Saturday, 20 October 2007

Tree #5: A frangipani tree in Bangalore, India

My friend Priya the artist has planted me a frangipani tree. She tells me that it will have beautiful pink and yellow flowers and promises me more pictures when it does. But for starters, here is its baby-pic.

Tree #4: A neem tree in Udupi, India

This tree is Zinan's! She's Ashraf and Zeenat's daughter (see previous "Plant Me A Tree" post). I'm quite excited about this tree because neem trees are supposed to be very healing - not just in their byproducts - but in their very presence. They heal the air around them. What a lovely thought.

Zinan is 11 years old now. She's a very talented artist (it's in the Tonse genes, honestly!) and I'm going to ask her if she'll draw or paint the tree for me, instead of the usual photo. She misses her brother, I know. Although he was older, I'd often think of them as twins, they were so close to each other. There must be a big empty space in her life now. I'm glad she planted a neem tree, I hope it sends some healing air her way. Breathe deep, sweetie.

Tree #3: A nutmeg tree in Udupi, India

People, you're supposed to TELL me when you plant the trees. I don't actually have psychic vibes and telephathic connections with them. (Well, not yet).

Anyway I'm happy to report, thanks to my bhabhi Zeenat's casual mention yesterday that they'd planted two trees for me a while back in Udupi - that I now require just .. oh .. 38 more .. sigh.

Zeenat is my dear cousin Ashraf Bhai's wife, and they are down here for a holiday with their daughter Zinan (Tree #4 is her contribution by the way). Zeenat is also Mehran's mother. Some of you may remember that sweet bright and unbelievably cheerful little boy who was here in Bangalore with us two years ago for his cancer treatment. He passed away last October.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Tree #2: A cherry tree in Bangalore, India

I should have posted this a few days ago, but have been down with the 'flu.

My friend Sukanya's DAUGHTER is really responsible for the planting of this tree. Apparently Anahita is an avid bird-lover and amateur bird-watcher, and wanted this particular tree to attract the sunbirds. Wise and wonderful child, we need more of your kind on this planet!

And who is Sukanya, you might ask? Especially you of the good old days .. and oh, there have been many different types of good old days in Nazu's life. Sukanya is a friend of the good not-so-old days, we bumped into each other some years ago at a workshop for NGOs (not that I or Askios are NGOs .. we are more of an NGO-groupie and we tag along wherever the NGOs go, and try to be useful). Anyway, Sukanya and I bumped into each other and became friends, and now we continue to bump into each other every so often at one workshop or another.

Shameful, really, because we live in the same city. But now that our friendship has been so beautifully and symbolically rooted, I must pack my water-bottle and make the long trek to wherever it is she lives (I only know that it is very very far away from my part of town) so that I can meet fellow bird-lover Anahita and take a nice picture of us all under our tree!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

"Now that it's night ...

Now that it's night
You can let your fears out
The darkness will cover your scars
You can pull off your mask
And breathe free at last.

You can straighten your shoulders
Stick out your chest
Tuck in your stomach
And walk like the rest
(As you'd like to, by day.)

You can smoke all your pot
You can drink all your booze
To try keep your mind off your Freudian blues
You can lie down and wait for your dreams to come true
But watch out, cause they sneak in a nightmare or two.

You can't look in the mirror
You hate what you see
so you go for a walk
And pretend that you're free.

And you look at the moon, the stars and the clouds
But you're not man enough yet to cry out aloud
Though you know that the morning
is just a different kind of night -
And if you don't remove the shutters
You won't see any light.

(Jan 21st 1987, Madras, at Mardi Gras).

Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Abyss Gazes Also.

"He does not resist.
He does not hope.
He does not die."

- lunalein

I'm not too sure who wrote this "fanfic", the link says it's by
violet, but the site I found it on says it's by lunalein aka
tangleofthorns. Well whoever wrote it, s/he is brilliant I think.
I love the style of writing, and the creative concepts of both
this and the other story I found by the same author.

The Abyss Gazes Also is about Azkaban and the Dementors,
and is a wonderful exploration of the thoughts and experiences
of Sirius Black and other prisoners there. Very well written
and such a satisfying read. Here's another quote from it,
about Bellatrix:

"She doesn't flinch. Not even as her Dementor vanishes, and the metal begins to burn her. Scar tissue is the hardest kind to harm."

Saturday, 25 August 2007

How the Tree-thing all started.

