Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My muse sits


My muse sits, her fat white spotted shiny-skinned calves stretched folded
Against the power of her squat in the light by the door.

She chooses to be fat. As she chooses to not wear bras and dog ear books and

Leave me.

As she does, often.

Pain is often brought, so much that like an unwanted baby striped, cottoned and warm
Piles of it are left around the floor of my mind, second hand clothes…


I right.

I right for the might is in flight by night of words that bite with tooth-marks of light so blood run like kite like glory volcano sight.

I right.

I left my write a while back coz pain like a sack was stuck to my back till calcium lack made my knee go slack and…

I right.

Wait. I no right.

Now, I right.
Right so the all of the call will be
answered by rise and fall of apples
and the dead who are fed the seeds in your bed and…

I right.

Was I left?

I left the parts that were bought
And then sought on red silk that caught
Whispers like flu by corners in a loo and televised voodoo
That left you with plenty to see and nothing to…

I left when I knew that my muse read the news only for the funnies
And sweated in pews n' climaxed with the bunnies
That rolled on Discovery and possibly the green by the sheen
Of the moon and the Thames with Beatles in May.

I left where the word-pictures took curtain calls and made trunk calls
Where men and women left doodles on the walls of latrines whose sorrows
Were mourning waterfalls of lipstick and wishlick and Russian blonde heeled sputniks
All who ran man can pan hooved, laughing
Into the wilderness and jazz of parting, dancing.

I left who declared who be losers and who were the spared
Who cored my mind’s cunt and told me they cared
Who woke without grace or the necessary pace to get
Past the tangled sax of dreaming on a TV talk-show set.

I left how I came- plenty noise and taking my name
Back to before we turned the same like custard and mustard
All yellow and spineless no caress for the cess of our minds made sure
Our baits left us and we lost our lure

I left why I left why I left why I left
Why I left, was coz to die was a lie for
Who went? like your mothers back your will bent.

I left





I right to be left which is best for the zest of a lime cut fresh
That comes with a world free and hair-ee.
I right to be left that is political that like conical
Is a shape that is susceptible
To faith and fall and fear and the maul
Of not quite walking the straight yellow line.

I right.

Now I right?

What is left?

Space on the page of this flat white cage
To hold the purest part of my droppings of rage

Damn you.
What is left?

I write.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Googlistically speaking

I'm trippin'.

But honestly, this was fun. Unfortunately, 'priyanka' brought up way too much abt the gandhi and the chopra, and it got boring. And apparently, Google doesn't know the blue goblin yet.

[insert threatening yet woeful growls]

So I settled for this.

My favourite?

pj is the meta devil.

Go figure. Go be a googligan.

pj is the man
pj is 2sweet2bbeat
pj is in the babybedroom
pj is made of stars
pj is back home
pj is in need of a loving home in ca
pj is famous?
pj is drifting more and more away from the huge
pj is home
pj is like rodney dangerfield
pj is evicted from big brother
pj is out
pj is a developer toolkit for parsing
pj is home and big troubles
pj is distributed in binary form in a single jar file called hip
pj is the first user interface framework that brings state
pj is not a gi jane poster girl
pj is
pj is a shameless publicity hound so if you are with a periodical
pj is between p
pj is famous? pj is famous? posted by
pj is a champion 14 lb
pj is the best golfer on the team
pj is ready
pj is not a man of few words
pj is our older norwegian fjord gelding who was born "ryvar" on a farm in illinois in 1980
pj is drifting more and more away from the huge fanbase they used to have
pj is an angel on earth she has wiped away my tears
pj is the biggest agency in pechiney world trade and since 1994
pj is made of all mahogany
pj is growing out of the stripes around her face
pj is now doing their homework together with fbi to lock down "hackers" who aleggely are involved on us hacks
pj is diagnosed when the freckles are noticed or hamartomas are found in the intestinal tract
pj is fond of many outside activities
pj is illegal if
pj is a social science graduate
pj is a director of a successful ten
pj is a breath of fresh air
pj is one of the easiest
pj is the meta devil
pj is featured on lead vocals and accordian
pj is short for a pompano jig
pj is devoted to the history of the japanese people and how and why they react to one another within their own society
pj is sponsored by
pj is listed in the world artist directory
pj is eligible to work legally in the following countries
pj is a pourable version of the popular polywater® j high performance pulling lubricant
pj is an area located in the district of petaling
pj is a factor of m
pj is just naturally curious and ready for anything
pj is saved from her pretensions by the force of her talent
pj is our retired racing greyhound
pj is so unattractive and was'nt he childish going on about why alex never picked him
pj is one of the best clowns in america winning numerous awards for her creativity
pj is a complete visual programming language based on the concepts of parallel
pj is for you
pj is a parlor
pj is defensive
pj is introduced as a man who has all the answers
pj is a toolbox for parsing
pj is wanting to get first tickets and she's first on the line
pj is clearly at height t+1 we have completed the induction
pj is currently enjoying a two
pj is also a member of the american association of suicidology and is both a member of and certified by the association for death education & counseling as a
pj is still scheduled to play bumbershoot in seattle on aug
pj is having no trouble keeping her music fresh while keeping her vision pure
pj is a big boy & is already potty trained
pj is the odds
pj is trypsin
pj is in a better place now
pj is contained in xðp; jÞ
pj is one to look out for
pj is now tested against pk
pj is all too happy to set the record straight now that he is back in the real world
pj is a relatively easy model to restore given the fact that there were more than 350
pj is currently busy working on
pj is a great source file management tool
pj is ?
pj is a very affectionate hamster and just loves to be cuddled
pj is the millennium place project coming up in the section 14 area

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"The dead suffered a wrong. Uphold justice"

There is a fishing village near Hong Kong and its name is Dongzhou. At the mouth of the bridge leading to their village, a group of Dongzhou's residents, numbering about 100, gathered to hold a banner with the above line scrawled on it.

The chinese paramilitary forces are at it again.

And here is the curious truth: Tiananmen Square was apparently not enough for the administration. And neither is the first time since 1989 that violence has been inflicted on the little people in China.

It happened because the villagers were protesting the building of a power plant.

This is not the first time. If it aint a power plant, its oil ownership issues. If it aint oil, its the falun gong.

And the only reason yankville hasn't said anything to chinaland is because of trade and deficits.

The things you can buy these days. Silence, blindness, and battery operated foot massagers.


The United States, which generates a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, had questioned the need to engage in even nonbinding talks on the subject. When the Europeans and Canadians proposed such talks Thursday, chief American climate negotiator Harlan Watson rejected it on the grounds that it would be tantamount to formal negotiations.

"If it walks like a duck and talks like duck, it's a duck," Watson told the other delegates, according to several participants in the closed midnight session.

As Watson walked out, one of the other delegates, baffled, responded: "I don't understand your reference to a duck. What about this document is like a duck?"
- 'U.S. Joins Informal Talks on Warming', by Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 10, 2005; Page A01.

Read the full article here.Only good thing about yank Presidential second terms: they're on the way out & don't give a duck's beak about winning the vote of petroleum paladins and arms manufacturers. Thus they can finally concentrate on energy policies that will keep us all, bird and human alike, breathing easier.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mall-Run: For Frank O'Hara*

Sunday Afternoon 12:21 all's fogged up
Inside the bus the men and women you will never find on Oprah
Wait for the final wheezing stop.
As corny as that first Godzilla we breathe furious white smoke
And rush Into the made in china warmth of PROVIDENCE PLACE
like it's the thanksgiving sale
The president
Or a jumper off the Newport bridge.

Speakers and mp3 players on sale: the only
Things sold that aint nano are the milk jugs down at 7/11.
Maya and I walk on, fists buried deep in pockets.
But where I really want to be is outside in
All that glorious slushy first real snow of Providence.

I'm not sure who's bigger today; Sponge bob,
Or the shot glass special at CRATE & BARREL.

"But where I really want to be is outside in
All that glorious slushy"—Hold up, Jack she tells me
As we scramble out of the arms of the last salesgirl
At VICTORIA'S SECRET. 2:55pm and it feels like daylight saving
And American Idol reruns. We need out.
I hold the door
For a guy in an Ozzfest hoodie. We exit.
3:05 now: we miss one bus so there's time for
Any god damned beautiful adventure in the world.
The skaters out in KENNEDY PLAZA look mournful,
Like they just found out Disney paid off the senator
To keep them forever circling to Brenda Lee:
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

We stand outside the 7/11 and smoke gloveless
Shivering. Holding a pint of 2% and saying THIS finally,
Aint just Bristol. There's the sign to New York, all snowed over,
We could hitch a ride, find an Uno’s and—
Yeah sure I have a lighter, and the guy says thank you and we're all right.
Screw NYC. This tight-sphinctered quaffing cheap coffee
And kids huggin and kissin only coz its this cold
Is where it's all at.
And Tim Allen in a fake beard can't find us here.

I'm so happy I want to make my third snowball of December,
But before I can ask Martha Stewart for ribbon and some tape
The 60 steams, waiting—she knows where we have to go.


