a place called home

I step out onto the clean and neat pavement, lined with pink blazing stars, a row of purple jacarandas and the smell of newly trimmed, symmetric green grass. A woman wearing a lulu lemon tee and black tracks is walking a chihuahua, chattering incessantly in a high pitched voice on her iPhone. The dog appears tired, after having finished his ablutions for the day, wants to retire and dream in dogworld. A bare chested man jogs along attempting to lose 200 excessive calories from the Shock Top Belgian he guzzled at the soccer match earlier today. An old Russian couple walk silently next to each other, she lost in her stolichnaya dolls and pirozhkis, and he taking in the surroundings like a sniff of vintage Kauffman. Long years of marriage puts these pauses and breaks, the kind where you are together and alone simultaneously. In the distance sat a homeless man, with his pieces of belongings, a tiny suitcase, a cardboard box, a pair of sneakers, a blanket. He hums Lennon, "All you need is love.." and eats a Ben and Jerry's ice cream. The Mexican who works at the restaurant next door, jumps off line 316 and runs to work while putting on his blazer. An ambulance whizzes by, followed by a cop car. An accident, maybe a head on collision, maybe just a dent. My phone rings, "Amma..".

****

I walk out onto the uneven kaccha road leading to Sitaphal Mandi. The road is brown, bumpy, crooked, and narrow. Some cows graze on along the side, they are troubled by crows and flies. A pack of dogs bask in the glorious June sun, while two other dogs are momentarily locked in a fight which soon becomes amorous. A huge line of two wheelers hurtle along the bumpy road. Couple of women dressed in cotton saris sit selling vegetables, the greeny, bittery kind with names sounding like Marvel characters. Women and children walk by, trying to get their kids to schoolrooms before the gong sounds. Babies cry, the heat is too much to bear. Men prance about wearing lungis, tucked up showing their (not so) bare legs. They stand gazing, taking in the surroundings very differently from the Russian man, sipping on a hot cup of Irani tea. Construction workers pile reddish-brown bricks plastered with grey cement. The cow dung fills the air with a manure like smell. The cackle from the women selling sabji intermingle with the sound of onions being fried in the Chinese fast food shop, the wafting smell of garlic spiraling into the vermillion sky. At the nearby station platform, there is a board, "Sabari Express is delayed by 5 hours..."

****

I step out into lush greenness, the foliage thick enough to cover an elephant. The rain has just drenched the brown earth of its sorrows. The smell of mud fills the ether. A praying mantis sits quietly meditating on a jasmine bush. The mosquitoes are composing their own fugues and canons. The blue gossamer winged butterflies fluttering their wings circle the mauve lilies in the pond, sure to cause another Katrina or a Sandy in some other part of the world. The Maami next door is reciting her prayers for the morning, while the Maama performs the rituals in the pooja room. The smell of sandalwood wafts through as the incense sticks continue burning. Ripe, yellow mangoes have fallen on the ground and a squirrel scampers to get a bite. A man hurries along to catch the bus to go pay the electricity bill before his life goes unto darkness. A thin boy heads to the local temple to ask for forgiveness and pray for plentiful. Someone is making a mug of strong filter coffee. At the corner stand people drinking lime soda, talking about elections, weather, and football. The different umbrellas passing by forms a rainbow in itself, some use Poppy, some Johns, and others plain, black ones. The sky is dark grey, overcast and rumbling. It will pour a lifetime's worth by the time the Sabari Express pulls into platform no: 1.

alone

michael_kenna_100 Copyright Michael Kenna

dying is certain there is no escape your whole life moves unto it this rigmarole, the breathing seconds count your remainders as the veiled robber beholds to snatch away your precious.

the accompanying days remain cold landscape barren white, frosty in the middle a forlorn sight still towering high with youth arms stretched afar and aplenty the cries piercing the icy air and leaves roll down trepidatiously.

many days pass by, many seasons fleet none visit, no bird whistles along horizon is white and long no sights remain unseen the chord is stuck at G sharp the pain numbs the soul.

