Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No one’s afraid of Tobias Wolff.

Nirschel [a.k.a *censored*, the president of this prestigious college] introduced the visiting writer this evening: A man named Tobias Wolff, known to all freshmen only because his book was prescribed as “common reading”, which is an endeavor to give yank kiddies a Higher Idea or Theme to think about [yes, its Bush’s idea. I checked].

He told us how Wolff had now joined a galaxy of famous writers who had visited RWU. He then named Salmon Rushdie. Name familiar yes? I thought so too. In fact, so sure was I of a resemblance, that I drew a possible portrait [like when policemen ask you to identify the bank robber from memory]. Here it is:

Right. Then Nirschel went on to describe Wolff, the man: his life, his jack-of-all-trades existence, which apparently included him being a parrot-trooper. I wondered at this new animal-- what could it possibly look like? Since the same notepad was in front of me, the fingers came up with the following:

Of course, Nirschel may have meant what he said in all good faith. I however, have my suspicions. Parrots tell fortunes. They dont jump off planes, yes? But then Nirschel is from New England. And everyone speaks...erm.. different.

The good thing is that with no further ado, the Wolff was brought on stage. What I love about living writers is that they look exactly like their pictures-- Ol' Bill Shakespeare for instance, probably in all good faith, wore a blonde toupeé. But how can he argue against a hundred paintings and postcards?

Yup. So Wolff looks exactly like this:

I was all prepared to sniff at this shining-pate-in-black-polo person. I had read his book, and though I recognized a pleasant read, I was unimpressed at the fact he called it a work of fiction and yet it sounded more like "creative non-fiction"-- a term broadly used to describe those stories where plot and characters are entirely non fictional, and where names are changed to protect privacy.

[And where there is more sex, and nods of recognition in the local grocery store than actually happened. Thats the creative part. But I digress]

In spite of all my mumbling, I sat there with pen and pad-- as you can tell-- waiting to hear what this man had to say.

He first said he applauded the common reading program, as it gave students a common language with which to communicate with during the first couple of days as freshmen.


The common words of communication thanks to the book were-- "Dude, did you get through that book?" "whacked, man. See ya at lunch".

Sure he was happy about common reading. His book was chosen, sales boosted, et al... but someone shut the cynic up. There were more important things he said.

Like how he wouldn't read from his novel.

Ave, Wolff.

He did however, go on to talk about the how and why of writing his book.
He opened by mentioned Frost's Road not Taken. He calmly went on to disclaim the theory that the poem is a celebration of individual choice, the riding of the rough path towards hard-worn success. He said, no-- see how Frost says 'the passing there/ had worn them really about the same'? He's saying both paths were similar. I quote Wolff: the famous last lines [I took the one less travelled by/and that has made all the difference] are "...about the lies he's going to be telling later on".

Go Wolffy.

Wolff's point was that when we--especially writers-- look back on our lives, we tend to dignify it, give it meaning beyond what it had at the time. And that's the danger in writing from one's own memory.

Wolff laid great emphasis on what he read as a child. Which consisted of books about Collies by a man named Albert Payson Terhune. Wolff told of a storyline that included a dog finding his way from Jersey to France to save his wounded master in WWII...

Ahem. No, the fingers froze in shock, nothing was doodled.

Certifiable, Wolff jokingly said. The audience half-laughed along with him, gazing at him in disbelief. He quickly brought them back by saying:

"The one great influence is the book that kept you up as a kid-- Sticking a towel underneath the door to hide the fact you were awake from your parents".

He had them back in his pocket with that one.

Wolff used to write vast amounts of stories-- Whenever his classmates needed to turn in a story, he would give them one of his. Yes, the teacher noticed once. Gave a classmate a C for one such story, a thing Wolff was told 30 years later. He said he still felt hurt because of that. When he asked why the C, his classmate told him that the teacher has said yes the story deserves an A: but it's Jack Wolff's story, not yours.

Wolff then smiled, crossed his arms and said he felt pride hearing that, even after all these years. Human, this bald pink trim man in a black polo.

He then made two interesting points about the craft:

1. Imitation is usually spoken of derogatorily. However, it is through imitation that we learn our basic skills; in the same way do we sharpen our writing skills.
He mentioned how Louis Armstrong was brilliant because of endless rehearsal and study [he pronounces it it looiss, not louie as in jungle book, which made me grin. Damn yankees]. He claimed Tolstoy, Hemingway and the collie dog man as influences.

2. He claims to infuse real life into fiction, to give it "spiritual geography"; he feels it fills out the story. Which is as good an argument as I've ever heard for the case of drawing on personal experience to write a story. He called it the melding of the personal with the imagination. He said, "scrutiny of one's life can take you to strange places". And then he quoted Eliot saying-

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~T. S. Eliot
[Four Quarters, Little Gidding, pt. 5.]

The audience filed out, waiting for the shining head to appear in the conference room and autograph books for 30mins. I walked away, the Who bashing it out on my ear drums.

Aye, Eliot. Aye, Wolff. You go your way, and I will go mine. As we all will.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The man who wrote a ballad, standing before the gibbet.

There was a french poet, who was meant to be hanged more than just a few times. He escaped: once because of a coronation pardon, and another time because of a poem he wrote. Or so they say. No one knows where he died, or whether he died at all.

An invisible man, Francois Villon. I feel a story coming on. And a deep admiration.
He wrote a piece that could be my prayer today, thus I put it here--

As long as the earth still turns, as long as the light is clear.
Lord, grant to everyone - that which they lack.
To the wise grant a sound mind - for the coward procure a horse.
Give money to the contented - and please don't forget about me.
I know you are capable of everything, I believe in your wisdom.
As the fallen soldier, believes he will live again in paradise;
As every ear listens and believes in your silent words.
As we ourselves believe - not knowing what we create.

- The Prayer of Francois Villon: Bulat Okudzhava

Cogito Ergo sum

'I think, therefore I am' is the most common translation.

The problem with us humans is that whenever we see an 'am' we think of the Capitalized Version-- a face hid behind a fiery cloud and Charlton Heston's voice on a hill.
But we misread René.
Here is no goddish latin.
Here is no call to revel in the glory of being a homo sapient.Or a sapient homo.

I was meant to accompany certain colleagues to NYC today-- a roadtrip, it would be my first. To see this strange xanadu's skyline under a crisp september day. Middle of the New Yorker festival. Lion King on Broadway. Finding a gray's papaya. John Cage's music at $25 per head. Driving by the village, because the surreptitious pleasure of walking through it I wanted to leave for when I will visit without the sanitized companionship of the professor who drove today.

