Archive for February 2007

Air-bound Conversation

February 27, 2007

Almost everyone in red shirts filed into the plane carrying gifts and cartons (all redly wrapped) besides mandatory dangling of oranges in plastic nets by their arms. Since I was already seated (aisle seat), I had to get up each time someone went in or out of their seats. Everyone said ‘Gong Xi something’ – as they walked past me. I nodded and grinned.

Pig was in the air!

Ting Tong! Sang the overhead loudspeakers, but nothing happened. I fumbled through the inflight magazine. ‘Tebu chi…’ or something of this sort, said a man. I looked up. Ah! At last a man without one of those red shirts! He loaded his huge hand luggage into the overhead compartment. I got up (again) as he sank into the seat next to me.

‘Ni hao…’ said he.
‘Ni hao…’ I said.
‘Fhhd dhshgdg hhsjd…’ said he.
‘??? ???’ said I
??? He looked at me.
??? I looked at him.

The plane was filled with loud clamour of ceaseless conversation and laughter. The smell of oranges (being peeled?) dampened my nostils until everything began to smell like oranges. Oh! I was wearing white T-shirt and the gentleman next to me was in light blue shirt with blue ties.

Ting Tong! Fasten Seatbelt signs lighted up. Click…click…and the plane jerked, moving slowly towards the runway.

After the air hostess’ delicate and synchronised display of Flight Safety Instructions (?), which nobody bothered to look, the flight took off. Someone somewhere from the back screamed. Somebody laughed. I smiled. The gentleman beside me popped earphones into his ears and snoozed.

Once the fasten seatbelts signs were off, air hostesses came with trolleys full of inflight goodies. I ordered orange juice. The gentleman next to me was up. He went for a beer.

‘So, you from Thailand?’ he asked, his tongue lubricated with beer.
‘No, from Bhutan’
‘Oh!’ his eyes sparkled. Maybe because of beer? ‘I want to visit Bhutan…before everything changes…’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You have perfection just now. A country not ruined by materialism and greed. But things will change.’
‘Yes, things will change.’ I observed sheepishly.
‘A country without KFCs, McDonalds, Starbucks…imagine that…isn’t that just great? A land filled with mountains, rivers, temples, prayers flags, peace, fresh air…’

He knew more than me.

‘By the way, I’m W…from England and you are?’
‘I’m Lens…from Bhutan…’

The in-flight goodies was on its return trip and we had the opportunity to order some more drinks. This time, we went for whiskey on the rocks. Conversation came smoothly and became louder too. My tongue began to slip off emitting something that resembled English accents. His English face was turning red. My Bhutanese face felt warm and would have turned either black or brown.

I snoozed after sometime. The thud of tyres on the runway jolted me to senses. I was still tipsy when I disembarked at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport and felt strange for some reason.

And why do they give us peanuts as soon as we board the plane?



February 27, 2007

Plastic birds, perched up on thin shiny steel rods, sway in the wind. The air, filled with smoke, is hard to breathe. It’s hard to see…

It’s a weird innovation. Life has been ripped off of the living. The inanimate objects linger around us, proximating to life that we once had.

A river, painted, framed and nailed on the wall, flows down a perennial lush green landscape in oblivion. A thin layer of dust that has settled over the ages mars its beauty. Somewhere down the corridor, a stuffed toy stares blankly across the wall. The cracked walls need fresh paint.

People speak voicelessly, noiselessly, amidst noiseless clamour of laughter. Words have no meaning. Voice has long died before we realised this dull silence. We look at each other, our eyes filled with dread and fear, nay, and confusion too. We have strumbled upon ignorance, the wall that made us blind, deaf and dumb and even inanimate too.

‘Where has that glory gone?’ We ask ourselves, silently. ‘Where is that glory?’

We turn our heavy heads, not believing what we now begin to experience. We stare at each other and grope through the dark world, voicelessly, holding each other with the hope for a better and newer beginning…

Somewhere in Time

February 25, 2007

A lone bird circled in the sky.

It was so long ago that seems like an experience of another lifetime, where memories and dreams are intertwined, mingled with a sense of nostalgia. It makes me wonder if it was just a figment of my imagination.

