Archive for transformation

Next Kiss

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami looked around in desperation. What was the best test for knowing if you were dreaming or awake? Asking another person was the best test he could think of, so he asked the man lying in his arms, smiling, staring up at him, dead. “Guru Baba, am I dreaming?”

The smile seemed to broaden, or was he imagining that?

All around him, people stood open-mouthed. There were hundreds of people, maybe thousands. He realized where he was. He was in Lucerne’s Transparent Temple at Guru Baba’s darshan – holy viewing. He recalled the holy man saying he was going to “change into somebody else”. Had he been talking about Sami or himself?

Guru Baba lay in Sami’s arms with his eyes wide open, as if seeing everything, but Sami knew he wasn’t. A minute ago he had kissed Sami on the lips, and said, “It is you,” before falling away.

Sami heard people chattering. He didn’t look up at them, just stared at their shoes.

“He is not dead. He is resting immaterially.”

“The Guru will never die; he lives forever in our hearts.”

“Did he appoint a successor?”

“We must find his reincarnation. What are the signs?”

Sami’s mind could not acknowledge the situation. It was too strange, too much to handle. Guru Baba had said to him, “It is you.”

He thought back to when they had first met, on the New City bus to Lucerne. He had noticed a strange brown man, with long black beard, orange robes and ASICS trainers, and smiled at him, prompting the man to leave his seat and sit next to Sami.

Their sudden intimacy was surprising. The strange brown man had talked non-stop for three hours, and Sami had developed a headache, mainly from laughing. The guy’s main topic was sports shoes.

“I thought that modern life is all running around. I am an Indian holy man, yes, but I am also a modern citizen, so I must also run around. I did research. I tried sneakers in many sports shops. They said to run in them to test them, so I ran twenty-six miles to see if they were suitable for marathons. I tried Reebok, Puma, Fila, New Balance, and ASICS. ASICS were the best ones. I tried Nike too, but they have a bad reputation among spiritual people, you know, since the Heaven’s Gate people wore them and killed themselves. They also name shoes after Irish terrorist groups. They really make killer shoes! And Adidas, with the rubber shackles, made a joke of slavery. I know, all sneakers are made in sweat shops, but what can we do?”

Sami was stunned. How did a seventy year old Indian holy man know so much about sneaker culture?

Guru Baba said, “There are many kinds of sneakers – high tops, low tops, mid cut, sneaker boots, trail shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, but they all share one quality. They are humble. They cover the lowest part of the body, touching the ground. They take daily pounding, and don’t mind getting dirty as long as they save the feet.”

At the end of the bus journey, when they separated, Baba kissed Sami on the lips. He had had found it creepy and pulled back, but then had a change of heart.

He realized that this kiss, all true kisses, were far deeper and more lasting than any erotic connotation. They showed loyalty, affection, gratitude, compassion, sympathy, joy and sadness, and held the redeeming power to cast off spells. Princesses were changed back from dragons, and Beauty’s Beast into a prince. People kissed the Pope’s ring, the Torah, The Kaaba’s black stone, Krishna’s feet and Buddha’s bones. A reciprocal kiss was a greeting and farewell, and a blown kiss went straight from your heart to heaven.

His meeting Guru Baba was as surprising as his parting. Both sneaked up on him unexpectedly.

He removed the old man’s robe to reveal Road Runner boxer shorts, draped the robe around himself, and called forward the next person to kiss.

Salmon Rush Die

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Salmo swam around listlessly.

He had enjoyed the party. It was always good to see old friends, especially those that had been with him every inch of the way. This was the last time they would see each other; he should make the most of it.

The party didn’t feel right though.

Salmo was part confused and part angry. Here they were, having this great celebration, feasting on smaller fish, shrimp and squid, and plankton for those so inclined, racing and chasing, smooching and shaking, and having good times, before everyone going on his or her own way in the morning. It was their great separation and return.

So what was his issue? Why was he creating a vortex while everyone else was dancing in rings? Was it because he was the only one not completing the cycle of life ordained to his kind?

Salmon must return to their natal streams. They must use their powers of heart and mind, and all six senses, to seek out their source. Why didn’t he want to do it?

Someone brushed past him. He felt a slick glide and a playful flick, and knew it was Salma. “What’s up,” she said, “not enjoying the grad party?”

He said, “I’ve told you before. I don’t feel the call. I’ve lived in the open ocean for many years, and don’t want to return to a little river.”

“But don’t you want to go home?”

Salmo slowed down. He often did this when thinking. Good job he didn’t need to think when killer whales were around; his manoeuvres then were purely driven by instinct.

He said, “But home – is that here or there? I can sense the river but don’t remember it; my knowledge of it is purely physical. My body transformed there, preparing me for a life in salt water; there was a period of adjustment, yes, in brackish water, but…”

“I remember that period too,” said Salma. “Older ones taught me to regulate fluid pressure. Sometimes it became too concentrated, and I felt fat and heavy, and sometimes it was too dilute, and all I could do was float. But it was a conscious process, don’t you remember, really?”