I had stayed up all night--- Why? Because I had an empty room, a laptop and a mind, that now blinks in tandem with the green dot above the battery symbol on the laptop to tell me Im alive.
We were to leave at 7:00am. I missed the call. The Levee broke. Except, humanity-- that thing I adore-- stepped in. Fatima used the professor's phone to call me to say hurry, we will wait, its alright, I was late too. Such affirmation. "We're not leaving without you". No Frodo or Indiana Jones could've made my heart surge with affection and belief like Fatima's line did. She rings off.

Cogito ergo sum.

To shit-shower-brush- [the shave thankfully, was taken care of yesterday] was the work of 8 minutes. One had to turn into pure force, to become sheer movement, and just do. No thinking. No cogitoing.


I waved them off with an unbrushed smile. On the way back from the student union where the car had been parked, I closed my eyes to turn off the blinking light in my head. Didn't work. Couldn't stop thinking. I knew why I hadn't rushed to clean up. Something keeps us back from our city of dreams, when we have lost our prince, princess or magic lamp-- And not to any Fury or Fate, but just a bad call at a crapshoot or roulette table. Deuces high. 5, not 7.

Morning air is cold here on saturdays. Everyone sleeps till brunch and beyond. The air is like running your hands in a trough of melting ice before throwing in the beer cans and tropicanas to keep cool. Your palm turns white. The ground is littered with leaves: no autumn here, just the burnt greenness of yesterday, lying crumpled; like someone kicked each leaf in the... yes well. The road and residence halls all blink at the sun like it's some stranger at a bachelor party who insists on keeping his coat on.

The wind knifes through thin cotton ferocious in its ecstasy of finding a lack of pantylines and socks. Eyes closed, you stump back to your room, the swipe card your key to oblivion. To forget numbers and dreams between sheets and under blankets for a while. Till brunch, and beyond.

Cogito ergo sum. The light blinks. I am bound to type this.

"...I am strongly convinced that not only too much conciousness but even any conciousness at all is a sickness"-- Dostoevsky, 'Notes from the Underground'.

The word to word translation of Descartes' original quip is "I am thinking, therefore I exist".

Therefore I exist. This is a curse. I lost my lamp and the magic man no robin williams could ever equal. I am afraid to go there. I do not know what I will see. I am thinking, therefore --moment to moment, a conscious mouse-- I exist.

Before I wanted to understand dead french men, I used to live.

Mea culpa.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Salute the Fallen

Midst the children, the families, the torn fabric of home and society... beyond the stained skirts of a god who left in a car a while ago... midst the stupidity and waste and pain--

Fakher Haider was beaten and shot in the head. One less report will get across to the world from Basra. He leaves behind a wife, three children, and a city that looks to never be peaceful again.

This is what the NYTimes had to saw about him:

A lean man with a quiet voice and a shy, curious smile, Mr. Haider was a Shiite and a member of the Tamimi tribe. Although his English was limited, he was brave and resourceful in his work with reporters. His extensive tribal connections were a great advantage in his journalistic work, both in Basra and in the marshes of southeastern Iraq.

He fought in 1991. He wrote for a newspaper. He told his wife not to worry, and gave her a number to call.

Each to his own tribe.
I'll stand and watch the sunset over where they buried him.

لن يذهب تضحيتك في تافهة

Devil's Dance [coz Sajjad mentioned it*]

I knew this day would come. Wait the impatient 20 seconds for Ryze to load, to see the apocalyptic number sit, smug against anaemic lillac.


My mother was raised catholic, but I strayed; a strong-willed goat. A quiz online condemned me to Dante's seventh circle. I laughed, fingering the ebony cross an old man put-- quivering-- into my fingers, one 5:00pmed portland evening.

Night here falls thick, the lights bleary and amber-- they dont encourage night rambles here.

I have a secret.

As I walk (blending into the black night, encased in black sweater, apart from the tommy girled pistachios n' pinks) to the library, I pass many of these ancient globes of amber light. And they all go off or come on when I pass underneath.

These jaundiced globes on metal sticks, these guiders to the path: if they be off, they shudder to life. If they be burning, they are snuffed out.

I get curious looks. The only answer-- the retreating scrapes of my nikes on the cement.


I smiled last night, as Metallica's S&M album swept into sound on the ipod. Fumes reached up and clenched at the empty sky, as another lamp went off. A black cat-- resident of these parts-- stopped moving, sat and stared.

Devil's Dance began this evening, with the hard strings, the mighty riffs, the sharp sad violins, building... Building BUILDing into James's voice as this post was begun.

Im not superstitious.

But it will be good when that count shifts.

* Originally posted on Ryze-Caferati. The count has since shifted-- Universe conspiring. Sajjad mentioned it would be bloggable; thus, blogged.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

God is Dead

The Madman.

Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: "I seek God! I seek God!" As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why? is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea voyage? Has he emigrated? - the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub.

The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. "Where is God gone?" he called out. "I mean to tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? - for even Gods putrify! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!

How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife - who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event - and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!" Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise.

At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. "I come too early," he then said".

~Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science (1882), sections 125 and 343.

Bush asking for a wee break.

Fund-raisers based on ethnic and racial lines [still cute that Jackson gets to hold the banner for all black musicians, but there you go. The world still loves eccentrics]

Yes, you madman who shut your mind when you first-kissed a horse in public. I awknowlege you. Gods of wooden faces and painted smiles we will become, for we have destroyed our old ones.... yet, must this be the only answer?

Must look beyond. Have to look beyond.

In a bearded man smelling of old age, I find my answer.

"We know who they are. They are the thugs of the Saddam regime who are trying to avenge their loss after losing power and the nice, affluent life they had... But history will not go back. This is our destiny, and no matter how many are killed, whether hundreds or thousands, we shall not turn back."

~Dhia Edeen Ahmadi, Shiite cleric, Baghdad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On Why Comparing N'Orleans and Mumbai is Stupid

A few days ago, I received a forward.

Otherwise known as an annoying thing that threatens you with death if you don't forward it to at least 5 people OR promises you money from microsoft if you do.

Contrary to my modus operandi, I read through this one before deleting it.

