December 04, 2004

One term down…eight to go!

I want to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR! I am personally exhausted and happy to be home with a belly full of roast turkey (bit early I hear you say?), access to TV and as much sleep as I need! Oh and I have been having thrills over my very own RUSTY SPOON thanks to Joe :-)

Thought I should share some more writing so here's my piece from the travel writing seminar. I did read it out but I am thinking of submitting it for my portfolio so feedback is much appreciated – especially ideas for a better title ;-)

See you all soon!

Lost in Possession

I twist my key in the lock and push the terracotta door open. I flick the switch and my room is illuminated by the bright unnatural glow that we all take comfort in when the sun sets. I pull off my shoes and collapse onto my bed.
I lie on a decorative bedspread: silver embroidered with red and orange paisley patterns, and little mirrors glinting here and there. The spicy colours and the sheen of the metallic silver are almost magical and make me feel regal, as though I lye on a royal lounger. It was a present from a family friend who had gone over to Iran to get married and, knowing how I love Persian decorations and paisley design, had brought me the throw back from the Tehran bazaar.
I have been to the bazaar myself on several occasions. It is a timeless place; intricate, exciting and mysterious. I remember the last time I was there vividly. It was about a year ago and I was in Tehran with my uncle, browsing the streets and shopping around for a hookah. (This is not hookah as in hooker, but hookah, or shisha, as in the smoking device which is popular in the coffee houses of Tehran and indeed much of the Middle East). We decided that the bazaar would be the best place to look and slipped in through one of its many different street entrances.
I felt as though I had plunged through a waterfall, into another world, and I stared in awe at the high curved ceiling and the hundreds of stalls that stretched down the endless corridor. Silverware and gold jewellery; mosaics; mirrors; material; beautiful scarves that hung like drapes from the walls; clothes; pots and pans; merchants beggars, shoppers and pickpockets; all of these images bombarded me at once and my senses were aroused in the live, thriving atmosphere. We wound through passageway upon passageway, up stairs, through beaded curtains, stumbling across stalls that we vaguely remembered, randomly navigating ourselves through the hubbub of the ancient market maze, tempted by the smell of kebabs, distracted by street children selling Hafiz fortunes. We eventually came across a stall filled with hookahs of all different colours and sizes. My uncle haggled while I silently browsed the shelves, adjusting my headscarf ever now and then under the gaze of the merchant’s assistant. Eventually my uncle and the animated merchant came to an agreement and I silently pointed at my chosen hookah, turquoise with golden patterns painted on. I clutched it tenderly as we pushed our way through the hustle and bustle, cradling the glass so it wouldn’t be knocked out of my hands and shattered on the cobble-stone floor.
My hookah now stands here, dormant upon my bedside table, offsetting my imperial bedspread and a faint smell of apple-flavoured smoke lingers in my nostrils. The foil-covered ashtray at the top of the hookah is reflected in my mirror that is in turn reflected in the window pane that it leans against. Reflections within reflections. The mirror was a present from one of my best friends, bought especially for my university room. It is surrounded by fish and iron rings; a rustic, aquatic look which reminds me of our trip to the London aquarium together when we spent hours in front of the shark tank in silence, absorbing their fluid movements, envying their watery weightlessness, feeling so close to them that we could have melted through the glass and glided into their blue-tinted world.
As I lye, my eyes are diverted to the photographs on my wall and my parents smile down on me simultaneously from four different snapshots, three peaceful and naturally serene, one which is quite the opposite: {These entries are supposed to be in the shape of photos but couldn't do it on here!}

They sit in a speed boat, my father in the background driving, my mother in the foreground. They are frozen upon a frothing Mediterranean wave and the Greek shoreline can be seen in the background.

My dad sits on a rock, beside a boathouse on an Irish lake. He’s on his mobile, wearing jeans, content.

A tropical garden in Ireland. My parents are hugging against a backdrop of palm leaves.

Exhausted, but still smiling, they sit at a restaurant table in Silver Lake Resort, Florida. It’s a Polaroid taken by a neurotic timeshare salesman.

Beside the jumble of memories captured on my wall is a poster of ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michael Angelo. It focuses in on two hands, reaching toward each other, fingers outstretched. They are so close to touching; so close that it feels as though they are universes apart from attaining contact. To me it is an intimately spiritual image, although I cannot find the words to explain why. I imagine the moment when the fingers meet and, squinting, I visualise them coming together. Satisfied, my eyelids flutter and meet gracefully. I drift off to the sound of Otis Reading’s ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ and, in that place which is beyond awake but just before sleep, I faintly hear the ‘Great Wave of Kanagawa’ crash over distraught boats caught in furious waters.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. It is a bit early for Roast Turkey.
    But the travel writing is good. Like the idea of melting through the glass into the shark tank. Title-wise, you mention glass and mirrors a lot so perhaps you could make the title reflect that? something about reflections perhaps? I dunno. It's up to you.

    05 Dec 2004, 15:40

  2. It's a bit early for roast turkey…

    Season's greatings. Please enjoy the spoon, it has a particular fine texture for fondling etc. (sigh) Home is boringer than university, do you agree?

    Building on Alex's comment, how about "Lost in Reflection"?

    I like you falling asleep: you can look back on the piece and see it as percieving the world with a sleepy head. The Tehran bazaar is the centerpiece, though I think it warrants more space – perhaps it would be better in a different context? As with the description of your room, the description of the bazaar conveys the sensuousness and opulence marvellously.

    I question the presence of the photographs here, as they don't fit with this flavour, seeming more austere, simple. The use of photographs as 'solid memories' is something of a cliche: I'd say that you have to do something more with the photographs if you want to keep them.

    Certain phrases need trimming, eg the bright unnatural glow that we all take comfort in when the sun sets – somehow that fails to hit home.
    Am I being harsh? No. I like this piece, but sometimes the prose style jars [which is just a way of saying "you didn't write it as I would." :P]

    The last paragraph veers into the realms of poetry, which I love to see in a prose piece. The choice of Otis Redding song is important, isn't it? Hmm… I want to know what the great wave means here. Write the rest of this piece. Fall asleep and write the dreams. I want more of your poetic subconcious mind.

    Take care, —Joe

    07 Dec 2004, 14:30

  3. Thanks guys the comments are a great help, the more in-depth the better :) keep posting! I think your ideas for the title are great.

    Joe – the significance of the great wave was a continuation of the idea that that posters in my room began to move from their static states in my imagination – just as the fingers in the Creation of Adam finally meet when 'I visualise them coming together', the Great Wave of Kanagawa finally crashes over the boats to meet the ocean below it.

    The Otis Reading song is one of my favourite songs but I used it as a device to link the aquarium image to the great wave, to make the text flow through associations, the association here being the ocean.

    I agree with the photographs getting in the way. I hope this answers your questions…and thanks again for your input!

    07 Dec 2004, 16:14

  4. See Hookahs for yourself

    sorry this url works!

    08 Jun 2005, 17:16

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