Similar veins as Haruki Murakami novels.
My thoughts exactly, really nice writing
Ill brew something up, tomorrow, maybe. trying to figure out how to work the African and Chinese angles into my Italian soup story. And sprinkling of Cai, (not Sai)
OK if its gots to be about
Murakami Tsai, this is what I have
Drink up folks please its Tsai !
She drinks my pints and gets into my fights
She spins around her toes
And every unloved blade of grass from here to
She watches me from the TV
And sings to me *
Echoes of voices once alive
Electric sheep I wake and rise
And go to where she lies
Engines warp drive by
Dewy buttercups laugh and cry
Ground into the dust
With tyres and exhaust
Blowing through my
hair baldness barefooted,
She comes and cries and sucks my spine
Sleeping in my teeth she bites my lips
Weaving through the muscle of her brain
My wrinkles are her smile
Swiveling on my thumb
She hides inside my ear
Ear against a ticking sea
High tide against the breakers rolling
Knocking on the fortress of her toes
Up to the eyeballs
Up to the nose
She blows my unloved fingers
She gnaws on ancient bones
She breaks me
She burns me
Just not as girthy as the Japanese master’s.
Yes, we’re all waiting to here how Sino-African miscegenation gets thrown in the mix!
I’m guessing Sai refers to the charming Taiwanese word for a dish best served cold?
The late, great American poet John Ashbury once said:
“To create a work of art that the critic cannot even begin to talk about ought to be the artist’s chief concern” Well, you sure succeeded there!
Sai means poop brah
Ok miscegenation, dammit, think, thiiink!
Poop? So all those people telling me to 加Sai weren’t encouraging me like? It wasn’t like 加油? Well, they can go and 加 a lanpa
one extra is better than one less!
Thag and I stood in the lurid glow beneath a neon sign displaying two rather libidinal flashing pink peaches. Thag opened the door for me and we walked into the vestibule of The Peaches of Immortality Cantonese restaurant. The hostess offered us prawn crackers before we were led, across plush red carpet, to our table. This seaside restaurant dated from the late 60s. With its red lanterns and golden tablecloths, huge paintings of misty mountains and twining dragons, it exuded old school Chinese opulence. Although the glass frontage must have offered impressive views of the ocean that sings and dances and is good at maths, the heavy red ceiling-to-floor curtains were never opened (echoes of the 海禁 or sea ban, the sea as threat and possibility?) In the aureate isolationist tenebrousness, dishes like Sizzling Black Pepper Beef spluttered and steamed with theatricality.
I ordered Szechuan Squid while Thag – predictably – went for the Mongolian Mammoth. I spotted Tsai Ing-wen sitting at a large round table not far from us. Tsai looked different, somehow. It was not that she was decades younger. It was not even her breathtaking boob job heaving up and out of her green décolleté evening gown (although that no doubt contributed to the effect). Her sense of celibacy had been replaced by a dangerous eroticism. There were no dishes on that table. Tsai smoked and placed a thick yellow envelope on the Lazy Susan, swinging it around with gangsta nonchalance to the moustachioed man on the other side of the table (who looked a lot like Manuel from Faulty Towers). The man made obsequious little bowing gestures with his head as he pocketed the envelope. Sitting in the other seats were tough-looking turtles with queues and black caps and black maguas on the back of which were embroidered, in white, the character 瑇 (pronounced DIE!!!)
Thag and I had just been served our Xi Jinping soup when a waitress in red cheongsam lead in a dude with a boofy hairdo wearing a leopard skin pattern jacket and a short-haired platinum blonde in shiny vinyl skinny pants, seating them at the table behind us. “Holy Shit!” I exclaimed, rubbernecking indiscreetly, surprising behaviour for someone who a moment before was apparently unfazed to find himself dining with an urbane francophone Neanderthal while the President of the R.O.C sat at a nearby table with hominoid turtles. “Is that Marie and Per from Roxette?!” I practically yelled. Marie and Per smiled at me as I sat with my head turned over my shoulder, slack-jawed and staring. As if on cue, the background zither music, which a moment before had risen to a sustained orgiastic rhapsody, now suddenly dropped to scarcely audible pluckings and slidings. I heard Marie say in the slow obvious voice of someone who wants to be overheard, “Hey Per, wanna listen to a hit single we released THIS YEAR?” Per answered in an exaggerated, artificial voice, “Sure, Marie, let’s listen to our hit from THIS YEAR.” Marie then pulled out an iPad mini from her handbag and played the song Joyride . Now with my (hmmm what’s that word I keep forgetting? that’s it) eidetic memory, I instantly recalled that Joyride was released in 1991. Was there any secret meaning hidden in those lyrics?
