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Deep thoughts

Erin: 'sup?

Me: oil prices.

Revivalism

Summary of last few...er...months:


Things I have done:

- I got into a nasty-ass debate (or nasty ass-debate) with Simon over this guy's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. He is pro-alarmist attitudes, I am anti.
- I attempted to start a paper journal where I name all my friends after historical or fictional characters they remind me of. Simon is Trotsky, Adam is Catullus, Erin is Lesbia.
- I have achieved a certain amount of peace of mind for the first time in a while, it's a pity it has to end in September.
- I told Adam about my story idea, and he said he liked it. I think I'm going to type out all my notes on the computer now so I can start writing during the school year (I didn't study ahead for nothing, you know).
- I met my furture roommate. She is cool, but she looks a tad like Meaghan, this chick who resides in the buried wastelands of Simon's memory. I think it would be really ironic if they started dating, if they should meet.


Things I have NOT done:

- I have officially not been in hopeless love in approximately 5 months. This is something of a record, and I am still thinking of appropriate ways to celebrate.
- I have not dressed like a goth and sat in coffee shops writing depressing poetry. I know I'm procrastinating, but I think I will wait until the weather cools down.
- I have not yet avenged the cold-blooded theft of my bike. I am so upset.
- I have not yet saved the world from it's manifold problems. Another year wasted.

...

Continued...

"So you would turn me into a salesman, yourself into a corpse, and leave poor Erin all alone with no one to accompany her to the ball?"

"I wouldn't do it right away. First I would hide out in a monastery until Erin got married. I'll have a spectacular last meal of wedding cake and shrimp dumplings with sautéed carrots in onion sauce, shake hands with the groom, toss some rice about, and then kick the bucket."

"How reasonable!" Pamela exclaimed.

"Kenneth! You're incorrigable. But speaking of the ball," said Erin, who was referring to the one her parents were having next week that was an annual event of the Desdemona's, "this year you are not to invite your usual sort, my mother was having spasms in her boudoir last year. Pamela, please restrain Kenneth for me."

Kenneth looked appalled. "I certainly have no idea what you mean! Why, every year I invite a totally different sort of chap out of only my closest friends from Eton. But every year they just don't seem to pass your godly expectations, but for some reason they always manage to pass the threshold of your mother's fragile tolerance. How is this my fault?"

"It is completely your fault," sniffed Pamela. "My girls are always respectable and properly behaved, but last year you invited that clairvoyant with Tourette's Syndrome. How do you think Lady Alderworth-Smythe felt when he walked up to her, smacked her in the face and told her her underpants had a run in the left polka dot?"

"Now how was I supposed to know he would have a relapse? He's really a splendid fellow if you get to know him," sputtered Kenneth.

"Yes, but Kenneth," pleaded Erin, "do bring a real gentleman this time. No mental disorders, no criminal pasts, no megalomaniacs, no spontaneous performers of juggling or Faust, no lechers, no lepers, no evangelists, no alchoholics..."

"And," continued Pamela, "nobody with hooks, humpbacks, excess weight of over 350 lbs, readily-removable glass eyeballs, and absolutely NO midgets."

"But you've cut out all of my friends! My nearest and dearest!" cried Kenneth.

"Surely there is someone?" pleaded Erin.

Kenneth sighed. "I'll try."

Kenneth immediately had the idea of following Erin's orders so perfectly and so brilliantly that even Pamela could not justifiably smack him with a cushion the morning after, but of course he could not just select any fairly acceptable bloke; who was it that he knew who could make half a ballroom pass out from ennui just by breathing the same air as him...? Aha! He knew just the person.

Pamela, too, had made up her mind as to who to bring. But as these two friends of Erin were walking gaily down the garden path of graceful oaks and chirping cardinals, they did not realize the momentousness of that instant neural spark, that leaping of neurotransmitters into the waiting tendrils of dendrites known as the casual decision.

Diagonal beams of sunlight illuminated the wayward dust and lent the garden - for an instant - an air of utopian solitude such as that found under the legendary banyan tree. It could be said that at that instant, with these three gay youths as witnesses, that space of the planet Earth reached its apex of glory, especially because in only 50 years time, that space shall be converted into a second-class warehouse for a sock manufacturer due to the dark hand of industrialization, which, if I cared enough, could be one of the prevailing struggles of this otherwise morally ambivalent harlequin story. But no. Maybe next time.

The three friends reached the end of the walk, and were now at the front of the grand château. Pamela was the first to break the silence.

