Meeting David at TOFW was very different from seeing him at a concert. He was completely relaxed at the meet and greet. He was sharp, attentive, and welcoming.
More often than not, I noticed that fans were trying not to take up too much of his time and were being careful about hurrying along after he signed their CD, but he would hold them back, engaging them in active conversation.
He was sincerely trying to establish a genuine connection with every person he talked to. He looked happy. (Maybe it was because his table was right by the food stall?)
As I waited in line (while SOS DM’ing Deb that I had no clue what to say to him), I formulated a plan. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as the last time I met him where I forgot how to speak. This time, I’d planned what I was going to say to him. My two key messages were:
- Leo helps with my driving anxiety, and
- We would love to see you back here in new england. Anytime you come back, we’re going to be here to support.
I had practiced this in my head and it was what I was going to say.
Suddenly, it was my turn and I was standing before him. I handed him my CD, and waited for him to sign it.
Me: Thanks for sharing your music and your message with us today, it was meaningful and I got a lot out of it.
David: Aww thanks!
Me: Your album Leo helps a lot with my driving anxiety. The number of minutes of Leo exactly matches the length of my drive home from work. It’s been taking the edge off and I’ve been panicking less.
(YES I COHERENTLY SAID SEVERAL SENTENCES TO DAVID FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!)
David: (something along the lines of “I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you for sharing”).
Me: (about to say the next thing)
David (interrupts me, how rude): So where are you from?
Me (feeling uncomfortable because I’ve been moving a lot these past couple of years, and don’t know how to answer that question anymore): Er, Portsmouth New Hampshire (only I said it really fast, like portsmouthnewhampshire)
David: (looks up at me closely): It’s just… your accent. Do you speak another language?
Me: Yes, I grew up in India. I speak Tamil. (wondering if I should say “Tamil” more clearly to him and COMPLETELY unprepared for the next thing that happened).
It was like the world stopped for a second. I looked at David, and he looked back at me. It was like he was thinking very deeply.
He had this WINNING charming smile on his face, which grew wider when he saw my stunned expression.
Me (aloud): !!!!!!! Good for youuu! (laughing at this point). Well, thanks, David (I took the CD back and about to walk away).
David: I didn’t learn how to say bye in Tamil.
Me: Um, there is no real word for bye. Well, we say “Poyt varen”.
At this point, David was staring at me, his face an expression of careful concentration. He watched my lips form the words very closely.
I didn’t think he’d caught what I said, bec
ause it is a hard word to pronounce for those who are not familiar with the language. I didn’t expect him to have even heard and processed anything beyond the first syllable. I was waving at him, walking away, when I heard the words being said back to me loud and clear.
“Poyt Varen” he said, waving at me, looking delighted at having learned this new word. His accent was perfect, as if he’d grown up speaking Tamil. He enunciated every syllable in the exact same way that I had, even though I’d said it so briefly and quickly.
I gaped back at him. I had nothing to say. I was completely floored by this dude.
What I didn’t have enough time to tell David was that we don’t actually say “bye” in Tamil. We never say bye. We say, “I’m leaving now, but I’ll come back”. That’s what “Poyt Varen” actually means.
Did I just trick David into promising he’d come back to New England?
I am going to hold you to that, Mr. I-like-randomly-impressing-my-fans-with-my-multilingual-talents.
While we wait for him to come back, here are some videos from that day.
Top photo: The lovely & amazing Muldur