Friday, 3 December 2010

today is crackling with new thoughts


...and look what I got by the end of the day

Woo.right outside the front door


flowers from the bush near the water tank on the terrace with the raw mangoes strewn over the floor (careful, one mustn't step on them)  and more jasmines from the bush down the stone path leading up to the house, near the well which we don't use till the monsoon has past, he whispered into my ears. 

this blast from the past of an image emerged a couple of weeks ago though in karnataka, a brahmin picking flowers from his bush on the terrace right after his morning ablutions in the pond. and grandpa? he isn't here anymore.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Woo.the tale of the butterfly and the shirt pocket

an image is the result of the shock of two images..
these ones were 5 minutes apart
colour pallettes don't seem all so mysterious after you've hung around in a place for a bit.
the patterns step out one by one, carpe diem, carpe diem!

Friday, 19 November 2010


I wasn't looking out for faces for a change. he didn't seem to mind, my black friend.


we were almost all alone


     I met this guy on the beach some days ago.
     He started following me after I took this picture.
     I guess you get attached to people when they've seen you all howly.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

If I keep falling in love with the world again at this rate, I'm going to make myself sick

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Being on its side, and then stepping on to the other side to see what it isn't.
That's what I'd done.
To dot out the journey,I'll try using words from everywhere, all the better to get the image out faster at this moment. It seems urgent that I write about it right now. I'll try.

Like my addictive French philosopher once said at the end of a bitter search for a happy death...'nothing was left now but the transparent truth which is the opposite of poetry.'
But he was wrong, because I met my old cluster of poets again recently. The bards.
The bards who entwined all of us as characters together for a time.

I had moved from a search between the gaps, those ghosts between all those those things once said, to only things which had a tone, a voice, cold facts, evidence, solid, opaque, resolute evidence, it had been 9 long months before I walked back recently into the unknown, played on a chance, happened to meet them, these bards of ours, and bam! fell back onto what I'd always known: I needed to be faithful to life, intrinsically truthful, a work has for me to be at once an exact factual account and must never leave behind that poetic dialogue I am constantly entrenched in. As plain as that. It's not about courage. It's about faith! This mad groping through unfamiliar paths has got to be accepted as a way of living my life. I cannot afford to be tired because my hands tingle with what they must, and most importantly can say.

No wonder I could only speak of the horses in the present continuous some time back . Stuttering , stammering, utterly truthful, clear, but who else could hear it, but I? That's what haunted me.
What joy, to find a tongue again now. 
We figured it that night, me and the bards. We figured it again. I am happy to be living. And I vow to not forget. Because I have seen this, we have seen it before. And the poetry will persist.


Almost as a sign two days back, I saw the horses again,... on a road near the city, like a sign from nowhere, only this time, they had their forefeet tied together, it was hot, they stumbled by and stared at me like they always do. A happy death would not be in the transparency, or the search for it. Because transparency is what I'd started out with in the first place.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Conquest of the Useless

'...because I am going to be on my own as a producer. For a moment the feeling crept over me that my work, my vision, is going to destroy me, and for a fleeting moment I let myself take a long, hard look at myself, something I would not otherwise do - out of instinct, on principle, out of self-preservation - look at myself with objective curiosity to see whether my vision has not destroyed me already. I found it comforting to note that I was still breathing.'

Werner Herzog, Munich-London, 8 October 1979
Conquest of the Useless

Ranjita doesn't care too much about getting married.
But the wedding date has been set for May. She's already 19.
She has to or there may be no one around to marry her, she'd be too old.
She's not going to have babies, not for some time, she says over her shoulder, as she points to the plants in my balcony. This is where she wants her picture taken.
He works in a hotel. He'll do well. He has style. She'd met him once. She's going to check around about him. You can't trust anyone these days.
"It doesn't take too much time to fall in love, don't you think?", she says.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Of love

that feeling when you've just fallen in love, single conversations have you imagining them talking and rising into a star filled sky, strings of stars unfurling from their sides,
And the words just lie there floating lazily in the liquid ink

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Friday, 8 October 2010

last night's dream

Yesterday I was on a spaceship

it kept stopping over on land every now and again
and we'd go out to walk on the land and see strange fruit
the journey on the spacecraft wasn't a particularly pleasant one,
we all knew it was headed out on a suicidal mission or something
I can't explain the feeling..
a dull heat, all red and blurred at the edges..
somehow, the places we slept on, the beds, felt important
everyone was happy they had a comfortable one,
we always found our way back from land to board the spacecraft again
like there was no other way to think.