This poem was written on the first snow-day, here in rhode island. Maya and I went to the mall, and this be the account of that day. Statutory warning: some bits fictionalized. But of course ;)

*Frank O'Hara is one of the poets we've covered in class this semester: just covered, in fact. Last poet before the final paper, good lord. Our assignment was to write a "I do this/I do that" poem, the kind he is known for. O'Hara used everyday images and the idiom he knew, of the time he lived in yankville. I tried doing the same, except using the images and idiom of today.

Two of my favourites of his are A step away from them and the day lady died. Here's more of his stuff online.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Written on Samhain*

I sit here atop their faery palace.
I am permitted, because they have taken to watching.
The new gods displaced no one:
They only stopped running and stood still,
Feet rooting into earth--
Long fingers clutching at leaf cover.

They stand curved and listening.
You won't see them till you
Lean against them,
Wind whispering in the leaves above your head.

The Lochness sleeps at the bottom of the bay,
Smiling in his dream.
Except on this night
Except for tonight

Look at the pebbles at your feet:
Old bits of driftwood and dragon tooth.
Some slate.
All tools to leave a note for them
That they will laugh over once the party is done.

Here where the grass grows—ramparts.
Here where cigarettes have been stubbed out: a watch tower.
Here where the marigold grows: a moat.
Your behind rests on a turret: a tiny telescope watching for ravens.

They know your schedule.
When the lights come on.
How the sprinklers work.
Why campus security will not climb these ramparts.
Especially this night.
Especially tonight.

They let the grass grow into the moat.
The draw bridge rotted and turned to soil.
A beer can crush lies where the levy would gather.
My ungainly foot stomps in a fairy circle.

But as the last leaves are lit by the setting sun,
Their faces hidden in flames laugh as they wait
For their night
For tonight.

For the campus security will not climb these ramparts,
And I have made an offering
Of a chocolate bar and my sorrows.
Speak the ancient chants and light no lamp--
Then you will see their glittering eyes and hear
The ancient harp being tuned, underneath you, near.


Samhain- the ancient name for a tradition that is now translated in popular culture as Halloween. Pronounced "sow-in", it is honoured by those of the celtic tradition.

Winter Haiku

breath falls with the snow.
trees hold only grey chest hair--
loss bites like young crabs.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Light-- Non-fiction

December 2, 2005. 7:35pm.

Providence Place isn't a big mall, but when you lose the only three people you know in that tinsel-wrapped world, it is suddenly larger than a New York traffic jam at 5:15, with the grumbling coffee, and the bags, and the files...

I was lost. With a bag, grumbling into my turtleneck, trying to find in my ipod the same solace I used to seek in mum's neck when such impossible events would happen in the past. No such bloody luck.

I was lost. The three moroccans were busy GAPing or Banana Republicing somewhere, and I couldn't find them.

It got worse.

I had never been into Providence before. Mum calls it the Hermit Crab complex. Call it what you will, it also meant that I had about as much knowledge of the bus numbers and stop locations in Providence as would a Tibetan Monk of the Tabo Chos-Khor Monastery.

Metallica on ipod.
Filene's shopping bag folded severely under one arm.
Survival instinct kicked in-- They are three. I am one. I will survive.

I carpe diemed my way out of the mall, looking for restaurants and crushed soda cans as signs of the way we came, the only things that could point me towards the bus stop. One doesn't try asking Rhode Islanders for help. An unwritten law.

Shapeshift-- Nose to the wind Here, the basement irish pub. Roamer, wanderer, nomad, vagabond And here again, the crushed autumn leaf that looks like diseased liver call me what you will. There, a lamp-post with the red car underneath dance little tin goddess, dance. 5 steps more and-- yes, the crushed day old Providence Journal section, with the Darkness on the cover St. Anger round my neck, he never gets respect. Cross street. Wait. What I've felt, what I've known, never shines through what I've shown Cross another street. Stop girl who's smoking, who fumbles instantly for her lighter assuming that's what Im asking her Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire. Girl, boyfriend and madly barking dog direct me towards the stop. 7:50pm. Get on the bus oh please God, wake me .

8:20pm. Miss my stop, because its my first time and No Leaf Clover is on my ipod and I like listening to it at a volume louder than what the driver uses to announce the stops in.

8:21pm. Im on the wrong side of the bridge that connects Bristol and my college to Portsmouth and the rest of the world. But it was a bridge, and I assumed I would walk over it like I've walked over the chetpet overbridge so many god-awful times in madras.

But here's the deal.
Madras has no winter, and chetpet lake no deep water.
A sign says its illegal to cross the bridge on foot.
The foot-path's a foot wide, no more and no less.
The metal railing comes upto my upper thigh, no more and no less.
Winds blowing at 24 knots seem to want me and my blue coat flapping over the bridge, down into the black flat water faaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr below.

I begin to curse. Not god, not my parents, not my ipod-- But the conductor, the bridge-layer, the wind, and gravity. I cursed and swore at them all, yelling that I-- 3 cars go by, zip zip ZIP!-- would be alive, past winter and its silly wind-- ZIP! and another ZIIIP!-- inspite of my blue coat flapping and the narrow sidewalk-- ZIP! zip, zip ZIP!-- I WILL SURVIVE!

Fuck me. I was going to fall off a bridge and die just when I had bought a nice dress and was heading home in two weeks.

Maybe I should pray, I thought.

"The Lord is my Shelter and my Refuge"

One misquoted, tiny psalmic line. I attempt thinking of the second line when--

A car pulls up. Black family van. Elderly couple in the front. The woman is frantically smiling and opens her door to ask me if I'd like a ride.

I blubber. Overwhelmed-- am I still in rhode island? Is this heaven? Did mum send you?-- and frostbitten, I scramble into the back. She tells me they went by me, and she had asked her husband to turn around because she was worried about that "young girl" out alone on the bridge. I thank her profusely, continuously, my own little mantra. Om mane padme hum. She says she has children of her own, and couldn't have let me walk it all the way back.

4 minutes later, I am across the steel monster and at the gates of my university. They drive off, I sniff and take glad muddy strides in firm, flat and large earth.

One misquoted, tiny psalmic line. Om mane padme hum.

There is a god. Hopefully, he'll be around and sniggering next time I endeavour a Mall run.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Winter Litany

Holy Holy Holy
Holy the weaving withered golden hands,
ten thousand leaves arched here above me.
Golden fingers reaching
inspite of raging winds over the dead grass.

Holy Holy Holy
Holy the tight elastic
cutting, every second carving
into my skin the reminder that
I am human and must needs sleep.

Holy Holy Holy
Holy the thorny honey locust tree
Bare branches reaching like a many veined artery
into the warmth of my father's heart.

Holy Holy Holy the moon hidden
from the cold in november clouds and rain.

Holy Holy Holy is the fallen ash
fanned to embers by winds howling holy.

Holy is my fat self running to time my last puff
with the top of the hill
and slash's eternal guitar riff.

Holy is this night
Holy is the amber glow
Holy my thumb, with its 20 year old scar
Holy the dew on this glistening black tar.

Monday, November 28, 2005


The sky had no clouds but was as filled with grey heaviness as a glass is filled with milk. You could poke a finger into that sky and a sigh would escape from the hole you made, through which a lone seagull will escape, mourning.

Evening. She stood there stirring her coffee and staring, for against her window 300 iridescent bodies flung themselves, hummed, hovered and dove against and into glass and sky and dark in a frenzy, circling the outer rim of the light from the lamp, a madness shining in their glittering eyes.

A host of dragonflies. More than 300, she was sure.

Dec 25, 2004 8:52 PM
"laxmi reads powerful thunderstorms into
this congregation near my garden lamp, my driver on the other hand --
a practical man, who possibly did better in biology than I did, says
they are just gathered for body warmth and will soon fly away. The
trick is in knowing when the body has had enough, for if the heat gets
too much, they just wither away like corpses on a pyre.

Am going for a run"

I had smiled at the beauty in that, even if it was a terrible prophecy. Such beauty she had, and still does. She saw dragonflies. She's going for a run. I will love her forever.

December 26th, 2004 7:05am.
I woke in a gently rocking bed. Mum making dosas. Dad reading the Hindu. Neither had felt it.

Dec 26, 2004 10:52 PM
"Everyone's calling up everywhere... family in sri lanka.. those who
had gone on a pilgrimage for christmas to velankani... sam's
production buddy who was on a shoot at that taj on the maldives... 5
stars on bamboo shoots, jesus christ... sri lanka is still the worst
hit. Nagapattinam is miserable..worst bit, its raining there too.

We will go see if we can help the children. Will mail you when I get back...

have I ever told you how I hate being woken by a swaying bed?"

November 27, 2005 sometime in my night. She and I on Gtalk; I am being told of dead dragonflies outside, in her pool, on the lawn. Maybe the body has had enough heat, and they have all lain down to sleep. She and I nod, but do not smile-- Because it has been a year, and because there is still a little less than a month more to be certain that the dragonflies are finally still.


