All entries for March 2005

March 28, 2005

An attempt to capture it…

Follow-up to Ah, such a Perfect Day… from Into the Flame

A poem I wrote after this day which I originally didn't think much of, but What The Hell. Its been a while since I posted a decent-length poem, so here it is.

Hyde Park

The sun— a warm globe
of happily received
rays, reflected on
multiple ripples.

Prickly grass, dry
beneath us, rough
against exposed skin.
We sit, accumulating company.

Circular: the drum,
our group, the lake,
your birthday cake.
Eighteen—another year flown by.

Drum beats, tempo
peaks and voices rise,
billowing beneath
coloured kites flying high.

We cannot leave; we
magnetise and meet
eyes, laughing as we sing
meaningless philosophies.


March 27, 2005

The Harp–player

A piece that I have written as the starting point for my super-portfolio. Let me know what you think.

The Harp-player

Leila, upon the high cliff strums
The tale of her love; with each
Note, her heart strings murmur
With hopeless longing for him,
For he who left her:

I must go. You know I must. But I will be back; I will make my fortune and return a better man with enough money to marry you. I will make you the happiest wife a man could have. I love you, don’t forget it. I will return.

She looked into his large, sad eyes and saw her reflection in his watery pupils. Her distorted expression was strong, more so that she’d expected. She believed his true tone of voice, returned his promise of love and limply let him push the woven ring onto her finger. The blades of wheat stem were silky to stroke but rough against her finger, a constant reminder of the grating strain of love on her heart. It was a temporary token, to be replaced by a golden seal on their wedding day, that joyful day, a cloudy mirage of the future happiness that they would have.
The beach was crowded with village-folk who had come to bid the three young men farewell; the three sons of Ishtar, their village Chief. The oldest, Kamiar, was watched closely by Leila as he boarded the boat reluctantly, waving his hands at family and friends, speaking phrases of farewell. Tears were dabbed with handkerchiefs or wiped away by sleeves. Leila’s trickled freely down her pink, wind-bitten cheeks and dripped into the gusts of wind blowing about her as she stood on the cliff-top, looking down upon the farewell scene. Some of her tears carried as far as the boat and settled upon Kamiar’s head. He felt them and looked up, expecting to see rain clouds, but instead he saw his lover, perched high, plucking the strings of her harp. The doleful melody pierced him and left a mark on his breast; a perfect circle.
His last words to her made an imprint on Leila’s mind and her memory of everything else slowly faded: her family, her music and songs, all disintegrated gradually until they were nothing more than shadows, cowering in the dark corners of her mind. With his words, she composed a new scale of notes and a melody so melancholy that birds would drop out of the sky as they flew by her cliff-top perch, a gash in their breast from where their heart’s had exploded.
Each day was the same. A routine developed. She would rise from her bed, take up her harp and go to the cliff-top. The sky would clear around her and the birds would stop singing and retreat to happier parts of the countryside. The sea would dance and moan in pain as she plucked his words on the harp strings, her heart growing weaker with every vibrating note.

  • * *

The city was overwhelming. Kamiar had never seen people of so many creeds and fashions and stared in awe as they strode through the busy streets, each following their own purposeful path. Traders and sellers of many wares paraded the high street calling out advertisements about the quality of their goods; children played in gutters and mice ran between people's feet, narrowly dodging death; commercial buildings towered above the scurrying business professionals, and it was not long before Kamiar and his brothers were lured into a lifestyle of chance, success, money and women.
For the first few months, Kamiar would wake to the sound of Leila’s harp and, as she intended, he would be inspired to find decent work, always holding the dream of their wedding day in the front of his mind. As time went on, however, Kamiar began to notice other women: beautiful women, witty women, women who were skilled in conversation, languages, music and business. He began to forget his home and let the city life engulf his spirit, let the women seduce him, let the business preoccupy him. As the months turned into years, the memory of Leila and the haunting sound of her harp faded into the dusty files of his mind and the circular mark her music had left on his breast began to fade.

  • * *

The strings of Leila’s harp grew thin and tired, as did her aging fingers, but she played on. The ring Kamiar had made for her was disintegrating and rasped against her skin so furiously as she played that her finger had become callous. The salty sea air kept her body healthy and the wind had knotted her hair into a length of woven plaits. The birds had long deserted the cliff for fear of their lives. The village folk had abandoned any notion of helping Leila; they knew she could not be healed – her ever fibre was surviving on the dwindling hope of her lover’s return, but there had been no word from Kamiar for over ten years.

It was sunset, a summer evening, and Leila was coming to the end of her daily ode to Kamiar. Her fingers we running the last scale and just as she was about to strum the last chord, a string suddenly snapped. The finality of the snap shocked Leila and she realised that her love was lost to her, Kamiar had forgotten. Her heart gave in, and, choking on the years of accumulated sadness, she passed away as the strings of her harp snapped one after the other in a mass crescendo of painful relief. Her body slipped from its perch and fell; fell down past the deserted bird nests, past the weathered rock and into the rolling sea. The carcass of the harp, now devoid of musical ability was left to rot. The stony cliff accepted it, fused the wood to its rocky surface and gradually the harp became a part of the cliff’s architecture, an arched frame of remembrance for Leila’s perch.