"My God. I was planning to purchase a hat today for the ball, but I had forgotten as I was coming here. Kenneth, you shall accompany me to town."

Kenneth grumbled, "Well, why not. I suppose I have nothing better to do. Well, Erin, you heard the valkyrie, my soul must depart and help her select a winged helmet." And with that, he kissed her hand and ran after Pamela, who had gone too far to hear the comment and punish Kenneth accordingly.


Stay tuned for chapter 4, when we finally meet the two primary male protagonists (it's not Kenny, thank God.)

Storytime!

So yes, as Erin said, things are definately getting spicy!

Continued:

Lady Morgraves took a sip of tea and continued, "I myself am not very musical, but my dear Simon gets it from his father. The Morgraves have always been a very volatile and creative sort. I don't know how I put up with it sometimes."

At this, the two fine ladies of rank giggled vivaciously. Behind this veil of refined laughter, Lady Desdemona's mind was at work. She saw her opening and quickly but subtly redirected the conversation.

"Surely a nice, steady one must be born once in a while. Among the females, perhaps?"

Lady Morgraves did not bat an eyelash, but she knew Lady Desdemona was alluding to something that her family did not speak of very much except privately and with hushed voices. She was not precisely certain yet why Lady Desdemona decided to touch upon the topic, but she took the bait to see what would traspire.

"No, all the females of the Morgrave clan are from marriage only. My husband's elder brother Edward was of that sort in his youth - but of course, what he is like now, not even my William knows."

While William Morgraves was surly, dark, and introverted as a child, Edward Morgraves was well-mannered, flaxen blond, and quite socially brilliant. Very pragmatic and sensual by nature, he was quite fond of sport and though he went to the finest schools in England, he always received marks good enough to skim the honour roll, but never so good that he could be accused by any of his peers to be "intellectual." He of course joined the millitary upon matriculation and settled comfortably in the Captain's seat, without any intention at all of of ever getting up and climbing any higher. The late Lady Morgraves, who was quite like her son in many respects, and who was the donnor of the double recessive blond alleles that, when combined with the heterozygous hair genes of the late Lord Morgraves, gave Edward that bright-as-a-star look that melted so many hearts, saw in her son a perfect tool for the destiny of the Morgraves name. The Desdemona's owned a neighboring county that was at one time, before the recession of 1757, part of the Morgraves' property. For many generations a reunion of land by marriage had been impossible because Morgrave sperm was notoriously deficient in the double X choromosome sort, and though the Desdemona's enjoyed considerable fecundity in their women, all the "nighttime visitations" in the world could not, for the life of them, produce any girls either. And, well, England was not so progressive as it is today, so the land remained divided. When the late Lady Desdemona (the Lord Desdemona's mother) gave birth to a girl, the whisper of possibility reached a feverish pitch in the minds of the fine ladies of the two houses; china was selected, fabric was secretly measured, and cake appointments were set several years in advance. But of course plans are always disappointed proportional to the length of planning, and this is precisely what happened when Edward came home on leave one day and announced that he was gay. And so that was that, for Edward was too used to striving for what he wanted - and getting it - to bow to any silly conventions (in his experience, people who pedantically followed rules and order did brilliantly in school and then became sectretaries and accountants or, worst of all, dilletants), and so he eloped to France. And this would not have been too bad, if his ex-fiancé could in any way tolerate the younger William Morgraves as a husband, but she couldn't understand what he was talking about half the time (William was fond of lapsing into German from time to time to confuse his relatives and ward off strangers) and besides, she was in love with a man who had quite a considerable property of his own, and so the Desdemona's let her marry as she wished, and the Morgraves were too mortified to be offended.

"Yes," said Lady Desdemona, "What happened in the past was indeed unfortunate, but perhaps things can still be rectified. After all, our Erin is approaching that age."

Lady Morgraves was secretly pleased - in theory - with the proposition that was so clearly being made, but it was, we must be honest, somewhat unpalatable at the moment to see Erin as the bride of her brilliant Simon, despite the heavy dowry she would be bringing. To her coldy calculating eyes, Erin lacked that specialness that would grace the Morgraves table. Still, she did not want to close any doors.

"Yes - and so, it seems, is Simon."


Chapter 4: Two Meetings

The school year at Eton has just ended, and Erin was out in the garden taking a stroll with her longtime friend Kenneth, an absurdly skeletal boy who wore his tophat like a coat-rack, who had just finished his exams and had spent the last hour moaning about his imminant failure, and Pamela, a girl a head taller than Erin, who sometimes wrote parodies of bodice-rippers for her friend's amusement. The flowers were a-bloom, and the cardinals were gracefully ornamenting the trees.

