Thursday, September 28, 2006
In silence, he was gone.
The next day, his grandmother passed away at 4:55 in the morning.
Like paper. Thin and frail. They had tied her body tightly and firmly, one loop at the hands that were swollen with the pressure, one loop that bound the big toes, and one around her neck. Almost as if they expected an 83 year old woman’s cadaver to protest the escaping of life.
Hospitals are strange, dispassionate places; like flipbooks of all that might happen to you – from the delivery room to the mortuary. Frames in constant motion. And so, they tie up bodies of frail old women like frisky goats to the slaughter.
Three women, from three families, we open the knots on Dadi’s naked body with trembling hands that half recoiled at the touch of her cold skin; half desperate to rub life back into her limbs. It’s just a body. It’s just skin and bones and frozen flesh. There is nothing of Dadi in it.
Her daughter: “Ma loves it when I comb her hair down with scented oil and tie it.” she says this as she runs frantic finger through Dadi’s dishevelled hair. Her fingers can’t open the knots. “What have they done to ma?” She’s half rambling incoherently, as her tears fall on cold skin. “Mamma, don’t worry. I’ll make you look beautiful once more ma”. She kisses dadi’s forehead. The imprint of her lips settles on Dadi’s skin like a stamp.
Her daughter-in-law: As Dadi lay helplessly on the bed a few days ago, C held her hand and assured her that the two big pots of rice and fish that were waiting to be cooked, taunting her at her bedside, would be taken care of. “Ma, the fish has been cleaned and the mustard paste has been added, don’t worry I won’t let it go bad”.
Her granddaughter: She isn’t really my grandmother. She’s U’s grandmother. Six months ago she asked me about G. The next day, G & I broke up over the telephone. These last three nights, I’ve had recurrent dreams. Last night he walked back into the car park, standing by my stolen car, looking like he’d been waiting for me for very long. For the first time I saw him smiling.
Sponging cold skin with towels
Snot and tears
And soapy wet cloth
This is just a thing that must be cleaned
Off white sari, six yards long, with a pretty red border
A streak of vermilion through her parted hair
A final red dot on her forehead.
U, his father, his uncle and Dada [his grandfather] are all dressed in white. White looks so attractive on Indian skin. It is not necessary for the women to dress in white. Men must perform all rituals. The women may prepare the body, but the men will see it off.
Dada wanders around the house without a thought. Without purpose. He has to get somewhere. Somehow he doesn’t seem to know where.
People are pouring in. He had anticipated the decorum of this solemn occasion. He had run it through his head several times. In the army they teach you to be a gentleman. Calm. Composed. The picture of equanimity. And yet now, while he’s in the middle of it, he isn’t feeling solemn. He isn’t feeling anything actually. Vaguely, he’s aware, that there’s some place he has to be.
Her eldest son looks busy. Calls. People. Arrangements. But every once in a while he sneaks away to her room, to crumble a bit. That’s U’s father. He wanted me to buy her one of those special walking sticks from HK, the kind that serious hikers use. That was after she was bedridden. It's still in its packing. Hasn’t been touched.
He is dazed when he lights the pyre. At some point, the priest makes him take a long wooden pole and jab hard at a particular part of the fire. He does it. Then he is told that what he just did was crack her skull to allow her soul to escape her body.
His expression does not change.
No one cries in this family. They just shrink. Look smaller. More vulnerable. Like paper dolls.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Okay. So this is going to take the form of a tag.
Since HB asked... here's H's monster head.
self portrait. blurred. 'cause the sibling very optimistically thinks every stalker out there visits my blog.
But BEWARE: it's like medusa's curse... once you've seen the H-head then either you post a pic of yourselves on your respective blogs too, or turn to stone. [I'm serious. You're going to start developing cracks and peels very soon if you don't pay heed.]
So, those of you who I know come here... HB, Nan, Lizza, Prometheus, NG, B.Diddy, Prat. Go on. I'm waiting...