alone he composed poetry there was no one to read it out to.

alone he composed music there was no one to sing it to.

alone he died there was no one to mourn.

a day in the life of W

"Let's throw out everything and start again", he said munching on his chocolate-mint biscotti in between sips of the double espresso. My gaze was fixed on this little child on the street across our Parisian cafe. He was dressed in shorts, an old shirt and he was picking up coins from the side walk. His face had chiseled features, reminded me of the Madonna-child figure in the National Museum at Prague. "Are you listening to me", he continued in a nonchalant fashion. "Hmm", I crooned turning my gaze now to the insides of my palm. These lines, jagged and hazy, ran criss-cross across my palms. Maybe they had a story to tell, or maybe they were just there. By now he had rumbled along, repeating ad nauseously about our lives fallen apart. I skimmed the insides of the cafe. In a corner sat a girl, typing away furiously on her Mac. A wannabe writer, mostly trying to meet a book draft deadline. A couple of lonely people sat reading books, newspapers, magazines. At the counter now was the same boy who was picking up coins from the sidewalk. He was buying a croissant. I got up and walked towards him. "Wait, where are you....", his voice trailed behind. "Croissants are delicious, aren't they?", I asked the boy. He pretended not to hear me. I bought a chocolate croissant and we both walked out. The past is a distant memory, sometimes you just have to gather nothing and walk out of it.

He munched on his croissant and walked silently beside me. "Do you live around here?" He kept munching. "W, what are you doing?". He had followed me out to the streets, this was about to get nasty. "I don't want to talk about it. I just need to be left alone.", I cried. "It's so easy to say that, you always want to walk out on all the difficult things." , he persisted. By now the boy had finished his croissant and was gaping wide eyed at the two of us squabbling in the middle of the street. "Don't create a scene", I implored. He didn't care. He wanted me to get back into the cafe and finish our discussion, make life changing decisions. I wasn't ready for all that. The boy began to run, away. "Wait..", he didn't pay attention to my frantic call. It happened in a split second, the car taking a wrong turn, the boy running carelessly, me falling down tripping over a piece of stone. The rest of the day remains a daze. When I woke up, in a green room overlooking the Champs-Elysses, I asked, "What's my name?".

rain

the sound, the anticipation, the humidity, the trepidation, the rumble, the overcastness, the growl, the darkness, the sepia, the lightning, the grey, the cumulus nimbus, the shapes, the contours, the horizon, the shadow, the breeze, the sway, the coconut trees, the umbrellas, the chai, the pakoda, the candles, the kerosene lamp, the gurgle, the first pitter patter, the drizzle, the droplets, the water, the flow, the smell, the earth, the mud, the dirt, the wetness, the numbness, the wind, the moisture, the puddle, the water sprayed by a car in a puddle, the wet school bags, dripping school uniforms, the wet buses, the drenched cyclists, the dosa, the naranja veLLam, the sarbat, the ice cream, the kaapi, the coconut water, the power cut, the movies, the books, the cold, the blanket, the sleep, the morning after, the damage, the leaves on the road, the overflowing canals, the sound, the anticipation, the humidity, the trepidation, the rumble, and the overcastness can still do no justice to how it actually feels to be in the Kerala Monsoons.

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your body

your body is not your own,when it is owned, it is owned. not by you, by your patronymic name and when you grow up, by your wedded name.

your body is not your own, when it belongs, it belongs not to you, to your husband when he plays and when you give birth, to your birth helper.

your body is not your own, when it pains, it pains not because of you, by the glaring gaze and when you dress, by your invitation to play.

your body is not your own, when it bleeds, it bleeds not because of you, by the masked vigilante and when you cry, by the misery of your doom.

your body is not your own, when it satiates, it satiates not you, the hungry passersby and when you crumble, by the masochist ego.

your body is not your own, when it breaks, it breaks not because of you, by the Suleiman's hand and when you fall, by the megalomaniac.

your body is not your own, when it is chained, it is chained not because of you, by history and when you die, by the daughter you leave behind.

