Tag Archives: indira ganesan

The clamor of morning birds


Indira Ganesan, dawn/sunset, 2014

Indira Ganesan, dawn/sunset, 2014


At three? At four? When do the summer time birds begin their strident songs, their call to territory, food, enemies? It is as if I am in a jungle full of toucans, parrots, and peacocks, but it is the call of owls, finches, cardinals, and jays outside. Just now, they have quieted, but it is a  trick, for they begin again, warbling as the sun rises, as my coffee gets cold.  The birds wake the cats who in turn wake me.  I tell the cats it is too early for food, but they ignore my logic. They want to eat birds, I suppose, and poke me.  It is hours before the Sunday Times’ arrival.  In the early light, I decide to identify the tall, strong grass that has been rising steadily on the balcony.  It is quack grass.  Of course it is.  A noisome sound, an irritant to sleep. In the end, they will win, with luck, the birds and the weeds, while insomnia will fell us. Best have another cup in the face of it.

Whole paych–Foods

Indira Ganesan, Can't Touch That, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Can’t Touch That, 2014

(The breads above are from a local boulangerie.)

Whole Foods finally opened on the Cape, and I spent a nostalgia-filled evening there after a play in Boston. I immediately spied the familiar pineapple chunks in a tub I haven’t seen in three years, the watercress that is not yet available elsewhere nearby, the pink lady apples. Though I am partial to my local health food store, a megalith has some different stock. Gulab Jamun in a can, check. Wild yam soba, check. Cold brew coffee in a bottle, check, please. There are still details to work out, like stocking Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies( I mean, this is Whole Foods, right?) and getting the black sesame slaw right.

I found my happiness ratio sharply increasing aisle by aisle. Is something sprayed in the air? Is it that luxury food shopping makes one feel better than shopping for clothes? Is it akin to buying shoes? It is easier, certainly. I needn’t decide between this color or that, but toss an item in my basket and moved on. Cardamom-coconut water? Lime-jalepeno chips? Organic socks?

I spent my paycheck, and came back the next day for more.

Memorial Day Observation

Indiraganesan, liberty, 2014

Indira Ganesan, liberty, 2014

I looked out my window, and was struck by the flags flying nearby. It was as if I were seeing them clearly for the first time. I take the nature of freedom to choose in this town too much for granted. Every once in a while, I remember where I am living, and how different it is from so much of America. When I see a shy same-gendered couple walk by, I see their palpable relief that they can hold hands, in public, without embarrassment. They are on vacation, and for the time being, they are safe.  It is 2014, and seems trivial to state the obvious, but civil rights are still fairly new in our world.

All around us in the world, new right-wing leaders are squirming into place, dusting off their shoulders, making sure their buttons are in place. We who are liberal are open-mouthed at their ascendancy, wondering what is next. We take too much for granted. Violence is perpetuated against women every day.  Our society lets children shape violence in their hearts, and gives them guns.  I write this from a comfortable chair, yet as a woman, I know that the threat of rape, of violence, of bias is part of my reality, and my life is shaped by that. Without a doubt, I dream more than I act.

Last week, a dear friend’s dear father passed away, Dr. Vincent Gordon Harding, who advocated in a gentle yet firm way for equality and liberty. He, together with his late wife, created and ran The Veterans of Hope organization, committed to educational awareness and action towards a more just society.  He is remembered in obituaries for writing Martin Luther King’s Vietnam speech, for the books he authored, and causes he embraced. I remember him for his kindness, his laughter, and the lesson he gave me long ago which I use in nearly every class I teach.  It is an exercises in remembering the stories of the women in our families, the ones whose stories get forgotten until they are repeated and shared.

My heart goes out to his family and, who continue to inspire me, whose compassion, intelligence, and joy I treasure.


About Dr. Harding:http://www.democracynow.org/2014/5/26/remembering_vincent_harding_the_civil_rights


Inviting the muse in San Diego

Indira Ganesan, San Diego Marina, 2014

Indira Ganesan, San Diego Marina, 2014

When I travel, the muse accompanies me, but she flies first class, while I fly coach.  Meeting her then is a happy accident.  I am in San Diego, to see old friends and attend the 2014 Ashtanga Confluence. My muse can do ashtanga, all of the series.  I don’t want to be like my muse, but I would like her light to light my light.  What I seek is a way to get a novel started from a mere twelve pages of notes that I plucked from nearly 150.  I came to the confluence to maybe learn steadfastness and keep on trying.

David Swenson, one of the yoga teachers here, said that one doesn’t seek a guru per se, except to take an unlit candle to a cave, say, and if there  is a fellow there with a lit candle, maybe he will let you light yours from his flame.  My teacher, Richard Freeman, said the most interesting things happen in the interfacing of ideas, while at the same time, the spaces between words are the most interesting.

My next move.  My next book.  My next time on the mat.

Move: Not dire.  Soon, something will materialize.

