a dense but colorful concrete jungle

Today I walked through a Dense but not boring Concrete Jungle.

dense concrete world I bought the book for a young person. But it was left in my house for a long time. So one recent day I decided to buy some coloring pencils and tried out this pass time activity. The first picture was a rather futuristic one and my audience did not comment so I knew it was really not presentable. I did a second one without recognizing the objects until I finished and took a picture and read the small heading which labeled “Bon Voyage”. I realized then I was coloring a whole lot of sails on waves! Someone sent a few claps. So I was encouraged to do a third one. This is the result and I finished it on time for this week’s picture, “dense”.

When I first looked at the densely packed buildings in this concrete jungle I really had no clue what colors I should use to make it a bit more cheerful looking. So I just picked whatever color pencils I pulled out from the pack at odd time when I was taking a break from my usual writing or translating work. Often it was after a meal. It became quite fun as I was amused by the colors that come out at random after a while.

I like to imagine what kind of people would reside in such colors. Would they like the colors? I imagine myself as a friendly giant who tries to be helpful by breaking the monotony of the colorless world through splashing bright colors at random on people’s houses. Perhaps he is trying to cheer up some home alone children who look out of their tiny windows. I hope they like the colors. Being fictional characters they can swap house if they prefer the colors of their neighbor’s house and vice versa of course.

writing about life in crisis

Crisislife in crisis
Lately I realize the more I look at life being lived by others the more I value my own. Writing about others’ lives is not a pleasant task. Often we see the imperfections and the should-have-been scenarios. Before the explosive and swift takeover of the world by digital technology which broke through all geographical barriers and rendered all physical boundaries useless in terms of sharing of instant visual and audio thoughts and perceptions, we read news which were not news. But today we read news as they come into being somewhere faraway and yet real, real suffering, discriminations, and hate crime being perpetrated by evil right in front of our eyes manifesting digitally.

I may ask, who are these people? Why do they hate so much? We read of who they are superficially in the news. What are the factors that drive them to killing out of hatred? We read of the usual socio-economic-racial-religious-class-color-power distribution factors. All these factors cannot answer the question why others under the same categories do not hate or kill others, and why the particular person or group of persons hate and kill innocent people.

The rules of war have been altered as each national boundary has been invaded through borderless ideologies and beliefs. When we read further and ponder the issue deeper we realize that it is the borderless infiltration of the mind that is the culprit. How do we close our mind border? This is the real question today.

This picture was taken in a winter in a foreign land. The bush/grass had lost their life giving green color. The birds continued fishing in the shallow brook. They co-existed. The bush/grass continued to shelter the birds. I just read that a young person stabbed to death 19 people and injured 26 in a stabbing spree at a facility for disabled people. It was reported that the young man who was a former staff considered them unfit to live. They were deemed disqualified to live because they were not as perfect as he wanted them to be. Where did he get the idea who are perfect to live? Where did he see pictures of physically perfect people whom he worshipped as idols/icons?

I remember the book Lord of the Flies, a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British plane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. The book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves in a paradisiacal country, far from modern civilization, the well-educated children regress to a primitive state.

This is a prophetic book that tells of a future-today’s world in crisis.

Nightmare and memory

Nightmare
hassam_tuileries_gardensparis cafeWH Smith Paris
What was I doing that sad night when it happened to the “City of Victory”? I tried to recall. It was just an ordinary night and I was thousands of miles away from NICE (its name means victory). It was meant to be a day of national celebration. I then remembered the day July 14, a certain long gone year, when I was in Paris. That was my first Bastille day.

A colleague with the name Henriette(Pronounced “On-Yet”) called and told me they were going to watch the parade. “Please come. I will meet you at the Champs-Elysées Clemenceau Metro.” She met me and explained to me the excitement I should see that day, “The French national holiday on July 14th is a huge celebratory event in Paris. From morning to night, a raft of exceptional events make this anniversary an especially festive one. With a military parade, evenings with dancing, and a fireworks display, there is something for all tastes and ages.”

