Saturday, June 30, 2007

Padma Bilawal -- the blog

The Gentle Reader is gently directed to a newly-hatched blog, wherein I'll focus on Padma Bilawal (about which film, one post has appeared on the present blog, below; whereas future elaborations will appear in the film blog) -- to wit:
Padma Bilawal -- a film blog

At the moment, I've only put up text there. But in future I'll post still images, plus (still later) links to video clips.

And I'll report on screenings / responses / relevant ruminations / whatnot.

in Bhopal

ghazal ("Courage")

Every hawker sells   a different kind of courage
every street compells   a different kind of courage

if you voyage east   is it true you'll reach the west?
in the ocean swells   a different kind of courage

when you leave the nest   will the sky become your mother?
apprehension gells   a different kind of courage

it's distressing   to proceed without perception
yet each glimpse propells   a different kind of courage

every temple bell   desires to sound your secret
every breath expells   a different kind of courage

every house is built in hope   every lie's in earnest
every woodsman fells   a different kind of courage

in the marketplace   did you coax a hundred smiles?
every tear impells   a different kind of courage

all the colors strive to paint   the true condition
every inkling spells   a different kind of courage

honkikng horns resemble birdcry   in the city
urban fortune tells   a different kind of courage

must the seeker wander blind   without direction
till compassion quells   a different kind of courage?

many visions prove confusing   to the dreamer
only dawn dispells   a different kind of courage

did Ardeo run to greet you   in the morning?
now his evening knells   a different kind of courage

(written 23 June 2007, in Bangalore; begun with jottings in a 3-wheeler departing the Jayanagar market)

Monday, June 25, 2007

PADMA BILAWAL -- "debut preview" screening

Happy to post this announcement of an event planned for tomorrow evening.


"PADMA BILAWAL -- a dhrupad master class" (85 minutes), a digital cinema innovation by David Raphael Israel, will receive its world debut "preview (work-still-in-progress) screening" at Bangalore's Suchitra Film Society on the evening of Monday, 25 June 2007 (6:45 PM). All are welcome.

Shot at Dhrupad Sansthan -- a music institute established by the Gundecha Brothers in the countryside near Bhopal -- this film focuses on a single session of Indian classical-music improvisation: an extended musical colloquy between Amita Sinha (an advanced student of dhrupad-style vocal music) and her teacher, Ramakant Gundecha. The vocalists exchange notes and phrases of a mellifluous morning raga, Alhaiya Bilawal. The filmmaker gradually adds many complex layers of visual commentary, in the form of exterior footage derived from another Bhopal location: the lotus-rife lake adjacent Professors' Colony (where the Gundeacha family make their home). There exists no such raga as "Padma Bilawal" -- unless one may allow that this film, through an audio-visual synthesis, manages to achieve this new thing.

In recent years, David Raphael Israel has investigated innovative video-editing techniques (through his 60-second "digital haiku" pieces as well as larger presentations of dance and theatre on camera) -- methods here deployed so as to create a visual language imaginatively corresponding with the highly nuanced musical language under study in this session of alap-jodh-jhala.

Born in California in 1956, Mr. Israel recently settled in Bhopal, where he studies music with the Gundecha Brothers. He soon began a video documentation project focusing on their teaching methods -- work that finds Padma Bilawal as a first public fruit.

In addition to work in experimental cinema, he is also noted as a poet and painter -- arts that (with music) he views as mutually illuminating. He studied classical Chinese poetry at UC Berkeley, and worked as a writer and editor for the late EAR Magazine (New York City). His paintings have been seen in Washington, DC and Santa Barbara, California.

