Rain in Mangalore

When it rains I dream of Mangalore. On nights in quiet rooms, with the power out and my eyes closed an old feeling comes to visit.

Intangible and, sadly it would seem, incomprehensible to others is my old sense of longing. As I would look out, as I spied the grey houses, the lights inside, the signs of life that the houses breathed I wished I could be inside them. I remember the rare lights, the deserted roads and sometimes a stream in the village revived by the rain.

The houses weren’t too impressive, a 2000’s Indian aesthetic that’s quickly pulled down by an out of breath middle class. Still on those glances outside, through the rains and sheltered by black clouds I felt there was something missing. I got the same feeing when Animax would offer slices of moody, sepia, angst. Stories I’d never complete or find again. The channel is gone now, a tangent that means too much for no good at all.

In my longing, I wish I could see the life inside, but I am formless in the rains outside. I can’t have what I’ve never known.

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Grey

I write when something inspires, the second I read something nice I’ve gotta write.

The problem with tethering your creative instincts to the world around you is that you’re caught in the tide. The colours you bring to story come from outside. When the world’s just the same, uninspired plastic happiness why write? The time you had isn’t enough any more, the drive isn’t worth dishonoring. You’ve gotta find a muse or wither way in some complacent routine in some complacent life.

My work as a counselor inspires, sure, but you leave that in session and honestly I’ll leave work at work. The most important step I think is to do some reading, its been a while and the world’s all the greyer for it.

Fat Dog

Sunday, Cubbon Park, a dog came up to us and sat down. He was disturbingly round. His face grew wider into his neck, which lead to a trunk that seemed like it had two extra layers of fat wrapped around it to keep him warm.

He was a rusty brown, with bald spots all over- skin disease- and faint black strips. When I first came to Bangalore I was awed by these rusty stripped dogs that seemed to slink by street corners, like little tigers all over the city. I haven’t noticed them in years, I guess they never seemed to play at anything else. Now and then you see a few mutts, strays with distinct features of more becoming breeds, of course you don’t wan to think of much them . Their ribs, their earnest eyes with ears slicked back, a paw missing and yes unhealthy, annoying when they turn wild on the streets treating human indifference in kind.

When they hung around bakeries and street vendors that severed oily snacks, they seemed to get a weird kind of fat, that’s my theory at least. So it stood to reason this stray had gotten fat the same way- of the indifference, litter and kindness of visitors. He looked at our bench and went right to sleep in front of us. My companion pointed out that he seemed to find it difficult to move.

What I really noticed though was the contrast, walking in we saw dogs brought in, sitting in cars, collared and well fed. There were Huskies panting in the heat, large dogs, tiny dogs,dogs shaved and pampered sitting in circle while their masters watched them closely. A lot of them must have come at a high price, somewhat inbreed and incapable of surviving the wild or even the streets.

It reminded me, so much, of an article on Jacobin (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/victorian-values-fitness-organic-wealth-parenthood/) , which looked at how the rich and poor saw their bodies. When the poor labored in the heat, being tan and lean weren’t fashionable, now that they are desk bound the rich tan themselves and take care of their bodies. How funny that this was paralleled in our dogs, the strays fat on a diet of junk food, and the pampered breeds lean and about.

Coming season

Tradition holds the monsoon is near, certainly I could use some clouds to drown out all the noise. I can’t write and it’s not cause I can’t share; call it speech fright.

You’re floating on cotton under a starless night, above veins of yellow amber, can’t ask for a better place in the city. Think of honey over a black backdrop, that’s what I think the city must be like if you fly away.

Say something and it’s not a dream anymore. Write happy and you’re obliged to commit, be what’s been written. Hopelessly, inevitably and I can’t do with mirrors right now, I just want it to be quiet. I can’t breath at all.

Dog dreams

Dreamt of a dog I used to have, Honey, who looked like a really short Sheepdog . I couldn’t tell you if she was long lived or short, it’s hard to time someone’s whose been a part of your early life, but she was beloved like all dogs you dream about.

I hadn’t thought of her in a while; I ran my hand through her fur and felt it like 10 years ago, like time stood still to let me meet an old friend. I awoke and realized I couldn’t remember how or when she died and felt a little surprised she was no longer alive.

I mentioned it and a lecturer offered a little Freud. I was the dog, a symbol of loyalty, a trait my friends vouched for. What I didn’t say was that I had had another dream the night before, one where I met a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while.

So there you have it, two dreams of mine talking to each other, telling me to wait patiently for my friend. Of course if you’re careful there’s a lot to read between these few lines but this is just the surface not the whole Freud.

Reading, Rereading

Sometime it’s worth journaling random things you feel because like stolen spoonfuls of sugar, they become yesterdays mischief melting away into a dull mix of memories, indistinct and nothing special.

Yesterday it was re-reading The God of Small Things after reading the two of the most awful Stephen King novels I’ve ever come across. The first was Joyland and the second was Dr. Sleep. Joyland had everything it needed to be great on paper but by the time I got around to Dr. Sleep I realized that both books were draining any desire to read right out of me.

