My Time Backpacking Around the Iberian Peninsula as a Bollywood Star
Opening scene: Australia
A beautiful young woman sits at her office cubicle longingly staring at a photo of the La Sagrada Familia on her computer screen. In another window, she opens her online bank account.
“We’re a hundred dollars closer to freedom,” she whispers to herself.
She turns her attention to the framed photo of her aesthetically pleasing nuclear family on her table.
“I need to do this Mummy and Daddy. I hope you will one day forgive me for the shame I have brought on the family in choosing to be a global hobo instead of a heart surgeon.”
Scene 2: The Airport
Nivy is at Melbourne airport with her family. Her mother and little sister are in tears, not knowing when they will see Nivy again.
“Promise to call six times a day, at least. Where is your Ganesha locket? Make sure you never take it off. And here is a list of all the Indian restaurants in every major city in western Europe. You can’t eat bread every day.”
Nivy receives a text from the guy she was casually dating for two weeks.
“Don’t go baby. I can’t live without you. I will do anything to see you smile one more time. Even if you say fuck off, I will pursue you relentlessly because the toxic masculinity taught to me never included the word no.”
Nivy throws her phone into the bin and boards the plane.
Scene 3: The Plane
Nivy reflects on what awaits her on this once-in-a-lifetime journey in Europe. She hasn’t done any research about the cultures or languages, but she has an unwavering faith in the world like a dumb baby rabbit and incredulous luck. Such incredulous luck that she has the whole row of seats to herself and finds a 20 euro note inside the vomit bag.
Nivy falls asleep and we enter her dream-world. She is swimming underwater wearing a sari and she sees the Eiffel tower wearing a beret and winking at her, but she can’t seem to reach it. The sari becomes heavier and heavier and Nivy realises that she can’t take it off because it is stitched into her skin (Damn, that symbolism tho).
A whale swims up to her and the whale is really sexy. Then the whale speaks.
“Ma’am, chicken or fish?”
Scene 4: Spain
Nivy reaches Barcelona and prances through the gleaming calles dazed by the beauty of the city, grinning from ear to ear. In one day, she finds a Guinness World Book record-setting event of jamon eating, has a model serenade her on the street, drinks an impossible amount of sangria and masters flamenco.
Nivy downloads Tinder and writes in her profile “Only here to make friends, NO HOOKUPS”, but secretly, she really wants to see a European dick. She goes on a pub crawl for the first time and her phone gets stolen by a group of stealthy teenage boys. She cries dramatically on her bed for 60 minutes rather than going to the police station.
Walking around the city the next day, Nivy suddenly realises that no one speaks English and she cannot speak Spanish. She feels terribly lonely. An adorable little girl selling flowers comes up to her and tugs at her dress.
“Senorita, por favor, comprar las flores.”
Nivy sprawls herself across the piazza bawling her eyes out while repeating, “No entiendo, no entiendo,” – I do not understand.
The little girl cups Nivy’s face in her tiny hands and says something that sounds a lot like, “Bitch get your shit together.”
With a renewed sense of courage after the flower girl’s powerful words, Nivy decides to try out Couchsurfing despite hearing so many stories of creepy hosts because she knows she always has incredulous luck. The phone thing doesn’t count.
She goes to stay with a bald middle-aged man who surrenders his bed and sleeps on the couch. He is a kind-hearted and gentle man. He offers to cook her dinner one night and Nivy is stunned because she does not know a single man who cooks.
“Wow, Europeans are like aliens!” she writes on her Facebook status.
After hours of slaving away, the Spaniard presents a feast surrounded by candles. He watches eagerly as Nivy takes the first bite.
Something is wrong.
“Is this… BEEF?” Nivy manages to sputter out.
“Si, muy Bueno, no?”
Nivy has a vision of herself screaming a banshee-like cry, flipping over the table and running out into the street.
“The Spaniard wants to send me to hell. He made me eat cow. I’m so sorry bhagwan, please forgive me,” she updates her Facebook status.
Scene 5: Portugal
Nivy arrives in Lagos, a slice of sandy heaven on the Algarve Coast, and in a moment of stupendous serendipity, runs into Pablo: an older Portuguese man whom she met a year earlier in the Philippines and fell deep in infatuation with.
Pablo is an IT engineer, aspiring photographer and general badass who goes diving in shipwrecks and has motorcycled across Myanmar. He has killer arms and hypnotic grey-green eyes. He is everything her parents would disown her for marrying.
“Nivy… I knew it was only a matter of time before I would see you again. This is fate. Come, spend every waking moment with me so become unhealthily co-dependent.”
It is now time for the OTT Romantic Song. We see a montage of Pablo and Nivy gazing into each other’s eyes, prancing across white-sand beaches, feeding each other watermelon, fly fishing, doing minor heart surgery etc.
Nivy wears a tiny bikini in every scene, including the heart surgery, because the movie didn’t have enough of a budget to properly clothe the female actors.
Slowly, the knight in shining armour begins to reveal his true colours. Pablo becomes impatient, self-righteous and inconsiderate. Nivy realises how old and boring he is when he constantly makes long comments about roads and trees and expects her to be fascinated.
One day, Pablo contemplatively says to Nivy, “I feel so bad for the women in your country. They are so helpless and disempowered. I am going to come and volunteer at a women’s shelter there. I know I’m going to make such a difference! All white people should do it.”
Nivy slaps Pablo across the face, perfectly timed to dramatic music.
Tension between the two has reached a crescendo when one night Pablo and Nivy camp on a deserted beach. After sharing a bottle of wine, as they walk along the shoreline, Nivy says to Pablo in a playful manner, “You don’t laugh very much. Sometimes I look at you and you seem miserable. Are you having a good time?”
Pablo begins to scream at her, insulting every facet of her being. Nivy isn’t fazed because she has finally realised that Pablo is a manipulative dickhead and has very low self-esteem.
Nivy has a vision of herself unleashing a banshee-like cry, flipping over Pablo’s car and running into the ocean, transforming into a mermaid as she does so.
Nivy calmly handles Pablo’s erratic behaviour and makes a mental note that he has lost all respect in her eyes.
Nivy arrives in Lisbon and makes three incredible female friends. As she processes her relationship with Pablo, amazing things start happening to her like magic and she realises how liberating and empowering solo travel can be.
Nivy finds a postcard of superstar Ranveer Singh at a souvenir shop and realises that no European man can ever compare. Her expectations of love have been pitifully built on the bullshit backbone of Bollywood, so she will continue to happily chase a conventionally successful, emotionally stunted man whom she truly believes she can change.
She sits at the edge of a cliff dangling her legs over the ocean watching the radiant orange sunset and screams out, “I FEEL ALIVE!”
Sequel coming soon
Cover by Saksham Gangwar