She says, “hello, you fool, I love you
C’mon join the joyride”
Join the joyride
She says, “hello (hello), you fool (you fool), I love you (I love you)
C’mon join the joyride”
Be a joyrider, ow
Joy and grief, reunion and parting. Ah, the ride of life. Yet the lyrics did not seem to be a Viennese blind with Freudian slits affording glimpses into primordial scenes, personal or collective. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. (Red herrings washed up on the shore of a now sterile sea, mementos to eutrophication’s crash and the mass death of meaning.) Could it really be 1991? Why then did Marie have an iPad? I wasn’t wearing a watch. I felt my pockets for a phone but my pockets were empty. Hell, I didn’t even seem to be wearing any underwear. I saw that Thag wore a wristwatch (a Patek Phillipe?) on his thick, hairy wrist, but the LED screen displayed not the time but a flashing love heart (apparently a heart rate monitor throbbing in time with Thag’s pulse). I thought back to 1991, remembering it as a year of locust plagues. We played kanga cricket beneath a scorching sun. We concatenated daisies. To other children they must have seemed like halcyon days. The year got off to a good start with the birth of the great Palestinian swimmer Hamse ‘Ham Sandwich’ Abdouh on the first of the first (some say he was taught to swim in a bathtub in East Jerusalem, at the tender age of three and a half months, by a mysterious Israeli known only as ‘The Jew Fish’). Of almost equivalent world-historical significance to Abdouh’s birth, this was the year that the USSR disintegrated. The USSR was an inspiration to me. I dreamt of disintegrating like that too, one day. A precocious child, I would energetically discuss geopolitics with my only friend, a Venus flytrap named Charles. He liked to play Stalin, speaking Russian with a thick Georgian accent, calling long-distance ex sepulchrum. I would play Cloud Dweller Pasternak and, before getting hung up on, would say the line: “I wish you and I could have a talk together sometime, Comrade Stalin… about life… about death.” I fed Charles tiny strips of filet mignon because – as L’Oréal would put it – il le vallait bien . Alas, his satiation was my solitude, for with his one and only eye-mouth closed, I was left alone, terribly alone, cut off from plant and man and God alike…
At that moment, lost in reminiscences, I became aware of someone gently calling my name. “Betty! Betty!” It was Thag. He looked at me with his wise, compassionate eyes and said: “Tu n’es plus ce pauvre petit enfant de solitude là. Désormais, je serai toujours là pour toi.” And he poised his chopsticks on the chopstick rest and reached across the table and pressed my hand.
Let us transport ourselves now to another world where every person bears the same name. But where each of these people of the same name speaks a different language - with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility - but where all of these languages also all have the same name, and all belong to the same country. Mais que ce pays est composé de plusieurs pays, et certains de ces pays ont encore d’autres pays à l’intérieur. This is a meal that to prepare properly requires a minimum of twenty chefs, and where the cooking and eating of the meal are a single action. Préparez-vous alors pour le Hot Pot.
