Song

Run away from me
As fast as you can
Forget the dreams
You wanted to come true

Run away from the voice
You used to believe
Give into the dull whine
Of fear and doubt

Things, they cannot be predicted
Things, they can often go wrong
Through the routine of the days
We lose our ways
We lose our faith
We lose ourselves to the passing days

The dream-chaser
Forgets his dreams
The singer forgets his voice
The actor forgets the lines
So why not you, your feelings?
We hold on to precious little moments

We smile at strangers
Walk with the setting sun
We pick the broken shards of ourselves
And let life go on

So run away from me
Forget me
I’m much less than your dream
Much less than your faith

I’m much less than you could ever loose
I’m much more than you would ever gain

Advertisements

The Nearness of You

And now that I have you

Next to me

So calm is the night

The moments twinkling

Like stars in a Christmas sky

 

Now that I have your arms

Around me

So warm is the night

Our breaths intermingling  

With the wind-chimers’ sigh

 

Now that I have your love

Surrounding me

So innocent is the night

The every-day barrenness fading

From the far corners of life

 

Now that I hear your breathing

I feel you feel the same

Your heart beating

To the harmony

Of your smile

 

But now that you are near me

So wakeful is the night

Just as much as I keep awake

When you are out of sight

 

We’ve been with ourselves for too long

Our beds so narrow

Our hearts too stricken

So late into our lives

 

And the nearness of you

The nearness of me

This love

Steals our sleep

 

So we hold each other like

Wrapped gifts

We never asked for

Nor deserve

Surprised we finally found

This bliss

 

But thank god,

For the nearness

Ephemera

When I dream
It is hard to deem
This memory
Isn’t entirely mine

Or it isn’t me in that frame
Propped up on her bed against the pillows
The lampshade on the side table
Blushing walls almost turquoise green
The whiff of sea and freedom on her cheek
You loved to breathe in

Nana, tell me a story!
And she looks at you sideways
Blowing a perfect ring of smoke
(That flick of her cigarette
The flair we’d love to gain)

I would have reached out
And tried to hold that thinning ring
In my cupped hands
Like now you try to hold her in your mind

The child would have asked her
Nana, if you cry for someone, in a dream,
Does it count?
If I mistook someone else
For you, in a dream, does it count?

We’ve woken up
Having loved and lost
To the pained residues of cigarette haze
Scattered ash
In a tray

It’s another day
And we try again
To hold
With our hands cupped
Before it fades away

Typical Tropical Woman in Berlin

So it’s Berlin 2010. It’s the fall. The maples are caught in the Autumn fire. The sun mellowed down and sentimental. My  German colleagues tell me I’ve brought the sun with me, since it’s out again after weeks of rain and meek weather.

And this time, as I was walking through the clean streets, with polite traffic, across city squares with guitarists and lovers and children engrossed with their ice-creams, I felt truly peaceful inside. Unlike last summer, I wasn’t haunted by a heartbreak or an unresovled past in Europe. No guilty feelings. Just me and the summer. I admit, every moment did include a parallel moment, in which I was sharing that moment with G. It was magical. But still, I was not homesick or lovesick, and I was truly present in the moment, fully awake and conscious and absorbing what Berlin had to offer. What a GREAT feeling!

So, the first thing I step into, right after the airport, is a taxi, with a driver who fled Baghdad 30 years ago, for political reasons which he doesn’t want to share with me. But ofcourse, he’s mad about Hindi films. He’s seen Arzoo and Ai Milan Ki Bela. He loves Sholay. And Vaijayanthi Mala is his favourite.

Tumse mohobethain…he crooned as he drove, overenthusiastic to find an audience who knew the same songs. And knew what they meant, as well.

Thanks to globalisation, I was thoroughly entertained all the way to Movenpick Hotel.

And I recollect the same feeling I had, coming to Europe the first time in my life. Just getting out of the train in to the city square, and strangely feeling at home. Surprise! Surprise!

Sunday afternoon; Alexander Platz with Kristin. I take the subway, and momentarily held by this subway singer…

And another one in Alexaner Platz…

Ask me what I appreciate most about the European cities…yes, there are many things a typical tropical woman could appreciate, but what strikes me most is this ‘Love is in the air’ mood. You know the lovers, walking hand in hand, kissing in public, cuddling in the sun and all. (ya, it’s a couple kissing in the background!) It’s this freedom to love, and to express love in public. And I can’t help remembering how wonderful it was to be in love in summer europe, and how dismal it is now, by comparison, to be in love in my tropical isle sometimes…

To generalise, if I may take the liberty to, our men are a bit paralysed in this department. I mean, they are fantastic in bed. They can compete there, at an international level, in terms of technical perfection of the art. But in the art of affection…oh dear…I wish I had never experienced love in Europe now that I have to live with this permanent Rebecca syndrome. I don’t wish to look down on the men in my country. I’m a tropical woman. I want to love one of my own kind. But I couldn’t escape globalisation. So I had to go through all these experiences. And I can’t help these philosophical observations! It’s not criticism, so if you are a tropical man reading this, don’t take it personal.