"I don't care how beautiful the day is, it's just a mockery of my sordid state. Why must I bear all this if I myself could my quietus make with a bare bodkin?" moaned Kenneth, who was feeling unusually poetic. "Pamela, my dear friend, if I needed to make a last trip to the apothacary, would you lend me the money?"

"But then how ever would you pay it back?"

"I would leave you something in my will. I am a man of honour, after all. You may have my collection of Slavic literature and three year's worth of Euclidean Geometry notes. It should not be difficult for you to find an academically ambitious, loose-moralled first year to relieve you of the paper burden for a sum of your choice. As for the Checkov, you may peruse that for your own enjoyment."

Continued...

Non-story

Have you ever read a book that makes you cry? This sort of emotional phenomenon has been happening less and less (actually not at all) lately, and I'm wondering why....

What is it that makes us cry, anyway? Nevermind the neurons and the conjunctiva. What those authors have managed to do is somehow, without losing the specifics of the characters themselves, craft their characters as a sort of archetype of universal Loss. Like despite the person being from another time, place (universe), of a different race, gender, social denomination, having a different personality, and perhaps even a completely different view of the world - something happens (I don't know what - yet) that makes us bond at the crucial moment so that we cry with them (or at them - is that possible?) in terrific, heaving, silent screams that pour out inwards, so only we (not our parents, who would become alarmed) hear it resonate, or maybe merely with a sense of elevated moisture levels reaching, but not quite hitting critical mass.

How do you achieve this total self-identification with a figment of the imagination?

But my question is, how do you clothe this universal Loss (if it exists)? What is the nature of it in the first place? (Questions posed by yours truly, a person who is thus far relatively unscathed, having only lost a few minor friends, two grandparents half a world away, and the occaisional ounce of self-respect).

This is to be contrasted with the great philosopher Wittgenstein:
- three of his four brothers commit suicide (I wonder what was on his mind after the second?)
- he gets into physics in his youth and wants to study with the renowned physicist Ludwig Boltzman, but L.B. commits suicide before this takes fruition
- his parents die, as a result he now has a great deal of money, which he despises
- he donates some of it to Georg Trakl, big thing in poetry in Germany, who finds out who the donor is and is all set to meet him but commits suicide three days beforehand
- his friend Dave Pinsent is killed in an airplane accident (as far as we know, not intentionally)

Just - just imagine this for a second: you hear of a maverick poet, a young pharmacist sending electric pulses through his pages, someone who, figuratively speaking, runs in circles around the literary circles, and you give him a great deal of money, anonymously too. You feel pretty good about yourself, feeling you have spared a (fellow) genius from the Van Gogh syndrome of enormous popularity and respect at a most posthumously inconvenient time. The guy is a little more grateful than you anticipated, he insists on meeting with you, and you're, you know, excited. You buy the train ticket, pack your socks and toothbrush a week too early in anticipation, and just when you're giving the last lecture to the dogsitter about proper bathing procedure you receive a most distressing note. Of course you sympathize, considering where you're coming from, but still.

I dunno.

***

What makes up a person? What are the necessary categories, first of all?

- how someone views himself vs. how other view him
- how someone behaves in a) anger b) sorrow c) fear d) love e) happiness f) places where no one is looking (how does he shit? How frequently? How does he feel about it? Does he make noises? Does he read? What does he read? Most importantly: does he give them to other people afterwards?)
- What is his Cosmic View? Does he have one? Does the fact that the Sun is going to supernova in 5 million years regardless of his ultimate concerns(s) give him the jitters at all? It's a big number, but geez, only 5?

This is such an incomplete list. What are the essentials? At what point of detaillage does it start to become trivial, like what shoes they wear on a Sunday (if the world in which they exist has Sundays, or shoes for that matter)?

***

So what's new in my life?
- Sharmin: I am now officially reading manga, despite my previous hesitations. It is about a group of Otaku called the Genshiken. I think I am in love with Madarame. He's so adorably nerdy.

- Adam: Haven't seen him much (my fault), but I am borrowing Good Omens from him soon. He seems relatively happy and drama-free, but maybe that is just a guise, but hopefully not. He has recently gotten into a game that my father absentmindedly masters every night called Generals, and of course he has no pretensions of ever coming up to the level of my Dad.

