Sunday, 27 April 2008

Monologue of Groceries and Ideas

There is an explosion in my head. A bursting of ideas so palpable I have to let them out on this screen so I don’t disappear under the weight of their accumulation. I don’t know when the pile reached this point. I have been caught unawares. Especially since I haven’t felt any new emotions in a while and was beginning to wonder if there was any way out of the rut of groceries. I don’t hate groceries. I don’t dislike supermarkets or farmers’ markets or any other kinds of markets. But the constant filling up of my basket/trolley/shopping bag has become mundane, story-less. Where are the hidden aisles, the undiscovered tastes, the emerging aromas? In my head? I want to let them out.

So I baked today. Created a cake. No pre-mixture was involved. And as its freshly-cooked smell wafted through my home, I came back here to finish writing this. I also watched a David Lynch movie in between. There was nothing mundane about this film. Perhaps that is how I came to have an appreciation of normality. To get back into the post-Lynch real world, I went to the kitchen to taste my cake. A bit dry, but will do, especially considering I haven’t baked in months. And also keeping in mind I didn’t use a recipe. Just a long-developed knack for sensing fluffy sponges from the texture of the batter. I knew this batter wasn’t perfect, but it had that special mingling of coffee and hot chocolate in a cake that I find irresistible as winter makes its annual windy-rainy way into town.

I wrote. I baked. I ate. I wrote again. And I feel lighter. In the head and in the heart. I know my dilemmas won’t go away if I serve them a piece of the cake I just baked, or offer them my writing/editing services. However, as long as they are not an impediment to my creative and emotional development, they can take their jolly time in the supermarket queue. I’ll either wait patiently, or try talking to the person in front. Perhaps I secretly hope that another cash register opens soon so I’m the first one in line. So I can be served in a jiffy and make my way home. But what’s the rush? I can think as I wait. Getting home will unleash countless chores. When/where will I fit in the baking? I did today, a day I also waited almost an hour at the bus stop. Without reading. Without listening to my comfort-playlist. Maybe over-stimulation was the rut in the first place. Can you smell my cake?

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Motif Moment

Was it an agnostically-divine, timely-timeless, monochromatically-colourful fraction of a second - the moment I met my motif? 

Before I go on to a description of this motif itself, I must spend some wordy time on the long and uninspiring search for it. The (re)search has spanned and scanned continents, city streets, women's magazines, old family photos, bohemian retailers, dreadlocked musicians, fringy plays, art cinema, dismal philosophy, avant garde installations, and a great deal of self-centred thought. Even though I eventually discovered it sitting right below my nose (literally), I believe the journeying and meandering was necessary. These wanderings established a motif of their own - a pattern where my cultural/political leanings largely determined my aesthetic tastes. One could argue that this is the case for the a majority of homo sapiens, and that argument leaves me unfazed and convinces me of the 'normality' of my formative processes. The novelty in this normality, however, is the particular criss-crossings, the detailed design, the indelible imprint of this motif on my personal and political self (as opposed to selves). 

It is the paisley - the same pattern that I saw my mother paint, sketch, block and screen-print, fill up with colour, and adorn with leaves in her textile-designing and my crayon-fiddling days. I have since admired its graceful shape(s) on cashmere shawls, South Indian brocade silk saris, Gandhi's khadi-inspired cotton prints, chic scarves and sarongs, silver beads and jewellery, Persian-style carpets and rugs, cushions and quilt cover sets, wrapping paper, handbags, and a range of other objects I am yet to lay my eyes on. It doesn't even need a Google search to realise that these patterns are here, there and everywhere; perhaps muticultural in a way modern people and nations can only aspire to be. While it may have had its hey-day during the hippie era in the 1960s, the paisley has certainly passed the test of time in terms of both its pop cultural and sub-cultural relevance. Growing up, I knew it as the 'ambi', which is a Hindi term for a mango seed, and now recognise it as the 'paisley', after a town of the same name in Scotland. Good old (or new) Wikipedia tells me it has resemblance with/refers to a teardrop, a Persian vegetal design, half of the Chinese Yin Yang symbol, the Indian bodhi/mango tree, the Indian/European medicinal leech, a Turkish calligraphic seal, the Zoroastrian symbol of life, the French rendition of the palm leaf, and the modern fractal image. Perhaps I sound idealistic here, but I want to unapologetically and unequivocally adopt and adapt the paisley as the visual motif for my aesthetically-political documentary as a film-viewing maker on the subject of 'homed-migrants'. 

Paisley is the new Black

Monday, 7 April 2008


Like icicles
That strangely please the eye.
And injure the heart.
Lining the cave of time.
Ornamenting openness.

The English Patient (Dir. Anthony Minghella)

Based on a novel of the same title by Michael Ondaatje, a Sri Lankan-Canadian writer who is renowned for his non-linear narratives and the depth of his characters, this is a film that is literary without being cerebral. It begins with graceful brush strokes (representative of Egyptian cave paintings) that drew me in like other film beginnings seldom do. While revolving around the bygone life of Almasy, a Hungarian geographer who is considered an English patient by the French-Canadian nurse Hana, the story flips effortlessly between the past and the present - and so we have the sandstorms of the Sahara desert and the mines of post-war Italy; the tragic lover affair of a married British woman and the young inter-cultural love of a Sikh sapper; the fatal flights of war and the bumpy rides of peace. Even as time echoes itself in this film, some space remains unabridged. This is the place of the future, this is the church that Hana and Kip may come back to. Can uncertainly be a flicker of hope?