Friday, June 22, 2007

ghazal impromptu

happiness comes to me   with the rain in Bangalore
tandava drums to me   with the rain in Bangalore

I arrived   intending to leave in a few days' time
juggle the sums for me   with the rain in Bangalore

I smoke a 2-rupee cheroot   in a 3-wheel auto
maya soft-numbs to me   with the rain in Bangalore

perchance my film   will at last emerge from gestation?
polish wry plums for me   with the rain in Bangalore

Ardeo went south amid summer   and toured Byramangala
handful of chums to me   with the rain in Bangalore

21 June postscript:
. . . and special happiness that (the morning after having dashed off the above poem in a little 15-rupee-per-hour upstairs internet cafe, a block from where I'm staying now in the Maleshwaram neighborhood), my little always-should-be-with-me pocket notebook (including train tickets) was still present & accounted for . . . I having absent-mindedly left said item after having typed out (here) the initial 3-4 lines from said volume. Jai sri raam . . .

tandava is the drum of Siva, or perhaps it's the name of what he plays on that drum; (scholars can sort this out) :-)

2-rupee cheroot: it's not easy to find a cigar in Bangalore. After many cigarless days, I opted for a Ganesh beedee. Another morning, I dutifully asked a shopkeeper if he had any cigars. No, he allowed. But his quiet assistant quietly handed him a long-lost-from-memory jar of ancient, folkstyle cigars (hence, "cheroot"), which he offered me for the noted reasonable price (equal to $0.12).

3-wheel auto: the ubiquitous mode of affordable taxi in India, in some regions called "auto" in others called "riksha" in yet others called "auto riksha". Akin to Bangkok's slightly more stylish tuk tuk. The auto riksha is a motoscooter with cabin, and can comfortably seat 2 or 3 (plus driver in front).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lee Nagrin's obit (NY Times) /
Padma Bilawal (in prog)

-- suitably enough, written by the longtime dance critic.
June 12, 2007

Lee Nagrin, 78, Innovator in Performance Art, Dies


Lee Nagrin, a noted Off Broadway performance artist, director and member of Meredith Monk’s theater company, The House, died Thursday in Manhattan. She was 78.

The cause was colon cancer, said Barbara Busackino, a colleague.

Ms. Nagrin performed with Ms. Monk from 1971 to 1981, appearing in “Vessel,” “Education of a Girl Child,” “Quarry,” “Ellis Island” and other works.

She formed her own company, the Sky Fish Ensemble, in 1979 and presented performance-art pieces that tended to unspool like fairy tales, filled with mysterious, archetypal imagery. Her own presence was mysterious, too, both on and off the stage, often conjuring up the sense of a keen-eyed, all-seeing, benign witch.

She created some of those images midperformance, as when she traced a landscape along brown paper that ringed the stage space of Silver Whale Gallery, where much of her work was performed.

For her last piece, “Behind the Lid,” she collaborated with the puppeteer Basil Twist on a story in which a woman looks back on her life through a dream. Performances are this month at the Silver Whale.

Ms. Nagrin grew up in Seattle, where she worked with the Seattle Repertory Playhouse. She moved to New York in 1950 and produced, directed or performed in 10 Off Broadway production over the next 13 years, including work by Eugene Ionesco, then little known in the United States. She trained with Kathleen Lawler, a Metropolitan Opera voice coach, and developed a style influenced by the vocal work of Alfred Wolfsohn. In 1958 she was offered a four-year studio contract by Paramount after appearing in the cult film “The Blob.”

Ms. Nagrin also collaborated with the performance artist Margaret Beals and had long associations with La MaMa and the Women’s Interart Center. Her “Bird/Bear” (1986) won an Obie Award for best new American play.

Ms. Nagrin’s survivors include her companion, Bruce Hutchinson.

see my item remembering Lee Nagrin

(photo of Lee Nagrin, via the Listen to Women blog)


And (following my own tradition), here's posting an email I sent just now to a friend (Janet Fine) elaborating on some current activities.
Thanks for pointing to the NYTimes obit for Lee. I'm very glad she was able to do and wrap up so much in her last couple years. I think she was satisfied by that, and must have been happy that her final theatre piece went into performance.

Lee is one of the first people I met in New York -- I went to a dinner-party for Thanksgiving at her place on Bleeker Street (1987). I think I met you in 1990, -- first we spoke on the street, when you (and some companions) were asking the way to the theatre (Symphony Space, or somewhere else?) where Salamat Ali was going to be performing. I sat on the stage -- and some days later, via Emily Mayne, I invited you to a dinner-party at my MacDougal Street apartment. Or that's how I recall it. I believe I also had Lee at one of my dinner parties -- not sure it was the same one you were at, possibly. I gave a few such dinners (maybe 3 or 4) in those days.