I remember very little of my childhood, which is a pity, because alongside the bad, I've missed out on the good. Much of my life, I've pretended to remember, nodding and laughing at stories I've put together from other people's anecdotes or old photographs. So I don't really remember the planting of the first tree. It was a magnolia of some sort, I think. The ones with those big waxy white flowers that smell so heavenly. In Urdu, it's called 'franjipani'. My father planted it just inside the gate of House 429 in Awali, Bahrain. It doesn't matter that I don't remember the planting of it, though, because over the years, every time we drove down to Awali, we would pass our old house, and seeing the tree that Daddy planted was a significant part of every drive. I'm sure I have a picture of it somewhere. I hope it is still growing. It must be around 40 years old now, just a bit younger than I am.

My father was a planter of trees. And so, every house that we've lived in, that had a patch of earth, would be home not just to us, but to the trees my father would plant and leave behind as a legacy. In Gufool, in the 80s, it was two 'gulmohars' (Flame of The Forest), one of which was still as glorious as ever the last time i saw it. In Adliya in the 90s, it was a lemon tree in the backyard and more gulmohars flanking the front gate.

At our first Indian home, the Awali township's namesake here in Bangalore, the trees have gone, replaced by a rather glossy commercial building that I'd ask you to please not begrudge - that building makes it possible for me to work full time on Askios (my voluntary job on CSA awareness). And now, at the new family home 'Dilmun', there are many new trees - a custard apple tree that's already borne two seasons of fruit, the 'kari-pattha' tree whose leaves I meet at lunch most days, a remarkable drumstick tree that has seen thousands of sticks distributed over the years to friends and neighbours - and that brings delightful little brown and yellow bee-eaters twittering to its flowers, a lime tree that gave up the ghosts just this year - and of course its heir Tree #1, the new lime tree planted a few days ago.

I've inherited my father's eyes and feet. His ability to make a great tomato jam. His artistic skills. His way with birds. And his tree-planting tendencies. Back in Abu Ghazaal in 2000, I turned a rubbishy old back yard into a fertile little garden and have left behind 6 ficuses growing in a row there, as well as a citrus tree and bougainvillea in the plots around the sides of my house. I often wonder how they grow (and would love it if a Bahrain-based friend who knows where I lived, could pop in and check on them for me!)

Barren spinster I may be, but I'm going to leave behind a hell of a lot of trees!

Snape Fanfic: The Blade

"Have I not paid? I have given my all to the light, that I might live in dark. I have given to the dark, that I might aid the light."

- aldalindil

Just found a lovely little piece on Whitehound's site. It's short and quite magical. The Blade is not really a story, it's just words put together quite poetically, a random musing that creates a picture of Snape that I love. It's by someone called aldalindil, and was written in 2002, which is interesting because she presents the Snape we got to know only in the later books.

Go there now!

Friday, 24 August 2007

A tree story from Hungary.

A friend of mine wrote to me today after receiving my PlantMeATree email. Peter and his wife Ildi are good friends of mine from my days in advertising. Peter worked with me, and they were also my neighbours, living just down the road in Abu Ghazaal. Many warm memories of the times we spent together -exotic sweet spring rolls made with jackfruit and jam, wandering through the Isa Town souq chasing birds, tearfully translating Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to an equally tearful listener (that was Ildi not Peter!), agonising over brochure amendments and the suits that brought them to us, my first taste of rosehips, discovering Hungarian music and oh-so-long words. And those of you who have seen my "poet" picture (the one where I'm fleeing the ocean with a tablecloth for a cape) may be interested toknow that it was Ildi who captured that moment on film.

Well, in today's email, Peter wrote the following and I thought it was too lovely not to add to this blog. Peter, I hope you don't mind me quotingyou here!

"it's a strange coincidence with your wish as a birthday present and witha tree in our garden. perhaps you remember that we discussed particularly the different kinds of fruits. once i listed all the trees and bushes in our garden. there was one tree i couldn't name in english. looking up in the dictionary it gave me the word: naseberry-tree. since then i've treated our loved tree as naseberry and it always reminded me of you. we noticed that its name sounds like nazu. apparently the dictionary was incorrect it is a medlar tree as i got to know recently. naseberry is a tropical fruit no matter how similar it is to a medlar. however this plant will remain to be a nazu tree."

