‘So you can fly to Ukraine for us, then. Great.’
The movie mogul sitting opposite me takes a long sip of his chilled Kingfisher and leans back in his wicker chair.
I look at my plate, where four different varieties of meat sit happily amongst a spoonful of mint chutney and some papad fragments. So much for self-imposed vegetarianism, then. So much, too, for ‘slumming it’ as a regular backpacker.
These kinds of conversation are starting to become scarily common.
This is the second time I’ve visited the Golden Tulip Hotel Resort & Spa. The first was when I’d been in Chandigarh for just about 24 hours and had no idea what I was doing. As we toured around the building, still in its final building stages, I pretended I knew about stage layouts and laser shows, asked spontaneous questions about security and caterers and ground levels, and fervently hoped that I sounded at least halfway knowledgeable enough to constitute being there.
A week later, and I’m a member of the core team of organisers for The Bling – otherwise known as ‘the greatest live world music concert and after party’ (promised by its poster) – working hard in my new capacity as Specttrum PR’s latest member, managing the ‘international aspects’ of various media. Somehow, I seem to have got myself employed in India.
And now, they’re telling me I could be flying back to Europe for four days.
‘Your British passport will let you into Ukraine, no problem: you won’t need a visa. And we don’t have enough time to fly there ourselves. But you could learn some Ukrainian on the way – it’d be useful. Or do they speak Russian there?’
The pressing need for someone to potentially visit Ukraine is because one of the three artists performing at ‘The Bling’ is, surprise surprise, a Ukrainian. DJ Amely has already scared me with photos of her very thin leather-clad frame, killer heels which have to be at least 9 inches, and fishnet stockinged legs that, as dear Bridget would say, go ‘all the way up to here!’ (visualise my hand measurement resting somewhere near my eyes).
Luckily, being part of the very busy and very crucial core team means I don’t have time to worry about such things. Sure, the girl practically oozes attitude from every leather-covered pore, and just won the title of ‘Ukraine’s sexiest female DJ’, but I have important things to organise. Like writing letters to embassies, apparently.
Next on the list of surreal duties is Mr Mogul’s thinking-outside-the-box idea to invite various ambassadors to his event, in the hope that they’ll add an extra level of respectability to the proceedings, as well as endorse any future events he organises. They don’t actually know that they’re attending yet, of course.
He’s been thinking how best to deliver their invitations, and over the non-veg platter, the right idea has clearly struck.
‘You’ll write their letters of invitation. And then go to their embassies and meet with the ambassadors, talk, laugh, and secure their attendance.’
Obviously, sending in the short-haired Western girl with a penchant for big words and speedy conversation is the perfect choice. First question: to visit the English, Ukrainian and Canadian embassies, is it ok to wear my jeans?
The waiter looks concerned. In the midst of such a clearly important conversation, does he pour another beer without asking, and thus risk the wrath of Mr Mogul? He hedges his bets, and valiantly leans in to the airspace around Mr Mogul’s ear, whispering almost inaudibly.
Freshly filled and frosted glasses in front of us, we sink into an enjoyable silence, marked only by the occasional scraping fork on bone china. I’m a little too involved with my chunk of so-tender-its-melting chicken tikka. Boy, oh boy.
‘Do you know this music?’
I swallow chicken and pay more attention to the sounds emanating from the speaker above us. The tune is wistful, pleading; full of decorative ornaments, and completely romantic.
‘It’s a very old song, very beautiful. You know music, right?’
‘Ok, so eighty percent of India’s population is below the poverty line. They have no electricity, no fans, no computers. The government says they’re helping, that things are changing, but things are always the same. But these poor people, these Indians, they have music. So they’re happy.’
He sips on his Kingfisher, thoughtfully. ‘It’s like, the loveless are always looking for love.‘
There is silence. People around the table digest his words, and try to decipher the exact meaning. And then, he abruptly switches tack.
‘So, I have a new film idea. I’ve been keeping the plot completely secret for a while now – I’ve got the whole production team sorted, it’s going to be multi-award winning. Next week, we’ll look at the storyline and you can start writing the script.’
My fellow Specttrum PR buddy told me that after The Bling’s press conference next week, our time would become a whirlwind of organizing and looking respectable. In short, that, after May 16th, everything was going to change.
I think he might have been a tad uninformed about exactly when this change was going to happen.