Friday, March 29, 2013



They're both talking at the same time. One's voice can be heard by way of speech; the other, while attempting to listen, is actually speaking very loudly inside her head and trying hard not to verbalise before it's her turn. This is no duel. It's an aching attempt to do justice to the flighty moments of individual ownership that we each come by, while in conversation. 'This is what I think or feel about that." Every time a turn to talk arrives, they each throw themselves into it and grab at the moment and hold it fast and with longing... before it passes again. And then they wait for the next spot, almost like waiting to return to their beginnings again - beginnings where there was only one I, one self and space.

Thursday, March 14, 2013



It's the white curtains and the freshly painted off-white walls, they conclude, while thinking aloud and letting their eyes wander around the room. It doesn't feel like there is a bustling street just around the corner once you step in here, they confess with uncertainty, waiting to test their hypothesis, only to find that the calmness stays on, much to their relief. As the visits unfold, bringing in old allies, new companions and future friends, all the little touches and embellishments find quiet or curious admirers and settle acceptingly into their designated spots on the walls, side tables and wooden bookshelves. The place gives of itself, to each who enters. And how could it not? The process of its coming together involved healing, love, equality and giving between two souls. It is a space of refuge, resting and revival. A pit stop called home.

Sunday, March 03, 2013



A thousand surge at us as we begin our walk. Sweat, sand, soap, dung, camphor, flowers, oil, oranges, fish, pigeons, disinfectant, wet earth, deodorant, varnish, burnt rubber - each blending with the distinct other, explosively at one instance, and gently at another, creating one choking gulp of life-odour at a time. We succumb to the methodical olfactory attack; the other senses take a reluctant back seat. And suddenly, as we navigate our way through the heart of Dadar, we look at each other for a moment and smile at the mutual realisation of having just smelt ' humanity'.

Saturday, February 27, 2010



Does wine really inhale and exhale, sipping the air with long, deep, yogic breaths? If so, when it ages, will it puff and pant, as if challenged by climbing stairs? If wine possesses a “backbone”, and a “nose”, not to mention “legs”, surely it has “lungs”!

What’s with wine breathing – leave alone having to be decanted?

Imagine you’ve just met someone new. After the initial formalities, it would probably take you time to process the layers of multi-sensory information you’re absorbing, before you come to be your true self.

Like you, wine needs to inhale the air and mingle with it before it can let go of its “closed fist” and express its true aromas and attributes without inhibition. And those characteristics, in younger wines, take after their specific grape variety (bell peppers in Cabernet Sauvignon, for example). As the wine evolves with fermentation, exposure to oak, and age, other nuances start to come through, along with a marked complexity (think cigar, earth, leather).

A 1945 Mouton sitting on an old leather chair in an exclusive club, puffing away pompously at a Davidoff torpedo. What a picture!

How much air should you let a wine breathe? is the Question.

In full-bodied reds such as Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Amarone younger than four years, exposure to air “rounds off” the harsh tannins, making them silkier and softer. A tannic mouthfeel is hard to miss; it’s a coarse, drying, adhesive texture, followed by a bitter astringency that has you make a face. So pour that Cab into a decanter, slosh and wait an hour. Voila! Goodbye Sandpaper, hello Suede. (Or so they say.)

As reds age, the reason for decanting shifts. After years of being bottled up, wine develops a unique character – from forced rumination, no doubt. A gradual, gentle oxidation has already taken place within the bottle, softening the wine as chemical changes occur within, throwing off a residue. Which, dear Drinker, is precisely why you decant: to separate this sediment from the wine. So yes, wine does need to reorient itself to the new surroundings and the new timeline, but over-decanting would only “fade” the wine’s palate. (Oho, now it has a palate, too?)

Traditional wine tasters in France define a “first nose” as one where the wine is lightly breathed in as soon as it’s poured, without so much as a swirl. The “second nose” follows the ritualistic swish-and-swirl, when new aromas released are inhaled deeply, and flavor receptacles discern the distinctions. I’ll never forget the way Jean Baptiste at La Cave du Verger des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape said, “Ah, ze wine, ’ee ’as opened!”.

A sommelier I once met in a beautiful Château in Provence would pour the wine with great delicacy into a decanter, and then (alarmingly) jostle it around with all the vigor he had in his elbow. Oh, Monsieur Phillipe, do be careful, you will bruise this old wine!

Bruise a wine? The next time you meet a wine with a black eye or a purple nose, you’ll know exactly what happened.

Friday, February 26, 2010



Economics, global and local, led me to make exigency plans to preclude, alas alack, joining the forces of the homeless. With an arsenal of online resources this was soon accomplished… someone would live in my apartment, someone would take care of my cat, someone would host me in their home for three months. It was so easy to arrange; to me it was a sign the Universe endorsed my decision.

As the departure day drew close I was looking forward to simplifying, minimizing, becoming a hermit if need be (due to lack of cultural activities in my soon-to-be Southern State) and most exciting of all, free from my monthly rut, to write, write, write. My remaining concern was how to safely transport my iMac G5.

As it transpired, life intervenes. Without going into details, I found myself sans kitty, sans apartment, computer under arm, looking for a temporary abode… some call it couch-surfing.

I found myself a sofa across town with a view of some of San Francisco’s finest architectural icons, including Coit Tower and Alcatraz. Living with my very good friend required little adjusting; basically, I just had to minimize my footprint.

So here I am… eight weeks later….

Used to living my own independent, freelance life, I now share, share, share… bathroom, kitchen, groceries, laundry, cooking, even which movie to watch is a democratic decision. There’s a child who lives here part-time, and when she’s here, she is the center of our universe. We hit the sack by nine most nights; eleven on a wildly social night (meaning her dad and I watch a DVD on my “big screen” computer, jokingly called the jumbotron, and share a bottle of wine).

