feeling blue and how i got over it

i had been feeling blue for a while. it’s hard to be homebound and work on one’s computer all day, every day. so today, i turned on the music, loud, on my wonderboom, and cleaned the whole apartment. there is something deeply satisfying about being in motion and scrubbing. isn’t cleanliness next to godliness:)

then i put on my snow boots and drove to #lakeronkonkoma. i had no idea if it would be walkabale or not, with all the snow on the ground. lake #ronkonkoma is about 10 min from where we live. it’s the largest and deepest lake in #longisland – 92 feet at its deepest. the indigenous people of this land considered it a bottomless lake, so sacred that they wouldn’t fish in its waters. but they did perform wonderful ceremonies all around it.

i have always, since day one, felt a deep connection to lake ronkonkoma. there is something unreal about the blue of its waters and the translucent light and sky above them.

the lake was particularly moving this afternoon. the sky striated with shades of blue, grey, light-filled yellow and gentle purple hues. something delicate and liquid. the lake covered with ice. still, white, expansive. i walked in the snow and learned to keep my balance, held by the enchanting beauty around me. my eyes rejoiced.

in urdu, there is this expression ‘aankhoon ki thandak’ – the coolness of one’s eyes. those we love give us pleasure, when our eyes behold them, they provide cool relief to tired eyes. i kept thinking of this expression. my eyes too felt relaxed, not just because of the cold weather but because of the serenity the lake offered so generously.

i know all our situations are different, but if u can, go outside, walk in the snow and feel connected to the world.

salman toor at the whitney

why i came to nyc: stunning work by salman toor, born in lahore, at the whitney. his first solo exhibition: stories of queer brown men as they negotiate the distance between new york and pakistan. the expressive faces and hands in his paintings are exceptionally rendered. so many things that strike one as immediately recognizable – the turn of a head whilst sitting down for tea, the passive acceptance of extra security checks at customs and immigration, the anxiety of being questioned by pakistani cops when on a date, etc. am still here. still discovering.
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whitneymuseum #salmantoor #lahore #pakistan #newyork #newyorkcity #art #figurativepainting #oilpainting #queerbrown

Borders Can Be Borderlands

My piece in Mason Street’s Winter Issue 2021 published today.

‘It used to be that borders were formed naturally, by oceans and mountains, carved out by the physical contours of the earth’s surface. There was something poetic about these landforms, extending from foothills and valleys, to plains and plateaus, all the way to seafloors. They were shaped by wind and water erosion, pushed up by the collision of tectonic plates, forged by volcanic eruptions, sandblasted and weathered over millions of years. They were substantive, grounded in history.

The borders that came out of the crumbling of empires, in the 20th century, were different. Cartographic inventions meant to divvy up world resources and power, divorced from indigenous logic or priorities. A few sheets of stolen paper.’

More here.

a mon professeur prefere

cher monsieur maurer, it will be a while before i can fully express everything i want to say, but u left an indelible impression on my life. u believed in me more than any other teacher. u made me feel like i was destined to do important things. nothing could have meant more to me at that age, in 6th grade. it opened up the world to me, made it accessible, in spite of the racism that would crop up once in a while both inside and outside our school. i never got those othering vibes from u.

i am glad i got to meet u once, as an adult, on a visit to brussels. what a moment that was – stepping into a classroom at parc schuman, the way it used to be, u coming out of the class, recognizing me and hugging me with immense emotion. u once told my mother that everything is possible for me. i lived by those words. when i left parc schuman for lycee emile jacqmain, i came to say goodbye. as i left the school, i can still see u leaning against the door frame, saying matter-of-factly: “ne change pas.”

after we reconnected on fb, i didn’t always agree with ur politics. the othering that i had never felt in person, came through indirectly in the posts, an orientalism that was hard for me to take. yet what u meant to me growing up is unequivocal. relationships can be complicated that way. it’s hard to believe u are no longer here. yet so much of what u taught us will remain close. it is a part of me.

the memes are for us

just to clarify, the bernie memes are for us, hardcore bernie supporters. we’re not posting to defang bernie or minimize his message, but because he’s the real deal. me personally, i am also enjoying the memes because, as jennifer jajeh pointed out, inaugurations are corny. also, settler anthems, flags, expensive peacoats, and other misc pageantry don’t do anything for me. so i am with bernie: apart from the crowd, doing his own thing, aware of the sabotage, but continuing the work. neoliberals, centrists and warren fans who went after bernie, hands off pls:)

To be published in a literary magazine!

Last year in Sept, in the midst of working on my film and several other projects, I wrote a longer piece and submitted it to Mason Street for their Winter 2021 Issue “Frontiers and Borderlands.” My piece is a collage of personal and collective history, poetry, and art. It combines many voices and points of view, but it starts with my mother’s story and how she experienced the violence of the 1947 partition. I got an email from the editors today. They have accepted the piece!!! It should be published online in Feb. I am incredibly thrilled! Writing is something I’ve loved since I was a child. Although I continue to write for films, articles and presentations, it was important to try and write for a literary publication. I was nervous. It’s an art form I have not invested in for too long. This validation means the world to me.