But I thought about it, that way of thinking, only after I woke up.

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It helps to consider yourself to be a character in a book, and then when placed in the middle of its folds, one can look around with clear eyes.. It's not the first time lives are being lived, or being chronicled. I keep getting bottled messages from the thought I'd record a passage from the 1700s which applies directly to mark the working lives of me and my close ones, wrt the relationships broken or mended along the way.

'The second distinctive trait of his aesthetic sense. While a beast wants that which may quench its thirst and satisfy its needs, man often requires contentment and pleasure beyond his instinctive needs... The second stage of social development is possessed by people living in civilised cities belonging to those virtuous realms that raise men of morals and wisdom. In such places human social organisation tremendously expands, giving rise to increasing requirements..the third stage... is reached when various transactions take place between human beings in this society, and elements of greed, jealousy, procrastination, and denial of each others' rights crop up, giving rise to differences and disputes. In such a state of affairs, there appear some individuals who are ruled by low passions and are disposed to commit murder and loot...
So said the sage Shah Waliullah.'

I got this one bottled in Insomnia and other stories, Aamer Hussein,2007

au milieu de la jour,

I found Tomasz Zarachowicz's corner in Manek Chowk, Gujarat.
Didn't see Panda M anywhere though.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

'Everywhere these days the mind of the poet and the public mind confront each other.

The sun comes cracking down, and the mind of the poet finds meaning in the public mind. The wind blows, and the public mind finds structure in the mind of the poet. Snow is all over the place. Both are wrong. The mud is greener than the grass.'

Sunday, 3 October 2010


"She had prepared eighteen to twenty nice hand stitched dresses, all in time for you.
When she was admitted in the hospital she instructed the nurse to get you to her in the best of the little dresses.
We had a brand new ambassador, not my own,... given by a friend of ours to facilitate taking her to the hospital 
and to bring you back safely..
And from then on you've always been in a car
basically you were born on a silver plate 
and we've been taking you around on a golden plate..
So that's the story till now you're a rascal
so that's that...."

Apaa paused then for a bit, I could imagine him looking outside at the water, little crinkles by the sides of his eyes, 
even more crinkly now, since he was thinking of that other time.

"...... I remember all the dresses mummy had made, about eighteen to twenty of them
basically to cover your body
so they could move easily over your head, with the back open
all the best of cotton
so there would be no rashes
you were such a cute little girl
we had given the name even before you were born
and now you don't want to talk to either mummy or me."

He laughed his gentle, rumbly laugh. And I smiled, here so far away in Mumbai. 
With apaa still on the line, I looked at the cityscape around me distractedly, and slowed down a bit, wasn't familiar all over again. goddamit.

Saturday, 2 October 2010


It is true..when one travels one is almost always on the lookout for the next person to talk to.
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 1962.


We were passing through the inner ways of Jamalpur. 
Mounds of earth, cemented firmly into the ground,... a hurried cemetery, broke out of the pathway leading to her perch. 
Sugra biwi sat in a vignette of light.
Nadira walked to the cupboard and brought out a tin box full of coloured photographs from the almirah and put them on the floor in front of me. Sugra biwi giggled, pointing at the string of pearls  the 'photography walla' had put on her hair. 
A brood of children in the family crowded in at the doorway, blocking my source of light. 
Sugra biwi laughed shyly, working her fingers on her prayer beads in starts, as they giggled at her.  
She glanced at me furtively as the girls undid my hair, and layered it out evenly over my shoulders. And we looked at each other for a moment.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


