camera. Some of the experiences may not have been the best, but the good far outnumbered the not-so-good. I am looking forward to re-visiting with my family.
      Thank you for writing in. The DDR journey is officially over, but there’s so much yet to share via this blog.

  4. The show is making me very sad I am ashamed the rascists on it are australian my apologies for any hurt you feel here

    1. I doubt there’s any country without it’s own brand of racism, including my own. Thank you for writing in.

  5. its good to see you coming over to the oz to see both sides of australia. You’ll learn that where not complete outer wankers/racist, we still do have that group but its like any country, we all have the people who are stupid who people focus on and think everybodies like that.

  6. Interesting and disturbing too. Its been noticed in so many places that I have been visiting all thru my voyages.
    Wonder when it wud change…,
    Yet We believe in philosophy of “Atithee Devo Bhav. “

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