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right now.

it's only been three days.  i have not called any of you, and i am sorry.  i have had to make enough phonecalls, tell enough people, answer enough whens and hows and how-are-yous.  it's only been three days.  and already i am tired of telling.

each of you will be upset, and i will be upset along with you.  each of you will need to know how it happened.  and i will have to tell you.  please forgive me.  i don't want to be upset on anyone's timetable but my own, if i can help it.  i don't want to tell this story to anyone other than myself, for a while.  i am okay for now, and this way -- whatever "this way" is -- in which i seem to be getting through the days and the nights.  it's working right now.

so again.  please forgive me.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Lalazar, Karachi]
[tuesday 31 july 2007 at 23:45:44] []

eight hundred and four.

my father bought a tee-shirt in Bombay, from a store called Tantra, in Colaba (i can just hear all the Mumbaikars preparing to spill over with gush).  it is dark blue, and in the center there is a large "C", followed by an even larger "K".  at first glance (and at every glance -- if you are over-fifty, and/or not wearing your glasses), it is quite obviously, a Calvin Klein tee-shirt.  it's only when you come closer, that you notice there are two small letters preceding the "C" (they are "F" and "U"), and three small letters following the "K" (they are "O", "F" and "F").

this is the shirt my father was wearing on Friday, when he died.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Lalazar, Karachi]
[tuesday 31 july 2007 at 19:02:05] []

native charms.

i  know, i know.  it's ridiculous.  i've been camped out in Karachi for over two months now, and i haven't written one word about PEMRA, Lal Masjid, and President Musharraf.  i haven't raged in ages, about the Blasphemy Law.  and i haven't even mentioned the Sir-Salman-Rushdie twaddle.  what kind of temporarily-third-worlded blog IS this?

maybe i'll get to talking about bearded men in Pakistan one of these days (and how Gilette can do some major good-in-the-country by sponsoring national -- and obligatory -- shave-a-thons).  i don't know.  there is much to be angry about -- and i don't always know where to begin.

but in the meantime, there are the mangoes.

so.  this post is dedicated to anyone who has been supremely blessed enough to taste a real, south-Asian mango.  nonsense from Mexico and Hawaii does not count (forget counting, it might as well be a different fruit altogether).

what counts, is the way a dozen orange angles tumble slipperarily together in a cold white bowl.  what counts, is the ways in which you can do it: you can peel and slice to the core, and then push each limber length into your mouth till the back of your throat is as happy as the tips of your lips.  you can take the knife a step further, and relegate the boat-like slices to dice-like forkables.  you can skip the peeling part, and carve away from the center, one still-unskinned strip at a time, so that tongue and teeth and traction have to work together on each runway-of-deliciousness.  you can eschew any kind of utensil at all, if you've ever been a kid, and work your fingers round an unpeeled, unadulterated whole, before biting off a bit from the top, and sucking out your fistful of sun-dappled sweetness.  you can make a make a mango hedgehog.  you can make a miracle.  you can make a mess.

you can also do the Mango Festival at the Beach Luxury Hotel, in Karachi -- where the menu should be allowed to speak for itself:
- Mango Custard
- Mango Trifle
- Mango Pineapple
- Mango Dessert Cake
- Mango Kulfi
- Fresh Mango on Ice
- Mango Pudding with Vanilla
- Mango with Raspberries sauce
- Mango Mousse
- Mango Cherry Pie
- Mango Souffle
- Mango Chocolate
- Shrimp Mango Salad
- Mango Raita
- Mango Banana Chutney
- Mango Pickle

and under the "Shakes" section:
- Mango Milkshake
- Mango Shake with Roohafza
- Mango Shake with Nuts
- Mango Shake with Floating Ice Cream
- Mango Shake with Banana
- Mango Pulp Juice
- Mango Cocktail

note the absence of Mango Martinis.  hrm.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Lalazar, Karachi]
[monday 16 july 2007 at 12:49:40] []

for all the not-quite-forgotten anniversaries...

...this is "Loss" -- a poem by the wondrous Wendy Cope:

The day he moved out was terrible -
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn't a problem
But the cockscrew had gone as well.

the link above takes you to Cope's page at the Poetry Archive, which features at least four of her recorded readings, including another all-time favorite of mine -- "Flowers".

