Saturday, May 28, 2005

Behja Cycle Tey

School di wuddi Madam ney

Puppo nu kuttya is gul tey

O nikki miss nu kehnda si

Aa ja- tu behja cycle tey

(unknown)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Finding inspiration

Something has to happen to stir things up inside, and then, and only then, am I compelled to write.
Yes, I know that's silly. Even according to Elizabeth George's book 'Write Away', writing has more to do with butt-glue than inspiration. And while I was reading that particular line, I could almost see my mom looking over my shoulder saying, 'not just writing, M Zee, life!'
But I can't. I can not relate to discipline. If I were a character in someone's book (which isn't that far-fetched an idea once you think about it), this would be my defining trait. I'd rather let it burn in the back of my mind, till I am sure that I am ready, till the nervous energy is almost visible, bechaini, betaabi, seeping through the pores on my skin, and then I write.
My dilemma is that I can't say its good, because it doesn't work for everyone. I can't state with surity whether this time around it will work for me or not. Will I be scrambling at the last instant, trying to kick myself in the butt, and fail? But it is the only way I know.
Years ago, I'd actually promise myself that the next time, the very next time, immediately after that particular task, I would set myself straight. Alas, it wouldn't work, and the low you feel when you let yourself down is almost irreversible.
But the instantaneous realization, that yes, it's here, it's happening, is an occassion that warrants a celebration. And the reason I'm going on and on about all this, is because lightening struck today, and I wrote down another 25 pages in one sitting.
That's my new record!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Extreme mood swings

I've been watching two movies this long weekend. One was 'Tum Bin', slow melo-drama at its best, characters with a sense of purpose, and the great melodies. The other one is 'Fight Club', with its 'your condo and your sofa' anti-boredom rhetoric. The mood swings could not be wilder.
I realize that the weekend is over, but I'm still hanging on to it. I should be keeping myself busy, fill my head with the logical disillusionment that is the real world around me, dressed up in Emperor's new clothes with Mose's stick in hand. Take care of things that need to be taken care of. Finish what I have yet to start.
But suddenly, I am tired. Even after an uninterrupted sleep of 8 hours, waking up to Rabbi Shergill singing 'Bulla Ki Jaana', having tea in my pajamas along with a cigarette. All this, and no energy to tackle the day in front of me.
No energy to make up an excuse for my uncle or my cousins. No energy to go to the Temp agency and get myself hired. No energy to fill up the forms and deposit the fees, have them sent from one department to another, while I wait.
No energy for friendly chat, no energy for phone conversations, no energy to dial a number, communicate. None for the library, none for the headlines, none for the blogs, none for Backgammon.
What, in the name of God, is this paralysis?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

To Sherazi

You could travel the world
suitcases dragged, shoulder bags drawn,
tickets, papers, passport in hand,
asking for help,
from a complete stranger.
You could watch the Nile,
sleep on its shore,
or you could read a book!
A good book, infact,
that would explain
the meanings of the words
you seek.
clearly defined,
in alphabetical order!
You could claim the highest accords,
Even, in cooking,
up a scheme
staging a final plot
in a cartoon-ish land
of mice and men,
literally,
You could save the world!

But can you forget
the night we sat
between
a stage show and its audience of,
one single man!
when we talked
a mile an hour,
and walked the same.
raising the collars of
your humungous jacket
and my graceful coat,
snow in our face
wind in our ears
debating
winter and Faiz.

I have finished Faiz,
and summer's here,
too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Denigration defined