Somewhere across the valley, a man was calling out to another man if he saw his cattle. A faint answer reverberated from somewhere. A gentle wind blew, rustling the pine leaves. For a moment, I thought I heard the sound of river flowing mildly down the valley-floor.

The weak winter sun bathed me in its heat. The lone bird was still circling in the vast empty sky. Down by a hillside, a pair of oxen were pulling a plough, yoked to the hard earth. The ploughman sang an ancient oxen song, of an ox taken to a faraway land to plough the fields.

The cowherds called each other. Some played flutes. Some climbed trees and sang amorous cowherds’ song. A few of the girls near me giggled, peering from the Buddhist scriptures they were learning to read.

Somewhere around a bend, a tiny stream trickled down, its icy fresh water meandering into thick bushes and shrubs. Some of the cowherds had made a tiny pool with stones, mud and leaves. Cattles often came there to drink before driven home.

Sometimes, wild dogs attacked the cattle. I heard a tiger attacked some cattles too. May be it was just a lie.

Come evening, we gathered our cattle and went home. The lone bird had long flown home. A line of ravens flew into the distant horizon. The sun sparkled the land with golden promises. The harness bells of the cattle clamoured in the stillness of dusk blending with the sounds of nocturnal insects. Far across the eastern sky, the gallant moon peeped behind a looming mountain. I smiled and continued my way home

Films, Books and Music

February 23, 2007

I am crazy about them, I must confess, crazy about all of them. I cannot think of a world without these antonishing people who left wonderful gifts for us (for me at least). Come to think of them, all are Japanese! Now, this doesn’t mean I am also crazy about Japanese girls *grin*…

Um, Japanese filmmakers, writers, singers, I am a real sucker for these…talking of films and songs, I am more into the black and white and that drooling music era. Now you can well guess my age! Books also almost fall on the same category.

OK! Kenji Mizoguchi! Mizoguchi’s films are well known for their championing of women. His films have an aesthetic that is reminiscent of Japanese art. I saw Life of O’Haru, Ugetsu, Osaka Elegy, A Geisha)

Ah! Akira Kurosawa! A filmmaker known for his fast paced action and Samurai films. Who haven’t heard of Seven Samurai? I watched Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low, Red Beard, Dersu Uzala, The Stray Dog, Ran, Madadayo.

Oh! Ozu Yasujiro! Known for his sad, simple story of generational conflict. Ozu chose a persistent approach towards film and its limits, liberating himself from the ambiguity of outlines, dampness and shadows. Ozu preferred dry sunlight conditions (as opposed to Mizoguchi’s fog, or Kurosawa’s rain); its sole purpose being to “approach the dazzle of midsummer sunlight”. I watched Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story, Early Spring, End of Summer

Um, I do watch ‘modern’ movies too…say for example, The Village Album and Always: Sunset in the Third Street.

Books! Japanese Novels! Haruki Murakami! Read all his novels and loved them all. I like Kenzaburo Oe (The Silent Cry), Kobo Abe (Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another), Yukio Mishima (Spring Snow, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Sound of Waves) and I have yet to read books by Yasunari Kawabata.

Japanese Songs? I listen to a few of them. I like Rimi Natsukawa (especially Nada Sou Sou), Tokyo Ethmusica, Toru Takemitsu and I listen to a collection of somewhat old Japanese songs the titles and artists of which I fail to know since my Japanese is as good as my Arabic or Hebrew. Who was it that sang Subaru?

So, what about Japanese girls? I have never seen one! Seriously…besides the ones on the silver screen. LOL. Um, talking of girls, um, what is her name, the one in Nada Sou Sou – Tears for you? Damn! She’s cute!

Ah! Horses! Horses?

February 22, 2007

‘Ah!’ I might have even smiled from ear to ear, ‘horses?’ I said or rather thought myself.

I heard the thumping of hooves on the concreate floor, echoing in the hallways, but was given to some doubts. Horses in a Departmental Store? It was impossible. But, you could see anything in Shopping Malls these days.