 

The curious case of my rayban aviators

To say I love the aviators is an understatement. I have always wanted to own a pair since I watched Top Gun. See, like Tom Cruise right here. So good, right?

Top_Gun

So I began devising a way to get hold of one while growing up. Picture this anorexic girl, boy cut, hair dyed burgundy red, wanting a pair of aviators. My love for basketball added to the charm. And like that I turned 16, out of school and into college. A good time to get aviators, no?

Pester, pester parents. Try to come up with a good reason to get a pair. Manage to score decent enough marks in 12th and all, and I was gifted one. Voila! My first ever pair of aviators. *smack looking good*

Then we decided to do this family trip to Kumarakom, this nice canal town in South Kerala. It was a one day trip, mostly in the outdoors, so I decided to get my aviators along. We reached the town, went around a bit, had some nariyal paani, ate some avial and appam, and then went on a backwater cruise along the Vembanad lake. I had a tattered old camera, you know the one where you take photo and then give the film for developing, wait eternity to get prints, and put it in a photo album, that kind. It was bought when I was 10 years old, and so I was tottering around taking photos of the lake, the swarming coconut trees, the water birds and hyacinth. The boat ride got done, we exited and then I realized my aviators had gone missing. Oops. By now, we had left the boat behind and I began tracing my way back to it. I searched everywhere, behind the bushes, underneath the mat, inside the boat, couldn't find my aviators anywhere. My precious, 2 month old aviators, snatched away from me. Curse the person who found it and kept it.

Zoom in ten years later, imagine ten years without my baby. All I had for company was some crappy Rs. 50 sunglasses bought from commercial street or parklane. By now my stint in Hyderabad was over and I had moved to LA. Time to save up some money and buy aviators again, woohoo. So $100 was saved after about a couple of months and the aviators was bought. My own pair bought with my own money. Brilliant.

Then one day I was in a friend's car going to buy some groceries during an LA summer evening and the unspoken happened. I got out of the car, got home, and realized my glasses weren't with me. Omg, these aviators, these elusive, cunning, vile things. No glasses were found in the car, so I cried thinking it fell out of my bag/hand while getting in and out of the car. Woe be me.

Now comes the difficult question of whether to buy a new aviator or not. I decided against it, too much money, and too much stress thinking I'll lose it again.

A year goes by, uneventfully in terms of sunglasses. and then came a day when I had to move apartments (this calls for another post, altogether). Guess what? Amidst some old bags and piles of paper, miraculously and unceremoniously I find my aviators again! Oh, the joy! Yes, yes, you must be thinking how careless I am, I swear it wasn't there in that bag a year ago :) Pretty sure Santa came and hid it there on Thanksgiving.

For now, I hold on to my precious aviators like how I hold on to dear life. And sometimes, I wear more than one, because ahem, it is fun. Jai aviator!

p.s. Get one if you don't have one, they make you feel Maverick ;)

Kerala's Portuguese heritage

The World Cup fever is on and everyone is tuned into Brazil for the latest updates on the football matches. I am no fan of football. Yet, I grew up in a sports loving family. My father is an ardent sports freak, having played a couple of sports himself, he instilled in me a love for all kinds of sports pretty early in my life. Out of those that stayed include basketball, cricket, and tennis. Football didn't. This, however, didn't stop me from watching the football matches with him, it was a father-daughter bonding time for us. I grew up watching all the World Cup matches together and even today we call and discuss about the current World Cup matches, almost on a daily basis.

Tomorrow at 9 a.m (PST), Germany is playing against Portugal and I couldn't help but ponder about Kerala's (my home state in India) long and old connection with Portugal. During the mid 14th century, the Southern part of India was conducive to trade as the coastal towns had ports which were accessible to European missionaries and explorers. Records date back to BCE, and recently a lot of interest has been revived in establishing and unearthing the heritage of the Muziris, the ancient port where the mariners anchored. Even though the exact location of this port is still unknown, it is suspected to be around 30 miles away from Kochi, my home town. Muziris is the anglicized version of the Tamil Muciri. This port became known as Muciripattanam, an idyllic town on India's South-West coast. Large scale excavations under the auspices of the Kerala government have taken place in and around Kochi from 1980. Many treasures were found and the search still continues today with many NGOs and archaeological institutions participating in the Muziris revival project.

