Thursday, June 25, 2009

From a train in Japan

On trains in Japan
Local trains in Japan are very strange. They are quite crowded. However, there is no pushing. Instead, there is only silence. There is no eating, chatting, laughter, or colour. There are many men in suits, sleeping, and many women in skirts, sleeping, and many school or college students, sleeping; if they are not sleeping, they are reading or sms-ing.

It is not customary to talk loudly, eat, or push. Usually people are alone in trains. Not with other people. If you are with other people, you are usually staring at them instead of talking to them.

So if your leg is hurt, you can’t talk to people and ask for a seat. You just have to stand and wait (even for one hour). People don’t notice, and don’t care enough to offer you a seat. They need their sleep.

The Shinkansen is quite fast though. And comfortable. With reserved seats.

My favourite area in Japan so far has been Shinjuku. Sadly, it was not the “Japanese” culture that attracted me to it, but the urban hippie culture. Shinjuku has an area called Golden Town littered with these tiny bars. I can’t even describe their charm. Low light, jazz and blues, interesting people like Kuro (an artist), who has retired to the tiny lanes of golden town, and Hoshi (a photographer), who was more than ready to strip to show off his tattoos to foreigners. There is also “second line bar” a few steps away from golden town that offers an excellent pot of blues for thinking and writing and feeling all night long. Machan, the owner, is now 41 but looks not a day over 28 and would describe the one quality that will define his life partner as comfortable. He learnt his English from the music.

Shinkuju also has several love hotels, where couples can stay for one night. These hotels are filled with entertainment like DVDs or Jacuzzis and heart-shaped beds and transparent bathrooms. It also has many brothels and host clubs where women go to see men in long hair shake their small bums. I skipped this part.

The onsen culture in Japan is rampant. Onsen basically refers to a hot spring. Japan being a volcanic region, there are many many many onsen all over Japan. But you don’t just go out and sit around in a pond of hot water. Many onsen hotels are built along the region that extract the water from the hot spring and make a mini pool of it. The water is usually around 40 to 45 degrees hot. They say sitting in an onsen for around an hour will make you loose one kilo. Because of all the sweat. They also say that all the “bad” from your body goes out into the water. Hotel because, you usually go into the onsen at night. And after you are out, you are exhausted! And it is best to sleep right away. Like giving a baby a hot bath. An important part of onsen is that you have to enter it in the nude. Of course, there are separate onsen for men and women. At first it’s strange, but two times down it’s like eating.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Searching for it in a Guadalajara Dance Hall"

You go in from the cobbled back street.
Into an empty, concrete one-room building
where prim youngish women sit in a line
of straight chairs. The women are wearing
tea dresses thrown away by rich Texan
women two generations ago. The men are
peasants, awkward in a line of chairs opposite.
Nothing is sexual. There are proprieties.
No rubbing against anyone. No touching
at all. When the music starts, the men
go stiffly over to the women. It isn't
clear whether they say anything. The dance is
a slow, solemn fox trot. When it stops,
they stand still while the men
find a coin. The women stow it and all
of them go back to the chairs to wait for
the music and another partner. This is
not for love. The men can get love
for two coins at a shack in the next field.
They know about that. And that they will
never be married, because it is impossible
to own even a little land. They are
groping for something else, but don't know what.

~Jack Gilbert

"How to Sleep"

Let your mountainous forehead
with its veins of bright ore
ease down, the deep line
between your brows flatten,
unruffle the small muscles
below your temples, above
your jaws, let the grimace
muscles in your cheekbones
go, the weeping muscles
sealing your eyes. Die into
the pillow, calm in the knowledge
that you will someday cease, soon
or late, late or soon, the song
you're made of will stop, your body
played out, the currents pulsing
through your brain drained
of their power, their purpose,
will frizzle out through
your fingertips, private sparks
leaping weakly onto the sheets
where you lay breathing
and then not breathing.
Lay your head down and relax
into it: death. Accept it.
Trick yourself like this.
Hover in a veil of ethers.
Call it sleep.

~Dorianne Laux

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye"

Yeh Mehlon, Yeh Takhton, Yeh Taajon Ki Duniya,
Yeh Insaan Ke Dushman Samaajon Ki Duniya,
Yeh Daulat Ke Bhookhey Rawajon Ki Duniya,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai.

Har Ek Jism Ghayal, Har Ek Rooh Pyaasi,
Nigahon Mein Uljhan, Dilon Mein Udaasi,
Yeh Duniya Hai Ya Aalam-e-Badhawasi,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai.

Yahaan Ek Khilona Hai Insaan Ki Hasti,
Yeh Basti Hai Murda Paraston Ki Basti,
Yahaan Par To Jeevan Se Hai Maut Sasti,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai.

Jawaani Bhatakti Hai Badakaar Ban Kar,
Jawaan Jism Sajtey Hain Bazaar Ban Kar,
Yahaan Pyaar Hota Hai Byopaar Ban Kar,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai.

Yeh Duniya Jahaan Aadmi Kuch Nahi Hai,
Wafa Kuch Nahi, Dosti Kuch Nahi Hai,
Yahaan Pyaar Ki Qadr Hi Kuch Nahi Hai,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai.

Jala Do Isey, Phoonk Dalo Yeh Duniya.
Mere Saamne Se Hata Lo Yeh Duniya,
Tumhari Hai Tum Hi Sambhalo Yeh Duniya,
Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai?


Sunday, June 14, 2009


as romantic the struggle
that unromantic the struggle
in love


Friday, June 12, 2009

I would have liked to say

I never like to say goodbye. But there is a wind behind every one of us that takes us through our lives. We never see it, we can’t command it, we don’t even know its purpose. I would have stayed among you longer, but that wind is taking me away.

I will miss it here. And I will miss you. But I’m content that the power that propels me does so with superior
knowledge as to what is for the best, and that is my faith. I would like to come down now among you and say goodbye, and wish you peaceful hearts and loving hearts.

Goodbye. I’ll stop by.

~From Doubt, The Movie

Thursday, June 11, 2009

opening time

i think when i am pmsing i would certainly be capable of killing someone
maybe the army should use that as a tactic, to induce rage into its soldiers
pms hormones

well niki and i have spent the first three weeks, rather calmly, no fights
she's been really supportive of my weightloss, feeding me, encouraging me
all the things you'd expect out of an elder sister
yes, she is a bit controlling, but that's how she can be effective (or so i have told myself)

and then today while walking back home from the library, suddenly, out of nowhere i decided to snap back at one of her controlling child-rearing remarks
i was all ready to pack up and head home!

luckily, it is chirag's birthday tomorrow so we all calmed down pretty quickly
and we all love each other again!


Tuesday, June 09, 2009


It is really quite beautiful: The Great Ocean Road
Niki says New Zealand is a 1000 times better.
And has glow worm caves.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"For the young who want to"

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

~Marge Piercy