Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This room's too small for me

I am thrashing, twisting, stretching but thoroughly immersing myself into North Africa. My research is about the conflict in Western Sahara, so it's mostly Morocco but I'm pretty much soaking up the region-text, music, pictures, videos are not enough.

My back aches as I sit, chained and glued to the computer, my eyes glazing over as I attempt to sift through thirty-six years of a dispute that involves so many people and so much politics. I attempt to make sense of the words that seem so simple on paper but translate to so much complexity when it comes to peoples and nations.

This is a region I am drawn to for reasons so many that I don't bother to enumerate them. People find it intriguing that being in India, I am so obsessed with Raï music and why I would choose a topic like this, so irrelevant in this part of the world and so much less contributive to South Asian International Relations, which desperately needs theorisation as it is. With the recent Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, the relevance of North Africa cannot be overrated. Authoritarianism in the region that straddles the Middle East and Africa was a ticking bomb.

How can I explain what I feel when I see a black and white patterned wall motif that instantly transports me to some Moroccan monument? Or how even the names of controversial personalities and tortured places sound so lyrical- Houari Boumedienne, El Ouali Mustapha Sayed, Marrakech, Smara, Saguia el-Hamra, Rabat, and of course, Ma' al-'Aynayn, the almost mythical leader of the "Blue Men" (PLEASE read 'Desert by J.M.G. Clézio) And how can I even BEGIN to explain how I feel nestled within the notes of a Rachid Taha song, how I can surround myself with the dreamy notes of 'Valencia' and put myself to sleep, the language clashing with the city, state, subcontinent I am from and yet feeling so at home, nurtured and loved?

I look away from the computer, step outside my swirling thoughts of rising desert sands, of midnight bonfires with flames swaying to the sound of Mariem Hassan's voice and accompanying guitar, of The Alchemist shrouded in black astride his horse as he gallops up to the seeking Santiago, mystery in his apperance and pure wisdom in his eyes, of Moroccan palaces with ornate details ceiling to floor, speaking of grace and beauty made by mortal humans with divine art in their hands, of Cheb Khaled singing the Maoual to 'Hada Raykoum' and enchanting with his soaring voice, of Rachid Taha's rampaging 'Barra Barra' beats and Cheb Mami's wistful 'Khalouni'. I look down at the tiny room, the papers strewn around, the books and feel my soul resize itself. But sometimes, I let it transcend the physical and let myself live the dream. I get up on my bed, grab my invisible mic and sing, to the minarets and to the desert, to the sea and to the palace, to crowds of adoring fans, in a language I cannot speak.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moment of Discovery

Don't you ever wish you could recapture that first feeling of discovering a song, movie, book, image, word, person, place and falling in love?

The innocence, the complete unconsciousness of that moment is non-renewable. You step outside yourself and attempt to feel the you that you were. But it never comes back. That's what they say about time being a healer; you forget the pain. But it's got its downside when it comes to wanting to re-feel that one perfect moment where you discovered something new and it stuck with you.

Watching Chris Brown's 'Forever' a couple of minutes ago reminded me of the time, Winter 2008 (?), the place (K's and my attempts at dance class), the feeling (a crush on someone but I HONESTLY don't remember who). But I don't remember when and how this song grabbed me and touched my heart. Sure, I watched it on TV, not knowing who this guy was. The song's may not be a classic to connoisseurs of hip-hop/r&b/dance/pop and the video isn't the most artistic (though the girl is REALLY pretty and Chrib Brown's moves are quite nice). But it's a pretty, adorable, personal track that instantly transports me into where I want to be most nights: dancing under the stars with yellow lights all around, with a chance of Something Happening, of destiny taking over and magic seeping into reality.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's that time of the year again

Transition phase. That's what I've come to label it. Though it shouldn't be labelled. Itchy feet, wandering mind. Shouldn't be labelled.

The trees are shedding. Walking from the gym one night, I chanced upon my parked car to find it sprinkled in the fairy magic of showering lilac/white flowers. It was magical, beautiful. I felt chosen.

The sun's getting stronger, brighter, assertive, grabbing at me through windows, doors, whenever, wherever. Making its presence felt.

Most of all, the college. Any college. Or school. The place instinctively knows that times are a-changing. People are a-changing. Trees shedding their leaves, people shedding their skins. Their distracted gazes stare straight through the distracted gazes of others and at places beyond, people who they are going to be or not. They have things to do (dissertations in this case) but they Stop and Stare, as if momentarily frozen in the searing sun. Conversations slow down, the mind's whirrings slow down to a squeaky rotation and afternoon naps are the most prized possessions of the day.

For me, this is the season Enrique becomes prominent on my playlist, despite friends' (those jealous boys) shrieking protests of his "popness" (among other things). It's a summer ritual since I was 13 and a very important half, since I first fell in love with the Spanish singer and Spanish in general and those happy songs made me Escape (excluding 'Hero' which I never really liked) and have eased me into the path of transition. From middle school to high school and the hugest, most painful crush ever. From high school ending to joining my gym and then the most transformative of places, college where I learnt what it is like to fall in love with a place. And now, from my possibly finalmost time at college to life and for the first time, Free Fallin' into the unknown, for the first time unafraid.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Felicitations are in order

Happy birthday to the patron saint, benefactor and conspirator of this blog.

Happy birthday to the person who's a million miles away and whose presence is a few micrometres far.

Happy birthday to this boy who's my girl who's my kid who's my spoilt little brat brother and motherhen older sister rolled into one infuriatingly essential mix. Like Ayurvedic kashayams. Like Bio Wine. Good for health, president-award winning (scholarship winning in this case) but makes you nauseous, high, giddy yet convinced that you've been nutrient-injected at the same time.

Happy birthday to the prince whom the world is in love with, whose mind the world is curious to swipe the thoughts of and whose locked diary I am. (YES! Locked!)

Happy birthday to the best dressed, most groomed man I personally know. (I haven't met Shahid/Shah Rukh/Ranbir yet. And yes, I must confess, to the satisfaction of Drama Queen A and to the glee of His Highness, you do bear a slight resemblance to all three. Grrrr.)

Happy birthday to the cheriest, localest, shadiest character I am most my street self with. My personal clown and accomplice (especially in spying on fellow clowns. Cough, cough: Aeroplane)

Happy birthday to the person whose made me cry and made me laugh, made me happy and loved and hated and appreciated and venerated and never, ever, ever bored.

Happy birthday to the the friend in beads, the friend who heeds, the friend for whom I'm greed(y), the friend who I beat, the friend who used to eat, the friend in need, a friend truly truly indeed.

Happy birthday to you, K, always and forever.

"We always have today"