At this point I should say I received it at a time when I was in great mental turmoil over an issue I was composing a blog-post on. That issue's posted here, but since I found the forward strangely relevant, I forwarded it to a 100 people in my address book, in order to do a little research. These people live all over the globe--many in this country, many back in India, and those in Australia, the U.K and the middle east. The email read as follows:

"nches of rain in new orleans due to hurricane
> katrina- 18
> inches of rain in mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1
> population of new orleans... 484,674
> population of mumbai.... 12,622,500
> deaths in new orleans within 48 hours of katrina...100
> deaths in mumbai within 48hours of rain.. 37.
> number of people to be evacuated in new orleans...
> entire city
> number of people evacuated in mumbai...10,000
> Cases of shooting and violence in new
> orleans...Unnumbered
> Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE (In
> fact people went out of way to help each other)
> Time taken for US army to reach new orleans... 48hours
> Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach
> mumbai...12hours
> status 48hours orleans is still waiting
> for relief, army and electricty
> status 48hours later..mumbai is back on its feet and
> is business is as usual
> USA..."world's most developed nation"
> India..."third world country"

Im not the forwarding kind. And this bit is in bad taste-- we can be better than this, surely?-- and misses one or two very crucial facts. The first being [thanks, david] that n'orleans is under sea level. Mumbai isnt. And the second, that Mumbai was hit by torrential rain, not a hurricane. Doesnt take much more than 8th grade geography to tell you those two things are very different.

But I forwarded it out coz I needed to know-- what were the reactions to such a piece going to be? Surely many miscellaneous backs were patted, in private or public. But were there any other reactions? If so, what were they?


The fact is, if a hurricane ever did hit Mumbai, the situation would be as bad as it is in billoxi or n'orleans. I would like to think that the Indian government would move in faster to help-- somehow, Im not too sure. God knows I never want the situation to arise where I will be forced to find out.

The fact remains however, that there were no reported cases of violence in Mumbai. And none along the south-east coast either, post 26th December. I heard of no raped women or children. I heard of no "looting" or murder. Drunken brawls, coz the men said their boats were gone, their nets destroyed, what else did they have but the arrack? No one had to patrol the refugee camps though. Anarchy translated into a few fights for food packets the first week. But then due to such generous supply, those died down quick.

But perspective again-- The fact is India survives on a network of families and friends, the kind that America does not know of. Those affected by both the mumbai rains and the tsunami found refuge in the homes of their extended families, an uncle of a cousin, friends of their father in a town nearby. And unlike America, no one in India waited for red cross to step in. Families and individuals all across the country reached out with food, information, shelter and medicines. People collected clothes. People coveyed food packets.

But housing plans kicked in only a month or so ago. Those displaced by the tsunami have been living in refugee camps, blue tents, their relatives' houses all this time. No one could put the fishermen back into the sea a month after the tsunami. No one could relocate all the families and start rebuilding lives immediately.

They wont be able to do these things in billoxi, n'orleans or any of the other cities soon, either.

The victims of Katrina are very different from the victims of the tsunami. They live in America, they have lived steeped in the hot soup of media representation, the need to join the rat race with the rest of the country and finding themselves prevented from doing so due to the bottom rung they stand on. And here, there is no belief in Karma. America unlike India, has no ancient history of society rumbling on like a well-fed elephant, all its different parts and levels working in some strange harmony. It is a country that has instead been founded on the principle of "life liberty and the persuit of happiness" only to find that they are denied all three because they dont have a sufficient bank balance.

There is no such thing as humility of position in yankville. There is such a thing as anger at being kept down, anger at being marginalized.

I'm curious about the reactions to the Katrina disaster though: In countries around the world, including the U.K, Europe and India, everyday people are being quoted saying they think its a shame America can't handle its own disasters, and has to ask Red Cross to intervene internationally to provide aid [The BBC carries the article here]
Apart from all the arguments one could have-- What makes people refuse to see the misery, and state socio-political reasons for their hard-heartedness?


By the way: a few of the reactions that found their way to my inbox, from those 100 people:

Here are some of them:

"This one's been doin the rounds.. kinda weird that we chose to pat our backs on this, considering all the loss of life and livelihood.. my 2 pesos!"

"and again yesterday 2 hours of rain was enough to make the city come to a standstill for some time...I am also impressed at Mumbai's ability to bounce back...but these repeated disruptions in life doesnt speak volumes abt Mumbai's infrastructure....."

"My hope is that in this 21st century we drop the post-colonial labels of first world/third world and realize that the measuring stick used to assign those labels was dictated by a few self-important nations which moving forward will no longer dominate the international scene. This is a hard thing for many in the U.S. to accept, but economic forces will force us to wake up".

" I agree to this -
Cases of shooting and violence in new
Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE (In
fact people went out of way to help each other)"


MC Vikram and LudaK are at it AGAIN!!!

Run for your lives. And your mp3 players, because you will want this song.

How many out there have had just waaaaay WAAAAYYY too much of Gwen stefani's "hollaback girl"? Its lyrical brilliance? THANKYOU!!

The boys who made "well-come to India where the cows eat HEYYY and they drive autorickshaws everyday" famous, apparently decided they had had enough of her sh*t being bananas, too.

Thus presenting: 'Curry and Rice girl', courtesy fobbed out entertainment [click on the banner the moment you hit the site]

Go luda, go luda...


Monday, September 12, 2005

On The Need For Context

I dont have a credo.

No, really. I dont.

At best I offer a muttered hodge-podge of what I think is still good and pure and funny in the world today, things that move me.

And considering the present happy state of global affairs, this recital usually takes just 10 minutes.

But I do have an idea.

And this has been the idea behind why I blog. Why I use the internet to communicate with human beings whom I haven't met previously, 3 dimensionally face-to-face.

Its an idea, that communication doesn't need a human face, but only the human mind and heart-- Those commodities that Apple cant patent [iMan?] and make even smaller, special offer on till christmas.

That people can talk communicate, countries age sex gender and ethnicity, no bar. This idea is probably the one reason I still believe there is hope; that humanity isn't going to hell in a handbasket.

Maybe it is a credo.

Lately the 'net, ergo blogs, have been used for fast and furious discussion on political issues at local and global levels. Knives have been drawn, posts have been quartered. I have seen men and women reach with claws for each other's hyper-linked nickname.

It has disturbed me.

Not that I proclaim global love and hug thy neighbour. God knows I've picked up the scythe at more than one given opportunity.

But let us start at the beginning. Which was, indubitably, a post by the worthy John Scalzi, here. Well written, gut-clenching. The man is obviously moved about the issue, namely the very real and stark reality of being poor in what is touted to be the world's richest country.

A few quotes from the Offical Big Wigs, for perspective's sake regarding the matter:

The official poverty rate in 2004 in USA was 12.7% up from 12.5% in 2005.