- Simon: Sigh. I've decided that rather than facing Simon's vacillations about his schedule, I'm just gonna ignore him for a month until exam time is over. This is unfortunate since I'm one of the few in Ottawa under 65 who digs his music, and of course because I find him fascinating, as I always have, though definately not as much as I did in grade 6 when I had a huge-ass crush on him, an event I dwell on occaisionally because it has, if not an entirely happy ending, at least a moderately contented one (as opposed to a lot of other unrequited loves I can and cannot mention).

- I need to learn violin really fucking quickly or else something terrible will happen in 1 2/3 months when I go to China to see my steadily aging grandparents.

- I need to phone OUAC. I have lost my PIN.

- I got quite a big scholarship to Ottawa U and this makes me feel bad because basically what I did was half screwed up most of my courses and then took Chem in summer school and got 95 and combined with orchestra, a class that is not a class and is a quaranteed 90, my actual top 6 average is something like 88% (which is horrible) but it JUST makes it onto the VERY bottom of the group that gets 10,000. So as a result I feel incredibly cheap, especially cuz some people work for the marks I carelessly fling away.

- These days I think about food a lot. I think about things I need to force myself to do. I consider with much ambivalence the relative merits and demerits of my singledom. I don't know what it is I should be thinking about, but I know it's not this.

Mar. 31st, 2006

Chapter 2: Family Honour

Erin Rosepetal Desdemona spent so much of her childhood on her piano that she was completely oblivious to the teatime chats her parents were having with various respectable families in the nearby districts. It probably would have profited her greatly to be privy to these quiet chats, for they were centered for the most part on her and certain inevitable aspects of her future as a wealthy, relatively attractive female of one of the old families.

The tea room was made for negotiations of this sort - negotiations of subdued financial haggling glossed over with metres upon metres of cream damask and chaste mahogany. This was the only other room to contain an instrument, a 17th century antique harpsichord that even Erin couldn't quite play properly because she couldn't understand why everything sounded so gothic and staccato. The room was furnished with green chinese padded chairs that glimmered with a yellow sheen when the light hit upon them. It was on one of these chairs that Lady Geraldina Morgraves holding a dainty cup of orange pekoe sat chatting with Lady Desdemona.

"Is that your Erin upstairs on the piano? What is it that she is playing? It sounds frightfully familiar, but I cannot seem to recall..."

Lady Desdemona stifled a mortified chuckle.

"Oh, that is merely a warm-up. We are moving her on to Mozart soon and she is practicing her crescendi. Uh - your Simon plays quite well, does he?"

"Oh yes. He performed the Fantasia in A minor in front of the Duke last Tuesday. He was so moved he started sobbing uncontrollably after the second key change, and his courtiers looked alarmed briefly and then followed suit. So you can imagine how it was impossible for my dear Simon to continue his performance."

"Of course." Lady Desdemona resisted feeling a pang of parental jealously firstly because one does not like to admit such things to oneself, but also because she was genuinely not ashamed of her child. She had a feeling that with Erin the best had not yet come and the flagship was only a few metres from the horizon. She also could not afford to lose her wits in the next few crucial minutes because at any moment a subject that was very close to her heart and wallet was about to be touched.

Continued when I get back.

Hallo

Ok, so I have to amuse Erin for the next five minutes.

What the hell do I talk about? I have two options: I can do something really amusing and satiate her lust for my narrative powers, or I could bore her so she never asks me to do this again...

Alright. I've decided. I'm going, from now on, to devote this sacred space to an improvised Harlequin. I figure it'll make her happy. Ok, so where the fuck do I begin. There ought to be a chick. Her name can be...wait, let me ask Erin.

We have:
Erin Rosepetal Desdemona
Brandon Ashton-Bell
(revision: Adam has officially said he shall not kill me for besmirching his name in my LJ, so our new hero is Adam Rochester-Clyde)

and our villan (and I swear this was not my idea),

Simon Morgraves

(I guess she isn't one to shy away from the roman à clef.)

***

FOR WHOM THE BELLE TOLLS
by Pamela Wu and Erin Liu

Chapter 1: Innocence

Members of polite society were of the general consensus that she was a girl who had been given everything, but who had been endowed with nothing. She had a quaintly pretty face that was not so much attractive in its ordinariness, the sort of beauty that the Romantics of the age lusted after as rustic charm, but sort of ordinary in its attractiveness, the type of thing that frankly was never all that in demand, and never shall be, thought it shall always as a rule be generally well-liked. She was neither brilliant nor quiescent. A somewhat sardonic but ultimately caring uncle once took a glance at her drawings and advised her secretly that she would be wise, if asked about what the subject of her artistic endeavours pertained to, to refer them to them as reasonable facsimilies of certain archeological discoveries on the cave walls of Lascaux. Her lack of quiescence was quite well shown through her unfailing tendency to flail her arms when angry, and, if she was close enough, to start shaking her opponent mercilessly. As to dress, she was somewhat careless - she wore whatever her nanny handed her, and should her nanny not hand her anything, or not be present to hand her anything, she would quite easily wear nothing at all. Nobody had a label that would suit her, except her parents, who simply referred to her as Erin Rosepetal Desdemona. A somewhat unromantic person for such a romantic name.