Monday, September 18, 2006
Cerebral flatulence, or simply: brain fart on how Men=Women=opportunistic egotistical parasites; and other disjointed meanderings within walls
Men of course, ARE the cliché. [now now bwoys, queue up at the ‘launch offensive here’ counter.]
Odious nursery rhyme:
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
‘Sugar and spice and all that’s nice’ indeed. Women. Ha ha. [Come again, thank you.] Ha. Many who often slip in and out of stereotypes like schizophrenic mermaids, conveniently, shamelessly, happily and almost innocently, like I do. It doesn’t take a moment does it, to express at one instant a deep frustration with not being perceived as an ‘individual’ and at the other, happily expecting that ‘he’, universal bastard, should understand that all the world’s problems are 99.9% because of ‘him’ and the remaining 0.1% perhaps sometimes maybe because of perfectly understandable menstrual syndromes – post and prior.
[Weeeemen, there’s a separate ‘ladies-queue’ at the selfsame counter]
Audacity is what it is. To smirk and swivel well polished tongues at those who really toil. It is them that divide the intellectuals from the working millions. Men or women. Men and women. Just people. And they fool them into believing it’s a battle of troughs and crests [vaginus vs penis]. But it isn’t. [Well sometimes.] The difference is in the intellectuals and the nons [suffixless too as they cease to be worthy of an existence-qualifying noun by virtue of a more-than-qualifying prefix].
The one will break wind of any kind from any orifice and the other will toil. Ceaselessly. And yet, the one thinks they are superior to the other.
The one will trudge and wear out every bone and breathe and drop of sweat in the living; and the other will fight wars with eloquent nouns adverbs and pronouns strung cleverly upon breathless punctuations.
Personally, I struggle between the absence of a tongue – spilling suppressed frustrated virulence in half-coherent echoes within walls; and a disconnected, disjointed ability to speak before only those who I know will not disagree. [Self-indulgent aside.]
And we are so proud of our brains. Exquisitely wired bits of circuiting that we had no hand in soldering, nor ever will. And yet we believe, and in that belief we are unshaken, unhesitant, not even for an atomic nanosecond, that the brain and we are One. Such pride in a gaksome mass of grey gook that we, till death do us part, KNOW is the immutable, indivisible [and often insufferable] I.
But what if you were to lose bits of yourself every day. Bit by bit. And not even know about it? What if all that were left of you was a fragile dust-self held together by a silvery, almost two-dimensional cobweb outline of your Self, so tentative that a single breath could scatter it all. Forever.
Then what brain?
Where does I end and Fate begin?
Why are there so many non-believers really? Why must magic be tantamount to unreality?
Am I to believe that pink-shirted-man-on-motorcycle who swerved and nearly came under my wheel, making my car stop and causing a heated argument that lasted over thirty minutes, that just happened to utterly and entirely shake the shape of events through the day by a thirty-minute-delay and foul temper; be the result of just a moment of wavering suffered inexplicably by Mr. Pink? Was it just an aberration in Mr. Pink’s motor functions? Or was it the function of Fate in a larger picture that wanted me to not only get delayed and miss an important appointment that might well have serious implications on my future project, but also continue through the day in a foul mood and mess up more personal and delicate equations that could have devastating repercussions on my life?
This tiresome thought too is such a bloody cliché. Top to bottom.
Where does it end really?
[Disclaimer: I, Left-brain-of-H, don't subscribe to/ support/ or believe in either the argument (if there be one, hidden in the layers of text here) or the counter-argument (if it's possible) to any view (or views) that might, wittingly, or unwittingly be presented here by either Right-brain-of-H, any-other-renegade-organ-of-H, H-in-whole, or any other of the many bogus 'I'-the-Hs you may encounter.]
Monday, September 11, 2006
I’ve been meaning to write this one so long that I don’t know how to begin it anymore. It’s a compilation of scraps written between meals and uncomfortable flights.