In 2004, 37 million people were in poverty. Up 1.1 million from 2003.

13.0 million children under 18 live in conditions of poverty in 2004.

('Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004', DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, Lee. August 2005)

Right. Contexted, dear reader? Good.
The only problem is, that Scalzi's post wasn't. Contexted, that is.
It had a date: september 3, 2005.
And a title: "Being poor".

Many read it. Pinged, ponged, trackballed, pac-manned, what you will.

One such person is the curly-haired founder of

Disclaimer: I know aforementioned founder, and consider him a true friend, worthy of my trust, which is more than I can say for most of my accquaintance. I do not know John Scalzi. But ever since I have been a witness to the.. erm.. drawing and quartering, I have read more of him and his work. I respect his drive, energy and passion. This blog post remains as stringently objective as I can make it.

Zig decided to respond to Scalzi's post, here. He titled his version of Scalzi's list-- such as it was-- "Being really poor".

Why did he write it?

A good question. I will return to this. His stated reason worked as an intro to the piece which reads as follows:

"Being Poor my arse
BoingBoing quotes [via Making Light] John Scalzi's Being Poor. And for the first time, I find myself genuinely upset with how little people in the USA know about how the rest of the world lives. Fercrying out loud, that piece is about luxury that some people in this part of the world can never aspire to.

Here, with no apologies to Mr Scalzi, is my version".

(Zigzackly, sept 4, 2005).

A follow-through occured when Scalzi visited Zig to say that:

"...see this list as complementary to, and not in opposition to, my original list, and it highlights the difference between relative poverty (which is the situation in the US), and absolute poverty (which is the situation in much of the rest of the world). Writer Nick Mamatas has also written a similar list (in this typically pungent style), which you can find here:

I wrote the list originally as something of a response to all the people who I saw having difficulty understanding why some of the poor prople in New Orleans stayed behind for the hurricane and its aftermath. It was designed to help them empathize with people who are in a similar economic situation with those people. It is by no means an exhaustive list for what it's like to be poor worldwide, just poor where I (and much of the blogosphere) live".

Thankyou for the context now, Mr. Scalzi.

Zig, in turn, said this:

"Point taken, Mr Scalzi. Thank you fortaking the trouble to explain. And yes, I'm with you on the need to get the message across to the people who wondered why New Orleans's poorer residents didn't leave. Your post didn't offer that context, and it was my first visit to your blog, so I'm sorry that I didn't get that.

Must still say, however, that I stand by everything else I said".

An interesting volley. What was most interesting to read were the comments both posts generated. Blood, guts and glory, ladies and gentlemen. I would thus like to address three parties: Scalzi, Zig and the blood-thirsty comment-posters, anonymice and otherwise.


The fact is, Mr. Scalzi, Zig and all those hundreds of bloodthristy comment-posters:

a) if Katrina hadn't happened, Scalzi would've never posted about being poor. Not with this sense of urgency. Not with this grit.

b) There is such a thing as relative poverty. For those suffering from it, it feels absolute. You sleep on the street in downtown Portland? Aight. People live next to garbage dumps, factories. And not just in India. Try eastern Europe, for one. Yes, they dont have a tv, often. And then there are those that do. One might think that having to use the computers at the library coz one doesnt have one's own pentium M purring along is a sign of poverty. To me its the sign of being an international student here in the U.S of A. Others might think its stealing tampons, or making do with Ramen. Done all that. And yes we all shop at Goodwill. Why not? Its cheaper. Again, welcome to the life of a college student. Perhaps not one at Brown or Yale, but there are more students and more colleges yes? But its not about comparing. It never was. It was however, about the need for perspective.

c)Scalzi, put your post on walls-- graffiti it in big cities and small ones. Put it in the Times, the Post, every Journal and Sun you can find. Have radio hosts read it out in America. Have people yell it from roof-tops, and not just figuratively. Take it to the people. Because yes, the post is good at getting a reality check across the country. But do it there. And add a “this is your people” tag to it. Mr. Scalzi, if you make generalizing posts about world issues, understand they will be read by a global public. Like it or voo-doo doll it, thats whats great about blogs: country and ethnicity no bar. Make a claim about "being poor" and be prepared for a "retort", a "response" or even perhaps, a certain extended finger, unless the context for it is fixed. Dont passionately post an absolutist "being poor" because for every 200 posts saying thank you for writing this and hey, heres my version-- there's at least 1 saying, dude thanks. Now lets pause the comment-posting, and actually go out and do something and enough of the walowing. The one person might suggest a Bake sale. Writing a letter. Taking a picture. Setting up a makeshift memorial. Anything. And minorities matter, yes?

d)Anyone seen the flight that fought back?

For those who didn't, it told the story of flight 93, the only people on that day who had a chance to react to what was happening to the world as they knew it, and took that chance. 40 people. A crashdown in shanksville, PA. Ordinary people in an impossible circumstance, who made a move for themselves and a higher cause.

People have died, as they have in history and will again, in the future. But when some react to bad situations with self-respect and helping others, how come others choose to spend time online, writing about how they feel and @#$!ing others who don't feel the same?

e)Hail ye pack of scowling wolves, ye rabid mice-— Get this: its not about how poor you have been, or are. And I say this, without dragging up my own family’s rough life story. Its not about your addition to Scalzi’s list of what it means to be poor. It IS about taking what John wrote and telling your neighbour about it: the guy smoking in the alley, the check-out lady, the local council, the senator. He wrote it with a goal to open people’s minds and hearts to the suffering happening as I type this. Don’t take this and turn it into a personal moment. Tell people, tell people in real life, not just online. Tell people who will then put their money and energy in a place where the victims of Katrina can benefit from it.

Don’t indulge in blog-rage. Its in bad taste, its misplaced.

I repeat: The reason why the internet is so great is because it allows free speech. There are sites cracking the funnies about out-sourcing jobs to India, which instead of pointing at the American legislature take to Indian-bashing. Yet I don’t go shooting down people even if they happen to be stupid farts, pardon my french. So back off. Try. Again, I repeat-- stop insulting each other online. There is no security camera here, no SSN to track you with. If only for decency's sake. Not while the tragedy is so fresh.

