Sunday, October 28, 2007

Any day now, I shall be released

We're halfway through the semester, and that means we're weeks away from holiday.

"When are you out and where are you going?" is the topic of conversation this time of year.

For me, sometime between the first and seventh of January. The decision is not mine. We give then grade then post final grades THEN we're free.

Where to? I can't decide.

This planning was much easier when I was single, depressed, horny and confused.

1. Two week break, booze and music: Galway. Place to stay: usually a bed and breakfast near the
Roisin Dubh.

2. Two week break, need to blow the pipes and have a slumber party? Amsterdam. Place to stay:
The Botel, fifteen minutes from coffee shops; short term visitors from the former Soviet Union (a penchant I have not outlasted) are welcomed.

3. Four weeks, most of the above on a budget. Nepal. Place to stay:
The Excelsior Hotel, round the corner from the New Orleans Cafe where every night is open mike night and where I've sat in with some fairly decent Ghurka and Tibetan blues boys. No slumber parties, though. Nepal happens to be the scene of the crime where I experienced the least erotic experience of my (or anyone else's) life. Plus those Himalayan black tar temple balls sort of make me not want to do much of anything else, anything else, other than lay in my hotel room and gaze dumbstruck at "Star Asia Movies". I've been on at least two treks in the world's most breathtaking mountain range where, on the third morning or so I've awoken with aching hamstrings and said to my guide over eggs and dahl baht, "Ah fuggit. Let's head back to Pokhara. Manhattans. I'm buying."

It's not so much that these days I am avoiding a more temperant lifestyle. I actually eeked out two years soberiety not so long. Temperance, now, seems to have been thrust upon me. Marriage will do that, especially when one is hitched to a Persian woman--they are meticulous, hypervigilant bookkeepers (and to be frank, at this stage in my life, it's just what I need lest I end up at 70 a broke dick sleeping under a flyover on St. Charles Avenue).

Unless a thunderbolt of an idea or a sudden obsessive urge of one kind or, ahem, another strikes me between now and the next four weeks (when I should have my reservations confirmed), I will probably head back to Siem Reap, and haunt the ex-pat honky tonks along National Highway 6.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Muddled Aged

Meanwhile, back in the great state of Loo-zi-ana, New World Order 2.0 marches on. The state of wise cracking, backslapping backroom dealin' politicos has just elected a somewhat shady, conservative young turk governor who is the son of Hindu immigrants. Louisiana has had as governors its Huey, its Buddy, and its Jimmy and now along comes Piyush. Somewhat shady and conservative is no surprise.
Hindu once removed is curious. I mean, we're talkin' Louisiana folks.

This feller is versed on Looziana politics. He made sure to add in quotes his self prescribed Brady Bunch nickname "Bobby". Like Barrack Obama, he has distanced himself from his father's faith and embraced Jebus.

What I want to know is who voted for him? A whole lotta people apparently. And when we're talkin' conservative in Louisiana we're talking mostly about Bubba. Bubba? Yes, Bubba! Bubba is, except for his neck, lily white; his neck is Workman Red (not listed with Crayola, I checked)

Bubba doesn't do brown. Bubba doesn't do black. Bubba doesn't do anything other than those who sort of look like Bubba (that's why Clinton took Louisiana even though Bubba is one of those pry-my-handgun-from-my-cold-dead-fingers conservative).

Piyush or "Bobby" is brown. He even went to Brown. He also studied at Oxford. Bubba knows Oxford. He can find Oxford on a map of Mississippi.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that a lapsed Hindu cum born again Catholic named Piyush "Bobby" is the guvneh of the (as Liz says) "Gre't St'et" of Loo-zi-ana.. He does have impressive academic and professional CVs. But, c'mon, this is Louisiana we're talking about! The state I left ten years or so ago came pretty close to electing as governor a Neo-Nazi bookstore owner who'd been kicked out of the KKK for being too much a right wing nut job. This is Loo-zi-ana. Huey Long's Loo-zi-ana. Where four term governor Edwin Edwards used to boast that, although he'd been indicted on several occasions, he'd never been convicted, and that the only way he'd lose an election was if he were to be caught in bed with a dead hooker or a live boy (in the end he did go down, pulling a ten-year stretch in prison for, among other things, accepting a suitcase full of money to grant a land-based casino license).

Loo-zi-ana politics has always had its own rubrics for measuring corruption, standards which are set far outside the pale of what would be considered corruption in other states. Questionable lapses in morals, suspicions of graft, public servants being bribed were not seen in the Louisiana I remember as anything other than politics as usual or just taking orders. In 1989 it was either vote for the Nazi or vote for the crook--we had no other choice! What's most puzzling to me is that a lot of that Nazi vote seems to have voted for the son of Hindus. George freaking Harrison was a Hindu for Krishna's sake.

I have lived and I know that I have lived a long time. I have witnessed the dismantling of the foundations upon which white guy western civilization has long depended upon. We now live in a time when the constants of our Euro-centric history are not lost in New World Order 2.0 waiting for a re-renaissance, they are simply neither here nor there. NWO 2.0 is the Renaissance--go back 2,500 years and see how white folks were scraping by and see what the brown and yellow folks were up to. For now, and perhaps for the next couple millenia, it just might be our turn to observe and learn.

And you know, it's exactly what I had hoped the future would bring when I was an angry young man--well maybe not exactly. My angry young man's brave new world would have appointed the MC5 to the Supreme Court. Still, what we have with the browning and the yellowing of America is unstoppable since its global, and one just has to look at worldwide demographics to see why this is a no brainer. This is not the fashion. It is the trend.

