Many of the volunteers left after the first phase of the study. Suresh, Naveen, and I stayed back for the second phase. Naveen invited Suresh and I to his town, Yellandu, to celebrate Diwali with his family. The highlight of the trip to Yellandu, was that I learned how to drive a car with gears. Straight, empty highway lay ahead of us and Naveen's car was the guinea pig. Initially, I was quite apprehensive, because I had never driven a car with manually shifting gears, but because of the sparse traffic I was able to concentrate more on driving and less on dodging. After about an hour, Suresh gave driving a shot. While I had driven automatics before, Suresh had never driven any type of car, only motorcycles. Hence, his steering and braking were sudden and jumpy. After a while, it was back to Naveen's smooth, clutch-friendly driving. He made it look so easy.
We went to meet his aunt and uncle in the evening; they grew nostalgic about the days when the whole family used to live in the neighborhood. Now, only two families are left here. Everyone else has gone to the cities. As we were leaving their house, his aunt held my hand in her palm, gave a hearty smile, and squeezed my cheeks. Daughter, she said. Loneliness is the worst kind of tragedy, because you have no one to share it with.
We went to a shop to buy new clothes to wear tomorrow for Diwali. Naveen and Suresh got new shirts while I bought a kurta. Afterwards, we went to see my second Telugu film, my first in a theatre. It was called Dookudu, which apparently means 'jump'. The hero jumped alright. He also cried, screamed, punched, and danced with the same fervor. The girl was a pretty face who made an appearance five minutes before the song, danced with the hero, and then disappeared. Useless role she had. The dishooms had more oomph. The songs had more pizzazz, the camera angles were more...well...angular. In short, a Telugu movie is like a Bollywood movie to the Bollywoodeth power.
The Superstar Himself (Photo Credit: Musicmanchuria.in)