the life of namesake

I often frequent the public library. Before anyone thinks of me as an avid reader let me come out clean that I go there with the sole purpose of renting out the movie dvds. Public libraries do have a limited collection of movies, mostly Hollywood movies and few Indian and other international movies as well. So, I find these libraries a good source to catch up on titles which I missed when they released in theater or Redbox.

So, on one such occasion, there I was standing with my held tilted to the right like a tower with its roof knocked off. If you are wondering why - the dvds are arranged in the shelf vertically and the titles written lengthwise on the edge - hence the stretched head to read them. 
It’s just a trivial detail, let’s move on…

I was standing in the middle of the aisle glancing through the list of English movies and did not notice the person who was standing behind me trying to check out the movies. As soon as I saw him, I excused myself for blocking him and moved 2 steps aside so that we could as well check out the dvds.

“Find anything good here?” he asked.

Let me tell you all something – I am all for chitchatting with strangers even if it’s a library and silence is golden. I am not one who would walk away from anyone who initiates a conversation. Well, most of the days that’s true, but not that day. Not because of the fact that he was shabbily dressed and looked tired/drunk/sleep deprived, but just because I was in a hurry to get back home and was not in a mood to give him my one word review of the movies stacked there.
“No”. I kept my reply as short as possible (if he was looking at me, I would have shaken my head and avoided the verbal reply).

I recently saw this Indian movie, it was really good”. He might have figured that I was from India and just assumed that I was there to check out only the Hindi movie dvds.

“Here we go, another American who is smitten by Slumdog Millionaire and things that how we do things in India” I thought to myself.

While I was having this mental argument whether to just ignore what he said and just leave it as a closed end sentence or educate him that (1) it’s not how things are in India and (2) it’s not an Indian movie, he continued.

“It was about this Indian guy. His father named him after a Russian guy or so and he names his son a weird name. And the guy who acted as the son is the Kumar from Harold and Kumars (Referring to Kal Penn). You know which one I am talking about?”

I immediately recognized the movie he was talking about. I was pleasantly surprised - he was not talking about Slumdog and impressed – by his taste of movies.
“It is The Namesake, I haven’t seen it” I lied to him as I didn't want to set myself up for a conversation.

““Yessss, that’s the one. Very nice movie. That Indian actor was really good in it”. I understood he was referring to Irfan Khan, but I decided to keep mum.

No response from my end was not a deterrent for him and he was in a mood to give a synopsis of that movie “The son hates the name his father gave. So they end up fighting and he leaves the house….”
He continued “……so, he goes away in this ship which had a lot of zoo animals and then there was a storm and the whole ship sinks. And this guy ends up in a small boat with himself, a monkey and a tiger”.

I believe the readers have realized what happened here. That guy ended up combining the stories of Namesake and Life of Pi!!. What he was telling with at most confidence about a movie he saw “recently” and was “really good” was actually two movies.

I didn't know how to react. I went through a myriad of emotions hearing this - I was befuddled, amused, charmed - all at the same time. I played along and nodded by head as if to be in compliance with what he was saying totally agreeing with the fantastic story arc.

On the way back, I was chuckling all by myself and decided to tell this to my wife as soon as I reached home. I was certain this would make an excellent anecdote to tell my friends and family at the next get-together and laugh about the story and the story teller. But as I thought about it on the way back home, what I thought was absurdity actually started making a bit sense to me. If you think about it the way that guy narrated it, doesn’t it make complete sense? With a little tweak her and there, The Namesake would make a good prequel to Life of Pi. Matter of fact, both these movies even had the same lead actor in them!

I ended up narrating this incident to all my near and dear and every time I do, it makes me wonder if that person I met was just confused or a man of great vision who is yet to realize his greatness.