Archive for beats

Full Moon Party

Posted in Global Travel, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was enjoying his night out with Guru Baba more than he’d imagined. Being given the day off by his holy bossman was great, but he hadn’t been happy about its consequence, which was working all night. But working tonight seemed to involve walking around fields under a full moon, chatting. It wasn’t so bad.

Guru Baba asked, “Did I tell you about when I went to a Full Moon Party? No? Well I should! It was a great experience. I don’t usually like big parties. They are too crowded, too noisy, they go on too late, the toilets are disgusting, and drinks are so expensive!

“You mean alcoholic drinks?” said Sami. “I didn’t know that you drank.”

“Occasionally,” said the sage coyly. “Why not?”

“You are a world famous holy man; I thought you’d want to set an example.”

“I do, don’t I? I think that you should enjoy yourself. Do you know that Lord Krishna stole butter as a child, and danced all night with married women? He is known as the Supreme Enjoyer. He’s my example.” Sami didn’t know what to say.

Guru Baba continued, “Anyway, about the party. I was taken by a friend to a beautiful, crescent-shaped beach with bone white sand. Many disc jockeys – you still call them that, don’t you? – had set up their sound systems, right along it. They played all kinds of tunes – house music, reggae, R&B – is that rhythm and blues? – and fast crazy music that my friend said was called psychedelic trance. I don’t know if people there were taking drugs or not, as there was a visible police presence, or maybe they were in on the action too. We danced all night, and then had food and drinks, then danced some more, and rested in the surf as the sun rose.”

Sami was enthralled by Guru Baba’s story. He’d never been to any parties like that. It sounded amazing.

“There were no barriers that night, no inhibitions, just enjoyment. Everybody was drawn there by the moon, creating unified intentions. You could feel the moon magic.

“People seemed ghostly, and they spun and blew white fire. Couples circled each other like the moon and earth, their tattoos like mysterious lunar markings. Somebody gave me a coconut chopped in half. When I peered into it, it looked like the full moon. On their bodies people had painted neon pink, orange and green messages about the moon and stars, and magic and love. Most people ended up in the sleep area – doing just that – making love.”

“What did you do, Guru Baba?”

The sage smiled coyly. “Didn’t I tell you that Krishna was my role model, the Supreme Enjoyer?”

Sami was embarrassed by this revelation and tried to move the conversation on. “Such great fun you had before becoming a holy man, Guru Baba.”

“What are you talking about? It is since I became a holy man. I went to that party last month, while you were away visiting your grandma.”

Tea-Jay

Posted in Global Travel, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , on February 11, 2012 by javedbabar

Natasha waited in line at the Transparent Temple – the nickname for their state-of-the-art community centre. Damn, she thought, there’s almost two hundred people here already; I wish I’d come earlier. Still, she remained hopeful.

“What do you think of our chances?” said the boy. He was being friendly, but also chatting her up, she thought. He appeared somewhat nerdy, but didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. There was no need yet to pull out her pepper spray.

“Pretty good,” said Natasha. “But I wish they were better.”

“I came at six am, and there was hardly a soul here,” said the boy. “So I went for a…”

“A coffee!” Natasha burst out laughing. “That’s what I did too. How stupid. I was only gone half an hour, and came back to this. By the way, I’m Natasha.”

“Hi, I’m Bobby. Have you attended a Tea Party before?” The queue eased a little, and they moved forward two feet.

“No, but I’ve been dying to go for ages. I missed the one in the City, and the one in Strattus. I’m so glad they decided to do an extra date here.”

Tea Parties began in England last year, and were now a global phenomenon. Their Anglo-Indian founder had very fond memories of clubbing from his youth, but now he’d hit forty, could no longer take the pace. He decided his future lay in being Teetotal: totally devoted to tea.

There are two origin stories for tea. The first concerns the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. He was sitting beneath a Camellia Sinensis tree while his servant boiled water, a common practice to purify it. A leaf from the tree blew into the water, creating a pleasing aroma.  Shen Nung tried the brew and declared it an auspicious drink. The second story is that of Indian sage Bodhidharma, who spread Buddhism to China. He practiced very fierce austerities, believing in the power of ceaseless meditation and prayer. He fell asleep one day, and was so disgusted with himself that he cut off his own eyelids, and threw them away. From these holy relics the first tea bush sprouted.

The founder of Tea Parties was inspired by this story, and adoped the name of the sage. The new Bodhidharma decided there was a higher way to have fun, to connect with others, to avoid the toxins of alcohol and drugs, and negative effects of dehydration and sleep deprivation. The Way was all day Tea Parties.