I find a million people in a single book,..I wonder sometimes about he, who tries so hard, to find all the books in a single person.
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siddhartha was hanging at my place off and on whenever he got away from his hideout in Lucknow,these last few months. This sketch,amongst others, scratched itself out as he was waiting for me to wake up in the morning.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The real ones

Fate keeps putting books in my way. I never really know whether the writing was actually so powerful that I cowered under its weight so painfully,or if it were just per chance that the book matched the turns in my own life. Characters have almost always mixed in seamlessly with the real life ones from my every day.
When the conversation leaves much to be asked for with the real ones, I am usually content in sitting back and being silent again, saving the thoughts for the rumble in my head, with only the faintest tingle of distaste lingering still in my mouth, at reality.
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I thought exactly the same strain of thought about seven years back, and it has been quite a journey since..

'On my return to Bombay I found my unease growing. I wished to escape from my home and walk on and on until at last my feet reached the end of the world. I ddi not think then that such a traveller would only reach ultimately his starting place and that our ends,our real destinations,are our beginnings.'
An excerpt from the writings of Kamala Das,1988
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Sunday, 26 September 2010


I found Khadija crouching near my office at Santa Cruz, waiting just outside the mosque for a relative to come out. After the veil over her head slipped off I think she started to get to know me a little better.

Her brother, Imtiyaz, in the meanwhile ran into the mosque to wash his face. He ran back and sat right next to her. This is Imtiyaz's washed face.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

let's pretend we are other people

spaces have changed since.
the walls slip and slide.
new walls have been erected
the water in the house has since, changed its path.
the flux lies dispersed.
there will be other projections on the wall now
will the mirrors still be allowed to rest on the floor?
reflections are so very demanding.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

been getting wet in the rain
in the city these days
I let it seep in
I wait
and then when I'm dry I'll smell a bit

Steinbeck sits with me from time to time, come, I'll read some out to you..
'...In all my travels I saw very little real poverty, I mean the grinding terrifying poorness of the Thirties. That at least was real and tangible. No, it was a sickness, a kind of wasting disease. There were wishes but no wants. And underneath it all the building energy like gases in a corpse. When that explodes, I tremble to think what will be the result. Over and over I thought we lack the pressures that make men strong and the anguish that makes men great. The pressures are debts, the desires are for more material toys and the anguish is boredom. Through time, the nation has become a discontented land...'
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley,1962

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A friend asked me the other day if all this work in the city was eating at the soul
I raised my eyebrows, I wouldn't have put that phrase down to reflect my life as it is right now.
I said, "No.", quietly...but I did get to understand why I had been fighting all these days.
At last I understood.
..why the words would only come out laced in a poisonous tree sap, of late
..the words were fighting, without even my knowing it
this habit I've developed of actually speaking what's on my mind at all times has its ups too then?
every time I speak my mind, I start thinking of my ma...of how when I was a kid, she said I didn't have the right to just translate thought into word and spill still feels like a luxury, only meant for some mysterious 'adult' somewhere..
I let that rule go a couple of years back..
it's given me a monotone voice
it's given me a cool, calm in the face of deceit
it's given me a steel edge in the face of bygone lovers
a very queer thing.

I woke this morning, and read a few pages from Joyce, ' A portrait of the artist as a young man',1916
...'To remember that and the white look of the lavatory made him feel cold and then hot. There were two cocks that you turned and water came out : cold and hot. He felt cold and then a little hot : and he could see the names printed on the cocks. That was a very queer thing.'..

Saturday, 29 May 2010

careful in my emma thompson voice

i seemed to have had a brilliant bit of sleep
i woke up and had these thoughts of utter clarity
i understood some things about people i thought i had understood long ago
we move from relationship to relationship
with dogs and cats and men and women
and reach points when we must part
the scene changes
it is morning again
and we sit looking at our spent hands
wondering at their capacity at working the earth,at how we tilled and tilled with them

i know now that i mustn't wonder
life is like an infinite dance
you never lose people
if you have worked hard enough with your senses when they were around you,that is,
they always give parts of themselves for you to keep
and with it the freedom to give it to others
it's always the parts that they tend to have deeply contemplated upon that I end up having in my lap by the end of it
and I am happy for it
happy for all chewed-on thoughts
thoughts like books
like films
like music
real-life-people-thoughts are so much more fun sometimes
so raw, and smelly,
like time, really,
to extrapolate,..much like, well, this line I overheard emma thompson recite in a film(oh and how she does recite, warm fuzz everytime in the cockles of me heart) she comes now....
time moves so slowly. it weighs down. while time, in fact is so scarce.