Zig, I see where you're coming from. Yes, an online notice from microsoft or apple will always get more hits than an online notice/post from an aid blog or organization, especially if the issue demanding aid doesn't affect any of the 50 states. That cannot be helped, unless the people themselves want to change it. It began with Washington's farewell address: no permanent friends, no permanent enemies. This is a country that exists alone in its strength this side of the hemisphere. It has never shared its toys, though it has donated its old ones to charity. Scalzi wrote that post assuming only Americans would read it, or even if others did, they would relate immediately to what esoterically drove him to type it out. No, he didn’t bother with contexting. It happens. Should you have corresponded with him before shooting that post off? Maybe. Perception is something we all need to take care of. That said, I would’ve done exactly the same thing. And I stand by your point— Poverty is relative. Fact remains that these people are in misery, and Americans aren’t used to its poor gaining the spotlight. Only rags to riches stories, the thing that sells movies and books. As long as you and Scalzi are squared, leave the rabid bunnies at the gate.

And the reason why I was so upset last night.

Humans, whatever country or economic bracket you belong to-- these people in N'orleans are people. Forget about other categories. There's space for that election time—At which point, please god, speak, rage and post comments all you want. For now, what about devoting your time helping out in Katrina relief efforts, with money or time or prayer, or all three? Give them hope. Forget about class issues, welfare issues, medicare issues, till everyone down there at least has a dry bed to sleep in, and some food at meal times.

This is a terrible calamity. And there's no FBI or CIA to blame for not forseeing it. And even if they were sufficiently warned, there are many who could not move at all because 1) who ever took a weather warning seriously? Who ever felt a hurricane hit N'orleans? and 2) when you're living paycheck to paycheck, who has the money to buy a bus ticket? boxes to pack? a place to go?

No one is rejoicing in the suffering. There are people who will offer help when and if required, and are doing so.


The bigger question is, why wasn't/isn't there a government policy that takes care of its poor? Why are they allowed to be invisible till a flood flushes them out?


1. Fear and anger are the greatest instigators of responses to blog posts these days. That, and being passionate about a sport.

2. However worthy Mr. Scalzi's aim is, his post ended up as a space to vent angst about one's individual lot. Many many stories told in those comment boxes. Kudos to him for creating that-- Its been a long time coming. Im not so sure how many said "gee, thanks for saying this: Now I *know* how important it is to organize that fund raiser for Katrina- Thanks". But then hey...

3. Its scary when something happens to a downtrodden class in a first world country, and those around the world-- including other first world countries-- first react with shock at what is happening [such as the scenes of abject anarchy and despair]immediately followed with comments levelled at the government or that country's self-perception. Dont assume this is an issue of spite, of ha-ha tag now you're it. Don't assume this is third world angst. In fact, the UK, possibly the closest ally of the US, is voicing definate anti-aid opinions: the BBC has it all here.Worry instead, about the fact that people, not the government, claim that the U.S after all its hegemonic swaggering, should handle this themselves, and not have to require foreign aid.

Thankfully there are people, their fellow countrymen, who immediately put that idea down, stating the undeniable fact that-- in ANY crisis of this size, it is impossible for the aid to be self-contained. No one is ever prepared for such a catastrophe. Everyone needs help. And that has nothing to do with Bush politics.

4. While posting congratulatory notes on a page, people will leave their name and url. While ripping apart another person's opinion [and why not? Since the gladiators have been gone, we need some entertainment yes?] or typing in absolute red-eyed rage, people choose to be Anonymice. How many Anonymice scurried across zig and Scalzi's page. Less on Scalzi's of course: he wasn't the one being battered for an opinion. Oh and-- all they said about free speech online?

And those who said its sick wasting time online in such discussions?

You're right. You're god damned f-king right.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mr. vishnusami at the gates of the madras museum, on pantheon road*

Welcome to the museum, please keep in line
only those who nicely did the guest book sign
will be allowed to see culture, thanks to very-nice me.
(& since its culture, you must be of Indian identity)

All people dead, only words here
(and pliss no drinking of wine or king-fishy beer)
tradition! Our people's heritage. people? No-
Gone due to drought, war, & bad drainage.

But they dont fool me-- not bad toilets:
brain drain!! western job markets!
you want to see pictures of dance? or maybe swami trance?
we have many gods, right now all on holiday.
..You are going? but this is your culture, you must stay!!


This wrote itself in response to the worthy Mr. Soeb Fatehi's exercise on caferati, which read as follows:

'Write four lines . . .
maybe five or even six . . .
and tell us what you feel after reading the quote below.

Poet John Ciardi once asserted, "Tell me how much a nation
knows about its own language, and I will tell you how much
that nation cares about its own identity."'

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cara mia, ti voglio bene... Tu sei una mia stella*

There is a man I love and respect. I often find myself... while fingering the cool gentle lines of his books, the precise cut of his pages... I often find myself wondering how he holds his wine-glass, and do his eyes crinkle when he laughs?

His name is Alessandro Baricco.

He writes books.

In italian.

He has a beautiful voice- Listen for yourself, here, where he talks about an audio project he conceptualized. He could be ordering a toilet-paper roll or cursing his aunt, it doesn't matter: the words smooth-laughing, dancing, holding you close that come from within him have you spell-bound with the very sound. Its liquid. Like a still lake in the sun.

I could speak of his books, but this is not a review section, and that will come, considering he is my chosen author for a big assignment due in two weeks. I have read his work in translation, and the sheer poetry of his story-- the thing that makes you want to cry and dance with an long-dead grandfather-- makes me only wish that I could read it in the original.

Yes, he's aquarian [long-standing associates will understand that strange obsession] and yes, he's a genius with humour and metaphor. He is a bard, and I must meet him. I must meet him, more than I must win the nobel, or speak with axl rose, or dance with robbie williams. A biggie, you understand.

But yes, I must let you read some of what he has written, from one of my favourite books:

Sand as far as the eye can see, between the last hills and the sea -- the sea -- in the cold air of an afternoon almost past, and blessed by the wind that always blows from the north.

The beach. And the sea.

It could be perfection -- an image for divine eyes -- a world that happens, that's all, the mute existence of land and water, a work perfectly accomplished, truth --truth -- but once again it is the redeeming grain of a man that jams the mechanism of that paradise, a bagatelle capable on its own of suspending all that great apparatus of inexorable truth, a mere nothing, but one planted in the sand, an imperceptible tear in the surface of that sacred icon, a minuscule exception come to rest on the perfection of that boundless beach. To see him from afar he would be no more than a black dot: amid nothingness, the nothing of a man and a painter's easel. The easel is anchored by slender cords to four stones placed on the sand. It sways imperceptibly in the wind that always blows from the north. The man is wearing waders and a large fisherman's jacket. He is standing, facing the sea, twirling a slim paintbrush between his fingers. On the easel, a canvas.