“One of my friends has gone crazy,” said Bobby. “He’s taken a year’s sabbatical from his law firm, and attended Tea Parties all over the world. He started in England, where he had the most amazing luck. A girl he met in an arty bar knew one of the Tea-Jays. She got him into the Tea Party at Buckingham Palace! It was a classy affair; Will and Kate were there.”

“Wow!” said Natasha. “Now that’s what I call networking. Where else did he go?”

“The English Party was prim and proper. There was Earl Grey tea in bone china cups, followed by ballroom dancing. He wanted to try another country so went to India. He must have turned on the charm, because he got invited to attend a Tea Party at the Taj Mahal. They sat in rose-gardens and drank spicy chai from small clay cups, and then engaged in bhangra dancing, before smashing them. Next he went to Russia, and believe it or not, made it to the Kremlin. They mixed teas from a giant samovar, added vodka, and did Cossack-dancing. He particularly enjoyed that one. He went on to China, Korea, and Japan. In Japan they…”

Bobby cut the conversation when the line jumped forward. Within a few minutes he and Natasha were at the front of the queue. The bouncers waved them in. “Well aren’t you going to search me?” said Bobby. Natasha was surprised; most people would have gladly been spared the indignity of a body search. However you attempt to civilize it, it is, essentially, hairy dimwits groping you. But Bobby insisted upon it. And now that this protocol was established, bouncers searched Natasha and everyone else.

“What was that about?” said Natasha. “Because of you my pepper spray and mickey of rum got confiscated. No one else seemed bothered.”

“I’m sorry to upset you. But the essence of a Tea Party is purity. We can’t have people bringing in additives. That would ruin the whole effect.” Natasha shook her head. Maybe he was a creep after all – and now she was defenceless. She decided to distance herself from Bobby. She smiled and said, “See you later.”

The Tea Party wasn’t starting for another hour yet, but the Tea-Jay was already at his blending desk. And it wasn’t just some local lad with an ipod. Tea-Jays undertook a one-year, full-time apprenticeship. Internships in Ottawa – or at Google, Facebook, or Goldman Sachs – were child’s play compared to acceptance onto the Tea-Jay program. It was said that twelve people had been trained by Bodhidharma, of whom only six graduated. Their identities were never revealed. Today’s Tea-Jay wore a V for Vendetta mask. It was a little creepy.

Natasha seated herself on a cushion in half-lotus position. There was an even split of girls and guys, maybe 250 people in all.

The lights were dimmed, and soft chants filled the hall. The first cup was served. It was a delicate brew.

Chants became stronger. The second cup was served. It had a fresh flavour.

Light beats kicked in. The third cup was served. It had a hint of cinnamon.

Beats became harder. The fourth cup was served. It tasted of maple and chocolate.

A counter melody came in. The fifth cup was served. Its taste was of peppermint, and vanilla, and clotted cream.

The melody ascended. The sixth cup was served. It held many flavours – toffee, whisky, and yeast; melons, quail, and burnt caramel.

The melody expanded, and filled the room. The seventh cup was served. It was the agony of leaves unfolding, giving every part of themselves. It did not contain the previous mistakes of starting at the bottom – with bohea leaves, and working your way up to flowery orange pekoe. Instead you started at the bud, and worked downwards, encompassing all possible flavours. There were no broken leaves that had been crushed, torn and curled; only whole leaves that were withered and rolled by Masters. High rainfall and high elevation were there. Black, White, Oolong, Green, and Fermented teas. This final cup was brewed at the highest temperature to extract the large complex phenolic molecules. These active substances were shared with all the Tea Lovers present here now. They spoke of love, and beauty, and poetry; of hope, faith, and courage; of sadness and despair; and of dreams coming true, and spending forever immersed in bliss.

Bodhidharma didn’t mind filling in for his Tea-Jays in a crisis, and he enjoyed queuing up with the crowd. It gave him a feel for the energy present, plus helped to preserve his anonymity when entering and leaving. He preferred being known as Bobby rather than Bodhidharma. He smiled behind the blending desk and thought, “Another successful Brewing; Complete Infusion.” He wondered if they even knew that they were all on their feet, dancing and chanting, “Camellia Sinensis!”

God's Guest

Posted in Alternative Energy, World Myths with tags , , , , on January 27, 2012 by javedbabar

It was foolish to leave it so late but at least he’d started. Rob had laid down the structure, and now it was time to fill in the blanks. It was mainly stuff he knew – which had been swirling around in his head for weeks – but he had yet to distil a conclusion. The issue was how to install the first four wind turbines without killing birds? He’d been trying to push this project through a year. The client was okay with the turbines’ power production and payback period, but stalling on their danger to birds. Sure a few would get mangled; what could you do? This was the cost of green energy.