did you hear it in her voice?
i sit sometimes and listen to my thoughts in her voice
it helps in things like clarity
no garble
pristine words
not vague
not pausing too long
careful with the punctuation.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Click here to set a title.

i used to take pictures of my life sitting on one of these benches at a point, about 5 years ago
it's about the same time this whole catching images thing started, I guess
I used to purse up my eyes shut tight and will the moment I was living to be recorded hereby in my head.

Monday, 24 May 2010

the wrotten word

"...according to the legend, the dragons remember your name in the old language. and you must never disclose this name. to tell anyone your dragon name is to give them power over you. any time they call out to you, you have to go to them, you are drawn to them.

that afternoon in your house, i felt as if i was telling you my dragon name. and now you know it and you can do with it what you will."

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Friday, 16 April 2010

cutting chai

home made 'cutting' carrier
notice how the design of the metal mimics the body language of the chai wala !?!

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unnati and abhinav and I are here in Mukundgarh to make a film,..Unnati's film,a documentary, on her ancestral village, Mukundgarh, we've come here way early (the rest of the crew joins us later) to let the town seep in a little into the blood circulation.

And the seeping has been potent, I find myself waking at 6 am to catch the shadows forming on the terrace of the beautiful haveli we live in. Simple lines are amusing. It's so quiet,that I can hear myself think.Then I stop thinking.

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waiting in the sun

mukundgarh makes you feel like it's waiting for something

waiting for a person

a celebration

a mourning sometimes

the furniture waits,the sun passes over. politely. searing its path through

the people stare into the distance

quite like the faces in the frescoes

plastic bags slide past on the empty road scratching noisily at the surface

sluggish, heavy

the streets speak strange languages here

sound echoes

the scratching sounds incredibly close

LPG cylinders travel the same way the plastic bags do

people are shy, they can be woken into curiosity

they need their space though,and it's an idea I've come to work out as a method in my head for some time now

I give them space in the compositions too on this 8 Mpix cam I accidentally got my hands on.

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mukundgarh electric

after a long time ceramic diodes stare me in the face from the tops of electric cum street lamp posts(you can just about see them glint in these dark photographs)

i don't think i ever studied about them in engineering,these beautifully shining ceramic pieces caught in the jumble of wires,

we skipped past the obsolete pieces,such as these ceramic fixtures,while studying electrical components.

one just about studied enough for the exams, and writing thoses exams were what i'd imagined arranged marriages to be like, you get strapped to each other and then you don't do the parts which you were never asked about. Perhaps in rebellion.

anyway, these guys,up there have been reduced to abstract art in old towns like mukundgarh,at night time they seem to coax the old crumbling frescoes back to life

very functional pieces of abstract art.

i can't imagine why i didn't study about them, the damned things, how the hell can you know what it means to have electricity if you don't know how these beautiful creatures keep this little town's pulse going!

i guess engineering missed all the interesting bits.

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Sunday, 7 February 2010


Picking my way through the streets of Bombay,I reached the sets of an advertising film. I was handed an SLR to bide my observation time. Being on a shoot with no assigned job is a nightmare. I was glad I had an eyepiece.
my brain cam saw a little kid at the door.
hands behind the back.
wringing fingers
shifting weight.

I have had my reservations about advertising.
It's to do with my general belief in the point of living.. I don't think we were actually meant to do much other than worry about how our food would be grown. But we are where we are,and many lives together have created the concept that we are required to live out.I read the papers everyday and am more convinced of it all the time. Like today,I read this article about a tiger in the Corbett reserve who killed this woman who strayed into the tiger reserve. The paper reported that 'the tiger seemed surprised at his kill'. The number of tigers in the reserve has been increasing. So have the tourist resorts around it.
The tiger was surprised.

