Posted by: gdevi | January 14, 2016

The Magic Flute

A productive day. Tara and I met with Mary and Jonathan from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and went over the final edits of the grant report. Boy, what a lot of work that was, but meaningful and satisfying. I hope the legislature will do something good with it. Then I took Tara and her father (visiting from Florida) to lunch at Fox’s.  We had a good lunch — I like their egg salad sandwich on rye bread and home fries. I wanted a slice of carrot cake — I *love* their carrot cake — but felt too full after eating the sandwich and the fries. It is weird–I used to be able to wolf down a sandwich, fries, two cappucinos and a slice of carrot cake, but I felt too full today. Hmm.

I was cleaning out my old books over the break and I discovered an old notebook that I had when I was 18 or 19 years old. I love notebooks. I have many beautiful notebooks. This one was given to me by one of our friends, Carol, who had stayed with us for a while in Trivandrum in the 80s.  My father had met Carol in the plane when he was coming back from Delhi after some sort of work related travel. Carol was visiting India–she was from San Francisco–a real hippie chick–and Carol wanted to visit Kerala and Trivandrum. So father arranged for Carol to travel and visit in Kerala.  After her sojourn in the north, Carol came to Trivandrum. Father had made reservations for Carol at the Kovalam resort, but Carol also stayed with us in our house. She was in her thirties then and just a sweet person. She was a spiritual seeker; an enlightened soul. Anyway, Carol became our friend. Carol and I stayed in touch after she went back to the US. After she went back to SFO, she sent me these two beautiful blank notebooks–one clothbound and the other this demi notebook with a Chinese silk screen painting of two autumn birds on it. I must have bought it with me when I came to the US 26 years ago. I was looking at it today, thumbing through my old mind and the things I was interested in then. Apparently, in 1983 I was very interested in Joseph Conrad. I have copied entire passages from Conrad in it. Then Paul Eluard’s poems. Then Virginia Woolf. Then Frost. Then I found this poem by the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:

What About You?

I splashed some colours from a tumbler

And smeared the drab world with emotion.

I charted on a dish of jelly

The jutting cheekbones of the ocean.

Upon the scales of a tin salmon

I read the call of lips yet mute.

And you,

Could you have played a nocturne

With just a drainpipe for a flute?      (1913)


I had forgotten about this poem all these years. You know, I still like it. Looking through my old notebook, I felt very happy. I had a very good education in India. I had a very intellectually and imaginatively rich youth. If I could go back and do my bachelors and masters and doctorate again, I would. I read so many wonderful books.


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