As he took his last mouthful of pinot noir, his fingers were flowing. Tap-tap-tap. Thank God he could touch-type. That halved the time. Touch-type. Tap-tap. Tap. There was another tapping. Was it the boiler settling? Or some part of the cabin cracking? Tap. No, it was someone knocking. At this time? Tap.

“Hello,” said the woman. “Can I stay here tonight?”

Rob was baffled. Was this a joke? Before him stood a woman of about sixty, in too many layers, surrounded by bags. There wasn’t the tang of pungent oranges, but she hadn’t seen a shower in a while; and her clothes were strangers to the laundry. “Are you lost?” he asked eventually.

“No, I wanted to stay here,” she said, then spoke in a flurry. “Someone gave me a ride up the Valley, they were very kind. It was a little out of their way, but they brought me here. I didn’t tell them where I was going, of course. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the ride. But it was dark you see, and I don’t have a vehicle. I couldn’t have made it otherwise.”

“Where do you think you are?” said Rob, peering behind her.

“At the shelter of course.” She smiled as she spoke, her cheeks becoming hard and round.

“The shelter?”

“Yes, the women’s refuge. You’re less welcoming than I remember.”

“Less welcoming?” said Rob. “Excuse me.” He took a few steps past her, to see if anyone else was there. “Are you really by yourself?” She nodded, still smiling. She was about to speak but didn’t. “Why are you here?”

The woman’s face fell; her eyes jolted as if he’d told her that someone had died. Rob realized that he was “in a situation”. He said, “Ok, come in. Let’s have some tea.”

She cradled the cup between her palms, enjoying its cosy cheer. “Nice cup,” she said, testing the china. Tap-tap. She told him that she had once lived in Lucerne. This building was used as a home for distressed women and their families. Whatever their trauma – financial, marital, or criminal – this was a place of safety for them when they fled their nests. It was in a discreet, out-of-town location, and the neighbours all had dogs, treating visitors to a canine chorus. She’d never needed to stay at the shelter herself, but knew women who had taken flight there. “When was this?” said Rob.

“Twenty years ago,” said the woman.

“Twenty years ago!” said Rob reflexively. He saw her flinch and become fearful.

“Have I made a mistake?” she said. “Oh dear. This isn’t the refuge, is it?” She twisted her hands together and looked down. “I’d better go.” She stood up and began to collect her bags, three in each hand, looking like a fussing bird.

“Hang on a minute,” said Rob. “Where will you go?”

“I’m not sure. Back into town. Do you think I will find a ride at this time?”

“Look, I can give you a ride if you want. I have friends who own a B&B.” Then he realized that a bag lady would not be seeking three-star accommodation. “Scratch that. Listen, why don’t you stay next door?” He felt ashamed even as he said it; a woman like his mother, and he was sending her to an unheated garage. “Scratch that too. Why don’t you stay here tonight?” But here was a single female looking for a women’s shelter, and he was asking her to share with a male. She didn’t say anything, just smiled nervously.

There was no solution to this problem, thought Rob. And on top of that, the old woman had broken his flow of thoughts. He had to present his findings at 9am tomorrow, and now he had a crazy houseguest. What to do?

The woman relaxed after her second cup of tea. Tap-tap. She took off her coats. Beneath was a full length, bright blue dress, filled with white swirls. “It’s amazing what people throw away,” she said.

She looked around and then said, “The local hospital closed down and there are no hospitals nearby. So I have to travel very far. When they do blood tests, they take four big tubes full of my blood. I say why? They say there are four different laboratories. Ginger is good for acidity, garlic is good for joints; onions, I don’t know, but I put them in everything. I do a big shop monthly, someone takes me, and a small shop daily on my walk.” She was an animated speaker, and her dress shifted as she spoke. The white swirls were moving, almost spinning, as they followed her elbow and knees motions.

Rob let her keep talking for a while, and then said, “I have an important meeting tomorrow. Please excuse me, I must go to bed. Will you be alright on the couch here?”

She made a sour face, which annoyed him. Then she said, “Do you have a separate room?”

“Yes, I will be in my bedroom. You will be alone here.”

“No,” she said. “I mean for me. I need privacy.”

The cheek of this woman! Rob could have her thrown out, but where would she go? He said ok, showed her to the bedroom, took her coats and bags there also, and settled himself on the couch. He heard her lock the bedroom door.

When Rob awoke, he realized that he would have to work quickly to complete his presentation. It was best to go straight to the office and finish it there. He knocked on her door. Tap-tap. But there was no reply, and it was locked from within. He peered in from outside. The window was ajar, with a few blue feathers caught in the grille. He called her again but she didn’t answer, and it was too dark within to see. Damn that woman! He didn’t have time to deal with her right now, so drove to work. He opened his windows for fresh air.