So,with this whole thing about films,'the point of it' gets a bit muddled when the film's sole agenda is to sell something like a bar of soap.
Now,I hate films which are provocative... which want you to cry, get angry. They become like the high strung people sitting in your living room who want you to see their truth and accept it as an absolute. I find it very difficult to get such people out of my front door. Because there are no absolutes. There is no truth. There is your truth. And there is mine. I'd like to see your point of view and see if I fit in there. I don't want you lunging at me. Ad films lunge. A market makes use of this, to me distasteful, power of film... because it makes use of a projection of images to showcase all the things someone wants you to find desirable. Evoking lust,evoking jealousy,need,anger,guilt. And worse, evoking the stereotype.
I stared at the intricate trellis work above the set, as the riggers set the stage for this new sale.
as the actor held out her hand to catch the light for the accomplice, our projector,the camera

I watched an old man, part of the cast,sitting on his assigned chair as the gaffers set up for the next shot.
He'd come on the set with a little bag,the size of a toiletry case with a strap,the kind my grandfather carried with him whenever he was making a journey.
He made his way through all the wires and furniture and people to the other end of the space., treading carefully,so he wouldn't stumble. He set his bag on a table,took out a plastic glass and took a sip of the water he'd brought with him from home. He found a half used bottle of mineral water nearby,and refilled his plastic glass,replaced the lid. Then he took out a little tin of dried fruits and munched at them, hurriedly, looking to the sides as he tried to swallow. He probably didn't want to delay the next shot,though I knew it would be another hour before he'd be called to take his place in front of the camera. He zipped his bag, choosing carefully a new location in the midst of the jumble of wires, so it wouldn't come in the way of the set up.Then he went back to sit at the place he'd been shown to sit by the casting assistant.
And then we sold a brand new bar of soap.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

it comes every once in awhile
whistling from afar
wind,and water, followed by the sound of padded footsteps
flute sounds
in this city,curiously it comes while I'm in conversation with someone
while I look into their eyes as they speak.
you look into a person's eyes long enough and you can start climbing into the dusty swirls you see there
spend a little time and the dust specks yield and you can watch them hover slightly at your touch.
today it came as a wee bird sitting by my window sill
a sap green spray on its white chest
i rush out to the quiet dark sea
i roll over and lie on my back
i find i can breathe here
the warm water pressing against my ears doesn't frighten me
i spread my arms and stare at the stars
i think about the day
and how little i speak
i close my eyes,
all conversation feels unnecessary
i don't need exchanges
I seem to be able to understand you from your form,you see?

Friday, 29 January 2010

fish and hats

many thoughts racing together all at once
and I can't wait for them to come out

the problem is they all threaten to come out to together and I'm quite sure I won't be able to work my fingers fast enough, or even speak fast enough to get them all down,
a few will fade into the fog and become one of those mountains you can see only on a clear day from a sea coast.

somehow walking has been helping this newly devised cause of mine, this nervous steely urge to (convey,associate?) this school of fish,my thought, to a space I can watch them swim in..
but i don't think I can hold it off too long,the signs are everywhere, like in the Steinbeck book* I was reading today, these lines popped up..

'Kino put on his straw hat and felt it with his hand to see that it was placed properly,not on the back or side of his head,like a rash,unmarried ,irresponsible man, and not flat as an elder would wear it,but tilted a little forward to show aggressiveness and seriousness and vigor. There is a great deal to be seen in the tilt of a hat on a man.'

and I thought immediately that there is a great deal to be seen in the way a man holds his hands while walking as well,something I've been grappling hard to catch in my films for some time'd notice it if you were on a street and walking in a tightly knit mass of people, it happens gradually to you..about the time when you actually become aware of being a part of the bobbing crowd,a strange energy, like being in the mosh pit of a crammed concert,you move like a single mass.. that's when sometimes the mass breaks down into two groups magically in my head a)there are men who move their arms (or the arm closest to you in any case) in a slant, behind their bodies to a side as they walk by you and b)there are those who don't. That's two states of consciousness right there.. a) sees you, responds,reacts without thinking, arms move in a slant behind torso, b) sees you, walks by, walks a distance, and looks back.every time. b) freaks the hell out of me.
there is a great deal to be seen in the way a man holds his hands while walking.

