Dear America--a Verbal Portrait {Other pieces such as Letter to Ireland, an intro to my site, and 7 Shots of Joy all follow below}

This is based on my experiences working in bookstores on-and-off for 20 years!

Dear America,

Let’s talk. I think I’ve gotten to know you pretty well over the last couple of decades, working in bookstores on and off like I have.

Bookstores? you respond. Why does that make you think you know me?

Oh, America, how can you be so short-sighted, thinking of a bookstore as just another retail big box? Of course the floundering box -stores and the flourishing marketplace online that now underlies all commerce make you think books are just hammers, mailboxes, or random things like Foot-Pedithat you didn’t even know existed until you saw them on your phone.

But books, do, still go a little deeper than garden-hoses. Or even phone-chargers.

What do I like about you? Let’s start with the positive stuff. As Socrates once said, Wisdom begins in wonder, and I think there’s still a fair bit of wonder still going around, otherwise people wouldn’t set foot in a bookstore.

A particularly exuberant customer who appreciates my suggestions for books has told me several times, “This is why we need bookstores! I’d never have heard of that book if you hadn’t told me. And I only found this one (pointing to a tome in his hand) because I ran it by accident. I’d never have found this online.”

Whew. There’s someone who still loves serendipity---and not just virtual, but physical which means a lot in the reading world because in my experience most people still love the physical book. Many, many people have told me, ‘Yeah, I read ebooks, but for the books I really want, I want the book.’   Mind you, a lot of young people have told me that as well. My friend’s 11-year old daughter loves her bookshelf brimming with all kinds of books.  Let’s face it—a physical bookshelf is much more attractively tactile than an online bookshelf.

Once, a boy with chestnut hair, sporting dimples, of about the glorious age of eight years or so told me, gleefully, “You must love your job! All these books!”

Well, yes, of course, many interesting books appear all the time. (And for all those customers who’ve asked me, “Have you read all the books in here?”  I borrow a brilliant response from my coworker, “I’m only up to Q.”)

But the little boy forgot to mention the customers.

And boy America, have I met you here.  What have I learned?

The vast majority of us are polite, understanding, and dare I say it--can even be enchanting. I’ve met so many different stripes of folk over the past two decades in which I worked at Borders-- and for those of you who remember the mall bookstores-- B. Dalton. I now work at Barnes & Noble—the first big bookstore with a café in St. Louis. I remember a Japanese friend brought me here for the first time, in 1994—it was so absolutely wonderful to have a coffee while perusing a book in a bookstore.

A quick rundown of some individuals I’ve met—a random sampling, with no particular order. Stand up and pay attention America, for this is you:

A coal-miner from Illinois who loves history, and has read the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures)—simply because he finds it fascinating to learn how different segments of humanity have viewed this fascinating, volatile world in which we all find ourselves. Oh, and he taught himself Spanish at the bottom of the coal mine—when he had free time, he said, he’d just read.  An African-American woman who’s an engineer at Boeing and loves working on those jet engines. I can tell she really does, because she always smiles when she talks about them.  A Mexican immigrant looking for a book on English who refused to believe me when I told him he spoke very well already. “No, no,”  he protested, “I need to improve.”

A woman who lost her daughter on Flight 800 (a TWA flight from New York to Paris which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in July 1996)---her fortitude nearly brought me to tears. A customer who responded to my ‘How are you?’ with this very clever repartee: I’m too blessed to be stressed.  “I love that!”  I told him. He told me he’s got his whole family saying it.

I’ve helped nuns—both in habit and without, both Christian and Buddhist—, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and many atheists. (Interestingly enough it’s only the atheists who’ve tried to convince me to think the way they do!) I’ve shown many folks to paranormal books and I’ve helped more people than I can count find the right bible they need.  And I haven’t even read the entire bible.