First off. I’ve realised I write like a fucking dumper truck. Laboured. Sludgy. Dense. And full of shit.
Nearly fifteen days of being away from Shout has cured me of my obsessiveness. I think. [Then again, maybe not, judging by the length of this dump session]. In the first few hours of my vacation I was aghast at how I couldn’t think out of the blog. I experienced everything like it was a post – in third person. “Now she’s walking down Chinatown…”, “She loves tapioca jelly…” [No, she does NOT really.] And suchlike serious twistedness.
But then again, I’ve always needed a witness [take note, NOT companion] to my vacations to truly enjoy them. Like a pole dancer. Or a stripper. Or a teppanyaki chef. Or… I’llshutupnowcauseyoubasicallygetthedrift.
So. It goes.
Everything’s like a revelation. I haven’t seen such blue green water. I haven’t seen such an under-populated airport. Heck, I haven’t seen such a clean airport! I haven’t seen so many non-Indians. I haven’t seen such pretty roads. I haven’t. I haven’t. I haven’t gaped and gawked like this in a long time. [Slap her, she’s Indian]
That’s what happens when you step out of your country for the first [technically second, if Nepal be foreign enough] time in your life.
S and N are darlings. They take me around. Everywhere. In fact they also introduce me to my ‘fan’. Ahem. Yes. I had [operative – ‘HAD’] a fan. Once upon a time. J. [My my aren’t I so farkin’ International, one?]
Ok. So a bit about J. He’s sulky. Moody. Argumentative. And he’s genuinely nice. [All] fact[s] verified by S, who’s his boss. He also exhibits a keen interest and blossoming talent for charting blueprints of extreme ways of destroying Hello Kitty [I hope he’ll post some on his site]. And, he’s Cancerian to boot. Yay.
Oh AND. J also thinks that America is at the centre of the Universe.
J: OMG you haven’t seen HEAT!?????
H: errrr. Ummm. No.
J: OMG and you’re in films?????!!!!!
H: (stony silence, single eyebrow raised to show mild displeasure… but it goes unnoticed)
J: OMG SHE HASN’T SEEN HEAT. And it’s like the BIGGEST thing that happened to America!!!!!!!!!!
H: (singular eyebrow climbs higher and higher. thinks: ok… charming, but that’s enough J bwoy)
J: (goes on and on and on OMGing)
After which we come to The Westside Story… and it starts again. [OMG YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE WESTSIDE STORY?????!!!!!!!!]
By the way J, I DO know the Westside Story story… and y’know why? Because we have an Indian Bollywood remake of it. So there.
[But J’s sweet. I like him. And J, if you’re reading this, then I promise the cycle-rickshaw ride in Jaipur, with authentic Hindi music, ok?]
Back to H in Singapura. I walk and walk and walk. And eat and eat and eat.
From Hawker stall to hawker stall I systematically demolish all forms of sea-fauna in and around Singi. From pre-breakfast, breakfast, post-breakfast to pre-lunch, lunch, post-lunch and so on till the post-midnight binge, I plod on relentlessly like a bastard-on-ecstasy.
The BEST bloody thing that could happen, happens to me.
I see a WOMAD poster. I SEE MANY!
I mean, how lucky am I? WOMAD starts on the 25th. Yay.
WOMAD’s awesome. Farking FARRR[rah rah rah rah rah rah rah]KING awe-blardy-some.
Radio Mundial, I have decided, officially rocks. I am so going to buy their music. BUT. What’s cooler still is that I’ve actually worn out a pair of brand new sandals in one evening. It’s like this fairytale that I’ve always been fascinated by:
Fairy tale – 100 princesses wear out their shoes every night. The king tires of getting 100 new pairs made each day, so he publishes a notice through his kingdom that anybody who’s able to find out what they do with their shoes, can marry the princess he chooses. Man with invisible cloak follows them and realises they go dancing every night with a hundred princes. [Eventually Man-with-invisible-cloak chooses the youngest princess. Paedophile bastard. But that’s an aside.]
