Archive for the Infinite City Category

Celebrity Cult

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by javedbabar

It was the global launch of the film HUMANITY. Rather than New York, London or Mumbai, auteur Manish had decided to have it in Lucerne, where the idea had been sent to him while mountain climbing.

The village was packed with people wanting accommodation. Lucerne was an easy day trip from the New City, but the 3 hour film started at nine p.m. and people didn’t want to drive home at midnight. Being realistic, with all the cops, diversions, and remote parking lots, they wouldn’t leave till one a.m. and would reach home after three.

“How about we rent one of your rooms?” a young father said to Bobby.

“I am sorry sir, we can’t do that.”

“Why not? This is a free country. We can do what we like.”

This was the tenth conversation like this he’d had today. To cut it short, Bobby decided to be brutally honest. “Sir, this is a halfway house. We are all losers in life here. Some are drunks, some are drug addicts, some work as prostitutes, and some are prone to bouts of psychotic violence. We would love to have a nice family of professionals stay here, but can’t guarantee their safety. That’s why we always refuse. Still, if you’re feeling brave we could…”

“Erm, okay, I see. Maybe we’ll drive home after the movie.” The man stood there, stunned.

“Do you actually have tickets?” said Bobby. “I heard there were only two hundred available, and most were going to VIPs. There seem to be thousands of people in town. What are they all doing?”

“If we are lucky, we’ll catch the film. There are fifty walk-in tickets available. But we’re mainly here to see the celebrities. My wife and kids really wanted to come. You don’t often get so many famous people together in one small place.” He reeled off a list of names, none of which Bobby recognized.

When he reported for work that night, the situation changed. Many of those names were guests at the Lucerne Valley Hotel, which was packed with VIPs. It seemed that Bobby was the only one who hadn’t heard the names before. Crowds outside were silent for spells, and screamed uncontrollably when beautiful folk entered or left the hotel.

Bobby learnt from other Executive Floor workers that these people were sports heroes, film and rock stars, billionaires, prominent chefs, famous explorers, those known only for their extravagant lifestyles, and cult figures from Arcadia, such as the midget-sized hugging saint, naked tightrope walker, and acid-disfigured belly-dancer. These local figures tried harder to please the crowds, but the international elite received bigger cheers.

Some of the celebrities looked familiar. Bobby recognized them from magazine covers at the grocery store, waxworks he’d once seen in Florida, and from DVD covers. Stuff forgotten during his drug haze years seemed to be returning.

He met many of these celebrities in person on the Executive Floor. Most were warm and gracious, and gave good tips. He could see why they were successful. They were good with people.

When he returned home at 6 a.m. he was ready to drop, but his housemates wanted to hear all about the celebrities. He told them a few stories which made them laugh. One of the girls squealed in delight and said, “Come on Bobby, tell us more!”

He said O.K. and told more stories. He enjoyed being surrounded by adoring people.

Mattress Mortgage

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“Paying rent is wasting money,” said Bobby. “We should get together and buy our own place. At least then the money would count towards something.”

“How do we do that?” asked Shama. “Shall we all bring the money from beneath our beds and build a mattress mortgage?”

Bobby thought, there are ten rooms in the halfway house’s ground floor apartment; four male dorms, four female dorms, and two double rooms. There are four people in each dorm, plus four more in the double rooms, making thirty-six people in total. Combining their income and assets could really add up.

The problem was that residents of the halfway house were generally not working, and those that were didn’t earn much. But thirty-six people working together could surely do something. “I’m going to look into it,” said Bobby and went off to do so. He didn’t have much else on today.

The lady at the bank said, “Are you an existing customer of this bank, Mr Law?”

There is no chance of that, he thought. The residents of the halfway house had zero, or even negative, credit scores. “No, but I am considering it. I would like to discuss mortgages first. Please assume I know nothing, and run me through the basics. What does the word mortgage even mean?”

“Mortgage is a French word meaning death contract. Don’t look so shocked. It’s not what a gangster offers to an assassin.”

