Thursday, 28 August 2008

All Turns To Ash- In Rememberance Of My Great Grandfather

Raging thunder ruthlessly
End white walled empty dreams.
Lids and books flutter open,
A placid hour spent
Spurning Hypnos' pestilence.

Another disruption, now
Upon the groaning gate.
Enter a pair in consternation
Faces held long after
Lengthy deliberation.

A brief sentence, a passing death,
A murmured syllable made inaudible.

Deterrents leave, pages turn
Thoughts turn to poetry, to crimson hearts.
A silent door opens, unveiling
A fold of paper in a knoll of cloth.
Upon it are delicate words
By an innocence lost.

The calligraphy intended for a relative gone
The hopes now crushed, faith begone.

Now restored in its early grave
Left to mourn in ashen years.
On occasion, revealed
Allowing streams to roll down
A remembering face.

The saline is then
Wiped, walled, bottled, burnt.


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Sex Determination Tests

Sex determination testing first began at the 1966 European Track Field Championships in response to suspicion that several of the best women athletes from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were in fact men posing as women. The International Olympic Committee introduced sex testing in 1968 at the Olympic games in Mexico City, after the masculine appearance of some competitors (many pumped up by anabolic steroids) had started to raise questions about the gender of athletes in female events.

Santhi Soundarajan, a 27 year old track runner, was stripped of her silver medal for the 800m at the Asian Games, suffered tremendous public humiliation and attempted to kill herself. Soundarajan, who has lived her entire life as a woman, failed a gender test.

Walsh, a Polish-American sprinter, was at one point the fastest woman in the world. She set more than 100 national and world records and was inducted into the American Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1980, Walsh was killed during an armed robbery. The postmortem revealed she had male genitalia (although this did not prove that she was a man as she was also found to have both male and female chromosomes- a genetic condition known as Mosaicism.)

Dora Ratjen, notable for her deep voice and her refusal to share the shower room with the other female athletes, was Germany's entry (during the Nazi regime) for the women's high jump. She came fourth. Dora, who had been born Hermann Ratjen, had in fact been a member of the Hitler Youth and said that the Nazis had forced him to enter as a woman.

According to the IOC transsexuals, who have had a sex change from male to female, can compete in women's events in the Olympics, as long they wait two years after the operation.


Thursday, 14 August 2008

Did you ever go clear?

[One night, Bharat and I were chatting while listening to Famous Blue Raincoat and came to the realization that whenever we listened to the song, two very similar videos played incessantly through our minds. So, the following is a guest post by Bharat describing the unceasing reel.]

The street was empty, blanketed by clear white snow. Lamps ran along either side of the road, emitting a gloomy yellow hue. Concrete buildings lined the pavements, appearing in the dark like one long mass of concrete of uneven height with entrances and windows cut into it. Lines of multi-coloured lights hung from ledges but did nothing to add any cheer.

Its four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
Theres music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

A window with the small light of a table lamp coming out of it. Inside, a desk of polished oak. Sheafs of papers were arranged in two neat piles on both sides and a small plastic clock and two pen stands were placed at the front. A glass of half-filled with scotch was placed on one of the paper piles, forming a wet ring on it. A man was seated at the desk, his features marred by the darkness, his pen forming a steadily growing blot on a blank piece of paper as he struggled for words.

The plaintive notes of a violin drifted in from the street. He glanced towards the bed at the end of the room. A form was huddled on it. He could not see her but knew she was looking at him.

The words came to him in a wave and he wrote furiously, as if the words would spill out into oblivion if he didn't pen them down immediately.

He stopped and looked straight ahead at the darkness.

Another room. Well lit, filled with people. He's dancing with her. She laughs when he spins her and they embrace each other. The people watching smile and clap. He grins and looks at her. She smiles back, but in her eyes there is a sadness, barely perceptible.

She's dancing with him now. This is a different room and there are no people inside. He puts a rose in his mouth and they gaze at each other's eyes. He smiles. Then she does. This time with her eyes too. The rose is thrown away and their lips meet.

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane's awake --

She woke up and came up to him, her nightgown shimmering in the poor light and the wind blowing against her so that the shape of her body showed. He glanced up at her and turned back to the table. She leaned and looked at the paper with no expression on her face and went back to bed.

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I'm glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

He pulled open a drawer in which lay a blue raincoat, folded and with a lock of hair resting on it. Untouched ever since. He closed the drawer and resumed writing.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

Sincerely, L. Cohen

He put the pen down and rose from his seat. Then there was only an empty desk with a letter and half a glass of scotch, snow outside the window and the weeping of a violin.