Situate yourself for a moment in Tonkin a province of a colonial state which at the time went by the name of l’Indochine Française . Consider however that that part of Tonkin that you are in is situated to the north east of Tonkin proper, and is in fact an enclave of Kuangsi. Situate yourself in the quarter of the enclave occupied by the ethnic Hoa people of Vietnam. Now note the Hoa are but an umbrella term for a variety of ethno linguistic networks of which my family were a part. As it happens my family were not Hoa at all, but in the foreign state of Tonkin they became identified as such because they fitted most readily to the networks of the Cantonese, a principal reason being that my family mostly had a good command of the Baihua branches of the languages of the enclave. Waipojia is a settlement of the Miao people who have lived there for several centuries and for several centuries before the arrival of Qing and the then the Viet, but they themselves are also immigrants upon the lands of the Zhuang. Who are the Zhuang then? The Zhuang are a Thai people, but do not say that to a Zhuang as it carries the implication that the Zhuang are Thai, whereas in fact the opposite is the case: the Thais are Zhuang. In any case this particular town of Waipojia was an enclave of the Miao inside the lands of the Zhuang, and this particular land of the Zhuang was itself an enclave of Guangdong in the province of Guangxi, and this enclave was itself and enclave of the Hoa in the lands of the Viet, and that in turn was an enclave of the Viet in the lands of the Qing. Throw into this for good measure several criss crossing lines of the Xiang, and the Dong and the Yao, and the Mien, and several varieties of people referred to as Han but who are not Han at all, and who speak several languages each. Such is the complexity of this meal of hot pot that a situation evolved in Waipojia where it was not at all uncommon for several languages to be spoken in one sentence in one house, but as these languages mixed and whirled together they gave rise to yet more languages. Eventually arriving at an unthinkable situation: every single member of the town – despite being possessed of the exact same name - expressed him or herself in a different tongue. Much as every single bite of the waipojia hotpot was a sample of an entirely different meal to the bite that preceded it. I would not have believed this was possible had I not witnessed it myself in the first hand with my ears and with my tastebuds.
I arrived in the village after three days of travelling, first by plane, then by plane again, then by bus, then by car, then by walking on a road, then on a path, then through fields and living rooms and then fields again until finally I arrived at the gates to the town. A magical town it was sitting as if outside of time. The fireflies lit up the hills and there were thousand year old trees – or so said my guide. I was welcomed inside the town by my grandfather. Or to be more precisely I was not welcomed: My grandfather met me without a single word he simply walked to me and took my bags from me. Then he turned and walked into the village. I walked behind him down several streets, around corners and down a lane and out onto another street. We reached a house and he opened the door. He walked up the stairs and I followed, after several flights he stopped and turned to me and spoke for the first time to me. He said this is your room here, your room is on the third floor. My room is on the second floor. I cannot welcome you into this house because this house is your house and it is not possible to welcome a man into his own home do you understand me? I nodded. He lived here alone and had done so for some time. He said it is the night before the spring festival and now we must eat. Tomorrow we must rise early. He busied himself in the kitchen as I unpacked. I showed him the gifts that I had brought and he nodded indicating for me to leave them on the wooden dressing table. He rolled out a large round table, and carried a very large steaming pot. He set nine places around the table, each with chopsticks a bowl and a cup. He indicated to me which was my seat at the table. He solemnly placed a morsel of food and a splash of wine in every cup. Then he told me to eat and watched me intently. I looked at the other places on the table and said but should we not wait for the others? He told me no that I should eat now. Looking at each of the empty places in turn he slowly spoke. Tonight it is the eve of the spring festival and we eat only with our immediate family. Regardless if they are here like you and I, or if they have passed on like your grandmother, and your uncle and your aunt and your mother, and your two cousins. I then realized the meaning of the other seven places around the table, and began to struggle with the ghostly presence in the room. I had always maintained a distance from what had happened but now I felt an unstoppable tide rising within me. I got up without a word and left the room; I rushed upstairs and closed the door behind me. I cried uncontrollably with my head against the wall. I felt at that moment that the whole world was spinning around me and I was standing there looking at myself as if I were looking at a character in a story.
A stormy flood was running through him and he was powerless. Pressing his head against the wall much as a man might clutch a branch in the swirling brown waters of an overwhelmed river. Then the waters retreated as quickly and as suddenly as they had appeared. He regained his calm and turned to descend the stairs. The sharp sound of firecrackers suddenly tore through the silence, echoing up the walls from the street below. His grandfather was outside warding further dangers from the night, or should I say warding dangers from the approaching year.
I like the idea of a hot pot for which you have to “prepare yourself”
Who are the Zhuang then? The Zhuang are a Thai people, but do not say that to a Zhuang as it carries the implication that the Zhuang are Thai, whereas in fact the opposite is the case: the Thais are Zhuang.
Strange intrusions of logic, as in the example above, disconcerted me!
