my full interview with Ziad Abbas, quoted above, is the second interview in the clip linked to below:
If you care at all about Palestine, please listen to these stories told to me by Palestinians in Bethlehem and Nazareth, and hear people being illegally taken from their land in East Jerusalem, stopped by the presence of myself and International media, briefly … this was 2003 … what eventually happened?
California secedes from the U.S. and joins forces with Japan to become a non-aligned, pacifist, non-nuclear-powered, green, tech-producing powerhouse in global digital and computer science.
Here’s the flag of the new most prosperous nation on Earth.
I hereby announce my Candidacy for General Secretary of The Republic of Calipan to anybody living in Aztlan or the Land of the Rising Sun who agrees Calipan exists.
At 40, in my homeland, I painted, collaged and signed, Vous êtes à Pudduchcheri, M.T. Karthik, on the back of the wood liquor cabinet installed in a wall at Qualithe’s Hotel Bar in Pondicherri, Pudduchcheri, Tamil Nadu, India in three weeks in May, 2007.
The cabinet is 84 x 50 inches, 6.5 inches above the floor, and the wall is perhaps fifteen feet wide. It was immediately interesting to toy with the line dividing the lighter upper from the darker lower layers. The text was decided upon after weeks of discourse with locals and regulars – and translates in English to: “You are in Puduchcheri”
The image of the moon is an actual photograph taken in 1971 by telescope from observatory of the University of Montana.
The oil well is from the back of the old,purple Indian 1-rupee note.
I photographed the haliastur indus (brahminy kite), pair, myself, from my studio for nine months, and then printed and selected the images of the two raptors collaged into frame – male and female.
The palm tree was photographed at a local beach as well.
The postage stamp is the a magazine reproduction of the first stamp issued by independent India.
the detritus on the beach includes a matchbook and wrapper from a package of firecrackers, and the tiger from the tiger balm packaging.
art students from the Chitra Kala Parishath art college in Bangalore, were invited to add depth to the waves and a second heavenly body, a single white point representing Venus, over the sea.
Over the last few nights, lit by an obese moon, the local animals have been fighting; first the dogs went at it ferociously; then loud, wailing cats; hissing, crying, haunting sounds. Then a crazed bird-fight, filled with screeching – all this in the two nights of the moon’s fullest face.
The village is a breathing thing, a living ecosystem of many species of insects, reptiles, mammals and birds living adjacently. The village mood is governed communally, first by the most powerful forces of nature, primarily the sun and moon – and, here, the sea – and secondly, by humanity in concert with nature.
In working with nature, humanity is further subdivided, along a continuum from those who will care for animals and plants, to those who would not tolerate them, but as food. Most follow a gentle co-existence.
A properly functioning village can be considered among the most sane and balanced social ecosystems ever created by human beings. Interspecies tolerance, collegiality and an awareness of the fundamental interconnectedness among all living things exists.
Here, vegetarianism is considered a social enlightenment for most people. Trash is often laid out on low thistle or brush to allow ants and other insects to pick it clean. I have watched a village woman wash the anus of her cow with her bare hand and water with such care as she would give her own child.
The village is asleep shortly after sundown. It gets dark quickly. Public lighting is elegantly limited to one or two long, narrow, tube lights, atop wooden posts placed at the intersection of paths or at the gate of one of the wealthier homeowners. But power outages are common, eliminating even this small amount of soft, light pollution. The night sky is clear, the stars, sharp.
Dawn is the loudest time of day, from cock’s crow, through crow’s caw and eventually multiple, staticky, jam-boxes, and at least one television set, projecting bhajans and popular songs. This comes to an end abruptly, when there is a brief silence into which the cow next door lows – an enormous sound – at least once each morning. Today, all sound was overcome by a single, overpowering noise, a retort, by human design, repeated at regular intervals. Someone was lighting and dropping grenade-like bombas.
This same, single, very powerful firecracker, set off very near to this house every half hour or so, was irregular enough to feel sudden each time – 9:30, 9:55, 10:27. The noise hit me in the gut. The dog was terrified.
It is an intense sound in this place – and now the cat fight continues, screeching and hissing, tearing-around sounds between booms.
Bombas all day long: “someone died” is the best we have. Sekar says it was two people, one on either side of us, in recent days. The villagers gathered with firecrackers, drums and flags – multiple very loud retorts all day long; many right now.
The dog stayed under the bed for hours, until sundown when the bombas finally ceased – we all sat in silence. Then, through the night, under the flat, bright light of the fat waning moon – really three days full – came the horrible, sad, wailing of a woman who sounded like a widow, or a mother, begging God or anyone to explain “Why?” between heavy, interminable sobs. She finally fell asleep, but her cries were the loudest sound in the night for an hour. The death must have been literally just beyond the wall to our West.
The entire village is a part of the death – even the crows were vacated by the noise. They say that when a king dies, crows fly and caw – maybe it’s because of the fireworks. This full moon there was an important death, likely two, in our village. The crows and dogs and cats know it … and I know it, too.