I'm still in Bangalore -- making good progress with editing a film. Its title now is this: "PADMA BILAWAL -- a dhrupad master class" I interfuse footage from two sources: a Hindustani vocal teaching session (mainly alap -- also jodh & jjhala) involving a long "musical conversation" between a talented student (Amita Sinha) and her dhrupadiya guru Ramakant Gundecha, plus footage shot early in the morning on the lotus-rife lake, beside Professors' Colony in Bhopal. The way I've done this, the lotus images serve as a form of visual interpretation to the musical notes and phrases . . . in a manner that develops as the work unfolds. Am happy with how the edit is going, inshallah will be finished (and Fedexed, albeit late, to Yamagata) this weekend. I'm today couriering a CD with a couple minutes of Hindi dialogue to my Hindi-language guru in Bhopal (Sangeeta Gundecha) with request for translation. The film is 98% no words (all music), but I think I'll go ahead and offer subtitles for the few parts where words do intrude.

There exists no such raag as Padma Bilawal. The raag they are elaborating is, rather, Alhaiya Bilawal. The "Padma" [lotus] part is visual. But by my theory, the film serves to create "a new raag" as an audiovisual experience (interfusing the visual padma with the audio alhaiya bilawal). Kindly wish me luck with completion of this -- which may be my "first serious, feature-length film" (other than the At The Hawk's Well that you've seen -- which in some respects was not perhaps so well-finished a work as this may prove to be). The music is exquisite, and the footage of the morning-blooming flowers in May dawn light -- thanks to the expert navigation skills of a local boatman (who slowly glided the rowboat amid the lilypads and lotuses for an hour of shooting) -- is likewise exquisite. The fusion of the two is done in a range of ways that I've developed over the years (mainly involving so-called alpha channels -- with partial transparency in one scene, with another scene bleeding through and blending in . . . ) Once this is finished, I have in mind to send it to a good handful of international festivals. This curator chap in Bangalore, Akumal Ramachander, also said he wants to arrange a screening for me in Calcutta, so his group of painters can see it. But first things first . . . I was so lucky that the project survived a harddrive crash. I had get a new computer built, to complete the editing -- also got a nice high-def monitor. And my frirends' house, here in the south, has proven a haven for this phase of work.

Went yesterday to a noted local Hanuman temple -- his image carved out of black stone that seems to be in its original place; the stone is then "clothed" with metal-work for crown and raiment. An arresting sculpture. It was under lock & key till 6 PM, then they open it up for view, and one hears recorded "Aum"ing to complete the audiovisual darshan.

I think not so far from this temple is another where Nandi (the bull) is said to have done his austerities! -- in mythic antiquity. This is a famous temple (found in tourist info); but I was more drawn to see Hanumanji.

Now better get back (from cybercafe) and see if / when my computer expert shows up with new copy of Norton Antivirus.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

note to Ron Silliman -- Bhairo blog plus Lee Nagrin

As already somewhat observed, I seem most disposed to express myself via email. For sake of expanding on / recapping some topics current in my blog, I'll take liberty of reproducing here one such email, sent moments ago to the blogosphere's most consistently prolific & astute poet-critic-chronicler, Ron Silliman.


dear Ron,

I'm writing from Bangalore -- I've been in India since January (minus a couple days in Bangkok last week, to renew my 6-months-at-a-stretch visa). I've mainly been living in Bhopal, in the middle of India -- but have spent the past week-plus here in the southern "Silicon City" (even paying a visit to a big hitech firm yesterday).
My relocation to India brought on a general disengagement from online life. But I finally launched a new blog a few weeks back -- successor to my earlier "kirwani" ...

