Saturday, January 21, 2006

What the hell? Where have I been? Why haven't I posted in ages? And why am I in Tokyo?

The Rain Bit
It rained non-stop for seven of our ten-day stay in Auroville last October. It was Indra's fury at the Bay of Bengal manifest as an unending apocalyptic torrent of water, which poured forthl from the sky to blot out the universe. All roads were muddy brown lakes that we forded on motorcylce, ankle-deep. The very walls of our guesthouse exhaled water that soaked through our bed.

Everywhere, everything was mold, mud and grit. And always the fucking rain. After three straight days it had penetrated our skins and skulls and souls.

The murder marked the low point. A young man, a member of one of two local village gangs, was stabbed to death by rival gang-members. For the remainder of our stay, the air was filled with tension and grief and the dull roar of the grey rain.

The Cockroach Bit
Fuck a two-hour car ride from Auroville to Chennai, follwed by a nine-hour train ride home to Mysore. We strapped into seats on Air Deccan for a one-hour flight.

Just before take-off, a fat brown roach skittered over the headrest of the seat in front of me. It waved its antennae and then disappeared, continuing its cabin circumambulations.

Jet Lag
For my money, the best drug on the market. Your circadian rhythms are like, totally fucked, man. As William Gibson says, jet lag is like sending your body someplace, and then waiting a few days for it to reel in your soul.

Two or Three Things About in Tokyo
1. People don't lock up bikes. They just park 'em on the sidewalk, hit the kick-stand, and leave 'em.

2, Don't cross against the light at crowded intersections. Lemming-like, everyone will follow you across the street; even into the face of oncoming traffic.

3. The mouth of Takeshita Street slopes gradually downhill. Hundreds of shoppers clog the street and sidewalk, wall to wall. All twirl, maneuver and otherwise pilot umbrellas to fend off the snow pouring forth from the heavens. It is a delicate dance. I am a full head taller than most everyone, and tower over a sea of bobbing plastic Technicolor domes, red, green, white, black, blue, clear, camouflage; plain or monogrammed. It is a Busby Berkeley set waiting for someone to cry "Action!" to cue synchronized song and dance.

The Power Nap Bit
Mid-day: the kid next to me at the coffee-shop is studying, highlighting a page in a book and taking notes, doubtless preparing himself for the critical entrance exam into eleventh grade. Twenty minutes pass. The kid leans back in his chair, closes his eyes, and slides down in the booth, dead asleep.

A friend told me that many Japanese students get very little sleep due to school, after-school tutoring school (called "cram" school), and then more studying.

Waitresses passed too and fro and batted nary an eye. After an hour the kid gave a little snort, woke up, and resumed studying.