The Filmmaker's Journey - Day 0 (Karma Credit)
by Rohit Jayakaran on March 1st, 2012

I guess I will put this down to the awesome jetlag that I have right now that I am actually blogging about my current trip while I am still on the trip. For those of you who follow my blog you will perhaps know that I blog just a little more often than the Halley's Comet appearances.
So let me get to the point. A few months ago my team and I took part in what is called the 48 Hour Film Project. This is where filmmakers from around the world are put to the ultimate test of being able to make a film in 48 hours flat. This was the inaugural year for the event in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and my team produced the film – SOLUS which went on to win the Best Film Award. We also won the award for the Best Script and Most Promising Filmmakers in the UAE. This completion is held across 96 cities across the globe and then all the winning teams are invited to come to a festival called –Filmapalooza 2012 which is the finale of the contest and is hosted by the Taos Shortz Film Festival in Taos, New Mexico in the United States.
My journey from Dubai to Taos was quite eventful. It all started with a rather early drop off at Terminal 3. I did not need to waste anytime at the check-in area because I had no bags with me. I think this is perhaps the lightest I have every traveled (Ski Jacket, Laptop, Camera and 3 lenses…that’s just about it). The reason I had to travel light was the fact that I had only an hour between my Dallas and Albuquerque flights. At Passport Control in Dubai however the gentleman behind the counter was taking unusually long with my passport. He kept looking at the pages again and again. He then continued for what seemed like a very long period of time to constantly look at his computer and my passport. I finally asked him if everything was all right. To this he responded, “Did you travel out of the UAE on the 20th of May 2011.” This of course was a slightly difficult question to answer considering he had my passport. He then showed me a stamp and I concurred, “Yes I guess did travel on the 20th of May 2011.” I started assuming that perhaps my re-entry stamp was not in the passport. Was I in the country illegally? Was I gonna be detained indefinitely while I explained why I had left the country last year to go to Chennai for a day? He then looked at me, smiled, pointed at the 20th May 2011 stamp and said, “This one is my stamp.” Co-incidence would have it that he was the officer on duty that day as well. He then proceeded to stamp my passport right next to the very same stamp from the 20th of May 2011. This kind of reminded me of when you get that loyalty card at a coffee shop and they stamp it every time you buy a coffee. I looked at him and said, “Next time I get that stamp, I should fly for free.” He laughed and wished me a pleasant journey.
My Journey to Taos, NM would have me cover 14000km in less than 24 hours. However to make this journey a success and not miss my connecting flights, I really need to do some ‘jugaad.’ Basically on my flight to Dallas, my seat row number was 33; this would mean that I would have close to 150 people ahead of me at the immigration line in Dallas. When I was about to take my seat though, the lady sitting there, looked at me, made puppy dog eyes and said, “My husband is sitting there, could you swap with him so that we are together.” Saying this she pointed to row 37. Wonderful!!! It was the LAST ROW on the flight. Just when I was about to take his seat, another guy walks up to me and said, “Could you please move to row 27 so that I can sit with my wife.” He did not give me puppy dog eyes, but his wife did. So…I moved to his seat. But just when I was about to take his aisle seat, the guy seated there requested a further swap so I could take the window seat and his pregnant wife could get the aisle seat.
There are two ways of looking at this situation, one is, ‘I’m earning Karma Credit,’ and the other is, ‘I’m a Push Over.’ Time will tell which of these two it was. Actually I am quite glad I did the four swaps. Somewhere in the middle of the journey, the gentleman sitting next to me said, “You are Rohit Jayakaran from City 1016 right?” It so happened that he and his wife are City 1016 Listeners and were moving from Dubai to Dallas on an overseas assignment. Farhan and I had a nice long conversation and when it came to filling out the immigration forms, I dipped into my ‘Karma Credit’ and borrowed a pen.
About an hour before we landed I spoke to one of the cabin crew about my particular predicament. I explained to her that I had a connecting flight in about an hour’s time after we land and just to make things really tough, I was seated in row 27 while my bags were close to row 31 on the other side. She smiled and agreed that it was gonna be tough. Fortunately though, she was able to find one seat for me in row 17 that was empty perhaps because the entertainment system was not working. We landed in Dallas and a minute or so after touch down, another cabin crew walked up to me and said, can you please come with me. It almost felt like I had broken something. I had half a mind to say, “Sorry Ma’aa, I did not break the TV screen…” but better sense prevailed and I accompanied her to the front of the plane and she waited with me just behind the flight deck.
I was the first person to exit the aircraft and made a run for the immigration counter. For the time in my life, I was also the first person there and did not have to wait for even a second. At the immigration counter, the officer was quite curious about my film. I found myself explaining the story to him and how we made it in 48 hours. I stamped my passport and wished me luck and sent me on my way.

No bags meant no waiting at the baggage carousel and I headed out though customs and then ran to the train to change terminals to get to gate C28. I could see the clock ticking. 10:06…10:07…10:14…I ran and ran…10:16…I got there huffing and puffing and they let me in!!! As soon as I got into the plane came the announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen welcome on board the American Airline Flight to Albuquerque.” Phew…I made it with no time to spare.
Yup…my Karma Credit was now completely used up. I landed in Albuquerque, NM at around 11:15 in the morning and headed straight to the Car Rentals. I negotiated for a nice set of wheels…a shiny Blue Camaro. The lady at the counter told me that she was giving me nice insurance coverage on the car that would keep me from worrying about too much. To this I asked her if the insurance covered the car transforming into a robot like in the film Transformers. She laughed, looked at the insurance contract and said, “Nope…in that case you are on your own.”
And then began my road trip covering the last 250 kms to my final destination – Taos. I think I am the first filmmaker to get here, but you know what they say about getting to some place early…yup…there is no one to appreciate it. Right now I am sitting wide-awake in the hotel room enjoying my jetlag and blogging. I hope to do this over the next few days. The Film Festival Starts this evening…I know this is gonna be a lot of fun. Films…filmmakers…seminars…and parties.
Yup…I think this is all the sleep I am gonna get. Right now, I am gonna head for some breakfast and then gonna check out the town. Oh man…just check the temperature outside…its -4 Degrees Celsius. Should I have packed more clothes?

Posted in Art, Video, Travel, Films    Tagged with no tags


arpan - March 1st, 2012 at 8:59 AM
You should write more often.. very interesting..n
tia - March 1st, 2012 at 9:09 AM
Loved it! You know what they say about being the 1st one to comment... you don't get asked "did u read it" a hundred times ;)
Aftab - March 1st, 2012 at 1:06 PM
Ro its awesome u really have to write more often!!!! Good Luck and All the very best!!!
FIZZZA - March 1st, 2012 at 2:53 PM
Rohit its just tooooo awesome..... u write soooo good as if the incidence are happening in front of one's eye..... wat a beautiful picture of ur travelling :) sooooo excited to read more about ur trip... :) just luving it BEST OF LUCK SUPERSTAR!!!
Farhan - March 1st, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Hey Rohit....;)
Vivek - March 2nd, 2012 at 3:34 AM
Amazing stuff.... glad u made it on time and wishing all the very best..... SOLUS SOLUS SOLUS.......get that trophy to Dubai soon .
Pooja Solanki - March 2nd, 2012 at 2:19 PM
hahahah!! i was actually imagining the whole incident..u write really good! All the best for the film :):)
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