Monday Night at The Big Chill

Two of my friends were visiting from Portland, Oregon (USA!) this week. Their visit highlighted the major downside of London - its early closing time! As I'm not a member of any of the West End's private clubs (nor, alas, of the east's Shoreditch House), which is where you really find the crowds at 3 am, it proved a challenge to keep these guys entertained past midnight on a weeknight. This is a reality of London that's really just sad given the great late-night venues I'm well-aware these Oregonians have at their disposal.

The snapshots below are of us in a very empty Big Chill off of Brick Lane on a Monday night.

Sean striking a contemplative pose.

Justin looks serious, and slightly bemused.

Kasey, indulging the camera with a detached stance and a soft smile.

Me, laughing. (And blurry because I'm the only one who can make photos turn out with my camera's no-flash low-light setting).

Finally, Justin and Sean, not at the Big Chill, but duking it out via electric guitar at a three-story arcade in Piccadilly on a Tuesday. Perhaps it's open late, but the flashing fluorescents and cacophony of gaming sounds made it seem like an indoor version of the circus outside without the people - a bit like inhabiting an overgrown pinball machine. We weren't overly keen to stay!

Surrealist Meets Logician

"To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible."

-Benjamin Franklin

[Picture courtesy of photography genius Rodney Smith, who doesn't watch any movie made before 1947.]

Chikoo: Like a Date, but Juicier (and more fun to say)

The potato-like thing you see above doesn't look like it would be much cause for a blog post. I didn't think so myself when I picked up a pack of four of them yesterday. I was poking around the produce aisle, having just put back a carton of well-priced blueberries since I knew they'd rot before I'd have time to transform them into pancakes, when I noticed a package of four brown lumps on sale for a mere 99p right next to the dragon fruit. Since I'd never seen or heard of them before, and am always up for an exotic fruit experiment, I put the drab-looking chikoos in my basket.

Because the label boasted of a 'sweet caramel flavour' when the 'internal flesh is sugary brown,' I was expecting something something relatively pleasant from the purchase. But, oh my. Sugary brown indeed. This fruit is divine. It's sweetness reminds me of a date or a persimmon - or even chomping into a grainy bit of palm jaggery (those hunks of unrefined sugar you find in ethnic markets) since there's something similar about the texture - but it's lighter and more delicate than any of the above comparisons thanks to its high water content, and its butterscotchy nuances add another layer of refinement. Plus, taste aside, I find something very aesthetic about those dark shiny seeds.

I would normally never encourage anyone to patronize some over-bloated chain, but this is an exception. If you happen to live in London, I strongly suggest you head to your nearest Tesco and pick up a package of ripe Chikoos. I promise, you'll feel as if you've discovered a brand new crayon color in the coloring box.

Chikoos! How could I have never heard of them before?!

"Unsettling Tendency"

I swear, I never used to cry. But lately, the slightest of things is sending tears streaming down my face.

It is very strange.

A phase?

I do hope. (Sort of)

[P.S. The image above is by the artist Rafal Olbinski - one of my favourite Surrealists. Don't know the title of the above piece, but my blog post title is a reference to another one of his works: "Unsettling Tendency to See the World As it Is."]

Excerpt from an Email I Got Today...

My friend Rohit asked me the other day what my favourite quote was. (Actually, because of his Indian accent, I thought he said "coat," so by the time we understood each other, I think he was too irritated to really learn my answer...)

I've ruminated on the inquiry since however, and as bored as he was by this answer, I simply don't have one favorite quote - they're in the vein of songs for me - too many people have poetically enunciated undeniable truths, and I'm never in a position to not need to hear at least one of them.

Still, the person I turn to over and over again when I'm bewildered or confused or hurt is Kahlil Gibran. He wrote an entire book filled with pretty and piercing sentiments called The Prophet. Read it if you haven't already. Maybe it qualifies as pop-scripture by now, but it's simply too beautiful and too powerful and too slim a volume for a person to go through their life not having read it.

Anyway, I went for a stroll contemplating this Gibran quote:

"The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose."

It struck me because I wondered if, for the past long while, I'd only been staring at the thorns in a particular situation, completely overlooking the rose for what is was, but I was also thinking that the realization of a flower's outline was finally beginning to emerge.

And when I got back, I had an email waiting for me from my friend Anthony. So much of what he said confirmed to me that I'd been staring at thorns, but also that I really ought to begin seeing the beautiful gift of the situation for what it was. Of his hefty swarm of sentiments, I'll give you this one to ponder:

"One thing that everyone must be clear and honest with themselves is, besides yourself, who do you know that you can TRULY depend on at the toughest times? Who in your life do you know that inspires you to believe in the idea of unconditional love? UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Trust no one but these individuals. Give power to no one but these individuals. Even if you have fallen in love -- or think you have... true unconditional love is so clear cut there is no mistaking it for anything but what it is."

Ah, I keep dramatic company - don't I?

But, truly... it's only fitting.

Something that Drives Me Crazy!


Maybe I mention that I went to the gym - or that I simply can't have another bite of dessert - and some person looks me up and down and says, "You don't need to worry about it."


Don't you think that it's because I'm mindful (and I'm definitely more mindful than 'worried') about it that I look the way that I do.