I hate new cars

I hate new cars because they make me nauseous and physically sick. I feel that little spot right above my stomach and my back behind it tense up the longer the trip is. The terribly thing about new cars are their seats.

The neurotic patriarchs in my family reign over old cars. My grandfather walks a thin line between thrift and theft as abandoned toys, tools, knick-knacks and construction material find their way into his car. My father has his car blessed by all the offerings and Prasada he gathers from his religious tourism that lay forgotten in every nock and cranny. Religious books, take away and fruit all wait to be discovered under old tabloids.

What redeems these old cars between their onerous knocks and threatening tics is their smell. From kerosene to stale food the smell is far better than the wretched stench that all new car seats have. There’s an artificial, sweaty odor about these new seats that drive me nuts.

The worst thing about new cars is the shape of their seats. I don’t know why all of them are designed to cradle potatoes but no human is meant to rest easy on them. They all seem to force you into a C shape. The stiff board like seats in cheaper, older cars just feel nicer. Humans have been sitting on chairs for at least a few thousand years, these improvements are really just messing with a proven concept.

Who needs that much back support and am I the only one smelling this?

Breezy nest

It’s been cloudy for so many weeks that it didn’t even have to rain, the threat alone is keeping everyone inside.

There’s a nest, coloured with the dryest brown, swaying precariously on the streets’ largest tree. The tree has its roots in a temple compound and stretchs to envelope the streets biggest house. I don’t know how anything as delicate as a baby bird could sunggle comfortably on such thin branches but it’s too cold for much else.

There’s a strict hierarchy on the tree. The small, dainty birds that I can’t name or have ever seen up close stay in the thinnest, farthest branches. They are brown outlines against a cool blue and white sky. The crows, always accessable and assertive take up the middle ranging branches but don’t stay there. They’re always loudly deciding where to dive next. They’re black forms against the green of the tree.

The pigeons are at the bottom of it all, I’m not even sure they get to the tree. They brood on the windows and roofs that only brush past the tree. They’re always around pecking and pooping. They aren’t noisy and you’ll never hear them over the crows. Now and then they make a heavy landing on a tin roof and startle themselves.

The nest is a mystery, right above a roof so good for pigeons, sorrounded by green so just the place for crows and always in the breeze so natural place for the brown birds.

Beach trip

We, three cousins, running down the sandy dunes on a sunny evening. The coast line runs down to two rocky edges while beyond us the sea sparkles. While the sun sets in an orange tinge we are awash in the warm smelly breeze and a coating of dried sweat seems to break as we run back to the waves.

My grandfather would drive me there too, when it was just the two of us. We’d reach really early, or maybe it used to be a place where no one else went. I don’t remember much beyond a mossy, filthy lake we passed on the way. We’d fly kites, make drinks and leave only when the afternoon got vengeful. I destroyed sandcastles in fury, because I could never make them good enough.

My grandfather was always far away and I never looked back to see what he did. It was only us on the beach and I never cared how empty the beach was. I would not have liked it if it was any less empty, that’s just where I was at the time. The sea was so blue as it gently washed away the mess. So blue it hurt to look at it. It was telling me not to leave while the tide drew it away.

I imagine us now, with mustaches, on the same day. Tiny crabs running from our giant steps; it’s really absurd.The seashells are still on the coast breaking under my feet. I see the garbage, carrion and crowds scattered along old memories. It was always the same but we didn’t notice it all. I can’t tell where the sea or sky end, between generations of waves there a little blemishes- boats floating in an orange tinge.

A dragonfly in my kitchen

A dragonfly lost his bearings in my kitchen today, he was there for brunch, he was here for dinner and I wonder if misdirection can keep him till breakfast.

Dinner was accompanied by a persistent but unaccountable smell of uncooked cookies. I looked far and near but found nothing but the fact that it grew ever more overpowering so I sat down to embrace the pleasant evening. Remarkably it was an evening, full and leisurely, not merely an amorphous breath hurrying to night and sleepiness. After a full weekend the pleasant aftermath of relaxation seemed to seep deep into my bones.

This essay’s title strikes me as one that demands more exoneration. Yet my dragonfly rests gently on the kitchen essentials and feels no need to stir. Monday’s don’t often herald such fine hours, do they? Inescapably, anxiety seems to have itself the modern condition; so isn’t it worth noticing the adequate and meaningful nothings that make their way home?

Empty shelf etiquette

In the razor thin moments of eye contact and courtesy around supermarkets, there seems to be a new etiquette that’s arrived this season.

The lines are long are but the stores are empty. The listless souls garding the doors hold their weapons with slacked hands, the temperature checkers appropriately shaped like guns. There’s a terrible boredom that hangs over them or maybe it’s more obvious than usual for some indiscernible reason.

There used to be some effort at distancing but no one cares now, the blocked off street near the store are passé. You shuffle slightly adjacent, while politely not reaching across to grab what you’re looking at. There’s an air of informality with shorts and smaller T-Shirts abound. All of them wearing their masks below the nose or suffering foggy glasses.

Ask while guesturing to an empty shelf and of course it isn’t there. It’s still necessary to ask, just as necessary as it is for the people who work there to shrug. Certainty fitting that a world rebuilt around plastic consumerism has left us empty shelves and gestures.

