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Touchy-Feely

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was very fond of Zadam, the strange man with an upside-down head and senses reversed. Since he had met him last week, crossing the railway tracks, they had visited the coffee shop and community centre together, and met up in other places too. It was difficult to know where to go with Zadam. Wherever they went, people stared.

It was the first time that most people had seen someone with mouth and eyes reversed on his head. They didn’t even know about his ability to smell what things would become, his ability to see all sides of a situation, and his ability to hear answers rather than questions. He was an odd-bod indeed.

How about visiting the museum together; was that a good idea? Shama’s ex-wife, Dimpy, was director there, but it was a part-time position, only one or two days a week. He could go on a day when she wasn’t working.

After the split he had followed her to Lucerne in the misguided hope of reconciliation. They had never made up, and she wouldn’t let him see their daughter either. He didn’t have money to hire a lawyer right now, so would fight when he could afford to. He didn’t want to think about it; it hurt too much.

They entered the museum grounds, a few small buildings scattered around a courtyard. There wasn’t a “main museum”, but rather a collection of historic cabins filled with antiques. The cabins had been donated to, or purchased by, the museum, dismantled, transported and rebuilt.

When they entered the Roseman Cabin, Shama said to Zadam, “Please don’t touch anything. It is not allowed.”

“No touching, no touching,” said Zadam. “I don’t need to do touching. I can feel what things are like already.”

So this is another one of his qualities, thought Shama. Great! But he kept an eye on Zadam as they wandered around the cabins, looking at hand-tinted photographs, tin chamber pots, bunk-beds, and horsehair-stuffed sofas.

One cabin had been set up as a village classroom, with a large slate board and a dozen small desks. On the board was written: “Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.”

“I know about him,” said Zadam, suddenly excited. He danced the beginning of a jig. His large green coat crumpled and filled like a hot air balloon being prepared for launch. I had better get him out of the museum, thought Shama, before he breaks something, but Zadam was bursting to say something, which would only be possible once he stopped moving. “He was the stupidest man ever!”

“Who?”

“Aristotle! He said we have five senses. He said we have sight, and hearing, and taste, and smell, and touch.” He restarted the jig, and couldn’t speak for a while. “What about balance, and temperature, and posture, and pain, and time? He only knew about half of them! What about the rest? I studied them all in the hospital. I have them all! You have them all! We have them all!”

They continued looking around the cabins. They saw a baby’s crib, a tin bath, a tea urn, and then a rosewood pipe. Zadam began dancing again, and chanting, and crying. “They are all dead!” he said. “The people are dead. The things are dead. We will be dead.”

“Not for a long time,” said Shama.

“But I can feel it already.”

One Year Hitch

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy (Dimples) had three jobs now. She was Lucerne Valley Museum’s Director two days a week, taught Spatial Studies another two days per week, and was Registrar of Weddings on the remaining working day. She often thought that she worked too hard. Three different jobs meant three different offices, three kinds of skills, and three sets of colleagues every week. It was a lot to juggle. But she also found that it kept things fresh. Her life was always interesting.

She had come to Lucerne to take up the Museum job. When funding was cut, she began teaching at the college too. She thought that over time the latter would become full time, but when that was capped at two days per week she looked for other opportunities. A part time Registrar was required by the village; there was on average only one marriage and one divorce per week. The village took her on upon the condition that she attained the qualifications required within one month, and she did so.

She had been practising for a year now with no complaints, but she did often wonder what she was doing. Her own marriage had failed, leaving her with a child to raise alone, hence the three jobs.

What valuable insights did she have into marriage? That it was often entered into foolishly? That money was always an issue? That little niggles became huge arguments? That words always hurt?

In truth she had no guidance for others, but maybe she could learn something from them. Then next time – and she hoped that there would be one; she believed there would be; she affirmed it daily – things would work out better. But what if you had found the wrong person? If you weren’t right for each other could you ever make it work?

That was not her job to establish though. It was theirs. She was just interviewing people, engaging in a formality. They completed the forms and sealed the deal. Their love was – had to be – enough.

Dimpy realized though that this had been her failing with Shama. He wasn’t a bad person; he had brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues who adored him. Even she had adored him initially, but they just weren’t compatible. Her steady approach to things, which he called her “methodical madness”, and his seat-of-the-pants style, which even the devil wouldn’t care for. They disagreed on everything – holidays, cooking, cleaning, not to mention spending, and when – to be honest, with him it was if – to have babies.

