Monday, July 28

a memuse.

[singapore. malan road]
how does memory work;
what gives rebirth, what causes death.
the inexactitude of love and life,
you just laugh, and smile when you do remember.

"... and a mould. a mould carries the imprint of those once passed- and it reproduces its sentiments from that perfect first copy, according to its needs and wishes. it does not mourn, it simply bears, it simply has. ..."

Wednesday, July 23

watch him do the talk

breaking protocol here. this isnt a photo (clearly), but his face, the strain in his voice, the heat behind his eyes, and the legacy, the memory, of an entire people drumming in the rhythm of his rant, his cry, his statement- it burns a damn clear picture in my mind.

and calls forth a million other images through humanity- each demanding. each demanding we get up, like he has done.
[oscar brown jr. apologize. ..thanks alecia, for bringing this to the fore]

" i apologise for being black,
for all i am
plus for all i lack
please sir, please ma'am, give me some slack

i apologise for being poor
for being sick and tired and so
since i aint slick
dont know the scope
i apologise

i apologise because i bear
resemblance most black people share
thick lips, flat nose and nappy hair
yes i apologise

i apologise for how i look
for all the lows and blows i took
and lord knows i closed the book

i apologise for all i gave
for letting you make me your slave
and going to my early grave
yes i apologise

i apologise for being caught
for being sold, for being bought
for being told i count
for nought

i apologise for all ive done
for all my toil out in the sun
dont wanna spoil your righteous fun
so i apologise

i apologise and curse my kind
for being fooled, for being blind
for being rude and in your bind

i apologise and curse my feet
for being slow
for being late
because i know its me you hate
why not apologise

i apologise and tip my hat
cos you so rich and free and fat
sonofabitch, thats where its at.
and i apologize
oscar brown jr died, aged 78, 29th may, 1995, of natural causes. he founded the The Oscar Brown, Jr. H.I.P. Legacy Foundation to carry on his work.

Sunday, July 20

soul-searching, not for mine, but yours //or are they same-same, even if different?

[ayuthaya. at a very small wat, no english name posted]
my first pile of bricks i came across. traipsed around the small area, poked my head into one of the few shrines and found an array of shiny statuettes and food offerings. the place seemed well- visited.

later, a pack of wild dogs trundled over. a black one leapt onto the ledge here, and i had to flee.

[outside wat phra si sanphet. ]
fallen offering on the steps leading up to a statue of a past king

[wat ratburana]
plucking time from the stupas.. cleaners sweeping the grounds, pulling out weeds. i wondered what a place can mean to a person, to a collective people.

[wat ratburana.]
quirky find.

[wat thammikarat.]
they were from the past, but very much rooted in the present consciousness of the people... the heavy concentration of wats everywhere also made me question why i was exerting so much time and energy hunting them down. what was i shooting for? i couldnt get past the what, let alone the why.

it paralleled my church-hopping in germany, but this time it was pure fascination. no loneliness, no sadness. this time i felt certain there is something- but i couldn't find anything (about?). for a while all i got were flat opaque images, insect bites and sunburns many times over. and again and again, at the heart of each wat, the glorious gold would just sit there, making me wonder.

[wat thammikarat.]

... all the good and evil in the world we try to explain, and then cope by externalising them in the physical acts we do, and symbols we cherish. sometimes the two get conflated, or completely divorced.

... find myself continually intrigued by the hidden meanings behind concrete events, and none more mystifying more in the sacred realm of rituals and objects in religion. in ayuthaya, the many (did i mention many? about 400 in a lil town of about 90,000) shrines and statues were magnficient and sagely in their age and otherworldliness. time seemed trivial when you see an eternal belief still strong in offerings dotting the most unexpected places; you cross a road and immediately, the humdrum traffic closes behind you and you're transported 400, sometimes 800 years ago.

i touch the old bricks on the left and look to the stream of cars and people on the right, and wonder, really, what lies beneath all this.

many times ive wrestled with the link between physical reality and the morphous meanings under it all. ayuthaya occupies a another special place in my heart because it was to here i first ran screaming out of bangkok, - here, the quiet began to grow. there were (are) no answers, but to see clearly -again- was a kind of rush.

[ ?.]
across the threshold.

[wat ?thammikarat.]
what overlooks us all?

[wat ratburana. ]

[wat mahathat.]
where the buddha's head is embedded in twisted tree roots.

it was magnificent and quiet, receding into the background. id marched through the rain to snap its supposed otherworldly glow at night (illuminated by lamps), but my thoughts and ambitions got worn down by the traffic, and i let myself be sucked back into present time and bustle.

id found it yet another world i could not quite reach.

i don't mean to offend you personally, but do you not belong to the human race that has killed over 100 million members of their own species in the twentieth century alone?

you mean guilt by association?

it is not a question of guilt. but as long as you are run by the egoic mind, you are part of the collective insanity. perhaps you haven't looked very deeply into the human condition in its state of dominance by the egoic mind. open your eyes and see the fear, the depair, the greed, and the violence that are all-pervasive. see the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on other life forms on the planet. you dont need to condemn. just observe. that is sin. that is insanity. that is unconsciousness. above all, don't forget to observe your own mind. seek out the root of the insanity there.