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Lalazar, Karachi]
[friday 13 july 2007 at 13:02:23] []

another Random Shiraz Selection...

...rife with rusty-jointedness, the risk of quantity-over-quality, etc.


1.  A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future.
-- a piece by Scott Carney in last week's edition of Wired News:

Here in the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque, a team of six puts out this hand-penned paper.  Four of them are katibs -- writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy.  It takes three hours using a pen, ink and ruler to transform a sheet of paper into news and art.

see also, the Gallery / Slideshow alongside -- India's News Calligraphers Do It on Deadline --  both for a glimpse at the prettiness of Urdu script, and for some wonderment, at user comments like this one:

What's the point?  It may be still okay in places like India where computers have not YET reached the lower rungs of society (I know because I live in India).  Why keep doing it?  What do you gain with it?  Seems totally pointless to me.

as in, "totally pointless", like streetlamps of wrought-iron and curlicues, instead of steel and plastic?  or "totally pointless", like laughter-lines, and hand-rolled pasta?

2.  the visa story from dharmahound / "breathe deeply".
-- i cannot remember how i stumbled on this one.  and yes, it's talking about Taiwanese bureaucracy rather than Italian bureaucracy.  but if you take my word on the fact that they might as well be talking about Italian bureaucracy (unless you've experienced Italian bureaucracy -- then you won't even need to take my word on it -- you will probably be nodding in fond and frenzied familiarity the whole way through the piece), this is a perfect illustration -- in three thousand words or less -- of what that particular circle of hell can be like:

"Do you have a fax machine? Perhaps my office could fax the letter to you."
"We have no fax machine.  There is one, 39 floors down, in the back room of a stationery store."
"Oh, so maybe I could use that.  I'll be back...  but wait, first, let me make absolutely sure, that's ALL I need before my application is complete?"
"...(conferencing) This letter of employment is from the person you work for, /in Taiwan/?"
(alarm bells)
"Umm...yeah, that's what we just agreed upon."
(tiny voice)
"No.  If you're already employed in Taiwan, you need a work permit.  Now, say if you /were about to start working/, then a letter indicating your upcoming employment (for less than 6 months of course) would be acceptable.  Your letter is useless.  Unless..."
"Yes, yes?"
"Unless, of course, you applied for a /tourist/ visitor visa, instead of a work visa.  You understand that obviously if you had a tourist visa, it'd be illegal to work in the country for any reason."

appropriate soundtrack: The Sound of Sobbing.

3.  Douglas Adams on Wikiquote.
-- not as good as actually reading one of his books, but excellent anyway:

It was a couple of days before Kate Schechter became aware of any of these things, or indeed of anything at all in the outside world.  She passed the time quietly in a world of her own in which she was surrounded as far as the eye could see with old cabin trunks full of past memories in which she rummaged with great curiosity, and sometimes bewilderment.  Or, at least, about a tenth of the cabin trunks were full of vivid, and often painful or uncomfortable memories of her past life; the other nine-tenths were full of penguins, which surprised her.  Insofar as she recognised at all that she was dreaming, she realised that she must be exploring her own subconscious mind.  She had heard it said that humans are supposed only to use about a tenth of their brains, and that no one was very clear what the other nine-tenths were for, but she had certainly never heard it suggested that they were used for storing penguins.

now *there's* a man who needs to be knighted.

4.  what the locals are saying about Harry Potter.
-- a thinly disguised cousin-plug, yes, but this *is* my list:

While readers have visited many fantasy worlds, from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, few writers have provided the depth and richness of detail that Rowling does.  We learn all about the broomsticks that wizards ride — from make and model, to speed and style.  We know which singers top their charts and what kinds of pets they keep.  The types of sweets their children eat — Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs — and the toys they play with.  We know about their government structure, their currency and their media.  The Harry Potter world is drawn right down to its last detail.

"...one individual against insurmountable odds." -- indeed.


as always, previous RSS compilations can be found here, here, here, here and here.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Lalazar, Karachi]
[tuesday 10 july 2007 at 12:43:43] []