Dimpy realized that her duty as a Registrar of Weddings was greater than she imagined. She should make people fight to get married. If they didn’t do that now, they would surely be fighting later. She decided that from now on she would give everybody a good grilling, like the one she had given her husband once too often. But if she hadn’t, maybe they would still be together – both unhappy forever.

No Knowledge Without College

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2012 by javedbabar

Since being appointed Museum Director, Dimpy (Dimples) had really brought the place to life. There were no more dull exhibits and long-winded labels, strange opening hours, and bans on food and drink.

Lucerne Valley Museum had become a destination! Young people now came here and brought their friends. Old Fashioned Friday was a monthly dance night that drew people from the City and beyond. A few things had been broken, and others had disappeared, but that was the cost of doing business. You gotta break some free-range eggs to make an organic Western omelette.

The annual Debaters night was also a hit. Last year’s debate between the horny old world god Cernunnos and lovely St Lucy, both wanting to be named “Founder of Lucerne”, and Dimpy’s going into labour and giving birth to her daughter Tasha right there, had become local history itself.

Dimpy had also made peace with the trustees, though they would not forgive her for discovering Lucerne’s great secret. The Old Families still kept it locked in the museum safe.

She had salvaged an Upper Valley cabin about to be torn down – the owner was convinced he was a bear; he had been hospitalized and his property sold – and she had conceived the concept of the Future Museum celebrating technology. Artificial Intelligence, programmable matter, nanobots, cold fusion, and space solar power, would all one day affect Lucerne as much as any place.

Overall, visitor numbers had quadrupled. Dimpy was pleased with herself.

The Chair of Trustees, Mr Roseman, came by one day. He said, “Can I please see you in the boardroom?”

When she entered, she saw that the whole board was present. Mr Roseman said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news, Dimpy. We all agree that you are doing an excellent job. However, The Authority’s new accounting system requires us to look at the CPV: Cost Per Visitor, for every aspect of the museum. As you know, we are all volunteers. You however are very expensive, and don’t fall within acceptable parameters. We have no choice but to cut your pay or let you go. What do you wish to do?”

Dimpy had maintained regular contact with the trustees, and attended all scheduled board meetings. This was the first time that anything like this had ever been mentioned; it was a total shock. The scheming swines! She had to think quickly to keep her post.

“What if I remained on the same daily rate but reduced my days?”

Mr Roseman said, “Well that is another possibility. Is that your preferred option?”

Dimpy had heard that Lucerne Valley College had received a grant and was keen to start new courses. Maybe she could do something there – teach a course in Museum Studies or Basic Archaeology. Maybe World History or Cultural Anthropology. Or something crazy like The Evolution of Human Consciousness and Development of the Bicameral Mind. She would think of something. But she also needed to keep what she could of this job.

She said, “Yes, how about three days a week?” The trustees said that they’d discuss her proposal and respond tomorrow.

That night Dimpy meditated upon her favourite mantra – Be Here Now.

Two words appeared in her mind – Spatial Studies.

She didn’t quite know what to make of them, and fell asleep wondering. The next morning she opened a book of quotes she kept by her bedside. St Augustine said, “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”

Dimpy realized that Lucerne was the space she occupied now. She could teach and study its living treasures.

Space Spuds

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming, Unknown with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by javedbabar

“What’s in the safe?” said Dimpy (Dimples) to Mrs. Roseman. “I’ve meant to ask you for ages but never got around to it.”

“Oh, nothing much,” said Mrs. Roseman, her white curls bobbing as she shook her head. “You’ve got enough on your plate with the little baby. Don’t you worry about it.”

It annoyed Dimpy when people told her not to worry about stuff that she wasn’t worried about. It was the same when people said “You’ll be ok” or “You’ll think of something.” Yes she would! She was a single mother fending for herself. Dimpy would always think of something and be ok, and had no time to worry, and even less time to listen to people who told her not to!

This Director’s job was the worst-paid job she’d ever had, but beggars can’t be choosers. She’d needed a job, and this was the only provincial museum recruiting. The local potato industry was booming, driven by their patented Space Spuds: blue Saturn Spuds and golden Solar Spuds. Great product differentiation had saved this otherwise struggling industry, this town, and importantly, this museum. She said, “I’m not worried Mrs. Roseman, just curious.”

“Oh, it’s just some old potatoes,” said Mrs. Roseman. She became rigid, but her white curls continued to bounce. “I mean some old machinery from Peru, where potatoes come from.”

“Really, that’s fascinating. From Peru? May I see it?”

Mrs. Roseman was still rigid, but her eyes were moving rapidly, and her white curls ending their motions. “Or maybe it’s from Pakistan, where you come from. So you already know what it looks like.”

