Sunday, July 31, 2005


Have been alone all weekend - manju's been off to a meditation course. What have I done?

I remember once I had gone to meet one of my father's friend. He worked in a funding agency in Delhi. I was talking excitedly about a project. He heard me out and then said, "Everyone is getting too productive. Productivity cannot be the only criterea."

Everytime I read about poeple meditating, I feel left out. I have to hold myself down and let myself meditate. I always fear the world will pass me by. I know, now - it will never happen. I should go back to Vipassana? Sit silent, seven stanzas and not budge.

What happens when someone calls me on the phone and reminds me, I am late? I rush. I wear my slippers, grab my keys - eye the door.

Will I be able to secure enough funds for my film? I jump out of the window. Sent out three applications today...

Saturn review

From the "New Age Directory", online version, entry for "Saturn Return":
Astrologers call the period between ages twenty-eight and thirty "Saturn Return." That's because it's the first time the planet Saturn completes its cycle through your birth chart and returns to the spot it occupied when you were born. Internationally respected astrologer Rob Hand calls Saturn Return "one of the most important times in your life. . . a time of endings and new beginnings."

For most of us, ending a phase of life that is familiar and embarking on one that is new and untried is unsettling, even painful. Few people describe Saturn Return as a pleasant period. While undergoing your Saturn Return you may find yourself turning inward and reflecting on your individual destiny. You examine your true needs and desires and the role you want to play on the world's stage. You may feel lonely and alienated from those around you, while family and friends think you are shutting them out. But this is a necessary period of consolidation, when you must retreat from the distractions of the outer world and focus on yourself at your most fundamental level. The Saturn Return is every individual's search for the Holy Grail.

The first Saturn Return marks the end of youth and the beginning of the productive adult years. It is now that you truly become an adult--not at eighteen or twenty-one. You realize your need to define yourself as an individual within society and to demonstrate what you've learned. Newswoman Jane Pauley described turning thirty as having grown into womanhood. German film director Werner Herzog compared this period in his life with a maiden's loss of virginity, a line drawn across his path marking the end of his youth.
I turned 28 in May. I have avoided looking closely at how all of this is flowing for the last few months. So much has changed. Vermont was a jumping board, a leaping point. I work in silence most of the time now, when I used to love music, noise, action. I have refocused many friendships. I told off a bad date right away over a month ago. Brave, strong, singular actions I was completely unused to in the past are now flowing out of me without question.

I have been sitting meditation for a year now, all in preparation, I am quite sure. Being this vulnerable and actualized really takes a lot of fucking patience. I am weepy a lot of the time, but it has a sense of relief I have never had before in my life. And despite the feeling I have always had of compulsiveness - wanting to do something a.s.a.p. before I lose the opportunity, I also have a wisdom which came from - inside myself? - that the ONLY way for me to proceed is one step at a time. Everytime I get myself in a tizzy - figure out where you are going next, grad school or not, move or not, leave the bookstore or not - I get all wrapped up and then all of a sudden there is this calm, this --- inside space --- where I feel like I realize that I already know what to do. I am, quite beside myself, laying out each step so carefully as if it *is* fate, as if I know exactly what I need, not only next, but for the rest of my life. Of course this is wishful thinking. I know plenty of folk who have survived their return only to turn around and say, uh, so where did *this* land me? A thirty-nine year old friend scoffed at my optimism that the Saturn Return will clarify things yesterday - "Girlfriend, mine still hasn't ENDED."

I have heard from many many people that if you have set up your life well, things will really blossom in the Saturn Return. Equally, whatever is a shortfall will fail (I just read this is the most common period in adult life in America to get a divorce!). This is so clear it is absurb. I had a crying fest with a good friend this morning - for years we have tried to help each other the way we want to be helped, only to hurt one another, as we both need support but in opposite ways. Ridiculously obvious adjustments - or they seem that way now, anyway - are slipping into gear, quite without my attention - perhaps *because* I am not paying attention, not controlling, letting go.

It won't fix everything. But this feeling is amazing. If I can keep this feeling throughout all this and after, I have really gained something stronger than the right to vote or drink. I hate to overromanticize it, but this feels like true empowerment.

And a bit like procrastination. I need to go write the rest of my first book review for LiP...
; )

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Photograph of flowers someone gave us for our first marriage anniversery four years ago. Sitting with used vessels, next to the sink. Reasting inside a tea-cup.

Want to photo-blog sometimes?

Photo + a short note...

This kitchen was in NID (National Institute of Design) - small and pretty - though very impersonal, very officious.


This morning's flavour is decidedly sour. With traces of burnt-grass fumes coming in through the window, today seems to be a morning of the old order - sad and unaccomplished.

The falvour of my eyes would be something between half-moon and dry-alchohol. The dance is obsessive. There is no music.

