Hyderabad traffic is my lifestyle goals

Hi from India where I am for the first time!
I am in awe of everything here. The vegetation, the people, and of course the food. But the most fascinating thing about Hyderabad to me so far is the experience of being on the road.

I am lucky enough to be traveling here for a music festival, doing something I love in a place I’ve always wanted to go. So much is taken care of for us, including drivers who shuttle us between our hotel and the rehearsal spaces. The first time we got in a car, my fellow passengers and I were in suspense. There are rarely lanes or footpaths in this part of India and so there are cars, buses, trucks, auto rickshaws (I’ve seen up to 8 people squeezed in one of these) people walking, people cycling, people motor biking, and the occasional herd of cows all on the same road. Yes, all of them simultaneously. Going as fast as they can. In different directions.

As I watched through a crack in my hands, I saw first one, then another person walk right in front of our moving vehicle. Not only did they not look scared or apologetic or stressed. They looked if anything, bored. I kept looking to confirm that there was a total lack of stress from everyone participating. People nonchalantly strolled between cars like they had forcefields I couldn’t see. When I saw that no one else was scared, I stopped being scared.

Once fear (nonchalantly) moved away, I had room to be curious. To wonder how the way the road ethics and traffic of a country affects its people, reflects its people, or both. Everywhere I looked, people were taking chances. They saw opportunity and took it without hesitation. The slightest opening between a truck and a rickshaw and they would move towards it. For someone who struggles with sometimes paralyzing indecision and insecurity, this was incredible to see. Empowering to do when I had to do it later. I will not soon forget the ways people were aware enough to become cognizant of small opportunities and immediately seized them.

Another thing I love about the driving in India is that honking is a full-blown language. In America, and especially NY, honking is usually a sign of impatience or anger at a lack of control. There is a lot of emotion, but rarely any information. In India, every honk means something different. There’s the “I’m about to be there” honk, and the “I’m over here” honk, and the “I’m coming this way” honk and my favorite, when leaving a house, an affectionate “bye” honk. In the last instance, there is not only information, but emotion. This conveys to me the importance of telling people what you intend to do. How that gives you room to do what you want to do. How the world will (literally) sometimes move in order to help you get where you need to go. But only if you tell it to.

The lack of lanes are incredible to me. Often there will be up to five cars kind of in a row with a smaggle of other kinds of vehicles around. I found myself thinking at one point how much faster and efficient things would be with lanes. But then I looked around with my eyes and saw the intense language of eyes and feet. Heard the beeps and honks that are vital for staying vital. And thought how lucky they are, to have this kind of awareness built into their infrastructure. Self-awareness and awareness of all other citizens (including cows) on the road. Constant consideration and nuanced telegraphing of intentions and unspoken communication that is so subtle and complex it borders on poetry.

And just as important as telling people what you’re going to do is knowing when to take (opportunity) and when to give opportunity. It’s so different from America where you can just feel deeply in your marrow that the person who just cut you off is an asshole. Because that person is most likely someone who keeps cutting people off. It isn’t so much something they just did, it’s more like something they are apt to do because we live in a society that prioritizes individuals getting ahead at the cost of everything and everyone else. Here in India, everyone who is taking is also giving. There’s rarely anything emotional or personal meant by not letting someone in or squeezing yourself in somewhere. It’s just the community, the lifestyle. A truly public space where community, competition, and non-verbal communication thrive. Not so different from a concert hall. Especially when you close your eyes and listen.

Last thing I’m learning from Hyderabad roads.
Whatever happens, whatever gets in your way suddenly or unexpectedly on the path of life that throws you off or derails your plans or scares you (or just me, on these roads) be it steel, man, or herd, keep going.

Maybe slowly, but don’t ever stop

just change,

Ling Ling

~Here’s a time lapse of some traffic a friend took from yesterday!

Sports!

