Sunday, August 31, 2008

At the Catherdral

An afternoon at the square..

Saturday, August 30, 2008

my green tea

The Cathedral bells toll,
The wind is biting
The sun is fragile - going in and out..
People chattering walk  past;
it's a great fanfare...
And my green tea is nice and hot.

Behind me a  plague inscription
On a wall reads :
in memory of 'The Birdman' 1988
Engraved was a man
With birds perched on his shoulder
And hands...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Of books and Wagner and half read titles

I am so crazy, I already have eleven books that I issued from the library (that was last week) at home and I haven't finished any one of them. List:
Indian Summer (about the fall of the British Government in India)
The Lion and the Tiger (the rise and fall of the British Raj)
Othello (manga)
Genshiken (manga)
Embroideries (French translated graphic novel written by an Iranian woman)
Pushman (graphic novel)
Walking the Indian Streets (by Vinod Mehta about his coming to India after studies in Oxford)
Who's Who in Enid Blyton (all characters of her books, which I took for reference for my character development for my comics)
three more that I cannot remember right now...

and still then I took four more books today on my yet another auspicious visit to the library:
Finding Your Voice (about originality in writing)
Old Friend From Far Away (about memoirs [I love them])
A Vintage Book of Indian Writing (a collection of many books and stories by top Indian English writers)
The Plain Jane (Graphic Novel)


Saboteur, a film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Long list I know.... how am I going to find time to do justice to my impulsive grabbing-of-books-off-shelves-at-the-library syndrome?
(sigh) I ask myself.

haha, no actually, I am looking forward to it. Its just a matter of priorities.

PS. And one more thing, apart from all these books I have a half read Max Lucado Facing Your Giants looking forlorn and dejected on my table, and two other books  that I snucked out from my old apartment, Letters of Vincent Van Gogh and Rise of Christianity (which is a social studies study of how and why Christianity succeeded like it did especially before Constantine made it the official religion of his kingdom).


I was reading an autobiography of Richard Wagner called My Life in the library all evening and was so engrossed into it that time flew and it was 8pm already. Wagner is my favourite composer and he composed for theatre with dramatic music inspiring composers today like John Williams, who composed for Harry Potter (I love the HP music), Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, E.T., and what-not. 

Here's an excerpt from Wagner's autobiography:

The mysterious joy I felt at hearing an orchestra play from close up remains with me as a voluptuous memory to this day: even the orchestra's tuning up excited me fantastically: I remember particularly the striking of fifths on the violin struck me as a greeting from another world - which incidentally had a very literal meaning for me.

In ecstatic dreams I met (Beethoven and Shakespeare), saw and talked to them; upon awakening I was bathed in tears..

For me music was ... a mystically exalted enormity: everything concerned with rules seemed only to distort it...

So, he is an amazing fellow. If you are interested, try out his piece called Tannhauser Overture. It is my personal favourite. I take to wings with this music. There's a story to the music. Very deep story that unfolds with the music, but that which is indescribable.

Wagner and Kishore Kumar inspire the landscapes in my mind. Kishore Kumar is another guy. Thats another story.

But my point is, I am so impulsive when it comes to books. I've lost count of how many books I am concerning myself with at this point in my life... that'll include all books half read and left lying in my room back in Shillong:
Propaganda: Formation of Man's Attitude
Wuthering Heights
Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
probably some more...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Of hunt for 'The Himalayas' and free chopsticks

This story began from my first day at Christchurch. I got myself a travel guide of Christchurch and I spotted in my first glances through it, an Indian restaurant called The Himalayas on Kilmore Street, not far from Lichfield Street, from where I would be staying.


Today as Birthday lunch on my own I thought I'd eat in that Indian restaurant, and fittingly so, since I was particularly missing the Himalayas for some reason. I even set the mood by playing some Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar on my iTunes as I showered and dressed up.

Kilmore Street was not hard to find. But The Himalayas was. It was raining and really, really cold. It happened to be the coldest day since I got here. I walked for around half an hour, spinning around and around in the same square, but didn't find it.

So I asked an old shopkeeper if he knew a place called the Himalayas. He pointed to a yellow building just a little down the road, "I am not sure if that's the place, but it is an Indian restaurant.." he said. I told him, "Anything Indian will do.."

I walked up there and to my relief it was The Himalayas. I laughed to myself and crossed the road, numbed with the cold, but relieved.

The sign at the door, however, bluntly muttered: CLOSED. I stood for a bit there, letting the truth sink in. I felt like some random Sir Arthur Kenisworth who went on an Indian treasure hunt for years only to be beaten at arm's reach of the treasure by a cheap group of guffawing bandits.