Q. How do you influence the outcome of a debate when you DO NOT have an argument?
A. Slander, off course! Dig up dirt on your opponents and discredit them.
Q. What if I can't find dirt?
A. Manufacture it, like the evidence of WMDs in Iraq.
Q. Isn't that too obvious?
A. Be subtle. If you can't find dirt, find something that might be unacceptable to your viewership and slant it such that it seems part of the argument.
Q. Isn't that unethical?
A. Irrelevant question because we are not interested in ethics, we are interested in winning the argument whichever way we can.
Q. Fine, but how can I be sure it works?
A. Take the example of Voice of Toronto, who incidentally, claim to be a news-site. The debate in this example, is about women leading congregational prayers. So, how did they influence the debate? They took a photo of a prominent liberal opposed to their view, and they stuck it on their main page. The person in question is Tarek Fateh, editor and host of Muslim Chronicle and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, he supports the idea of women leading the prayers. The picture in question claims to show him as dancing, though the pose seems awkward and...
Q. That doesn't discredit his views? I mean, so what if he's dancing. How does that influence the debate?
A. Aah, you didn't let me finish. I haven't told you about the slant.
Q. The slant?
A. The urdu caption in the image translates to "After praying behind a woman, dancing behind a woman". There's your slant, there's your relevancy. Immaterial information is now part of the debate!
Q. Ooh...
A. Exactly!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Weekend past

Saturday was overcast, but still we ventured out to Mississagua. I hate that place, would never live there. Everything hip and practical about downtown Toronto, turned upside down and moved 40km west. Uncles in gas-guzzlers and huge aunties flaunting too much jewllery. It is too much of a suburb to warrant any serious activity. Too many cars on roads too wide for pedestrians. Nothing is in walking distance anywhere, and transit sucks. Surely, lots of Pakistani and Indian cultural programs are held in the area, but that has nothing to do with the ambience. It has to do with utility, and cheap rental rates for evenings.
Anyway, we had fun. Ate Shawarmas at Pakwanchi. And the pakwanchi I knew was at the corner of Kennedy and Sheppard, not off of Hurontario. I've seen the guy at Jumaa a couple of times, said hi, but never knew they had moved, or opened a new location.
Then it started to drizzle. This weather never ceases to amaze me. Its like the whole sky over your head has been taken out and replaced in a matter of minutes.
Bought shades at Eye Emporium, and laughed hard when the girl behind the counter would say the store name. In her thick accent, it sounded like emPORNium.
Sunday, I sat down to do some character sketches. It is one of those design documents for fiction, that do not require a logical thought progression, and hence, can be done anywhere I can find a paper and a pen.
Wrote a brief for CSF, and scrapped it. Wrote a poem and ripped it. These things are so heavily tied with inspiration, that at the slightest touch of discipline, or forced delivery, the thoughts disappear. They leave behind fragments of sentences and phrases that might come in handy the next time I sit down. I want to change that and tie my writings down with perspiration rather than inspiration, but my attempts have been unsuccessful. I have the material ready for another 2000 words, hopefully, I'll pull it out of my head today.
Job woes continue. Nothing worth mentioning there.
Insight of the week: What you write could land you a prison term!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

First impressions are made

One of my cousins is beginning his foray into the world of Rock. And what it took, was a song I hadn't heard before, Bandeh by Indian Ocean, from the soundtrack of Black Friday. We've been listening to it almost non-stop.
Tonight I hunt down the band and all their songs on net. All leads are welcome.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Kiss your hands tonight

One hand severed and the other badly bruised, for speaking up for those who can't do it for themselves. The sickening brutality, this violence, someone stop it, please...
I can't write anymore.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Unscheduled fun

Yesterday evening, I went to meet a friend who is visiting from the US. As the evening progressed, it grew into a gathering of fellows lost long since, and we found ourselves reminiscing our earlier times. I pointed out that apart from two guys, all of us had lived with the rest at one time or another, an oddly discerning fact which seems to have struck some subliminal note, as it quieted down for a few moments. And then, the latest rounds of funnies started, and all was forgotten. Unscheduled fun is the best of its kind.
R asked why they say saw so little of me last year, to which H replied that the only place to get a handle on me was at 'blogspot'! I was struck dumb for a second. I had no idea that this man concerned with little more than women and money would have noticed, or have bothered to look at a blog. What possible motivation would he have had for an ungainly activity like visiting a friend's blog? He has kids to take care of, and a business to run! He didn't elaborate when I asked, leaving me to wonder what other things I took for granted amongst my very own.
A good middle of the week fun that charged up all my batteries, and now its time to put them to use.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Various