Now I sense I am beginning to lose the reader's attention. "What in hell kind of romance heroine is this anyway?" Erin may ask. "And OMG why did you give her my name?" To which I will respond, "It was your idea."

But I suppose she and the rest have a point. Surely this unromantic creature should have some traits to be recognized by a dashing, upper class, brooding man who is so posh he has a hyphen in his last name. I mean, to add to her picture of ordinariness it must be added that she did not have the moral sense to be the next Jane Eyre.

Come to think of it, there is one point on which her genius is undisputed. When she was eight, her parents had the immense foresight to hire a private piano tutor to dust off the antique 17th century pianoforte and guide their daughter into some fashionable daubbling in the fine arts. She took to it like a fish, but alas, she became restive at the tutor's nagging at her impoverished C#'s and shook her silly after the third lesson. Needless to say, the tutor quit in a huff and was never seen again. But many people through dark and winding detours come eventually to the lighted path, and this is exactly what happened to Erin, who though is ordinary, is still not without some character. She was determined that as long as she could hold out her fingers in front of her, she would by God learn that lesson to completion and play it as damn well as she could. A very commendable spirit, by and large, and her parents the Lord and Lady Desdemona were certainly much astounded to hear, several days after the loud resignation of the tutor, the tentative strains of Baa Baa Blacksheep lightly tinkling through the halls.

Indeed to this day there is not one in all of the Empire of Britain who can express the stirring triumph of successful shearing with the tender undertone of pathos for the immodestly exposed formerly woolly mammal with such depth and sincerity as Erin Rosepetal Desdemona. One evening when she was twelve her father was musing on the necessity of hats in any true civilised society, when the opening strains of THAT song knocked about his eardrums and for a second he was more strongly than ever tempted to finally do what had been festering in his mind for the last three-and-a-half years, which was to shove his right fist lustily into the damned instrument with the same passionate force that he ravaged his virgin wife on the night of their daughter's conception (but that is a different story). But this time there was a difference, a difference that forced Lord Desdemona to sit and abandon his train of thought about hats. Suddenly he heard Baa Baa Blacksheep played with a new and startling discipline; it was as if he was hearing it for the first time. Suddenly he understood the deep personal sacrifice of the lamb that was only mitigated by the inner desire to give. For that one moment he saw into the very eyes of God.

Of course Lord Desdemona did not express this to his young daughter, in fact he did nothing more than look at her a tad queerly over the dinner table. Thus, Erin could have no knowledge of her quixotic gift, and she knew nothing more of her piano playing than that she rather enjoyed it. She was quite naturally modest, as she had little in life to brag about that did not come as a direct result of her parent's income. Yes, she understood even at that tender age that Baa Baa Blacksheep was her limit. She was not robust enough for Old MacDonald, and the macabre nature of London's Burning sent her sensitive frame into such shivers that she would be forced to stop in the middle of the piece and hyperventilate. And unfortunately that old favorite Twinkle Twinkle Little Star required that child's unblemished purity that after certain unexpected transpirations occurring the year after, could never quite be recaptured by her again.

END OF CHAPTER 1.

Storytime

Hey, here's the thing dustyasymptotes asked for.

A Story About India: Chinese Guy

This is a really twisted spin on Lost in Translation

When you go to India, you expect to see Indians, correct? Well, around the beginning of our placement, Alison and I kept having spottings of some mysterious Chinese-like people who wandered about Antara and seemed to be part of the staff. They were so out of place that it was not long before we were obsessing over them in the way SETI would over UFOs. We speculated about their ages, their histories, and hey, we were bored. Maybe they weren't Chinese because why would Chinese people leave China to go to a mental hospital smack in the middle of nowhere in India? Maybe they were French.

