Tuesday, 21 August 2007

The Labo(u)r of Liberal Love

Always falling for something I cannot
Forbidden hence desired?
Incorrect because political?

Craving for the fish that has been thrown
That sympathises with other land-borne fish.
Yet befriends the cunning mammal.

How do you know my plight?
I know you have sailed across the same
That I have flown over.

You helped me see right and left.
I can only write of my love for you and your
Sorry I cannot vote.

But I still seek you with these words
That you may never hear.
Although I am air-borne again, it was good to see you on

Embracing Adelaide

As I was walking through Rundle Mall today, capturing still images of its icons, trying to think of a story to tell about Adelaide, I realized I was in the middle of that story. For the only story about this city I knew well was the one I lived everyday, the one about my relationship with Adelaide and its streets. I reminisced about my first ever walk through Rundle Mall – what a rite of passage it was, when I, a 19-year old international student from India, navigated a western city mall for the first time in my life, with my father firmly by my side. I remember feeling lost, and vaguely registering the difference between the eastern and the western precincts. Now, almost half a decade later, I wouldn’t say I have come a long way, but the same path has become more meaningful; each arcade, retail store, food court, street cafĂ©, mall bench, phone booth reminds me of something or the other I did there with friends as well as strangers. Each spot is a unique intersection of time and place, a story-memory of love and friendship, shopping and food, deep conversations and gossip, homesickness and belonging. And the strip itself, with its absence of traffic, and its sometimes overwhelming presence of people, is almost like an island of transition – like the foreign yet familiar transfer lounge of an international airport. This island both connects and disconnects the eastern and western ends of Adelaide. It lends an exclusive air to Rundle Street, while allowing Hindley Street to be naughty. And as I walk across it today, closer to dusk than to dawn, stepping alternately into the shadows cast by people, buildings and trees, and then the light pouring in from the alleyways, I experience the shifting greyness of my own Adelaide story. It is a story that lies between east and west.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Facing Pillars

Walking down the road after a hard day at work, she didn't see the pillar in the dark. And her old flame approaching from the opposite direction. She wondered if she could face it/him. But there wasn't enough time to think. So she drew on her last dredge of strength and confronted him with her feelings. He said she was too much of a post-modernist. She told him he was the one without hope. Their past had come to be engraved in their minds. It was a work of art. Couldn't both of them see it? She placed one hand on the pillar and embraced him with her free arm. He felt the outlines of her body, but not her.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Warrior Marks (Dir. Pratibha Parmar)

Made by British-Asian Parmar in 1993, this documentary is a conversation with novelist Alice Walker regarding genital mutilation in Senegal, interspersed with sub-titled comments from Senegalese women and a dance performance that evokes the pain suffered during this traditional albeit brutal procedure. Is this culture? Walker opines that it is a custom, which is not the same as excision being culturally validated. Coming from a cultural studies perspective that views all ways of life, and not just high art as 'culture', I have a mixed response to the distinction made by Walker.
However, academic rhetoric aside, the sheer inhumanity of this practice would make ordinary people everywhere shudder. Then again, are we, in the west, all that free from indulging in forced or voluntary 'mutilations' of the female body to fit into a hegemonic model of feminine sexuality? Personally, experiences of being groped and pinched as an adolescent in India made me so self-conscious of being a member of the 'weaker sex' that accentuating my assets was out of the question. This film made me wonder whether these rather ubiquitous forms of abuse, just as the thorns-sealed private parts of the Senegalese girls and the decapitated eye of Alice Walker had left a mark on me. Had they made me over-sensitive to male contact and patriarchal traditions, but underestimating of my own physical and emotional worth? I reminisced of the time when one of these stories came out in the presence of a guy I liked and he referred to me as 'you poor thing'. I wasn't offended, but was possessed with an overwhelming urge to change the subsequent stories of my life, to make sure I always kept my self-esteem intact and imparted the same message to my female friends. Again, following Walker, I would like to think of myself as a survivor rather than as a victim...to transform these wounds on my psyche into 'warrior marks'.

This Unconscious Desire

"In Beth's language he could, if he wished, say, 'I love you.' In Anvallic this phrase was impossible, for cariah, loving, had no form in the singular person, but could only be expressed in the plural. It was understood to be something that existed as a mutual sentiment or not at all, and it implied a voluntary blending of identities. When one person wished to affirm cariah with another, the expression most often used was, 'We love as water loves water and fire loves fire'."
(The Etched City, K J Bishop)

Thursday, 2 August 2007

That Lingering Feeling

I want to try a Bobby Flynnesque rendition of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry". The opening line of the song, unoriginal to the rational side of my brain, still manages to touch me whenever I hear it. Passionate creature, eh? But I would prefer to change "The smell of your skin lingers on me now" to "The smell of your skin lingers in me now".
I want to cease the act and let the feeling linger...to let the feeling seep in...to feel the feeling and eventually be done with it.
I want to realise I have "no hope, no love, no glory, no happy ending". Perhaps there is still an iota of redemption here...in the act of creating...in writing, photography, filmmaking...in turning that lingering feeling from yesterday into a fluid poetics today that is possibly an empowering thought tomorrow.