Saturday, March 25, 2006

While my ukulele gently weeps

Ok, so Im stuck on the Harrison original. And covers of the same keep findin' me.

Here's an eclectic version by Jake shimabukuro:

While My Guitar Gently Weeps on Transbuddha

sigh. I kill me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Orleans travel log

day 1:

leave for the airport at 5am, under the kind auspices of Rebecca Leuchak, our advisor, guide, and friend, who is the director of the global studies centre. After some flying, we reach new orleans at 11:45am. Wait till 2:00pm for Raju and Khalifa to join us from Dickinson, Carlisle PA. Another hour or so is spent in figuring out how we get to the camp site. Al Roderiguez a.k.a Big Al is the nice guy who drives us down. On the way, he tells us how he now lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, since his house in Slidell was ruined. We also get first hand accounts of how FEMA messed people up with their promises of trailers.

We reach the camp with big signs that proclaim jesus as the way, the truth, and the means to rehabilitation. Hm. Surrounded by baptists and go-cans, we dump our bags and fear the worst. Tulane University, who we were supposed to work with, abandoned us due to "space issues". De profundis. For those who dont know about go-cans, they are these darling little plastic booths with a plastic hole in it that the masses "go" in, creating every level of hell till some samaritan comes by and hoses it out. I thus began to understand how bad bad karma could get. That night at a camp meeting of the "campus crusaders" [yes, thats what the group was called] we were told there was a house that needed gutting. 4758 Gawain Drive. Her name's Ruth Hayes. The night was cold, the camp cots noisy, and our fate, sealed. Was this a good idea?

Night 1:

Raju, Khalifa and I make a break for freedom, sin and a working flush system. Get a cab. Go down to the French quarter. There is fresh pizza, live music and our first jazz bar- Fritzel's. We also meet Peter for the first time-- We heart bulgarians.

Day 2:

We all wake early, coz we all didnt sleep. Go-cans avoided with a shudder. A strong bladder was thanked. We left at around 9 with a group from Shippensberg, another university who had sent their students down to new orleans to help out. Such groups were common, just that unlike us, most had a religious focus to their shovelling and clearing. Morning prayers were said. At this time, we silently thanked our gods that at least our loved ones had working flush systems. Armed with shovels and dust masks, we set off.

Ruth's house hadn't been touched by anyone, yet. The water mark was at about 3.5 feet. Inside, rotting wood held clues of who this woman was. Mouldy nursing certificates. Disneyland memorabilia. Elvis records. Old crystal. A shoe. Lots of medicine tied up in now water-logged bags. An old couch that used to be a different colour before Katrina. We began shovelling.

We did good work that day. Pushed out the rotting fridge, the furniture, broke down some of the wood work. Khalifa the curly one took many pictures and ruined his back. Abdel opened the rotting fridge, causing the Shippensberg students to almost descend to epithets that wouldve jeopardized their salvation. Yours truly ripped her jeans. Talk about the learning curve. We returned to a frugal meal and more go-cans.

Night 2:

Desperate for debauchery, inspite of a delay, we (Khalifa, Siwar, Maya and I) took off to India House, the hostel that Peter was staying at. The goal was a clandestine hot shower. The entire group gradually landed up at the hostel. We collectively decide that we love the place. We then head out with Peter leading the way. Discovered a mediterranean cafe. Met up with Khalifa's friend, Peter, who's from Bulgaria. Much hookah was smoked. Much hummus eaten.More hookah smoked. Khalifa got the closest thing to stoned. We returned happy, driven back to the camp by a Bosnian cabbie. Got stared at suspiciously by the campus crusanders who were on night duty. Laughed.

Day 3:

Woke with the decision that morning shovelling and nightly debauchery is a good combination. Went to house. Shovelled. Wheel barrowed. wore mask. Ruth came over, and picked over her stuff with youmna, khalifa and I. She brought no anger, despair or frustration. Instead, she brought a calm smile and two weak knees. Wheezing a little because she has only 50% use of her lungs, she watched with us as the government's clean up crew came for the rancid fridge. We carried baseball trophies, old albums, and a teddy bear to her car. She wanted the crystal. Left a gary larson coffee mug for me. We were moved beyond measure. We also discovered the neighbours abandoned backyard as a happy alternative to the nearest go-can, which was about a mile away. Long live third world inventiveness!