OK, you’ll say it’s not our culture to display affection in public. But then, do our men display affection in private? Or do they just do it because they are expected to. Some times I feel they do, simply because it’s what our sentimental women kind want. Something just to get over with. Like an obligation.

Life is an obligation. To be faithful to your wife, to love your mother, to fight for your country!

Ha! Ha! Ha! That’s my only reaction!

Of course, I am not saying all our men are like this. I have indeed met a few wonderfully affectionate men in Sri Lanka. But overall, when I listen to my friends and observe the world around me, I feel that our society has crippled our men, hip upwards, I mean. They are denied the right to express themselves. They are denied the right to feel, to be emotional. And I often find them uneasy, when a bit of affection is expressed in public.

I don’t know why people only talk about liberating the woman in this part of the world, because the men, oh them poor souls, they so need to be liberated themselves. Being a man and being human must be difficult, come to think of it.

In Sri Lanka when a bit of affection is displayed in public, the public scoffs right back at it. It’s considered ugly, uncultured and vulgar. What’s ugly, uncultured and vulgar about a man loving a woman, and expressing that in public? I don’t get it. I think it’s at the core of the sexual frustration and violence of this society – the big secret everybody knows but nobody talks about. Without allowing the men to be human, to be affectionate, we will never liberate our women. (That’s my ‘loud and clear’ to the feminists!) It’s not just enough to talk about sexual harassment in public transport, you see – something I have never experienced in Europe and experience daily in Sri Lanka.

I mean, it’s simple right?

High degree of sexual freedom, acceptance of affection, flexible gender roles – low levels of sexual frustration, harassment and violence (summer Berlin or Sweden, to quote an example I know better)

Low degree of sexual freedom, acceptance of affection, strict Victorian mores and gender roles – high level of sexual frustration, harassment and violence (our tropical paradise)

And I don’t know how to change this society around me; or to liberate a man, (or myself for that matter), but I know I can love. Not in a possessive way – not to hunt a man down and put him in chains of lifetime bondage (aka marriage) but in a way that redeems. In a way that supports both individuals to grow, to explore, to be more affectionate beings, not just unto themselves, but to others as well. One could also do all these things within a marriage, or without it. The choice is personal.

I feel this is the key to the politeness, the gentleness, the ‘culturedness’ that I sense in the European public life. Now don’t call me a post-colonial Eurocentric rootless bastard of globalisation. I’m just expressing my opinion. I’m entitled to one.

So to get back to Berlin – Tacheles. I want to talk about Tacheles. It’s this run down building which belonged to East Berlin before. Now, the area is transformed. The Big Bad Banks have come in. So have Gucci and Prada. And the government wants to pull down Tacheles because it’s an eyesore in the middle of a chic commercial district.

And the artists resist!!!!!!!!! The very next day there was a peaceful public demonstration, not devoid of music and dance.

So the call to rally goes:

To enforce art piece Tacheles

We save the creative centre of Berlin – We build a city

The pillage of Berlin by banks, investors and neo-liberal pseudo-politicians must stop!!!

Performance-Demonstration

Monday 20th September 2010

And they’ve been successful in resisting the demolishing of the building since the 1990s.

For more on Tacheles go to the Wikipedia entry  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunsthaus_Tacheles

and then walking through the graffiti covered walls, exuding an anti-capitalist verve, I come across this great poster shop. The work is bold and gripping. (Btw, that’s Kristin in the photo thanks to whom I visited Tacheles)

So why do I feel like this is another important element missing in Colombo. Just the space to have ‘honest straightforward talk, purpose’ (that’s the meaning of the yiddish word ‘tacheles’). Now where’s that space in Colombo, or anywhere in Sri Lanka? Ours is a society of stifled emotion, come to think of it. There is no space to come together and to have a dialogue. No public space for people to meet and talk (leave alone kissing!). In Colombo, the Galle Face Greene is the only ‘public space’ and in the evenings no wonder it is overcrowded. And still, it is NOT a public place. Because, people don’t come there to meet new people and to have a chat, they just come there with their families to fly kites! It’s just an escape from the four walls of an urban home. Nothing more.

So, our civil society  – sorry, but there is no ‘society’ in that sense. It’s only a collective of individuals, families and organisations, struggling in their own small worlds. And that lonely struggle embitter them. No wonder, when there is no space, like or unlike Tachales, to bring people together to share things that are common. And our pseudo coffee houses like Commons (which has nothing in common with the common of our country), or Barefoot which has nobody who ever had to go barefoot, offer no ‘public space’. In fact, they form status hierarchies that the middle class has to struggle to access, in order to be ‘cultured’. (Btw, this also makes me a pseudo-intellectual, because I also grace these places despite my criticism.)

So in that sense,  we need to pay attention to these words like ‘civil society’ and ‘public space’, because I am not sure that we have these in the true sense of the word.