:: the power of now. eckhart tolle.
[[ all photos taken at ayuthaya, thailand]]

Tuesday, July 15


dragon carving at the bottom steps.

[both at wat lam duan. nongkhai. thailand]
brilliant gold at the top of the stairs to the roof.

"about three weeks ago, i'd allowed myself to come to a complete standstill at nongkhai, a small town of three parallel roads to the mekong in the northeast of thailand. the people seemed to live at the same languid pace, and i had two days to contemplate the mekong, the sculptures at sala keaw ku, and myself a year after being on the opposite of the river in vientiene, laos.

two days in singapore is a pithy period stretched thin by work, engagements, responsibilities and urban entertainments. but between the afternoon i arrived there and the third evening, the initial restlessness and utter boredom had condensed into ... a still vague, but quiet purpose. external boredom quickly turned to a reflective solitude.

the few days there seemed a dense mini lifetime as i swung between ennui and wonderment, at the little thoughts that bubbled forth and the odd sights i'd come across. just as the heat was relentless (i wont be forgetting a semi-heatstroke at sala keaw ku), activities, then thoughts got pared down. it was like an exfoliation process: i had nothing to do, or see, and didn't seem to be capable of much thought. i was left to face the congruence of physical place and time.

-- the sun seared burns across my neck and the mass of water a continuous linear brown. it was quiet, silent,

and i started remembering the lessons i'd learnt with the project at nongduang; re-mused at how my life has narrowed in some ways, streamlined in others and felt reassured i would surely take something back from what seemed like superficial wanderings across thailand.

ill also remember nongkhai for my first fun roommate (also my first long conversation with another human in thailand), zack from michigan and his hilarious "other half, nick". i didnt expect the easy camadarie. ...its a pity our trips to chiangmai didnt align, and that im only expressing my fondness here."

[back of wat lam duan.]

[wat pho chai.]
squares of coloured lights in the sun.

a girl drying isaan sausages outside a shop.
the town was full of sausages-

another sign proclaiming the proud isaan sausage. ironic pig, that.

[the mekong.]
i sat, fidgeted, then let myself be lulled by it..

[the mekong.]
.. the strip of trees, short buildings and scattered huts across the river became a darkened silhouette- it did seem highly evocative in the sunset, as i met the ghosts of a year ago and withdrew a little from concrete chases.

[[nong khai. thailand]]

Monday, July 7

traveling, not bumming.

[pai. thailand. taken and stitched by hc]

midway, my frantic temple touring and trawling thailand's towns ceased and i wondered what was the point. i love traveling- im not supposed to feel ennui like this. id felt like i needed a project, a grand question to fulfil, or at least some heavy weight cleansed. i felt on the periphery of local life, skimming along in my head. plus i wasnt spending much to feed the local economy. i was being the worst kind of tourist- detached, apathetic and not much help or fun.

and id missed you terribly, seeing a whole expanse of time to know you better ebb away with each day you couldnt join me.

then it slowly fell into place; when i stopped chasing meanings and striving for reason, and just let the people i was with and the place i was in touch me. it relaxed into a more primitive interaction, on their terms instead of mine. and things always crystallise toward the end, if you pay open attention. i started taking more focussed pictures, which now form the physical remnants of the trip, waiting to be unfolded.

got on, trusted your back.
the map proved a vague practicality-
the end is unpredictable, multitudinous,
the journey ungrand, until we relaxed-
a rainbow. two.
iridescent lights, it was silent but bold.
and that was a prime sight to be able to have
someone to turn to and smile and be in awed with.
stumbled and fretted along,
but managed rightplace/righttime.
taking measurements in the moments,
we're doing rather beautifully well.

bangkok- "city of life".

[bangkok. thailand]
i was safely esconsced in an aircon bus, high above on the highway, but the sights of mega billboards and concrete sprawl soon overwhelmed that single sense.

the bus spat me out onto tourist pit at khaosan road, around which i spent an hour walking around looking for accomodation, getting very accustommed to the peculiar smell of bangkok's streets.

it was probably a combination of my own sensitivities to smells and stinks and being beaten down by the bangkok heat and diesel smoke- i was looking for a ride out by the next evening. i fled to the mundane quiet of ayutthaya 2 hours away.

[bangkok. along thanon ratchadamnoen]

[bangkok. intersection of payathai and rama 1; of the connecting skytrains]
where siam square's mega shopping malls meet, sustained by a continuous stream of people from the connecting skytrains, high and clean away from the steady rumble of traffic beneath.



bangkok pretty much assaulted my senses, and left me reeling and bruised from the massive tangles of people trying to live and development taking place in the dusty shophouses, encroaching buildings, overlays of road systems- everything spilt from everywhere: cars from roads, tuktuks onto curbs, food from carts, babies from mothers' overloaded arms,sewage from gutters, people along roads, smoke roaring out from vehicles.

it's a dynamic city indeed, and though it took a while for me to disengage from my orderly habituations, i came to appreciate the life underneath the dirt and bustle towards the end.