Author Archives: indiraganesan

About indiraganesan

author As Sweet As Honey (NY: Alfred A. Knopf), February, 2013 Inheritance (NY: Knopf), 1998 The Journey (NY:Knopf), 1990 All available from Vintage & Beacon Press

A call from the Earth who calls when we cannot or will not hear

Indira Ganesan, droplets, June 2019

Two things happened this last week that moved me considerably, the week that is that is not defined by Julian.  First, Toni Morrison passed, transitioned as Nikki Giovanni said in an interview with the BBC, and our hearts, those of us who not only adored her work, but looked to her for guidance, spilled open.  She transitioned, said Nikki Giovanni, and she is still with us.  Toni Morrison not only gave us story after story which blossomed into poetry but clearly, strongly, spoke out against, because she recognized it for what it was, and how persuasive it is, the horror of white supremacy.  

And Jorie Graham came to speak at the local arts center in Provincetown.  She spoke and read, and made the world stand still for an instant as we listened to poetry.  Like Toni Morrison, Jorie Graham looks at life in its face, and does not turn away.  She does not serve it to us neat on a plate with a platitude about how things will get better.  Her poems, incantations of sense and sensibility, are like clear drops of water steadily dripping onto a plate that we did not know needed to be filled.

Poetry moves us, and it moves us best when we forget about ourselves, and pay attention to something much bigger. I have not learned this completely, but remember, when I read, and when I write in moments of stillness, broken by a horse’s neigh, the passing truck, the invisible breath of my cat asleep on the desk.  Something tumbles down now, the cat shifts and sighs, and the horse cries again.  

Onion Rings and Macaroni Salad

Indira Ganesan, The fry, the fat, 2019

Sometimes it is cold macaroni salad and hot onion rings, swirled together with sriracha. Sometimes your flight is delayed, so you circle the airport, always choosing the wrong way and retracing your steps, and find a Wahlburgers. You have vaguely heard about it as a good place to eat at Logan airport. You pass on the impossible burger because you don’t want your food to taste like meat, because what would be the point? You are vegetarian, raised by vegetarian parents, in a family has been most likely vegetarian for centuries. You remember being excited learning about the English Cranks, as if white vegetarians gave you permission to be who you were in meat-eating America. Meat-eating America didn’t believe you could survive with meat. A skeptical pediatrician subscribed an egg a day, which you dutifully and reluctantly ate at lunch watching Dennis the Menace on TV. You never knew what My Three Sons ate, or the kids in Family Affair, but you knew enough to distrust food early on. You would spend years trying to convince your mother that hippies were vegetarian, and later learn that tofu existed, and macrobiotics, that somewhere, probably California, people ate well. so as a kid you ate sambar and rice; rasam and rice; spiced vegetables; and yogurt and rice with lemon or mango pickle. You drank water. Sometimes as a treat you got spaghetti, a grilled cheese, a tomato sandwich, or a Swanson’s TV dinner with macaroni and cheese. As a teenager, your father brought home falafel and eggplant parm, and sometimes there was pizza. You didn’t become interested in food until you began to cook, and started reading Madhur Jaffrey, and Moosewood, and the Epicurean cookbooks. Deborah Madison was introduced to you as well, and you began to love to cook for other people. You lived in the Hamptons, only you called it Long Island, and started teaching food literature, and started collecting cookbooks to read at night. Still, alone, you wound up craving grilled cheese and pizza, and realized that America indelibly  introduced your family to cheese. And you love cheese. But here you are, eating mayonnaise-drenched and deep fried food, with a ginger ale, until you get tired of eating it, and look for chocolate, and wait for your flight, which departs a few hours later.

Musical Interlude 1: Zakir Hussain & Co.

A woman rolls her suitcase over the bus station tiles. It sounds like the rhythmic tapping of the tabla. I am waiting for the bus. There goes another suitcase wheel tabla, but less percussive.

The night before, Zakir Hussain played at the Performance space at Berkelee College with his extraordinary Masters of Percussion: Eric Harland on western drums, Niladri Kumar on sitar,and a family of four of temple- robed, ash-anointed drummers from Kerala. Each took flight in solos and ensemble, with fingers flying so fast that the view was a blur. Seemingly improvised, the range was from original composition to riffs on raga, with a devilish smoke on the water snuck in. Drums sounded like sitars, sitars sounded drums, as the beat railed on against the night, against the violence of the world. Peace and diversity presented in music.

Better

The cats are on the mend, but the laundry pile is almost as tall as my dresser.

The first flower—a lone violet—appeared in the garden.

Even the garden seems hard hit by the unsettled state of the world. Everything just waiting, at least in this patch.

Tulips timid, the snowdrops late, but the laughing clematis puts forth its fuzzy buds.

April: shanti, shanti, shantih

Oh no,cats still sick.

More laundry.

The ocean is still here.

Blue

Blue Monument for Autism Awareness, 2019

I should be at a reading reception art opening at the Fine Arts Work Center right now, to meet the new co-director, and say hello to a few friends, but I have been administering to two sick cats.  Ocean and Izzie are sick for the first time in the five years I’ve been their pet guardian.  A messy, not-over-yet gastrointestinal bug that has kept them woefully occupied with their internals, for the past few days, and me wiping up at every turn.  The we-are-so-lucky-to-have her vet has given them probiotics and bland food.  Foodie cats (I mean, can they be anything but?) ie finicky, they are none too keen on the new stuff.  I tricked the mama cat by coating her favorite treat with the med, and the kitten (5 years old now) ate a little of the new food because she is a bit more practical in her eating needs.

Last night, I read Hiro Akirawa’s The Travelling Cat Chronicles, which made me teary-eyed.   At four am, I was woken up by the kitten who got all affectinate before throwing up a thin, clear, viscous spittle.  It was a terrible sight to see her suffering so, and I am cringing as I write this. Meanwhile, I am blithely killing carpenter ants one by one, and really, now that I think about it, they do have personalitiies, don’t they, these ants?  What am I doing? Have I not seen the dying fifty-nine-year-old(!) chimpanzee saying goodbye video?

Tonight, There is full loud chorus of birds (or frogs?) outside, and the monument is lighting up blue for Autism Awareness. It is the first new moon of the month, and I hope we all sleep well enough tonight.