/ / /

Also to note, -- I think you might be aware of the remarkable experimental theatre work of Lee Nagrin. It has only been seen in NYC, never anywhere else (far as I'm aware) -- though I do recall an art exhibit (with some photos documenting her theatre work, and maybe including a video installation) that happened in a European city (Belgium?) in recent years. The exception that proves....
Furthermore, Lee only performed or staged her work in small NYC venues (the largest I think being LaMama, where several of her multimedia plays were seen). I enjoyed Lee's friendship since meeting her -- going to attend a Thanksgiving dinner-party she gave in her memorable basement on Bleeker Street -- in the fall of 1987, when I first went visiting NYC (from my native California) for 3 months.
Lee Nagrin passed away June 7 -- she had suffered from a range of physical disabilities in the past few years, but those (all relatively under control) were trumped and eclipsed a couple months ago by the surprise -- and late -- discovery of an advanced form of colon cancer, alas.
Luckily, Lee was bringing to completion -- and indeed was able to complete -- several aspects of her deeply engaging (for herself, and for many of her admirers, including the present writer) creative work. Fortune brought to her the interest of a dedicated English writer who I believe was thinking about doing a Ph.D. dissertation on Lee's work -- but instead, smartly decided to write outside of academia per se, -- and rather than merely writing abstractly, instead became a living collaborator with Lee in all aspects of her efforts to complete and summarize her experience and art. So: she relocated to New York and has spent the past year or two (I've not kept exact track of when she started) digging into the lively piles of neglected documentary material, bringing narrative order out of creative chaos . . .
This fine woman, Mary-Clare McKenna, has done true yoeman's duty -- helping Lee organize and edit and complete a considerable body of video and film footage that captures images of her performances (performances never seen by vast numbers, though some were running for weeks or months at a stretch), photos of these works, plus of Lee's long years of painting and visual artwork, -- and Mary-Clare is I believe fairly well along with the creation of a book (with illustrations), including interview material from many of Lee's colleagues among the avant-garde -- a book that should serve to present a comprehensive and detailed view of Lee's life-work overall. (Also worth mention -- so far as I'm aware, Mary-Clare is still looking for a suitable publisher for this volume.)
I have blogged an entry about Lee's passing here: remembering Lee Nagrin
I've been rather tuned out of the blogosphere, but the impulse to write you also calls to mind your good blog -- which I'll check back into in these upcoming Bangalore days.


Bleeker Street has lost a dragon   [boomerang poem]


Bleeker Street has lost a dragon
        shouldn't one see its traces?

strike the drum or lift the flagon
        putting you through your paces

        many the empty places
blooming with the news of Nagrin

        Maya her scroll erases
Bleeker Street has lost a dragon


Bleeker Street has lost a dragon
        sing from Basaavanagudi

what's the race we run or lag in?
        why has the mode gone moody?

        celestina from Punch & Judy?
strike up strings again for Nagrin

        choo-choo brings tutti-frutti
Bleeker Street has lost a dragon


Bleeker Street has lost a dragon
        weeping a tear   beloved?

what's the play we soar or sag in?
        isn't it clear   beloved?

        life is here   beloved
where the streams flow rife for Nagrin

        chanticleer   beloved
Bleeker Street has lost a dragon

an elegy for Lee Nagrin

from d.i. in Bangalore

many the empty places: cf. W.S. Merwin, "Search Party"
maya: creative principle underlying the great world-illusion
Basaavanagudi: (or Basavanagudi; I double the "aa" to note the long syllable) -- a neighborhood in Bangalore (where I'm staying w/ friends at the moment)
celestina: an antique musical instrument (same or similar to the glass harpsichord?) with a fine, high, heavenly tone; (also, name of a figure in Cervantes' Don Quixote)
Punch & Judy: stock figures in 19th century puppetry (antecedent to early 20th century Vaudeville characters); but the Wikipedia entry notes a longer European history
tutti-frutti: among cries of food-hawkers who repeatedly pass through the aisle on India's distinctive trains, are: "pani water" (enjoyably redundant -- inasmuch as "pani" means "water" in Hindi) / "masala chai" (spiced tea) / and "tutti-frutti" (signifying, a small fruit-juice box)
chanticleer: employed (neologistically) as a verb: to call like hen or rooster

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

remembering Lee Nagrin

I received a startling (though not an un expect able) email yesterday --
Dear David

Sorry to inform you by email -- Lee passed way on Friday 7th June -- it was peaceful.
I had learned of Lee's late carcinoma diagnosis some couple months ago (when phoning NYC from Bhopal to touch base with her). Lee was, in my view, among New York City's best kept secrets: a deep-thinking/feeling theatre artist, extraordinarily innovative and creative, exceptionally patient, persistent, idealistic, gifted with a myriad fine qualities. Her work was only seen in New York, never elsewhere. It was known primarily to relatively small circles among the performing arts avant-garde, on whom it exerted (if one may so generalize) a strong impression. Statistics and numbers are illusory. The influence of such a formidable artist (no matter how hidden from view of our day's ephemeral mass culture) can be both profound and long-lasting.