One day, I told a woman that a book she needed was in Fiction, and that the section was arranged alphabetically. (I was busy with another customer at the time and she didn’t want to wait.) She came back, flustered, and said, “I’m from Texas. Arranged alphabetically how?”

Do they not speak English in Texas? Nor have libraries? Well, I have had Texans tell me it’s a different world down there.

See how intriguing you are America?

I’ve wrapped gifts for a former US Ambassador and cousin of President George Bush Sr. and I’ve helped many, many people who have to wait two weeks to get a paycheck in order to buy a $25 book they really want.  I’ve helped lots of people find books I’d never read—from most manga to urban fiction, to –god forbid--golf---but I’m delighted to help them find what they want. {The only exception to that rule is one mass-seller which disturbed me more than anything else in all my years of bookselling  but let’s not go there right now.}

Now, let’s go a little deeper. What else have you shown me America?

I helped an older white male once find a book by a far-right politician. That particular day I happened to be wearing a beaded pendant with the symbol OM on it (OM refers to the sound of creation of the universe).  I found the book for him, and he told me, a little puzzled, “You’re so nice.” And I smiled and thanked him, but I always wondered what he meant by that. Was he puzzled I was nice because he’d only dealt with surly retail clerks? Or was he puzzled I was nice because of my darker skin and the foreign pendant?

You can be puzzling America. I was born in the US at a time when everyone thought Indian meant ‘Cherokee’. At one time you all were delighted because you too had Cherokee ancestry (I can’t count the number of times I’d hear, “You’re Indian? I’m a quarter-Cherokee!” in the 1970’s, ‘80’s, and even into the mid-‘90’s.  Now you all are puzzled because I work in a bookstore and write & dance instead of being a doctor, a doctor’s wife, or work in IT.)

But you know something? Your responses never angered me. And nowadays, America, you seem to have a short fuse. Everyone seems to get angry so quickly! Let me illustrate: a customer once asked me, out of the blue, after I helped him find a book, “Do you play badminton?”  Completely bewildered, I answered, “No”. He said, “Really? I have a lot of Indian friends and they all play badminton.”

I groaned inside, but wasn’t mad. However, when I told one of coworkers about this incident, he replied, “How does that not make you angry?”

I couldn’t believe that question. The customer’s question would never make me angry.  The fact he thought I played badminton just because I’m Indian (although I was born here in the US) is a ridiculous assumption to make but a lot in life is ridiculous. (Case in point: I asked a little girl once who was buying Shopkins, “What are these?” She looked at me for a second, thought, and said, “I don’t know. You just buy them.” Never fear America—the next generation of consumer is alive and well! For those of you who don’t know, Shopkins are tiny plastic models of things like sandwiches. With eyes. )  I’m not going to waste anger on silly stereotypic statements, such as when customers tell me, “It must be hot where you’re from.” I always answer, very politely, “It is. I’m from St. Louis,” whereupon they look at me surprised, a little taken aback that I grew up here.  I’m pretty convinced the only way we can become angry over something is if we carry it—anger-- inside us all the time. And far too many of us do.

The best evidence for the ever-present readiness to anger is found in the preponderance of profanity in books. As mentioned twice I’ve worked in bookstores on-and-off for twenty years and I find the vulgarity of language in books nowadays (not to mention in titles!) so disheartening. As a writer, I have never envisioned sitting down, turning on my computer, and wondering, ‘Now how can I achieve the literary profundity, tortured angst, and incessant insecurities of an angry 13-year old boy?’ But that’s seems to be de rigeur nowadays. I don’t get it. Hey, if you want profanity, go online.

But vulgarity in books? For me, the whole point of writing is to express a thought as creatively as possible. And language and abstraction are among the true characteristics of being a really wise Homo Sapiens. (Tangentially speaking, I’m quite certain Mother Earth would never have baptized our species Wise Man!) According to the fascinating book Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, the one true quality that sets us apart from the great apes, are imagined realities that can unite many, many, minds. I believe we should honor this astounding capability of ours, in directions of greater self-reflection, understanding and openness---and not in directions of fear-based brutality and vulgarity.  If it weren’t for this singular power to create imagined realities among vast numbers of individuals, according to Harari, “One-on-one or even ten-on-ten we are embarrassingly similar to chimpanzees.”