A thriller and a squeal horror that bores and numbs the senses, how could books do these things to me?

They felt too white, too far, too alien and the language speaking to people I didn’t know or didn’t want to be. No I don’t want any more sappy feel good relationships hounded by some personal milquetoast tragedy that thinks itself a bitter sweet ending. It’s to cliche, it’s too mediocre in the challenge it offers it’s readers. It plays itself in small stories, never daring to go beyond the little troupe of actors who exist for this story.

Real horror is seeing the villains, the heroes the victims and tragedies as something you remember, something next door, something playing out while a neighbor’s house is filled with thuds.

Impending doom, the weight of history and a sense of impotent helplessness, as you watch some tragedy you know is real, bear down mercilessly, leaving empty shells where there were people- now that’s scary, a good story because it’s macabre in a real intangible way.

I was never any one of Roy’s characters either, but there’s something in the echo’s of familiarity, the language and fears that resonate.

By the end of the God of Small Things I felt, I really felt, like I’d received a literary punch, a screaming vortex of emotions that kept me hooked and running just like the first time I read it. Some primordial urge to scream, some function of the Freudian Super Ego urging me to discuss it at length. I thought it was nice to have a book make me feel this way and tracked the hours, seeing how long this feeling would last me.

It took about 4 hours and an argument with some idiot on the internet to send the feelings away, but it ripples. And some times it can crash into you with a force you thought old things can’t have.

January’s Ashen Afternoons

Hard edged and glass cold the weather covered for 12 o’clock while it sneaked up on us. Someone rolled around in tidal sleep and moaned like a sea creature.

They spoke while I put my legs up to steal the warmth off the window grills; someone played the sunlight off their watch – “CUT IT OUT”. My brain seemed to melt, who was that and didn’t I have an exam to get to? The agony of waiting I thought while looking at my watch; productivity had to wait till tomorrow. Some weather needs to be savored I think while miming swishing wine around. I thought of cake I ate back in 9th grade. It was purple on an afternoon the smelt just like this.

Doors slam. An engine is kicked to life. Tires squeal. I imagine a scooter, speeding into darkness. I returns to the ingenuity of plants, to the magic of light but someone’s voice grew irate. “I grow green horn on my back. It’s all keratin so I’ll need you’re nail-cutter”. I tell her it’s in the bathroom. Was there really a black and white photo of a bespectacled man and a copy of Anna Karenina in there? Sometimes you imagine these things.

A chair falls over, Beach House blasts on an abandoned phone and I see a copy of cloud atlas under the couch. Someone kills a lamp and I remembered how a friend would print Chinese labels to put on glass bottles. “Adds character” he would say, “It’s the same shit but new, full of meaning probably.”

A mysterious letter

I was walking home the other day, it was 10:47 and pouring. Unbeknownst to me my phone had taken a few interesting decisions.

Between 10:45 to 10:47 I received several calls from an Uber driver it had ordered. I never noticed and the Uber guy cancelled. For all our troubles Uber had charged us 47 rupees. Naturally I was quite annoyed, and while running water for a bath I noticed there were several other apps that had been opened while I thought my phone was safe in my pocket.

Mostly nonsense, of course, it had opened a few notes. The first was the Uber guys number, the URL for an ad. It had chosen a background- leaves and a green tone, some superfluous feature I never even knew it had. The second, bare note, was what was interesting though. In that note between the “BBBBbbbbgggF”, the “wheeeeeeeeeeenghdf” and other clear indications of falling asleep at the screen, there’s someone pouring their heart out.

It takes a bit of deciphering but between all the button mashing, there’s a letter. It’s like a page from a diary, a long conversation between friends something you wouldn’t forget. Yet I’ve not read that note before, a story about a senior and dealing with friends, a log from someone I don’t know on my phones. There’s no sharing feature, no names and no trace beyond a 10:47 time stamp. Just someone’s deepest, darkest thoughts they wouldn’t even share with a journal, brought to my phone between rain and a walk.

 

Watchman, Punch-man

The man had dedicated himself to looking away. It did not matter when or who walked out the store, you would see his back facing you, his face staring intently at something across the street, his arms were folded for effect. Perhaps not the best course of action for a watchman, but that’s how he was.

I always made it a point to hand my bills to him, which pleased him greatly. Maybe he was so firmly turned to the road because other patrons weren’t polite enough to handover their bills so that he could punch them. Today he informed me that it was raining. An odd thing to do I suppose but rather insightful of him. I’d hardly been paying attention to the fact that it was poring outside the store. I wonder how he figured that out.

The supermarket had new hoardings welcoming people in Koramangla. Of course nothing else in the store was new. People stopped their bikes and scrambled under the store’s awnings. They murmured and muttered, careful not to get too loud.

The surge of people felt threatening, the watchman punched his punch machine aggressively, perhaps marking his territory. It worked, people seeped out before the rain had really let up and he was back to staring at the road. Perhaps not a satisfying ending but I thought it was as curious entrance he ended up making between a day dream of mine.