India was one of the crown jewels in the European age of discovery which began in the 15th century. South India boasted of its aromatic and rich spices. Kerala cultivated large quantities of black pepper, popularly called 'Tellicherry black' for its bold and pungent aroma and it had established itself as a pioneer trade center since 3000 BCE. The first powerful and prolific empire around the 15th century was the Portuguese empire, also the longest ruling European empire (till it handed back sovereignty to East Timor in 2002). Being a coastal country, Portuguese sailors set sail to discover the spice route that the Arabs were talking about. In May 1498, Vasco da Gama set foot at Kappad beach, Calicut in Kerala. The animosity between the then ruler of Calicut, the Zamorins or Samoothiris and the ruler of Cochin, King Unni Goda Varma Tirumulpadu resulted in the first European settlement in Cochin. Although the Portuguese era in Kerala lasted hardly a 100 years before they were ousted by Kunjali Marakker followed by the Dutch invasion, the Portuguese left a lasting impression on the native tongue, Malayalam.

Malayalam, a Dravidian language, is said to have developed from the Proto-Tamil lineage of the Proto-Dravidian family. Early writings date to 13th century. All languages undergo diachronic changes and Malayalam was no exception. Around the 14th-15th century, heavy borrowings from Sanskrit and Pali resulted in a form of the language called Manipravaalam. This hybrid language was still in an infancy stage when it encountered Portuguese through the first explorers who came to Kerala. Portuguese was a lingua-franca used in the trading community, often talked about as the base language of pidgins and creoles (basic and reduced forms of languages used between communities for communication purposes). During the age of discovery, a linguistic process called relexification resulted in a rampant increase of Portuguese words in pidgins and creoles found across the globe. Malayalam or Manipravaalam also borrowed heavily from Portuguese.

It is suspected nearly 150 words were loaned from Portuguese into Malayalam. The long list of words can be found here on Wikipedia. One of the linguistic changes that happened was the shift from /r/ --> /l/, preceding a nasal sound such as /m/. This can be seen in the word for cupboard, armoire --> alamara. Almost all voicing contrast was lost, i.e. if the Portuguese words has a /b/, /d/, or /g/ sound, this was most likely to be substituted with /p/, /t/, /k/ in Malayalam native phonology, as seen in the words for a type of fish, crowbar, vicar etc. Interesting loans include the words for cemetery, satan, and foreman. The Portuguese words are cemitério, satan, and mesthre. These words are borrowed without much linguistic change, only a few modifications are made to the pronunciation. Thus, in Malayalam, it becomes semithery, saataan, and mesthiri, hardly any phonetic changes, only the pronunciation has been adapted to the native phonology.

The borrowings from Portuguese include common household items such as table, cupboard, towel, hat. Food items which were introduced by the discoverers were borrowed into the language, such as pineapple, tea, cashew, funnel, guava, and onion, wine and vinegar. Many if not almost all of these terms are commonplace in any dialect of Malayalam today. Even though some of the words may have been replaced by a more common Proto-Dravidian term, for example, 'adukala' for kitchen, these Portuguese borrowings survive in the older generations who use them interchangeably.

So, back to the World Cup again. In the US, the matches don't stream for free. You either need a cable subscription which allows you to stream ESPN, or you can stream the matches online from a Spanish TV channel with Spanish commentary. I don't have cable and my only resort is to brush up my rusty and forgotten Spanish and reconstruct some of these Portuguese remnants in Malayalam back to Spanish, which turns out to be a lot of fun.