Down the Meadows Road, he saw a mass of clouds milling in blue sky. It almost seemed like beats from his dance tunes made them whirl. One tune in particular sent them crazy. It was by a British band fronted by a bald black man. When its powerful riff exploded – a swirling tap-tap-tap-tap – a flock of blue birds shot into the sky and flew away rapidly.

Dark Harp

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , on January 8, 2012 by javedbabar

The crowd at the Great Hall funked and grooved. They shook their bootys and whirled round and around. They were more dervishes than dancers, their souls lost in sound.

The Harpees didn’t play here too often. Ever since they won the World Fusion Championships, they were always touring. But this was their home town, and they didn’t forget their own. They were a twelve piece band with two basses, two sitars, bongo drums, tablas, two trumpets, keyboardist, harmonium, violinist, and lead harpist. Each instrument played its part beautifully, but the harp was what made their band really special. The vibrations of its strings climbed high, touching people’s hearts and dreams. And it was a unique instrument. While other instruments gave feedback – muddying the music – the harp never did. It produced only pure sound.

Rufus gave a final flourish, and set all of its strings vibrating. He dropped his head sharply to end the number, and the rest of the band followed his lead. There was huge cheering and applause. The band thanked their loyal fans who had set them on the road to stardom, and called it a night.

Before Rufus had even stopped sweating, the manager of Resonance – the recently completed apartment block in the centre of town – came to bug him. He wanted The Harpees to endorse his building, continuing its musical advertising campaign. This had included taglines like “Sounds good!”, “In tune with you!”, and “Live in harmony!” Rufus said he didn’t have time right now.

No matter how many times you’ve done it before, teardown is always a messy business. There’s always mounds of boxes, jumbles of plugs, and a jungle of wires. The building’s steps made it even more work than usual humping the gear. Finally everything was loaded, and Rufus drove home. They had to hit the road tomorrow, so he left his gear in the truck. He didn’t sleep well that night, which was unusual. He usually soared heavenward.

The next morning was the worst of his life. He checked and rechecked but the harp was gone. Had he misplaced it, he wondered? Or had someone taken it in error? After all, instrument cases were all dark and bulky; they could easily be confused. Yet he recalled placing it into the truck carefully. He really didn’t want to consider it, but the only real possibility was that someone had stolen it!

Rufus held his head in his hands and snarled like a dog. He was so angry, he could not think. He could only feel colours.

When his Grandpa gave him the harp, he’d said, “It’s been in the family for centuries, and I have been its guardian for fifty years. It’s now your turn, Rufus. But don’t lock it away somewhere. It is alive I tell you! Play it! Play it! Play it for the world!”

At first it had been hard to know what to do. It wasn’t the coolest instrument, or the easiest to master. Dull black wood with a hundred strings. But Rufus persevered and became proficient. He started out as a street-musician, then joined a chamber orchestra, and later a local experimental band. He played so well that he displaced the lead guitarist, and became “lead harpist”. Eventually they changed their name from The Spudees to The Harpees, and the stage was set.

“All instruments have souls, and they respond to others,” his Grandpa had said. “But this harp has seen too much in its lifetime. It braved two wars. Now it makes its own music, that is all, and doesn’t echo the sounds of other instruments. It is like a great person, who is sure of himself but wary of the crowd. And because he stands apart bravely, he attracts others.”

Rufus hadn’t known what to make of that, but the musical benefits were clear. There was no feedback, and thus clarity and force in performance. Its sound would rise above all others.

But now the harp was gone. He had lost it! Rufus snarled again. His hearing was so keen that he could detect the quiver of a nearby string. But he knew that even if he drove around the Village, house by house, playing other instruments, the harp would never answer back. It gave no feedback. Its special quality was now its loss.

Of course they cancelled the rest of the tour. Rufus stayed at home. He was mainly quiet, but sometimes found himself snarling.

That night there were strange occurrences in the Village. Dogs barked non-stop, and the glass in shop windows kept trembling. Reflections distorted and shook.

The next night everyones’ car alarms went off everywhere, and many streetlights shattered. Everybody in the coffee shop was talking about these strange events. Had there been a series of small earthquakes? Or maybe some kind of electrical-field reversal?

Only Rufus knew. The harp had broken its long silence. It was responding to his call.

The third night, the Village fire-trucks’ lights and sirens came on. Also those of the ambulances, and the police cruisers. The centre of town was like a fairground. Emergency personnel all turned out in response to the sirens, and it’s a good job they did.

The Resonance building crumbled into dust. It wobbled initially, and then fell flat. Fortunately the manager had noticed some cracks that evening, and evacuated the buildings’ few occupants before he disappeared. No one was hurt.

Some days later, among the rubble of Resonance, was found a large black instrument case. Inside was a dark harp.