It was a joke, but Bobby was sobered by the thought.

“It is a pledge which ends when the obligation is fulfilled, or the property is foreclosed. Of course, everybody hopes for a successful transaction, the loan paid off and the house fully your possession. But I am legally obliged to tell you the other possibility. If you do not repay the loan in the prescribed manner, you can lose the house.”

This sobered Bobby some more. He said, “You mean a bank can take your home away if you miss a payment. That sounds…”

“Technically the bank owns your house till you repay the loan. It is only yours upon the loan’s fulfilment.”

She spoke of the 3 E’s: Evidence, Existence, and Encumbrance, and the various kinds of loans available: direct and indirect, partial and complete. She mentioned intermediaries, size, maturity, interest, payment method, fixed and adjustable rates, interest only and repayment loans, debt ratios, and time-money value formulas.

What to make of all this? Bobby’s head felt like a spinning coin.

When it finally landed – he wasn’t sure if on heads or tails – she was speaking of MOST mortgages – Multi Occupant Strategic Tenure – where you somehow owned and didn’t own your property at the same time.

The numbers looked good though. If they paid all their rents into the MOST fund, they would own the house outright in twenty-five years, possible via the 3 M’s: Multipliers, Matching, and Magnetic MoneyTM, the latter a financial technology patented by the bank, which involved “attraction and integration of negative-positive cash flows.”

Bobby didn’t understand the details of the mortgage. He didn’t understand its essential purpose either. They would spend twenty-five years repaying the loan, and when they finally owned the house, they would be old and alone with no one to pass it on to.

The residents of the halfway house were mostly strays, who had been abandoned or lost. Life held little promise for them, and they lived day to day. Maybe renting was better.

Just a Suitcase

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Infinite City, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby’s shared apartment was on the ground floor, and he rarely had any interaction with people from the upper two floors of the halfway house. They came and went, each in their own wounded world. They said hi and bye, and sometimes smiled, but that was it.

One day a teenage boy was waiting with a large black suitcase. He stood with good posture, and looked ahead but also around. He bit his lips lightly and blinked often; a red scarf around his neck made him seem festive somehow.

“Are you okay there?” asked Bobby.

The boy seemed to be drawn out of a dream world. He blinked more rapidly and shook his head. He said, “Oh yes, thank you. I am waiting for someone to let me into the apartment upstairs.”

“Are you visiting somebody there?” People behaved strangely at the halfway house. Unless they were expecting visitors, they ignored the doorbell. They didn’t want to see people. They were ashamed of being stuck here, not knowing if they were going up or even further down.

“No, I have come to stay here. The agent said to buzz and someone would let me in, but no one is answering.”

“Look, why don’t you wait in our apartment. You can have a cup of tea while you wait.”

The boy said, “Thank you,” and lifted his suitcase. It was clearly very heavy; he hauled it up with both hands.

Bobby said, “What have you got in there? Corpses? Are you a teen serial killer on the run?” He reached over to help him, but the boy reacted with alarm.

He shouted, “No! I will carry it myself!”

Bobby backed off. “I am sorry. Okay, I will open the doors for you.”

The boy hesitated. His shoulders hunched from the effort of holding the suitcase up.

Bobby said, “Look, it was meant to be a joke. I was trying to put you at ease. Please come in. I was a stranger too when I came here. It’s nice when someone welcomes you.”

The boy’s shoulders eased. He said, “Thank you,” and walked forward with the suitcase. It’s got wheels, thought Bobby, why doesn’t he roll it? Strange boy. What’s he got in there – Venetian glass?

The boy looked around the apartment. Again, he bit his lips lightly and blinked often. Bobby made him some tea. “Just take it easy, I’m sure someone will be home soon. We’ll see them approaching the door, and I’ll grab them before they go up. What brings you here? We don’t often have such youthful guests?”

The boy looked down. He felt like crying but he had cried enough already. It was time to be strong now.

