Mumbo Is Jumbo

Of Silence

Silence.
It goes out carrying a knife.
Not a samurai sword.
But a knife.
Less conspicuous. Conveniently deviant.

I hated its lack of discipline. I couldn’t predict it. As a kid I remember clapping in the shower, tapping my foot on the wet floor as the soap slid down my body. I hated the silence. So much that it had to be me, and only me, that killed it. Not nature, not some famous dude on the radio, but me.

There was an old piano in the living room of our first house. An old soul. On most evenings, I would hear it waking up, complaining like an old man as my dad settled down to play. But even that sounded beautiful. I would crawl down under it whenever my father played and lie there with my eyes open, basking in the silhouette of the parting sun as I felt my restless body slowly sinking up into the ancient wood.

I crawled under a lot of things. But the rusty old piano in the living room was my favourite. The creaky old bed in my grandpa’s room came at a close second. I especially liked to crawl under it when he was just about to fall asleep. He would toss and turn, trying to find a soft spot and I would listen to the creaks and the woody whines. It’s a child’s dream to have such a haven, a place where you hear everything you can’t see.

When I was about six years old, we moved to a new house. Our piano came with us and we gave it a very special place in our new shell. I couldn’t wait to lie under the piano once again, caught in the tension between the familiar above me and the novel below me. But I was to find out that something was terribly wrong.

“The C note”, my father cried. Unfortunately, the movers had not been careful enough with the old musical contraption and the old man had lost a tooth. One key somewhere to the right on the mundane assortment of ebony and ivory had stopped making the ‘C’ sound it was supposed to make. A tragic silence had replaced it. I couldn’t care less about what letter had gone missing. For all I cared, the key looked like one of those those giant statues on Easter island.

Dad never got it fixed. He just avoided it most of the time since it was on the extreme right and he used it mostly for high pitched embellishments. But there were moments when he would get carried away, stimulated by the rising music, and stumble upon the silent key. Under the piano, I would feel his muscles tense up in silent disapproval and self-reproach. Then, he would move on.

When I was around 8, I found myself before the piano everyday. No longer under it but at a useful creative distance. I too stumbled onto the silent key a couple of times. But then I got used to it. In fact, whenever there was a pause in a piece of music I was playing, instead of making my arms briefly hover in the air, I would press down on the silent key. It became my “thing”. I started treating silence like sound, like another note. And in time, I fell in love with it. And just like that, the kid who hated silence was tricked into falling in love with it by some divine force acting through a couple of careless movers. It became forever clothed in the delicate colours of sound. It’s nudity covered, it became a safe haven for my childhood. A place where I could hear everything I couldn’t see. And I didn’t even have to crawl in to find it.

Life in itself

I have a YouTube channel!!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUtz9vIFqs6XJV7uVDiHc5g

Dear 4D family,

Over the past 5 or so years, I’ve gotten to know you guys over some fun conversations and occasional posts. You guys have been a great part of my life. I found confidence, friendship and unity here on WordPress. I stopped uploading regularly after I got into college. I started focusing more on my music. But I always wanted to get back to you guys. And now it’s possible.

I have started a YouTube channel. I’ll be posting lots of content there that will allow us to connect even more. There are a few songs and funny cartoon videos up already. In the coming months, I also plan to start a podcast there.

This blog will remain active. Plus, from now on, you’ll be able to read the stories and inspirations behind the songs I write and the videos I make. I plan to build a small community by linking my instagram, YouTube, and blog.

You’ve been around for so long. I hope you’ll stay for the many bright years ahead of us. Together, let’s remind ourselves to have an absolute blast just existing! God bless!

Love and hugs,

Stefan

Mumbo Is Jumbo

Reasonable Art

White softness, submissive and complying, sits before me with its back against the easel and asks me, “Do you see me?”

“Huh?”, I ask, my eyes returning to focus on the perfect edges of the paper.

“Do you see me?”, it asks again, quieter this time. Much quieter.

“No”, I say and run my index finger over my eyebrow.

How could I? I’m an artist after all. I’m supposed to see things on the paper. The paper alone means nothing to me. It hides behind colour in near perfect submission. It lays no demands for the focus of a trained eye or the sweet caress of a surrendering hand. It wears whatever I give it and flaunts it in absolute stillness. Why would I ever see it?

But today, I’m forced to. Today, I must surrender my title and see nothing. I must do so because the only way to open a closed door is to forget there is a key. At least that’s how it works at the cul-de-sac inside my brain I call ‘creative space’.

And today the door is closed.

It’s blocked.

And I know it because I can hear it. Yes, I hear it when graphite touches paper. I hear it and I know that the door’s closed.