Let me leave you with a story, one which involves the etymology of 'cashew'. If you go back and look over the table of Portuguese loans, you will see that 'cashew' was borrowed from the Portuguese word 'caju' (which remained as Kaju in Hindi) and became kasuvandi in Malayalam. Breaking down this word, we get kasu + andi = cashew + seed 'cashew nut'. However, there is a more interesting story behind the origin of the word. The popular story goes that these nuts, introduced by the Portuguese to the native lands, were sold on the beaches of Kerala, 8 pieces for 1 anna. The word for currency in Malayalam is kaashu. So now, imagine this Mallu boy sitting on Kappad beach with a hatful of cashewnuts and going 'kaashin ettu, kaashin ettu, kaashin ettu'. What does that sound like to you if you say it out loud? Bingo, 'cashewnut'.

Well, the Malayali will never know the true origin of the word, but we have a lot to thank our Portuguese capitans for, especially cashewnut and tobacco. These 2 industries bring crores of revenue to the state today. Quilon in South Kerala is now heralded as the cashew city and well, I needn't mention where the tobacco ends up. This old video from 1952 is self illustrative.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YquV57qIqD0&w=420&h=315]

And yes, the author admits cigarette smoking is injurious to health. ting ting ti ding.

Oh, but I forgot to mention Kerala's German connection. The grandfather of Hermann Hesse, (psst Siddhartha, if you haven't read this book, go read) Dr. Hermann Gundert was one of the pioneers of Malayalam linguistics. He compiled dictionaries, wrote books on Kerala's history and as part of his missionary work, translated the Bible into Malayalam. Definitely not as colossal a contribution as the Portuguese, but the linguist in me is very happy with the German.

May the best team win tomorrow!

Meditative cooking

Throughout my childhood, my mother tried to instill in me a sense and need for meditation. I went through the rigamarole of taking yoga classes, going to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living courses, attending lectures on J.Krishnamurti's teachings, and a failed attempt at going to a G.D Goenka's 21 day Vipassana course, where all you could do was remain silent. These activities were mostly fun ways of keeping me occupied over the summer holidays. I never took up any of this in my later adult life, except the passing phrases of getting back in shape by doing yoga.

So, have I learnt anything about meditation from any of this? Probably not. Today, I meditate by a very simple everyday means- cooking. I can imagine most of you squealing at the thought of calling cooking a 'meditation'. For most people, it is far from being relaxing. A lot of people take it to be a burden, like Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulder. You know, that thing you do on a daily basis just because you and your family have to eat. All the cutting, chopping, cleaning, washing vessels adds to the burden. For me and a countable bunch of people, cooking is highly meditative and relaxing. It is the one activity I turn to in order to get my mind away from the stress and strain of routine.

I let my mind wander as I chop the red onion into thin, long slices wiping tears off my cheeks, or cut Thai green chillies into pieces and accidentally snub my nose. Then, as I heat up the oil and grind some garlic, the mustard splutters up and distracts my wandering mind and naive thoughts. By now, I'm thinking of some new blogpost, forming ideas and thinking of new ways of looking at things. The spices go into the kadai and mix mellifluously with the gravy. Here, in the hot oil, every spice is rendered equal. A song has now crept into my mind and I'm humming or trying to get a gamaka in place. The vegetables now go in and it all begins to smell wonderful, the accompaniment to my melody. The birds chirping outside reminds me of the final garnishing, and I reach for the bottom rack of the fridge to bring out a fresh sprig of cilantro. The smell of fresh cilantro and what it does to my mind and senses, they dance in joy. By now, the thoughts have escaped to a world of their own, far away from my kitchen and the delicacy cooking on the stove. The cilantro goes on, I mix it all up and the dish is ready to be gobbled up.

This one hour of my day is the best one hour and sometimes even a very productive one, if I have been thinking of some piece of elusive data evading analysis. There are many poems, blog entries that have originated while I was making food. I think for me the principle is simple, learn to love what you do and it will love you back. Cooking is my passion, not an activity caused out of everyday, monotonic routine hood. If you love cooking, it will love you back.

the marginalized

xiaoCopyright Hè Xiǎo Hè

 

they walk in tatters, a worn shoe, a broken umbrella a heavy heart, a fallen soul they drag along years maybe even centuries of history burnt to ashes.

their story was never told, buried under the great wall hidden among the murals they become Samson and Delilah nameless, baggageless, with no place to hide, except their shame.

they live among us, as one of us, you and me victims of the sway and glitter of power nobody knows their name, they live anonymously and posthumously their presence invisible.

they live to see the end of a tunnel, not as a bleak of hope, as a liberation from reality. the dark corridors of the tunnel sing about their unglamorous past, their struggles to make a living, to be recognized as someone, with a name, with feelings this light, at the end of the tunnel, that light is them.