It was still had to believe that he was one of the thirty-six Righteous Ones appointed by God. Human life depended on their existence. It wasn’t usually a hereditary role, but his father had died young, and in his last days he had passed on the burden that he said was a blessing, to his son. The suitcase contained an armed nuclear bomb that was wirelessly connected to thirty-five similar devices around the world. The activation of one would trigger all the other devices, and human life would end.

Each righteous person was vital. Each could make or break the world.

African Sandwich Shop

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby couldn’t believe that it had happened again. Rather than telling the person sitting opposite him about his business idea, he’d allowed him to talk for the full two minutes, till it was time to move onto the next person. The Speed Networking event was fun but also stressful. He didn’t like competition and aggression; maybe he wasn’t cut out for business.

The black lady he’d spotted earlier came and sat opposite him. She wore a bright turban and kaftan. Maybe she would be interested in hearing his idea for an African sandwich shop. Or maybe she was a pushy businesswoman who would tell him about her idea instead.

“Hello, I’m Betty,” she said. “My mind is filled with many profitable possibilities, but first I would like to hear about your business idea.”

“Oh thank you,” said Bobby, taken by surprise. “I have an idea for… Oh sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Bobby, I’ve recently moved to Lucerne, and I have an idea for an African sandwich shop.”

“That sounds very interesting,” said the lady, smiling broadly, and nodding her head, her turban almost toppling. “Please tell me more.”

“Oh, yes, sure. The main constituents of a sandwich are the bread, the filling, and the spread or sauce. I’m pretty tired of what’s available at most delis. White or brown bread with mayo or marge, and turkey, ham, beef or cheese salad.”

The woman nodded deeply, the top of her turban arcing eighteen inches. “Yes! Yes! So boring!” she said. People on both sides of them looked over.

“I’ve travelled quite a bit in Africa. There are simple, rich flavours there, so strange and delicious. I wanted to make creative use of them. Not so much mix and match, more adapt and innovate…”

The woman continued nodding, her turban top now attracting much attention. “What places have you been to? What flavours did you like?”

“Just in terms of bread ingredients, we could use carbohydrates like Morroccan cous cous, Egyptian Nile barley, Ethiopian injera, Tanzanian ugali, Zimbabwean sadza, Nigerian cassava, Namibian bush potatoes, and have a weekly Saharan Special where we try something really crazy.”

“Ha! Ha! That sounds wonderful!” Her nodding was huge; her voice booming. Speed Networkers and other attendees of the New Idea Show stopped and stared. “I can help you with this. I am a trained chef and master baker. Shall we test recipes next week?”

“That would be great! Which part of Africa do you come from? We can start with that.”

“I come from the Caribbean,” she said. “St Vincent and Grenadines. Not Africa.”

Bobby hadn’t considered this possibility. He must have looked shocked. “But I come from Africa originally. We all do. That’s why I wish to help you with your business. It will reconnect us to our source.”

“Our sauce?” said Bobby, before realizing his mistake.

As a bell rang to signal the session’s end, the New Ideas Show was abuzz with talk of the African sandwich shop.

Guru Who?

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2012 by javedbabar

It was tiring meeting so many people so quickly – thirty in an hour, for two minutes each. The New Ideas Show’s Speed Networking event was however a great way to broaden your business connections and share your backgrounds and goals. Who knew what it could lead to?

The problem was that Bobby was too polite. He held back and didn’t like talking over people. What happened at most of his meetings was that the other person told him all about themselves and their ideas, and heard nothing about him. Maybe he should think of the interactions as beatings rather than meetings.

He decided that in the next one, he would go first. He would own the meeting.

It was an Indian guy with shiny black beard and orange turban and robes. Not your usual business attire, but Bill Gates wore jeans, Larry Ellison wore turtle necks, and Richard Branson wore dresses, so each to his own.

He’d spotted this Indian guy earlier, and was keen to talk to him about one of his two business ideas – a “spice cream” van, exotically flavoured ice creams for sale to ethnic communities. He could target their holy festivals and their weddings circuit.

“Hello, I’m Bobby,” he said to the Indian guy. “I’d like to discuss my idea for…”

“How do you know that?” he interrupted.