“Really, from Pakistan?” said Dimpy. “I had no idea.” Mrs. Roseman seemed very nervous. Dimpy wondered why. “Look I’m Museum Director, and should know the resources we have available. This could make a great exhibit, even anchor a show. We could get a feature in the City Sun.” Mrs. Roseman had moved between Dimpy and the safe. “Do you have the keys?”

“I’m not sure where they are right now,” said Mrs. Roseman.

“Well who would know where they are – another trustee?”

“Yes, yes, another trustee. I will ask them at the monthly meeting.”

The monthly meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, but nobody was there when Dimpy arrived. She called Mrs. Roseman. “Where is everybody? The meeting was planned for 7pm.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. We moved the meeting to Monday. Didn’t Mr. Roseman call you?”

“No, your husband did not call me. Why did you move the meeting?”

“Oh, it was unavoidable. The trustees had clashes.” Dimpy wondered what clashes these dinosaurs had. Their average age must be a hundred. Maybe their hip-replacements were double-booked with prize bingo, or polishing their walking frames impacted a retelling of the Great Flood of ‘45. “But I asked about the safe for you. I was mistaken. It’s not machinery from Peru or Pakistan. Its private items held for the Old Families. It’s not things to show or feature.”

“Private items like what?” said Dimpy. “Do you mean valuable items?”

“Yes, very valuable things. That’s why we keep them locked up.”

“Well, I need to see those things, Mrs. Roseman.” The line went quiet. “Mrs. Roseman, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here. Sorry, my hearing’s not what it was. They are private things. Why do you need to see them?”

“I’m legally responsible for their safety,” said Dimpy. “I must ensure that insurance documents are in order. If anything were to happen to those items, we would not be covered for their loss.” So irresponsible, thought Dimpy. This wasn’t the Guggenheim, she knew, but come on! Keeping personal stuff in the museum safe!

“Nothing will happen to them here,” said Mrs. Roseman. “Don’t you worry about it.”

“Mrs. Roseman, I am worried about it! We need to discuss this matter further. Will you be in tomorrow as usual? Ok, good. Please come and see me at 10 am.”

Mrs. Roseman did not appear the next morning. She also didn’t answer her phone. She appeared the day after, looking unsettled. She couldn’t look Dimpy in the eye when speaking with her. “I spoke with the Old Families about the situation,” she said. “It seems the private items were returned by the previous trustees, for the reasons you mentioned.”

“But haven’t you been a trustee for twenty years?”

Mrs. Roseman looked down. “Oh, I was in hospital last summer. It must have been then.”

“But I was here,” said Dimpy. “Nobody told me.”

“I think you were on holiday. Anyway, there’s only museum cash in there now. The Treasurer accounts for it. So don’t worry about it!”

Mrs. Roseman!” shouted Dimpy. “Please stop telling me what not to worry about! You have made me very worried indeed! I am the Museum Director – top of the food chain – and the buck stops with me. Please ensure that keys to this safe are on my desk tomorrow morning at ten.”

Dimpy had a rare date that night. Single mothers with young children had their work cut out. He was pretty hot, and said he’d like to see her again. She smiled as she drove home… Hang on! There were lights on at the museum. Who was in there at this time?

She quietly entered the back office. Mr and Mrs Roseman had the safe door open. Mr Roseman walked towards her with a hammer but Mrs Roseman called him back. She said, “No love, it’s time she knew.” Then she said to Dimpy, “A hundred years ago we had some very special visitors. Only the Old Families know. They sought permission to extract pumice – vital for their wellbeing – from Mt. Negra. In return they gave us their seed potatoes. The old timers were not trained marketers like you. They simply named the Space Spuds by their provenance – Saturn Spuds and Solar Spuds. The original seeds are kept in this safe. The Old Families take cuttings from them yearly, using each scraping to create a new culture. This is Lucerne Museum’s secret, and now it is also yours. Assuming of course that you love your daughter. Who’s her babysitter tonight? Joanne Millman? That sounds like an Old Family name to me.”

The Debaters

Posted in Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by javedbabar

It was Lucerne Museum’s Annual Debate. Dimpy (Dimples) was pleased with herself. Who would have imagined, five years ago when she became Director, that an event at the Museum could be sold out – jammed! There was a waiting list for tickets, even a small black market she’d heard. She was a natural bringer together of people. It was her gift from God – or gods if there was more than one.

