Saturday, August 30, 2008

A love song for Bobby Long (2004)

As I write this entry on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (before entering self-imposed exile outside the boundaries of the fair city of New Orleans) I realize that it doesn't make much sense to write about this movie on a Bollywood blog. But in an odd way maybe it does. Most Indian people that choose to live in this very unique American city do indeed feel oddly at home. Residing in New Orleans is more like living in India than people realize - omnipresent heat/humidity, flood prone streets, corrupt politicians, mosquitoes that have been adopted as the unofficial state bird and heart breaking poverty. On the flip side many of the things they love about India are here as well - great music, fantastic food, a laid back attitude about life and a certain joie de vivre found nowhere else in these United States. Where else can you look out the window in the afternoon and see a full blown jazz parade break out for no apparent reason? And then look out that window the same evening and see people on horses ride up to the neighborhood bar for a drink? Yes I saw both of those things happen last month and it put a smile on my face as I thought 'only in New Orleans'.

Whether you are planning to visit or have been here enough times to call it home away from home I encourage you to watch 'A love song for Bobby Long'. It's a love letter to the New Orleans of old and was released a year before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The movie captures the mood and attitude of the city perfectly and will make you miss the city - even if you have never been here before. The broken but lovable characters gather in the evening on couches and recliners in the garden who sip drinks as the sun sets behind are the reason this movie works so well. And like so many of us they are made whole and heal only through their relationships with each other. For it's the people who live here that make this city so special and who, as a local Pulitzer Prize winning writer put it, are continually 'dancing at the center of the universe'. It implies to me the disappearance of all outside influences, distractions and disturbances -- and lends credence to the notion that where you are and what you are doing is the most important thing at that time, in that moment, in the world. So say a little prayer for New Orleans and let's hope this city makes it - again. For we all need this kooky and quaint (but never boring) place alot more than we realize. The song for today is Lorraine's Song by Theresa Anderson.

As we make plans today to evacuate from the path of Gustavo I am reminded that there was a time before Katrina that no one ever left town due to a hurricane. In fact everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - participated in something that is very unique to this city that when you think about it is quite mad. The Hurricane Party. For the uninitiated, a hurricane is the name of a powerful drink that is native to New Orleans and to my knowledge the only one named after a powerful force of nature. Anyway, we would all get together and have drinks/music/camaraderie at whoever's house had the best porch and just dare the storm to take away our good time. When the lights would inevitably go out, we would light candles and keep the music and drinks going till the thing passed. After Katrina, hurricane parties became a sweet yet haunting reminder of days gone by. On the first Jazzfest after Katrina a local band, The Meters, decided to open their set with one of their signature hits named appropriately enough, 'Hurricane Party'. As soon as the opening chords were played all the power to the stage blew out - for the first time in Jazzfest history. When the power was restored a few minutes later the band decided to go with another tune and 'Hurricane Party' has not been played at Jazzfest since then. Above photo taken by our friend Eric Olson.


Bollywood said...
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Anonymous said...

All I can wish you guys right now is good luck. Be safe.

The Spice Who Loved Me

Anonymous said...

Hi Sanket,Nilong,& The Family,

Enjoyed your note. Be safe. Eat well, drink well, and let nature take its course.
Wish you and the entire New Orleans a
good luck - this also will pass away.
God always take care of fun-loving and laid-back people.

Anonymous said...

Wow, nice post! I'll go add it to my netflix queue now =) Idk if it's my inner desi, but there is something about New Orleans that just feels right, and I've only been there twice. It's like the humidity helps you soak in all the emotions, good and bad.
I hate to NO evacuate again, but this too will pass. Best wishes to you guys from me and Marco!

Anonymous said...

Be safe, Sanket!

Unknown said...

Hi Sanket,
Last week we were in Europe tour. I always enjoy your selection of songs.In this type of weather condition yoy are taking it very lightly and making best out of that. We as hindu ,always think of good in any circumstances.
Be safe and enjoy the present situations. WE always remember you and Nilong.
With love
Arvind and Pratibha

ajnabi said...

Hi Sanket. I too enjoyed your reflections on the odd similarities between N'Awlins and India. I lived in Marrero (sp?) when I was young, then in South Texas for many years, so I remember the constant state of readiness during hurrican season--not fun! Hope all is well.

Sanket Vyas said...

Hey all, thanks for the warm wishes and just wanted you all to know that we are back home safe and sound. My dad told me that he didn't have electricity when growing up in India until 1957 (he was 16) and not having it for one week made me realize that I am lucky to have what I have.

We spent the time playing 'karam' and listening to Doc Bollywood's jukebox via cellphone ;) But New Orleans did fine and hopefully some of you will check out the recommended movie and come visit before too long. Definitely look us up if you do and we promise to buy you a Hurricane - to drink that is...

Anonymous said...

Good for people to know.