*Written for this week's writing exercise on S&C, a Ryze network: the theme was "paranormal", and the idea was to write a true account of an occurence in real life, in less than 750 words. Kudos to Gmail for the search option: I resurrected year old emails for the quoted sections.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I be Burnin'

midnight oil, old newspapers and rubber.

Last few weeks of work and then Im off and flyin.

Gotta love this beat, dammit.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Frog King

I heard a fly buzz when I died.

The insult was I was still alive.

Wearing my crown and little else besides,

There sat one cousin where once sat five.

The bastard chorus still sounded

From the low lying squelch outside.

Would they not stop? How my head pounded!

Day shone bright when their king died.

Wait. I had not closed my eyes, and thus could see

The smug-n-sorrowful filching of my things.

The four have left, carrying a throne, a wife,

my first spawn: such is the death of disposable kings.

"I cannot breathe" and "the end is near"

I make a show of it, nostalgic for the monsoon.

My cousin hops tearful to my head, my bed

The dirty bum buzzes 'gainst the square heat of noon.

With triumphant rude laughing eyes

His fat self saw what will soon be bog news:

A tongue long-prized, now too weak to reach.

The tiny reaper buzzed, awaiting payment of his dues.

The Kids of Calcutta

Giving Oscar to 'Born into Brothels' under best documentary was the best thing the big-wigs have done in a while.

Come see the pictures the kids took here.

And see their faces. See what they saw.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Eternal Return?

Nietzsche in his attempt to excavate the meaning of life once used the myth of eternal return to describe what he saw as the most important reason for men-- and the odd woman, or two-- to move from being into becoming. Eternal return, in short, is the hypothetical box in which the hour-glass of life as you know it is eternally flipped over and over, so that the same joys and sorrows, the same series of experiences repeat themselves ad infinitum.

Nietzsche in his 'gay science' followed his hypothesis with a question, asking whether the reader would curse life forever on being informed of this eternal return, or thank whatever Greater Force there is for the comfort of knowing that nothing new would ever happen again.

Nietzsche meant this again, as the measure of separation between those who chose to remain and those who chose to move. The sheep and the goats. Being and Becoming.

[We will assume that this 'choosing' is a well-oiled tool, a worn coat, a known ciusin. Leave Beckett and Pascal's existential theories on choice aside. Humor me. As you have so often.]

Kundera picked up on this and figured it would be a great way to start a book. He of course, wrote The Unbearable Lightness of Being before this present day when Nietzsche is considered passé, where every second high school sudoku aspirant blubs and blogs on the man and his horsey madness.

Except Kundera chooses to assume that this 'being' and 'becoming' is not a choice, that sheep and goats together, we are condemned to be what we essentially are: either 'be'ers or those given to becoming.

I return to India on December 16th.

A thing I assumed I wouldn't be doing till 2007, and even then only in order to renew some visa, any visa before I was off junketing again.

And of course, it is a hypothesis, this eternal return bit.

However, I get this sneaking feeling that the cosmos-- that dear old bitch-- has this way constantly spinning in our hamster's wheel when she knows there's a thing we long to get away from: instead of letting us run and find our man friday and our island, she keeps us on this ferris wheel till conciously or sub-conciously we face whatever we chose to leave behind. A certain about of active reaction is required of us, the price we pay to get off the blessed hell ride.

One of course could just get used to the unchanging scenery.

I have an ADD issue that makes this impossible to do.

And so I return. No air of finality, there still remains a year and a half of a yank degree to complete.

But I return, out of choice. Because I want to be with my parents for christmas. Because I want to be with a numbered few for new year's eve. Because what I came to yankville for no longer has any use for me. Because snow isn't romantic when you're walking through it in order to reach the only meal you will get today.

And also because I want to see how much I remember, and how much I could forget.

And so, to chennai. In less than a month.

O city of grime and gregarious rice
O mixing bowl of the 100 spiced fart
You welcome me with a sun-n-fly frenzy
You whose cows in traffic are kamikaze
I fan-fare thee in my amused distaste.

Chennai! Goddess unknown and thrice disowned
They changed your name ‘coz our Commons
Still mistrusted their Lords;
The Planets had moved—thank ye gods, every 3 million of him n’ her--
(We no longer drank ‘tay’, and avoided the obsequious ‘Sir’)

What metaphors do I make for thee?
Every moment with you is a never-ending concert by the motley crue
Stories and myth are spun in every house—kept refrigerated-- under every tree
Your mangoes 36B'd, your people laughing
In sun rain and at night undrunk, still dancing

You of unfinished cement hills and defiant pot holes
You where every funeral is a flower n’ drum parade
You where post 40, women— and some men—don’t get laid.
You, where difference is distrusted, down to its very soles
How do I find poetry for you in this language you grumble at?

You hide your soul under an ancient pile of dirty linen
Your real face was washed away by a slightly high tide
Your real laughter lives on beaches, and in kaapi cups
Of 3000 year old Tamilian verse
Your ideas walk the streets shuffling, looking for the young to bless or curse.

They call you old and dry and culturally rich
I have seen you buy BMWs, and turn your river to a ditch.
The muse ups and leaves, laughing
Any pain I write will never encompass what has been said and done
I will ask the silent ones to speak, and go wander under another sun.

N.B: I am not going 'home'-- I return to see my parents. There is a difference.

Like the old bony man riding Rocinante, bearing my rusty-trusty spear, I go clip-clopping into windmills.

"It seems to me utterly clear either that you do not really know me, or I do not really know you." Cervantes, Don Quixote: Volume 1, Chapter 33; pg 218.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Harem

[One can dream, yes?]

No, but seriously. I have been asked often about my preferences in aesthetics, and most times have been unable to come up with a good answer because the waiting ears wished me to context my choice either in Bollywood or... erm... Bollywood.

But after a certain amount of thought, I have realized that all that I find intriguing about the male tangent of the specie is summed up by these wonderful men.

In no particular order, then--

David Bowie

Johnny Cash.

Maynard James Keenan

Joaquin Phoenix

So now we are getting somewhere. What then is the LCM of this dark yet olympian bunch?

[Dammit, list making IS fun]

1. Music. Must have music in blood, in head, in feet, all the time.

2. Intense eyes. Black holes into the 9th dimension, and autumn windows overlooking the stormy bay. No, really-- look at Joaquin, for instance:

Le gulp. And Bowie, too-- An injured eye from a long-ago fight makes this child of satan even more appealing:

3. Turbulence. An edge. Well directed, productive anger-- and if you think that's bollocks, do note Cash and Maynard's output, and their commitment to the issues they are passionate about. Bowie and Phoenix too-- perfectionists, and passionate about their respective crafts. Cash spoke for the people in America who never had a voice: in spite of being ignored by radio stations, he surged on. That power-packed finger above? Believe me, it was no pose. Maynard, whether by himself or with Tool or APC, always stands for his beliefs, whether those be anti-war or the balance in jiu-jitsu.

4. The ability to re invent oneself. Bowie hasn't let up in his creative steam-- Cash was no country rocker: beloved of NIN, APC, U2, Tool and other cutting edge bands of today, he enjoyed nothing more than playing with the new, covering their songs, jamming together. Joaquin is a book on the subject all by himself, as is Maynard.

I did mention intense eyes, yes? Sigh.


Right ho. Here's taking my dreams and self off to bed.

Want that harem. Screw the xbox. HAREM!!


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mer de Noms

Someone I once knew very well said that it never pays to reinvent the wheel. Thus I don't intend to gush about A perfect Circle or Keenan here, though I could and want to.

Found a great review of their first album, Mer de Noms, just now. From the heart. And finally, someone other than me has written about Orestes, one of the songs on this album that--- Geez. How else does one explain it except by saying it was on repeat for 2 weeks, and is still played every day? Its beautiful, as is Keenan.

Thank god for Maynard. He gives me a reason to stop looking for reasons.

here's that write up, full text below:

Thoughts on A Perfect Circle's
"Mer de Noms"
I know now that not all the sirens were women.

Something tells me that whoever thought up such a notion has never heard Maynard James Keenan sing. Yes, there are plenty of gorgeous voices in modern music and many of them have been compared to these mythical beings whose voices made men crazy. When Maynard James Keenan's life is over, he will be remembered as one of the best voices in hard rock music -- better than Robert Plant, better than James Hetfield (even now that he really can sing). At this point in his life, Keenan is not the kind of man that rock journalists wax lyrical about; too many of them are still intimidated by his ability to sing with such fervent honesty, to write songs that cut close to the bone -- or through the bone. His is a voice that rages and growls, but can also croon with surprising delicacy, something that has allowed songs like Tool's "Sober," "Jimmy" and so many others their heartwrenching, gutwrenching and unflinching beauty. This is no ordinary voice.

I was talking to a friend recenly while listening to the songs from A Perfect Circle's "Mer de Noms" and I said, "I swear, Maynard's voice could melt steel."

"It has," my friend replied.

