Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Stars Under my Feet

One must be quite used to seeing stars in the night sky, seeing stars when knocked out or seeing stars throwing starry tantrums and flashing plastic smiles. I kind of got used having stars under my feet while in Hollywood. Every time I walked down Hollywood Boulevard I read the names of the stars that fell under my feet (ha!). It seemed kind of sad to walk all over them so I walked around them as far as possible.

I was greeted by Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball the moment I stepped out of my apartment. I still remember the good old Door Darshan (the only channel on Indian television about 15 years back) days when they showed 'I Love Lucy' and hearing 'Strangers in the Night' on AIR (All India Radio) and dreaming about some mysterious man who would come and sweep me off my feet (never turned up though!). I walked on some more and met Cary Grant who I fell in love with after watching 'The Rear Window' and I reverently stood and mooned a bit in front of his star.

When I had time to look up, I saw shops; there were plenty of shops selling everything from cannabis free cigarettes, incense and oils, tattoos to risqué lingerie. The first kilometer or so I was convinced that this is not such a good part of town but it gets better as one walks towards La Brea. Most shops seemed to be closed our out of business with shutters down. The shutters were painted with pictures of Mickey Rooney and Humphrey Bogart etc so it was good looking at the shutters too - I truly felt I was in tinsel town with stars twinkling everywhere.

I stood in front of Humphrey Bogart and bemoaned the state of love and romance as it is today. 'Casablanca' is perhaps the most perfect and poignant romantic movie I have ever seen, perhaps that’s why movies are made, to let us dream and live in a perfect world momentarily and forget the harsh realities of life. Which probably explains why I have seen 'Casablanca' five times and 'Sleepless in Seattle' 3 times and 'Come September' about nine times. *Sigh* I passed by Rock Hudson and rued the loss to womankind in general and wondered why men always have the best of everything - including the best looking men

While walking I got hungry and stopped for snacks at Popeye’s for some chicken wings and then at Greco's Deli Pizza for a pizza by slice which was good but not exceptional. I walked by some old buildings which were probably booming cinemas a few years back, I walked by Disney Cinemas which seemed to be very popular and then past 'Ripley's Believe it or Not' which had a tap in mid air with no support with water gushing out of it, however I didn't venture in. This area seemed to be a more happening part of town, full of tourists from all over the world who constantly kept stopping in their tracks to take pictures of the stars. When one is trying to walk fast this is the last place one should try it.

I crossed the street to the other side of Hollywood Boulevard and walked past some studios, and then Mann's Chinese Theater which is a pagoda like structure. There were some characters performing on the street, probably related to the movies playing in the cinemas. A ferocious looking samurai with a sword suddenly broke into a smile and greeted me with a 'Namaste' which left me beaming. Right in front of Mann's Theater there were foot and hand prints along with printed good wishes in concrete from many stars to the founder of the theater. I put my hands in Gregory Peck's hands and remembered some of the spellbinding moments I had spent with him on the silver screen. A little ahead there was the Kodak Theater, where some of the most prestigious award ceremonies are held including Oscars, the most recent one being the American Idol event. The theater complex is full of shops and cafes and generally a good place to hang out if one has nothing much to do. I entered and walked up to the entrance which was barricaded and I saw some very elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen hurriedly entering the door and a thousand flashbulbs going off the moment they did. Maybe I saw some stars for real as well but I would not really know who I saw!

I walked on and gave in to the temptations of sizzling hotdogs being sold on the pavements and watching all kinds of performers doing all kinds of things to convince the tourists to part with some of their money. I stopped at Starbucks (again appropriately named!) and had some frappuccino and walked on towards Hollywood/Vine. The walk was uneventful till I bumped into this very good looking man who offered me a free personality test. I fell straight for a handsome face and right into the trap of Scientology. After answering all 200 questions I was given my assessment, I was told that I was downright stubborn (okay - I agree), kept a LOT within myself (I agree somewhat) and I am a poor communicator (I STRONGLY disagree). The counselor told me that I probably had something to hide and though I communicated on the outside, the most important things were locked away within which was probably affecting my closest relationships. Ah..ummm....well.... god knows really but definitely worth thinking about a bit but I was kind of busier looking at the eye candy in front of me. Little did I know that all this was to hard sell courses targeted at my weak areas which I must do to have a more fulfilling life. Of course the course costs less than a pair of sunglasses - only $150. I kind of managed to slip away saying that I was just a poor software developer with a very meager allowance - I could barely afford to eat, forget about sunglasses (or courses). I still had to buy a book called 'Dianetics' and had to listen to Tom Cruise speaking about the wonders of Scientology.

After the Scientology adventure I ventured into a general store for some bread/food and the proprietor turned out to be a Bangladeshi gentleman who had migrated to the US 6 years back. It was nice speaking in Bengali after a while. While we were talking someone asked "What kind of language is that?" and we promptly chorused in unison "Bengali - the sweetest language and only parallel to French". The person said "At least it’s better than hearing Spanish all the time!" and walked off. The proprietor offered me a Hagen Daas ice cream and refused to accept payment for it. I was very touched.

My last stop on Hollywood Boulevard was the Pantages Theater where I had the privilege to watch 'Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' - a musical by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The hall was magnificent, the musical was even better - it was a biblical story about a boy named Joseph who dreamed big and made things happen. This was just the inspiration I needed to become an author, sell my movie rights and buy that dream house in Beverly Hills!


BlondebutBright said...

I liked the Bengali language bit - such a global world we live it!

jhantu said...

nice nice.. but to complete the LA experince visit to the Green monkey is a must.

Nautilus said...

I watched Sleepless In Seattle five times when it released so many years ago ago, little realizing that I'd end up here and be sleepless most of the time...ironies of life :-)

ichatteralot said...

@BBB: True - one realizes it more when in certain parts of Amarica - the amalgamation of cultures is amazing

@Jhantu: What is that?

@Nautilus: Dont ppl sleep in Seattle? :) I am pretty sleepless in Mumbai as well...

Anonymous said...

Here's to the book! A better advance than Vikram Chandra, if you please!
*make your wish upon a star* tra lalala..


ichatteralot said...

@Austere: I wish I wish I wish.... a samll little wish came true though - got an offer to write for an emag!

Anonymous said...

arre wah! congrats!