Theatre Mania (an online news & reviews conduit) carried this obituary:
Playwright Lee Nagrin Dies at 78
By: Brian Scott Lipton

Playwright Lee Nagrin, whose new work Behind the Lid will debut in New York City next week, succumbed to complications from advanced colon cancer this morning in New York City. She was 78.

In addition to being a playwright, Nagrin, who was originally from Seattle, was a visual artist, performer, singer, choreographer, and director. She moved to New York in 1950 and was instrumental in the development of several Off-Broadway theaters, including the Sullivan Street Playhouse, the Bridge Theatre, and the Downtown Theatre. She produced, directed and/or performed in 10 Off-Broadway productions between 1950 and 1963.

From 1971 to 1981, Nagrin was a member of Meredith Monk's company, The House, with whom she developed and performed in a number of works. In 1979, she formed her own company, The Sky Fish Ensemble. Her 1986 work Bird/Bear won an Obie Award for Best New American Play. Over the years, her work was also seen at such venues as La MaMa, the 92nd Street Y, St. Mark's Church, and the Silver Whale Gallery, where Behind the Lid will have a 12-performance run beginning on June 12.

Nagrin is survived by her longtime companion, Bruce Hutchinson. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
That was published on June 7. This evening, Mary-Clare McKenna -- Lee's tireless documentarian (who ventured to New York from her native England a couple years ago, with the aim -- now in process of being well realized -- of helping Lee organize the record of her artistic work) -- sent this note:
I will let you know about plans for a memorial.

Lee's play Behind The Lid it went up on her birthday June 3 and it runs till the end of the month. So I am thrilled [she] and Basil got to make that happen. It felt like a miracle.
One could say that all of Lee's theatre works felt like a miracle. But this would seem particularly so. Wonderful that she was able to have this work see the light of day.

One looks forward -- in the ripeness of time -- to enjoying the book that Mary-Clare has been preparing.

Behind the Lid is slated to be performed through June 28th. Those in the area are cordially encouraged to go and enjoy it. Wish I could see it myself -- but I remain in India some days into July.

Then I fly to China . . .


Other articles & obits --

from Playbill, Robert Simonson, Lee Nagrin, Trailblazing Downtown Artist, Dies at 78 (June 8, 2007)

from Variety (under their unique "legit" rubric), Lee Nagrin, performance artist, 78: Director part of Off-Broadway scene for decades (June 7, 2007)

from, Performance and Multimedia Artist Lee Nagrin Dies at 78 (June 7, 2008)

from United Press International (under "Newstrack - Entertainment" rubric), Lee Nagrin, off-Broadway influence, dies (June 8, 2007)

/ / / / /

Reading thru yet another such obit -- Andrew Salomon's, from -- the words "Nagrin grew up in Seattle" triggers a recollection. I think it was around 2000 that Lee sent me -- or was going to send me -- on a mission to Seattle. I was anyway going there to visit my brother Larry (who later moved down to Santa Cruz, but had been then living in Seattle since many years). There was an incredible legal wrangle about some family land. This somehow involved the death of Lee's brother -- an event that lies near the center of her remarkable production, The Valley of Iao, seen at LaMama (I think in 2000). But what exactly was the mission? Memory is surprisingly vague -- I suppose I was to meet with a lawyer and give him some documents? Or hire a local lawyer for her? Or . . . Perhaps this got worked out in other ways. It's odd I cannot recall what in fact happened!

I shot, on video, Lee's The Valley of Iao, for more than a dozen performances -- sometimes one camera, sometimes there were two cameras, once or twice we had three. The mass of video footage was more than I was able to get organized, editing-wise; the project lay on the shelf for some years. At last, Lee connected with Dana Duke, a good video editor in upstate New York (where she was living part of the time). I was delighted -- when speaking with Mary-Clare some weeks ago -- to learn that the edit was brought fully to completion by Dana.