The random (and at this point, occasional) wonderings took a turn when we started to notice that one of them, the more Chinese-like one of the two (or three, we weren't sure) kept looking at us. You know, like *looking* at us. At first, we thought maybe he was just looking because we were foreign and because, well, I'm Chinese myself. But we had to know why he was looking, or, more interestingly, at whom he was looking. For a while we played around by putting ourselves in his sight to see if he was really all that interested (oh, he was). Once, we were climbing the stairs and he was entering the rec room at the foot of the stairs and he actually *bent back* to get a better look at us before disappearing into the room. Whoa, like wtf is going on?

We started to call him Chinese Guy, and we wondered if he was married to anyone at Antara. We wondered if he was married to one of Canteen sisters who always had such stern expressions and never wore a complete salwaar kameez set and as a result, looked like they dressed by scattering all their clothes on the floor and swimming in them. But no, that was impossible. I mean, they never ate together. But you know whom he DOES eat with? That other Oriental-looking fellow. In fact, they're always sitting together. Maybe Chinese Guy is gay and his Gay Lover sits with him and guards him jealously because he suspects that his life-partner's eyes are beginning to wander to the other side of the field. Hmm.

It was ludicrous. We constructed hypothetical scenes of their "bedroom acts" where Gay Lover is dressed in a leather sari while Chinese Guy is in handcuffs, and Gay Lover is whipping him.

GL: "Who are you, bitch?"
CG: "I...I..."
GL: *whips* "You're a pretty little girl, that's what you are!"
CG: "I don't know about this..."
GL: *whips* "Say it!"
CG: "I'm a pretty little girl! I'm a pretty little girl!"
GL: "You're not thinking about joining the other team, are you?"
CG: "Y..."
GL: *whips*
CG: "No! NO ! I'm gay! I'm gay!"
GL: "Tell me how gay you are, bitch! You are gay as the day is long!"
CG: "Ok, ok. I'm as gay as the day is long!"

And so on, and so forth.

God, we just couldn't stop talking about them, it was just so amusing. We were in a mental hospital, so you can barely blame us for wanting to keep amused. We were talking about them so much, in fact, that we started to wonder if maybe one or two of the more perceptive staff members (bad at English as they were) were beginning to notice that the words "Chinese Guy" and "Gay Lover" were cropping up at an alarming frequency. But I had a solution. If anyone asked, all we would say is that they were names of western desserts that we miss from back home. But what if they ask what those "desserts" really were? So I invented two new desserts (that you are all welcome to try and make back home).

The edible Chinese Guy is a sort of sweet chop suey. You take uncooked chow mein and dip them into boiling water until they are about half-cooked. Then you mix it with capaccino ice cream and assorted nuts. You can top it with anything you like, but I suggest butterscotch and a little saffron (with a chocolate on top, of course).

The edible Gay Lover is a banana (split in the middle with a centre of melted chocolate) and two very strategically placed truffle balls topped with a mountain of (you guessed it) authentic whipped cream. But there's a catch: to get the full experience, you have to eat it with your hands tied behind your back.

(I know, I'm gross. A gross...GENIUS!)

This next part is probably my fault, but hey, Alison was the one who insisted on being so well-kempt.

The ones in Ottawa have never met Alison, but she is about my height (5'9"), rather good-looking, skinnier than me (I'm about 135 lb) and she has the usual Scottish pale skin and the rather unusual dark black hair. She wore contacts the whole time and often had a bit of eyeliner on. She hated to tie back her long, straight, layered hair. The result? She was the incarnation of Indian beauty, the stuff of myths. People like her are supposed to descend from the Himalayas on star-studded chariots and they have blue-skinned boyfriends who can swallow poison and shoot lasers with their eyes.

Chinese Guy fell in love with her.

It sort of happened like this. I was extremely intent on pushing our little joke to the furthest limits possble, and Alison thought the whole thing was spectacularly funny, but she was too shy to make the next moves. For a while our game was just walking past them all the time on the way to the sweets shop and laughing at his staring, but there was a point where he started to lose interest and Alison made a fantastic show of being heartbroken.

Alison was intent on getting someone to propose to her before she left India, and I was intent on having a great saga to tell when I got back, so I supported her in her efforts. I suggested we take her veil-like mosquito net and our white salwaar kameezes and convince them to have wedding photos done near the bunny farm (yes, there was a bunny farm smack in the middle of the mental hospital). She agreed, but we needed to make friends with them first. Also, she found out from her mental patient friend that they weren't really Chinese, they were Nepali. We still wanted to call him Chinese Guy.