To think that songwriter/guitarist Billy Howerdel originally intended to make "Mer de Noms" with a female vocalist. As beautiful as the music is, it is Keenan's voice that makes this album come alive. His is the siren's song that pulls us through the Mer de Noms -- the Sea of Names -- the songs on this album -- with such grace and sadness and purity -- with such anguish and fury and intensity. Every time I listen I am pulled ever deeper into the undertow of his voice, lost among the lyrics and tones and harmonies, maddened by how gorgeous and ecstatic it feels to be pulled in this way. I go willingly.

"Orestes" goes straight for the heart; it is the song from which the band takes its name, and its own name comes from the figure in Greek myth who is exiled after his mother, Clytemnestra, slays Agamemnon, his father. Orestes later returns, and with help from his sister Elektra, kills his mother and her lover. It is perhaps the most beautiful song Keenan (who penned the lyrics to all 12 tracks on "Mer de Noms") has ever written. It is the voice of the fetus aborted in the womb, or the grown man cutting all ties to his mother even though he recognizes they are forever entwined by the cycles of the universe, inner and outer: "Pull me into your perfect circle/One womb/One shame/One result," he sings in perfectly measured tones as his clear voice belies the horror of the situation. "I can almost hear you scream," he continues. "Give me one more medicated peaceful moment/I don't want to feel this overwhelming hostility." It speaks to Oedipus, to Freud, to Tori Amos' simultaneous acceptance and condemnation of violence in her "Waitress" and James Hetfield's struggle to let go of the memory of his mother in Metallica's "Mama Said." "Liberate this will to release us all/Gotta cut away/Clear away/Slip away and sever this/Umbilical residue/Keeping me from killing you." Its chorus is the smooth slip of the water breaking, the birthblood spilling, the body's quick descent out of the warm womb and into the cold, hardened world. Keenan's voice is just as smooth and slick, saline tongued, but its melancholy is ever-present and unfathomable. Love and hatred bundled into one tiny, pounding heart, into one perfect circle of death and rebirth, mother and son, blood and bone. I have heard this song many times now, and yet I have not lost the urge to weep uncontrollably when I listen to it.

"Magdalena" and "Judith" walk hand in hand, the two halves of religious meditation, the holy whore and the unholy martyr. "Magdalena" undulates with layers of passion and disgust, remembering the sacred prostitute and what she has become, what she makes men feel when they go to her. She dances on the pedestal, her legs wrapped around the towers of sanctity and sacrilege as men worship at her feet. "Overcome by your moving temple/Overcome by this holiest altars," Keenan sings. The guitars blare, a siren of panic in the air. "I'd sell my soul/My self esteem/One dollar at a time... for one taste of you my black Madonna." His voice becomes more distorted, unleashing a primal fury and fervor that can only exist in this place.

But "Judith" comes quickly; the other face, the other side of the coin. Here is the holy woman, the righteous woman, the self-righteous one who is ever suffering, ever denying herself the world -- and denying the truth in what she believes. "Your lord, your christ/Took all you had and left you this way/Still you prayed, never straying/Never taste of the fruit/You never thought to question why... He did it all for you." "Judith" is like falling, the descending slide of the guitar and Maynard's smooth, cut-glass crescendoes providing no place to grab hold. This is the love of the Christ figure in oneself, the love of a figurehead, the love of a man who has betrayed; all this is here. "Judith" embodies denial, self-hatred, the dichotomy of Christianity, the sacred turned inside out, the sacred become the scared, the hidden, the alone, the terrified.

"Hollow" is the dance in the ring of fire, the passion of lust outside of time; knowing what it is to be pure aflame and unashamed. But it is also the want so strong it becomes need, endless need; it could be for the love of another, the sex of another, or something more chemical. Bodily addiction. We are slaves to the flesh, inner and outer solidified in a single cry like the baby screaming for the breast. "Screaming feed me here/Fill me up again/Temporarily pacify me." The vampire in us never sleeps, and always hungers for something we think only another can give; but while we take and take again, it is temporary at best, and at worst, creates in us an ever increasing starvation of the soul. There is no give and take, only take, and take, and more take. Give me, give me.

Furthering the cause, "Thinking of You" is pure sex, the rhythm, Keenan's breath close in your ear as you listen, quick and penetrating in a way his voice has never been before. Then the breakthrough, the cascading tones of the chorus: "Sweet revelation," he sings, "sweet surrender." This is not a Sarah McLachlan tender surrender, but a complete giving of the self, and letting go, never knowing if you will see yourself again. He is the predator; you are the prey, helpless, shuddering with every drum-beat and gasp; yet you are willing, open, nevermind the consequences. There is no tomorrow; only now. With a voice like that, who wouldn't go willingly?

"Three Libras" takes us away on sheer gossamer wings of strings and subtle guitar, shimmering in the dawnlight of a new day, a magical place inside a Maxfield Parish wonderland. Keenan's voice is smooth as blood over milk; watching, wanting, waiting, wishing, wistful, bashful, resigned, hopeful and hopeless. A caress, speaking to an angel and yet to someone so ugly, so blind and hurtful as this. "I threw you the obvious to/See what occurs behind the/Eyes of a fallen angel/Eyes of a tragedy/Oh well/Apparently nothing at all." Then the guitars come, the pain, the cutting blades of reality in washes of glass, clear but slicing so deeply: "You don't see me. You don't see me at all."

"Breña" is born of the same air, winging away to a faraway land -- inside? Or elsewhere? In our own mind, or in the mind of this being called Breña? There is a solace here, however temporary; "Heal me, heal me, my dear Breña," Keenan begs. The flipside is "Sleeping Beauty," where it is in vain to heal the wounds that cut so deep, she is asleep for eternity; no prince can come to fix her with a kiss. Everything is broken, nothing is real. "Such a fool to think that I/Could wake you from your slumber /That I could actually heal you." Like in so many of these songs, the desire for the quick fix is more potent than the fulfillment of true joy; the passion that burns from within controls everything. Nothing can fix you. Nothing can make you see what you do not want to see. It is useless to resist.

There are so many pure moments on "Mer de Noms," so many inexplicable ones. The lost sounds of "Over" and the tremulous thumb piano bouncing against Keenan's lyric; the eerie, almost wordless tones of "Renholder" and its chiming, time-ticking guitars, ever descending into the depths; the self-rousing fury in "Rose" -- a deceptive name if ever there was one on this sea of names -- and the forgiveness and piety of "Thomas," offering another way to fill the hollows of the soul -- but for real this time? At least now the guidance comes from within.

"Pull me in to your perfect circle." They have, and moreso. Some will criticise this work for not being Tool, not being of that musical quality (as if that standard was anything close to fair); others will criticise it for being too much like Tool. Keenan's voice is the buoy, the lighthouse. The siren. Calling us forth, but to what end? In the sea of names, I am drowned.

~ Beth Winegarner.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

S.K on ciggarettes

It was night. The ceiling was calm. My face, pillowed in my hands were chill, as were my toes under the blanket. Unable to sleep, I did the only thing possible-- I closed my eyes.

The first thing I saw was the coffee cup in front of him.

“So”, he asked, folding his newspaper—“What d'you smoke?”

Gotta be kidding me. I raised an eyebrow at him.
Not both of them. Just one. You didn’t sass off before knowing what cards he held.

"Don’t be a schmuck, kid. How much older am I? Plus your lips used to be pinker than a pigeon's foot. Now look at them"

He reached forward sudden, his fingers in my face before I could react, grabbing my lower lip between his thumb and forefinger. His hardened fingertip grazed the fresh crack in my skin. I winced.

"Going back to your parents with those lips? Might as well drop to your knees and blow a choir boy as communion goes by". He sat back, his raspy laughter smelling of bitter coffee. I ran my tongue over my lip, tasting the salty fresh welt he had just run his finger over. Opening my bag to scrummage for the lip balm, I glanced at him, smiling at me across the iron-wrought table in the sun, riding the sounds that came out of the cafe with the grace of an acrobat. He'd always sit like this, I thought. On a commode or at the dentist’s: back straight, ankles folded under the chair, tortoise-palmed hands holding his knees.

"That fantasy the reason you started goin to church again?"

He grinned, and sitting forward, extended his arm across the little table, palm open. There are things about S.K that make me wonder if he's Peter Pan in disguise, just like this-- He wont say 'touché', or laugh: he will extend his hand for a low five.

"Nope, just the sight of Mrs. Donizetti’s ass walking up the aisle to swallow the Host”.

He also won’t relent till I slap back, like I did now, letting my hand stay in his, feeling the deep cut lines in his weathered skin-- the shiny patch on his thumb, the sign of an old burn.

When I had asked him about that, he had brandished his fork and said that some men take love's spear in the heart-- here he pushed the three prongs against his shirt front, leaving a three-pointed marinara stain-- while others get scalded, but get off free. I wanted to tell him no one gets off free, and that there are those who walk around forever with an X stenciled over their heart. But he knows this, so I don’t say it out loud.

“And don't avoid the question".

"What do I smoke?"


I took out my just cracked pack of Camel Filters, eased a white stem free and fished the battered black zippo out of my pocket.

He smiled a look of approval.

