Telescope III: Tuyo

I went back home to Dubai for the Bank Holiday in England. The scorching sun felt good on my skin, driving on the charred roads with smoothness that is customary when two superheated objects rub against each other.

There was a strange moment after I reached home:

My satellite family – all four of us once living in 4 different corners of the world, were now in the same room. That room wasn’t a hotel in London or San Francisco, neither was it the living room in my mother’s apartment in Doha. It was at home, in our kitchen. A concept, an occasion that seemed to have become rarer as the years went by thanks to the operational difficulties and opportunities of life. But that didn’t make it strange, it was just rare.

The strange part is what happened next – I plugged in my iPhone and started playing music. My music, the songs that I had been listening to, as the four of us prepared what could best be describe as a pre-all you can eat, dim sum extravaganza snack. Someone mixing olive oil with garlic, chili flakes and salt; someone slicing some fresh baguette; someone frying a little bacon; and someone preparing a little hard Iranian cheese with fresh mint.

As we did this, Rodrigo Amarante’s Tuyo played on the speakers: the guitar flowing like water off of a waterfall, the drums rhythmic but not overbearing, and his voice crooning lyrics that can only be described as succulent –

Soy el fuego que arde tu piel
Soy el agua que mata tu sed
El castillo, la torre yo soy
La espada que guarda el caudal

I am the fire that burns your skin
I am the water that kills your thirst
I am the castle, the tower
The sword that guards the fortune

None of us speak Spanish and at that moment, none us needed to speak Spanish. We were not connected by a language, we were not connected by music, pulsing over speakers that are too large for a kitchen as we each prepared something to bring to the table. We were connected by something deeper – if the air was skin, the music was the subcutaneous pulse, the blood flowing through the veins beneath the skin, you could feel it, you knew it was there. It was a moment of subconscious harmony. Amarante continues,

Tú el aire que respiro yo
Y la luz de la luna en el mar
La garganta que ansío mojar
Que temo ahogar de amor
¿Y cuales deseos me vas a dar?

You the air that I breathe
And the moonlight in the sea
The throat I want to wet
That I am afraid of throttling
And what desires are you going to give me?

I remembered another similar moment after we all whipped up a meal in a kitchen that was thousands of miles away from Dubai as I played this song on a small, but robust docking station. I watched two people dance to this song. It was mother and daughter: mother showing daughter how to lead, daughter following clumsily, studiously. Their eyes locked in a way that only a mother and a daughter can ever lock eyes – drowning into mirror, into the same pair of eyes. Even then, there was this subcutaneous pulse created by more than just the music. 

The then and the now – so far away yet so close – bound by this song in this language that I can barely claim to have a passing understanding of despite having studied it for years, and being exposed to it for even more. Both moments were, in their own way, expressions of love, expressions that we genuinely care for one another, and they were framed in these whimsical lyrics. And as the song slowly drifted to a close,

Dices tú: Mi tesoro basta con mirarlo
Tuyo será, y tuyo será.

You say, “My treasure is enough just by looking at it
It will be yours, it will be yours.”

Something occured to me –

When you love someone, you tell them.

When you care about someone, you show them.

When someone is special to you, make the effort.

It could be as easy as framing a moment of togetherness in a song that completes an image that you will carry with you forever. It could be as stupid as that grand gesture that you make without knowing whether or not it will even be received let alone achieve what you want it to. But you do it anyway. What is life otherwise?

So be bold, be brave, be foolish, be crazy, be stupid, be you. Don’t wait, don’t sit around and feed unrequited emotion – it will squeeze you, it will suffocate you, and rest assured, it will kill you.

Have the faith, the Iman, that regardless of whether or not you get the reaction or the outcome you desire, that you, my friend, have made someone feel special. And you have done so, by doing something special, because at the end of the day – special people do special things.

The rest is up to them, and to Iman.

Microscope II: Madness

Not a lot of people know that I originally started by writing poetry – perhaps it’s apparent in my writing, perhaps it’s not. A wonderful friend of my describes my writing as that of a poet. As such I thought I would share a poem I wrote on my way to work a couple of months ago.

The piece is called Madness. I would love to get your thoughts on it!

Madness

Love on a real train,
Like a tangerine dream,
Louis the fifteenth
Draped in moonlight sonata.
A bird in the air,
Flanked by fireflies,
Blanketed by the clouds.
Frenzied obsessions,
Built on untrue confessions,
Find the hidden meaning,
Hear the blind nun screaming,
Ready your swords,
Guitars playing power chords.
Madness is not taught,
Neither is it earned or bought,
Madness is inherited brilliance,
Gifts of generational passing,
Percolating without asking,
Trickling into your brain,
Permeating every fiber of your being,
Giving you sight without seeing,
Traveling a thousand miles a second,
Count from one to five,
And see it come alive.

Happy Monday, my friends.

P.S. – Amanda, this post was inspired by you!

Telescope I: Food

It’s a cloudy day outside, mildly chilly, very quiet. I must admit that I have been looking forward to writing. At a rather turbulent time, I find solace in putting some of my thoughts on paper. The need to think, the ritual of writing, the anticipation of sharing – I find it comforting. And yet, at the same time, I must also admit that I find it hard to write about something when the only thing I want to write about is the only thing I cannot write about. Not yet, anyway.

So I find myself back here in the Nordic Bakery that has, somehow, become my unofficial writing desk. There is the same, large latte on my right, and an oven pancake in front of me. My dear reader, if you’re ever in London, and you ever need someone to talk to – 9am, Saturdays, Nordic Bakery, Soho, I’ll be there, just look for the oven pancake and the latte.

As I sit at my table, way in the back of the shop, trying to take in industrial silence, trying to think about what I want to write about, trying to hide. I look around, I try to find something that I can focus on. I sip my coffee. I feel the wooden panels on the walls, the cracks, the smooth varnish, and the rough scrapes. My mind begins to wander to places I so desperately don’t want it to go to. Places that, for now, I need to set aside. I take a bite of my oven pancake.

Velvet.

I take another bite, this time with the wonderful, delectable jam that they offer here – I’d like to believe it is homemade, but to be honest with you, it really doesn’t matter. I suddenly remember a scene from Mad Men, from the episode called The Carousel – I strongly urge you to watch what I believe is one of the most powerful scenes put on screen, it’s on YouTube. Don Draper says,

“…it’s called the carousel. It let's us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”

If the ritual of writing gives me momentary solace, it is food that puts me back on the carousel. A ritual so basic, so fundamental to our existence that we forget the meaning of it. We forget that food not only sustains us, but it makes us pause, for the briefest of moments and takes us to a place inside of us where there is nothing but love, even if it is just for a moment. Food has that power. It’s like being hugged by someone – maybe someone you love, maybe someone you’ve lost – someone whose embrace will always be home. No one can take that away from you.

There are times when we lose faith, when we forget what it means to believe. Sometimes it’s the velocity of life itself, sometimes it’s the tornado that tears your home from it’s foundations, daring you to build it again. Those are the times when your leg shakes violently, when your breath staggers uncontrollably, when you feel like control is a forgotten concept. It’s at times like that, you walk into your nearest Nordic Bakery, order an oven pancake and a latte, take two deep breaths, and remind yourself to have faith. Remind yourself to have Iman.