Archive | December, 2012

Dragonworks

31 Dec

And so it is that we come to another end. Symbolic, obviously, for a shift occurred a while ago and the earth changed, and I with her.

2012 was all about peaks and troughs. Of extremes, learning, and deep realization. A momentous year, of change, insight, and revelation. Like a train changes tracks mid-route, but not quite as seamlessly, I halted, regrouped, and reassessed. Was aided in startling ways by unexpected travelers. I discovered who my very own jedi were, and who wished me harm. Other people became surprisingly irrelevant as I turned inward and focused on my own growth. In the finals weeks of these months of tailspin, more curtains parted than ever before, a path confirmed its existence, and the knowledge I bear became surer, firmer, and better defined.

Gifts abounded. Some were snatched away, others atrophied, yet others morphed into opportunities to burnish the self.This has been less a year and more a journey. And, just as a road has mile markers, today is merely one such in the hike I started longer ago than memory permits.

I leave it to an all-time great to tell you how I feel:

And since we’re on the subject, and not because I wish to boast, oh no no, not at all, listen to this:

Three days ago, I stood in my aunt’s inhumanly immaculate kitchen in San Diego as she flung a casual hand out and asked, “Who was that English singer? The one who died?”

“Cliff Richard? Engelbert?” I asked, trying to rifle through memory for singers from her time.

“No, the Parsi one,” she persisted, “He was quiet, and lanky, with buck teeth.”

“Wait…you mean Freddie Mercury?”

“Yes, that’s what he called himself later, isn’t it? I knew him as Farrokh. We used to play together in Panchgani, and he went to boarding school there.”

“You hung out with Freddie Mercury?”

“We were just 11!”

“YOU HUNG OUT WITH FREDDIE MERCURY??????”

“Look, here’s a picture.”

And so it was, that with a clap of thunder and a strangled scream, this gentle lady with whom I share our fathers’ bloodline, watched me yell for the Boy, disintegrate on her marbled floor, and call out “You knew Freddie Mercury!!!!” until the men in white coats arrived to haul me away.

Happy 2013, my friends.  Don’t stop me now. Much lies ahead.

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Feliz Navidad

25 Dec

This Christmas, we wish for peace.

In our hearts, homes, on the streets, in villages and cities, where all creatures dwell, and especially in places of conflict all over the planet.

Peace of mind, peace with our bodies, and the spirit of peace between us.

Merry Christmas, good people of the blog.  Here are some glimpses of our season so far.

[Credits: The Boy and his Pentax K5 DSLR (except Picture 1)]

More Real Housewives

21 Dec

Because you see, while you’re busy ideating, communicating, spinning sentences into webs of understanding and outreach, the chores don’t go away. So there you are, your wonderful self, doing all these things like researching black feminist thought, organizing resistance movements, investigating the origins of Women of Color, documenting the oral history of the Partition, speaking as a panelist, constructing a sphere of influence around your persona, learning, teaching, sharing, writing, and still, the piles of laundry are unmoved. With the patience of stoics, they wait, to be washed, dried, folded, ironed, closeted away; and the dishes sit heavy in the washer, parked until removed and stashed away; and there’s no telling your bed linen to get a move on and do a DIY job, because it needs your keyboard-focused fingers to fold the shams and fluff the pillows, and crumbs are spilled and countertops splashed and the business of getting dirty-clean-dirty spins in endless cycles every day.

Your plants beg for a drink. Your carpet dreams of a dalliance with the dustbuster. Your car could do with a nice soapy scrub. They don’t care who you are, or what you do, they’re not cleaning themselves up, or putting themselves away, and will outstare and outsit you in every possible battle of wills until you finally relent and tackle them darn chores. For all your fabulousness, and even if you divide and conquer, there’s always that laundry list of things to do around the house that keeps you grounded, with the possible aim of marinating your ego in some well-deserved mediocrity. Amplify that times a thousand, and enter children. But we won’t even go there for now.