So my heels now bear the scars of a WOMAD night. Yay.
S has also bought me a cool black WOMAD t-shirt. Made me choke up. The first time I saw G he was in a black WOMAD t-shirt. I’ve had this terrific feeling throughout that I’d run into him somehow. KL’s just a hop away, na?
But I didn’t.
It’s so good to see the sibling after months. Typically, she showers me with hugs and kisses and the next moment she’s shrieking her head off because I put my ‘dirty’ stuff on her bed. Ahhh. Welcome home. [If Royal Orchid Sheraton be home enough].
This is the best birthday present I’ve received – this trip’s been sponsored by her. [Yes, I’m beaming with pride, My sistah catwoman. Rah rah, go sister!]
Thailand is so pretty. But it’s so not-English-speaking. This is the first time I take my head out of my English-speaking arse and take cognisance of the fact that the world’s larger and much much more diverse than I thought.
My cappuccino comes black, topped with cream and lemon rind [yessss, lemon rind]. I detest cream in any form, but sweetened whipped cream and lemon rind I discover taste blardy awesome on coffee.
Once again, most of my meanderings in Bangkok are intervals between delirious eating sessions. Crab, steamed fish dumplings, VIBGYOR curries, assorted seafood soups, coconut water, jackfruit and dried out squid snacks.
My stomach rebels at some point and I’m sternly told not to eat street-food.
I am also absolutely blown by the beauty of Grand Palace. I mean I hate doing touristy things like staring at buildings and marvelling at architecture… but this is simply dazzling. The colours. The gold. I don’t understand how anyone can feel spiritual in a space that is so full of the most remarkable handiwork in gold.
I need more time in Thailand.
I am utterly at sea. I-cannot-understand-them-cannot-understand-me. I’m tempted to switch to Hindi. S has to call up friend-in-Shanghai to order my dessert [which turns out to be tapioca jelly].
Everything is fancy buildings and pretty roads, and S actually calls it hick-town. Wow. Then Delhi, my boy is Ruralia Exotica.
I also note a fascination with Tralfamadorian architecture. “Respect bitch!” S cries, propping up my right arm as we pass one such building. “Hail Galactica”, he pinches my arm for me to repeat after him.
Here I have the most divine; and I repeat, MOST DIVINE prawn dumplings. I have never and probably never will have dumplings as delicate as these. Sigh.
I don’t know why but this part of my post must start like this. It isn’t even about HK.
I HATE tightwads. I can’t effing stand men and women who have a perennial case of wallet constipation.
Of late I seem to only meet men who behave like there’s a mob gunning for their wallets. It’s offensive. It’s pathetic. And it shows a lack of breeding. I couldn’t care a rat’s arse about your money. I don’t like random people paying for me; I don’t allow it. But at least have the fucking courtesy to offer, punk. I will refuse. But offer. It’s basic decency. All women aren’t genetically wired to feed off your pathetic earnings, schmuck.
I’m at the airport. Waiting to board a flight back to Bangkok. And all of this is suddenly bothering me to a point of tears. I think it’s because of the family I see in the waiting lounge. They were with me on the flight from Bangkok to HK two days ago. Familiar faces that are suddenly reassuring here. The man is in his fifties perhaps. He’s American. And his wife is in her late twenties. She’s a demure Thai girl with the cutest baby girl attached to her hips. The boy, who’s about eight is running around, and his father’s trying to keep pace with him. Our eyes meet. He smiles and I smile back. For a moment I almost see a flash of familiar grey-green eyes. And before I know it, I’m sobbing uncontrollably and shamelessly in a fucking steel and plastic waiting lounge. I want to believe it’s because I’m desperately tired.
But I suspect it’s the unexpected memory of what a friend said to me recently about a certain someone, a Vietnamese girl and a dozen half-Indian children.