Is this for me a classic example of "careful what you wish for?" AYM has in Barrack Obama and Piyush Jindal what he would see as the breaking of the ground for a new foundation; that this isn't just a hiccup in history but the wave of the future.


Looking back, however, I see not only that I was an angry young man but a misinformed (or under-informed) unripened and unseasoned angry young man, wrong about so many other things--maybe I was wrong about wanting to see this dying of a breed (my breed). I mean, because of AYM, being A. and Y. and possibly due to his being a man, he now lives in a constant state of mea culpas, existing in a middle aged life that strives to make amends for the wreckage of that angry young man's misguided decisions and unforgiving past.

That's me. That's you. That's us. That's life.

A.Y.M would probably have voted for Piyush simply because Piyush isn't a good ol' boy, isn't Euro-centric, despite his own Michael Jackson-like attempt to scour the brown of his skin by calling himself "Bobby" and claiming to be a huge fan of Baby Jesus.

Not-so-angry muddled aged guy did not have vote for "Bobby" simply because N.S.A.M.A.O.G is technically no longer a resident of Loo-zi-ana since his driver's license expired. (Woe to the man who claim no country--Nietzche)
I would hope that he probably still believes in his parents' and grandparents' and great-grandparents' etc. Karma and Dharma and Vishnu and Durga (but that he keeps it under his shirt) because that is who he is. So what if he is anti-choice and pro-a handgun-in-every-cupboard when it's the feds who control this stuff anyway?

My main concern is that when I am finished working here, and when and if I wish to return there, that there will be a there worth returning to.

New Orleans is still a broken wasteland. Piyush had better get hopping on fixing it.

I'm going to take a wait and see approach, which is a sure sign that I should have regular prostate check-ups and accept the graying of the hairs.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lighten Up Reading

Life is on hold. Twenty-eight days of sunset till sunrise food benders ended yesterday and have given way to Eid Al Fitr, a four-day holiday where nothing is open because the faithful stay at home and engage in round-the-clock gluttonizing. Nothing is open, nobody works; no visa; therefore no Internet connection, no plumbers to come fix our new home's many leaks a'poppin'. No carpenters to finish building wardrobes. No landscapers to lay down turf which would mean less sand in our diet. I'm stressed. She's stressed. Even the cats could use Zoloft in their Nine Lives wet food.

Times like this I usually turn to books that tend to lift me out of my funk when I see that all in all, my life ain't so bad. Things could be far worse.

If the bookstores were opened, I'd probably go out and buy another account of the World War Two seige of Stalingrad. First hand accounts of disease and starvation, frostbite and hypothermia have always lightened my gait.

I've had to make due with airport buys only partially read and set aside for days like these.

I've finished "One Fourteenth of an Elephant: Life and Death on the Thai-Burmese Railway". That made me appreciate cheap access to salt, a daily shower and not having to cope with cholera or beri-beri. Life ain't so bad having to drive to an Internet cafe.

I'm working my way through "Reading Lolita in Tehran" which is mostly about the suppression of intellectuals (by firing squad) in the first years of the Islamic revolution in the Rose's ol'stomping grounds. I can wear neckties and she can bare a suggestion of cleavage and nobody in Sharjah points rifles at us. Life is good.

If I can find my dog earred copy of Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning", I might make it through the next four days with a glowing disposition.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This is our where the furniture and a whole lotta stuff will be delivered on Thursday. It's where I and four cats now sleep on a new king-sized bed in a two story villa that also has a new sofa, a five seater white sofa, "a helluva'n American sofa" as the Rose calls it.

Our block hasn't been greened yet. It's sort of like living on the beach without the entrancing slapping of the waves but with all the frustration of trying to keep sand outcha life.

Everyday, I sweep aside the colonialist designs of ants who are trying to establish hearth and home in our kitchen--cat food and water bowls being an excellent source of sustenance. They are as tenacious and unstoppable as the first Europeans who came to the New World.

The green in the photo, like all of the green 'round heah, is real grass, but it's artificially irrigated. Every tree, every patch of grass, every flower bed in the UAE has its own irrigation system pumping in desalinated water. In fact, all the fertile verdant fields here have been made by the hand of man and are tended to by a Bengali or Pakistani or Indian groundskeeper who spends up to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week patrolling his patch of green, trying to hold back the desert as it rightfully tries to reclaim the earth. After Ramadan, we too will have green in our neighborhood and our own groundskeeper. For now, the cats must remain indoors which is too bad, seeing how's the neighborhood. . .no, the city. . .no, the whole freaking country! is one vast litter box.

My wife, The Rose, has officially earned the title "LSW". Like other previous long-suffering title holders, she now knows all too well the heartbreak of the cardboard box, the sting of the parcel tape, the crackle of the bubble wrap, the shriek of the styro-foam.

Before I wafted into her life like a heavier-than-air chlorine leak, she'd lived in her one-bedroom cozy flat in Kuwait for over 10 years. During our four years of marriage, she has had to pick-up, pack up, load up and move along four times, three times changing cities, once changing countries.

The upshot, I keep reminding her--a firm believer in my own propaganda--is that we keep gaining more elbow room as we continue along the path of free housing upgrades. In three years, we've gone from a cramped two bedroom with a grungy elevator and water-stained walls to a spacious two bedroom with an elevator whose posh British accent would remind you to "Please push the button for the desired floor!", to a two story, three bedroom villa with a small yard and no elevator--and sand as far as the eye can see.

She can only see the dead land, the cruel wasteland. She knows that all it will take is one hearty sandstorm and we'll be buried alive, frozen in the moment like the people of Pompeii.

This move is gonna cost me a fortune in dog house roses.