So, no wonder we are crippled, not only in terms of showing affection in public but also resisting power in public. There’s no culture of peaceful public protest. And our protests, forgive me for being brutal here, but they are soooo boring. And sometimes even sponsored by organisations (like the one I work for, so I am not innocent here, you see!) I mean I do have a soft corner for some genuine individuals who repeatedly take to the streets and I do respect them sincerely. But the truth is it is not in our ‘culture’ to protest peacefully.

We deny the issues till they brim over the top and every 10 year cycle we have a violent revolution or a guerilla war of some sort that can only be countered by terror and suppression only.

And the only way I see out is to work systematically to build these ‘public space’ to be affectionate, to create, to express and to protest!

Ok, this is getting too long. And beginning to sound like a sermon, so I’ll have to skip the rest of the travelogue, in which I visit Fusion Street, a creative organisation working with marginalised and immigrant kids in Berlin, the visit to the New National Gallery of Modern Art, the Pergamon Mueseum…maybe some other day…

At Colombo duty-free I bought a Bailys, a Semmilon Chardonnay, a Chivas Rose and a French Brandy. They are all locked up in my grand ma’s closet right now, which is full of duty-free spirits! You see, my family culture is not one that encourages drinking. Like my mom asks ‘who on earth are you going to go drinking with?’

So you see, if I want to  promote dialogue, I can start at home!

Nevertheless, let me raise my glass!

To Love, Art and Politics!

In Transit

(19.35, 18-09-2010, waiting for QR 303)

spotlessly glistening

all too perfect world

without a sense of time

waiting

waiting

waiting

in the transit lounge

to take wings

is it your face

i see in the crowd

in the reflection of the glass panes

against dazzling zorowsky jewels

armani versace window panes…

i see only your face

and i know i’m in transit

to an unknown destination

with you

Politics is Just a Joke

I am rather silent these days. I keep my opinions to myself. In my previous blog I had declared ‘in the past few years, in which I have grown from a school girl to a woman, I learned to reserve my political opinions; instead I write poetry.’

In this blog I have meandered off and on. And some of the opinions have been put forth, quite directly. In a way, it is a useless process I am involved in; adding my opinions to an opinionated world, which couldn’t care less. On the other hand, people around me seem to have no opinion of their own at all. My family, for instance, is slowly realising the parochial media gimmicks, and are bewildered on what to believe. In the kind of life they lead, they do not read Garcia Marques or Galtung. They do not watch movies like The Edge of Heaven. They do not hang out with the think-different crowd. My family belongs to the common, urban, middle class. They do not want to search; they need truths to be given to them on a platter to believe in. Even when they realise that the ‘truth’ is the fabrication of someone in power wishing to  hold on to power, they would rather believe what makes life easier for them that moment.

I try to give simple answers when I am asked for my opinion on the current politics these days. I am worried that I will become another cynic or a useless idealist that the world around me doesn’t need anymore. Thank god, my grandfather, simply because he’s lived so long, probably has started seeing through the dark mere. But with the rest, it is difficult to talk without getting into arguments. So, I wish I could revert to my old stance:  Only small individual creative acts can make sense to me, personally, in this madness.

So, despite my mentor’s comment ‘we really don’t have the option of remaining silent now’ which I think  is absolutely right, I find myself attracted to silence.

The other day, I found myself, yet again in a delicate situation. Taking a bus ride with a new admirer, trying not to break his heart, holding his hand gently and explaining why I feel like the way I do, among a crowd of paranoid passengers, we are told again that a bomb has gone off in Mt Lavinia. Here we are: Kilinochchi’s won. Elephant Pass taken. And a handsome, new star monk tells us how important it is to be grateful to our heroes; to take care of them. And the News First tell us the next moment how they were attacked and that a bomb just went off in the route that we are taking. There I was, holding someone’s hand in a crowded bus, telling him we shouldn’t, because I don’t want to hurt again and hurt him too in the process.

He closes his eyes for a moment and says, “this is madness, isn’t it…this life, this country, with all these things happening around us? And here we are trying to find love…trying to find happiness…and it is absolute madness.”

That moment I wish that all the social barriers between us disappear; and my painful memories of recent loves and losses disappear and I am free again, and brave again, to accept this little bit of love that is offered to me.

So, when he asks me ‘what if a bomb goes off in this bus?’ I tell him, just so to return the kindness, ‘I would be the happiest dead-girl in the world’. He does not want to die young. But agrees that life is suffering.

Sometimes, it is more painful to be loved and not be able to return that love.

So after everything is said, all our political opinions are discussed, the recent movies and books exchanged, we sit in silence in the noisy traffic. And everything seem so meaningless and sad. Suddenly I realise, things have been this way as long as I can remember; but our inability to love, brings it across sharper.

We got to love each other, says Don Mclean, cos politics is just a joke.

And listening to this song he wants me to hear, I wish so too. And I couldn’t have put it any better than Don Mclean, in this video, AND I LOVE YOU SO.

How young we are, and how bitter…just like this island so beautiful and so sad.