Among my US errands (later this summer) is retrieving (from New York) the digital deck that I lent Dana for this editing work. I recall some of that footage (a fair bit of which I showed to Lee in her East Bleeker Street studio) warmly, and look forward to reviewing the edited play-on-camera at some future time. Besides The Valley of Iao, Lee and Mary-Clare and Dana evidently managed to get into edited form many other video documentations of her productions.

Back when I was shooting The Valley of Iao at LaMama (in downtown New York), I was living in Washington, DC, and working fulltime (word processor in a law firm). I would travel to NYC each weekend for a few days. I also recall once having stupidly left my video camera in a taxi. The cab driver kindly came backa nd found me, and the work went on.


Also from, Nagrin and Twist's Dream Play Behind the Lid Begins 6/3 (published May 14, 2007)


Ah, but I think I recall a bit more about the Seattle lawyer thing. Maybe I had been encouraging Lee to get a lawyer in Seattle, or she had been thinking to do so. I did meet with one lawyer -- though the upshot of that, remains vague in recollection . . .

/ / / / /

The New Yorker Magazine online includes this notice among current theatre listings:

A new play written by Lee Nagrin and the puppeteer Basil Twist, about a woman in her seventies who travels through her dreams, featuring puppetry by Twist. Opens June 3. (Silver Whale Gallery, 21 Bleecker St. 212-868-4444.)


my elegaic poem
Bleeker Street has lost a dragon

Sunday, June 10, 2007

on pillows       [ghazal]

Some ways   into the sky
                          we sit on pillows
one sways   into a sigh
                          we sit on pillows

the instruments are tuned
                      the poets are talking
our days   seeking reply
                          we sit on pillows

the wisdom of the world
                          gets lost in torpor
dismay's mixed in the fry
                          we sit on pillows

if now   you glimpse her face
                          anon   she's veiled
your haze   explains not why
                          we sit on pillows

how could it hurt   to smile
                          amid the ruins?
the ney's   lovers' ally
                          we sit on pillows

the curtain falls   the thunder
                          signals drama
the play's done in July
                          we sit on pillows

was Raphael   submerged
                          in depths of dreaming?
his case   when drawing nigh
                          we sit on pillows

[the rubai, expanded to a ghazal -- but I'd just assume leave its initial form intact: for if the ghazal rather obliterates the original context, the rubai anyway preserves it]

the ney -- i.e., the Persian flute
in July -- alluding to the Asian monsoon season

some ways     [rubai]

Some ways   into the sky
                      we sit on pillows
one sways   into a sigh
                      we sit on pillows
the instruments are tuned
                  the poets are talking
our days   seeking reply
                      we sit on pillows

(written for & occasioned by a little musical/poetry soiree in Bangalore -- held in a posh, 13th floor apartment)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

a note from the Peachy Guest House

I think during some periods (including today), the only way I'm apt to continue blogging is if I now & then post, here, a copy of an email I've sent to friends. Here, at any rate, is one such. Perhaps a term should be coined for this form of email-turned-into-blog-post . . . What to call it? Otherwise, historians can wrangle out a suitable moniker. For now, the term "note" can suffice.


dear Vasu & Vidya,

I've just officially checked out of the Peachy (noonish, Friday) and am hanging out in their on-site internet cafe for a bit before moving along with my day. I may be able to go to the Indian Embassy -- it's something like half-way between here and the airport -- though in fact I think I could as easily deal with the question of Indian residency status via the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC when I'm there later in the summer. I'll see how my day evolves and whether I have enough time for this jaunt today.

You know, I forgot that I will be back here in Bangkok for one day, en route between Bombay and Beijing -- I arrive, in that itinerary, at 5:15 a.m., 6 July, and depart for Beijing not till around midnight that night. Some folks form New Zealand, this morning at breakfast, recommended to me another, newer guest house -- called in fact New Siam II -- just around the corner from the Peachy (the guy said in past years he has also stayed at the Peachy). I think I'll go take a look, and may book ahead a room for myself for 6 July.