On the Amtrak I break off from myself and slide down on the slippy slope of my tongue, keep going in the tube so like a luge all the way down, hang a left, hooking my thumbs in my pant loops making myself small smaller smallest so I don’t get stuck in any of the sticky and the big I is keeping time and I love to feel the way we rise, we rumble and now it’s getting pretty cold so I know we are arriving at the place and littlest I puts on a parka, big puffy thing which this whole time was smooshed under an arm because there’s only so much I’m signing up to withstand and now I’m only about a mile away and it’s so cold icicles are growing from my hair all the way down to my ankles and I break off a piece to use as a walking stick and then I think why not, and break off another piece and now I’m cross country skiing to the place, parka on, ice-skis in hand, skates slung over my shoulder and I get to the place which is so cold as to be painful but safe because it is frozen fathoms over. I throw the skis away and lace up. It is sometimes nice to skate in this old familiar place, a kind of freedom, a treat in a way, to indulge in this old pain of being without you where we left off

J

It has occurred to me that if something were to happen to you, I would no longer be able to move. I can see it like in a comic book strip. Each second would stretch, sketched into a long inky strand of something trying to pull me away from the last moment you knew me, but I’m trusting the artist to use graphite or something heavy in their hand to draw me in grief. A shadow behind me so dark, so void, I can carry it with me, anchoring me to our togetherness. Because what if I was able to walk away with slow heavy footsteps, getting lighter each day. What if I succumbed to time and its ravaging inability to not change, what if I let myself do things that you would have loved or hated or been proud of or had feelings about that I could never guess because I would not be there to show you and you would not be there to tell me. Maybe Jesus did not ask for the stone to be rolled away. Maybe the stone that is known is the safe place and if the artist is to do an honest portrayal of the stone in the way I would like, the pen would need to tear through the paper, create a gash, keep going, carving down through the desk and its many drawers, gouge the tile and dig for the deepest blackest earth to even find a shade that would accurately depict the contrast, the relief, the sharpness I would need for my grief.

That reminds me, maybe what I fucking hate about memory the most is that it’s immovable where as you are always changing

under the hat, a young face

Great big hands cracked and caked in excrementsunk so low in your seat, neck weighed down with the noose you see
instead of the world
hanging empty around you
I’m surprised when your face lifts for a moment
and under the hat, a young face
You have all your clothes on, all your things with you
All the baggage of America 
And none of the belongings
A watch, old plastic band hangs
on your wrist, stopped
I wonder if it still runs
is it for After. Homelessness.
or from Before 
I don’t know how far back
you’d have to go
Centuries undoubtedly
in your hands, a precious tube
almost used up icy hot
you wake up occasionally 
and smear it somewhere 
under the many layers
grooving to a silent pleasure
the pleasure of pleasure at all
I want to tell you
and I don’t want to tell you
it’s just menthol
cooling you
but not healing you
that even your relief is counterfeit 

Dear Lance

You came all this way
made it through every fire
unsinged, maybe singing.
The heat of capture, hot ships pitching,
whatever you used to be,
whoever you were
forget it all
you’re the thing* we need you to be
*slave animal beast con burden on society
let the new shame spread
riffing on an old flame

Only in slavery
are we leading innovators
ahead of a time
we are forever behind
if you have to be free
at least,
we can make sure you aren’t happy

I saw you sitting on the steps today. Huddled in rags in this 26 degree F like a teen tourist at Times Square who just wants to look cute in the pictures I don’t give a fuck if I’m cold. Your eyes were rolling in the back of your head and you were mumbling to yourself. Your large beautiful hands caked in dust held a pen and I saw the beginning of the letter you were writing. Dear Lance. I won’t write the rest here. But it was the letter of a man who knew he didn’t have much longer written with the spelling and penmanship of someone who wasn’t given a chance at life.

I allowed myself one moment of really feeling for you, without any cynicism or blame or maudlin thought, and then I walked on with the rest of the horde of people living their lives in smart heels with their little dogs who have always eaten better and been loved better than you.

L’Aurore, companion poem to Ysaye 5

The shades are drawn, lights off

The granitic waters are still and deep
the first breath is drawn, relents

Summoning heat,

gathering from unfathomable depths only to break again, contentment,

the first sigh
He gathers and beckons suspended dust particles
And far away,

the first innocent lapping of a wave

In my exhale, I gently push them away

She is ready to begin

Exquisite coolness

On land they begin to stir too

everywhere with hesitation, even agitation

the flowers uncontrollably give way to sudden bloom.

the regret of blooming too soon

a pristine bare arm falling over the side of the bed.
everything sighing, aching, mourning

Sudden grip of the deadnight questions

the last aborted ghost

strange beauty of barrenness

desire to bloom, desperate to believe

The blackbirds with their beady eyes begin to unruffle their rough plumes.