1. Has anyone ever read a book or watched a movie where the audience is implicated to be the villain? Is that even possible?
2. Got a forwarded email about a Washington Post cartoon depicting Pakistan as a hound-dog with the latest terrorist in its mouth, being patted by a US soldier. It appears here. Googling the author's name I found this, which casts a shadow over his credibility (in case you can't be bothered with long paras, it claims he is on the ISI payroll). Another vested interest, or another dairh eenth ki intellectual masjid?
3. Found the Books and Authors section in Dawn, and was perplexed that I couldn't recognize most of the authors or the books they were reading! I feel as blessed as Cobain right now.
4. Sank U for the wishes everyone. The runny nose has turned into the stuffed nose. It isn't quiet like the caterpillar turning into a butterfly, or the ugly-duckling story, but its progress. Another day and I should be back to normal... whatever that might be.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Nose off

I have a horrendous cold. My head has sprung a leak. It is all draining down through my nose. I hope to loose my memory, too.
I am on fluids most of the day, but it doesn't matter because I can hardly taste anything. The only sensation my taste-buds register is sweetness. That's why my Chai was loaded with sugar. 'Since I can't taste it, might as well just swallow it' and that lead to a burnt throat. A tissue paper box, marked as ultra-soft, lies only half full. I bought it yesterday. And as for the ultra-softness, it has already scratched my nose enough that the next time I touch it, it will fall off.
In front of the mirror, I did a cheap imitation of Nicholas Cage, pointing at my own face with all my fingers, and with a slight flick of the wrist, "Nose Off". My forced grin turned into a cough, which turned into a sneeze, which turned into a big mess in the sink.
Which reminded me of two things. The nose is a good analogy for a drain. Or, maybe the other way round. And number two: Stephen King said somewhere that there is a drain between the conscious and the subconscious, and the goo that can't pass from the latter to the previous - the goo that gets stuck in the middle, is prime material for creativity.
In between these two disjointed reminders is another bad analogy waiting to happen. But I will be some time before I try and sniff it out.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Just asking

Fuck Rolling Stones and the list mania! It would have been a good enough edition without the numbers that go on the sides. Why do people pay attention to the-top-five, the-best-ten, and who gives them the right to rate anything? Just because something is out for public consumption, it does not warrant commentary! You don't squeeze a whole nine to five schedule in every short story. Ditto the history of existentialism in every poem. Analysis upon analysis devoted to vague concepts like 'feel', 'soundscape' and 'punch'. What is this 'punch', anyway?
And who decides what songs will be recycled as background filler for ads on TV? Such gems of music that sold themselves to the world - were owned and loved by millions around, are now selling cars and video-games.
When was sports demoted to being 'just entertainment', as if its only the hormone rush that comes out of a good game?
Why does being 'professional' mean being politcally-correct, and what political motives do these 'professionals' have?
Why is Stephen Harper so much in the news when people don't give a shit about the conservatives, and don't want elections?
Why, exactly, is Stephen Harper the opposition leader, when he could not harvest scandal upon Liberal scandal, to gain voters? Talk about checks and balances in a democracy!

Monday, May 02, 2005

The lovers of Algeria - Anouar Benmalek

"... anybody, anywhere can fall in love, but it always ends badly..."
But in blatant dismissal of her own experience, Benmalek's characters choose to live their life in hope. As if all of them are challenging the futility of submission to violence, by completely disregarding it; at least for a while.
I didn't think the plot of love torn by violence had much traction left in it, but Benmalek carries it well. Not just carries it, but carries it to perfection. One of the best books I have read since Jhumpa Lahiri.
He portrays Algiers as a country under siege, with the French on one side and the extremists on the other, while the people are caught in the middle. And everyone continues on with the violence, even though they feel its pain personally. It goes on and on, dragging innocents into its folds, killing them or turning them into perpetrators of injustice. People come and go, but the killing and the torture never stops. And it is love, the naivete of a swiss girl and an algerian highlander, that forces them to keep themselves alive through it all.
And a word for the translator too, Joanna Kilmartin, who has transferred the work into english from its original french.
Highly recommended to all book lovers!