Book: Not dire. Not Dior. Not a Diorama. Just a novel, a simple 80,000 word something between hardcovers, extending the life of Meterling and company.  I have to situate the book in a specific decade.  I was in my twenties in the eighties.  My characters are in their twenties in the nineties.

Mat: Wednesday.

P.S:  No more red-eye flights for a while.





Indira Ganesan, Journal Dance, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Journal Dance, 2013

WordPress’ Daily Post suggested its bloggers post about the number twenty-six in some way, since it is the first twenty-sixth of the year. Meanwhile, I changed my theme again, to the one I had my eye on a while back.  So my post on twenty-six is not on the number of apartments I’ve lived in (nineteen); the number of pounds I would like to shed (though twenty-six would not be a bad start); the town I lived in when I was that age (surprisingly, it was the same as now, although there has been a gap of precisely twenty-six years) but the number of author websites/websites about authors I’ve lately admired, and some I went looking for: 1. Haruki Murakami 2. Heidi Jon Schmidt 3. Simon Van Booy 4. Lakshmi Wennakoski-Bielicki 5. Toni Morrison 6. Mira Jacob 7. Sandra Cisneros 8. Carole Maso 9. Canio’s Books 10. Jeanette Winterson 11. Andrew Wille 12. Bhanu Kapil 14. Tania James 14. Kate Atkinson 15. Virgina Woolf 16. More Virginia Woolf 17. George Eliot 18. Shakespeare 19. James Joyce 20. Padma Hejmadi 21.  Salman Rushdie 22. PD James 23. Cynthia Morris 24. Tim Hernandez 25. Marcia Douglas 26. Closereaders.

A look ahead, an adjustment, and a reintroduction

Indira Ganesan, Look, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Look, 2013

I just joined a thirty-day blogging course offered by WordPress, with the idea to learn something new about blogging.  I started back in January, 2010, not knowing much.  I thought I would post non-personal observations about, say, food, gardening, and books.  the first posts were erratic, but I have since settled into a twice-monthly format.  The blog has become more personal, to the extent a friend once asked me about an event, but commented she would probably read about here.  Of course this gave me pause.  Do I blog instead of calling, instead of writing a letter? Is a blog really an essay or a year round holiday letter? And should I not be seeking to publish this stuff, if any of it is interesting? Isn’t that what I do–write professionally?

I am an Indian immigrant who learned English in kindergarten in St. Louis, and took to writing because I liked listening to and telling stories.  My grade school teachers encourage me, even if I took things literally ( asked to write another story “just like this” In second grade, I went home, and copied my story in neater script.) My sixth grade teacher gave me discipline with deadlines, as she required a story every week.  I knew I wanted to major in English Literature in high school, dropped Drivers Ed in favor of Mythology.  At Vassar, after an intriguing year in India studying Fine Arts, I went back to English Lit.  A teacher at entered my work for a selective course in Narrative Writing, and I realized The New Yorker not only published reviews by Pauline Kael but also short stories.  I started my first novel in graduate school, and finished it three years later  in Provincetown. I did not learn to drive until I was thirty, but I had a publishing contract at twenty-seven.

Okay, that does make me proud, even if I dropped the ball on a promising career, and did not publish again until seven years had passed.  Another sixteen years would pass before my latest.  So what do I see ahead of me? More teaching, more writing.  Maybe a lessening of procrastination and doubt.  Maybe less silent comparison to this writer or that writer.  In my personal life, I have remained single for a long time, and I suspect that status will continue, though I have become a pet guardian. I will continue to make food, try to return to yoga, eat more vegetables.  I would like to make soup.  Eat more pickled things.  (Here is Mark Bittman on the subject of eating healthier.)

I hope I continue to have good people in my life.

The I in the Photo

Indira Ganesan, Grove Street, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Grove Street, 2013

This is the view across the street from Buvette, a cafe on Grove Street in the Village. It is a romantic view, especially that winter afternoon earlier this month as I drank a perfect cappuccino and waited for a friend. There is something about a cafe in a city when I am travelling that cleans my slate. It is as if I can step away from my placid life and be someone capable of anything, making a meaningful life out of art and life. I am so comfortable turning in at ten, or even earlier, after a day of teaching or puttering about, cleaning, making plans for the future, that I wonder at myself. I subscribe to Vogue, yet dress like Walter Mitty.

Can one make a dramatic turn in a life, or is one doomed to remain who one has become? Can I dress in bolder colors, wear beads and gems? Live in the present, a friend implored, and though my work involves sketching the past and the might-have-beens, I want to take this good advice to heart. What do I have right now? The sound of my brother on the phone with a friend from his college days; the kitchen smells of my mother and niece making pancakes, the voices of my sister-in-law and father conversing, and me, at the dining table, a stretch of space, a clean slate, goosebumps.

The new book will be a continuation, beginning again with news of a pregnancy. I have created a storyboard on Pinterest. It is about gardens, color, women and dreams. It is a kettle of water placed on a flame. Soon, I will pour a cup.