  • * *

Kamiar’s life had been satisfactory. His printing business was doing very well and he had married a beautiful, successful woman who had borne him three healthy, handsome sons. Their house was modern and comfortably large, they had the best clothes and his sons were given the most comprehensive education available. Life was satisfactory, but Kamiar had lately begun to think of his origins again, his father, his relatives, his childhood home. He wanted his sons to see the home of their ancestors, the life he had left to provide for them, the place he had had to work up from to become the important man he was today. His wife thought it a nice idea. A trip to the countryside.

The boat rolled into the harbour and Kamiar felt rain drops on his head. He looked up to see rain clouds littering the sky and noticed the archway. It jogged a memory and the fuzzy outline of Leila’s face materialised in his imagination, but he said nothing and diverted his eyes to the shore where his family were waiting to greet him.
That night, they sat around a blazing fire in the village square, exchanging stories of the city and of the countryside. They discussed the farming, the price of paper and meat, the taste of ale and wine, the children’s education, the weave of cloth, the recipes of food. They reminisced about the old days and told tales to Kamiar’s wife and children of his mischievous youth. Leila had changed that though, brought him right back down to Earth. The mention of her name brought a misty silence upon the group and the fire shrank into remnant flames. “Where is Leila? I have been meaning to ask. Where is she, that dreamy harp-player I once loved?” Kamiar’s words seeped through the thick tension that had suddenly descended and everyone stared hard into the fire, avoiding his searching eyes. The fire flickered in the wind. Eventually, Ishtar raised his head and looked hard at his son. “She is dead. You broke her heart and it killed her.” Kamiar shook his head dismissingly and replied, “That is a great shame. How fleeting the heart can be. How was I to know she was so deeply infatuated? Poor girl; 'tis a shame, a great shame.”
That night, as Kamiar slept next to his wife on a simple straw mattress, a distant sound pervaded his dreams and grew louder very gradually. In his sleep, he rose from the bed to follow the urgently wistful call. Out of the house, through the village, past the village boundary, up towards to the cliff-tops he went, the sound of the sea swelling in his ears, mingling with the music to compose a salty lullaby to his fate. Kamiar did not stop at the cliff edge. He reached Leila’s perch and stood for a moment to absorb the night’s heavy burden before jumping, arms wide, into the frothing sea which embraced him with curling waves. The sea where his lost lover waited for him. Somewhere, Leila’s spirit sighed, curled up and closed its wings to rest in peace.


March 20, 2005

New Year Haiku

Prompted by Joe to write a haiku this morning, here is what I came up with:

The axis spins; a
new year born on spring's first day.
Laughter and bird song.

I have spent all afternoon playing music. I am so…happy.


March 19, 2005

EID MOBARAK!

HAPPY PERSIAN NEW YEAR for tomorrow!

Persian New Year falls on the first day of spring, or the "vernal equinox" and this day was a New Year celebration in Roman and Greek cultures too.

At 12:33pm tomorrow the "celestial phenomenon" which is the vernal equinox will occur and it will officially be spring. Persians will celebrate by cleaning the house, wearing new clothes, cooking sweets and food, and setting out a symbolic Haftsin tablecloth. Much singing and dancing will occur – general merriment all day!

There is also a superstitious belief that at the moment of the equinox you can balance an egg on its end due to "special gravitational forces". If you feel like it, have a go...take a raw egg and at 12:33pm tomorrow try and balance it on its thin end...I'm told it can work…


Ah, such a Perfect Day…

I can say without doubt that yesterday was almost perfect as days go, I think it was a reincarnation of Lou Reed's perfect day. It was my first time back in London since Christmas and the sun was shining. I arrived in the morning and met my friend Nahid for a fatty but really delicious burger at some nice burger bar in Westbourne Grove. We then milled around, window shopping, laughing and making prats of ourselves until early afternoon when we headed down to Hyde Park to meet some more people.

Hyde Park in the summer is just…yummy. I spent my childhood playing there so going back always makes me nostalgic, frolicksome and free. We strolled down to the lake and spead ourselves out on the grass by the water, soon to be joined by some more friends, equipped with a tempo (drum) and Persian stringed instrument called a "Tar". Nahid's sister joined us soon after with a luciously creamy birthday cake to celebrate Nahid's birthday. We spent the afternoon stuffing ourselves with creamy luxury, playing music and singing songs at the top of our voices. Passers-by either loved us or found us amusing, byut none-the-less most of them couldn't help but bop along to our drum beats and happy clapping.

At one point we were joined randomly by a rather stoned-looking Swedish guy who just couldn't get enough of our raucous fun. After listening to us sing and joke around in Perisan for about ten minutes, he turned around and said "Is this what all English people are like?" …??!! I just burst out laughing and explained that we were Persian, not English. A lopsided smile broke across his face and all he could say was "OH…yeah." Hilarious.