He is like a sentinel -- this you must realize -- standing there to defend that part of the world from the silent invasion of perfection, a small crack that fragments that spectacular stage set of being. As it is always like this, you need only the glimmer of a man to wound the repose of that which would otherwise be a split second away from becoming truth but instead immediately becomes suspense and doubt once more, because of the simple and infinite power of that man who is a slit, a chink, a small doorway through which return a flood of stories and the enormous inventory of what could be, an infinite gash, a marvelous wound, a path made of thousands of steps where nothing can be true anymore but everything will be -- just as the steps are of that woman who, wrapped in a purple cloak, her head covered, is pacing the beach with measured tread, skirting the backwash of the sea, her feet tracing furrows from right to left across what is by then the lost perfection of the great picture, consuming the distance that separates her from the man until she comes to within a few paces of him, and then right beside him, where it takes nothing to pause and silently look on.

The man does not even turn. He continues staring out at the sea. Silence. From time to time he dips the brush in a copper cup and makes a few light strokes on the canvas. In their wake the bristles of the brush leave a shadow of the palest obscurity that the wind immediately dries bringing the pristine white back to the surface. Water. In the copper cup there is only water. And on the canvas, nothing. Nothing that may be seen.

The north wind blows as it always does and the woman pulls her purple cloak closer around her.

"Plasson, you have been working for days and days down here. Why do you carry all those colors around with you if you do not have the courage to use them?"

This seems to wake him up. This hits home. He turns to observe the woman's face. And when he speaks it is not to reply.

"Please, do not move, he says."

Then he brings the brush up to the woman's face, hesitates a moment, rests it on her lips and slowly runs it from one corner of her mouth to the other. The bristles come away tinged with carmine. He looks at them, dips them ever so slightly in the water and looks up once more towards the sea. On the woman's lips there lingers the hint of a taste that obliges her to think "sea water, this man is painting the sea with the sea" -- and it is a thought that brings a shiver.

For some time now she has already turned round, and is already pacing measuredly back along the immense beach, her steps a mathematical rosary, when the wind brushes the canvas to dry a puff of rosy light, left to float unadorned amid the white. You could stay for hours looking at that sea, and that sky, and everything, but you would find nothing of that color. Nothing that may be seen.

The tide, in those parts, comes in before night falls. Just before. The water surrounds the man and his easel, it clutches them, slowly but with precision, they stay there, the one and the other, impassable, like a miniature island, or a wreck with two heads.

Plasson, the painter.

Every evening a boat comes to pick him up, just before sunset, when the water has already reached his heart. This is the way he wants it. He boards the boat, stows away the easel and all, and allows himself to be taken home.

The sentinel goes away. His duty done. Danger averted. Against the sunset the icon that has again failed to become sacred fades away. All because of that manikin and his paintbrushes. And now that he has gone, time has run out. The dark suspends everything. There is nothing that can, in the dark, become true.

-Alessandro Baricco, 'Ocean Sea'.

Here is his website. Voglio vederti stasera, Alesssandro.


*Italian- My darling I love you... you are a star.. my star.

Moonwalking: a pantoum for d.i*

Playing together, my shadow and I,
We glide and threaten the cold sidewalk:
Something waits under this night sky.
A moon on a metal stick smiles, pulling on a white sock,

We glide and threaten the cold sidewalk.
Beyond, a bigger face shines through a taller stick.
A moon on a metal stick smiles, pulling on a white sock,
Growing swaying fingers holding it with fingers thick.

Beyond, a bigger face shines through a taller stick.
A lamp at every angle lights a night full o’ stories,
Growing swaying fingers holding it with fingers thick:
I write them with this ember-rolled pape o’ mem’ries.

A lamp at every angle lights a night full o’ stories,
We guide each other, this muse and I.
I write them with this ember-rolled pape o’ mem’ries--
Strange muse, who leaves me ash with which to lie.

We guide each other, this muse and I
Scrawled my initials yesterday: for years it will stay
Strange muse, who leaves me ash with which to lie.
Unscrubbed this wall, letters for meaning only my way.

Scrawled my initials yesterday: for years it will stay
And a smear stays on the cold stone embankment
Unscrubbed this wall, letters for meaning only my way.
Siva’s eye glowed smiling an instant

And a smear stays on the cold stone embankment
The night watches, with its lamps held high.
Siva’s eye glowed smiling an instant
Playing together, my shadow and I.

*we're studying pantoum writing in CW class. My professor is of italian-american parenthood. The pantoum is malayan. And d.i, a wonderful soul on caferati (Ryze)convinced me to try the form with original lines and rhyme. Much thanks, my friend.


For an online competition on Caferati, a Ryze network I'm a member of, interested paticipants were required to submit a piece of flash fiction, a form described here on Wiki, based on the theme "endings".

I used a story I had written more than a year ago. Still think I could've cut more but- ah well. Tell me what you think.


Giaz thought fast, his blood pounding in his ears. If found, his own people would think he had deserted.
And they would kill him.
The jawans could find him soon.
And they would kill him.

Change. Now.

It happened like clockwork. He shaved off his beard with his father's knife, then unwrapped his pagri.
Shaved with cold red cuts in his tired scalp, he wrapped himself in an old blanket.

At three in the afternoon, later that day, a man was seen staggering into Pohra. He collapsed near the water pump. The Jawans tried questioning him. He remained silent. They concluded that he was just another shell-shocked civilian.

“Leave him. He’s gone. We'll tell the hospital about him".

Giaz closed his eyes, hearing the footsteps walk away, crunching into silence.

"I’m gone".

Slowly he got to his feet. A sob shook in his throat.
"I am gone".

And for the first time since he was a child, Giaz threw back his head and laughed, tears streaming from his eyes, as the women at the pump hurried away, water slish-sloshing from their pots.

Birds in the branches above him. He spent his days now sitting quietly in the shade.

He lay flat on the ground a year later. The wind blew over him, carrying dust and whispering in the dancing leaves above, as the sun set behind the hunched hill.

As the man's eyes shut, he murmured, the words lost in the bustling leaves-

"Goodbye Giaz...”

The wind blew out over the hill, and darkness fell.

-'Giaz's story', p.j,edited for flash fiction post by p.j. (255 words).Originally written march 2004. Posted in full length here

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A put-together pantoum

Thanks to my creative writing class, I was introduced to the Pantoum, a relatively easy form of writing, especially when you are doing it the way we are: 'found poetry'. Word-chopping, taking lines from the back of buses, famous books, not so famous books, the back of ketchup bottles, safety instructions on an AV projector.

The results can be hilarious, and strangely apt.