Salmo swam to the right and Salma followed him. They had both sensed dolphins ahead. Better steer away from them sooner rather than later.

Salmo said, “My chemistry changed. My body changed. My spirit changed. I became a sea creature. I had no reason to hold on to my past little life. It felt like something to leave behind.”

“But that’s our life’s purpose – to return.”

“I know that Salma. But don’t you think it’s strange that our bodies start to deteriorate as soon as we enter fresh water again? By heading to the place we call home, we’re killing ourselves. Why become salmon rushing to die? Instead of going back, I would rather go further on, somewhere new.”

“But that’s not our place, Salmo.”

“That’s the issue, sister. What is our place? I fear that my place doesn’t exist anymore. I sense the two-leggeds have stopped the great rivers, poisoned the waters of rivers that still flow, and destroyed the wetlands. If I’m making the last great journey of my life, I want to go somewhere worth going.”

He sensed there was also a positive effect to the two-legged’s dabbling. Global warming caused icecaps to melt, creating new currents and rivers. He could swim with these waters to many new places, and if he found a place of hope, he could yet complete his life cycle.

Additive Manufacturing Processes

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by javedbabar

It was sad to see the General Store closing down. It had been here from the very beginning, supplying essential goods to settlers, making their lives and the development of the Lucerne Valley possible.

Everything changes in time. The owner was surprisingly stoic. Though he hadn’t been present for the store’s full 108 years of trading, he had been born there, and lived and worked there for the 72 years since then. The reason why he’d never married and had children was because he was stuck there.

He said to Sami, “I am bored selling stuff here, and people are bored buying stuff here. Either we replace me, or we replace the people. That’s the situation. It’s a lot easier to replace me, so I’ve sold the place to a young guy from the city. He seems like a smart kid. Maybe he’ll know what to do with it.”

Sami had only been in town for a year, serving as the retired holy man Guru Baba’s assistant, but he’d developed a deep attachment to Lucerne. He was sorry to see the demise of this institution. Hopefully the new owner would see the value of heritage; he could continue the business, and even expand it, if he had good marketing and business plans.

When the shop’s renovation began, Sami’s hopes were dashed. It was a wholesale remodeling. The old – admittedly pokey, leaky, rotting and rusted – features of the store were removed or replaced to create a plain aesthetic. It seemed more a workshop than a store.

Finally a new sign went up, saying “AMP co.” The AMP was in a robot font formed of cut out grey metal letters. The co. was in black italics, also metal cut-outs. The whole sign was backlit golden.

An electrical store, here? thought Sami. If there wasn’t enough business for the general store, who would open an electrical store? The previous owner had said that people were bored with buying stuff here; even his modest “Technology” department hadn’t survived. People went to big box stores in malls or bought online. Who did the new owner expect to be his customers?

The new owner was a Chinese guy. Sami waved when he saw him one day, and he was beckoned in. “Hi, I’m Alfred Choo, proprietor of this fine establishment.” He explained that yes, people were bored with buying stuff here, but he believed that they would be keen on making stuff here.

“Making stuff like what?” said Sami.

“That’s what the mayor asked when I told him my plans, but then he saw my point. I’ve received a grant from the Authority, credit from my bank, and a tax break from the village. I have purchased all the components required and built the first prototype. Would you like to see it?”

He took Sami into the back room. There was a machine like a large photocopier with additional wires, cogs and levers.

“Here it is, a 3D printer. The nature of commerce is about to change. People will no longer buy things. They will be able to make them themselves just as easily and cheaply. Anything they want. I’m testing it right now. What shall we make?”

Sami’s mouth hung open. He said the first thing that came to mind, “Another printer.”

Dirty Hairy Beast

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami had witnessed many strange things with Guru Baba, his holy bossman, but tonight had beaten them all. He had been given the day off so that he could “work all night”, a night which involved walking around a boggy field, looking at the moon.

Guru Baba asked him, “Do you like animals? Yes, you do? But you don’t have any pets. You said that you had some when you were a child, but never since then. Why is that?”

“I had a goldfish first, then a tropical snail, then an iguana, and a blue budgie called Neelum, and a striped cat, Mr. Tiger, then a poodle named Biswas. Biswas bit me and my parents had him put down. After that I became scared of dogs, and most other animals with sharp teeth and claws.”

Guru Baba said, “Ahhh…” and then nothing more.

They looked at the moon. It was getting low and had acquired a red hue, the colour of bloody water. It made Sami feel sick; it seemed to be swirling.

“Are you scared of people too? They can be just as dangerous as animals.”