We watched the sun set and, as dusk drew close around us, we packed up and made our way to see Lily Afshar, a classical guitarist, in concert. It was ok, some of the songs were a bit too modernist and didn't work in my opinion, but the songs she played well, were beautiful.

Later, we hit the town and I had my first night out in London. We went to China White and it was just oriental magic. The DJ was good, the people were hot and the decor was tres funky. We got lucky and found a space on the couches to lay about on piles of silky cushions with our cocktails like kings. It was just great.

Crawling into bed at 5 in the morning, I felt so satisfied. The Hyde Park fun in the sun, the music we made together, the concert highlights, the club…everything merged into a warm glow in the pit of my stomach and I slept like a baby.

A Perfect Day "I'm glad I spent it with you…" NAHID HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


March 15, 2005

Charshanbe Soori…

Tonight is Charshanbe Soori and I have spent the past hour or so jumping over fires. Why? you ask… well every year, on the Wednesday before Persian New Year (march 21st), people light fires and jump over them to get rid of your evils and ailments of the past year. Yes, I am aware that it is Tuesday but because of the leap year it falls a day in advance, as does new year which is on the 20th this year.

Anyways, the fire-jumping tradition dates back to Zorastrianism (fire-worshipers) who believed that fire was the essence of life, so the idea is that the fire will burn away your bad omens and fill you with warmth to start the new year well. As you jump over the fire you have to say: "Zardi-e man az to, Garmi-e to az man!" This, roughly translated, means "Take my ailments and give me your warmth!" and you can see how this is relevant to the philosophy of the fire-jumping act!

I smell of smoke and have ash-stains on my shoes but the question is do I feel relieved of my ailments and evils? Hmmmm. Lets just say I'd like to think that I am!

Here's a haiku I though of when I was watching the flames dance:

Inconstant flames swell
and lick the wind; warm us, burn
optimistic soles.

Charshanbe Soori Mobarak!
(Happy Charshanbe Soori!)


March 14, 2005

Top Banana…is in the dictionary?!!!

Writing about web page http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Top+Banana

Well I never…

It is true, I kid you not…Top Banana is now in the dictionary…The Urban Dictionary. This site is great – dictionary terms defined by random and sometimes quite amusing people. You can add your own definitions too…go nuts!


March 13, 2005

Another term has passed…

…in a blink. Where have the passed ten weeks gone? I am back at home now, possessions spilling out of bursting boxes and strained plastic bags. The food is divine and I slept like a baby all of yesterday afternoon, it is just wonderful to be relaxed and happy knowing that there is nothing to do for the next few weeks.

Ten weeks really have passed in a flash: a sleepless, musically enriched ten weeks where once again I have learned so much about my much-loved subject, the people around me and (yes that old cliche) LIFE. I have still been meeting new people every week but one of the nicest things about this term was the security and development of some beautiful and very close friendships.

I'm not sure where to begin on summing this term up which is a clear indication that I just should't bother trying to condense a diverse and explosive ten weeks into a single sentence. I am filled with wonderful memories that creep into my awareness every now and then, making me smile. I don't even know where to start documenting it, the good times just merge into a train of visual clips from various occasions:

one world week niki and me going wild shisha graduate club arabian nights international crowd new people ty in the union and salsa meeting new people in rootes fred insence dark side of the moon green tea with joe haiku thoms birthday chlo-sho hugs jam at the graduate jamming with niki and silke lakeside magic hippy night cats stars joe's poetry peace stillness warp lionel happiness tears soundtrack singing first solos linton kwesi johnson african soul rebels dance like a lion quack secrect ducks metaphorphoses timo going nuts talk of religion alan watts meditation ravi shankar macmillan patience rapturous maidens stressed jerzy blue-lit jazz drama ball on the thames music ball going crazy with anant heat international night marks play romeo and juliet the pillowman inspiration….............................it goes on and I am too lazy to go on with this stream of consciousness, it could go on for pages :)

Right now I am listening to Loreena McKennitt and it is the perfect soundtrack to my dream-like stream of memories – beatuiful and ghostly music.

Next term will be interesting, hardly any lectures or seminars, essays done and handed in by week three and only two exams. Its going to be great to do some private reading that I have wanted to do but haven't had time, write some non-course-related stuff and go on pleanty of picnics.

But anyway, enough looking too far forward, it is New Year next week and I have a magic trip to Ireland coming up. Its going to be a great holiday.

My mind keeps wandering to Fred and co. on the open road, hitching to Morocco as the rest of us are collapsed at home – it must be exhilerating.

My eyes are still tired so I think I'll sleep today as well. Good night friends, I shall write again soon…


March 10, 2005

Haiku

This is epic, I have managed to write a haiku, with the right syllables and with some meaning behind as opposed to some random babble in imitation of some profound moment captured by an ancient haiku master. This moment means something, but sadly you will only understand it if you happened to be present. Ok, enough introduction and suspense, just post the poem Sho…

Icy reflections
Suspend us in liquid air
Beneath secret ducks

(YES!)


March 2005

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