“That’s the thing I always loved about you-- Your fascination with old school. Wide gauge on purpose?”

I looked down at the smoke balanced between my thumb and forefinger.

“No. CVS didn’t have the regulars”.

It paid to be honest with S.K. He knew if you were winging it. He always knew. He nodded solemnly, shaking his shaggy head even as the wind whipped the white tufts up like waves every windy November day.

“Wide gauges are the best. Aside from the fact they give you the fullest puff. Wide gauges are like sheer thigh-high stockings and sipping good whiskey neat. Wide gauges belong to men and women who know how to undo bra hooks and belt buckles while conversing about the German elections, while dancing with the lights turned low”.

He was on a roll, again.

The next bit was in mime: a look of polite enquiry at me.
I nod. He pulls one free for himself. I hand him my zippo. He lights up. I nod, replace it in my coat pocket.

He then paused. S.K had mastered the art of monumental pauses, the timing of them—like the last roof on a house of cards. Delicate.
Inhaling deep, letting it stream out of his wide nostrils. He waited for a reaction. As always.


“Simple. Wide gauges are sensual. An aura, like cigars, but less showy. Notice how all men and women who smoke wide gauges have square large palms, strong and short fingers. They all prefer their partners’ thighs to any other part of them. They laugh while they talk; they smile and close their eyes while they smoke. And they all give good head. Something that no 100’s smoker can do”.

“Hey. I give good head”

“Am sure you do. But you also just bought a pack of wides”.

I laughed. Out loud, in spite of the phlegm, the tourists, and his suddenly intent look, watching me as he put his cigarette out against the table-edge. I lit up again. Feeling the paper pull gently at the fresh welt on my lower lip. Recognizing the extra girth of these smokes, the way they lit up so easily. His finger in my open palm, tracing lines. The well in my mouth moistening suddenly, sweet. Gooseflesh.

Cold is the month of November, here on a sidewalk by the bay.

He smiled.

“You’re growing up”.

“This is a waste of time”

“No. This is the stuff to call your own. Cigarettes you like. The drink you order. The scent you prefer on men. The way you like your ice cream, semi-melted”.

I nodded. As usual, S.K was right. But I had to know.

“Why here, though?”


“Why this table, why the white hair and the bay and the waitress?”

“Because you always liked side-walk cafes, and I haven’t been to one before”

Liar. But even before the last word was out of his mouth, the wrought-iron table, our chairs, the sea gulls all began whirling around, faster and faster, getting bigger and darker till

It was night. The ceiling was calm. My face, pillowed in my hands were chill, as were my toes under the blanket. Unable to sleep, I did the only thing possible-- I sat up and buried my face in my hands. My fingers smelt of smoke. On my tongue was the taste of bitter coffee.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


It's been a while since I've seen any. Found a whole web page full, 2 minutes ago. Figured I'd share-- Here :)

Piet Hein and Da Vinci , in my mind, belong to the same genus. Here's an example of a grook--


The lilacs are flowering, sweet and sublime,
with a perfume that goes to the head;
and lovers meander in prose and rhyme,
trying to say --
for the thousandth time --
wha's easier done than said.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Take a good look at this woman.

Pay very close attention to her eyes.

Her name is FannyAnn Eddy. She used to live in Sierra Leone with her 10 year old son. She's dead now. Been that way since Sept, 2004. She was raped repeatedly, stabbed and then they broke her neck.

She spoke at the U.N Comission on Human Rights in April of the same year. In her testimony, she spoke about the need to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender(LGBT) rights in Sierra Leone.

She was found dead in on her office premises, where she was working late.

Tomorrow, I leave to join a gaggle of american college kids who will spend some time over the next four days, mimicking the U.N.O in session. Some of them have prepared papers and talk-points. Some plan to get drunk once it' over.

None, I am told, suffer under any delusions of the grandeur that comes with putting down a proposal regarding human rights and sending it in to the big wigs. I was told that such model U.N meetings are only meant to foster communication.

Eddy is already forgotten. These kids at the conference, perhaps many of them on my committee-- LGBT rights, sex trafficking and child labour-- will not know her name.

I could either weep the tears of rage Im keeping down or laugh at all the helplessness that comes with being a noisy little hamster in a very big wheel. Or I could go out and smoke and remind myself to stay silent, and listen, and do only that during the whole conference.

Yes. That.

post-its before departuring

[Which btw are some of my favourite things, ever. Post-its, that is. Brilliant little invention. Almost as cool as the safety pin.]

post-it#1: I'm off to a model UN conference at UPENN tomorrow morning at 8:30am, in order to see what I can see. All ye cynical mumblers with the molotov cocktails: I hear ya, but wait till I get back and THEN we'll trash 'em. Only coz then I'll have the inside scoop on why anyone would want to model the UN. More on monday... and ah, yes-- I'm representing the social and economic issues of Bulgaria and Benin. Sex traffiking and other sundry matters, you know... all that frippery stuff. After all, what's sex traffiking when you have CIA moles left to blink in the flashlights, aye?

post-it#2: Autumn has set in. Leaves are turning to gold before they rot. But only in daylight. At night they are just plain yellow. Wear gloves if you're coming to visit next week.

post-it#3: Found a delightful little podcast from Dave Riley: listen to it here, believe me its worth it. He calls it "a memo re globalisation", and its funny and honest as only an Aussi can tell it.

post-it#3: Found a live recording of Dylan's 'last thoughts on woody guthrie'. For all of those who don't "do" american folk music, Guthrie was and always will be a light. It's a beautiful piece. It gives you a reason to look beyond the plastic wrapping and take a deep breath and plunge in and get busy being real.

A thing I'm trying here, so come and keep company, would ya?


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Who wants to live forever?

A question I often ask myself.

And since I was in one of my less tenacious moods today, I decided to Google my pathetic state of mind-wallowing.

[Mind wallowing is a distinct art form, btw-- Not meant for the weak of heart, or vegetarians. It involves thinking solely about your thinking. Sounds easy? Ha. Amateurs.]

Thus-- pop open firefox. Type in "self destruction".

[No caps. Heavens to Betsy, no fucking caps, please. We can all hear you.]

Voila. Page upon delicious page of possible little tools with which to shovel about in the mud even more.

First favoured link?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Self Love and Self Destruction.

[Expect the worst, always. As I always do. But admit it-- you love me for my honesty]

The second was a a most delicious romp through a narcissist's theme park: misanthropic site called The Self Destruction Handbook. Come see even if you're filled with cereal and Dr. Phil's tough love. The grunts and guffaws are worth it.

The third was a link on Gia. For those of you who missed it when it played on HBO, Angelina Jolie played the part of real life supermodel Gia Carangi. And for all of you who figured bulimia, designer lingerie, fake eyelashes and drinking problems were all that supermodels were made of--- Watch Gia. The woman made self destruction an art. As tragic and beautiful as it can be.

The last-- for such gets boring, even for one as self-indulgent as myself-- is a defintion:

Self-destruction (Self`-de*struc"tion) (?), n.

The destruction of one's self; self-murder; suicide. Milton.


"they also serve who only stand and wait"...

to turn the mud over with idle toesies
tea time hopes fading like burnt rosies.
And thus they bury those who dived first
before their idling brains yawn and burst.

Give me Gia any day.

Actually, just give me my bed. Am tired. Think I'll go now.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Haiku: For Basho

The pillow now cold.
A quail hides under its wing--
his eyes wait for sleep.

Two thousand grieving.
Empty bowl on the table-
His breath drifts like clouds.

Forty summers passed
Now his Daisho buried deep,
Basho writes at dusk.

Without roof. How else?
You wander'd ronin; wing'd seed.
White foam when waves die.

The road is longing.
A hoary pine stretching up-
A worn bamboo flute.

Autumn river runs.
You watched a shiny-eyed frog;
three lines on patience.

They listened for you.
Grass bowing in cool sunlight—
You spoke with your flute:

“Won't you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree”*

“In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.”*

Walk to Osaka.
A sparrow sang in a tree--
your eyes ate the sky.

Hard ice shrouds the lake.
Dried leaf under worn sandals.
You left in autumn.

A cloud of glad wings.
Tancho cries over white lake:
You return with them.


Basho- Basho, Matsuo. (1644-1694).
Basho was born into a warrior family, but after becoming a ronin he devoted himself to the development of haiku as a literary form. He began writing hokku (17-syllable opening verses for renga) as separate poems, developing a new style called shofu or "Basho style." Basho proclaimed what he called makoto no ("true") haiku, seeking the spirit of this poetic form in sincerity and truthfulness. He also introduced a new beauty to haiku by using simple words. During the years, Basho made many travels through Japan. On his last trip, he died in Osaka, and his last haiku indicates that he was still thinking of traveling and writing poetry as he lay dying:
Fallen sick on a journey,
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor.

Daisho- pair of swords a samurai would carry everywhere he went. Banned in 1876.

Tancho- Japanese word for the rare red crane.

*Original Basho haiku in translation. Others available here

More on Basho and zen haiku here

David being the wonderful soul he is, responded to the above haiku with this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pete Who???