You see, there’s music in the air and on paper when the door’s open. A swish here and a swish there. They’re all expressions of the past, a reproduction of decisions made seconds ago. An experienced hand will handle the temporal separation with fidelity and resolute organisation. What you hear then is music. It rises and falls, bubbles up and explodes, and stomps with grace at a full stop.

But today, I don’t hear it. What I hear today is graphite choking on paper like a cat choking up a furball. My hand is moving over the paper like a drunk man at 5 a.m. on the subway. There is no fidelity, no organisation. My mind has nothing to say to my hands and I’ve lost all control. I turn the room upside down looking for the key. I must get out. If I don’t, I will kill me.

It is in this quiet desperation on a Monday evening that I find myself in the company of a perfect sheet of paper. It is offering me a way out. A way to convince myself that there is no key. A cheat code that will connect me to reality and unlock potential. So I cave in.

I frame the blank sheet of paper and I hang it on the wall.

I tell others I did it because art should never make us blind, even to paper.

Author’s note:

This piece is part of a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’, where I talk about weird concepts and ideas that I have. In this short piece, I intend to highlight how art lies in the reason why you do something and not just in what you do. I also believe that we sometimes experience creative blocks because we forget this. The fact that I can get away with calling a sheet of paper art has to be good enough evidence. I didn’t even make it. I just came up with a reason to call it art and identified the reason as art in itself. You can too.

P.S. The 4D family is growing fast 🙂 If you like what you read, do share it and consider following the blog. We’re all friends here. Remember to always have a blast just existing. God bless!

Mumbo Is Jumbo

Black Smoke Rising

At precisely 5:25 p.m. every day, my neighbours not only take their trash out but also put it to test by fire. The unholy ceremony is a daily reminder that I live in a third world country. From around 5:25 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., my room witnesses the burial of millions of buoyant carbonaceous material.

The smoke rises up from the burning waste on the other side of the wall and squeezes its way in through the spaces that my window can’t fill. I’ve tried a million ways to somehow shut it out but without avail.

Every day I’m left with no choice but to sit back and look on in despair as the smoke enters my room in a modest yet undeniably pompous fashion. The entry takes a good 30 minutes. The entire process is so slow and vain you could call it royal. In fact, I’ve started interacting with it like I would with an actual person. This could be a result of having to stay inside my room for the past 3 months.

The battle starts around 5:25 p.m. when I try to shut the door on its face and it sticks its foot in the way. After a few minutes, compelled by the thin edge of the wedge that it strategically sends my way, I give up and retreat to the uncertain comfort of a corner in my room. As I sit down, the door opens ever so slightly and I see its left leg. It’s always wearing a pair of old grey pants. They’re plain and have an air of death about them but the evening sun does them some good. It then waits for a good five minutes before opening the door and taking another step. At this point, I notice that it’s wearing a black coat. Nothing fancy. It’s probably not even a decent fit. I forgive the bad choice of clothes knowing how it’s always been all over the place. Another ten minutes pass before it finally sticks its head in. Mops of abundant dark grey hair fall over its face. The hair has the strangest texture I’ve ever come across. It’s almost gritty but there’s a certain grace to the way it moves. As interesting as it is, I show no sign of acknowledgement. This is followed by another five minutes spent in shared inconclusive glances. Then, after around 30 minutes, sometime between 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., it finally decides to let itself in fully and closes the door. I stare at it in disgust and express my anger in between short bouts of coughing. It then waits a courteous minute or so before opening the door for me and asking me to leave. Defeated, I do so, making sure I shut the door behind me on the way out.

Once outside I must wait for a good hour or so before I go back in. I do so hoping it will let its guard down. But I know that the longer I stay away from the room, the stronger it gets. It’s waiting for me to open that door and when I do, it will unleash a diabolical mix of sensual disappointments. The smell will hit me like the gentle nudge of a passing train. It will race in through my nose and mouth into my body. It is the most unpleasant experience. I almost always have to retreat and take a moment or two to recoup before I charge in again.

I win. That’s the only outcome. But it never stops trying. Over the years, it has thrown a few punches that knocked the air out of me quite literally. But I persist.

If you’re my neighbour and you’re reading this, please go read up on climate change. I’m pretty sure its your fault. Also, please stop hijacking my room.

Mumbo Is Jumbo

From A Postbox Near You

Rays of darkness enter a postbox three blocks from your two-storey house. The quiet frustration of cars screeching to a stop at a red light that I can’t even see wakes me up and I blink. It’s another evening in the postbox. Here, I live among the many letters you send to your friends, exes and colleagues. I toss and turn, making space among your formal faithfullys and sincerelys, words penned with no regard to the meaningless flattery all regards have carried for the past hundred or so years.

