N-N-1 7-16-2017

Classical Gasbag

Once again N-N-1 has brought a variety of pictures and thoughts from different parts of the world. If this is your first view of N-N-1, the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. All of the pictures were taken by the participants at 4 p.m. their local time on Sunday, July 16th.

We’ll start with a new voice who has joined our N-N-1 family. Natalie Garvois from https://wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com sent us the following:

I was walking along the bank of the ‘Little Elbow River’ at 4 p.m on Sunday. I was admiring the trees, and the idea for this poem came into my head.

By the Little Elbow

The trees stand stately

And true by the Little Elbow River

That runs through my town.

They witness the good and the bad,

The…

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I’m a what?

Happy 20th Anniversary to the Harry Potter book series! I cannot believe it has been two decades of this magical madness, and yet if I think about it, of course, it’s been that long. So much has happened, so much has changed. One thing stays the same though – the feeling the books can kick up even if it’s the billionth time you’re reading it.

My brother had just been declared a genius and too smart for his class by his teachers and so we went book shopping. Not that we needed an excuse to do that, of course. Summer was enough of an excuse, but as a book-loving brother-sister duo, we double teamed our parents into taking us to the store.

While at the store, there was a lovely display of The Goblet Of Fire. It had just come out and they were trying to build the Harry Potter hype in Bangalore. My very religious aunt who was with us at the time said that she’d heard it was a good book. This was before she realised it was about wizards and witchcraft – everything she is against (and a few months before all convent schools banned the books from their libraries because of the same reason). We looked at the price of the book and baulked at the price.

We looked at the book, it looked promising. Then we looked at the back of the book and baulked at the price. You have to remember that I am raised by aid and development workers. This meant that anything that wasn’t a necessity was a luxury, including books that we had to buy, instead of borrow. Broseph and I tagged teamed it up again and convinced my parents, in the biggest miracle/con of our lives, to buy us all four books. We used the magic of “Be happy that we aren’t the kinds of kids who are asking for vintage air maxes and PS2’s”. To our surprise. it worked.

It was summer and we had a problem of logistics. Both of us wanted to read the book before the other. My brother won that argument because technically it was a present to him for being such a kid genius. So he got to read the books in the 1, 2, 3, 4 sequence, whereas I had to read it 4,3,2,1. Then my sister wanted it. It was the best summer I’ve had in a while. I remember road tripping to our grandparents’ house some 500

It was the best summer I’ve had in a while. I remember road tripping to our grandparents’ house some 500 kms away, lying in the back of the car, reading and taking a break by looking at the zooming sky and then crying at something that happened in the book. We finished 4 books in one week that summer.

But even to this day, the minute I read a familiar dialogue, my heart swells with joy. There is simple magic in words and stories, and they will always live on.

“Harry … yer a wizard”

“I’m a what?”

Bless!

P.S. Yes, I’m re-reading it! Of course, I am!

Homey

I’ve had my fair share of ‘homie’ directed at me and it makes me feel good to have my ethnicity misunderstood again. I like being of an ambiguous race that makes me a true citizen of the world. However, this homey I’m talking about is a bit different. I’m starting to daydream and long for things I never thought I would – this includes owning, adopting, purchasing, fantasising about things I haven’t thought of as a priority before.

I have changed my geographical locations every two years on average, and have managed to fit in a tonne of travel in between those times. I have also managed to live half off a suitcase, being only half unpacked in the two years I have been in this ‘new’ location. And when things got a bit stressful, I’d lose myself into a deep internet rabbit hole of exotic locations I could make my next home in.

Over the past few months, though, I find myself daydreaming of a proper kitchen where the walls aren’t white and you can indulge in a fancy bread tin without worrying where you’d store it. I find myself wanting a shelf to store all of my negligible personal belongings (most of these belongings are in the form of books, letters and postcards). I long for a nice table where I can assemble wind or solar powered robots or do my 3000 piece puzzle. Mostly, I find myself looking at animal shelter websites and going through their portfolio of pets up for adoption.

Is this what adulthood is supposed to be? Have I finally attained that magical phase in my life?

The Subtle Art Of Blending

Bangkok green spaces! #parks #thailand #skytrain

A post shared by AL (@cupitonians) on

If you’ve come here for a makeup tutorial, I’m afraid you’re going to be very disappointed – not just at my serious inability at the art, but also at this post’s lack of anything useful. I’m talking more in terms of our ability, as humans, to blend into whatever situation/geographic location/circumstance we are thrown into.

I’m coming up to two years in Thailand and I walk the roads that once cause me anxiety like its something I’ve always done. I am able to hail a cab and direct the driver without breaking a sweat. I walk past monitor lizards like they are neighbourhood strays. I add P’ (polite prefix that means brother or sister) in front of people’s name and end my  sentences with a ka, even when I’m travelling out of Thailand. I have blended in so much that I don’t even break a sweat at 37 degrees heat, I know the corners of the skytrain to squeeze into during rush hour, and I carry flip flops and an umbrella in my bag because duh, how could you not?

Humans have an ability to adapt to anything, and to do it without even realising it. When I went home for a short break home a few weeks ago, I casually mentioned something funny P’Thor did or that the mister’s favourite student is Boeing. It took me a while figure out that the looks of confusion and the extra jovial laughter was because they still think of Thailand, its quirks and culture, as strange.

I didn’t even bat an eye-lid when I found out that Boeing’s younger sister is called Airbus. I just nodded. It’s now a completely normal name to me. In my new world, evening markets are a norm, mom and pop ramen shops are around every corner, just next to a 7/11. Cats say me-o, trains make a ‘poon poon’ sound, and saying ka does not make you an imitator of crows! I am at ease with people in various stages of transition, and am never confused about what pronoun to use for whom.

Funny this transition from strange to familiar.

A Writing Dilemma

I write for a living. I’ve lost count of how many documents I edit, how many copies I churn out, how many marketing materials, product names, taglines, branding projects I’ve produced.

I’ve lost count of how many documents I edit, how many copies I churn out, how many marketing materials, product names, taglines, branding projects I’ve produced. Don’t get me started on the number of blogs and websites I manage.

And yet, when I stare at the backend of this blog, I draw a blank. It’s not that I don’t have stories to tell. I do. But I’m coming up empty. I have browsed writing prompt lists for 40 minutes now, and I find none of that inspiring.

This is the problem with writing for a living – you get institutionalised. Can a writing job knock the creativity out of you? I’m starting to suspect that it can. Don’t get me wrong, I can tell the difference between practice and practise, I know when to use an Oxford comma, and I know when to use a hyphen instead of an em-dash. I have all the technical aspects of writing down to an art, especially British English. My idea of a rebellion, nowadays, is to start a sentence with a preposition or to leave the period out at the end of a sentence.

But the ease with which I could write fiction is gone. I am no longer a story teller. I don’t know if it’s the TL; DR era we’re living in that has led to this or if I’ve just left my think tank to rust. I read at a ridiculous rate, I devour TV shows at world-record levels, and yet I am lacking the spark.

And yet, here I am typing at 300 words about a nothing sort of subject. So the machine works, how do you get an old beast like this up and running? What do you do when you are uninspired and wordless?

HELP!