Well America, do you have a better sense of your true self yet? What other truths has the bookstore revealed?

A very sad one comes to mind--many of us are in jail. I’ve ordered books for scores of incarcerated folk. This is especially heartbreaking as so much of what lands people in jail is mental illness, misguided minds, mistakes.

Many of us are struggling with all kinds of mental conditions---anxiety, depression (which is everywhere now), borderline personality disorder—which is especially hard to treat—and narcissism which is unabashedly taking over society.  I had a woman who once told me she was married to a male narcissist for 21 years; another woman told me her daughter had taken out a restraining order against her ex-husband with some kind of narcissistic disorder.

Once, a regular customer in the store got furious at me and berated me.  A few weeks later, I saw her in the post office. I didn’t know what to say, but she approached me, showed a lot of concern for my foot (which was recovering from surgery at the time) and blessed me. And I knew then, she had something going on which needed medication.

America, a whole lot of us are on meds.

You know what I think would help? We all need to get out of our heads and over ourselves. None of us are the center of the world.  (Thank God!) Let me explain: a year or so ago, a woman in complete burka, from Saudi Arabia, came in with her 10-year old son. He excitedly asked me for a magic set. I showed him one. Then, his mother whispered something to him. He turned to me, and said, with a smile, “She says you have beautiful eyes.”

Well, I grinned from cheek to cheek. But the reason I always remembered that comment was that I could only see the boy’s mother’s eyes. In her world, eyes were all-important—and she had commented on mine. That meant a lot to me.

But lest anyone think I’m blowing my own horn, I’ve also been called Stupid by an American woman, (she was upset that I didn’t let her leap ahead of someone else in line) and once an American man told me on the phone, I don’t like your voice. The response that came to mind? It’s from one of my friends, and is perfect to skewer the gentleman’s absurd comment:  Thank you Sir Lancelot.

But I didn’t say it.

My point is, if there’s one thing working with the public has taught me, it’s to never take most things personally--while being as sincere as possible with the customer at the same time. It’s a beautiful balance that always keeps you humble.  

I had a customer once who responded to my greeting, “How are you?”  by saying, thoughtfully, with a smile, “I’m better than some, not as fortunate as others.”  Wow, how perfect is that?

What else, America, what else? Ah!  Lest I forget, you dazzle me with your paradoxes. Men who ask me for gun magazines (at whose testosterone-pumped covers I can’t bear to look ) are more often than not the politest and most courteous of people.  A counterpoint? A woman who once flared up at me because her check wasn’t accepted---and the book she was buying? The Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness.

We are a country, of people desperate because the slow-cooker book they want is out of stock.  People who still hide cash in mattresses—or other places. (A man once slapped dollars upon the counter, claiming he didn’t trust banks. The dollars had crumbs of dirt on them. Did he hide cash in a hole in his backyard?)  People who believe that Abe Lincoln really killed vampires. (Yes, I am not kidding, a woman looked at the book Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, looked at me, looked back at the book, back at me, and whispered, Did he really?)

I hated destroying her illusion.

This is who we are, and we are all better for it. We all demonize one another and the truth is we can all be demons at any time. Or hopefully more often than not, angels. Liberals do not bear the whole truth, nor do conservatives. Men don’t have the whole truth, nor do women. Neither the rich nor poor know what’s really right.  The straight don’t, neither do the many varieties of non-straight. Animals don’t, nor do people, the healthy don’t, nor the unwell.

Hey, light is both wave and a particle. And as the Hindus say, Dharma is subtle. (Dharma refers to ones duty, or how one contributes to and supports the rest of life.)

