As I put my first Bollywood movie in the DVD player, I had no idea. It was just a Netflix recommendation. "Since you liked ___ and ___ we think you'd also enjoy Veer-Zaara." Say what? What's a Veer-Zaara? But I figured, what the heck? Sure. I'll give it a try.
So there I was, blissfully ignorant. Little did I know that I was about to fall in love....With the colors. With the storytelling. With the spontaneous musical sequences. (With the obvious lip syncing.) With the melodrama. With the heartache. With the dancing. With the joy. With everything.
I didn't understand a word. But that didn't matter. I was hooked.
Thank goodness for Netflix. I started watching as many Bollywood movies as I could find. And before I knew it, I started recognizing things: actors, plots (one movie I found was a reinterpretation of "A Walk in the Clouds"), cultural norms, a word here and there. Once, I recognized a Bollywood actress in an American movie -- not because of her name or her look, but because of the way she acted. It was the things she did and didn't do that gave her away. And one day, I actually recognized a word I know from my brief study of Arabic. It was a pretty funny moment. Who knew that Arabic and Hindi would have some shared words? I was so proud that I knew the word before the subtitle appeared!
My obsession has grown so much that I've actually decided to learn Hindi. If for no other reason than to watch these films without having to rely on the subtitles.
And then it struck me how similar that was to my walk of faith.
I want my life to be for other people what that first movie was for me. Starting with common ground, but giving them a glimpse into another type of story. A completely counter-cultural story. One where my origins are given away by what I do and don't do. One filled with color and music and joy. Where they don't have to know the language to understand what's going on, but where there's the option of subtitles so they don't even have to worry about it. Maybe some of the words are familiar (maybe none of them are), but the more they hang around the more they understand. And before they know it, they want to learn the language too.