“How do I know what?”

“How do you know that your name is Bobby?”

“Look, that’s my name. That’s what it says on my driver’s licence. I’ve had it all my life. Is that good enough for you?” Jeez, who was this guy!

“It’s good enough for me,” said the Indian guy. “But is it good enough for you?”

“Of course it’s good enough for me. It’s my name. What are you getting at?” Was he trying to link his business idea with his name? Maybe he could call his product “Bobby’s Spice Cream”. But that was hardly important right now. “Look, I’m not really sure…”

“I am Makasha, a spiritual teacher who has learnt at the feet of the great Guru Baba, and acted as OM’s personal assistant.” OM was short for Ozwald Malchizedek, a controversial local figure.

Bobby’s politeness was his failing. He said, “Oh, what did you learn?”

“There are two Universal Laws that supersede all others: The Law of Attraction and the Law of Karma. The Law of Attraction says that you get what you wish for; it is a qualitative, emotional law. The Law of Karma says you get what you give; it is a quantitative, rational law. You exist at the place where these two laws meet. You are always at their centre. The only thing to choose is your orientation.”

Bobby had heard about these laws before, but not thought about them too much. Who has time these days?

“All human beings are aware of these laws, consciously or unconsciously, but they choose to ignore them, instead wasting their lives on trivial matters like making money and chasing…”

The bell rang. “Oh our time is up. It was very holy to meet you. Please take my card.” His shiny orange, gold-edged business card said “Makasha, Spiritual Master. Personal appointments from $100/hr. Corporate incentive schemes available.”

Pyramid Power

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by javedbabar

The silver-haired TV producer was an interesting fellow, if a little creepy. The bell rang at the Speed Networking event, and the outer circle of people each moved one chair clockwise.

The girl now sitting opposite Bobby was pretty. She was in her late twenties, dark-haired, with a diamond nose-stud and silver Ankh necklace. Surprisingly she wore a pin-striped business suit, rather than jeans or a dress like most ladies present. It seemed too formal for an event in Lucerne. The New Ideas Show’s Speed Networking event was about creativity not formality. At least that’s what he’d supposed.

“Hello, I’m Caroline,” she said. “And I run my own business.”

“Pleased to meet you, I’m Bobby, currently erm… in between jobs. What kind of business do you have?”

Her right eye twitched before she answered, saying, “I would like to make an appointment with you one day next week to discuss it.”

Bobby was confused by her answer. That wasn’t what he’d asked, so he repeated the question. “What kind of business is it?”

Her right eye twitched again. “I would like to make an appointment with you to discuss it.”

Momentarily he was flattered, thinking this was her way of asking him out on a date. Then he thought, who are you kidding? She’s repeating a script.

“I’m not trying to be difficult, Caroline, but how can I gauge my interest in your business if you won’t tell me what it is?”

“It is a business that is accessible to anybody who is passionate about helping others and acquiring wealth. We offer world class training in leadership dynamics, mind dynamics, and sales dynamics. Its all about beliefs and habits. If you believe you can do it, and are willing to develop productive habits, you truly can.”

“But what will I do?” He was losing patience with this woman, but was also amused. Besides, you are allowed to indulge babes.

She said, “You will develop a passive income which will be received monthly, with little effort required once you’ve set up your system. You can work flexible hours from any location.”

“That sounds great but…”

“I started last year and am already a millionaire.”

Bobby thought, maybe I’m wrong about this girl. Is she really on to something? “That’s amazing! In twelve months you’ve made a million dollars?”

Her eye twitched and she looked uncomfortable. “Not a million dollars, yet. A million friends though. Money comes and goes, but friends last forever.”

Bobby couldn’t help laughing. “You’ve got a million friends. Wonderful! Where are they all?”

“Well, I’ve only got one thousand friends myself. And if they have one thousand friends each, that’s a network of one million people, ready to make money. It’s all about relationships – like atoms at the quantum level…”

Bobby interrupted, “And how will they all make money?” He suspected this was a pyramid scheme set-up; the classic eight-ball model where rather than the steady arithmetic progression of 1+2+3+4+5=15 you use a geometric short cut of 1+2+4+8=15, which runs out of steps far quicker, leaving the smallest players struggling.