Night 3:

The night post reaching Bourbon Street is a happy blur. Let it be known, one can walk in the street with a 20 ounce glass of beer for a dollar or two. There is live music in every bar. After the first two steel guitars, the night is a happy blur. Fritzel's, a jazz club, happened again, as it did that first night. 1930's smooth european jazz sound. Khalifa, as usual, got some great pictures. Raju and I, as usual, got some great jack and coke.

Day 4:

Ruth's house again. Breaking down of walls. Pulling out of kitchen fittings. We are all into the groove of destruction: wood beams, broken flooring, roaches-- all, all find the dump pile out in front. The government's cleaning crew come by. Almost every person who drives by has a wave and smile for us. This is good work. We could stay here for a month, or two, or three.

Night 4:

By now, the brilliant shower plan is a daily affair: an intrepid few of us travel to Peter's hostel and take a shower silently, quickly. Ninjas on a mission. The hostel as a beer vending machine. Raju and I are in heaven. The resident cat is old, black, aloof, and goes by the name of Tandy. Short for Tandoori.

Tonight is St. Paddy's day-- this means drunk white people, green t-shirts, funny hats, much mardi gras beads, and green coloured beer. We avoided the funny hats, t shirts and coloured beer. Raju figured out that the smartest way to get the most beads was to dance and yell in front of the floats. That he did. Success. We went to a cuban music place called blue nile. Went to frietzels again. Or was that the next night? Great jazz, and a green blur. Happiness. Also went by tropical isle and funky pirate: pirate got some incredible live blues-- Big Al and the Blues Masters rock every night.

Day 5:

We have moved into India House. Go back to the house for one last day of cleaning up. Ruth came by and said bye: hugs, numbers, and good words were exchanged. She fed us pizza. Yes, Khalifa took pictures. Good work done. The day is spent in happy quiet.

Night 5:

The night saw Siwar, Maya, Abdel, Raju and I take to Bourbon. Never again will that happy street witness such an international invasion. They will tell the tales of it to their grand-children. Suffice to say, there was much dancing and a strip club involved, the latter for a mere 15 mins. Experiences, all. We think Abdel had more fun at the strip club than anyone else, but this is open to comment. Arf arf.

Evening 6:

The final evening, at least for me, since yours truly woke only in the late afternoon. We listened to Steamboat willie play in the jazz garden. Walked Bourbon one last time, with comradely glances. Heard Jamel Sherif play the cornet like a god. Danced final dances.

The next day, we found the airport shuttle and left.

Meet me in new orleans. I'll be there again, boots, beads, smile and all.

Monday, March 13, 2006

O Susanna, no don't you cry for me-- I'm goin' to Lou'siana with a hammer on my knee

so, a bunch of us are off to help out in N'Orleans. We will be gutting houses, and painting walls.

Working with Tulane University. Staying at a camp site. There's a roster for shower use.

Talk about an alternate spring break. See y'all on the 21st.

An unpoem, for my father.

It's been a while, old man,
since ive sat down and thought about
what would happen
if we made silence,
or if I tried to
buy my plane tickets, alone.

It's no joke: I am 21, and vij is... well, older.
You can no longer pick me up in your arms
or play tennis.

Today you mailed me
asking about PYRIDOSTIGMINE.
You typed it like that, all caps and serious query,
like I am that M.D daughter you dreamt of,
but don't miss-- much. The email didnt smell of mum
or bank account boyfriend smoking queries. You asked me
like I could know, and could heal.

It's for a hereditary disease that one day
may get my hands shaking,
even if I aint reaching for your arms and grizzled jowl
at the Nobel awards night, some graduation, or vij's wedding.