So it's happened.

The man with the nose, one of the boys who slept under the flag, Pete Townsend himself-- he blogs. Here, in fact.

My first reaction was a jaw-dropped "eek!". The second reaction was to ask myself, Christ why??

My third reaction was to ask myself why I asked, at all. I realized its because part of me wondered why a famous, balding ex-rockstar would want to be part of the blogosphere. No more just ordinary people typing their weekend laundry plans. A paradigm shift, to boot!

But this made me curiouser and curiouser, because to claim there is a paradigm shift, one must assume there is a working paradigm in place.

Sure, blogs began with the unnamed mole people-- those whose names were only remembered by their mothers and their social security file. Those who communicated in C++ about gene therapy, a sovereign Iraqi state, hybrid SUV's and broadband: all things we thought would never happen.

But now-- Now everybody and their aunt blogs. Fathers recount nostalgic horror stories of initiation at hostel. 15 year olds enthusiastically type their Counter Strike captain's log. Mother's put up recipes. Goths in pink underwear describe the latest OD trip. Educators blog lesson plans. Principals post their after-hour fantasies, under sparkling nom de plumes-- things like DaRk $oR©ÉRer and Fallen_Angel.


And yes, there are even those old-school fogeys who honestly believe that their ideas, reflections, reactions, lyric choices [yes, we all love Led Zeppelin] and other such paltry scribblage are read-worthy, ergo blog worthy. Yes, I am one of them. The mob. The crowd. The mass.

A gentle mass, with some underlying system intricately woven: A & B will visit C's blog every wednesday. C returns the favour. Word verification jokes are exchanged [wtfru?? Really?? Tee hee] and then A,B & C will visit D's blog. D being something of a Blogga Daddy, F,G,H,I and P have already made it over. The alphabets in the middle haven't made it over yet, as they are all part of a group blog that's busy covering something important:
relief measures in Sudan, or the next American Idol.

Yes there are millions and gazillions and frupter-bupter-zadrillion blogs out there.
A blogger's born every 2 seconds.

But the one underlying feature of this entire burgeoning ant-hill has been the paring down of the blogger's identity to-- No, not anonymity. Unless self-chosen. Not anonymity, but a certain equality: parole officer and convict, judge and pimp, unheard priest and unpublished poet, we are all together subject to this system of online writing, this responding to comments. We are all bloggers. Together.

Enter rockstar bloggers. Royalty, Nobel Laureates, the Pope and Noam Chomsky. Larger than life already, in the blogosphere they are Gods. We tremble. We ring up their comments counter to 341 per post. And that's just the little leaguers, the station chai-wallahs.

The all stars, the cricket commentators, the Divine Cow Syndicate (DCS)-- we bow. We do not lift our eyes. And we cannot begin to scroll down the comments section. Our puny mortal pentiums pass out with the strain of it.

But why this need for thumbprintless one-with-the-worldness? Why blog, when you have the limo and the website and the book and the jet and the E! news interview waiting?

With all these thoughts buzzing through my brain, thus-- I consulted d.i about the matter. Threw it at his head, in fact, considering it was his ill-starred luck to be online at the precise moment I came across Townsend's blog.

Now, back story: I must explain that d.i is an ebullient Yoda, one who is perfect suited company for the above discussion. Balanced calmly between MSN and labelling post-production dvds, he stated the following [paraphrased below]:

1. Rockstars are people too.

2. Blogging is the celebration of individuality and the freedom of making that individuality apparent to the world.

[Ok so the ending on the last line was an embellishment. Mea Culpa.]

And he has a point. The core truth of the blogging paradigm is that there is no paradigm. There is no system of entry or exit: one either chooses to blog or doesn't. There is no hierarchy. Really. There are popular blogs, like there are only 2 favourite ways the world over to order your coffee.

All is Om. Prince William should start up a blog-- tales from the polo field, and rants against the paparazzi. Oh, and Pete aint the only one out there: the celebs are doing it for themselves. Moby, for one. Dave Barry for another.

Okay OKAY alright, so Pete is waaaaaayy cooler. Geez.

For the record: He blogs the chapters of the book he's working on. At least it aint a memoir. Here's chapter one. And he's making it all available for free.

Go, Pete. You'll always be my pinball wizard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Of Looting and quibbles

loot (lūt)

v., loot·ed, loot·ing, loots.
1. To pillage; spoil.
2. To take as spoils; steal.

To engage in pillaging.

[Hindi lūṭ, from Sanskrit loptram, lotram, plunder.]


I didn't know that it came from sanskrit. One of the many things I seem to be learning these days.

The other thing Im learning has to do with the media and disaster management.

I have an issue. Its possibly a quibble, a technicality which in this world of live and let die, and struggling evolution means nothing. But nonetheless:

Its about painting the picture. I have no issue with the projected numbers: the death toll is how the rest of the world understands the gravity of the situation. I have no issue with depicting slow aid or angst at the government: that's how people and authorities realize how much there is to be done. Like what a bed of nails does for a sadhu, new reports keeps us from being complacent.

I do have an issue with the usage of the term "looting". As a verb the word is used as an alternative to "pillaging", "taking spoils" and "stealing".

There has been a lot of "looting" in the news recently. Photos of many Americans with arms full of stuff they didn't swipe a card for. And much horror and clicking of tongues.

Yesterday, while reading AP and Reuter news reports that described looting in Muzzafarbad, I wanted to know about the authenticity of the usage of that word. How did those news agencies use it with such sniffy, professional ease?
So I read a few of the reports, here, here, here and here.

These news reports were culled from online editions of TOI & Ontario's Chronicle Journal, as well as Sify and, two online news portals.

The headlines read as follows:

"Looting breaks out in quake-struck region" *chronicle Journal)

"Looting Erupts as Quake Victims Get Frustrated Waiting for Relief" (Arab News)

"After quake, looting strikes Muzaffarabad" (Sify)

"Looting begins in quake zone" (TOI)

If you read the articles, you will see that every declaration of looting is followed by its description, which ultimately breaks down to this: starving villagers steal biscuits and bread from a tea shop, fuel from a petrol bunk as the nights are turning cold.

Stealing. Pillaging. Taking spoils, even.

Forgive me if I have a problem with the headlines. They are needlessly sensational. They portend anarchy, instead of telling the tales of little people trying to keep what remains of themselves and their families alive.

No cars, Nikes,toilet paper or exercise bikes.
Food. Firewood.

My only question: I keep hearing tales of angry people raiding relief trucks, blankets being air-dropped, dead bodies lining the streets, clashes with sticks and stones between the hungry and the shop-keepers.

Where are the tales of those who are keeping each other safe, caring for the children, guarding their relative's houses now empty of life, but still filled with belongings? Surely these are happening?

And why this black-bad luck-crow telling of looting tales?

[And btw, anyone who believes its only poor, homeless victims of natural disaster who indulge in a little pilfering, Time begs to differ: It carried a story In May 2003, of "U.N. employees scrounging for lunch" when the food workers at the U.N headquarters went on strike — "eventually, the masses stripped the cafeterias of everything, including the silverware". Ahem. Stewart Stogel has the story, here.]

Here's a look at our past experience of quakes:

In January 1999, a quake measuring 6.0 rocked Columbia. The death toll was no where near the toll today in the north-west frontier. There were reports of "looting" however. And this wasn't the only instance. There were reports of "looting" [yes, I will continue to use those quote marks, deal with it] in Aceh, in the aftermath of the tsunami.

Lets do a little exercise. Read the three following quotes:

"One looter said: "It isn't stealing. The store's totally destroyed, and nobody has a house, nobody has food. All this is to share with the people."

Several officials said they were reluctant to crack down on people who had spent more than 48 hours without food or drink.

"What can I do if people are dying of hunger?" asked one policeman"- BBC news report on the Columbia quake, Thursday, January 28, 1999.

'One group broke into a petrol station to get fuel to burn wood for cooking and warmth, while others snatched government cars and jeeps. “People are starving. They have lost all their family members, their belongings,” local resident Akram Shah told AFP. “Everything is gone, people are buried alive. Nobody is helping us to find them.” '- Azhar Masood & Huma Aamir Malik, Arab News.

'But help wasn't arriving fast enough for Indonesia's Sumatra island, where residents turned to looting to find food. "There is no help, it is each person for themselves here,'' district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio from the island's devastated western coast... Red Cross official Irman Rachmat, also in Banda Aceh, said people on the island were in despair. "People are looting, but not because they are evil, but they are hungry,'' he said.'- Andi Djatmiko,Associated Press.

Circle the words and ideas common to all three quotes.

I came up with starvation, hunger, loss, despair. You?

Looting according to what I was taught in school, was what vikings did when they sailed in their longships to the British coast. Looting consisted of stealing gold from the church, horses from the stable and women from the men.

In the aftermath of Katrina, there were reports of people carrying household goods away from department stores. What made those stories incongruous and worthy of comment was that it wasn't just a pair of shoes, it was pairs of shoes.