It was a fun day. Henriette was helpful and tried her best to be a good guide. I was new to her country and she was determined to play the hostess that day. We had ice cream and snacks. We bought paper periscope so we can view the parade through the mass of human walls. We watched all sorts of street performances. She told me that the folks from the provinces came too as a special day out for the family. Later we decided to find a spot at a cafe along the street at Champs-Elysées and just rest our feet. We walked miles that day. There were crowds of mixed nationalities everywhere. I could hear many different languages being spoken. Henriette told me that there were many from many parts of French colonies in Africa. Of course, most of them spoke French. I was tired and decided not to stay for fireworks.

I went alone later to the Tuileries Garden towards the evening. There was music in the air. Then I regretted not going to WH Smith, the largest English bookshop in Paris since 1903. I had a studio near the Eiffel Tower and the Tuileries Garden. I went to the garden every Saturday and sat there, just reading. There were always some old people round. I was probably the youngest person in their midst. But we were regulars and we greeted each other. The ground in spring time was covered with tiny yellow flowers. One day I decided to buy a pot of African violet as recommended by my South African colleague Gillian. The violet flower lasted until I was ready to leave Paris.

Coming home my dreams have always been sweet and gentle. I cannot recall a nightmare with Paris. The books, the cafes, the gardens, walks and the people are sweet and gentle in my memory.

writing with an aim

winter and branches
Writing without an aim is like taking this winter picture of bare branches at random while strolling by. Is it essential to have an aim? I believe so. HERE ARE SOME DEFINITIONS of AIM:
Objective, object, goal, end, target, design, desire, desired result, intention, intent, plan, purpose, object of the exercise; ambition, aspiration, wish, dream, hope, raison d’être.

I ask myself, “Why do I write this little note daily? What is my aim?” My answer is, “I need the practice.” Blogging is an effective way to practice writing and keeping your brain working a bit. Reading and writing are still the more tested way of keeping a person’s brain cells exercising a bit and not falling into stupor for too long to the point of eventual incapacity. A point of no return. The more reluctance one feels the more one should try to write and read. One way of learning to write is to copy. Take your favorite book and start copying chapters. Make it a daily habit. Another way is to write a letter to a loved one. You may not get to post the letter but it does keep you going and building a habit. I just read of someone who actually hand writes to many people. Over the years many have received and even collected his handwritten letter and notes. Some frame them up. (You know who the person is as he is in the news right now.) I have not posted a physical letter for years. Even my email has been replaced by short social text or multimedia messages. But I find that the short messages do not take brainwork to compose. It is more like clicking at random and giving automatic pre-programmed short replies.

When I interview some persons I find that they have nothing to say. They are not even capable to think. They have nothing to say about themselves or others. Their minds do not store words. I note that they spend the bulk of the interview time messaging or reading messages on their mobile handheld phone including iPads, iPhones and other smart phones. I find it sad to look at them or think about their lives. Can a man or woman happily leave out a big part of what God has perfectly created and designed for them to have and enjoy? I often wonder. Please do not get me wrong. I am not judging the rightness or wrongness of a lifestyle. I am just lamenting the loss of quality of life that God has given so richly to each of us as human.

Writers ad poets like to dream that one day the whole earth will be filled with readers of books. I am one of such dreamers.

Do we still need writers?

woman reading Irish copyToo often I write without thinking of what I shall do with the written words. When the words come, perhaps even at midnight I just sit up and write. I am doing a book in another language at the same time but it is based on a book already formed and written in English so the translated work is only a partial writing as I add new information I have since uncovered in my research and interviews. For that book I know the target audience so it is not exactly like writing without a direction.

But when it comes to my thoughts in words at midnight I have no audience except myself. I read yesterday that the traditional publishers of physically printed books have to collaborate with providers of e-technology so that the books can be published online or in other multi-media forms. The increasing spectacular growth in online internet environment and mobile-phone and portable hand-held e-book reading gadgets trend warrants that the traditional publishers change drastically and involve themselves in strategic alliance with paperless technology professionals.

Whilst the technology gadgets are dazzling and convenient for the young users and perhaps readers of books, the contents of books still cannot be replaced by gadgets. Content counts. That is why we still write. There is still hope for a content writer.