I’d laughed then. But now it wells up like acid vomit.
It hurts like crazy.
To recap [morbid memory vomit apart], HK was a blast. One night at Lamma Island and the next was spent first at Ned Kelly's firing up our ears with Good Time Dixieland Jazz, with Colin Aitchison & The China Coast Jazzmen, and then roaming Lan Kwai Fong which in S’s words is Ghetto Fabulous at its fabulous best. It truly was. N’s friends K&M were super fun. Carefree Canadian musicians who practically hugged us all the way to the airport.
And back here in Singi, to another exquisite meal sponsored by my rich-&-generous uncle. Cod. Sea Bass. ABALONE [woo hooooo!]. More fish. Squid. Some other tentacly-thing, clam, fish, prawns, more fish. And tapioca jelly dessert [gak. Could’ve done without that].
An inspiring lunch of salmon, tuna, cod and prawn sashimi. [Gawsh! Can you not bother slicing it? just gimme the fish WHOLE].
Inspired Interlude ditty:
I LOVE fish.
Heck I even
like it Raw.
Haul them in
just gimme MORE!
And finally, my final dinner in Singi. Yay. [all of this is interspersed of course with some arsey touristy things like posing with the puking lion – Merlion, and walking through the Esplanade, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay (I loved CQ & BQ) etc.… ya da ya da].
Friends D & A take me to Village, which is a choose-what-you-want-food-court. I must’ve looked like a starved destitute because previously-unnoticed-fellow-diner comes up to me and very kindly suggests: H, why don’t you order what you want for yourself and for me… that way you can eat two things.
I am shameless enough to accept his offer without even a courtesy refusal. In fact I don’t even flinch.
So smoked salmon rosti it is for me, and ummmm let’s see, grilled sea bass for you. And wait; let’s get pizza too. Make that extra shrimp and cheese please.
After that it’s hazelnut ice-cream and a chocolate ball [not very Eastern, but seriously, I can’t have anymore tapioca jelly]. By now the others have stopped eating. They’re watching on with fascination. I smile and continue. I almost consider another helping of dessert, but I think it’s a good idea to stop. I don’t know these people. They might think poorly of me. Worse still, they might think poorly of D & A. So I stop. Reluctantly.
Back home. Eleven days of no sleep later, I am irritable. I’ve caught the flu suddenly. I’ve missed someone desperately after a long long time. The sibling’s left and we hardly had time together. I don’t feel like talking to anybody at all. But I do. With all sorts of friends and family, to say I am back. And I laugh and chatter to express the excitement of all things done in the last eleven days. But I am numb. Like the coagulated phlegm that sits and just sits in my sinuses.
Oh. And I didn’t break my alcohol fast. The food was all the stimulation I needed – sex-drugs-absinthe all rolled in one, with a generous dab of fish sauce.
Surprisingly, I haven’t put on weight. Yay yay YAY!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
on blog, who likes to say lol
Three things I visualise every time someone says lol:
1.) a head that ‘lols’ back involuntarily
2.) saliva that drips uncontrollably from that lolling bastard head
3.) eyeballs that ‘lol’ round&round&round in over-sized sockets in that same bastard head.
I can’t go beyond this… I’m already puking.
[whatever happened to saying plain old ‘ha ha FUCKING HA’?]
footnote: Lol is the most bastard arse-riding acronym ever ever ever formulated. And here’s my contribution to the extinction of those-who-help-it-breed. Die bitches. Even a bomb’s sweet release for pain inflicted through lol.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
More than twice as many Malaysians speak English as a first language, than Indians.
Nobody speaks English in China. [fact recently, and most painfully verified]
40 people speak English in Tokelau [and no doubt they know one another from the class of ’76]
The coastlines of Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand have recently been hit by a severe and mysterious depletion of underwater fauna.
Tune into hikipedia for more bizarre facts later this week.