So maybe its only because there is no Wal-Mart, Costco or Target in Muzzafarbad and Kashmir that people aren't walking away with blenders, bean bags and pillows. Maybe if there had been a damaged department store, people would've walked in and "looted".

But the fact is, there is no such store, and most people were taking food. Not treasury notes or government bonds. I say most, because Yahoo! carries a story here, in which the last lines talk about the main market area in the city of Muzzafarbad:
"Traders at the market complained that their shops had been looted by "outsiders" -- non-Kashmiris. "I ran a communications shop," said Shaheen Iqbal. "All the mobiles that were not damaged were stolen. I am left with nothing."

This was in the city of Muzzafarbad. One city. The worst-hit areas are those hilly and remote villages that even the army reaches only by air. Throwing around the word "looting" as a general descriptive makes the entire population of the north-western frontier appear given into anarchy completely. An aberration.

It is established that absolute despair and loss pushes the survival button within most people. In fact, the only record of any group of humans behaving differently when faced with a disaster of this magnitude, is a study of the Japanese who survived the earthquake in Kobe, 1995 (available here)-- I quote: "... There were no reports of looting. Many shared what little food they had. And even though many were very upset with how the Japanese government handled (or mishandled) their situation, they accepted what had taken place and resolved to begin anew". Is it because the Japanese (refer the Ronin legend) have had an ancient history of dignity and honor in the face of disaster? Is it because after being levelled at the end of WWII, they are prepared to face anything?

Perhaps. Good for the Japanese. I still have an issue with the wording of those headlines, though.

Maybe newspeople will tell me-- Hey. Its reporting. Our job is to get the news out and fast; its not worrying about being politically correct.

Get this, bub.

What you write, is what people who aren't present at the site take to be the truth. What you write defines thousands of victims of a great tragedy, who do not have the chance or immediate inclination to challenge or qualify your statement.

News reporting is about telling the truth, not selling a paper, or gaining hits on your website. You think its impossible to avoid sensationalizing the aftermath of a tragedy?

Here's the headline of a story covering the same details as the above four news reports. No derivative shmaltz. Just fact. Of all places, that article came off the Yahoo! news website, available here. It reads:

"Rain, scuffles adds to the misery in quake-hit Pakistani city "

This was the story that carried that incident of the cell-phone shop I had quoted earlier. It was the only one who carried this detail. It was the only one, inspite of that detail, which didnt use the word-- you know which one.

Words are connotative tools. One would think its important to be sure what image we're chiselling out, especially when we're telling people about neighbours they haven't met.

This is possibly a quibble, a technicality which in this world of live and let die, and struggling evolution means nothing. Or not.

You tell me.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Will someone please tell me..

...If this aid worker realizes what he's doing?

Why this burden of rock and then man? Though Im sure the one who lies underneath doesn't feel it. But why this forced oneness of dust to dust?

All around us, death-
you balance on broken heart.
I help, lying still.

My first haiku. De profundis, domine.

"The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become"- Milan Kundera.

Tell the fat white man to move, please. He's stepping on my heart, and its already been glued back many times, glue chipping away.



About blood and religion

HILLAH, Iraq -

A bomb exploded at the entrance of a Shiite Muslim mosque south of Baghdad as hundreds of worshippers gathered for prayers on the first day of Ramadan and for the funeral of a man killed in an earlier bombing. At least 25 people were killed and 87 wounded.(ALI AL-FATLAWI, Associated Press Writer )


irish, both popish and ulster, didnt wait for lent
for buddhists and eelams, poya came and went
Sleeping bodies tried protecting Al aqsa
VHP want to worship a lonely ganesha
(stoned, just outside the qutb minar)

over a new drafted constitution
sunni will cause shi'ite destruction
In no religion did any god
make worship and politics 2 peas of a pod.

Atheist, buddhist, or proctologist
when it comes to bombs, its a simple q-
who was hit, and who was missed.

Kilgore Trout's 2BR0TB

Trout's favorite formula was to describe a perfectly hideous society, not unlike his own, and then, toward the end, to suggest ways in which it could be improved. In 2BR0TB he hypothecated an America in which almost all of the work was done by machines, and the only people who could get work had three or more Ph.D's. There was a serious overpopulation problem, too.
All serious diseases had been conquered. So death was voluntary, and the government, to encourage volunteers for death, set up a purple-roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor at every major intersection, right next door to an orange-roofed Howard Johnson's. There were pretty hostesses in the parlor, and Barca-Loungers, and Muzak, and a choice of fourteen painless ways to die. The suicide parlors were busy places, because so many people felt silly and pointless, and because it was supposed to be an unselfish, patriotic thing to do, to die. The suicides also got free last meals next door.
And so on. Trout had a wonderful imagination.
One of the characters asked a death stewardess if he would go to Heaven, and she told him that of course he would. He asked if he would see God, and she said, "Certainly, honey."
And he said, "I sure hope so. I want to ask Him something I never was able to find out down here."
"What's that?" she said, strapping him in.
"What the hell are people for?"
Vonnegut, Kurt. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater(pages 20-21)
New York: November 1978; Dell Publishing Co.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

سورة الزلزلة

It was the night when everything is so grey that there is no different between sleeping and day.

I was awake. The howling winds coming off the bay rushed up the slope towards my dorm, cursed and yelled outside my window and then rolled on over the little pond, through the trees brittle with dead leaves.

A friend told me his brother has smsed about a tremor, just then. O Fearful Connectedness of Googletalk. We both cursed. And waited. He got to the news link first.

And even as it unfolded, the next few hours, deja vu started rolling film. The same emotions: the same checking to see if loved ones were ok. The same reading of cautious local news websites, letting the numbers flow through their fingers slow at first. Checking BBC-- updates, eyewitness reports, pictures.

Geological discussion: young fold mountains this time.

Group mails, receiving replies: some light-hearted, some in fear, some waiting, like me, for news from the places that were still ominously silent.

Receiving an IM: yes, a help blog has been started.

I have seen all this before. This has happened all before.

The Eurasian fault line runs through the area. Tremors happen here all the time. New Zealand quivered too, measuring a 3.9. Bangladesh recorded tremors at 5.4, causing high waves in the bay.

But this one was a 7.6. And the death toll projected by international news agencies is at 2000. According to the the Director of the Weather Office, its the biggest quake in 120 years. International agencies are claiming that the Pakistani Govt are remaining "eerily silent" on revealing a realistic death toll: I quote--

"But oddly enough, no one was talking about the human toll.

It was almost as if no one wanted to talk of the death and destruction that the quake could have caused

A reporter working for the state-controlled PTV said he had seen "30 to 40" dead bodies himself in the Frontier town of Mardan.

But it was never repeated".

PM Shaukat Aziz said it was too early to talk about the death toll, rescue operations were still on to pull the living from the rubble.
An appartment complex fell down. School children were crushed. Landslides have taken whole villages made of straw and mud down into ravines and a river.

The worst hit are those living in the heavily militarized zones of PoK and along the border of Kashmir. Thank god, that unlike what happened in Aceh, the military and aid workers are going in together immediately to carry out relief measures.

The relief measures in inhabited areas began immediately. One must be glad.
The actual death toll in the northern interior regions cannot be known immediately. God be with those alone and cold and scared, and with those who are trying to bring them to safety.

The red cross and red crescent groups are out in their ambulances, tending to trauma cases. Every hospital in the affected areas has patients being treated outside, for fear of another after shock.

Information rolling. Deja vu.

No tears came during the tsunami's aftermath, midst all the reading writing talking and running around that accompanied it.

In front of this lap-top, watching grainy BBC reports, I havent been able to stop. Misery because its the end of the world? PMS? nope.


people on cellphones from under the rubble, calling to say they're alright. Policemen digging with their bare hands, not bothering to wait for equipment. Children wide-eyed in terror. A group of dusty men and boys yelling and heaving a part of a concrete wall, one two three together. British citizens of Pakistani descent praying together, getting visas together, blocking phone lines together, collecting aid together, and jack straw adding a chorus to them all:

"But in this particular case, because so many people in this country - so many of my own constituents - hail from Pakistan, or their families do, of course the anxiety and the shock is even greater," he said.

"My message to them is that we're going to do - and we are doing - everything we can for British people of Pakistani heritage, number one, and two, for Pakistanis of whatever connections."

The london blasts saw tremors of a different kind run through UK's ethnically diverse population. From the pain of those accusations, from the threat of racist violence against pakistani/bangladeshi/indian citizens, to this coming together.

There hasn't been a single report, local or international, of crimes being committed in the aftermath of the quake. No looting, no murders. My friend tells me of houses lying open, all their valubles exposed, and passers by standing guard at the entrances, to keep safe the belongings of the dead and dying.

The apocalypse haven't won yet.

Midst all this loss and terror at shifting continental plates, with the many who broke their fast around the world, I give thanks. We give thanks.

Chapter 99 of the Qu'ran is named سورة الزلزلة(Az-Zalzala) which means 'The Earthquake':

When the earth is shaken with her (violent) shaking,
And the earth brings forth her burdeens,
And man says: What has befallen her?
On that day she shall tell her news,
Because your Lord had inspired her.
On that day men shall come forth in sundry bodies that they may be shown in their works.
So he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it.
And he who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.

