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The place to die

18 Sep

I was looking for a place I would want to die.

Australia was not the place.

Then, after a few years, Japan turned out not to be either.

Then I found Kerala in India.

But after a few years, again I am feeling this is not the place.

In fact, what I am starting to gain

Is my indiscrimination in the place I would die.

Wherever I would die,

Now I can imagine my body

Turning into soil and wind and light

And fly and melt into the world.

I hope I won’t forget this.

*

2013 Tomomi

geckos cry

14 Aug

Geckos cry
like turtles

Squirrels cry
like birds

and I sing
like ………?

I wonder.

*

I wonder who designed me this way;

I wonder who designed things
so that no blood is spilt
when a cat eats a gecko;

I wonder who designed
the mosquitoes to live on blood;

I wonder who designed
those bugs to jump into the fire,
those ants to walk into the water,
things to happen as they happen;

I wonder.

Singing in the rain

15 Feb

Rain during the night is lovely. Especially the ones that are still pouring in the early morning, and leave as the world gathers more light. We thought the dry season has come much earlier than expected, but some rain is happening in the past couple of days, and it has been lovely.

I moved houses. The new house at first reminded me my friends’ houses in Canberra. A pretty organic pretty little house. I have a balcony where I can sing and write and skype. The influence the abode has to your life is tremendous; I am being reminded. I am feeling much more secure and free now. I am happy. I just have to neatly put my stuff into where it should be.

Some people talk about the mathematical beauty of the South Indian music. I never really understood it till recently. Well, only started to. Perhaps it is easier to get it with percussions, but in vocal training, you need to get to the improvisation stage to understand its mathematic aspect. That’s how I feel. How to fit the notes into set Thalams (rhythmic entity) is quite mathematic in nature. So I am finally starting to get some feeling of it.

When I look back, I was always into patterns. Here I am referring to the visual patterns. I used to draw a lot. Not as a design, but as a part of my leisure illustrations; as a filler of the space, I drew them without thinking much. Patterns are all about combinations, which too are pretty mathematic in nature, so perhaps such tendency of mine is connecting to my present interest in South Indian music. A friend of mine recently wrote that patterns can be all spelled out in mathematics, which also connects to philosophy.

One thing sure is that the world is getting more and more interesting for me, despite all that are happening in the world.

Upon Ballads and Ragams

31 Jan

So I talked to and caught up with Eugenie over skype after more than a year. I am happy.

Talking to an actual native speaker of English reminds me the need to read more proper English books. By ‘proper’, I mean ‘those with beautiful language’. It is frustrating to look for a word you used to know and you know it is there, but does not come through your throat to become a voice. What a shame.

And you know, this is why I don’t take this ‘international language’ thing highly. It is a wonderful media for communication, but it should not creep into your life too much. The English non-native speakers use to each other lacks the depth and wealth of culture- but as I just wrote, it is a wonderful means to communicate with somebody from different linguistic background. But still.

Anyway, I thought I will write about singing ballads, a topic which we couldn’t go into it as much.

When I was studying Sanskrit, chanting the verses was a part of the learning. I used to know a couple of tunes applicable to each meter[certain combinations of short and long syllables]. I am not sure if I still remember them all. So, back then, I knew some set tunes, and knew how to sing poems or epics in those tunes.

Now that I am learning Carnatic music, I have familiarised myself with the concept of Ragams [called Rag, in Hindustani music]. It is difficult to explain what raga is; as difficult as to explain what chords and harmony are to an Indian person.

Ragam is sets of musical notes, and each set produces different feelings, different atmosphere. A friend of mine, when she came to see my carnatic lesson, said “the sound changed. What was it?” Well, that was when the Ragam changed. It is hard to explain what this is. But the word ‘raga’ apparently derives its meaning from ‘colour’ (though the term itself has many meanings). Each raga has different colour, different smell, and different air.

