Ten Years Ago Today

Very first first
Very first first

Today marks the tenth anniversary of this particular blog. A decade of my life is now invested in a virtual space which itself has nurtured my mind, my writing, my friendships, my community and my making sense of the world. Yet, “I” have been only a subset of what “CM” is. This is the fact that prompts me to write today and mark this occasion. CM became, very early, a communal space of a very particular kind: engaged, irreverent, awkward with looking at itself, steady. Many of my closest friendships came into this space and emerged from it. CM was not ideologically driven, it was not geographically situated, it did not have a political agenda. It was a way of seeing the world. CM published, and was published by, a number of individuals who continue here: Farangi, Lapata, Patwari, Sanyasi, Dacoit, Bulleyah and then many, many readers and guest posters and commentators (nearly 11,000 comments!) and friends who came, who left, who came back.

I have used this space to rant, be informative, be lethargic, be angry, be disgusted, be snarky, be all of the above. I have, barring one occasion, never invoked my personal life, never launched personal attacks on others, never participated in group-think, never self-promoted. I used this space to write – differently, effectively, in sync with my academic turns, and not enough. The CM slow-burn has been in effect for a few years, and somehow sustained itself. Blogging seems so old-fashioned now that people can just post updates on facebook but I predict it will make a comeback. Just you wait.

On behalf of everyone who wrote for CM, I want to thank all who are reading this today, and all who have read it over the years.

CM will go on.

Remember the Rooftops

Gentle Readers,

The book was launched last week. It was lovely, lovely, lovely, to have so many of my dearest friends there. Lovely to talk with new friends and lovelier still to be bathed in so much love. Have I used the word “love” enough yet? But that is the thing which remains with me after a week.

As I looked out at the amazing space in the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, I just saw so many dear faces – and I would have you know, a LOT of people who were commenting at CM in 2004 and 2005 and you know, were cool before cool was cool.

A rather whirlwind – metaphorically and literally – tour of US of A is now over. I would like to tell you about the following things, if I can find any time to do so:

1. Driving down farm roads in central Texas, visiting graves of Czech settlers, and trees where Mexican “runners” were hung and such trees continue to be revered. Such usage of memory in such small towns, which were sites of much historical violence remains an obsession of mine, and I suspect I will have to write this out of my system soon.

2. Have you ever waited for 5 hours in a DMV office in Chicago? And then in an IRS office in Chicago? No?

3. Sunset Park in Brooklyn – home of famous authors and bon vivant personalities is a wonderful place. It boasts some amazing views of sunsets from its rooftops. This I remember.

3a. An Empire Cake is delicious beyond your wildest imagination. But only when SJN makes it.

4. Joseph Rykwert’s The Seduction of Place: The History and Future of the City contains a wonderful 6 page rendering of the many social utopianists of the late 19th century. I recommend this book also for its discussion of urban planning and the history of Manhattan & burroughs.

5. Khizr, an old obsession of mine, is renewed once again. I have an urge to tell you stories from Nizami, from Sachal Sarmast and from Uch Sharif. Think Green.

There is more, about Berlin (a book) and Bombay (a book and a movie) and sundry affairs but classes start next week and I am so far behind life that I cannot even tell you.

But here, just now, I wanted to say: I love you, and thank you.

ps. Any graphic designers/tshirt designers around. I need to commission (ahem) a tshirt for WTWFA.

Why are Roses Red?

When ships are launched, they pour water or more bubbly stuff to ask the gods to bless it. When Books are launched, the gods are less likely to be pleased if water is poured on it.

On Monday, Aug 26th, at 7pm, we will be launching Where The Wild Frontiers Are at The Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York with Amitava Kumar and Vijay Prashad.

It would please me immensely to have you attend. Ask inappropriate questions. Please. (From AK and VP, of course)

@The Asian American Writers’ Workshop
110-112 West 27th Street, 6th Floor
Between 6th and 7th Avenues
Buzzer 600

The end is coming soon


The wind blows cold outside your door/it whispers words I’ve tried before
But you don’t hear me anymore/your pride’s just too demanding
The end is coming soon, it’s plain/a warm bed just ain’t worth the pain
- Tower Song, Townes van Zandt

Two things I know about Houston – my Babu hails from that town and is known to cheer for the Astros. And that Townes Van Zandt came from Houston. Ok, I guess, I listened to some DJ Screw a while ago. And I remember that thing w/ Two Gallants. But seriously, that is absolutely it.

I am eager, very eager, to remedy this.

I will be giving a talk next Monday at Rice University – on the topic of Prophecy and end times and Pakistan. Do come and say hi!

Talk in Houston

A Jaundiced Eye

Jacob Silverman, Where the Wild Frontiers Are: America comes up short in South Asia, Sep 2, 2011, The National:

A worthwhile political blogger doesn’t have to always be right, but he or she should be able to remain sober in the emotional maelstrom of politics or amidst national trauma. Ahmed repeatedly does this, particularly when he summarises the problems with the commentary appearing after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. “There is never a hint of any legislative or political legacy, any economic or social accomplishment,” he writes. “She is being remembered for who she was.” Potentially unpopular, this analysis is also shrewd and penetratingly precise. Our world could use more of it.

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There will be an “official launch” of the book in NYC on the 26th of Sep. Details soon. Everyone is invited.