Project

Fair Winds, Poor Translation

 

A lonesome tower at Isla Paulino, Berisso, Argentina; photo by me.

A lonesome tower at Isla Paulino, Berisso, Argentina; photo by me.

The other end of my recent thirty day trip to Argentina was laced with anxiety. I am not the first to report that there have been strong, polarized reactions to the new government. A keen sense of concern and apprehension greeted me as I set foot again in New Delhi: a slew of opinions, generalizations, foresighted hypotheses and somehow, towering above all these mounds of expression, a strongly vocalized sense of doom prevailed for many – that this was going to be a possibly insidious government that gets away with murder, is likely to persecute minorities – right from religious to sexual ones and everyone in between, execute uniform civil code without a minute’s pause and summon the worst demon India ever saw – I think the word starts with a C. There are others, who feel the new leader’s iron fist will milk foreign trade, firm up the cabinet for the greater good and will generally raise capital for public welfare.

For those who far from agree, suddenly, there is talk of finding the quickest way out, and its not just among the nouveau politically conscious hipster generation. Oh, to curl up and die. Oh, to bury your head in the sand or retreat to a land where none of these spiraling negative thoughts follow you. I often hear statements that say more or less, “Oh its all crumbling, its coming down. I don’t have to go down with it!”

The source of all life - a quaint little jar full of Yerba Mate, a bitter ritual tea from South America, sits warmly next to a mate gourd at the kitchen in Residencia Corazon: Casa de Artistas

The source of all life – a quaint little jar full of Yerba Mate, a bitter ritual tea from South America sits warmly next to a mate gourd at the kitchen in Residencia Corazon: Casa De Artistas

While I knew I was now far from a city I’d come to love, having flown all of twenty one hours to get back home, and as much as I was unwilling to compare a hypothetically dark time for my home country with the not nearly perfect, but somewhat spirited South American country, my thoughts found a way to travel.

I started to think about the most wholesome time I had spent in the city of La Plata in Buenos Aires. There, I walked, I strolled, I danced (haven’t tangoed just yet), I walked dogs, I pigged out, I engaged with the many casa de culturas, acquired taste for (now fairly addicted to) Yerba Mate, hugged and kissed incessantly (somewhat of a social custom) and yes, wrote when the muse dropped in.

My mental retreat, my solace in words and pictures, is soon to follow with the first in a volume of short stories based in La Plata, the germs of which were planted during my stupendously productive stay at Residencia Corazon – an idyllic establishment for artists like no other. Again, I emphatically touch upon here, the lack of articulation in rounding it all up. The subliminal ways in which my stay there has started to positively affect my work continues to surprise me each day.

With Shamoni, co-resident and Rodrigo Mirto, the other set of vitals (Director) at Residencia Corazon

With Shamoni and Rodrigo Mirto, the other set of vitals (Director) at Residencia Corazon, on a sunny day at Rio De La Plata

With all the vain and not-so-vain updates I slapped on to my Facebook timeline over the past two months,  it is clear that I more than cherished the time in Argentina. As is with your first time in any place you grow to love, your first thought about the intent to share the experience back home is, “But how will they feel what I felt?”. That’s my thought too.  There cannot be an essay that embodies what I saw, heard, smelled or felt during my stay in the other neck of the woods, so I have hereby decided to split myself, my thoughts and sentiments into minions known as characters in fiction prose, that I reckon will be able to navigate my experience and the underlying sentiments of the time to a certain extent.

Hope some you at least, will take this ride, when it commences. This is where it will begin, at least by way of  a sampler.

Abrazos and besos till the next time – sooner than soon.

My amigos in La Plata - you can sense the warmth. Well, it was warmer.

My amigos in La Plata – you can sense the warmth. Well, it was warmer. Photo by Jere Munoz. Left to right – Juan Pablo Ferrer (one of the the eyes, ears, legs and hearts, Director of Residencia Corazon), Angelica Ayala (teacher with the most cheerful laughter), Rachel Fuller (Writer, Surfer, Co-resident), Shamoni Sarkar (Writer, Academician, Co-resident, interpreter), Me (Resident and Malbec bottle hogger), Rebecca Doyle (Fabulous English teacher, possibly biggest dog lover in La Plata), Jere Munoz (into biology, mate and choripan) and Alysha Farling (of “A Far Away Land” fame, co-resident, crazy good artist)

 

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