So there already is a Nazu tree?! A pre-42 Nazu tree! And Peter and Ildi have assured me that come spring, they will be planting another specially for me. It will be a poplar that promises to grow tall. One day I shall sit under it with my friends and a big plate of hot jackfruit rolls ..

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Tree #1: A lime tree in Bangalore, India.

The first tree is from my parents, and was planted this afternoon,
in their garden. It's a sapling of a lime tree - what we call "neembu"
here. I now have two neembus - I also have a budgerigar named
Neembu - she's lutino (yellow all over) and is exactly the same
colour as the limes we get here.

Daddy supervised the planting, while Krishna (yes, who used
to work for us when we were in Bahrain - he's here on holiday
and came to visit) did the digging. Daddy insisted that I should
be the one to place the sapling in the earth. Krishna patted down
the earth and watered it, and within half an hour, I like to think
Nature showed its appreciation with a lovely little finale --
 a light shower of rain.

Edited 11 Apri 2014

Monday, 20 August 2007

Plant me a tree!

This year, I turn 42, and I couldn't think of a nicer
birthday present than a garden of trees growing for me around
the world. Over the next year, I hope to find 42 people who
will plant and nurture a tree for me.

Here's what I want you to do:

1. Find me a tree: a sapling of any tree you think appropriate.

2. Next, find me a spot: a space waiting in your garden, perhaps.
Or a neighbourhood corner. Maybe even a large pot for your
balcony (some trees will grow in pots - though not as large
and healthy as those planted in the ground).

3. Take a picture when you plant it, and send me a copy
of the picture, along with a bit of information about the tree -
what tree it is, where you got it and how, why you chose
this particular tree, and anything else you'd like to say.
And in the future, at least once a year, send me a picture
with the tree in it, so that we can all see how it's growing.
You could also send pictures in different seasons, if you like.

4. Look after it for me. Let it grow as long and as strong
as it can, so that there will always be a bit of green for
someone who feels they may never see enough.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

The last thing on my mind.

A few years ago, I was being rushed to Manipal Hospital in
a screaming ambulance early one morning, with a suspected
brain haemorrhage. Needless to say, I'm still here: the cerebral
irritation, though still a mystery, turned out not to be a haemorrhage
after all. At the time, though, everyone thought I was dying. I did too.

Lying in that ambulance, blacking out and coming to, over
and over, on waves of pain, the thought calmly came to me:
I think I'm dying. And: Shouldn't this be more dramatic?
But no, it wasn't. It was a quiet, oh-well kind of resignation.

I looked up through the window and saw treetops streaming
past as the ambulance raced me across town, and it struck me
that dying meant I would never see trees again. So I looked
and looked at the trees, trying to stay conscious and keep
my eyes open to take in as much of the green as I could -
while I could.

And then I lived! So now, I never ignore a tree.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

"All These Tears ...

Oh I am so glad I grew up. Young people reading this, please know: LOVE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS. This is just desperate codependent angst-ridden obsession. I can't believe I actually thought like this once.

All these tears just beneath
the surface
are waiting to break through
if I'd only let them flow
if I could only let you go

But I've sworn to stay beside you
Even if you turn away
And if I have no tomorrows
At least I have had today.

I can cling to my dreams
As I cling to you now
And my dreams may never come true
But at least I have loved you

Everything has a price
And I am quite willing to pay
I would not exchange my
grey tomorrows
For the moments of ecstacy and sparkle of today.

( 9/86)

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Death doesn't scare me any more

At first glance, you may think it is depressing, but this poem is about hope. I think it is incredible that I was able to look ahead with hope at this point of  my life, having gone through what I had.

Death doesn't scare me any more
I already know what hell is
And heaven may not be so good
But it'll be better than this

So this is life
Out of the hell of heroin
Suspended somewhere between then and now
Until I start again

Start living, start giving,
Stop lying, stop crying,
No more hate or despair
No lifeless body swinging in the air

Dreams coming back to life
Plans pulled out of the dust
'Cause when you want and need a future
You have to free the feelings you suppressed

I'm tired of their stares
And of all the sly, knowing grins
I'm sick of those dead eyes in my mirror
And bones barely veiled by my skin

But you have to cry before you can laugh
And you have to wade thro' the mire and stench
Before you can see the sparrows and smile ...
It just takes a little while.

Written on March 21, 1986, Friday, 8:58 pm. I was 20 years old.