I have completed updating my script, now manju will look at it again and then I will update it again and then I send it our to friends for comments! The script has changed too. Somewhere in the story, things happen.

Want to start working on some stories now, have been carrying them in my head for a long time. The next-draft of what I wrote in Vermont is ready - the work seems to be nearing submission.

Have short-listed the universities where I would like to apply for MFA... submitted a proposal for a documentary film - "Leaving no trace - cyclists in the city."

This was a log of what I have been doing. Why? My mind is so full of "doing" that it can't snap out of it. Manju has gone off to another meditation camp - I am staring at a wall. No action, no action, no action today. Just relax, write, read, watch TV.

That American law-firm I had talked about seems to have decided on me, but I am not so sure anymore. It will mean a committment of 6 hrs a day - it will mean I won't be able to travel so much. But it will mean constancy in my nature of activity - day by day. I am tired of jumping horses every five minutes.

On a different note, there is a dengue near-epidemic in Ahmedabad. Hope I don't become a part of it. On still another note - calcutta has not been very good for me, it has fizzled out my nerve-ends with mosquito-bites and sweets, my wall with a million post-its seems to be a pile of pollution.

The garden in front of our flats is looking beautiful - overcast sky, soft light. My dog won't want to go for a walk again today - wet as a dungeon, she prefers a dry grass to a wet carpet.


looking for the plot. testing out new ways to write. the neighbor kid, maybe both my nephews' age, got out on their roof today. i remember that phase. wanting to get out, but still be connected. who am i kidding? i am still in that phase. let me wander but tie me down. keep me close but let me rebel. only now without parents around. plot is taught to me in buddhism to be useless, a contrived chunk of attachment used as motivation by the ego. yes. just that passive. and yet it is so attractive. so sharp. like a photograph of snow. or the edge of the roof. tantalizing in its edginess. even as i still cling to the house. after all it is not as dramatic as all that. i would sneak out of my window and onto the same dreamy ledge as a teen and that is where i plotted to go to europe when the bay area was vetoed by the empress in current rule. now, i can climb out anytime i want. and so can he.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Been reading to review lately. I don't usually read this way, taking notes, actually following up on questions about material folk refer to. Honestly I probably haven't been this critical, aware, in my reading since college. That's a bit frightening considering that I sell and buy books for a living. However, certainly that has contributed, too.

Rainbow Bookstore (, my place of employ, is both not enough and too much, in terms of words spoken and written and read. I could both consume each of the books entirely or ditch it all. In fact I have started to suspect that my life of words outside work is being worm-drained by my life of words at work. I am reticent to let power be beholden by abstract forces as of late, and yet, it must be said, there is little room for space if one is moving all about in it constantly. I realized today that most keenly, forcing my self, eyes, body, mind, to squat for a second at the doorstoop of space and consider how eagerly and mindlessly I was filling my one true resource - my own space - with crap.

Storms have finally come here. We are obviously on opposite "seasons"! It wasn't supposed to be dry spring/first half of summer (March - July) - but this was the fourth driest summer ever in the history of Wisconsin (and that is just saying so far). My first tomatoes had blight, grass stopped growing entirely (in fact I hear no matter how much you water it to grow it won't be mowable past 90 degrees farenheit anyway, which is what it was doing), and being outside midday became such an absurdly horrific experience that most Madisonians appeared to embrace it full on. For two weekends in a row, I gasped my way through outdoor events, working all weekend at the service of the dehydrated of Wisconsin. It was, again, so over-the-top that I didn't even mind. But I did have a series of seriously sad and overwhelmed days last week - now I see just before the storms came, emblematic, of course - which culminated in forcing myself to take a couple of days off. And then, the storms began. Big thunderclaps jolting you awake at four am, heart beating faster than in any horror film with a real threat lurking. Beautiful lightning. For the most part, fresh cool air puffs and promise of a few days of cooling down. If not, the storm the next night will just be bigger and cuddlier and freakier all at once.

I have to say that I love it. That in fact, each year I review Wisconsin and it's fucked up weather and each year I realize more and more that I love all of it. In fact, that Wisconsin has such diverse weather as to keep me perenially amused. I say this even though I froze at work all afternoon, a nice but awkward juxtaposition to the last two weekends, broiling outside. I was soaked on the way in, on my bike, and air conditioning was forced as humidity was far too high to have the doors open, lest the covers of our books visibly curl!

I have settled down a bit from the last weeks' high. Sure enough such electricity caused some downed trees on the mental plain. Attachment. Strong and urgent. Even as it passes now I can feel myself cling to a life without such suffering. But everything gets blown around soon enough, and whether or not I can let go is as dependable as...for now...the weather.

