"Ugh, life as a celebrity!" I groan as I close down a half-written email and head out for yet another interview. I'm only half joking; in my rural Indian village existence, being white and foreign is enough to grant me full celebrity status. By this evening, Liza and I were written up in several newspaper articles and receiving calls from friends who were watching us on TV. This recent bout of paparazzi attacks started yesterday afternoon when the teacher in charge of PR told us to cancel our class, put on our saris, and report to the main hall. It turns out he had called in a Hyderabad news channel to cover RDF school's Ugadi (the Telugu New Year) celebrations and our presence as the local Americans was a must. Unknown to us this film footage would be turned into a one hour Ugadi special starring yours truly and shared with TV channels all over Hyderabad!
Our first saris, which had been ordered especially for Ugadi, were still at the tailor so we ran to pick them up and asked one of the teachers to help us tie them, a process that took about ten minutes each. Then we joined the primary students and teachers in the main hall where the Ugadi food and drink specialty were being made. We both joined in and Liza learned how to make bakshalu (sweet lentil-filled fried chiapattis) while I helped prepare bracelets to be tied on friends and family for good luck. The film crew covered the activities before arranging us around an Ugadi offering and beginning the interview. They asked the usual questions, we were fed the bakshalu and petchari (a drink made from ingredients representing the six different flavours of life: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy, and a 6th we haven't found the right word for!), and the crowning moment was the closing message that I announced in Telugu: "To the viewers of I-News, I wish you a very happy Ugadi!"