Memory and choice

There are times when I grapple to find a specific memory, buried deep down within the corridors where memories are kept, I suppose, locked in perfect boxes, labelled, and stacked up on special racks, dated by years or maybe even decades. This doesn't happen too often, at least not on a daily basis. Sometimes, it is a musical piece you hear that triggers this sort of grappling. It needn't always be a musical piece, it could be a conversation, a random thought, the smell of cumin being fried, mustard seeds crackling, the voice of an old friend, or a tattered Pollock's print tucked away in a trunk under the bed. This then hurtles you back, phantasmagorically, into a realm of magical realism. Here, things are exactly the same as it was in your past memory. You can recreate the visuals to the minutest details. The table at the corner of the room, the lamp hanging above the tapestry, the cat rolled over his back in a happy baby pose, your angered friend pacing about the room, earnest and half mindful of her words. There is nothing to stop the memories rolling by, say as if the lock on one of those sealed boxes accidentally melted away. We have our favorite ones, not so favorite ones, and the ones we refuse to believe happened. One of my earliest memories, from my childhood, is eating chocolate pudding. I used to get back home from the nursery, I think I was 3, and Amma would give me this home made pudding. I can relive that memory, taste the pudding in my mouth, recollect the day vividly, the frock I was wearing, the details of the dining room, the color of Amma's sari. Then there are those not so favorite culinary memories, those from Hyderabad hostel days, especially the days when we used to be served "kundru sabji". We used to totter down to the mess hall and run straight back out to the Chinese fast food place next to campus, hog on some fried rice, chilli chicken and then, head to Sagar bhaiyya's store for some ice cream. Then, there are the one's that must not be named, little scandalous, little horrific, a lot of embarrassment. Those will forever remain locked, well hopefully.

Every time I dig down a memory, I can't help feel those memories are a result of a choice I made at a point in time in my past life. So, if I had continued to do my PhD in India, I wouldn't have any memories whatsoever of life in LA. This world simply ceases to exist. There are many intervals in time where I remember making a conscious decision to let go of something, or to follow a particular windy path. These choices make us who we are today. It was Amma's choice to make me chocolate pudding and not crème brûlée. It was my choice to hate kundru in the hostel mess and prefer Chinese instead. I can only wonder what alternate consequences, a reverse choice could have had. Maybe I could have chosen not to eat the chocolate pudding, or chosen to suck up and eat the kundru in the mess. Would these have altered my life significantly? Chaos theory says yes, stemming from a belief that nonlinear applications of mathematical systems gives rise to a whole which may be more or less than the sum of its parts. Thus, a chaotic system is totally unpredictable in its behavior. There are choices we need to make which seem trivial, such as choosing chocolate pudding, yet there are bigger choices we need to make, for example. my decision to leave 2 years of research work in India to pursue another 5+ years of doctoral work in LA. Life was uncertain at that point, who knew what could happen. I could make this big move to LA, absolutely hate living in this city, have a fall out with my adviser and be back to square one. Every choice is risky, has an uncertainty factor associated with it and the beauty of the unseen, the unknown, is so beckoning that it tempts you to make the choice, however, difficult it is. At that point in time when you choose a particular path, remember, there is no right or wrong, since the consequences of your actions will not reveal itself till years later, and you can only look back and wonder if you did make the right decision or choice.

