Sunday, September 04, 2011

I Remember Mama Mia

This has some strange meaning to me in more ways than just the immediate desperate
message to humanity in the video. Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Salma Hayek, Jessica
and countless other celebrities have all visited poverty-stricken countries and
been moved to join the crusade to bring attention to the dire conditions children face
in poorer nations.  


Today's UNICEF post on Facebook featured Woody Allen's ex-wife Mia Farrow
who has been garnering attention for her untiring work in the Horn of Africa. Today
I am pleased beyond measure with her efforts, even as I remember with mixed emotions
the day I met her. What follows is a highly condensed version of that day.

Back in Sept.'94 as a Limousine Driver I found myself on the premises of Mia Farrow's
Connecticut farmhouse just after her divorce with Woody Allen came through. I was
responsible for transporting the Marquesa de Varela

(PIC COPYRIGHT Peter Dench )

the Editor and the crew of Hello magazine European edition to interview Ms. Farrow in
Connecticut. My mind was a mess. First day on the job with a new Limo company and I was
going to meet a legend !

A couple of hours after the drive from NYC I naturally got as curious as the average
star-struck person and decided to try and get a peek of Ms. Farrow. I walked to the
front door, knocked, and was greeted with curiosity by a little boy who was obviously
Woody's son. It was like someone had taken Woody's nose and glasses and stuck them
on the kid, like one of those Groucho Marx masks. He just stood and stared and I guess
he didn't speak much yet. Well, the babysitter directed me to an outhouse kind of
residence where I helped myself as I began to feel like a real servant in the 'Servants'

As I kept out of  listening distance, the interview continued outdoors on the banks
of Ms. Farrow's own private lake where they were barbecuing hamburgers and
hot dogs that survived the transition to a new humongous refrigerator that was hooked
up while I was there. The amount of wasted food that was being thrown out was amazing
but somewhat understandable given the presence of 12 kids. No, Soon-Yi was not there
anymore. She left with Woody when the farmhouse was awarded to Mia as part of the
divorce settlement.  As I got hungrier by the minute at the aroma of all the grilling,
I also found myself taking a disdain towards my client who I later discovered was known
as the 'Nutty Marchesa' in Europe. She was a full-fledged Marquessa and her royal
blood and cash connections are what landed her this interview so soon after the divorce
(I believe). Almost the entire trip from NYC and back consisted of the Marchesa behaving like,
well, a European Marchesa with no time for small talk with small people. Fine, that was
acceptable in my situation. Limo drivers should be seen, and not heard, as I was to learn that
But my roots of Indian hospitality towards all, regardless of one's station in life were shaken.
I bristled at the total disregard of my presence while they gorged themselves but was not
even offered a glass of water. While I was driving, the Marchesa demanded I first dial  
Mary Pierce at the US Tennis Open, and then make contact with the late Natasha Richardson
(who had just married Liam Neeson), and while I was struggling with the international codes
with one hand on the wheel she very loudly remarked so I could hear, "Not very professional ! "

But I digress....

During the final minutes of this ongoing adventure the heat and humidity gave way to
a tempestuous thunderstorm akin to the best Monsoon I have ever seen as an Indian. We set
out back to NYC, but only after I spent 15 minutes holding an over-sized umbrella over Ms.
Farrow, who seemed immune to the downpour in her Mac and gumboots. She was completely
drenched as she chatted with the Marchesa, and I was soaked to the skin on the one side
that wasn't protected by the umbrella. It took 3 hours for me to dry out as we drove back to
the Intercontinental Hotel in NYC.

So the strange part I mentioned before is.... ? It just struck me as ironic that Mia should be
struggling to help feed children across the globe all these years after she threw away (in true
American style) humongous amounts of food along with her old fridge.

Please do watch the video and help if you can !

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