Lessons of Wisconsin life, not just weather: cycles, velocity, space and water.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The rice-pot is on the fire. The rice slowly softening, becoming edible. Meanwhile, what do we do?

The world today seems to be in another stage of rapid self-re-organization. Concepts are dissolving into worthless words and definitions are changing. Does that sound like the BBC World Broadcast?

Rendered powerless by choices which cannot be taken because my eyes are still clouded by confusion. I have been gradually drifting. I have been noticing that if only a few of my needs are taken care of, I become relaxed and easygoing and wavering. Total deprivation seems to work. Seems to get things done.

Have been working more on my script the past fortnight. The script is called, "Something to Say" and is slowly growing into a feature-length-film. I have been reading a lot. Read two books by Rohinton Mistry - A fine balance and Such a long journey.

What can I cay about the books? Ummm.... I find the author's voice so courageous, so strong, that I do not feel cheated. I do not feel like I have returned from a tourist visit to a fictious land... as I keep the books down beside me. I feel like I know one more way to look at the world now. I know of one more way to be.

Calcutta was sweet. It was yet another "Nonprofit week", eating, drinking, dancing with social-workers! But somehow in India, there is a growing number of people are growing to respect such organizations. Which are based on grants, sure. But are going about there work in a very honest and transparent manner. How would one raise resources from the community one wants to work with - if the general level of apathy, poverty and dissatisfaction are so high, that no co-operation, no partnership exists. To the discussants arguing for a newer way to work for social justice, I would like to insist that the situations they envison be global. The situations be in India, Africa, Latin America... Else we will have one more approach which gains momentum and currency and is pushed onto us... to replicate and mimic. Let the argument be accomodative at this stage itself... [The Revolution Will Not Be Funded]

Another issue at Crimson feet is now pending. Am reading a lot of poetry.

The monsoon is over, its hot again. But the temperature is slowly declining. We are inching towards near-winter!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Coddle, Crush, Art

Friends have given us a sling for my twenty year old cat, who is still quite able to bound three stories in one swoop, but who becomes a bit of a dangerous menace for all involved when allowed to walk when we are also on our feet. She seems both half into and half not into the idea (figuratively and literally) - both wanting to be held like a baby and close to my heart, and also tremendously stifled by the cotton overload. Worth a try. We will keep at it. Keeps her off the keyboard, at least.

I am suffering insomnia. Summer nights, when the weather is both just as bad as the day and yet finally something approaching liveable. Also, excitement keeps me awake. The list of contributors for LiP (the magazine I now edit poetry for: has been sent to me and I am now on the inside circuit. A long conversation with the head editor yesterday still has me reeling a bit - to go from reading and respecting to being totally engaged at an intimate level with a project is really really fast, much faster than I am used to moving. (Talk about slowness!) Then, this weekend was the "big art weekend" in Madison - the Blindspot project went off gloriously, with tons of interactions we never could have expected and very few hitches. I opened one group show and sat through a craft fair and sold just one piece for 10$ the whole weekend. But I also swam and had beers, and talked about sex education and art with a woman who just now has come back from her own month in Vermont. Three totally thrilling conversations in one weekend, and then some. I cannot even digest. My head feels like a stomach full of sugar; excited, wanting more, needing to stop for just a moment and breath.

I had to turn down an offer to go to Carol Queen's ( 48th birthday party in San Fran in a week, which also would have meant going to see the LiP folk (which would have been a fun surprise for us all, especially because I am still tremendously crushed out on the whole project and the people!) because of the closing reception for my solo show and showing of my stuff on slides at a club in town this next weekend. Amazing how when faced with a new era of my life in Madison - one filled with funky art people and conversations and action, part of what I want to do is go away for a bit. Typical me. Damn moment. Always asking me to come back and enjoy it. : )

I have a crush on life right now and can't sleep. I will feel horrible tomorrow, indubitably, but for now I am awake and enjoying the run of ideas in my head. No meditation could put me calmly into this moment. For I am in this moment, and there is simply no calm to make or find.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Slowness takes on a new meaning - if you think of me. It doesn't speak about velocity. It speaks of perspective. Imagine an ant trying to climb up three trees at once. One after the other. She will virtualy always be at station zero.

SO I repeat to myself, "Reduce the circles of your awareness." And there is no response. I cannot dress up to please nobody!

I will gradually get tired and then start lagging on some fronts. Then I will have less things to worry. Those who can't make decisions - break bones into steel containers. They learn to learn from failiure.

Succinctly put - trying to gauge, damage, measure one self too much can be damaging.

Letting the reigns loose - trying to keep my hair placid in the wind. The rain is seeping in through the walls. My paintings are puffing up with the moisture.

Slowness takes on a new meaning, when you think of calculation and fantasy in the same breath. Things seem to be so much off-center.