This brings me to my discussion in an earlier post on possible worlds. By picking a particular route to action are you necessarily pushing away access to other possible worlds? Or, do they continue to exist parallelly, inhabiting different orbits and circling and just being. Maybe we have access to them all, because we do have the free will to alter our choice at any given time. Maybe they exist only as a figment of our imagination, you can see these alternate worlds but have no access to them because of the choice you made. And, maybe death is just one such alternate possible world, chosen by your fervor and your denial.  As Murakami says, memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.

Impermanence

I once took an ailing linguist in 2009 to an ATM machine to withdraw cash and he thanked me profusely for it. Of course, at that time I did not know he was ailing. He seemed fit as a fiddle, even though I saw him sleeping during a couple of talks at the conference. I wrote that off by thinking that is what people do at conferences anyway, doodle, dream, or sleep. He was one of our invited speakers. His talk was exceptional, the kind you want to listen to even though your specialization is not in his field of expertise, in this case, phonology and tonal theory. He spoke on aspiration in Nepali that day. He had accepted our invitation and visited us from Paris, his first visit to India. His walk was fragile, with a little tenderness as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He ate little, had no beverages during coffee breaks, and spoke very little.

He died six months later in Massachusetts, of cancer. Unceremoniously enough, since none of us knew at the conference about his physical frailness. I wonder what difference it would have made, if I had known about his illness? Would I have felt he was tired and had to take a nap because of his medicines, when I saw him sleeping at a talk? Would I have taken him in a car instead of an auto to the ATM machine? Maybe we could have been kinder in the harsh Hyderabad weather, or the city's busy-ness, made his stay a little warmer and more enjoyable. Maybe we could have provided better food, more bland, more healthy. Or maybe, just a little bit more love.

I cannot forget his immensely kind words of gratitude after I took him to the ATM machine, nor the warm mail he sent my professor thanking me again for having done so. It reminds me of the impermanence of things, of people. Imagery floating past me like the bustling landscape rolling by from a train window. The people we meet today may not be there tomorrow. People come into your lives and go out of it even faster. The things we cherish and hold close will become dust tomorrow. Nothingness covers your languid existence. Life then, like a stone, rolls on by year after year, centuries after centuries.

stay

you said you couldn't stayit assassinated you, this tedious game we play in your complacency awake, objectifying the nameless life, as we know it towed away unceremoniously.

 

Purple jacarandas

photo (1)  

May is a beautiful month in Los Angeles. The weather begins to get warmer, the air becomes to clear up, and the purple jacaranda trees begin to bloom. All these other seasons, these trees were there, just there. Standing high, with their branches facing the prussian blue sky. Yet, they are noticed only when they bloom and those lightly fragrant, trumpet shaped purple jacarandas cover the path you walk everyday to work or to buy groceries.

possible worlds

Does possible worlds exist? I would like to believe so. Dabbling in semantics, of course, has given me that perspective. Even thinking beyond the world of modal realism and Lewis, I want to entertain the possibility that they are just as real as our world. There is a conceptual advantage to thinking this way. Many of our dreams, many of our desires we feel will come true at some point, if not now, in some particular point in the future. This anchors life into a comfortable pedestal from where you can project each of your desires onto a possible world. Imagine this vibrant universe, composed of a plurality of all these distinct, unique elements. In some sense, a point of view represents a unique possible world. If there can be multiple points of view, there should be multiple possible worlds, right? This model can now help evaluate flavors of necessity and possibility, similar to our own notions and conceptions of what is possible, what can be, and what we want it to be.

The notion of possible worlds also ties up with our view of history. A question we can often ask when we read about the history of Zimbabwe, or the historical developments of the rise of industrialization is the question of whose history are we really talking about? We all know how power plays a role in decision making, say, in media, in policy making. Power determines consequences, fate, our reality and morality even. If we do admit then that the history we read as we read it is the history of the majority, the ones in pivotal power position, we could ask if, in a different possible world, would the same history have been rendered differently. Would somebody else's tales be sung gloriously and written for centuries to read and wonder.