She looked away and said, “I’m not sure yet. I’m building my network first. It could be any business. I would like to make an appointment with you…”

Her Ankh caught the light and shone out. Bobby held a grudging admiration for her persistence but felt her belief was misguided, like workers in Ancient Egypt, playing their part in building a great pyramid, but only ever laying its lowest blocks.

Five Flag Theory

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby hadn’t enjoyed his first session of Speed Networking at the New Ideas Show. The lawyer had been a parasite, wanting to target victims of large-scale disasters. The term “climate sucker” sprung to mind. Bobby wondered if he had invented it.

The next person to sit opposite him for a two minute session – a minute each to introduce themselves and their ideas – seemed a curious fellow. He was a middle aged man in bright yellow blazer, blue trousers and green hat, with a black and red flower in his buttonhole. The bell rang as soon as he sat down, and they began conversing. “Can you guess my profession?” said the man. “Go on! I bet you can’t!”

“Are you a professional clown?” said Bobby.

“Professional clown! Ha! Ha! Many people say that. Actually I’m the opposite – most unprofessional! Ha! Ha! And most sober. I’m an accountant.”

He performed some hat tricks, rapidly swapping his green hat for a bronze hat, then silver hat, then golden hat, before returning the green hat. “I’m trying to attract new clients. Do you find me amusing?”

Before Bobby could answer, he produced five flags and waved them around his head. “I wish to create a more colourful image for my profession. We get unfair press. It can be stifling for one’s creativity!”

“But you need to have a reason for what you’re doing,” said Bobby. “If there isn’t a purpose behind your display, people won’t take you seriously.”

The accountant was taken aback by this. He stopped waving the flags.

“Sir, I was only jesting when I stated I was unprofessional.  I am highly proficient and most professional. My flower, for example, symbolizes the state of your bank account: in the black or in the red. My hats show the stages of an ideal investment career: from being a green investor, to earning bronze, silver, and ultimately golden returns.”

Bobby wasn’t convinced. “Then what’s with the flags? They are just distracting people.”

“Five flag theory is a valuable tax strategy. For an individual to retain sovereignty over his affairs, he should have his citizenship, residence, business, assets, and playground all in different countries, with appropriate structural advantages. I am promoting the concept of world citizenry, rather than narrow affiliations to the present paradigm of nation-states.

“When you create an us, you also create a them. I am for global equality in all matters – especially financial ones. Anyway, can’t a man have some fun at work?”

The accountant seemed like a nice fellow. Bobby had upset him and he was keen to make amends. He restarted the conversation and asked, “And where have you planted your five flags?”

He said, “Here in Lucerne of course. Five different countries? No thanks! The truth be told, I am a rather conventional fellow.”

Barratry

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2012 by javedbabar

Because of a no-show, Bobby had managed to get a spot at the Speed Networking event. He was more comfortable at these side events, than being jostled on the main floor of the New Ideas Show. He was given a name badge and asked to sit in the inner circle of thirty chairs.

Each person seated there would have two minutes with each of the thirty participants in the outer circle. They had a minute to expound their professional backgrounds and business goals, and then switch roles, before the outer circle rotated. The first man sitting opposite him looked very serious indeed. He wore a grey suit, affixed with his badge but without completed name.

The host of the event, a bald man in a blue blazer and red cravat, rang a dinner bell and conversations began. The nameless fellow said to Bobby, “Hello, I’m Jonathon Andrew, legal professional. Shall I start?”

“Sure, go ahead,” said Bobby.

“There is a distrust of lawyers among the general public.” The man licked his lips too many times for Bobby’s liking. “It’s a long-term issue, going back to medieval Europe, even Biblical times, accusing us of false and frivolous litigation, false documentation, deception, procrastination, even excessive fees! Can you believe that, men of our learning and talents? In current times this distrust is growing, leading to a significant drop in business.”