I’d like to close this essay with advice from trees. (Let’s face it, not only would we have no books without trees, we would have no oxygen, so we need to pay attention to their teachings.). In the wonderful book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben writes, “But isn’t that how evolution works? you ask. The survival of the fittest? Trees would just shake their heads—or rather their crowns. Their well-being depends on the community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well…Even strong trees get sick a lot over the course of their lives. When this happens, they depend on their weaker neighbors for support. If they are no longer there, then all it takes is what once would have been a harmless insect attack to seal the fate even of giants.”

Some of us are tall, some small. Some need to spend all their time dissecting the Kardashians (about whom I knew nothing until I started working at Barnes & Noble) and some read Socrates.

And you meet them all in a bookstore.

Well, America, at least we’re still reading.

Even in Texas.

7 Shots of Joy!

SEVEN SHOTS OF JOY{Note: I originally called this 9 Shots of Joy but condensed a couple of incidents into one, simply to make it a little faster to read.}

Like millions of others around the world, the violence of these past two weeks has broken my heart. The shootings by police and of police in the United States; the horrendous act of distilled violence on Bastille Day in Nice, France.

How can I respond?

I was born in the US, but France is also very close to my heart; not only is my B.A. in French, I studied in France for one year. While I spent three-quarters of that time in Paris, I also studied in the Loire Valley city of Tours. Whilst there, I stayed with an amazing French woman, Madame Eglantine Menget.

At that time—the late 1980’s---the city of Tours would shut down for a couple of hours at lunchtime; Madame would pick tomates, laitue, from her garden and have lunch prepared for me by the time I arrived home. We would watch the news---and oh, how she would lament the goings-on in the world. Let me make it clear---Madame was not naïve by any means; she lived in Nazi-occupied France, and, indeed, stayed in a home in the forest near Langeais to keep as far away as possible from the villainous force.

What would she think of the world now? I can’t help but wonder.

I will say this---Madame would NOT sit down and get depressed, she would pick herself up and go to work. She worked for Amnesty International until her early nineties, when she could no longer see properly.

She knew—as did my father, grandmother, and favorite professor at Wash U (who all died within six months of one another; I will write more about them in later posts.)---that the only way to defeat the darkness in the world is to make certain the darkness does not enter ourselves. And if it’s there already, we have to kick it out!

And that’s why I decided to start off a series, which I hope to include every week on my blog, called Nine Shots of Joy. Nine real things I have experienced in the past seven days which proves the irrefutable existence of joy, Q.E.D.  Look around. There’s joy and beauty and hope all around us; we just have to open our eyes, and pick it up.

Here are Nine Shots of Joy (and beauty!) I experienced this week:

1.  Sharing the majesty of meaning of the iconic statue, Shiva as Nataraja-- King of Dance-- with hundreds of spectators at an arangetram (Indian classical dance graduation) that I MC’d on July 10th. The statue represents the dance of the universe.  I talked about Nataraja---and every time I do, I experience nothing but wonder at the depth of significance of his dance. Surrounded in a circle of the fiery energy of endless creation & destruction (so apropos of our quantum universe)---he holds out his right hand, palm facing forward, in abhaya hasta. DO NOT FEAR. No matter what happens in the 24-hour cycle of news, DO NOT FEAR.  No matter what happens to you, or to your loved ones, DO NOT FEAR. Easier said than done, for sure, but abhaya hasta does not bargain. DO NOT FEAR. This mudra (hand gesture) is found throughout Hinduism and Buddhism.  There is a picture of Nataraja if you scroll down below to an earlier post.

And how amazing--no one knows who came up with this dynamic figure, which the French sculptor Rodin described, in his piece, The Dance of Shiva, "These hints of of perfection! The mist of the body! As in some divine creation, there is no trace of rebellion in this body; one senses that everything is just as it should be."

And to think there is a statue of Nataraja---which achieved perfection in the 10th-12th centuries A.D. in South India-- gracing the entrance of CERN, in Geneva....