“Well, I guess if I met a murderer, I would be scared. But generally, no. It is animals’ teeth that frighten me really. I think they’re going to bite me.”

Guru Baba opened his mouth wide. His teeth seemed sharper than before. Was Sami’s mind playing tricks now?

“Who are you most scared of?” said Guru Baba. “Animals or humans?”

Sami noticed that Guru Baba’s eyebrows seemed very close together. His nails were sharp, and his ears low-set. He’d always sported a full beard, but now his cheeks and forehead seemed hairy too.

Sami saw movement in the forest beyond the field. He looked at the trees carefully, but couldn’t make out anything unusual. Then there was movement again. He saw a dark shape, and then another one, and then many more.

Sami became pale and said, “Guru Baba, I’m scared. There are animals moving in the forest around us. Can you see them? I think they could be cougars. They might attack us.” Lucerne was famous for its wildlife. Bears, coyotes, cougars and bald eagles lived in the forests and mountains around.

“It is not cougars, it is wolves. There are many around here. They gather at full moons.”

Sami saw that Guru Baba’s eyes were bright yellow.

He stood transfixed by his gaze.

Was he a shape-shifter or some sort of demon?

Sami tried to scream but nothing came out.

He tried to move but his feet remained rooted in the boggy field.

Then he growled and broke free.

Sami ran with a swinging stride and howled at the moon.

Each village has its traditions. Every harvest moon, Lucerne ran amok with werewolves. It was nothing to get upset about.

Swirling

Posted in Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by javedbabar

Suzi saw him every morning. The Bakerman arrived at four a.m. looking dreadful. What did he do at nights – stay out drinking and dancing till the small hours? Maybe he was O.K. with less sleep, but Suzi wasn’t. For her to arise before four, she must be in bed by eight p.m. She needed her beauty sleep. What if one day he asked her out on a date? He was only likely to do that if she looked the part. There was the issue of how she would stay awake during the date, but if things progressed well there would be no sleeping; he would clutch and squeeze her till dawn – or opening time if sooner. She could sleep after that.

She watched him unlock the door and switch off the alarm. Once he wasn’t quick enough and it began bleating and flashing, and it looked like he was in a club dancing to a trance tune, the strobing blue light making it seem he was appearing and disappearing. He was her magic Bakerman.

He switched on the lights and the master power switch. Once a light bulb blew, shattering like a phosphoric bomb. What did they make them with now – mercury? It must have spread poison. Or maybe it was just glass fragments. It was a serious thing to happen in a bakery – glass in bread. He closed for the day and hired a specialist cleaner to remove the hidden shards.

He dragged out sacks of flour and measured portions. There was Whole Grain, oat flour, spelt flour, rice flour, rye, and good old fashioned, unrefined, bleached white flour. He used these flours for his breads, bagels, brioches, muffins, tarts, and rolls. He was an old fashioned baker using only bowls and rollers, and of course his hands to knead and punch. She imagined him beating her flesh like bread, not hard, just playfully. Enough to sting her.

Transformation required pain. A minimum of compromise and self-sacrifice and, if you were serious, rituals that caused irreversible harm. Circumcision, scarification, head-shaping, and ear-stretching. Even tattooing, marking you as different and changed forever.

His first round of baking was done by six. Truckers came in as soon as he opened the doors. Sometimes they were waiting already. Beef wanted two muffins and a double-double Americano. Taylor switched between sandwiches and bagels. Nancy loved his brioches, but would settle for tarts. It was a wonder that she kept her figure, being a full time trucker and daily pastry consumer.

Suzi went in at seven daily for a cappuccino and spelt or rice flour muffin. Something relatively healthy. She went again at twelve for a sandwich and smoothie. Her favourites were the turkey breast door stop and strawberry banana fruity. Her third visit daily was at four for tea and cake – Assam and whatever he’d made that day.

The Bakerman was nice to her initially – all welcomes and smiles. But one day she’d mentioned that she was attending a party and asked if he’d like to come along. Well to be precise, she’d asked him to “be her date”. She recalled his look of horror. It was as if the thought was so ridiculous that it had never occurred to him. He recovered quickly but too late for her to remain under any illusions. He clearly found her disgusting.

Suzi never went to the Bakery again. She went cold turkey. This didn’t stop her watching him though. His daily comings and goings. She felt most sad in the afternoons.

She missed his rainbow cake, with red, green, blue and gold, all swirling together. Rainbows were created by sun and rain. His smile and her tears.

She missed his marble cake. The brown and white whorls moving within and around each other. They were yin and yang. He and she.

Most of all she missed his Vanilla sponge cake. A simple flavour spread throughout it, combined with the flour forever.