Parallels to possible worlds can also be found in literary fiction which makes it possible to talk about fictional worlds without reducing these texts to actual representations of the truth. The author carves a world, albeit with fictional characters and this fictional text makes accessible, reference to the imaginative existence of a world and a precise state of affairs. This new world which has been created determines its own horizon of possibilities. The text exerts a kind of expressive power over your sense of reality. Suppose you are reading your favorite novel and you encounter the term, red lion. Even though you have never seen such an animal before, you would construct a visual of the real world lion with 4 legs, a mane and a tail and this visual would represent a real world lion in all respects except the color. In constructing fictional worlds, the reader fills in these literary gaps by assuming a mapping from a real world, thus connecting this world as you know it to a possible world, a world in which lions can be red.

Dreams may be considered in the same realm of things, as happenings in the subconscious part of your brain/mind. Sometimes you remember the most bizarre incidents, with people you may never have met, or sometimes images from your past, school days. These can now be thought as representing again a connection between the world of your reality and the world of your desire or possibility. In dreams, you construct what you want to see, maybe you even see things which are on the verge of happening in a remotely near and accessible future. Dreams connect your intersections at time points, the past with the future and the present with the past. They are sometimes indicative of changes which are going to happen.

A postmodern narrative best describes the possible world scenario. The shift from modernism to post modernism brought about a radical change in the epistemic base. Modernism was concerned with epistemological concerns whereas post modernism worries about ontological concerns. The radical ways of thinking posed questions such as, 'What is a world', 'What makes a world real?'. The intricate layers of reality can be seen best in David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas', which consists of six nested tales describing how history is repetitive and connects people through centuries and generations. Marquez's magical realism and Calvino's symbolism and style are all characteristic of this.

So, ask yourself this question today. Are you alive in the real world? Or is this "real world" just a figment of your imagination. A possible world through which you access the real world and traverse back and forth from it. After all, we all love our possible worlds, in which we are successful, in which we are happy, in which we are with our dream man or woman. These possible worlds and their reality helps us get by a little by little in our otherwise dreary and hectic humdrum of everyday existence. If you haven't discovered the possible worlds yet, now might be the time to do so.

epoch

a decade is an epochwith ebbs and tides, some bruises, a little scar colorful balloons flying past the water boats and silliness.

a decade is an aeon, with books and papers some accolades, and failures traversing long distances the new hope and life.

a decade is a juncture missing pieces and chords connecting the dots, the road ahead is the road left behind.

this is how it all ends

this is how it all endsa few broken glasses some hurtful words the paradoxical existence the purple eye the man who loved only numbers the mausoleum of hope and desire the late thin may air drafting through the conversations.

this is how it all ends, where it began in the origin of words and the musical tune of melancholy the science of contention the humility of the intellect faulkner's yoknapatawpha the chaotic web weaving itself around us.

this is how it all ends the parallel existence the holy quark some meropes in pleiades black, white and binaries dust and dawn colliding the figures of hope succumbing to the cosmos.

this is how it all ends in a whimper, not in a big bang.

the centipede

a centipede crawled the muddy pathin the whimsical daylight unconcerned of issues relevant. it dragged on a thousand year's suffering in blatant buckets of pain, tied to each of its tiny legs. it could barely move, yet, head held high, it still marched on to destinations unknown epitomizing the journey of human progress through centuries.

an ode to silence

the atmosphere was calmmachines inactive, vehicles deep in slumber a pleasant breeze shifted its course meandering its way through the pile of junk, whispering sporadic words of infinitude. curtain leaves fluttered, papers flew into the air, as the breeze passed by.

the holy cat of peacemaking tipped a glass of water over, water spilled like a mirror breaking and breaking into infinite mirrors. drops lay apart some coalesced to become one.

one drop wandered away on its own yet another joined a stream, of similar drops following thus like a smitten fan.

a torn book lay open on the armchair, robbed of its leaves it had no tale to narrate. a page lay half torn on it a date etched a reminder of the day, when everything was lost.

nothing has remained since then, mind like a decayed vegetable, plays its tiny instrument. ears deaf, eyes sightless, nothing can be heard, only the silence that speaks louder than the voice.