What is amazing about it is, if you know the Ragam well, you are able to improvise with the Ragam- well, you are supposed to. So, if you have poems, epics, some lines- and if you are well acquainted with Indian music, then you are well capable of singing them in different Ragams. I mean, you can improvise it, and sing the lines spontaneously, from your heart. In fact, Kavalam Srikumar does it with the epic Ramayana, and is broadcasted throughout Kerala every year in August (youtube should have many videos. Sorry I don’t have youtube access at the moment so I can’t link).

So in this system, you can always reproduce the poetic works. So I hear many tunes for each meter. The same work can be sung differently, not just because there are many traditions, but also because the music system here allows, and is based on, improvisation; but again, not a total free improvisation, but with rules called Ragams that actually enrich the whole experience.

So. In this sense, if I successfully learn Carnatic, as well as Sopana music, I may as well be able to sing some ballads and poems. Eventually. A possibility.

Lanaguage to heart

29 Dec

It seems certain that my language ability on poetic side has been much degrading.
Well, I mean, I don’t know. Maybe it has ever been at this level, but I never got to notice it.

Tonight, I read the first chapter of Lefthand of Darkness after a long time, only to realise that nothing was properly coming to my head; so I ended up reading aloud everything. It worked. I also realised that I wasn’t really understanding anything the last time I read it.

The connection between words/language and my being/soul/spirit/atman has become one of my main topics these days.
I feel the connection more, even when I am singing some stupidist songs in Japanese, than when I am singing a lovely song in English.

That beats me up! Just think how much I have become comfortable with the language in daily life- but still not up to singing in my true sense. And I am, right now, learning vocal music- in another language!

So I guess singing is a peculiar, special, and core kind of language activity. But then, that is precisely the reason why I am so drawn to singing now… especially classical, old type of singing. Purely as a music, I would actually prefer instrumental. Yet there is something that is only present in vocal, which cannot be separated from language….

Sigh,
I can only work on.

Anger and wash-away=poetry

19 Dec

I’ve been thinking. Anger has been invading the core of my being. Not something very visible that explodes periodically. It is harming my emotions quietly yet in strong force.

In some ways or other, I know where it comes from. It is because I do not feel that I am a part of anybody else.

But that aside. Often it starts from my feeling some kind of injustice. That is, actually, pretty normal, and normally I would not take up any issue with it. Often there is very little that I can do. I cannot be bothered to have drama with everything.

However, still, sometimes, something simply pulls the trigger. Unexpectedly. And everything is suddenly so stirring!

And then, I was thinking, that I somehow seemed not wanting to let go of this anger. This state lasted for a couple of days. At the same time, I was also aware of times when I can be free of these thoughts and anger- when I am completely soaked into singing.

Anyway, the thought went on… and still goes on. My feeling now is that, eventually, I will feel to let go of the angers. The matter is just that, how to reach that stage.

*

This is the next day. Guess what. The anger is gone.
I read some tanka poems of my favorite poet… Bokusui. Then most things were washed out. It just made me realize the power of poetry.

One of his famous ones goes like;

“Is the white bird not sad, wandering in the blues, never coloured by the sky nor the sea”

You may want to convert ‘white bird’ to seagull or some other bird, and the ‘wandering’ to some other terms… the actual meaning of the original is to ‘drift’. ‘drifting without being died by the sky blue nor the ocean blue’ would be a literal translation. I went somewhere between the literal and liberal translation. Anyway, I hope you could picture it…

the slug

15 Oct

I should probably be
the hero myself.
A shooting star won’t fly into my hand;
I know, I know.
That’s all that I know.

*

Sometimes I need to take the risk
for my own well being
to stay out late after work, to slip into a fancy cafe
(which might sound crazy for Indians)
for my own well being.

*

Small things affect;
like a man last night at the station
who stepped on and then rolled around with his shoes
a slug
that I think was bleeding some transparent liquid
but was still alive.

***

(c)Tomomi 2012