To say she didn’t go to the Bakery wasn’t entirely true. She just held a different schedule. His keys had been easy to copy, and she’d figured out his codes by watching, so every Sunday she broke in at midnight. It was just to smell him. The breads and bagels he’d made the day before. She pushed her face into them. Smelled their cruel perfume. Once she didn’t reset the alarm properly, which he triggered when he entered. Once she’d removed a fuse to disarm the alarm, causing a bulb to explode. Sometimes she tested ingredients to ensure that they were worthy to touch his hands.

Today she had a special ingredient to add to his sourdough. Cyanide would put him behind bars for sure. At least there he would welcome her visits. Transformation requires pain.

Conditioner

Posted in Unknown with tags , , on January 16, 2012 by javedbabar

All that time alone beneath vehicles caused Mark to philosophize. The word engine comes from the Latin ingenium, he thought, meaning ability. And motor from the Latin word for mover. Wasn’t that the essence of it all – motion. But if you want to transform chemical to mechanical energy, you have to take care of the toxins, and of course the noise. An exhaust system acts as a conditioner, improving the quality of air expelled. The engine exhaust and sound pressure share the same complex exit pathway. Somewhat like a person’s “exhaust system”. Now if you…

“Have you got any accounts?” someone said quickly. It was a strange, thin voice, as if constipated.

“Hello!” he called out.

“Have you got any accounts?”

Mark pulled himself out from beneath the Frontier. Nice truck that one. Not from around here; it’s clean below, not much salt. A tall, smartly dressed fellow peered down at him. His electric blue eyes matched his tie and cuff-links. “Hello,” said Mark. “Did you want to set up a company account?”

“No, I meant do you have any bank accounts I can use to transfer money?”

“Huh? What for?” said Mark, wiping his hands.

“That’s not your business. But I’ll make it worth your while. You’ll get 5% for doing nothing. Handy in these tough times, eh?”

Mark changed his mind. He decided not to shake the guy’s hand. His nails seemed varnished, and were too clean to be honest. “I don’t know what your game is, Mister. I run an honest business here. I don’t do funny stuff. Straight down the line.” Mark glared at him.

The man did not blink. He said, “Sorry, I must have been misinformed.” He turned and walked out.

Mark was up now so made some tea. He filled the kettle with crappy Valley water. Despite being conditioned, it was still quite rusty and smelled of eggs.

After tea, he finished replacing the Frontier’s cat-con. He got a thrill from handling parts containing the world’s most precious metals. Ok, the platinum was suspended in an aluminium washcoat and sprayed on a ceramic substrate, but it was still pretty special. Its name came from the Spanish meaning “little silver of the Pinto River”, but these days mainly came from South Africa. He’d like to visit Capetown, but who could afford that right now?

Mark went home and jumped in the shower. He used coconut hair conditioner (and unknowingly, acidifiers, thermal protectors, glossers, sequestrants, and antistatic agents – you get a lot in your bottle these days). Then he called his wife in Ontario. “How are you, honey?” he said. “Missing you, my oily hero,” she said. He spoke to the kids. They’d be back on Sunday.

He chugged half a beer. It ran through his body and brain immediately. Ahhh, that’s better. He realized that as he increased the level of ethanol in his blood, he was also conditioning himself. Yes, it was a toxin, he thought, but a most pleasurable one. He had recently learnt that the word alcohol comes from the Arabic, al-kuhl, a very fine powder that is used as eyeliner. It’s probably best that Arabs were forbidden from drinking. You don’t want to get disorientated in the desert. It’s bad enough stumbling home from the Village pub.

Mark didn’t watch much TV, otherwise he’d lose his moral authority. But it was ok when the kids were away. He watched a finger-flicking mix of game-shows, reality shows, sitcoms, news, and dramas. All of it was lame or overhyped. Bread and circuses, the Romans called it. It was a way to keep the masses happy and docile. To condition them.

Mark’s thoughts turned to the visitor at the garage. It was obviously dirty money that he wanted laundered – made legal and respectable. Would the money truly change though? Would it somehow become better? A banker had explained to him at a party that money didn’t really exist these days. Once upon a time, money was based on precious metals – like the platinum in cat-cons, or the gold in airbags and braking systems. In Roman times, one ounce of gold bought you two outfits and a belt. These days it was about the same. Gold was a dense, malleable metal that held real value, in the way that vacant land did in the Valley. You could use it for something. Paper money was just a promise of value from world governments that were inept and corrupt. Yet even paper money could be recycled into books or toilet paper. The majority of money was electronic now. Just a beep in some powerbroker’s computer. An asshole who didn’t work for a living.

After his fourth beer, and two hours of mindless television, Mark wondered if the tall, smart man would come again to the garage. Maybe he had dismissed him too quickly. Yes his too-clean hands had offered Mark bundles of dirty money. But wasn’t this just a twist on some financial fool taking the clean money earned by Mark’s dirty hands? And if Mark took it, would he be conditioning the cash, or would the cash be conditioning him? He wondered if a bad deed created a bad habit, and if a bad habit created a bad person?