laying out final excerpts from my memoir before documents are sent to Oskar to layout
The last few weeks have been filled with meals as I spend time with friends to help me plan for my What Is Home? production, One night, Minal and I visited Christa Forster’s home, so she could help me with my performance with me. A week later, she came to our place, took notes as I cooked brussels sprouts, daal and chicken. We continued more brainstorming while her daughter played with Minal,
Another night Eric Hester and Josh Turner came over to for a meal. I prepared in front of them, and together we brainstormed ideas about how to hang printouts from my blog posts. A few days later, mother friends Carmen, Jasmina and Stephanie dropped by my house (usually we meet at a bar) to share chicken karhai and mattar-pulao. We ended the evening by sitting in the back patio. They watched me burn old notebooks, ashes for which I will use for my performance. Jasmina read the covers of one of my notebooks and said: “I didn’t know you were in Rome?”
I can’t explain why I have to burn those memories, even as I struggle to retain others. After all, how many notebooks can a person save if one has been writing for more than 30 years? And what’s the value if some notebooks are only recordings of night dreams?
All through the past few weeks, Oskar came over and made lists while I prepared meals that nourish me and others around me. Before and after eating, we brainstormed segments of the installation / performance, figuring out lighting, ceiling height, poles in outdoor pavilion and more. Yet another night, Ana Laurel came over and I cooked kale, eggplant and potato sabzi, and she helped stitch a sari to see if it could hang from the ceiling rafter.
And there was my quest to borrow a five-gallon tea thermos from Royal restaurant. Each time I phoned, Rahim told me, “It’ll be here tomorrow.”
Today, twenty-four hours before the production, I was able to procure the thermos and drop it off to Zehra’s, so she could fill it with fresh chai. “Should I add sugar?” she asked. “How about cardamom?”
The installations are now up. Oskar is back on his computer creating more templates to be printed, even as I scribble this last-minute blog post. I then need to review my performance and field text messages from students asking about times and transportation.
This time tomorrow, the frenzy of the last year will have melted away in just a two-hour experience that took months to prepare. There will be more blog posts about what unfolded and there will be more to process.
notebooks burn in my back patio