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Inclusiveness, Yoga, & Color, Part I [revised]

Indira Ganesan, Acceptance, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Acceptance, 2013

I have spent six days away at two different events. The first was a three-day yoga workshop taught by my teacher, Richard Freeman, and the second was a seminar on inclusive pedagogical practices for college courses. Both required a certain courage to attend, more required stamina, and attentiveness. Both were exhausting and marvelous and revealing. To go straight from three days of thoughtful spiritually guided yoga to three days of intellectual rigor is a cultural shock. One was integration of body and heart and mind, while the other is mind and heart alone, with rigorous conversation.

If I could, I would attend yoga four days a week with my teacher, if not six. A course on inclusivity is a different animal, but if a rest were built-in to the offering, it too would be a welcome practice. In reality, yoga and inclusivity are both life-long, daily practices.

Still, at one point in the seminar, when we were asked to write some of our reflections down, I wanted the presenters to hand out color markers and blank pieces of paper so we could visually illustrate our thoughts. As I continued with the exercise, I wondered what that meant, and doodled a little surreptitiously, but the answer is clear: one aches for creative intervention in multi-disciplines. One wants crayons and charcoals.

To work with themes diversity is hard work; acknowledging the biases, the small internalizations of privilege and lack, and work towards change requires time. How would Ntozake Shange put it? Being a woman of color IS NEVER redundant in a world of academia. There are simply not enough of us, yet. The problem is often the teachers of color are asked to teach color, a situation that can cause weariness. [This is a rewrite of my original post because I did not make sense on the page of what I wanted to say. Thank you, Sandra, for pointing me in the right direction. ] What Shange had her character in her play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf really said was “I cldn’t stand being colored and sorry at the same time–it seems so redundant in the modern world.”One wants at some point to stretch the mind [out from under the norm] with finger paint, activate the imagination, and let out a large, loud sigh.

I find I am as always when I involve myself in discussions of diversity in academics to be interested, alert, and far too revealing. A professor by natures protects herself so she can be who she also is outside the class. I tend to cultivate a reserve that can lead if I am not careful to sadness. What one wants to do is integrate oneself, and also get the work of inclusion and, say, creative writing in class, done.

On the way back to the Cape, I braked hard for a fox running across the highway, and watched it run to safety in the woods. Spring colors at twilight were on full misty display, the dunes, flowers and water saturated and rich. Imagine peach, yellow-gold, greens and blues in a hundred hues placed next to one another, forming something ethereal and real. Inclusive. Yogic. More, always.

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The Summer Before Me

Indira Ganesan, Algiers teapot and spoon, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Algiers teapot and spoon, 2013

As a pun, the summer can be counted before me, because a season is always bigger than an individual, perhaps.

This summer of 2013 is before me.  It is spring only, of course, and spring and its wind makes my eyes itch, even if I want to be outside, which I do. I loved summer as a child because it was expansive space that had an ending: come September, back to school.  But what of the jobless? To tell myself I am giving myself over to write a new book is as frightening as to say I will practice yoga every day and I will eat more vegetables and less brownies.  What I need is a plan, step by step action.  This summer, I have about thirty-five new books to read, but I am going to read the one that has been waiting for me for years, Lydia Davis’ translation of Swan’s Way.  The writing, the yoga, the health plan?  These are life plans, and what I need are deadlines.  I finished the morning journal I began in November.  So: new morning journal, tomorrow.  Writing: one page of the novel, just one page.  One carrot.  There, a plan.

When is tea time?

 

Lobularia maritima

 

My first Monday of the summer.  Summer means when school is out, and for me, it is today. Grades are in, and I have probably treated everyone unfairly and unjustly. The world will continue.

 

It’s 48 F now, and the sun is in full bloom, as are the trees, tulips, daffodils, calibrachoa, foam flowers,and sweet  alyssum.  At least, in the garden centers. My garden is full of blooming weeds. It is May, and so despite the chill, it is spring.

 

 

 

My friend Lisa Birman writes about time in her blog, two or more countries, and I read the post hot off the press.  Funny how she is thousands of miles away, and I get an email announcement, open and read.  A very Steve Jobs moment, I think, this wonder of cyberspace, time, and mechanics.

 

I started this post early in the day, and now it is evening. I have a stack of twenty books I’ve acquired here and there to read. I remember the days I used to pick up one book at a time and read it completely before going on to the next.  Travel has made me shop for books and begin them, only to bookmark and abandon.  So this spring-to-summer is for reading, one book at a time. A Whitman’s Sampler, to be savored, over tea. Anytime.

 

 

 

 

Texas, Cambridge, & Home

Texas Wildflowers

Texas Wildflowers (Photo credit: TexasEagle)

Indira Ganesan, Cambridge Tulips, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Cambridge Tulips, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Welcome Home, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Welcome Home, 2013

Returning from a near week of travel, I was happy to see the welcome committee of brave tulips at home;a scraggly bunch to be sure, but a welcome sight.

College Station, Texas has wildflowers in bloom, though I missed the best of the blue bonnets, I was told.  It was a surprise, for I did not know what to expect in my first trip to Texas.  I overheard a man ask another about his boots, and the conversation turned from admiration to a tale about cowhide. I passed up the opportunity to visit the George Bush Library, but I did see the terrific Women Call For  Peace : Global Vistas exhibit in the gorgeous art gallery at Texas A & M University, a beautiful collection of vivid imagery by Siona Benjamin; Helen Zughaib;  Aminah Robinson; Faith Ringgold, Judy Chicago, and others. As the gallery notes, ” world-wide military spending is above $1.2 trillion annually; while the peace-keeping budget at the United Nations in 2009 was only $7.9 million.”

I see blue people. (and artist siona Benjamin )

I see blue people. (and artist siona Benjamin ) (Photo credit: doodlehed

Story Quilt Detail:  Faith Ringgold

Story Quilt Detail: Faith Ringgold (Photo credit: cobalt123)

The professors of the South Asia Group, English, and Women Studies departments took extraordinarily good care of me, and I found myself dining on dosa, idlis, and laddoos, a true feasting, especially as my idea of dinner is often a grilled cheese these days.  A well-attended reading, a large-group version of telling matriarchal ancestor stories, and good South Indian coffee rounded out a delightful weekend.

Boston was bittersweet, not because only because so much happened a week ago, but also because I gave my last classes.  It is always difficult to say goodbye to a group of people I have seen regularly twice a week for sixteen weeks; we have written together and talked about fiction, and got to know one another a little.  This is a special class, for it was the first that I shared my publishing story as it unfolded in real-time with a new book (so far, a kind of once in a blue mon event for me) and one in which they, but not I, were in a city-wide lockdown.

The small things always go together with the large, and if it were not for grammar (the infinite space a semi-colon provides , the rueful continuity of an ellipses) I know not what we would do. Thus, in  Cambridge,  I discovered a new cafe which encouraged a spate of writing, lusted after some vegan bags at a store, watched some dance on campus programs. I got charged twice as much for a cab ride to the station, but the day was too nice to complain. My bus arrived on time, only to have the driver tell some of us that it was full, and we needed to wait for the next one.  Always an adventure on the bus, but I can’t help wondering: was it because I decided to catch the “next” bus instead of revisiting the vegan shoe and bag store as I intended?

Home, I returned local library books , only to realize I have a few more to return in Boston.  The rent is paid, grades and bills are due, and the summer soon awaits.  I hear that this is a funny time for Saturn, so maybe that accounts for restlessness.  Still,  a good time to concentrate on writing.  Isn’t it always?

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