I crack my face from the computer screen;
endless numbers and colours
and impressions of others’ lives.
I am drunk on noise.
I have drunk so much noise that it flows from my ears and eyes.
Now change the view:
fields at 7pm.
I don’t care if it’s a cliche to admire this
somewhere between night and day.
Today it has rained so much that even the soft light is washed clean,
My eyes ache, refocus on distant points,
sheafs of cloud, brilliant white and thunder blue.
The grass shivers as the sun slips lower,
There is so much movement even in this stillness –
striped snails navigate the paths with cautious grace,
one magpie dives like a playing card tossed through the air,
I can feel again,
I can drink this forever –
the wet pavements covered in spatters of orange
and pink, from the flowering trees,
the sound of your name spoken softly all the while.
Category Archives: Creative Writing
I crack my face from the computer screen;
Your broad face
ribbed with waves
we forget to bow to you
O devi of the city
jogging past your body
admiring your beauty
feeding you our daily remains.
We forget to pray.
No flowers sit atop the zig zags
carved by tourist boats at dusk.
You reach your fingers beneath the gum covered concrete
touching iron and earth and forgotten prayers
O devi, forgive us as we tut and call you dirty.
Your wide banks reflect the span of your compassion.
Tonight at sunset,
you sing a quiet song
as the trees around you sleep
you sing of your far away sisters
of sandy banks
where blessed feet stand
offering evening prayers.
Crunching through fresh snow,
better than putting pen to
an unwritten page
It sits in the palm of my hand, glowing smugly. It knows it looks good. I gingerly touch its glassy surface and its face lights up, eager, ready to serve.
Somehow, though I resisted it for a long time, I have become the recipient of a new iPhone. This summer I scoffed as I watched my friends buying them, each one raving about them even more than the last. Even as I slip it into my pocket now, I feel like a traitor.
I’ve never been a huge fan of gadgets. Whilst many of my friends were always eagerly showing off their new Mp3 players or flip-top phones, it took me long enough just to get an old second-hand brick Nokia. Though I finally bought an iPod a few years ago, and got used to carrying a phone around, at least some of the time, I I resisted bowing to the latest fads. New models were brought in; fancy colours, thinner bodies. I just stuck with my old ones – if it ain’t broke right?
Perhaps there’s an air of self righteousness in my desire to resist technology. Part of me feels I belong to a gentler age, where mail just took time to get places and screens were found on doors. As I scan the iPhone applications with the slide of a finger, I feel a pang for rough paper and pencils, and maps, and compasses. I feel a pang for dials on phones and for the excitement of opening envelopes. Perhaps this is just as silly as those nostalgic shops that sell replicas of Victorian back scratchers and people that insist on whipping their cream with a hand-turned whisk because ‘it’s more fun’ (me).
Ultimately my fear is one of losing control. I fear the loss of the physical and tactile in the digital age. I miss old style ‘real’ photos, just because I fear losing everything at the touch of a button when it hangs in virtual reality somewhere. I fear losing control over my willpower – checking emails the moment they arrive and interrupting conversations to answer the urgent call of a vibrating tablet. I fear dependence. Sometimes I wish I could cut all technology out of my life with surgical precision -no mess, no fuss – edges stitched neatly to join the gaping hole.
But perhaps technology is just what you make of it. After all, you can use a knife to kill someone, or cut an avocado. Perhaps the iPhone can be a tool for whatever you want it to be. It could be an I, me and MyPhone, ready and waiting at any moment to fulfil as many desires as possible, or it could just be handy, like a spanner. It could just help you find places, and file things. Perhaps I needn’t be so afraid. Still, I’ll be vigilant.
Welcome, useful friend. I’ll be keeping my i on you.
When I was little we used to play a game called ‘Go Go Govinda’. It was basically a Hare Krishna version of a regular game, where one person stands with their back to a line of the other players who are trying to reach him by moving slowly. He chants ‘Go-go-go-go,’ and when he says ‘vinda!’, he turns around and everyone has to freeze. I don’t know what the regular purport to this game is, but I always imagined that Krishna is sneaking up behind the person, and he can hear him, just over his shoulder, but if he turns, Krishna freezes.
It reminds me of the story where the deity of Sakshi Gopal Krishna agrees to follow the brahmin to testify to his promise, providing he doesn’t turn back and look. As the brahmin walks, he can hear Krishna’s ankle bells tinkling behind him, but he has to keep his eyes on the road ahead, though he knows Sri Krishna, the most beautiful is right behind.
This summer I’ve felt a little like I’m being followed by Sri Gopal – or maybe I’m pursuing him. He has bookended my journey, and appeared along the way too – sometimes behind me, and sometimes in front, so charmingly smiling as he glances downward. We don’t worship this form of Krishna so much in ISKCON temples, I suppose because we emphasise the worship of Radha and Krishna together on the altar.
The first day that I arrived at Avatar Studios, where Gauravani recorded the As Kindred Spirits album, he took me up to see the resident deity of Gopal. He was astonishingly beautiful, and I prayed to him I would be able to do something useful by taking part in the Mantralogy tour.
His form remained in my mind, and I was so happy to see him again when we went to Chowpatty temple, in Mumbai. There the intensity of our tour reached a new high, as we drove back and forth to rehearsals and press engagements in the monsoon heat, almost always returning home at midnight. Every morning I would sleepily go and see the deities, and the serene smile of Gopalji felt like a soothing balm. I prayed to him in my tired state, feeling as if I was just going through the motions.
I call your name
Watching wet leaves tremble on the branches
Voices echo across the courtyard,
cool breeze before the heat descends.
Distant horns, distant thunder,
water fills the crowded street.
I pause to see your lotus feet.
Unchanging, ever fresh,
as this new rain on the kadamba trees.
I wonder why it is still so difficult to just
call your name, as if I really mean it,
with arms upstretched, or an extended trunk.
Why does my prayer sound hollow still?
Dear Gopalji, you hold the key.
Your eyes glance downward,
Please help me.
Please see my droplet of sincerity.
I wish it would multiply,
like this relentless downpour, and wash the grimy pavements of my heart.
my only treasure,
I wish to be your servant.
Before we left, I drew a picture of him, and gave it to Radhanath Swami.
When we went to visit Giriraj Maharaj in Santa Barbara, I was so inspired to see the many images of Gopal around the property, and lost myself in the most beautiful illustrated book about the daily worship of Gopal (Sri Nathji) in Nathdwara, Rajasthan.
Together with my friends Mandali (Gopalji’s pujari in New Vrindavan!) and Sachi, I made a sand Gopal that evening on the beach, and we meditated on how the ocean would rise to wash his feet, as we gave him shells for eyes, and ornamented him with seaweed garlands.
Now I’m back in DC, and the rain is falling again. I am blessed to be here, and I feel Gopalji is standing right behind me. My prayers are far from sincere, but with his mercy I continue to chant ‘Go-go Gopal!’ Tomorrow we leave at 5am for Block Island, where we will be performing kirtan for the first date of the ‘Roots and Wings’ tour, with drummer/poet John de Kadt.
I bent down from my lofty height
as the driving rain fell all around.
He smoothly slid with all his might,
across the cracking concrete ground.
Each body part remained connected,
but he pushed himself beyond his range.
His goal and path were self directed,
but to reach, he had to make a change.
Why poke his head above the surface,
with body soft and progress slow?
Why put his entire life at risk-
his reasoning, I had to know.
I heard him give a wormly cry,
‘Leave the comfort of the earth!
You’ll won’t succeed unless you try-
choose a goal with real worth!’