2. One of my oldest friends and coworkers at Barnes & Noble is an African American guy, Garrett. I met him when I worked at Borders—he’d been reading Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Now, many people judge retail workers as if they know nothing (have I been on the receiving end of that!), but you should never judge because you never know someone’s life story. Anyway, he is very thoughtful, well-read, and the other day mentioned to me that he had received completely disrespectful treatment from police. I was shocked---he is the nicest guy!  I asked him, “Why? Because you’re black?” He said, “I guess so.” However, he has reacted to his experiences not with violence but with deeper thought about the whole race situation in the US. (And how heartening that so many thousands and thousands of people are indeed thinking and talking about it and not simply resorting to violence.) He said he should write about his experiences---I think, absolutely so!  We both agreed we need another Martin Luther King. But until that happens, let’s work on letting non-violence flood our beings, instead of despair!! A quote I love: Hate is a failure of imagination. From Graham Greene's The Power & the Glory.

3. Two people I’ve been thinking about this week:  My favorite professor at Washington University, Dr. Kevin Herbert, Professor of Classics, died in February 2015. He flew over Japan in a B29 bomber during WWII. I asked him, is the world any more violent now, or crazier now, than it was during WWII?” Without hesitation he said, “No. We just hear about everything instantaneously now.” I asked another gentleman I met at an Indian dance workshop--a Korean War vet-- the same thing, and he answered, “The world doesn’t change. It’s exactly the same.” While I wish with all my heart for a less violent (indeed nonviolent!) world, I find it…reassuring to hear that.  My professor also told me, "You can't let go of your ideals. Because they're you."

4. Barnes & Noble experiences!  I worked at Barnes & Noble the day of the massacre in Nice. Before the news broke, so many people seemed so down---I often wonder, if there is a greater energy people tap into, that can be dark or hopeful? Because there are days when everyone is down. Anyway, the sweetest young Brazilian man broke the energy with his smile. I could tell he was Brazilian because of his accent---and I told him about one of my best friends who happens to be from Rio. I told him that she has always said, “There are so many problems in Brazil, but we go to the beach, dance, forget about it for a while.” He smiled, and said, “Yes people in Brazil are very cheerful.”  Incredible how a smile broke through the darkness!

Another day this week, a customer at Barnes & Noble told me, “I’m a night nurse. I’m studying for a critical care exam, it’s really hard. I could spend all day—literally all day—right here in this bookstore.” Her eyes said it all—the magic of a bookstore!  Many people, old and young, have told me that.  Hope for bookstores!

Another customer told me, “I still buy books and I have a pile sitting at home unread. But you know books never get bad. (I’ve never heard anyone put it that way.)  It’s just nice to know they are there. There’s a time for a book.”

 I can't leave BN without mentioning my coworker Carole--she is a wonder at wielding laughter as a weapon--of enlightenment! The other day a man told her that she didn’t know how to do her job!  (My God, how so many customers love throwing their weight over retail workers. Why is this? A chance for them to experience power? That must be it.) Anyway, Carole never gets mad. She's polite and kind to their face, and later, just bursts out laughing! At how small-minded some people can be. She doesn't let petty behavior get her down---she laughs, thereby releasing their toxic energy, and poof!  The negativity's gone.  Laughter’s just awesome. What's nirvana? Nir--out, and vana--blown. Blow it out, and it's gone. Don't carry it with you.

5. Fireflies. They bejewel the night with their heartbeats of light. After you see one, you never know where another one (or indeed the same one!) will appear.

The moon and stars.  In these past few days the night sky has taken my breath away. Is it any wonder, that Indian myths say Krishna dances in a grove, underneath the moonlight…when you see trees sway gently in night-breezes, how can you not believe, that a god has passed by?

