Category Archives: narrative

A short, short, very short story…

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Think of Memory, Migration and Monsoons….. The last post was dealing with works in progress.   Moving forward Quill4 (a contributor to The Workrooms)  is sharing a shorter work to keep up the momentum.  It’s always awesome to share little pieces of your projects when you’re creating.   This is a piece from a previous project:

Wrote this in 2008 for the North Shore Writers’ Festival Short Story Contest  

In Mumbai, skies would gape open and bare teeth. Taxis would awaken from slumber, their drivers clutching wheels like guns, ready for battle in the streets. Crows would descend, operatically unafraid, into the wet jostle for space and survival. And Mohan would open his eyes and walk to the window with a grateful pace.

‘Dr. Mo, will this hurt?’, and once again Mohan was exploring the metal laced mouth of Tim Stewart, who had the talent of being a thirteen year old comfortable enough in his own skin to talk at all times, to anyone, anywhere, and even with motionless lips. Tim’s utterances, however many, however nasal, were unforced, sourcing from some deep well of expression within him. Mohan thought about his own words, how they tended to meander, river-like, hugging curves of thought but never spilling honestly onto the shore. All the levies might break under all that pain, and that hope that held him prisoner to dreams, that shackled him here to this dentist’s office where his own name sounded foreign. ‘We’re actually done…you can close your mouth.’ Tim’s eyes had widened. ‘Are you okay Dr. Mo?’, and then unexpectedly, due to the youth of the inquirer, ‘Do you miss home?’. It was motherly, the intuitive concern, the complete lack of conceit. Perhaps, for once, Tim’s words deserved a response that matched their true worth. Mohan nodded truthfully, feeling as if the crows had suddenly burst into the office, as if the monsoon itself had released its blessed rains.

The El Mocambo and Me

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What a lovely break I had over the holidays – a whole week off from the 9-5pm.  It was simply fantastic!In that time I ate, drank, danced and booked a show!

Thursday Jan 13th at the El Mocambo in Toronto – It seems to be a very enigmatic place.

I always like doing shows/events in unusual places – now El Mo (as it is lovingly called in Toronto) is not an unusual place per say – it is a licensed bar that hosts live music.  BUT – it’s been around FOREVER! It was the first bar to get a liquor license in Toronto!

The history of the building goes back to 1850!  This is crazy for a city that is infamous for having very few historic buildings. Oh – and you know a little band called The Rolling Stones played and recorded Love You Live at the El Mocambo back in 1977.  No biggie. 🙂

But what I find most intriguing is the current owner.

Now – I’m getting all of this information from the El Mocambo website, Wikipedia and newspaper articles – so take it as you will.  Abbas Jahangiri, the owner of the El Mo is a serial entrepreneur who has taken a vow of poverty.   His previous professional history includes leading an engineering team, CEO of a real estate development company as well as being a principal for a national dance company  (when you are on the El Mo site – click on History and Owner).  In 2003 he took a vow of poverty and has dedicated his life to helping the most vulnerable in society.  Including daily 2am-6am service and distribution of food and survival needs for hundreds of Toronto’s homeless. Very intriguing no?

I’m most intrigued by his conviction in his change of lifestyle.

Rock n’Roll isn’t a selfless industry – it is fueled by narcissism and vanity……..

Shameless Self Promotion

 

…..so it’s super interesting to come across people who try to find balance with the rock n’roll attitude and the gravest societal needs around them.  These are two extremes and Mr. Jahangiri seems to live at both ends.

I wonder if he will be at the show?  It would be awesome to grab a conversation with him – what couldn’t you talk about?!

Music is about great stories – I have a feeling that the El Mo has more than a few good tales to tell.

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Sing Bandana Singh performs Thursday January 13th at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina Ave. Toronto).  Performance at 7:30pm  $10.  19+.
Music: http://myspace.com/singbandanasingh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/bandbandana
A Heroic Entertainment Production.
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Prickly pear of the sea

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In preparation for my twilight years – when I will unceremoniously drop – and later, without rhyme or reason, unabashedly pick up the telling of a story again…I will now continue my tale about inspiration. (see last week’s post entitled The blue lizard…excellently crafted moment of self-promotion…check!).      

Picture it, Sicily 1931…OK…had a Golden Girls moment there for a sec. (twilight years and all, see)      

Inspiration, she’s a tricky bugger. The hunt, the capture, the grossly self-indulgent gloating afterwards is made effortless by the subject matter at times. When the world you inhabit is filled to the very brim with dazzling colours, shapes, jazz-hands! (hehe…figuratively speaking of course)…and yes critters…it is nigh on impossible to suffer a bout of photog-block (kinda like writer’s block…but it rhymes better).      

The first 18 + an additional 4 years later down the road of my life were spent in paradise. At my doorstep I had at my disposal, a veritable cornucopia of fauna and flora…jewel-hued sugar birds (humming birds) performed aerial stunts outside my diningroom window over breakfast, whales splashed and whooshed plumes of air and spray into the star-filled sky, lulling me to sleep at night. Following their own mysterious and at times inconvenient schedule, the baboons would descend upon our garden, leaping from the tall, peaked roof in reckless abandon into the fig tree’s laden branches…sending my dog into an indignantly undignified and futile frenzy.      