Here's my humble attempt, blogged for your amusement--

-On the hubris of being mortal, and a writer-

Now look at this mouse in action.
The books are coming, it squealed.
This is a conviction born of Beethoven's music:
It's you. The New York Lightening man.

The books are coming, it squealed.
For details contact: Director, Special Markets.
Its you. The New York Lightening man.
(I am a sick man... I am a wicked man)

For details contact: Director, Special Markets.
Orestes collapsed, and lies where he fell.
(I am a sick man... I am a wicked man)
Write a pantoum.

Orestes collapsed, and lies where he fell.
Thankyou for washing your hands.
Write a pantoum.
Now look at this mouse in action.

~joseph, priyanka. this day, 2005

Sources used being Euripides, Dostoevsky's notes from the underground, the ISBN page of Paul Auster's oracle night, Kundera's unbearable lightness and a line said by my prof, who last week calmly, without realizing the dread of his statement, said-- "the books are coming".

Pantoum, anyone?

Blog Shares???????

Holy sweet underpants of Athena.

Le Gulp.

Did anyone know that the weezle-woozers got market graphs, stats and other cabbalistic devices on a page about our blogs, and no one asked first?

I feel outraged. Used. Invaded.

And confused. No seriously: How does my blog help an economy, any economy? And if so, how come no one told me?

Oh, the migraine of the 9th dimension's coming on....

Here's me, all market-shared. And who said I was available to trade??

And here's Zig's.

And here's Anshu's.

Oh ye gods and milkmen-- de profundis, have mercy and tell me, in the words of 4 non-blondes:

whats goin' on????

Monday, September 05, 2005

Ode to Failure

Many prophets have failed, their voices silent
ghost-shouts in basements nobody heard their dusty laughter in family attics nor glanced at them on park benches weeping with relief under the empty sky. Walt Whitman viva'd local losers- courage to Fat Ladies in the World Freak Show!
nervous prisoners whose moustached lips dripped sweat on food lines-
Mayakovsky cried, Then die! my verse, die like the workers'
rank & file fusilladed in Petersburg!
Prospero in Shakespeare's latest statement burned his Power books & plummeted his magic wand to the bottom of dragon seas
Alaxander the Great failed to find more worlds to conquer!
O Failure I chant your terrifying name, accept me your 54 year old Prophet epicking Eternal Flop! You Pantheon of mortal bards, I hasten this ode with high blood pressure rushing to the top of my skull as if I wouldn't last another minute, Like the Dying Gaul! to
You, Lord of Blind Renoir, deaf Beethoven, armless Venus de Milo, headless Winged Victory! John Lennon who never wrote his 9th symphony
I failed to sleep with every bearded rosy- cheeked boy I saw in Germany
My tirades destroyed no Intellectual Unions of KGB & CIA in bed togehter in their turtlenecks & underpants, their woolen suits & tweeds
I never dissolved Plutonium or dismanted the nuclear Bomb before my skull lost its hair
I have not yet stopped the Armies of entire Mankind in their march toward World War III
I never got to Heaven, Nirvana, X, Whatchamacallit, I never left Earth,
I never really communicated the delicacy of these thoughts to the clapper in the back row
I never learned to die.

by Allen Ginsberg from Collected Poems 1947-1980. Liberties taken with syntax as its a transcription of an audio file.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Killers say sorria como se fosse verdade

I do like this band. And this song. Catchy. Pounds into your head, like a fast car ride on the freeway at 8:05pm, the only light coming from the dashboard, the ciggarette ash and the sad lights groaning by outside.

Mail me if you want it.

And lookie- found the italian translation of it.

The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It (tradução)-- Sorria como se fosse verdade

Guarde algumas expressões, você sabe que só tem uma
Mude seu jeito enquanto você é jovem
Garoto, um dia você será um homem
Ah garota, ele te ajudará a entender
Sorria como se fosse verdade
Sorria como se fosse verdade

Relembrando o pôr-do-Sol no leste
Nós perdemos a noção do tempo
Sonhos não são o que costumavam ser
Algumas coisas foram deixadas de lado

Sorria como se fosse verdade
Sorria como se fosse verdade

E alguém está chamando pelo meu nome
Do fundo do restaurante
E alguém está brincando
Na casa em que eu cresci
E alguém irá leva-la
Para as mesmas ruas que eu levei
nas mesmas ruas que eu levei

Sorria como se fosse verdade
Sorria como se fosse verdade
Sorria como se fosse verdade
Sorria como se fosse verdade

Oh no, oh no no no
Oh no, oh no no no

Dancing with Katrina

I must beg forgiveness.

Swept up with word-weaving, a few days ago, I once said something about clouds and their playmate katrina. Made for delightful, aery-faery imagery.

That was till I saw the posts on this blog.

Yes I have seen destruction like this and this. It was in early january. And there was a boat on top of a building, and another one standing at 75 degrees, upright, put there by no human hand.

Go visit the blog.

And pray.

For the one thing interesting about this kali yuga is that no one is spared. Its not the stars and stripes: its poor people who are afraid of insurance, medical, the future, laundry and for their families.

Pray, god dammit. Lets all of us.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Of Internetly holding hands and reaching forth

Griff will forever be right: the potential in people coming together in cyberspace to help each other in times of need or great disaster can never be underestimated.

Article in todays washington Post: here, with text below--

Good Samaritans Turn To Web to Help Victims

By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 2, 2005; Page D04

The Internet is spreading more than just information about Hurricane Katrina, it's giving people in the far corners of the United States the power to offer storm victims tangible help in the form of jobs and housing.

From Richmond to Alaska, Americans are filling Web logs and Internet sites with personal pledges of relief.

"My Metal Stamping/Tool & Die Company has job openings we can offer in unskilled, or skilled, position," a Chicago man posted on the popular site Craigslist, along with his name, phone number and even the offer of a studio apartment at subsidized rates.

There was an offer on, the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, of a live-in nanny job in Staten Island, and the site had a listing from a Houston temp agency looking for information technologists. One posting called out to displaced diesel mechanics in Mississippi and Alabama: "We have a mobile home for a family of 4 or more and steady work."

The Wyndham hotel chain used Craigslist to post a notice to all its displaced employees, explaining how they'll be paid over the next 60 days and how to arrange places to stay, as well as including tips for putting children in out-of-town schools.

Some of the most personal offers are for housing, such as a posting from Renee Kapalka of Madison, Ohio.

"[W]e have a huge basement which can serve as an apt. and have lots of love to help you through these horrific times -- email me," she posted on, Craigslist and Nola.

