Month: April 2014

A new sense of place

Ask a European to draw a line that symbolizes his life, and provably he will show you a straight line, horizontal, or in a slope. Maybe a curved line or with waves for ups and downs. Some will paint a rainbow.

Ask an Asian person the same question and most will draw a circle.

I ask it to myself, this question, too often. I offer you this suggestion:

It would start off with a series of dots, unconnected, bouncing like marbles on a stone floor, rolling like sand on a wet beachfront.
The dots then would connect into a shaky solid line. Solid is too big a word, more like  an anxious trace line, skating over the paper, zigzagging, first wild and wide, then more regular and finally with a sense of direction. Then comes a firmer hand, comes traction, comes steadiness, comes confidence. The line goes cruising forward, but inevitably the edges near, so it shoots in dramatic angles, up to the sky or down from heaven, perpendicular, suddenly, unexpectedly, unsettling. And then the line doubles and combines with other lines, and they twist and weave and synchronize and intensify and resonate and other lines join the race and webs create, and the line gets entangled and gets netted and fenced in by ever more lines that bounce it back against big fat fonts or that overrule it in darker ink or smother it in colors. And then it sharpens and speeds up and escapes and confronts and slaloms and on and on it totters and it fights back from its corner, against the red-lines and the reporting-lines and the sidelines and the cross-lines and the firing-lines. And finally, one would hope, it finds an open field, from whereon it slows down, no longer strong, but no longer shaky, no longer sharp but with a firmer grip leaving a deeper print.

And on it tracks, and one would hope, there is one other line intertwined with it still, and whilst it flows and sails along, it also slows, it sometimes halts, and pauses, then moves again, more carefully, respectfully, reflectively.

Gradually , hardly noticeable at first it begins to skate, first with soft vibrato, then edging, then hurtling, then a stumble, then a fall, then faster and faster until finally it flies off, sharp and jerky, and the line becomes a heartbeat. It goes bong-bobong- bobong-bong.
And then drops off.
And disappears
a full stop.

And what remains are incomprehensible scribbles to some or a picture to others, to look at and pass judgment on and then to forget.
And that may not be a happy ending…but what I only wish for, is a happy ride!





Cafe Burlesque.

Red velvet tapestries draped over tacky pastel plastered columns. Crystal chandeliers, maybe ten in number, glistening as ice sculptures against a purple rain background, under one hundred pulsating stars peeking down on us like one hundred piercing eyes. The walls drowned in burgundy reds and smoky violets, heavy with mirrors in  baroque gilded frames and guarded by stucco Romanesque statuettes in soapy whites and shady grey. End on end hang shoddy portraits collected from a flea market’s unsalable leftover corner. Alternatively, they come from the owner’s hand, an artist, I’ve been told. Either way, they fit right in, in this ballroom of immaculate imperfections.
And then,and there, prominent centerpiece on the long marble counter fencing the display of faceted bottles on the shelves, from an amphora grows an extravagant bouquet of semi wilted flowers, the stems over bending , the chalices like open mouths with petals lush as fleshy lips, a grand bouquet, slowly dying yet alive, slowly fading yet splashing colors to all sides. More flowers on the walls and more in black and in yellow specked China in every corner filling space.

They are plastic, I then figure.

And they should be, I start to understand.
Because nothing here is quite what it seems, nothing here quite normal, thank God, from the star studded ceiling to the glossy mosaic floor, everything in “Cafe De Las Horas, thank God, is an invitation to the fantastic, a incantation to a dream.

And Billy Holiday sings as she cries about ‘Her man’, while we weep about our battles lost and celebrate our battles won. And we sip Agua de Valencia and nibble on olives in virgin oil, while our stories sail the seven seas and grow wilder with every new cup down.

And behind the counter, a young handsome twin brother of Prince  prepares us another pitcher while his friend shows him his party gadgets for a much later night tonight. From his bag he flashes shocks of black raven hair and a silver tiara and a belly dancer’s belt and tapered leather strings and little black hat with knitted lace veil.

And new guests step in, by twos and threes and they find their tables in unseen corners, and the lights dim low and free the music and the evening darkness yields to a midnight haze.

And nothing is what it seems in Cafe de las horas, and Ernest Hemingway was never here.

But we were, my dearest, and I will remember.


No lesser God

They call them ‘challenged’ and when confronted, eyes will lower, and  feet will sidestep, voices hush and some get nervous, a slight panic even. It strikes me, in all these years of education, we have never learned how to behave among people who are a little bit different. It is not hard to understand why we react so defensive to everything that is a tad little bit away from the ordinary. Gays, immigrants, homeless buggers, gypsies. Stay out of my castle, go back to where you came from. Go home. And we lock ourselves up in our stone brick castles and we throw away the key and we putter on, unaware of the beauty that lies beyond our selfish, self-content, hypocrite, pitiful, miserable, vain, little lives.

And then my daughter invited me to a play, where half of the cast are a little bit different.

And the two halves begin to play together and she is a nymph dancing on a water lilly and she sings in a mesmerizing low voice, and conjures up a storm that fans out over fields and mountain tops, until it lands in a far and unknown kingdom,  where it shakes the barley and where it wakes, from a deep slumber, Pasqualis, the colossal and tremendously wise King of Dawns.
The King lifts his head, and then his hands, and then his all mighty body. He twists and turns to find the source of this siren’s song. The voice leaps over his groping hands and jumps down his ears into his head, where it dances on for fourteen days and fourteen nights until the King can take no more. He sends out his scouts to find the owner of this enchanting song. Enchanting? Bewitching? What lies beyond, the King does wonder. And when at last the news returns of promised lands where all are equal and none forgotten, where wolves sleep with lambs and the time is now forever, the King decides without a quiver: ‘ to just DO it” and orders his page to saddle a horse. Without goodbye’s to queen or princess, he departs his kingdom and rides his steed out of the valley of Dawns. He crosses the barley and climbs high mountains and enters into the deep dark forest to let his life begin again.

And the plot unfolds and I look at this mighty King and how he dances with my water nymph, in perfect circles,  in perfect balance.  And the rest of the group chimes in and they play and they fight and they growl and they stumble and they huddle and hush and howl. And seamlessly, in perfect unison, two halves become a whole.

Applause. Of course, well deserved. And then  I see some tears, and I understand them well. For even though I am not sure about one God, I am sure however that there can not be two.