You must take 60mg, 4 times a day.
Don't miss even one dose. Like all those nights
you reminded me about taking off my contact lens
when I growled "later" and you growled back "now",
let me remind you across an ocean, and over a phone,
waking you up in the middle of your nap that
its 4 times a day.

Mum sounded like a little girl
when she told me
they might have to remove your thymus.
I told her, the thymus is like
a fish bone
a tooth
a corn
an ingrown toenail
a precious stamp
a grease stain. Like spinach caught in her teeth.

She tried to believe me. She even smiled.
But now the thymus can stay,
and she guards your diet
like cerberus guards eurydice.

Remember that night after your bypass?
Silent, smiling, and knocked out,
you tried tasting that fish pie-- my first attempt, that I brought with me to the ward--
past tubes and anesthesia.

Remember that night you tripped and fell down?
Goliath. Windmills. WTO towers. Oldest oak.
Mum and vij were all cool water, bp checks and frowns.
I sat at your scrawny, mottled feet and laughed at you.
They snapped, but you rumbled low, and grinned,
waiting to get your bearings back.

Remember convocation, when I didn't get the medal?
Your face held more misery than mine ever would;
It was the pain of Priam for Troy;
I was angry that you had wanted to be there.
You didn't look at the certificates I got.
When all I believed in choked in my throat, forcing me to throw up
silence hatred and cold fingers,
you drove home. Angry for me-- O knight, Sir Pops.
My blood pressured cavalry, you took me down from the cross
and carried me home.

Remember that night I got my first whitlow?
I lay on your big whale of a belly, tiny hands and feet clinging to your warmth,
crying like I could cry only at that age. You stayed up with me,
and let my exhausted ma sleep.
I remember that, though I have forgotten algebra.

my confirmation
my investiture
my opening performance
the day vij left to go be a man
you teaching me how to hold a razor
me balancing on the cycle without your hands
listening to Zeppelin 4 together
telling each other to leave the house the room the country
looking at your surgery diagram
setting up your email address
putting my suitcases in the trunk
sipping the cognac you once said you'd keep for my wedding
but then raising a glass of it like comrades
the night chacko uncle came to visit,
the year we both silently figured
that a wedding might not happen.

When I asked you why my chest was getting bigger,
and why you weren't with mum when I was born
(instead you sat near a phone miles away with
an empty bottle of chivas through the night)
you never paused once. Never looked troubled.
Just like all the times I begged you to stop
singing in B flat during Amazing Grace,
Your answer came smoothly. Unmusical. And with faith.

"How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me"

I search for symptoms online, read the literature
and tell you and mum not to worry.
In your voice, I hear the restful pride of the grizzly spirit
that has kept this native indian safe
for 21 years.

And the only thing I have to say is, old man--
Don't go gently anywhere. Forget the lovely dark woods,
and the journeys in your blood and mine.

Stay home.

I miss your crooked knees already:
your harmonious burps, your morning paper
and the way you eat papaya for breakfast.
I miss you already,
and the email says you sent it
only 10 minutes ago.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pick-up line# 1 from those uninhibited by verbosity

Nice shoes. Wanna fuck?

Conversations between neurotic writer-types

"Sometime's I just want to slap her"

"she believes her own act.
what to do?
some fools were born;
others put on make up by candle light.
in the end, we all lose our red noses
and cry backstage"

"wah. Good one"

"not really"

"use it"

"think backstage worked?"

"yup. Definately backstage"


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Neil Gaiman found!

Not only did the goblin find MC Hammer here, but she also found this charming young fellow.

Anshu things he's great. The goblin trusts anshu's taste.

Go read Anansi Boys and tell me what you think.

Anyone seen Stephen King on Blogger yet?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blank noise project: 2:30pm

Whenever we talked about it, it was always the same set-up: a bus at rush-hour. In madras, like in most cities here, this could be every hour of the day except after 10pm.

For us though, rush-hour meant 2:30pm.

After 10pm, things were ok. Apparently south Indian men prefer to work in crowds. Almost empty buses meant you were left in peace, at least till you got down at your stop.

