Saturday 25 February 2012

Looking Into The Sun

I can hardly believe it. In my last post, which was admittedly two weeks ago, I was drawing messy I Heart U's in the snow, trailing my fingers across crystalline branches and feeling deeply for the homeless. And suddenly, now, with the sun, there are buds on the cherry and apple trees. Are the seasons playing games with us, or have I simply reached the age at which it is all scurrying by in a tearing hurry?
I walk out into the sun and stand looking into it, daring it to swallow me whole. I wouldn't mind, but it doesn't oblige. It is a cold sun, so I return to the warmth, inside. The pheasants from last week are not to be found and the muntjacs are causing havoc elsewhere.

During my infusion at the hospital earlier this week, I managed to put together the skeleton of a screenplay to be worked on for this semester. The heroine is of course going to be a much improved version of myself, and lucky for her I am creating a rather interesting hero, who shall travel across oceans to find her. There shall be tragedy and comedy and romance... Or as Philip Henslowe, owner of the Rose Theatre says to William Shakespeare, "You see, Will? Comedy. Love, and a bit with a dog. That's what they want."

I recently saw this brief video of starlings dancing - a murmuration; that's what starlings are called when they gather together this way. There are only blackbirds outside my window, but isn't it lovely to know there are always forms of beauty enchanting someone, somewhere?

Sunday 12 February 2012

A Walk In The Snow

for Joanna Haybittle
I walk in the snow
with the green grass
just beginning to show

I am calmed
and grow fearless
with each step

Gathering nothingness
listening to emptiness
fill herself

with birdsong
        and the crunch of ice
        and the sense of cold
        finally, taking me
by surprise.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2012
Joanna was the second daughter of my beloved friend Mary Haybittle, and her funeral takes place today. Can only pray for it to be a peaceful, blessed sort of day with the angels singing and listening in wait.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Books Actually

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
~ Jane Austen, from Pride and Prejudice.
On the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, I wanted to share something of bookstores and libraries - I recently stumbled across some of these collections online so they are not places I have visited, but isn't the internet brilliant for couchsurfing? In Paris, there is a bookstore called Shakespeare & Company, which looks delicious...
To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare ~ Kenko Yoshida wrote that some time between 1283 and 1350. What would he have thought of a movie palace being converted into a reading room? This is the Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which uses theatre boxes for reading rooms...
A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end.  You live several lives while reading it. William Styron, who wrote that in 1958, would perhaps have approved of the Poplar Kids' Republic in Beijing, China - cosy nooks for naps everywhere!
I quite like this quote: "Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you re-read ~ François Mauriac.
There is a bookstore in Mexico which has a trail of greenery wrought around the books, and a tiny one I love in Singapore, which is endlessly quirky, called Books Actually. Bookstores are becoming magical places, but some libraries are really extraordinary, like this ornate cathedral to books in Coimbra, Portugal...
or the University of Salamanca library in Spain, which is brilliantly colourful...
Of course, the college libraries in Cambridge hold a special place, like Wren's and Queen's...
but my favourite bookstore/library was tiny, cramped, dark, dusty, and very likely long destroyed. We used it during our childhood trips to Mahableshwar, a favourite colonial hill station. The librarian was terrifying and extremely strict. The books and comics were crammed together in cupboards, but the ecstatic illusion of feeling one could choose anything and take home plenty, has lasted all these years. I wonder if my brothers remember... I shall have to ask! Meanwhile, am off to hospital tomorrow for a very long day of infusions - and the kindle shall serve as my magical portable library.
Images from flavorwire via and via