I got up from the steel cold bench planted near the railings overlooking multitude of stairs and shops. It was unbelivably silent. Why are there no people here? Curiosity robbed off any possible logic I might have had and was quickly drawn to believe in the presence of horses gallopping steadfast in such an extravagent place.

Horses are beautiful animals. Faithful and hardworking creatures that they are, they took people from place to place for several generations. They fought and won (and lost) many battles in the history of our (and their) times. Who was it that wrote about a Highwayman who stleals into the night to meet his love, a black-eyed girl of some landlord?

Tlot tlot, tlot tlot!…
The highwayman came riding
Riding riding

I don’t remember what happens but one or both dies (?).

Such are the uses of imagination (and horses too).

Tlot tlot, tlot tlot!

I craned my neck in all directions. The sound of hooves echoing in the hallway was killing me.

What are horses doing in the Mall? I managed to think. Then, there they came. Tlot tlot, tlot tlot!

A group of serious looking women raised high above the ground on high-heeled shoes! Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! They walked past me and disappeared down the stairs.


February 19, 2007

‘What have I done?’ he thought he told me and counted his thoughts like beads till he lost the counts.

‘I don’t know’ I would have told him if I knew what he was thinking about.

‘What did you do?’ I managed to ask, nervously.

He brooded over something I will never know and sighed countless number of times, staring at his feet, rubbing his eyes occasionally. Sometimes, he looked at me with grudges in his eyes and smiled.

‘Life has been unkind to me,’ he lamented, ‘I’m nobody. I’ve nobody.’ I thought he was crying too. Was he? Did he?

Life is unkind to everyone, I wanted to say, but couldn’t. I couldn’t say anything. I sat there, basking in silence that he created, thinking about what he would have thought, seeking answers, each of us, one of us, both of us, all of us have always wanted to answer. But it was what he asked. It was his question. His answer that he was seeking. Could I have the answer? Could you?

Evening was near. Twilight. The sunset bathed the earth in crimson gore. The floating clouds were drenched with the bleeding sun, the dying sun. But it will rise again in the morning to bleed again. Will his heart heal to bleed again? Will mine?

I looked at him. A shadowy figure against the setting sun. What was he thinking? Was he still counting the thoughts?

‘What have you done?’ I asked.

‘What?’ he was lost.

‘You said you thought you…’

‘Oh,’ he intercepted, ‘that?’ and gave himself to some more thoughts.


‘What did I say?’ He asked and walked away.

While I waited for the Flight…

February 14, 2007

I smiled, almost like the Buddha. Only my smile didn’t generate any calmness in other person. It seemed pointless, but I smiled anyhow. People looked at me and frowned.

Airports are weird places. Funny too.

Travellers with assorted (and unassorted) luggages looked at each other and in all directions, looking lost and confused. Am I one of them? Do I look confused and lost too?

A guy next to me yawned, stretched, picked up his backpack and left, frowning all the while at I will never know what. A girl (was she French?) next to me fumbled through her things, murmuring angry words to herself. Her hair was kind of messed up. She was not the beautiful type. I am not sure. I don’t know.

Then a Check-in Counter opened. Indian Airlines. Now you know what happened. Noise. Loud, louder, loudest! Yes, just like India. Chaos, almost mystical and bizzare chaos. Disorganised trolleys and baggages were pushed in every direction towards the check-in counter. The girls behind the counters maintained their ever hospitable Asian courtesy smiles for a long time until they began crumbling into agitated frowns.

A group of loud-speaking Indian men posed themselves in front of a camera or two. A couple did a Titatic pose. A few Indian women, looking ever grumpy and suspicious of everyone around them, with ample bosoms sat beside me. They glanced at me. I smiled. They ignored me. They frowned. Another group of men were strolling hither and thither, talking or rather shouting at each other, scratching their groins rather violently all the while.

I walked away from there.

I passed several people with trolleys on the way, looking dumbstruck bearing the same lost look on their faces. I looked at them. They looked at me and totally ignored me. I smiled. They frowned.

I thought everyone was ignoring me until I realised everyone was ignoring everyone else.