But if you were like us, you traveled in daylight. 3 rupees could get you from college back home, and most times it was six of you, laughing, passing change, hanging on to worn handles and the back of seats to make sure the red lights didn’t send you toppling into the seething crowd all around. But the crowd was always there: little kids in dirty green shorts, STD-ISD booth boys, watchmen, college guys. Sisters drenched in vinegar sweat, on their way back to their convent. Nurses. Maids. Me.

Most times, 6 of you didn’t mean you let your guard down. Sheer proximity meant arms breasts asses thighs moustaches hands were every where. Most times this didn’t mean more than a nudge, or an excessive lack of balance when that red light came around.

You got wise. You held your bag in front you, for instance. We were a roman military formation: facing every direction, a foot placed by each one to ensure a earnest stomp or kick when the lack of balance got too obvious.

It was part of the routine. Decency wasn’t the issue. The ones with a dupatta pinned across both shoulders got it as bad as the rest of us, sometimes worse. But usually there was no big outcry. Maybe it’s the heat of madras: after a point, the hands and grins were one with the flies—As annoying, and shooed away with the same frown.

Sometimes you lost your temper. Like this one time that I shoved an elbow into some fucker’s ribs, who in turn elbowed back. Hard. I yelled, in pain and annoyance for not having seen it coming. He of course, timed the jab with his stop. He got away and I was left with a smarting left boob and the tired, placating eyes of the other five. Since it was in English, and since I have short hair, the crowd didn’t know exactly how to react. There was a pause. But since I wasn’t crying, and since no one else was yelling, the bus moved on. I stared down at my shoes.

No one else was yelling.

She moved closer to me and murmured, “you shouldn’t have reacted. You know they just do more if you make a noise. Suppose he follows you tomorrow?”. Her eyes were round behind glasses that needed a wipe.

It was my stop. Familiar, the spittle shining up the tar, the smell of piss and tired, unwashed people who had another 2 hours of travel ahead of them. Her eyes were round behind glasses that needed a wipe.

Whether we would get rubbed up against tomorrow or not, was still open to chance.
What was as certain as the tar under my feet, was the fear in her voice.

The fear in her mind. Their minds.

I know a girl who carries a knife in her satchel. I know the anger that tenses my shoulders still when I remember that jab, that makes me wonder why I didn’t aim for his balls.

Not like we want to kill or maim all male travelers. Just those who don’t understand the concept of balance, inside buses at red lights.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

tempus fugit

It's been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
and it's been a while
Since I first saw you
It's been a while
since i could stand on my own two feet again
and it's been a while
since i could call you
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I've rendered
I've stretched myself beyond my means

It's been a while
since i could say that i wasn't addicted and
It's been a while
Since I could say I love myself as well and
It's been a while
Since I've gone and fucked things up just like i always do
It's been a while
But all that shit seems to disappear when i'm with you
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I've rendered
I've gone and fucked things up again

Why must i feel this way?
just make this go away
just one more peaceful day

Its been awhile
Since I could lok at myself straight
and it's been awhile
since i said i'm sorry
It's been awhile
Since I've seen the way the candles light your face
It's been awhile
But I can still remember just the way you taste
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
I know it's me i cannot blame this on my father
he did the best he could for me

It's been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
and it's been a while since i said i'm sorry

Ever had that feeling that nothing ever changes, but you grow older anyway?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Blank Noise Project

Is hosting a blogathon on March 7th, here.

The official word from them, is--

Marking our one year foray into the blog world, we’ve decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. No, you don’t have to run anywhere (thankfully) to participate, you’ve just got to get to your computer this TUESDAY (7th MARCH) and post your thoughts on street harassment/ eve teasing on your blog. You can write about anything related to the topic: testimonies, opinions on harassment, comments about the Blank Noise project, would all be great. It doesn't matter where you're from, where you live, or whether you're a man or a woman - we'd love to have you on board.

Visit here for more, and if you'd like to be a part for this. Deadline for signing up is March 6th. You'll find me there too.