"What do I do? Walk back.." I told myself. Just a few yards away I cluttered into a Thai restaurant named 'Thai Smile'. They had clippings of The Press on the walls. I was in for another disappointment. They didn't serve lunch here. ONLY dinner.

The man though saw me shivering and stopped me as I was opening the door to go back out. He offered me to make lunch. A dinner serving however. Beef. So I thanked him. He called into the kitchen, probably saying something like, "A poor fellow, cold and hungry.. Make something warm for him, dear!" in Thai.

He even brought me warm water. I must have looked pitiful. I didn't even realise I was in such a state myself. The Thai beef was good.

Later I stopped in at Starbucks and had Chai Tea Latte (whatever that is supposed to mean). I remember seeing a pretty Japanese girl, cascading black hair.

At the Convenience Store that evening, I bought two packs of instant noodles. The Korean keeper of the store, one of my very few friends in Christchurch, pointed to a group of Asian kids filing out of the store, "They're a skiing team."

"Ah." I answered, "Very cold today."

"Yeah. That's $3.70."

I put the noodles in.

"Do you eat with chopsticks?"

"No. I don't."

"You take chopsticks. You try eating."

"Ok. How much are they?"

"No, no. Nothing."


Wow, I thought, I haven't had anything for free since I left India.


"Thanks. Thanks." I put the little pack into my back, "See you. Bye bye."

I went out grinning. Free chopsticks. Haha. God is so good.



When will that Utopia arrive? When I can love with purity? When I can hate with love?
When I stop making mistakes, and not speak more than I do?
The world frolics and dances. Everything is wrong. I am wrong. I am made right, but I keep behaving wrong.
Perfection, how I long for you.

Friday, August 8, 2008


This leaf, so complete in itself,
Is only part of the tree.
And this tree, so complete in itself,
Is only part of the forest.
And the forest runs down from the hill to the sea,
And the sea, so complete in itself,
Rests like a raindrop
In the hand of God.
- Ruskin Bond
Everything in existence points to a basic truth...
The hand of God.

The spicy liberation

I don't really know what the feeling is. But I miss the Himalayas. The narrow lanes and the up and down cranky roads that are so typical of India. I miss the scent of brewing chai from within dark hotels, creaking with fans and noisy with careless hotel boys.

The heat that is so typical of the country. The crowded areas, where your pocket may be thoroughly surveyed, and you won't even be aware of it. The thriving place of the cunning and the simple-hearted. The home of the loud and the silent. The street of the truck and the rickshaw.

I miss the flambouyant banners, the overhanging fluttering advertisements, suspended between two adjacent buildings, and the wild tangle of drooping electric wires with crows perched on them...

I wonder to myself how long will I be locked away from these beautiful realities anymore? How long til I taste that spicy liberation called the Indian air again?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

my new life

Life starts at 7am. I cannot sleep any longer. I got to make myself some breakfast and a drink, maybe tea or coffee. Then I hurry to class, making sure that I carry my room security card or I will be locked out of my own room.
The room I am in is expensive. I plan to shift to a cheaper one soon.
The street outside is quite pacific at this time of the day. Not much people except some here and there all in a terrible hurry. Class is good. Not taxing. For break we go upstairs for coffee, from where we can see the Southern Alps (which despite it's snow tipped peaks, seem to me sad cousin brothers of the Himalayas). After class it is normally lunch at Subway. Cheapest. But today we were in KFC. Little more expensive.
Agus is funny. He laughs all the time. His cartoon look happy. Tony is a more rock sort of guy. His accent reminds me of Rino.
Nothing much yet, as you can see.

At the Central

I sit at the city central. There's a man playing the flute - the music resonating around the square bouncing over the plastered ground and off stone walls and concrete and spotless buses. Sea gulls scutter around near my shoe.
There is a couple of Indian looking guys laughing to themselves, eating burgers off white paper napkins. A group of Burka clad women play ball game near where I am. Earlier they were taking pictures with the gulls.
The sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds. Now it is out, but soon, it will cheekily disappear behind a cloud.
It is quite cold - but I like the thin air.
Two Kiwis talk about the weather nearby.
Ha. There's a guy at the other side of the square singing Akon's 'It don't no matter' - he'e even rapping. Ha, and he has a guitar - he's not a rapper - He's a Kiwi, red pants.
This is fun.
A teenager rumbles pass on his skateboard.