4 January, 2007
Periyamudaliar Chavady, TN, India
[discovered that one of the two deaths was L’s grandmother – the mother of the man from whom I’ve been leasing a motorbike. We learned, too, that there was another death, just next door to us – very close to us, on the same day – likely someone we had seen daily in the last few months – but we don’t know whom. I would know the face … but which face, of the last few months, is missing now? that I cannot say. So it was Usha, the daughter- in-law of one of the deceased, who told us, three weeks after Pongal, that the villagers did not celebrate Pongal this year because of these deaths, a full moon before].
In autumn of 2006, for a traveling project by Rigo 23 that he calls Tricycle Museum, I researched and purchased three-wheeled vehicles from South India and shipped them to Madeira Island, Portugal. Here are some of the best of the many auto-ricks I photographed.
They are arranged in reverse chronological order for the most part and the last one is a 1958 model that was still running on the roads in Coimbatore in 2006!
November 22nd didn’t happen for me.
It disappeared in the space-time void caused by crossing the dateline and traveling for 20 hours on a 777 from SFO to Seoul.
Now it’s the 23rd, Thursday at 315am in Singapore where the airport is pretty quiet. But for teenagers with semiautomatics, managers with clipboards and baristas, pie-eyed at their coffee stands.
A girl slept at one of these – I could have taken anything … from her coffeeshop and she would never have known.
I was tempted. But didn’t.
Landed and watched “Live and Let Die”
In the free movie theater they have here .. what a weird zone.
I can sleep for six hours in a hotel for $40 I have $255. I slept well on the plane and so figure I’ll stay up as long as possible so I can get the most of my six hours sleep time when I finally take the room – if I take the room
I don’t really feel tired. A little hungry … but not for something gross.
Enough about what I am feeling all the fucking time. I feel like Nathaniel Hawthorne.
edits are the slicing away of all that shit toward a clean expression.
Off to munch.
Next entry will be November 23.
This story begins lying on its back in a small, one- bedroom hole in a creaking, dripping, grey, 18-story building in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
There, on a morning that would turn into a beautiful spring day, I wake up and hear the sound of rats scurrying around in the dark, and the sounds of wheels turning and gears clicking. I hear unnamed sounds.
I get up, pack my stuff, throw it on my back and go down to the first floor of the Chung King Mansions. This volatile, multicultural conglomeration of dirt, sweat and international odors stands just off Nathan Road in Kowloon surrounded by rows of pricy hotels: The Peninsula, The Hilton, The Hong Kong Empire.
The Chung King hostels have been the cheap place to stay for the shoestring traveler since the 1970’s. Other than brief alterations due to fires that have erupted in its corridors over the years, it hasn’t changed.
Out front, there are Indians and Iranians, bearded and red-eyed, sitting on the street railing. Foreigners from every corner of the globe are walking by. The little Chinese guy with the $8.00 USA Todays and Penthouses and Time and Newsweek and Rolling Stone, is unrolling his papers and magazines.
At dawn, the crowd are all hanging around wrapped in cotton, ear-ringed, nose-ringed, tattoed, goateed. They are either leaving for work or just getting in from play. Several of the turbaned Sikhs are asking me if I want a good place to stay or great Indian food or to go to the best restaurant in Chung King. The rest of them hover around the moneychangers offering black market rates. A German couple is buying watches, a Canadian is buying Nikes, a Frenchman is selling perfume. It’s early and a lot of people are just getting going.
Traffic is still light. Light for here. The sidewalks are peppered with people. Bright red doubledecker buses and taxis glide by. There are light, low-lying clouds over the bay. It is a bit dewy, but you can smell the sun behind those drops, burning the clouds away. The blue sky is already cracking through. By 10:00 it will be 30 degrees.
And on this morning, as I look across the street at the Hilton, I see an anachronism. He’s an elderly Chinese man with greying temples under a flat, grey, Maoist cap. His rope buttons are worn and his ancient Chinese clothes are from a time before all of this.
The free port of Hong Kong rises around him. Six major hotels. More foreigners than Chinese. So many shops. Everybody here is either buying or selling. And he, clearly, is not.
He stands in the middle of all this looking completely foreign, and he begins to fight it.
Standing on the corner of Nathan road in front of the Hilton, he is screaming at the top of his lungs probably the only two English words he knows. Probably the two words he learned expressly for this purpose. He is standing on the street corner screaming and throwing his hands up, hitting the sky with his fists and begging:
“Go Back! Go Back! Gooooo Baaaaack! Go Back!”
His voice is cracking now. He cannot keep this up. These two words are booming down the street in the quiet morning calm; kicking back and forth off The Peninsula, off Chung King Mansions, through the corridors and dripping alleyways:
“Go Back! Gooooo Baaaaaack!”
His voice is coarse and harsh now breaking and cracking. And still he screams. It’s been about five minutes and now I’m standing beside him.
He isn’t looking at me. He isn’t looking at anyone. Unfocused, his eyes open and close with the jerking of his head and hands as he puts every ounce of energy into his request.
I stay put and now I am looking at everyone else.
They stare at him, they smile and they continue to walk. Another Chinese man is standing a few feet away clicking in Cantonese and laughing at the old man. A young couple respond to him and they all laugh. A group of white businessmen walks, uninterested. Another man videotapes from across the street.
In front of Chung King, the Indians, Iranians and other foreigners look over for a time and then go about their business. Now they are looking at me. They look long and hard. My pack is slipping. I hitch it up and turn and walk away.