Strangers, So I’ve been off living my life for a while and there are some exciting shifts and unexpected changes taking place. And I want to tell you about ’em. So here they are, in a numerical list, in no particular order of importance:
1. I’ve just returned to Johannesburg after six weeks back in Ye Olde United States.
That’s why I’ve been so quiet lately. I’ve been doin’ my thing in America since early October, and I used it as an opportunity to unplug. (IE: I didn’t open my laptop once!) This year I spent my longest time away from home to date–9 months. A full gestation period. *throws up hands and shakes head* Needless to say, it was way too long and I’ve learned my lesson–that I need to be home, in America–in Pennsylvania and New York–to recharge my spiritual battery, to seek refuge in the people and places that I call my true home, at least once every six months.
The oldest one walked up to me. It was the Sunday afternoon of a three day music festival and everyone seemed keen to get outta dodge.
I was making my last trip from the campsite to my rental car. He looked as if he was playing a part he had only ever been told about but never given the script for. I watched him shake off his doubt and walk over to me, chest out and strutting, until he was standing right in front of me.
“Hello Madame,” he declared, “May I have some money? Please.”
This is an old favorite–written in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2011. I was new to the city and was working as an intern for CNN. My first assignment was to go out “to the field” with a photojournalist and capture B-roll of a city-wide protest of convicted murderer Troy Davis’s impending execution. This poem turned out far better than the B roll. But unfortunately, the protests, which spanned the nation and garnered endorsements of Presidents and the Pope, failed in their mass attempt to reverse the sentence of Mr. Davis. He was executed on September 21, 2011.
They saunter around Tivoli Square, between a cinema and a supermarket; at the cross section of American life. Fifty Samaritans with the face of a convicted murderer who found God in a prison cell. Meek and bespectacled, in three days he will be dead. Carter, Clinton, The Pope, and the rest of the world bate their breath and pray for justice as he palms his rosary beads and orders his last meal.
“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, The death penalty’s got to go! Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the death penalty’s got to go!”
But one of these things is not like the other. In a sea of royal blue solidarity, there is an aqua jumping bean darting between people like she’s at a carnival of pious-intention. Continue reading “Pint-Sized Vigilante”→
Returning to New York City, after living in the third world
Her and I, we didn’t part on the best of terms. I absconded from my role as “struggling millennial writer cum waitress” in the unforgiving ecosystem of the Big Apple because, in the three years that I lived and worked in New York, I found myself calcifying over with cynicism at an alarming rate.
I served far more tables than I published articles and wrote poems, deflected daily catcalls with aplomb, learned to control my panic attacks while stuck on the N train in the tunnel under East River between 59th Street and Queensboro Plaza. But I was weary. I found myself doubting her wonder, her grandeur, her reputation as “the greatest city in the world.” What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I thriving? Fulfilling my potential? How was spending my early 20’s in NY turning me into such a curmudgeon? Continue reading “Reconciling with the city that never sleeps”→
When Anand is excited he speaks very quickly. His English is about 50% to begin with, and when he gets animated, each word leads into the next with an exotic cadence and I can no longer follow. I have to ask him to slow down and repeat himself before I can finally decipher his words, only to then declare them like mini-epiphanies.
“OH! Motorbike! I’m sorry, I thought you were saying ‘modernite!’”
“I don’t know ‘modernite’ .”
“I don’t either!”
And we laugh, because laughter, apart from tears, is one of the only sounds that transcends language. When we laugh together, it doesn’t really matter why. It matters that we are sharing something with one another. Something that we both understand to be positive, to be safe, to be indulged in collectively, like the juice of a coconut from a shady roadside stand on a blazing afternoon. Continue reading “Mornings in Chennai”→
She found comfort in the folds of the Metro paper.
She heard symphonies when the subway would screech.
The type of girl that remained steadfast in the assertion
That dandelions were flowers
And weeds were just seen as disobedient
To everyone else but her. Continue reading “aubergine”→
I sensed your tragedy before I even realized what had befallen you. You, an acacia tree older than my country. Me? A humble witness to your inevitable downfall. You, baring your branches high on a bluff next to the Emmarentia Dam, innocent and ignorant to the dangers of natural electricity. When I found you it looked as if a giant had pulled you apart like a head of broccoli, splitting your trunk and throwing your remains, with the slightest clues of charred wood now permanently burned upon you. Continue reading “For A Fallen Tree”→
15 Lessons Learned the Hard Way by a Single White Female in Chennai
Make a habit of removing your shoes outside every holy site or temple you visit. Some places will insist that women cover their heads or don a bindi, out of respect, depending on the customs of the holy site. Don’t question these rules. You are there to observe and to learn, so be respectful by keeping your voice down and discretely doing as you’re told by your guide or the locals escorting you. Like Islam, Hinduism has “prime-times” for prayer that occur at dawn and dusk. Keep this in mind when planning your visits. Continue reading “TAMIL NA-DO’S AND DONT’S:”→
Cindered forehead kisses
From the The Lord Himself
Sitting point blank
Fogging up their third eye
With a thumb print of a robed stranger
announcing a Holier than thou prowess
For the day, at least Continue reading “Ash Wednesday”→