I've been spending my morning reading the biography of Annapurna Devi -- lovely book. It makes me want to pay a visit to Raviji sometime. I had some email correspondence with his wife maybe 4 years ago, when I was working on starting my DVD venture -- and prior to that, in the 1980s, I had several contacts with Raviji (when I was making some effort to help promote his son, Shubho's renascent sitar career. Shubho was known and well-liked by music-lovers in the Los Angeles area).

Anyway, I have not even gotten on a boat-taxi yet in Bangkok, but have in mind to do so shortly . . .

much enjoying this place.

I hope that Vidya has connected with Raghav. Raghav, I think, may not realize I am only briefly staying at your house. He was talking about hiring an electrician to help with the grounding of electricity -- but that may be a bigger job than is needed in this situation. We may simply need to use one extension cord!

And I pray the computer problems can find solution, so the film work can be brought to a happy conclusion. For this purpose, it really seems best to me if I may stay on in Bangalore for the one week -- whether or not the red-tape for my "work as an American visiting" is successfully resolved. But in fact it seems nice to do both these things (film-work plus Vasu-hitech-writing-editing-work) for a week in the wonderful environs of your good home.

I tried calling you yesterday, Vasu, to get your opinion about the digital camera purchase situation. Thing is, the cost here actually isn't cheaper than in India, so far as I've been able to find. In addition, I'm concerned that if I bring in a new camera to India, they might well charge me customs -- which can be like 30% of the retail price. So in short, anyway really I've decided to buy a camera in India, not Bangkok. I'm looking at two models -- both are latest models -- of Powershot cameras by Canon. (The models are G7, and S5-IS. I'm inclining toward the latter, as it has 14x optical zoom -- very unusual among such cameras. But the G7 has some extra good format options for video.) Anyway, my camera dealer in Bhopal will give me price quotes on the phone, probably today. When in Bangalore, I can shop at places there -- and if they offer these models at a good rate, I'll prob. buy one in Bangalore TOMORROW -- so I can record our "concert" :-)

Warm greetings from far southlands,

ps -- copying Eric with this. Eric, if you get this note today (Friday), and if convenient, you could reach me on my Thai mobile -- it's [such & such] -- my flight departs tonight for Bangalore, leaving 7:30pm. Glad you'd suggested Bangkok, which I've had a good, if brief, intro to now. Inshallah, I might make this a semi-frequent place to chill out in future. Did I mention, I managed to locate the samadhi of Narayan Maharaj in Bangalore -- not all too far from my hosts' home there. The priest who cares for the place seemed a sweet and charming man -- he lives there with several children, including a couple girls who speak some English (unlike himself -- but he chants what must be pucca Sanskrit while waving the aarti tray). I was shown the exact location of the samadhi (after some mis-directions by others nearby, who pointed me to other little local tomb-shrines, including one that I sat at for 15 minutes' meditation, mistakenly thinking it to be Narayan's! -- but at last this good bearded gent who sells books at the around-the-corner Vivekananda Yoga Center managed to recollect the right location and took me down the road to where it is. There are photographs of Meher Baba and his Five Perfect Masters there, along with photos of Narayan -- whom they call, if I have this right, "Bet Narayan Maharaj" -- I'm not quite sure what the "Bet" is about, though it seems vaguely familiar in connection with him. I wonder if this is simply like saying "betta" (i.e., "dear, beloved"). But I rather think it may instead be some name or title that's geographically-based (in Maharashtra). But in short -- I'm just making guesses.

At the Peachy Guest House, yesterday, I was a bit surprised to find the check-in lady chatting in Mandarin with a man there -- so I was able to chip in 2 or 3 words. But not so surprising that Chinese has some presence & influence here. The place where I took breakfast, too, is adorned only with Chinese calligraphy and paintings.


a blog-only p.s. --
the New Siam Guest House chain also has a River Side edition (likely more pricy -- I glanced [online] at cost for a simple, one-person room at New Siam II; it's 240 Bhat (about US $8), same as at the Peachy. One might have to splurge at the River Side and pay more than $10 :-) Anyway, I'll go around the corner now and take a look...