Yea, it doesnt actually make any sense… shhhhhh
P.S. loved your most recent serving, very nice indeed
Ceci est juste un petit mot to say that a special panel of judges have decided to award la médaille d’honneur de Charles Baudelaire pour un acte de poésie en cuisine for this sentence!
A lobster in tuxedo ascends the podium. All eyes are on him. He begins speaking (in Stephen Fry’s voice):
“Betty’s in a maison de correction right now, as I’m sure you all know, on account of issues he’s been having with late stage syphilis and absinthe-induced delirium .” Claps from a few morons in the audience. “He did, however, ask me to accept this prestigious award on his behalf. I must say, he certainly made the right choice. Betty may be a great writer, but there is, if I may so myself, only one Lob- STAR .” Silence in which you could’ve heard a ̶t̶e̶s̶t̶i̶c̶l̶e̶ pin drop. “Lob- STAR !” He tries again, but the audience remains silent until, after a painful three-four second pause, the sign LAUGH, FUCKERS! goes on and the audience complies with forced – you couldn’t call it laughter, more like a weird sustained braying. This godawful artificial whooping cough sound continues for about a minute before the lobster raises his right chelipod for silence, a gesture which is either not noticed or misinterpreted. This rather Nuremburgesque scene continues until the LAUGH, FUCKERS! sign is finally switched off, the audience returns to silence, and the raised and extended claw is lowered. The lobster continues. “Betty transmitted a message which he asked me to read out tonight.” Lobster fumbles in pocket, takes out and puts on reading glasses, theatrically unfolds piece of paper and lays it out on podium before reading:
My jiggly my jiggly, herds of galloping vomit and things like that, the mother of the book’s eaten the white demon but Christ’s sandwich or some other abideth in me…
At this point he Marlboro Man in the audience turns to the guy next to him and sez in Southern drawl, shaking his head, “that’s crazy talk, that is.” The guy next to him (actually, it’s the rose-eating Oppenheimer lookalike we met in a previous episode) looks up and makes the totally loco gesture before lowering his head again to go back to licking the cactus in a pot between his knees.
The lobster takes off his reading glasses and says, “What I think Betty was trying to say was something like this:
Thank you all, so much… I love you all! This is such an unexpected honor. Too many people to thank. Couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much to all who have supported me. Helped me through so many black and white nights. Mom. Dad. My little sister Bruce. My dear hubby Thag (mwah mwah), my personal psychiatric team… My fans geajvop and abdohgah , YOU are the stars!
I can’t follow that with my recycled hot pot from yesterday so I am officially done. No more prose or poems. Part deux is cancelled.
I’m going back to making snide and snipy comments in the ‘normal’ threads.
Thank you for your eccentric stories and poems. I really enjoyed them J Here’s my final dish, a brief and bitter dessert. I felt I had to bump off my great love Thag before stopping – there’re already enough Neanderthals on this forum, I’m sure, without adding him J And so without further ado…
Thag and I walked out of The Peaches of Immortality restaurant. How strange. It was dark when we went in, but broad daylight now. The only car in the carpark was Thag’s red ‘78 convertible Mercedes with the fluffy die hanging down. The street too seemed deserted. We crossed over to the footpath above the beach. The sun manifest itself as an oblique whiteness in the western sky. Late afternoon (presuming that I was where I thought I was and that the sun and the Earth – if they really existed – were sticking to their old habits). Fresh smell of the sea, the sound of surf. Norfolk Island pines – majestic trees whose name dovetails to despair – filled with raucous lorikeets decked out in proud LGBT livery. Thag pointed out to sea towards a scarcely visible island (another island of pain beyond the island of pain). “You see that island?” he asked, speaking English now with a slight Czech accent. “When I was a kid sea levels were much lower than they are today. We could’ve saddled up our dinos and ridden out there. Of course, back then everything here was just undifferentiated tundra. We roamed all over the place and at night sat around the fire eating yams in our jams. Good times.” Chuckling as he recounted these memories of a Palaeolithic youth, he took off his jacket and swung it jauntily over his left shoulder. With his right hand he reached out and clasped mine. If I was not deceived in my bearings, we were walking southward. I guessed where we were headed: this was going to be – among other things – an excavation of my personal past. If we ever got there. There was a golf course across the road on our left, and on our right the corrugated, coruscating sea.