He’s very frank, thought Bobby; I wonder if he’s like that in court. Bobby knew what he meant though. When a dispute with his ex-wife had arisen, he had himself bought a legal self-help book rather than consult a lawyer. The dispute cost $7.99+tax to resolve, rather than $300+ each.

Jonathon Andrew continued. “To increase demand I am looking for people who are able to travel at short notice. Ideally single males, with good communication and survival skills.”

“What for?” said Bobby, unconsciously licking his lips.

“I’ll admit I was a sceptic at first. I thought it was just green hogwash, but after seeing so many hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods in recent years, I believe in the reality of climate change. There are sure to be more large-scale disasters like these. The poor victims must be helped to recover and rebuild their lives.”

“I’ve always wanted to do be involved in foreign aid work,” said Bobby. “What a great way to promote what you stand for.”

“That’s the spirit, boy! You’ve got the idea exactly.” He gave him a big wink. “And if we make some money in the process, why not? There’s always someone to blame for every disaster, regardless of whether it’s natural or man-made.” He licked his lips again. “The deal would be one-third to me, one-third to you, and one-third to the victim, minus fees of course.”

The bell rang indicating that the lawyer had massively overrun. There was no time for Bobby to talk about himself. He was in truth glad it was time for his next date.

Your Story

Posted in Infinite City with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2012 by javedbabar

“What’s your story?” said Masta. “Go ahead girl, tell me.”

Nadia had prepared an answer but couldn’t say anything. A world famous music producer sat in a chair before her; this was her chance to make an impression but she was nervous and stuck for words.

“Come on girl, tell me your story. I haven’t got all day.”

She cleared her throat and spoke in laboured street slang. “I had a ragged childhood, Masta. I was born in the City, Blood, with state housing blocks circling my ass. There was no jobs, nor at least not legal ones, anywhere about that hood. There was one Indie store that ripped peoples off. Because my folks was brown, people said we was greedy peoples like they was. Our windows was smashed and we had mutt-shit pushed through our door. My dad sold drugs to survive and pimped my addict mom. It was ragged, Blood. I wish I could’a…”

“Hold it, girl!” said Masta. “Hold it! Now look here. You seem like a real nice girl.”

He looked at his Homies, gathered around him; they said, “True dat.”

He continued, “Man, you could present a show on the CBC. Is that your normal way of talking?”

His Homies said, “Be true!”

“Was your childhood really like that? Come on girl, be honest.”

“Erm…” Nadia wasn’t sure how to answer. Everybody was scared of Masta. He had been Canadia’s best known performer, went on to be a global club DJ, and then a music producer for top urban acts; gritty, rhymey stuff with harsh, broken beats. He was a musical genius, admired by everybody, but loved by few. He had a ferocious temper, which she’d witnessed on TV shows; he was so mean that people cried and ran away.

The media described him as a “prodigy” or “outlier”, also an “unhinged genius”. He was someone with great originality and exceptional ability, but poor mental discipline and interpersonal skills, which led to his inability to communicate ideas to others. When people didn’t know exactly what he wanted and asked for clarification, they were shouted and screamed at, and told they were “useless f***ing idiots who wouldn’t get a job washing shit at McDonalds.”

Because he was scary, people tried to please him. They bowed and scraped and trod on eggshells, and bit their lip when fearing they’d said something wrong, which was better than Masta biting it off. Yet they knew that his genius was infectious. In one day with him, they would learn more than in one year with an ordinary producer. That’s why those that were able to – bearing thick skins and tough minds – did their best to put up with him.

Contestants on his show Music Masta generally tried to emulate him. They wore funky hats, short dreads, and chunky jewellery, and used street talk – Yo’s and Ho’s – never proper grammatical sentences. Nadia had tried to impress him with her tale of childhood, with which she’d taken considerable artistic licence, but he wasn’t buying it; what to do now?