It remains better than the indignity of having some billion dollar delivery service insist that the livelihoods of their workers and some disaster funds depends on your generosity, so these little bits of theater are a welcome refuge. All the vulgarities of consumerism are reassuringly locked away in four walls no matter how often you must visit.

Some thoughts

Je ne sais pas où je suis mais… Je suis dans la rue. Ce n’est pas sympa. Je veux quelque chois, mais je ne connais pas

Il n’y a pas de cadeaux d’anniversaire, je n’en veux pas. Mes amis sont loin, et qui peut célébrer ces mauvais jours?

J’espère que cette année, laisse-le tranquille.

White noise and the night

I have habit of keeping the fan on when I sleep. Or maybe I should say I need the fan on while I try to sleep. The white noise is like a conditioned staple, as important and thoughtless as closing my eyes.

It’s also necessary to keep pesky mosquitoes away, power-cuts mean I awake to incessant drones of driving bombing blood suckers. I did notice that there weren’t so many of them this season and decided to try seeing if I could manage without the noise.

All too soon my ears drifted, suddenly attuned to all the noise of the neighborhood. The dim scenery began to sound out the faceless void around my house. The muffled murmurings on peoples T.V’s was, unfortunately, more clear than any gossip. The clanking, clattering and dings of vessels was surprising. It seems like my neighbors like to cook all the way to midnight.

There was a general pattern to it all, one voice would go out from one house and then another. The simple body of the night was marked with many faces before they fell into groups. It was tempting to believe it was some disjointed rehearsal, the chorus heralding the silence in my room being assembled into a living thing. When a bike zipped past, the curtain fell, the void magically deformed with applause.

I put the fan back on, because I wasn’t going to get any sleep with all that noise.

4:05 am

I feel my eyes limbering, hesitant flourishes under my eyelids. There’s an unfortunate thought. I won’t be falling asleep anytime soon.

I try to bat it away, but it follows me. My eyes are unanchored now and I know I’ll never be back to sleep. I turn off the fan. Sometimes I think the white noise stops you from dreaming. There are crows, also too early.

There’s an Azaan ringing out, also too early. Or have I simply lost the time? I look around and the skin above my ears tingles for that familiar feel of glasses hung over them.

Why a prayer so early? I look out and it’s dark but only slightly, a thin shade over the morning. There’s nothing but crows here and empty ears to go with my insomnia.

At what age did you become yourself?

It’s not an easy question to answer. I mean even beyond the stereotypical adolescent angst I think there comes a certain point once you’ve molded a personal history that you start chronicling in the way you see yourself.

Of course as an obsessive Freudian I can’t help but insist that your long lost days of innocence count a great deal towards your mental landscape. Yet, fixations aside, there’s certainly a point that arrives later on where you start to think you’ve become an individual, no longer grasping at the coattails of once intimidating heroes. They could be teachers, domineering friends or parents if you’re the type.

Eventually, or hopefully, people come to adopt an internal monologue that after steering widely to escape childhood inadequacies, or happiness for that matter, becomes that notion of self. A self portrait that you try to add on onto and where you conveniently paint over the missteps.

Of course one risks asking questions that you can never really answer but I can’t help but feel, that this birth of image also kicks off that slow end of all the time you had. Don’t you feel it too? You were once a child and the days stretched into grand tales and unbearable agonies that last a lifetime. Then one day you’ve looked back and see an alarming number of years seem to have been slipped into your life while you where busy.

There’s no one to blame, maybe the secret is to never stop growing but I feel that running away from an inevitable fate that always looms over you. Besides what can you learn if you’re running away?

That aside, I feel like I found a voice I liked somewhere in my second year of College. The phantoms of the past were sufficiently soothed by whatever revelations and greatly exaggerated self discoveries I insisted were enough. Though there were still cringe inducing missteps I feel like there’s a consistent personality that’s weathered any challenges to my idea of who I am.

I don’t think it’ll come crashing down anytime soon. I don’t even known if that adult transfiguration ever happens to any but the most exceptional of cases. I look forward to hearing other answers to the same question, do share.

Becoming a Wuxia enthusiast

This post is to earmark a budding fascination with Chinese directors and movies. Maybe Wuxia isn’t the right term but I like it. I’ve caught Hong Kong Classics like Fallen Angels (1995) and Chungking express (1994) but I’ve decided to start taking a look at works from the mainland.

I remember watching Hero (2002) a few years back but only recently thought of the agonizing details and composition the was working in the background. The trait that’s even more evident in his must watch classic Raise the Red lantern (1992) where nearly every frame has perfectly composed symmetry and you go the entire movie never seeing the antagonists face.

If I’m ever lucky enough to get a copy of Red Sorghum (1987) or Ju Duo (1990) I’ll try seeing if I make something of his transition from underground film maker to mainstream blockbuster man.

Though my favorite discovery has been Jia Zhangke who’s excellent Ash is the Purest White (2018) inspired me to work backwards into his filmography. It’s amazing how his stories are about a changing country as much as it is about his characters. His Mountains May Depart (2015) kept me up an entire night even though it’s third act was considerably weaker since he presumably can’t direct as well in English. Though the final punch with the dance to Go West was truly amazing.

I guess I’ll have to watch more and see whats come of this. Hopefully I’ll get some good material for upcoming posts.