6.  Color! Saris! I’ve gone to a few dance programs this week, and one of my greatest joys is to drink in the colors, patterns, materials, of the Indian clothes women wear. Who would think of teal lavender gold, lace silk and beads, all on one sari? The splendor of Indian textiles (and its inherent elegance) is stunning.  As if the clothing says, I’m going to turn this lackadaisical day into legend.  {By the way I feel a sari delivers automatic majesty, to anyone.}

7. July 11th is the 2-year anniversary of my grandma’s death. I was super-close to her. I had an extraordinary incident happen soon after she died---which is in a poem on my website, entitled The Big Gray Blur. Anyway, the morning of the 11th this past week I was in the kitchen, and just told my mom, “Today is the 2-year anniversary of Grandma’s death.” At that moment, a pulse of light flashed just above my head. My instantaneous reaction was to think the power has gone out. But it hadn’t. Just amazing. There is so much more to this universe than we can imagine…I’ve certainly experienced incredible things after the passing of my dad, grandma, and professor. More on that later….

I’ve read many books by many physicists, and know that while the truth is out there, it’s also in us.

We're energetic creations of space, quantum fluctuation, and light, ever so much light.

I wonder what episodes of joy I’ll write about next week?

Below is a little commentary on this piece, with sage advice from my dad, grandma, and professor...

 

Summer Poetry!

Summer's here! And I adore its stillness. Which we all need in this world steeped in incessant action, and inane distraction. Two poems:

 

summer still   

 

 

                                                look

 

here. black butter

 

                        blue     dragon

 

flies.

 

                        look                            

 

                                                here.  wet green

 

                                                                        drips.  swift summer storm.

 

gray still

 

squirrel.

 

look                             where?

 

no                    white cotton

 

tails; heat beats.  hearts beat                           slow

 

ly. 

 

rain strains;  restrained.

 

so dry. yet all life

 

is liquid.

 

**

 

look                 here

 

            here

 

                                                there.

 

 

                        flying

 

fire.

 

 

**

                                    look up.           the       sun

 

 

                        eight                minutes

 

ago.

 

 

nothing speeds as fast

 

 

as stillness.

Light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach the earth

 

Here is another poem, quite recent. I've been reading Roberto Calasso's Ardor, hence the reference to Vedic thought...

Plenitude

My temple tonight

is crafted of chattering

crickets; their guttural night hum the invocatory Vedic verse hearkening the arrival of---

 

I open the sky, ring the bell

of the moon; its vibrations

of light fall upon the driveway as I fall

 

 

in prayer. I kneel upon the driveway,

my sanctum sanctorum—(not a soul is outside in our lane)—

 

the Sanskrit of crickets permeates nocturnal being

with meaning. I light night-incense---

 

a firefly flame erupts. Shining here                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                there.

 

I circle it in front of the dead idol

of my oak.

 

I offer

to this enchanted chapel

my nocturnal truth

my sensuously sacred lunar secret--

 

and I ask:

 

Why isn’t this, enough?

 

 

 

Video Intros to my Site--on the Artistic Journey, My Mentors, What I Write About, and the Meaning of my Name!

The top 2 pictures are from the exquisite 9th-century Bhoganandeswara (Shiva) temple at the foot of the Nandi Hills, India, October 2014. The third photo is from a reading I give at Southwest Illinois College in East St. Louis in October 2015. The class rocked!

A description of my artistic journey..

My Mentors!---Five singularly influential people on my journey...

My background and what I write about!

At an arangetram--classical Indian dance graduation--I MC'd in July 2014. My grandma--whom I cared for and to whom I was very close, had died the day before, and was cremated that morning. So this picture is especially poignant to me. A statue of Nataraja is to my right--Shiva as the dancing deity, who is the embodiment of music & dance, and who dances the universe into and out of existence. This video clip gives the meaning of my name.

New Writing!