“Girl, you’ve got ten seconds. What do they say at church? Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

His Homies put their hands to their lips and said, “Shhhh…”

Scientists have proved that it’s always easier to tell the truth. Flux MRI scans, which monitor brain stimulation, show that lying requires about four times as much activity. So Nadia told the truth.

“I had a really lovely childhood, Mister Masta. My mother made nice dinners for me, and my father read me stories in bed. My brother is five years older than me, and always brought me little presents. I grew up being a happy girl, always optimistic, and because I’m happy, I make others happy too. Life treats me well and I have nothing to complain about.”

Masta threw his hands up in the air. “That’s what I’m talking about! That’s your story! You’re a happy girl! That’s fabulous, sister! I’m not looking for more people like me; there’s enough of us gangsters polluting the planet already. I’m looking for something different and authentic. So what are you singing for me today?”

Rather than saying, “I’m the Motherf***ing Queen of Babylon,” as she had planned to, Nadia said, “When a Child is Born.”

Placemaker

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by javedbabar

“This is the place,” said Bertie. “Just perfect. What do you think?”

Shama looked around the village car park. It didn’t seem anything special, just tarmac with some potted trees. “What do you mean?” he said.

“Look, I know you’re involved with the Botanical Garden; that’s a great place too. Lots of people walk around in there before and after work, but it’s a different kind of place. It’s enclosed and full of small trails…”

Shama waved at a girl he’d chatted to in the garden. She smiled and indicated she’d be in the coffee shop. He could join her there when he’d finished with Bertie. Why was this guy so keen to bring him here? wondered Shama; it was only a car park. He said, “I’m not really involved there yet. I’ve just signed up to study. That’s all.”

Bertie said, “What are you studying? Landscape gardening?”

“It’s called Extreme Gardening,” said Shama. “But what’s that got to do with this place?”

Bertie’s eyes lit up when he said place. “I think you understand the concept of place, but you’re not being open. The Botanical Garden is a natural space, but we also need a cultural space in the village. There’s the community centre, of course, but that’s a building, not a place for public interaction; it’s part of a design philosophy that separates civic functions, and caters to cars and shopping centres rather than people. We should be creating good public spaces that promote people’s happiness, and their health and well being. A building of any kind is a contrived environment; we should create open spaces.”

Shama saw a guy he’d played soccer with last week. It was just a kick around in the car park, avoiding passing vehicles, but they’d had a lot of fun. The guy shouted, “Wanna kick around later on?” Shama gave a thumbs up, then returned his attention to Bertie. “Sorry about that. What were we saying? Oh yes, open spaces. What do they have to do with me?”

“Look. You’ve come here from the inner city. You told me the police sirens and search helicopters drove you mad, and you craved peace and quiet. Well, here you have it. But don’t you miss all the social interactions? In the city there are too many people, that’s true, and the only way to retain your sanity is to ignore them. But here in the village, we see too few people. It can get lonely. I thought you would appreciate that and support my initiative.”

Shama said, “Well, what are you trying to achieve?” Some high school kids called out to him with a chorus of “Yo!”s. He’d joined in with their rapping last week, gaining instant street cred. He shouted back, “Ho!”

Bertie said, “The way to make a real place is to use the local community’s assets, to discover their inspiration and potential. This is an agricultural area. We should focus on food – its growing, tasting and trading. That would attract local people and increase their social encounters. It would get them out of the boxes they live, travel, and work in and immerse them in the real sights and sounds of Lucerne, plus enhance their thoughts and imaginations. In the five minutes we’ve been chatting, a number of people have greeted you already. If only we could create a focus here. It could be the crossing point of a vibrant community.”

It would be a good place, thought Shama. During his life of petty crime in the city, there were certain things he’d looked for – enclosed spaces, opaque barriers, and no windows and doors nearby; flat or dim lighting, hiding places, uncontrolled access points; high risk targets out of view. Lucerne’s car park had none of these things. It was open and free. It would be perfect for natural surveillance; citizens would keep an eye on each other, and the risk of being caught was high. There would be no temptation to return to his old ways. This was The Place, he thought.