This is my version of dhikr for today: thanks be for the fact that even while in the mud, we are haunted by the stars.

In order to contribute to the Red Cross and Crescent networks active in the affected areas, please contact the following:

· In Islamabad: Khalid Kibriya, Secretary-General, Pakistan Red Crescent; Phone: +92.51.925.7404;

· In Islamabad: Asar ul-Haq, Disaster Management Officer, Pakistan Delegation; email:;
Phone: +92.51.925.0416; Mobile: +92.300.856.8136;

· In Delhi: Uzmat Ulla, Head of Delegation, India Delegation; email:; Phone: +91.11.2332.4203

· In Delhi: Nina Nobel, Programme Coordinator, South Asia Regional Delegation; email:;
Phone: +91.11.2685.8671

· In Kabul: Fatima Gailani, President, Afghanistan Red Crescent; Phone: +

· In Kabul: Vincent Toutain, Programme Coordinator, Afghanistan Delegation; email:;
Phone: +93.7001.8727

· In Geneva: Charles Evans, acting Head of Asia Pacific Department; email:;
Phone: +41.22.730.4455

Visit here for more details.

Friday, October 07, 2005

10 ways of looking at fog

The world sleeps senselessly
Fog yawns
Stretching its amber fur ‘cross the night sky.

The bridge shrouded by purring claws
Is but 2 pyramids of blinking white dots.
Fur glistens in wet light.

Orion curls his feet under his shivering bitch.
The stars are hidden; fog smiles toothily
Ships and men must sail alone.

Everything’s a fairytale
When amber globes glow in mist:
When fog sleeps at your feet.

12:05am. Flag strung from silent crane.
Fog for president!

The toes of the cottages across the bay
Snug in the murmuring dark.
Fog stalks them
And springs upon an empty house
As if upon a hapless mouse.

The poet awakes, abandoned.
Wandered lonely as an adverb.
Fog rolled in, hiding his ink-stand.
He shivered.

Happy is the smoke from your lips.
Frail fingers curl into fog’s fur
Faceless exhale, rushing to merge
With the smokish milling crowd.

Lonely skunk fumbles to lonely tree.
Old bums' frowns softened by
Heat of burning newspapers.
Trees bend closer to lamps
Each an old man, grumbling.
Fog laughing, swishes its orange tail.

Orange tabby will come in,
If you leave the door open.
But it will not be
Put out for the night.

My professor feels that the only way to appreciate wallace stevens is to attempt writing like him.

We read 13 ways of looking at a blackbird.

and had to respond to it with 9 ways of looking at... something.

The weather here being... questionable, this is what showed up. In 10 ways. And yup-- I do love eliot. Like a dear old distant friend.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

scribbled on a napkin

I cannot ask and yet I must.
I will ask, for instance--
have you seen 'like water for chocolate'
& have you cried over a foggy night doused in firecracker light?

I cannot kiss you and yet I must.
I will kiss, for instance--
the leaf before it falls underfoot;
the captured dragonfly in its muted terror.

I cannot weep, and yet I must.
I will weep, for instance--
so the muddy rain running meets
the thirsty crow, the child with wet socks, smiling.

I cannot give you my heart, and yet I must.
I will give, for instance--
the last sip from a still cold can
the bead that around my neck for you, has stayed warm.

I cannot bring you back, and yet I must.
I will bring, for instance--
Google up, & seek images and blue linkams
that pay homage to your name.

I cannot break the cycle and yet I must.
I will break, for instance--
my silence. But only the bored sea
will receive my howls, coz the moon has her head-phones on, again.

Sitting on a fence with Coleridge and Wilde at 12:05am

I know why the mariner shot the albatross.

Not sure whether Coleridge does.

The ship sailed for many a cold night, some colder than the one I stand under now. North sky and wind wheeling overhead- I have walked with ghosts and have felt comforted by invisible hands on my shoulders, invisible breaths taken by those who stand silent, watching the moon, the soft night. Harvest has come, and as we sow... shall we reap?

We do not knowingly kill the things we love-- It is out of disbelief that all hope and happiness can rest in another mortal being. We seek forever. We seek it. At last, hovering above the words we say-- our fists clenching around the blade's haft-- we find it. It smiles, watching our face change.

As with Dorian, truth comes past the knife. The brave kill with a sword. A kiss is fruit of fallen resistance. Cowards and traitors, we who refuse to turn our backs once and for all, because we cannot.

I have been coward and king and traitor.

Day after day, day after day, they stuck, no breath or motion.
As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.

He stood apart, watched by shipmates. Condemned.

It takes mortality, not übermensch-ness, to stand beside contempt and look for the moon midst clouds.

I know why the mariner shot the albatross. To prove survival beyond trinkets, totems and lovers.

Free will is a killer.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Bali Bombings

"The police found a total of six legs and three heads but no middle bodies, and that's the strong sign of suicide bombers"*

lets do it.

The others nodded.

Arms adjusted slowly into velcro black vests strung with explosives. A penis, one of the younger ones, suddenly needed to go, and was let out into the garden. With a sad cold nose, it was let back in 15 seconds later. Toes gripped in dank cotton socks. Hands carefully pulled the big roomy winter jackets over the vests.

Noses sniffed. One mouth shaped words of a song in silence.

A finger was bit, a little too hard, taking away the hard skin, and opening out a tiny red well underneath. Proof of life. Bleeding, and stuffed into a pocket. Uncomplaining.

In the absence of hugs, faces were laid against faces-- In the dark, two mouths met, quick and dry, old greek priests after mass.

Heads nodded. Feet shuffled nervously, and were pushed forward by knees eager to end the waiting.

Lights passed by, cold air, cars as flashes of sound. Sounds of the dancing multitudes. Muffled bass, and more lights.

In three different streets, three different hands reached into three different pockets, and pressed down.

The heads looked around at each other, smiling and nodding over the screaming flying air and sparks that traced their arc.

Squinting, the eyes made out the waving legs below, who tangoed for three seconds before falling to the ground, exhausted.

Thump THump THUMP. They landed like potatoes in a field of cobbled stone.

I'd give it an 8.5, a mouth said.

The others nodded, rolled over, and then fell asleep.


*Raymond Bonner & June Perlez, quoting presidential spokesman Dino Djalal, Jakarta 2 Oct, 2005. For the NYTimes.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

On the turning away: 15 July, 2005

Only one spotlight is on. And when the Great Hairy Hand pushes you out underneath it, onto the stage, whatever you do, don't blink.

Don't look into the waiting silent darkness. They know you can't see them. Stare at your feet instead, the space between them, where your nose hairs cast delicate shadows. This will make you look restrained. They will put down their spritzers and wait to see what will happen.

It takes them 3 seconds to do that. Those 3 seconds are all you have to think about what you will do, for someone changed the script. Again.

The 3 seconds end when you know you are being watched, even by the cabbies, the drunks, the preachers, and knitting mothers. You can feel their eyes. They do not know your name, nor do they want to.

They are there to see what will happen.

And it is this moment when your gut cries out and jumps off a cliff. The fear finds your vein and jabs you full of the cold creeping awknowledgement of how wrong this could go, and how many times it has already.

In that 2.765745 and counting moment, it must happen, or never will.

And it does. All that is and has been been comes arm in arm through the door, some peeping through the roof. Everything comes back.

The lost sand dollar, the sea-salted bbq on a windy beach on a dark night across which crabs scuttled over the styx-- The sea that rose to greet you, its stinging lashes in your eyes as you sat a curled ball in a cliff's hole--The children who threw stones at you-- The teacher's whose faith you broke-- The book you didn't return-- the grandmother you didn't speak to... the plane ride that brought you here... the girl you left there. The dog who put his nose in your bath tub. The love that opened your life up into the light. The love that closed it back down--

The tragedy you were too late to prevent. The wall you wrote on. Axl Rose over bad speakers in the rain. The people who came too close. Those who never took the hint. The ones you had to kill.

Your fingers remember the feel of old leathery dying palms, the harsh splinters off cabinets where your parents' old photos are kept.

And picking up the ridicule and the need to be the best juggler everyday, you go beyond the dimension at the bottom of the glass.

At this point, the chairs are moved to face the stage.

This is the point when the men and women who have gone before you have painted the sweat of their souls into pictures that lived because of what they gave up.

This is the point when they have danced in spite of bleeding feet and missing toes.

This is when they have embraced mother-in-laws, walked off battlefields, conducted symphonies they couldn't hear, and wept as they made the court roll over laughing.

And you dance, you leap with the power of having failed, and the awareness of still being alive. You whirl and scream and point and argue and sing and howl.

And when you exit, stage left out into cold rain and the street of no taxis and lone walking...

You cannot hear the applause behind you. Or see the bloody ears, money, maiden heads and tomorrow's newspapers thrown into the hat you left behind.

And this is the way it will be. Forever. Blessed be.