Hi there! I just put up a new page with an excerpt of a memoir I wrote a couple of years ago, entitled This Longing for Radiance. It's about ...growing up Indian in America at a time when no one knew anything about India, but more than that,  it's about discovering the radiance in this world---whether it's through the people I've met while living abroad (France, England, Japan, India) or while working in bookstores (Borders and Barnes & Noble!), or while performing classical Indian dance in schools, corporations, universities...please do have a look!

Welcome to the Official Launch of my Website!

 

Hi there! It's the 18th of January 2016 and  I just put up a new updated excerpt of my most recent novel, The Palace of the Seven Stories. It's a whimsical, philosophical, tale, where a 12-year old French-Afghani girl and a 12-year old American boy find themselves in an adventure where they have to bring an end to Kaliyuga, the age of discord and strife in which we find ourselves. Other characters include a French archaeologist, Buddhist historian, quantum physicist, and philosophical terrier named Jacques.  Oh--there are also historical Chinese Buddhist monks (Fa Hsien & Hsuan Tsang, for those of you interested in these incredible men who walked their way from China to India in the 5th & 7th centuries A.D.)  a French concierge and her monstrous cat, a sarcastic contemporary young Chinese-French Buddhist monk, three Hindu goddesses who have incarnated into some drop-dead gorgeous brilliant ladies...  Please click above!  I will add more of my other work soon.

Previous Post:

Hi everyone! Well, I am officially launching my website today, December 20th, 2015--exactly one year since the death of my father. As you will see in the page Poems on Loss & Magic, 2014 was a year of almost incessant loss for me---family friends and relatives passed, and then in swift, unexpected order, my grandmother, my dad, and a beloved professor of mine.

I have been writing for years, and dancing--classical & folk dances of India--since the age of 5. I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up at a time when being "Indian" meant being "Cherokee" as in, "You're Indian, really? I'm a quarter Cherokee!" We heard that for years, up until the software boom of the mid-'90's, when Indians started arriving in St. Louis in greater numbers. Please click on About to learn more about me.

I grew up in a very special sliver of time--when I was just 'me', not Indian, Indian-American, or any of these group identifications we use. I love the following quotes by Albert Einstein on individuality:

“It is important to foster individuality, for only the individual can produce the new ideas.” 
AND

“The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is sacred, that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values are subordinate.”

I love reading about physics---no matter how much I read, there is so much more to read, because no matter how much I understand about the universe (which is so incredibly little!), there is so much more to understand. I am fascinated by science---so much intrigues me, from the microbes in our cells to the incomprehensibly ancient rocks of this earth, to, of course, the chimerical, magical, dancing cataracts of light which color each and every one of our days.

I am also fascinated by art---where do I begin? Music enchants me--from ancient Sanskrit slokas, to Rimsky-Korsikov's Scheherazade and Gershwin's gorgeous Rhapsody in Blue (among many, many, other classical pieces), the intoxicating beats of quawwali, bhangra, classical Carnatic rhythms which are as familiar to me as water. (And, as I have discovered when I lived away from home, as necessary).  Of course there is also homegrown jazz, bossa nova, flamenco....and then there is  painting from around the world, whether Odilon Redon, the pre-Raphaelites (whom I just adore), absolutely dreamy Japanese prints...literature...too many books to mention right here, I will create a separate page for that in a little while...sculpture...Rodin's creations, the phenomenal statue of Nataraja ---Shiva as the dancing deity par excellence--which never fails to elicit within me pure awe at the pristine uncontrollable power of his dance---(and to think, we will never know the names of the anonymous sculptors who rendered this dance into a figure which still staggers us with its dynamic movement thousands of years after its creation--)...poetry...from Rilke to e.e. cummings (whose somewhere i have never traveled is the more gorgeous love-poem in the world, I think) to the exquisite writings of local poet Marjorie Stelmach (from whom I was fortunate enough to learn writing in junior high and high school).

This world is an absolute wonder!!! And that is what I write about.

Please, enjoy, I appreciate any feedback at all.