Hausfrauness: dripping dullness into the scintillating everyday, one reincarnated house chore at a time.

Fa-La-La-La-La (La-La-La-La)

18 Dec

Him: I thought you didn’t like this new batch of brownies you baked?

Me: I don’t.

Him: Funny, half the pan’s empty.

Me (in an Irish accent): ‘Tis the season, there be elves about.

Five And Alive

7 Dec

“It’s nice knowing you,” he said, as always, simple and heartfelt.

And her smile spread slow and wide.

Turning down the lights, they climbed under the covers, sporting blobs of Vicks and night cream (respectively); the Boy and his Missus shook on it and kissed, and congratulated themselves on 5 years of good old-fashioned lovin’.

Seduction of Cities

3 Dec

Long before there was Sex and the City, urban landscapes unleashed their siren calls to populations, who, glazed-eyed and entranced, followed trails of grit and dust toward the lure of money, a life of relative anonymity and the opportunity to reconstruct their history. Cities, those giant sprawls of architecture, social alchemy and the human narrative, were levelers and dividers in equal measure; entities that made humans offer their sweat and spirit in return for bestowing on them the gratitude of belonging. Cities were power centers, hubs of every cog in the wheel of humanity, save perhaps, agriculture and animal husbandry, and legions of our race responded willingly, increasingly, and near-slavishly to the piper’s call, as the 19th century played host to this giant global phenomenon—the rise of the heterogeneous, indifferent-to-differences metropolis, where you were as worthy as your last contribution.

The world over, cities became shrines to human endeavor. To dreams, to plans, to architects of destiny.  Throbbing, expanded versions of village squares and coffee houses, they became repositories of social dialogue, justice movements, and battlegrounds for human rights. As decades hurtled forward, they turned into hubs of industry, agents of rewritten reality, organic farms of political thought and social sub-institutions. Cities, these nuclei of power and vibrancy, were only as strong as their denizens, and it is here that the human spirit rose to meet the challenge of morphing a maze of streets into megapolises of learning, expansion and culture.

Developing at different paces, cities found their niche. Their size and demand based on what they had to offer, cities became the textbook examples of macroeconomics and cultural anthropology. A majority of them operate in a blinding vortex of speed and urgency and the Next Big Thing. They pulse with things to do and targets to achieve. Entertainment is measured, pre-slotted, with chunks of time dispensed toward preserving sanity, lest existential angst get out of hand and run amok amidst our overloaded mental circuitry.

And yet, few complain. For the City is a charmer. A seductress. A deceiver. And we willingly succumb to its wiles for what it throws our way. In eliminating our uniqueness and personal history, the City invites us to belong. In disregarding our past and turning a blind eye to social strata, it allows us to blend in. It acts as Provider. Protector. Benefactor. With a dark and ugly side that we choose to take in our stride. It smiles non-committally when you call it Home. It shares its bounty ungrudgingly. To the winner go the spoils, and someday that might even be you. You can partake of its history and cloak it as your own. You believe in its script and mouth its lines earnestly. You are of its culture. Of its space. Of its zeitgeist. You give and receive and don’t keep score. You may be among its earliest settlers, or a train dropped you off  just yesterday, in a city, a sliver of space can always be yours, simply because you become that space, one of the headcount, you are, you exist, and living is not denied.

Without its montage, I cannot see my own existence, identify the entity that is me. Some may consider it a curse, but it is a trade-off I am extremely comfortable making. Without the City, I am contextless. Without the City, I am half a soul. Being born into the City and born of it, we are forged. For better or worse, richer or poorer, Home or half-spaces, without the City, there is no me. Cities distort the concept of Home. Wring it and hang it out to dry. You find it in yourself to belong to another. Fully in some, half-heartedly in others. Cities make your identity easy to whore. Today, it’s this one; tomorrow, another. Even amidst their extreme difference, you find yourself able to negotiate space and identity, and that is the ultimate gift of being of the City.