Cash donations flowed to traditional philanthropic channels like the American Red Cross -- nearly 1 million people visited the organization's Web site on Wednesday, more than 32 times the average amount of traffic, according to consulting firm ComScore Networks Inc. But it remained unclear whether individual job and shelter offers were reaching the homeless victims stranded without phone or Internet service.

"I just feel like it's our calling," said Kapalka, who's become a news junkie, reading every detail about the hurricane. "For whatever reason, every time I see those heartfelt stories, I just get chills; I start crying," she said. After consulting with her husband and three daughters, Kapalka made her huge furnished basement available for six months "or whatever it takes."

Similar offers abounded., which has a "Homes Available" link on its home page, posted offers from far-flung areas: "virginia home for family"; "alaska home has room for 4"; "Small Room in Chicago burbs." Yesterday afternoon, the list of offers on that site alone grew at a rate of about one a minute.

Craigslist highlighted the list of cities affected by Katrina in red, where similar postings -- "Housing in NJ for Katrina victims" and "2br -- Free Condo For Katrina Victims Durango Colorado" -- went up throughout the day. Other sites, like, and others offered to match housing offers with victims' families.

Some postings specified preferences of single women and children. Others offered pet housing, or cautioned against cat allergies. Some sought to house children orphaned by the hurricane. Still others reached to members of their subcommunities: "will host Irish dancer and family" and "Atlanta Gay male couple has open guest room available for other gay/lesbian single/couple in need."

But as images of the exodus out of New Orleans and of the Superdome's tired and weary circulated on the Internet yesterday, Kapalka wondered whether her offer would ever reach a needy family.

"I haven't received any responses," Kapalka said. Not a single e-mail or phone call. "Maybe only a few people can get access to it," she said, "or maybe we're just too far."

Jennifer Drake yesterday posted a free-housing offer on Nola and on, a site hosted by political Web site She also is talking to a Mississippi woman she knows from on an online chat site,, about taking her into her Cincinnati area home.

"My husband and I said we're willing to do whatever it took. It's a natural disaster. It could happen to anyone. I just thought: What would I want people to do for me?"

-Washington Post, Sept 2, 2005.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I fear for my sanity

Fear (Fear), v. t.[imp. & p. p. Feared (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Fearing.]
[OE. feren, faeren, to frighten, to be afraid, AS. f¿ran to terrify. See Fear, n.]

1. To feel a painful apprehension of; to be afraid of; to consider or expect with emotion of alarm or solicitude. "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." Ps. xxiii. 4...
4. To suspect; to doubt. [Obs.] "Ay what else, fear you not her courage?" Shak.

You must understand, this is not fear in its usual sense of the word. It is suspicion. I expect my sanity to completely dissapear. I do not complain: but all this... is interestingly new.

Maybe its because I have my ipod on too much. Electro-magnetic fields playing pinball with my neurons, drinking flat cerebrospinal fluid out of fluted vases....

But the words are coming.

They hunch, knuckles in the dust, crawling, leaping like slow menacing apes just outside the circle of everyday complacent fire. Walk by trees and hear them jibber-jabber-joo while hanging from vines, throwing fruit at you that comes rotten and grows back to freshness if you chew it long enough to find what the worm could not see.

They come in herds droves murders prides gaggles and schools.

They come twirling as plays, rude verse, quoted phrases, things thought and said by many people many times in many ages-- I see colours and hear story lines, and yes-- why not write that script here it could be performed, and what would I say, where is Ginsberg, who took the keys to my V8 chevy?

Maybe the good thing about name tags is that the sticky side keeps the words in, and contained, even if they murmur.

But this is the interesting thing about blogs. Like BBC and the iraqi invasion, this is self-media coverage like never before.

People have, in the past, gone into jungles, lived with lost tribes, worked as tree doctors... then, they have come back after an aeon or an afternoon, and started wording to the world again.

Here, the transition is marked. Halogenated. I tell you about it. Why?

Captain's log. To keep an account, in case the foot slips.

Or the simple need for attention?

I feel like Im standing in the corner with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with an ant, who is teaching me quadratic equations in return for a crumb.

Copyright,stig eklund. 'city lights'

S.K on break-ups

S.K is the best person to go to if a break-up has just happened. As when you go to him for real estate advice, he will make you a cup of black tea, with lime juice squeezed into it.

Then he will point out various trees to you-- If he doesn't know its botanical origin, he will make up a genus and tell you a story of shah jahan and mumtaz associated with it.

S,K will not ask you to tell him anything. He will talk, though.

These are some of the things he will tell you.

First, take a crap. Not a long one, a short one. Go in, lock the door, sit down, shit, flush, wipe [if you are in a country sans health faucets], flush again, pull up your pants and leave.

Immediately-- especially if you have just wiped, he will tell you-- go take a hot bath. Water down the emotion. Don't stand too long underneath it though: the heat will make you sleepy, and if you fall asleep you will wake early the next morning, with an emotional hangover, which is worse than too much Kingfisher.

S.K says dont drink when your brain is busy. This is the only time he will ever agree with your father, who said my child, drink only in happy company and with friends. S.K says smoke or masturbate to calm down. So that you can think. Dont drink and think, he announces, with a smirk, proud that he comes up with better rhymes than the traffic police department.

Write down what you think, with paper, chewed pencil or a reynolds 045. Dont type right away, especially dont type to the name/place/animal/thing you just broke with. Or rather, just broke.

He says, ask-- did you start the taking apart of the jigsaw, did you smash the first coconut? In which case, S.K says, understand that you had good reason. Id swings the hammer knowingly, though Ego might dither. However, if you have second thoughts about the cookie-crumbling, then you have 24 hours within which to re-establish communication. Post 24 hours, doom will settle. Like the morning after pill, like a tetanus shot, 24 hours is all you get to glue things back together.

He will then pour more tea. Break ups, like house-hunting, tend to loosen the bowels, he says. Black tea and lime tightens them back.

Read Dostoevsky, he says. He will then hand you an old penguin paperback edition of 'Crime & Punishment' if you dont have one yourself.

Then, depending on who you are, S.K will draw a birthchart and show you if
a) you are meant to be in love and this is just a temporary mishap and someone will be here soon or

b) You were never meant to make dinner for two, only watch crows at sunset and go for walks in the rain, with a newspaper to cover your head.

S.K doesn't chickensoup.

He draws the stars as they are.

Write, he says. Write lots. Write till a painful red bump develops on the finger your pen rests on. Then, go to sleep.

And do not dream.