One day I convinced her to come with me to the rec room in the evening when we knew Chinese Guy was going to be there. I, unlike Alison, let myself go to seed in India. I always had my hair slicked back, I always wore my unhideous, but rather unflattering glasses, and I was at the point where I was delighting in experimental Indian clothing (also hideous). The main attractions of the rec room were the Hindi/Bengali programming of the common TV and two tables of this game that vaguely resembled table pool, but with disks instead of balls, no sticks, and a smaller, square board. We planted ouselves at the board closest to the entrance, and began to play clumsily and figure out the rules as we went along. Well, our frequent laughing and english talk attracted the attentions of you-know-who and he came over and decided to join our board (Alison thought that this was quite a deviation from his usual child-like bashfulness). We discovered too, much to our amusement, that he spoke absolutely no English. Well, no, I guess he knew enough English to constantly ask Alison to sing Hindi songs for him, though Alison staunchly refused. It was so much fun talking about him without him having the least clue what we said.

This game meeting thing became a bit of a regular event. I was learning Bengali at the time and I knew enough to have conversations with him, though he refused to tell me his age. Sometimes Gay Lover would join (he didn't look in the least stereotypically gay, but hey, we were bored). And I found out that his real name was Sanjay and that they were both from Darjeeling, and that Sanjay had a wife named Indira and two kids, none of whom lived at Antara. I asked Chinese Guy for his name, but he talked a bit like a smurf, so I couldn't decipher it at all. At this point, I used the formal second person with them both. Eventually I did find out his name, it's Kumar, like from that movie.

Soon we became obsessed with the idea of seeing what their room looked like. I wanted to see what Sanjay's wife looked like because he was my appointed groom-to-be and I wanted to check out my competition. Alison wanted to go too, but she was afraid Chinese Guy would want to make out.

Why would she be afraid of that? Well, I was a bit mischevious with my Bengali, and sometimes I translated things Alison said when she really didn't mean for them to be translated at all. For instance, she once said, "Tell him I'll sing him Hindi songs if he buys me sweets," so I did. I said to him, "Alisonke mishti kinle, Hindi gan korbe." She was a bit mad about that. Eventually our shenanigans must have gotten to his head because he started to say over and over again, "lobh, lobh." And we were like, wtf is that? And then I was like, wait a minuit, "Kumar, apni Alisonke bhalobashen?" He indicated yes. So I couldn't help being all, "He's in loooove with you."

One day he asked her to go to his room with him. We were like, "Cool, we'll go." He started laughing sheepishly, so I was like, "Apni amake ghore jete chaichenna?" He indicated yes. Of course, Alison refused to go alone.

Now, of course, I began to feel bad about our wedding photo plot. I mean, if one guy is already married and the other is genuinely in love, then it'd be a pretty nasty joke, would it not? Thus, we dropped it, but Alison still sort of wanted her proposal, and we both had a bit of fun imagining Alison as a pregnant Indian housewife.

Alison at this point had already decided that to not travel around India at least a little would be a waste, so she planned a trip to Darjeeling, where it would be cold. I, in one of my michevious fits, told Kumar because I thought it was funny that that was where he came from and that that was where Alison was going. "Alison shiggir Darjeeling jabe," I said. Somewhat unexpectedly, he said that he was going around her departure time himself and that he wanted to go with her.

I think at this point (finally) my conscience caught up with me and I realized what we (I) had done. I tried to convince Alison not to take it too much further, and Alison didn't want to at first, but then she decided that he wasn't what she was looking for in an Indian husband anyway (someone rich who basically only serves to grant joint citizenship so she can come over whenever she wants. She obviously doesn't really mean to marry an Indian or have a Nepali child, but anyway), so she agreed to refuse him if it was ever necessay.

Maybe about two weeks afterwards, we met Kumar and he told us to come to the guard house at the front gate at night. He's about a foot shorter than the both of us and just as muscular, so we figured we were safe enough. We met him at 10:00 and he invited us into the little guard hut. We sat down and proceeded to have a conversation that went something like this: (K=Kumar, A=Alison, P=Me)

Maybe you can learn some Bengali too.

