Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Minutes Is All It Takes

Shabana Azmi is one of the people who I have always dreamt of having a conversation with. When I say "dreamt" what I mean is, I wanted it to happen, but I had never planned on making it happen.  And then it happened.
When you meet celebrities you want to stand next to them and take a picture, or have them sign a piece of paper so you can cherish those things forever.  It is a sweet concept, it allows one to show off in front of their  friends and family. However, there are times when that is  just not enough.  People like Shabana Azmi have something to teach, if we are willing to learn. 

I watched her and her husband Javed Akhtar arrive at the hotel to attend the iifa awards, I could barely see her from where I was standing.  A day later, walking around the hotel, I had my iifa volunteer badge on, Shabana Azmi approached my sister and I, and asked us where this room was. We knew who stood right in front of us, we had no idea how to get her to her destination, and we had to keep our composure. I told her I'll help her find it, even though I had no idea where to look, and  I managed to keep a slightly polite face on. So that was the end of that.

The next day, iifa hosted a music workshop, which was led by Javed Akhtar, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Vishal Bhardwaj, and Salim Merchant.  This was the event we were volunteering at. Shabana Azmi was in the audience, there was an available seat next to her, which a man in the audience decided was an open invitation. He refused to leave until he got his picture taken. After he left, they asked me to sit there to make sure no one else comes around.  That is how I got my five minutes with Shabana Azmi.

At first I was uncomfortably star struck, but I knew I may never get that opportunity again, so I said hello (after making sure she wasn't engaged in a conversation).  I actually remember the conversation word for word.  I asked her how she liked Toronto, to which she replied she loves the city, but because of people like the man in the audience it's been tough.  At this point the conversation turned to humanity, or the lack of it.  She shared her experience, and I shared mine, and I learned more then I ever thought I could in a matter of 5 minutes.  At the end she even told me one of the best kept secrets of the weekend! Her expression as she told me was simply priceless.

The whole experience still feels surreal.  Like I said, it was not a dream that I thought would come true, but it did. Just goes to show you never know what opportunity will present itself, you just have to have the courage to act upon it.

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