Dimpy was inspired by many sources. She recalled watching parliamentary debates in her childhood. Though the subject matter was generally uninteresting, members’ logical strategies and emotional appeals were fascinating. She had always enjoyed the Massey lectures – presenting original points of view. Recently she’d been impressed by a radio show called The Debaters, where pairs of comedians tried to provide the best combination of “facts and funny”.

Topics of debate were chosen by the Museum Board. In the past four years they had included, “Is Lucerne Village an independent entity or a slave to Strattus?” It was felt that Lucerne was basically a big bedroom for the local resort town of Strattus. “Should Lucerne Village retain its capacity or double in size?” It was felt that Lucerne should double in size. “Should Lucerne Village support old farms or modern industry?” This was declared a tie. Last year’s debate was controversial: “Should Lucerne Village create population quotas, or remain laissez faire?” The audience supported gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious, disability, and age-related quotas. People asked Dimpy why she had promoted debate on such a divisive issue. She said “That’s exactly why. People should speak freely, and think fiercely.”

Today’s topic was safer. More abstract. “Who is the true guardian of Lucerne Village: St. Lucy or Cernunnos?”

It was traditional for debaters to dress up. They did not disappoint. St. Lucy entered. She had long, blonde hair bound in plaits, topped by a wreath of greens which held seven lit candles; she wore a plain white dress, belted by a red sash; she bore a golden platter on which were small biscuits shaped like eyeballs. These symbolized the eyes that she had herself removed to be rid of a pagan suitor. She offered the biscuits to audience-members. Dimpy felt that this may be unfair, but let it go. Being eight months pregnant – the less effort expended today, the better.

Cernunnos danced in to cheers. He was dressed head to toe in a woolly brown goat skin, and bore twisting black horns. His long black boots gave the impression of hooves, and both arms and legs bore heavy golden bracelets called torcs. He carried a goatskin bag of liquor, and criss-cross belts filled with shooter glasses, which he rapidly filled and passed to audience-members. This was definitely not allowed, but Dimply also let it slide.

It was time to begin. She addressed the audience. “Welcome to the Museum’s Annual Debate. As you can see, we have a pair of very engaging characters present this evening. So without further ado, let us debate the motion of who is the true guardian of Lucerne Village. There will be four rounds in total. The first is their Arguments.”

St. Lucy wondered why they were even discussing this topic; the answer was apparent in her name. “Lucy comes from lux,” she said, “meaning light. What is more welcome in this land of long, cold, dark winters? Lucy brings light and warmth to your frozen souls. In Central Europe on St. Lucy’s day, bands of fortune-telling boys sing her songs of life; in Scandinavia, eldest daughters make warm breakfast for their families, and join processions of moon-girls and star-boys, lighting up the streets. Her Italian form, Juno, is goddess of childbirth, bringing babes into the light; and throughout Christian countries, she is the kind-hearted patron of the blind. Wherever she goes, Lucy brings joy and light.”

There was great applause from the ladies in the audience. Cernunnos made obscene gestures and leered, before beginning his Argument.

He said, “Cernunnos is a mysterious god. He moves in dark ways. His name comes from kornan, the Gaulish word for horn. His having horns or antlers shows his kinship with beasts, of whom he is Lord, and he sits cross-legged, surrounded by stags, bulls, serpents, dogs, and rats. His horn is both a ceremonial trumpet and military horn. He loves all kind of adventures, and the wealth they lead to – both as tribute and as experience. But most of all, he is horny, period. His horn shows his love of life – symbolizing its cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. So good people, be horny and vote for me!”

Every man present cheered. St. Lucy averted her eyes.

Dimpy said “Now the Bare Knuckles round,” This became pretty heated, with Cernunnos calling St. Lucy a prude, and her calling him a pervert. He didn’t seem to mind this moniker and made further obscene gestures. The Firing Line round involved questions about Lucerne Village. St. Lucy fared better on social issues and family affairs; Cernunnos performed well on leisure and economic matters. Then their final Summations: St. Lucy spoke of brightness, faith, and culture. Cernunnos extolled self-expression, darkness, and nature.

When Dimpy asked the audience to vote, there were big cheers for both sides. She requested a re-cheer. Again it was impossible to decide. A third and final round of cheering caused her water to break and her labour to start early. Fortunately Dr. Bungawalla was in the audience and took charge. It all happened in a flash, and a babe emerged before them.

St. Lucy said that as goddess of childbirth, this miracle was hers. Cernunnos said that as a fertility god, the credit was all his. Dimpy ruled that the baby was crying out for them both. Lucerne Village was a place of light and dark. They were both her newborn’s guardians.