Conversing quietly with each other, they flick their eyelids in distrust; toss their heads in yarak

softly taunting

he couldn’t love you, who could love you?

Reason in her dark-honeyed voice coos, reassuring them, pets their hard angular feathers

but even she is skeptical

Now the shy flowers are silently unfurling, still careful.

is now the right time? do I look okay?

Are you sure he’s coming?

the blackbirds and flowers lament, with poor blank melodies, plaintive in despair

the slumbering birds of paradise awaken

slowly arch their long necks and shake their tresses
The blackbirds scurry, nonchalance a mask on their faces

I carefully walk my fingers on the heat radiating from your skin.

how much I want to wake you!

caught! lovingly exasperated, held, and he abandons for dreams

serving as diversion for the

Unrest

The waves now worried, rush up on their haunches only to dissolve as quickly as they started.

Frothy white remnants cling like desperate limbs to the shore.

possession

The waves asking resounding pleading demanding…won’t he come?

And the same thing is happening in the city too…
The city is gray concrete

the distant mewling of a lonely being,

faint echo and hollow imprints of a phantom pair of heels
and a light gold haze starts to perfume the sky
And the whole city is anticipation! Frenzied anticipation! Waiting for what is to come.

In between deafening roars and hushed in-betweens of their infinite repetition, suddenly, there! There it is!! The first sighting of that curious pale yellow substance

In our dusty apartment, consciousness aroused

But will it grow? Will he yet come?

The waves now grow obstinate. Almost cruel.

The world waits defiantly and proudly, beating wildly…now believing without question.

And now the world is growing richer.

Blacker, deeper, and oh yes, sweeter… odd things are taking shape, becoming solid… gaining purpose.

ah! we cry! the ascension! the waves are tumbling, wild ecstatic frolic in their milk and honey foam.

and in our repose, the hollows of our cheeks are being filled with rivets, streams of sun. the dips and arcs in our bodies scooping, collecting, greedily possessing the light wending its way insidiously through the shades, prying its way into the room.

and the whole room is gold enchantment and dizzying gilded atom orbs.
The light is seeping, trickling, finding it’s way into every corner, running towards every once-darkness and illuminating truth, wild joyful and free. This precise moment of alighting this torch divined. And all those men gasping under this weight, muscles rippling under the enormous burden of this sun and everywhere the world is singing in strange high pitches and primitive hoarse groans. all the rest of the flowers burst open now crying at last! at last! we’ve been storing this beauty, this treasure all night for you! and the people gazing dreamily out of their windows, walking triumphantly in their cities…and us too, in our bed, breathless, we chant at last! Yes, at last!
As the world completes another revolution, as we complete our revolutions

Windchimes

I remember those nights in a series of gestures. My hands, running through the pieces, running through my hair, gripping leather at that gay club with saddles, flipping through the books I bought to find myself, in her hands as she read the lines written there, throwing paper at the girls shaking in ecstatic technicolor blur. They were loose nights that stretched into morning and I danced with mania, trying to outpace the thoughts that come with stillness. I loved the dark of the clubs, the red and rainbow lights distorting me, my hair a long cage over my face, unpermitting. I loved the beautiful girls, with faces and bodies so fantastic, I could relax, my female obligation to be beautiful so fulfilled by others. I want to call you sometimes, like I did from that house. In a room with a smell so full of incense I felt it press down on me when I was asleep. The heavy floral scent a long tissue that slowly entered my nostrils and kept filling me. Outside of my room, there was a picture of a man kneeled before Jesus. It was a baptism, but I misunderstood, I thought the follower was like me, believing in a man and getting on my knees, giving everything, receiving nothing. If I called you now, I would tell you that I wasn’t a girl then. You were mistaken. I was broken fragments tied together and hung by string. My beauty was just reflection and my songs were incidental, hollow sounds formed by the shattered parts of my self rubbing together. I couldn’t look at you then because your eyes had such a density and focus to them. I knew that if I met your gaze, I would be fixed in place and I would slow down.