What's purple and yellow and potters around on millions of suckers for feet?

 

My playground was dotted with sea anemones, nodding in rockpools like agreeable crayola flowers, and spiny starfish and punk rock sea urchins decorated every nook and cranny of the fertile and salty seascape.  The sky was huge and deeply blue, the waves resounding and frothy white.      

Parading on a rock ledge, the urchins gleam like predatory brooches

 

Gosh – notice the past tense up there?? To reassure you…it is all still there…this rose-tinted Utopia of my youth…I am the one in past-tense (no…not dead and blogging from beyond the grave…just across an ocean).      

So…whenever I have the occasion to make my much-anticipated pilgrimage back to the homeland…I capture even the most pedestrian detail of life. I suspect my folks reckon my brain has been irredeemably addled by lack of clean sea air and an over abundance of snow and smelly city…as in years gone by, I would never have gone sprinting for my camera bag at a sighting of a green grasshopper on the patio. I would simply have greeted him politely and implored my late, great cat to kindly refrain from making a snack of the poor fellow.      

Gorgeously green grasshopper graces...patio? Crap...lost it at the end there

 

I see you!

 

Now, today I make my home in an equally majestic place…but decidedly more subdued in terms of its local critteridge (nice…rather proud of that mangled word-ly creation). Few things come spiny or bright purple (of their own volition) in the animal kingdom here. But, to my delight…the birds dress up like Michael Jackson – sporting red shoulder patches! The hornets resemble sharp corner chevrons on the road (am I speaking foreigner again?…many apologies), and the larger beasts sport comically bulbous noses and outsized furry tiaras on their proud heads.      

The fact is though – as in a family with two offspring – one being the loud-mouth clown who dances a lively jig on the furniture of an evening, and the other being the nice sprog who vacuums its own room and thanks you for the clean clothes – the clown gets the attention.      

Therefore, the task at hand is: Look harder, be open to the possibilities, and sprint like the blazes for the camera bag when the MJ birdies parade across the lawn! And the dastardly snow and frost…is made beautifully ethereal and oh so photogenic by the rays of the rising sun.      

The autumn sun burns the frost away, leaving bedazzled blades in its warming wake

 

Project of the week pour moi…with a spot of luck I will furnish you with delightful captures of aforementioned feathered pop-star impersonators and any manner of lovely things.

Plan B…

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Thanks to B for that intro and to Sachin for his insightful post, which was indeed food for thought!

Interests, aptitude or financial security – oh my!  Quite the dilemma…

No doubt it becomes an even more trying issue when you have a number of varied interests and aren’t quite sure which one you’d like to pursue, when you’re skills may or may not be marketable, and/or when you have a sneaking suspicion that a predictable/banal/secure job might crush your soul (just a little bit – even if only around the edges).

It doesn’t help either when that dreaded beast (Career) Anxiety (which I’ve often imagined would appear as a walrus toting a briefcase, should it be so inclined as to take material form – go figure!) lumbers over your thoughts, your plans, your imaginative inklings and does it’s very best to crush them under it’s lumpy, bulbous belly.  It barks and honks at you (“What if?,” “Is this the right choice?,” “Could this be an awful mistake?”) and refuses to clean up after itself when it leaves…..What a horrible house guest!

Well, I’m not sure what combination of “interests, aptitude and/or financial security” it’s best to go with (particularly in this economy!), but in hopes of finding some kind of answer, I’ve made a concerted effort of late to seek out the counsel of older folks – you know, those who have already settled into their careers and who seem satisfied with their choices.  Curiously enough, many of them have instructed me to follow my “passion” or to “look into my heart” to find an answer.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this advice.  Do you buy it?  What if your “heart” has taken a vow of silence?

One colleague with a very enviable career path offered these consoling words: “Don’t worry, I didn’t figure it out ‘til I was like 40.  You just gotta keep trying different things until you figure it out”.

I’ve decided to take comfort in that.

I suppose a career is as much a work in progress as is anything else… if all else fails, look for Plan B and refuse to be taken hostage by any walrus you should happen to bump into (particularly if it’s of the imaginary variety!).

Can I tell you about my bee?

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This bee seems to have been trapped in my studio for the past few days – I kept leaving the windows and doors open – but he couldn’t quite seem to find his way out.

Finally yesterday when I came back in – he literally buzzed right into my face and then buzzed all around – he was scared.

After exerting all that energy he practically collapsed on the floor.  I tried to put him into a cup to take him outside – but he got really agitated and then buzzed all over me again.  So I let him be, hoping he would find the open window or door.

I came in this morning – and he was lying still near my yoga mat.  He had passed away.  I put him in the cup and took him outside.  He’s been placed in between the flowers.  I wish I could have helped him out of the studio earlier – but somethings just aren’t meant to be I suppose.