Of all my erstwhile loves the only one
Called forth like Lazarus from his sad tomb
To walk with me once more beneath the sun
Beside a sea of rainbow-garnished spume
Wheeling gulls metastasised out of the breakers. Desolation was in their cries. Precipitous drop in temperature. Omens of impending death. Ahead, on the footpath, an execution gurney was being rolled towards us. On a hill in the golf course, a scaffold had been erected and a sinister drumroll began. Somali pirates were racing shoreward in speedboats, brandishing guns. “Adieu, Betty,” said Thag. “Je t’aime.” At that moment something heavy fell from the sky and struck Thag on the head. Thag sagged, dropped. His beautiful body lay lifeless on the footpath. Dead also, lying a few metres away, the kamikaze turtle which had killed him.
–THE END –
Your writing has it all, just f*&king brilliant. I meant what I said about the book. Please write one cause I really want to read it.
aw shucks… mwah! mwah!
I thought it would be rude to leave my story hanging. So here is the final course. Hot pot, like I said.
Waipojia, my grandfathers house or as he put it, my house. It was a busy time, new years, people in their best clothes, back for the holidays, everyone happy, this is what it is all about, this is what everyone has been looking forward to for months, some for a full 11 months. I was the curiosity: returned from Occitania, a lost grandson, everyone would first come and take great interest in me, and talk with me and interrogate me and talk about Occitania and Waiguo and China and me and then someone would think for a moment about the bad thing that happened and then it would go quiet. And then back to me again and Waiguo and so on and so forth. Finally the conversation would move on and away from me and I would quickly loose track of the meaning. The languages would begin to switch. They flicked from language to language like they were surfing though telemarketing channels in the wee hours. It all slowly turned to white noise for me. Every now and then someone would instruct me to eat more, or raise a glass with me. Some would attempt to talk with me again, but now forgetting the language factor and taking no note of my incomprehension. The conversation around was becoming heated, what where they talking about? I have no idea.
She mostly ate without speaking. Every now and then she would join the conversation briefly. Slowly I began to realize that I could understand what she was saying. She spoke at times in Baihua, at other times in Xiang, old Xiang, new Xiang, Tu Hua, a mix of Hmong and southwestern Mandarin, Kejia Hua, whatever it didn’t matter I understood every word. I addressed her: how come I can understand you when you speak? She shrugged. How come you all speak so many languages? She shrugged: ‘Grandmother speaks her own language, from the times before.’ So how come you can understand grandmother? ‘Because I am of the village we can understand each other: it is the language of the village’ Yes but how come some speak Baihua? ‘Some people here speak Baihua, yes it is not the same Bai Hua as the langauges of Guangdong, but more or less.‘ Yes but how come you speak Hmong? ‘it is not Hmong, it is Miao, and why would we not speak the language of our people?’ Yes but how come you speak Xiang? ‘We are Xiang people of the Xiang river, why would we not speak it?’ Yes but how come you speak Kejia Hua? ‘Hmm I do not know but when a person speaks it I can understand, I would not say that I myself speak it’ Yes but how come you speak Hokkien? ‘I do not know, but they have words that they say, and those words I have heard them say them, does that make sense to you?’ No it makes no sense to me and do you know that I am now speaking to you in English? ‘Is that English, I thought it was Occitan?’ No it’s English.
It was a strange and disconcerting for me to experience the hotpot, I was simultaneously an outsider and a belonger. I was like a bridge between the village and the outside world and I strained to hold the connection. As complex as the outside world was, it was nothing to the complexity of the village. And as complex as the village was it was nothing compared to the complexity of the hot pot.
She put the bowl in front of me and looked at me with quiet forgiving eyes. Yesterday they had been blaming eyes, now they were forgiving again. All the various strains and weights of the world had fallen upon her and then from her again. It was a hard world and a hard life. All the demons were inside. Far more terrifying than anything the night could hold. I would do my best to be strong and stand up against the echoes of the past. We were all twigs adrift on water. There was nothing we could do. All our loves were abstract.
Thank you for your tasty hot pot!
Ashamed to say, but I’d never even heard of the Hmong people before. I thought you had just invented a silly sounding name.But wiki tells me the world Hmong population is 15 million. That’s hmongous!