*the book..john steinbeck's 'the pearl'(something I was going to write about earlier because it struck so many chords,but later thought against it because it's just too damn truthful, and if you're too soft ,you'll get depressed and if you're too hard, you would wonder about the poor man's depressed state of mind, it's all got to do with your hat.)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


today for a change my mind treated me like i was a little porcelain doll, gently,no jumping-out-from-the-dark-spaces action...
i was walking on the street when it happened, it came up on me from behind, a warm rush down my neck,like one of those showers early in the morning after a whole night out working on a set,the morning light glowing through the curtains as you step out, .....I've been lucky to have many of them in Ahmedabad.
So it happened here,just now,in Mumbai, on the streets..and for some reason,I raised my hands and looked up at the patch of sky just above. I felt unconquerable.
and I smiled so wide.
Back then at home in Ahmedabad, I'd hang up my towel and take a walk around the house, and take a good look at all the sleeping people, my film crew of eight..thinking in my head ' These people are working on some words I wrote..these people don't understand all of the words or where they come from, but they trust(?!) me, and whatever it is I'm getting at'.and I don't need to ask them why.
These are the moments that make me want to keep making films. This bringing together of people from different parts of my life,...all piled in a car at dusk, and falling asleep on each other as we head to a field to catch the magic hour for something someone said once. It's the only energy I need. Every poet,artist,film maker, mad man's words make sense then. right then at the magic hour.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

russian kink

this is vasili zorin

these frames kind of remind me of the little snatches of full colour frames I would catch a glimpse of at times in the animation studio when one of the guys would actually get down to bringing his characters to life in a story.
the last one with the girl and the cat seem,to me, how the perfect keyframe to tell a story could be.
in fact i saw a house just like the one in the background down in gokarna,in karnataka recently,complete with smoke wafting out of the high rafters near the frame,so many corollaries brought out into the sun. brilliant.

i absolutely adore his kink radio series.
good lord where do these guys get such opulent colours from?
the blue is the thread
i am convinced

in the meantime, take a look at Jasjyot Singh's character Rajubhai,a tailor from Amdavad and the character design process he followed through.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

the splintered writing seems to be warming up
yay :)
freshly baked music with an espresso within reach.
here's to the 'hero moment' at 00:46
hope everyone has one today :)

I think I have hero moments in my head all the time

Monday, 18 January 2010

thought I'd share the insight of a friend from another continent visiting India for the first time...
he was struck by the dignity,the 'curious' faith the tremendous throngs of people he saw seemed to have in life. in the race to reach first they could push their way through to get the seat for themselves, but they could also keep one hand to the chest and apologise for touching you accidentally with their foot a few seconds later.
the children were still children he felt. and thank god for that.
quite unlike the gun toting 12 year olds he saw in south america and the mother of 28 children he met in palestine, where mothers follow the vow to make more children for each man killed, word for word.
he didn't believe in God,but as we passed a particularly crowded curve near a slum where the women had put out charpoys and were brushing their hair,and children were squatting with plastic bottles of water by their sides rubbing their eyes and pushing their hair back, he started talking about God. maybe it was a God or many different Gods that made these people safe-keep the dignity in their daily living?
How could such large numbers not take the easier routes of escape?
The other day I watched a girl with sunburnt hair sitting by the side of the pavement with an older girl. They sniffed little bandages wound tightly around their wrists. They talked animatedly, and laughed. 
She got up after awhile and spun round in a circle, her palms held open. 
They looked like two girls having a good time.  
light hearted 
but they were sniffing glue..
I knew
and they shouldn't 
they should focus
focus on making their 'process' better
i thought
i watched her spin again
and laughed out loud 
i will never know her 'condition'
but I know how it is to spin like that,my palms held open
I know why I do it
who knows where God is.

strange things can be nightmares.
this is half the note i wrote though..