This mundane evening, I proceed as I do every day, to reseal the letters that I fell asleep reading, making sure I leave no traces of spilt secrets. Once I’m done, I feast. I put my nose inches away from the efficient and neglected opening of the postbox and breathe in the crushed aroma of tea and coffee mixed with the mischief of leaves and seeds from the Asias. I smell yesterday’s rain on the coats of young ambitious souls on their way back from work and the leather of shoes not yet broken into. It reeks of monotony; all of it.

As the evening breaks into the pitch black of the night, I am confronted with what I must do to pass time. There’s not much to do at night. I certainly can’t read any letters. In fact, I can do nothing but listen to the stillness, an activity that’s such a bore I pity anyone who finds it beautiful. I like to process. I need smells and sounds to acknowledge the existence of my senses. I really don’t know why I spend so much time awake in the night. I could just sleep and be at my best during the day. I feel like an old fool. But that is just how it is. I like to tell myself my obsession with the laziness of the night lies in how the expectation of something new is glorified by nocturnal silence, a heightened experience of anticipation from a pause that lasts but around ten hours.

After this stretch of failed expectations and excusable disappointments, I finally find joy in the ever certain glorious break of dawn. The rays of darkness change colour like milk poured into a cup of hot tea. I hear the sound of birds echo inside my small cylindrical chamber of existence and condition my eyes to the yellow of the sun reflecting off the glass of an old pawn shop and falling on the red of the inlet of the post box. I hear the sniffs of dogs accompanied by the accomodating length of a whistle or a hum. I do not always smell flowers but I smell love and the expectation of love that flourishes in the sincerity of yet another day.

What I like to do in the wee hours of the morning on such a routine day, is scratch ever so patiently at the red of the inlet. Giving my living space a touch of individuality is cause for a lasting sense of warmth and security. After going about this for five seconds or so, I proceed to rummage through the letters in search of chocolate or liquorice that some kind old woman sent to her grandchild along with a note the child can’t read. Once I’ve helped myself to the spoil, I go on to read.

To know what day it is is not too much trouble for me. I just check the date on the first letter that comes in. As I read, I share in the frustration of my neighbours. I listen patiently to them rant about how their cooking appliances keep breaking down and how the country’s foreign policy is evil. I try to imagine their faces as they wrote the words down. It helps if I remember the edges of your fingers when you dropped the letter in or the sound of your coat brushing past the metal of my postbox. The sound of your shoes, the ruckus your loose change makes in your purse, all helps me to put a face to the words you write. That’s how I know about you.

Yes, you.

You live a few blocks from me. You write quite frequently. In fact, you no longer slow down when you reach the postbox. You, like a few others who frequently visit me, have mastered the art of skilfully targeting the rectangular inlet with one hand, very much like you would throw a frisbee. I don’t even hear the spring in your step after you’ve successfully posted a mail in this fashion. I find this to be a quality among many who post as often as you with similar ease in technique. You send a letter to your grandma every week and I find you to be a very sincere and likeable person. I’m sure your grandma loves reading what you write. I wish I could know what she writes back to you. I do know she does not correct your spelling mistakes because you continue to post your mail without proofreading it. It made my day when you wrote ‘Police Chef’ instead of ‘Police Chief’ in your last letter. I enjoy your letters for this very reason. It seems like you write to your grandmother just like you must have talked to her when you were a child.

Today, I hear you in the distance, your feet steady, the letter in your hand. I shield my face to brace the impact of your letter but nothing happens. I’m sure you passed by me because I can smell the undertones of lemon in the perfume you use. Did you forget to post your letter? I can still faintly hear your firm steps fading away. I almost panic. Is your grandmother all right? If something’s not right, do you need someone to talk to?

I sit back against the rusty metal and run my fingers through my hair. You’re a loner. I hope everything’s fine. Another letter comes in. Amateur. I could hear him slow down, stop and I could even hear his shirt strain against his belt as he bent down ever so slightly to put the letter in.

Uninteresting.

Author’s note:

This post was inspired by the first scene of a very interesting movie I watched a few weeks ago called ‘About Elly’. The first shot looked like what light coming into a postbox would look like. It was nothing of the sort but it made me think about what it would be like to live inside a postbox. I ended up having all these different ideas. I’ve talked about a few in this post. If it’s too dense for your taste, I completely understand. This is the third post of the series ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’ where I talk about weird ideas and seemingly irrelevant stuff that I believe have aesthetic value.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post. The 4D family is growing. If you like reading about weird stuff that has a touch of poetry and aesthetic perspectives, consider becoming a part of this family. We’re all good friends here.