K: You fly *makes hand airplane* Canada.
A: Huh? No, I'm not from Canada.
P: Na, ami Canada theke hoy. Alison Scotland theke.
K: You fly Scotland?
A: *nods* Yes.
K *looks dismal* No. No fly. Kobe? W...When?
P: When are you going to Darjeeling?
A: I'm going on the 6th.
P: How long are you staying?
A: Ten days, I'm going home on the 15th.
P: Wait...uh...shit. ak minit. Um...Alison December six-e Darjeeling giye dosh din theke um...Scotland jabe.
K: *looks dismal* No. No fly.
P: Um, I think he wants you to stay.
A: *burries head in hands* No! Tell him I have family in Scotland.
P: Alison thekte parena. Alisonar ma, baba, um...ar duto bon (two sisters) Scotland thake.
K: Darjeelinge bari ache.
P: He says he has a house in Darjeeling.
A: *burries head in hands* No! Tell him I have a boyfriend (this was half-true).
P: Alisonar bondhu chele ache. Alison bondhu chele khub bhalobashe (love, remember you guys).
K: *looks dismal* No. You, me. Life partner.
P: Oh, God.
A: *head still in hands* Oh, no.
(I have stopped using the formal second person, cuz we're buddies, in a way)
A: I can't marry him!
P: Alison shudhu atharo (18) boyos, tomar shonge biye korte parena. Bondhu chele ache, take bhalobase.
(I have to repeat myself several times before he finally understands that she really doesn't want to marry him. Kumar makes some vague statements that seem to me to be accusing Alison of marrying her white boyfriend for money. I try to explain that her boyfriend is about as poor as he is)
K: December...you, me, Darjeeling...
P: I think he says he wants to go to Darjeeling with you.
A: Oh, no. Tell him I want to go alone.
P: Alison nijer shonge Darjeeling jete chaiche.
K: Kano? (Why?)
P: Um...oh, shit. Just...oh, I dunno. Alison...aka-aka bhalo lage. (What I had meant to say was "She likes being alone." What I actually said was something to the effect of, "She likes loneliness.")
K: *chuckles miserably* (He's a really tragic figure sometimes).
(There's not much left after that, but what eventually happened was that Alison was so tired of saying no that she just let him think that he could meet her in Darjeeling).

Nearing the end of Alison's stay we got invited to a country club by the GAP rep. I got my period, so I couldn't go swimming, so I chose to wander about Calcutta instead. I guess it was lucky I didn't go because Alison and two other GAP girls went to Domino's afterwards and the pizza made her quite sick. I met Kumar on the way back from the phone booth and he asked how she was with a very sad smile on his face. I told him she was at a friend's in Calcutta. The next day, she was obviously not in the mood for visitations when he decided to drop in on our room. He told us again how much he wanted to go to Darjeeling. He said his heart was thumping right now. I drew a diagram demonsrating that by the time he got to Darjeeling, Alison, temporally speaking, would have already left. Alison was quite understandably a little unreceptive, so I think he left with his tail between his legs.

A little while later, we're sitting by the windows of the Children's Ward when we see Kumar in the accounts office. We were like, "Whoa, what does he need money for? OMG, he's not borrowing money to go to Darjeeling, is he?"

For a while we didn't see him much, and Alison soon got the impression that maybe he had been wounded by his reception. So we decided to invite him to our room again to see if we could at least salvage some aspect of his ego. "dupure (at noon) amader ghore asbe?" I said. He indicated yes.

Well, he stood us up, oddly enough. That afternoon, however, we met up with Sanjay and he gave us a very illegible note from Kumar saying that he was having money problems and could not go to Darjeeling, or at least that's all we could make out.

A little while after that, with Alison's trip looming very much in the horizon, we met Kumar by some shops outside Antara and he slipped Alison another note. This had a picture of Alison and a picture of Kumar holding a rose. Above was some scrawlings in Hindi which were absolutely illegible. Plus, I couldn't read Hindi. Alison was studying Hindi at the time, but she didn't know enough to decipher it. We still don't know what it says, and we rather doubt there is anyone but Kumar who can read it.

Kumar saw her off to Darjeeling, but he didn't go past the gate. Alison came back and spent one last day at Antara. That night, we ran about saying goodbye to everybody and we even did see the room that we've always been wondering about (it's really not that interesting), only Sanjay and his wife and child (I only saw one) are staying there now.

Alison left and I stayed. At New Year's Eve I sat across Sanjay at the dinner feast and I asked him, "Kumar kothay?"
"Calcutta. Duty."
"Antara phere jabena (not returning)?"
Sanjay shook his head.

Well, I guess that's that. Did you like that one, boys and girls?

Updates on My Canadian ExistenceCollapse )

Jan. 21st, 2006

So, apparently, Yue Cheng says she didn't lie, and it sounds like it could have happened (how she described it). Well, fuck it I say. I'm barely talking to either of them.

If any of you two are reading this, I apologize for asking in the first place. I'm done.

Aug. 23rd, 2005

Must include this is a story:

"His full heart spilled into his empty stomach, and thus he found it very difficult to finish the steak that had previously been thought so disappointingly small."

P.S. I leave for India tomorrow.

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