Monday, April 30, 2012

Good week. Better weather.

Waiting at a plant nursery for a friend to finish socialising so we can start our own desperate catching up, I step into a moment where you can smell the moisture in the breeze and a peacock has it's wings fanned out. It's the animal kingdom version of movie or street scene where a girl is losing out to an umbrella hell bent on sucking up to the sky and turning upwards to show it's intent. The peaccock is the girl and the plume is the umbrella. Sky is the constant. 

I see it go round and round, twirl and twirl, front and ass, and I photograph both. I mail ass pic from phone to another friend who used to be grated by his phone's ridiculous 2-bit appendage, Sent on my Blackberry. He nonethelss replies from his BB, asking if I thought the peacock mistook my laughter for rain. And I, tee hee, vain peacock myself, forgive the birds for being such vile snake-like things. 

You'll agree it was a good line. I wanted to have come up with it.

Tuesday. Gorgeous weather. So much rain. Salmon sky. All that. We have a plan. We're going out. To celebrate the weather, if you please. We're four people - two of whom are up there in the first para, third I'm talking to on the phone. Fourth is a perpetrator of the walk and talk malaise.

In two minutes of having gotten out of office -- 6.45 p.m? -- my nice blue seersucker trousers, my season substitute for jeans, get caught between two adjacent parked cars, one of which is what I drive and rip hard. They get caught in a teeny inexplicable protrusion from the parallel car just as I am slithering sideways to sit inside, and they rip unmistakeably, at the butt, right side, below the 'back pocket'. No point hoping I didn't hear and feel what happened. I am a mess of red laughs and huge relief. I thank my stars that I am not, for one, getting OUT of the car and/or late for a meeting. None of that, at least. This sucks. This rips. But I am spared the necessity to take asylum in the infra red besotted furnace on wheels. Second bright side: the weather, the weather! I am still talking to my friend. It's drizzling. I think we laugh for 12 minutes straight. She stops at South Extension, picks me up my change, my spanking new lowers. I reach our rendezvous and (mostly) stay in the car till she arrives - you can still drive a car with a bare butt. I change in the dark. She and the car door act like the shield. I flash her. The laughs don't die.

We're at a shoot. Photographer friend-colleague from office and I. It's maybe one of those off track things about the journo life that I don't mind -- hanging with photographer colleagues, doing some work for some story. (Nobody in the profession calls it an article. That's only to outsiders, to people who you ring for the story - hi, I'm so and so from such and such place, is this a bad time?, I'm doing a... hell, even here, I say 'story' -- I'm doing a story on blah blah and I was wondering if you were free to talk. meet). We write articles but we do stories. And when you hit it off with say, photographer colleagues, it's amazing how much peripheral stuff you can fit in and learn about each other on these 'assignments'. Or stories.

We're done with the shoot. We're walking in an alley and his eye catches sight of an oil painting of the golden temple from outside a hole in the wall art gallery. We go in to examine the strokes, the green-grey colours of the sky, share a little working knowledge of flat brushes, learn a little about the painter, see his other work, be interested, not just act it, like the bright, bright colours in he uses for Varanasi ghats, say thank you to the woman trying to discern if we're interested or just playing the fool, then go out and debate if we want to waste more time before going back to office or what. And what a silly doubt that is.

I asked one of my favourite people, an editor who's seen me since I was 20 and had milk teeth, if he'd read any Jonathan Franzen. I was still carrying Freedom buried with me in my bag then. And I wanted to know if any half-sharp person I respected thought it as addictive. Talk about desperately seeking validation.

"Well, if you did have [a daughter], you might let yourself recognize the actually-not-terribly-hard-to-recognize fact that very young women can get their desire and their admiration and their love for a person all mixed up, and not understand –"
"Not understand what?" 
"That to the guy they're just an object. That the guy might only be wanting to get his, you know, his, you know –"

And he slightly furrowed his brow and said, yea.. you know, I've read Corrections and I enjoyed it very much... but the thing with these contemporary American authors is... they don't stay with you...

And I thought about this. And I remember thinking, he sounds so unlike what so, so many others would sound like when they say the same thing, speak the same phrase, and believe similarly that the thing with these contemporary american authors is...

I have a habit of jotting down phrases/passages/ words/lines/triggers in a book that I like. And in a book as thick as Gone With the Wind, I found I did it just once. I loved the book, enough, sure. I read it very fast. I told everyone I'd usually tell about it. I even took the metro so I would not waste precious reading time driving. (If I'd done that last Tuesday, it may not have happened and you might not know about my ripped thread bare ass car episode. So good I drove). I wanted all the time to be making progress and finding out which Berglund family member did what next. And now it's with my friend who I was raving about it to. It'll be nice to see if we agree on the same good, addictive, gossipy parts.

My one line, on page 169, my edition, was "She returned to the beer shelves like a bird repeating its song." I must like it enough and evidently, for in my annotations in my diary, I have that line followed by a smiley face, three exclamations and another smiley face.

They may not stay with you, these contemporary American authors. But sometimes they, too, quite hit the spot.


Ellie said...