What I’ve lost in space, literally – bathroom cabinet reduced to one shelf, suitcase in lieu of closet, couch instead of bed – has been compensated tenfold by community.

What I thought I couldn’t live with, I live perfectly well without.

What I thought I needed is what I now can’t live without.

It sure is funny how the Universe chooses to teach us our life’s lessons.

Monday, February 01, 2010



At the ACE Hotel New York on 29th between Fifth and Broadway, it’s a strange play between personal space and shared space. The role of public space, it seems, is to heighten the perception of private space and its relationship with itself.

You walk in, pick up your wifi code and dive into your laptop, amidst the hustle-bustle of wait staff, the clinking of cappuccino cups and inventive cocktails. Like those cocktails, it’s a blend of cool vibe and a Friday-happy-hour feel. No one needs to approve of your presence – you simply belong.

Unless of course you do something weird – as I did.

There are four marked areas in the hotel lobby. Two of them are filled with sprawling couches generous enough to accommodate these people, and all of their workday’s accouterments, which, in the winter, have a tendency to take up more than one’s fair share of individual space – bulky winter coats, backpacks, gloves, hats, earmuffs… you get the picture. A communal table for ten laptops stands at the center, at which people sit, each engrossed in an intense relationship with their laptop. The relationship is quite obvious – that of one with oneself.

Respect for personal space – particularly here – is an unspoken tenet. And so I decide to throw a little wrench into the snugness of this secure digital haven, if only to find the answer to the social experiment that ensues. I steal a furtive glance at my neighbor’s screen, which I ensure she catches from the periphery of her vision. And then, from the periphery of mine, I observe. She’s completely disconcerted, and she loses focus on what she’s doing. Her only thought is my “sneak peek”. So now, it’s her turn to looking surreptitiously towards me, by which time, my gaze has calmly returned to my own laptop, and to writing this piece. Clearly, I have turned into a bull, which has subtly but substantially butted into the fragility of the surrounding china-like psyche.

When personal space is ruptured with a sneaky, stealthy glance such as this (which you can’t prove for sure) it can become extremely potent just by its sheer questionability. Did it really happen? Did I imagine it? Am I being paranoid? Do I now angle my laptop a few degrees away? Or will that seem awfully rude? Should I then actually turn my laptop towards her, so what I’m thinking isn’t obvious? An avalanche of doubts cascades into the mind and from it, becoming a distraction of immense proportion.

When invisible boundaries in shared space are so ruptured, it’s more than just an invasion, it’s a theft – of privacy, comfort and security.

In that light, it is not likely that my “guinea pig” at the neighboring laptop will ever be the same again.

Tch, tch.

Friday, January 29, 2010



What happens to space when someone you love has departed from it forever?

In the beginning, the space you once shared shrinks and expands. Gravity is sucked dry. And a cold gray wind constantly drifts in and out.

In that space, familiar objects that used to project meaning are minimized. An old photograph above the desk, taken together years ago, is reduced to the size of a postage stamp. A tree that you happily planted together in the front yard, which had grown so strong and tall, appears to wither away.

Quietly, it sits naked, as it vanishes into space.

It’s different with other things; the bed you slept together in for so many years becomes inflated and overwhelms you with its presence. Off in the distance you hear an echoing refrain from a song you both loved, but never dreamed possible “The bed’s too big without you…”

Rooms that were once open and welcoming become closed and off-limits. Barren clothes racks hold up bare walls in the closet. Wastebaskets that would sit empty get filled and refilled, as you try to sort out the space left behind by the departed.

But slowly, over time, the shattered shared space starts to conform to a new set of coordinates. The familiar objects, some of which you’ve rearranged, and others that you’ve added on your own along the way, no longer waver. Their dimensions and proportions, density and volume return to a manageable state of patterns.

At times, the space now even cradles and comforts. That’s when you realize love lost can be found everywhere… and that you’re okay being in that space and sharing it with someone new.



The middling years have arrived. Space has now brought a new friend along, called Time.

You have all the space that you ever wanted but you don’t have the time. Space is happy, but time is overworked.

Something’s gotta give!

From somewhere in the vast vistas of the mind, the promised Questions start to tumble pretty much like your kids’ old toys out of the cardboard box.

What is happiness? What is my real purpose? Then, there are memories, memories and a clutter of memories to deal with.

You walk around like a question mark that has come alive, with a furrowed brow to match. A well-wisher then suggests that you get into a good meditation class.

So you enroll into the nearest center, mat and mind in tow.

You close your eyes for a moment like the teacher told you to do; only to pop those wide open in an instant, fear clutching your heart in its cold clasp.

Did you lock the front door?

A few sessions more, you start forgetting about doors and dustpans.

Something new dawns on you ever so slowly, like the changing hues of the rising sun.

You surrender to the Space within. Time takes a breather.

The vacillating relationships and undulating emotions begin to still like a pendulum about to reach the centre.

'You’re making progress!' teacher says, one day. You want to jump for joy but you merely smile briefly. After all, life is to be viewed with equanimity as a good book says...

As you lie on your bed that night, another Truth dawns on you. That silent meddler Space has been constantly playing with your life, growing, shrinking, stifling, yawning.

Life’s just got to be a Cosmic Lila. Hmmm….such fine words, fine thoughts! You must be poised to get enlightened. You feel it in your bones. You close your eyes.

Waiting for the Moment…waiting for the stream of light… that will shine through...waiting...


Huh? Wazzat?

In one frenzied movement of your hand, you knock off the bedside alarm.

Sigh! It’s time to wake up.