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Chapter 57

Marianne Boruch Indiana University Press ePub

Chapter 57

Supper was number one on the list, and this time Frances and I had nothing to bring to the table. But Emil set us to work cutting up carrots and onions and garlic while he deftly removed various boney bits from the chicken. I stared at the wine he poured for me, aware that I was underage. But maybe not in California, I reasoned. Of course, grass was illegal everywhere but that fact never seemed damning in the least. And the drinking laws in Illinois—now that I thought about it—never stopped anyone I knew either. I had a sip. And another. Emil was doing a stir-fry thing; he was making rice too. White rice—he was that kind of guy.

He was talking about beauty, mainly female beauty, but with the wave of his hand, the redwoods outside were involved. And the mountains and this particular canyon, the birds, and the ocean. Certainly the ocean. All is one, when your eyes have been opened—the usual stuff. Back to women though. He had something he wanted us to see after supper. But we took our time eating.

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1. A Century of Experience

Anand Pandian Indiana University Press ePub

We were on a train clattering to Madurai seventeen years ago when my grandfather first told me the story of his passage back from Burma to India in 1941. Ayya had come of age in a small town in the lush lowlands north of Rangoon. For nearly a decade, he and his brothers kept a shop there, on the veranda of their house. Then the Second World War reached their town, driving them back to India. One among hundreds of thousands of refugees, Ayya survived a deadly trek through the bamboo jungles of western Burma and landed in the dry, dusty village of his forebears in southern Tamil Nadu. He married, and with patience, thrift, luck, and cunning, he eventually secured a decent life for his family.

I sat beside Ayya on a green vinyl berth as he described all of this, grateful for the cool, dry air of this coach car on the Pandyan Express. It was early June. The unrelenting heat outside was thick, sticky. But there was something else that I could almost feel floating in the air around my grandfather: the absence of Paati, my grandmother.1 It had been just four months since Ayya had lost his wife. And now it seemed, as he spoke, that this loss was cloaked in other losses that he’d seen—the mother who had died when he was a child, the father he’d buried back in Burma, the rubble of their livelihood there. “Who was left to tell me stories?” he asked plaintively, as if, for a moment, the septuagenarian widower was once again that orphaned child.

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Neil Peart ECW Press ePub


MARCH 2013

IT WAS MID-AFTERNOON in early February 2013, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. The temperature was near 0°F, further embittered by the driving wind and my passage on cross-country skis. Snow lay three feet deep on the ground and filled the air with icy slashes. After two and a half hours of that kind of abuse, and that kind of exertion, I was glad to be on the trail’s home stretch.

Like the Action Self-Portraits I take on my motorcycle, this opening photo was captured in motion. While gliding downhill, my left hand held the camera out to the side and snapped away. At this moment, my eyes were obviously glancing over to check the camera angle, but I like how the expression seems to say, “Are you serious?”

That long, gradual downhill for my photo opportunity came near the end of a fifteen-mile loop (it had been a long, gradual uphill at the beginning). All that time I had been striding over the gentle ups and downs and occasional flats, struggling up the steepest inclines or nervously careering downhill between the trees. Despite the cold, my inner layers were wet with sweat, and I was tired and pleasantly sore. Like after a three-hour concert, or an all-day motorcycle ride, I was hurting all over—but that was fine. If I drive myself hard, and properly use every muscle, they should all feel it. Just no individual aches in knees, shoulders, elbows, and so on, thank you.

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Elizabeth Wittenmyer Lewis University of North Texas Press PDF
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Charles Halpern Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

WE BEGAN on a sweaty August day in 1969, in a row house on Swann Street, a street well-known for its high crime rate. Geoff Cowan had rented the house from friends of his who were in Paris on assignment for the Washington Post. “I have the whole house to myself,” he said, “and I only need one bedroom.”

Oddly, I worried about legalism, not about crime. “We are running an office in a place zoned for residential use. That’s a hell of a way to start a new public interest law firm.”

“You think too much like a lawyer. No one gives a damn about the zoning,” Geoff said. “The District of Columbia government doesn’t have it together to arrest the heroin dealers selling on the corner of our block in the middle of the afternoon. They certainly don’t have the resources or the interest to come after us for violating the zoning laws. If you are going to worry, you should worry more about getting mugged after a long evening working on a brief.”

I let go of my legalistic scruples, and we moved in. We paid no rent—which is what we could afford. Geoff assured us that his landlord wouldn’t care about the use we were putting his house to. “He’ll be proud of it,” Geoff said. We took over the house, except Geoff’s bedroom, and put our Xerox machine on the kitchen table.

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