Maybe they don't stay with you because there are just so many now. There is only so much we can cram into our CPU; I kind of get it ... but also get you; sometimes they are spot on.

Love the peacock pics.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Peacock = metaphor city. Wish I was still smoking weed.

No pic of the rip? What a disappointment.

Where do we stand on Jhumpa Lahiri? Contemporary Bengali/American! OH, the conflict!

Nimpipi said...

Ellie: I am though enoying what used to sometimes feel like a chore - to be constantly wary of what to let creep into the CPU. And sometimes, isn't it nicer that not much sticks? Better that than worrying about cleaning up hard drive, taking out the trash.

Peacocks are everywhere nowadays. And their cries? Eeks. Not what you want to hear at 4 a.m, sometimes over sounds of giant diesel trucks.

UB: Yea, no weed for responsible city-commuting Daddy with early subway starts.

Hah. Pic of rip. Imagine if I put it up and no one ever came back. Infinely worse than a sudden disturbing increase in blog, er, viewership.

Jhumpa Jhumpa Jhumpaa... (do you thik she's hot?) I liked at least one of her short stories. Maybe not enough to get my hands on that Unaccustomed Earth or whatever the one after Namesake was. Namesake, I don't think I read. I enjoyed the movie though. Love the lead pair. Love even more a favourite song of mine in it. (You HAVE to click on the Susheela Raman link on the side to hear the whole thing and not just clip from the movie, which is what the link is.)

Also, you know, I most happily waded through this piece of hers on sentences and was kind of miffed that certain people thought it full of banal, inelegant phrases. And, by the way, YOU were supposed to send me suggestions on Bukowski! What should I start with? Or, random plunge, I'm thinking... oh, the conflict indeed:D

Anonymous said...

1 bukowski suggestion - 'what matters most is how well you walk through the fire'

Anonymous said...

"seersucker", more like "see-ya-rear, sucker"

sorry. couldn't resist.

- k

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I met Jhumpa at a book signing here in New York and do you know what? She is WAY hot. I tried to think of something charming and witty to say while getting my book signed but, as is usually the case when I'm in front of a pretty face, I became flummoxed and ended up sounding like a babbling idiot. Typical. I think I saw her roll her eyes.

Bukowski Bukowski Bukowski...Try Mockingbird Wish Me Luck. Let me know what you think of that. Please report back.

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Love your writing. Love the peacock pictures more - even though the first one freaked me out a bit before I realized it's the peacock from the back. (Before that, you know, no head!)

PS: Ok, there's no elegant way to ask you this, but are you on Twitter?

Nimpipi said...

Anon: Danke. Already shoved it on to my Flipkart wishlist.

K: Terrible! Even for you.

UB: And she rolled her eyes at the chap BEHIND you. Trust me.

When have i ever NOT got back to you on anything. Bukowski, aye sir.

Alec: Sweet. ANd thank you and blush. But twitter? eeks, nooo! Why you do this to me, why, why! :D

Anonymous said...

I like the name "Jhumpa". Sounds like a cute tractor. "Here, let's go, the Jhumpa is ready".

- k

Sushant said...

In my experience of similarly underlining the glittering sentences I find in the books I read, I have found myself underlining sentences way too many times in the slimmest of books, and very rarely in the tomes. And since you too seem like a big fan of God's greatest creation (i.e. The Sentence) too, I will go ahead and recommend (at the risk of assuming you haven't read it already) Point Omega by Don DeLillo. Really slim book, really lovely language.

I used to really like Franzen once, especially his essays, until he wrote this one:

Nimpipi said...

Sushant: Ok, it took me time to get back to you. But I needed to read that, what, 12 page? Franzen-Crusoe-Wallace essay. And I read it, alright. Skimmed a bit, bit tedious, birds and island and all that. But I persevered for I'm always curious about writerly friendships. And I like that bit about how bird-loving Franzen's heart would break everytime Wallace would be so unmoved at the sight of a bird.

Hitchens I want to read because I like M.Amis and they seem so bum chummy.

But tell me what you didn't like about it? Specific? And what about this? I fell in love with him! Could well be because I'm a sucker for Snoopy, (even sent it to your d school chum and my, well, then d school chum, too), but still.

And, please, go ahead and recommend. Risk rightly run. I never read DeLillo, but I just googled him, and er, maybe I should first WATCH Psycho?

Unknown said...

Thank you for the Hitchens-Amis piece. I enjoyed reading it very much.

In the Robinson Crusoe piece, I was quite disappointed with the way he obliquely lets out his frustration regarding David Wallace and hints at how he was not sucha great guy people are accustomed to thinking he was. "What's your problem dude?", I went in my head. I know it's a rather irrational basis, mine, but, what the heck, that's my basis. I've never liked how he always vaguely alludes to being an equal of the great DFW. "Grow up Jon.", I go.

I love the "Comfort Zone" essay all the same.

No, no, you don't need to watch Psycho to read Point Omega. But I'm afraid you do need to watch Psycho to watch Psycho.

Unknown said...

Btw, Jonathan Franzen's new book looks really promising. I'm really looking forward to reading it, on the basis of the only sentence of it I've got to read thus far. "To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors." That's Franzen on social media.