Mumbo Is Jumbo

On Chewing Fennel

I hang on to a blue handle hanging from a blue bar by a blue strap on a blue bus. Maybe they got the colours right. Maybe they didn’t. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t mind the colour. It compliments the morning sky well. I shouldn’t even be worrying about this. The commute from the gate to the aircraft isn’t that long. But the baby and the woman I gave my seat to were also in blue. Thus all this contemplation. From when I can remember, I’ve always seen a baby on an airport shuttle. The repeated introduction to ‘blue’ and ‘baby’ forced me to stop and reconsider. Is any of this important?

“You think too much” is what she said. That’s what everyone says. I reach into the right pocket of my dark blue jeans, trying to find the packet of fennel seeds. My left hand tightens its grip on the blue handle. The bus suddenly stops and I almost lose my grip. I glance at the driver without knowing it, re-adjust the heavy guitar on my back, and resume hanging on to the handle. Forget the fennel. I’ll have it later.

These buses look just like everything else the airline owns. You are met again and again with the same colours, the same uniforms, and the same smile. It deceives you into thinking all these services are not many but one efficient and flawless whole. But it isn’t. Oh, you thought it was about the aesthetics huh? I did too. Until today, when my contact with the colour blue and babies on airport shuttles for the hundredth time made me aware of my surroundings. That’s what got me thinking in the first place.

“You think too much”. Pah! I almost say it out loud. The woman looks at me. She’s sizing me up. But she’s also sizing up everyone else on the shuttle. That’s her fennel. That’s her way of taking a break on a holiday. She’s sitting down while she’s asleep. All of these people are. I can feel it. Because there’s nothing else to do other than to hang on to the blue handles on this blue bus. If only I could chew on some fennel.

We get down by the plane. I see what I’ve seen before even when it’s different. So I decide not to look at all; at the tires of the plane or the marks that heavy tools made under the wing. I just ‘proceed’ like they ask you to in those announcements. The word reeks of organised movement, lacking any curiosity whatsoever.

Once on the plane, I settle down by the window on row 27 or 28. That’s where the seats are mostly empty. I immediately produce a packet of fennel seeds from my pocket and pop a few seeds into my mouth, aiming for my tongue. I close my eyes for a moment.

I open and close the blinds again and again until we take off. Repetition is key. I like to think some staff on the ground sees the plane blinking when they look up. Or winking perhaps, considering how not many would oblige the way I do.

Once in the air, I treat myself to more fennel. There’s something about feasting on these tiny grains of exotic flavour while looking out the window on row 27 or 28, guiding them around in my mouth into the delicate blades of my incisors. It’s a calming process, one that compliments the view which casts the illusion that I’m moving at the pace of an electric scooter when in reality I’m a lot closer to the speed of light than I think.

Why do I talk of light? Because they say time stops at the speed of light. That’s when you’ll feel the slowest. The fennel makes me appreciate everything that’s slow. It perhaps works very much like tea or coffee does for some people. It makes me more of a photon. That’s when I feel the slowest.

Author’s note:

This is part of a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’. In this series, I will talk about seemingly irrelevant things in my life that I think I’ve not been able to communicate efficiently with other people. I believe this will be a very special project. I request your support and I hope you enjoy it.

Mumbo Is Jumbo

Being a ’00 baby

I was born in the year 2000. I entered into the world like a boss at the very beginning of a millennia. I made history when I opened my eyes. The doctor said “OMG, this kid is special”. He didn’t say OMG because I was cute or cried for my milk like an 80s rockstar. He said OMG because I was born in the dopest, swaggest, and most practical year of the 21st century. 

Being born in 2000 puts me at an advantage over everyone else in the world, save the few that were chosen to hold the same title as me. What is the title, you ask? 

We are called ’00 babies. 

Did I make it up? Not really.


I know. I know…


According to The Free Dictionary and Wikipedia, ’00’ is an acronym for public toilets in Germany and Eastern Europe but that’s not stopping us. On the contrary, we know this is a ploy to take our title away from us. We’re not giving up. We find strength in the jealousy of people born in not-so-cool years. We feed off the envy of those who say they’re better than us because they’ve ‘experienced both the 20th and the 21st centuries’. C’mon. They’re not that special. 


Look at people born in 1987 for example. What a pity. You have no idea how many people who asked them about their birthday ran away because they felt threatened. Can you blame them? It sounds like a countdown after 1. 

Or look at 1969. It looks like 9 did a flip. 

Or  consider 1992. 9 is definitely third wheeling. 

1991 looks like a mirror image gone wrong.

Face it. None of them are cool enough.


I actually even agree with many people who say that it should have been illegal to be born in 2000. It’s just too cool. There’s a line in Scott Pligrim vs The World where Todd Ingram absolutely wrecks Scott and this girl says “In short, being Vegan just makes you better than other people”. I would say that’s the case with us ’00 babies too (pls forgive me Vegans. I lou you all).  There totally should have been a law put out sometime in 1998 (another number I’m not even going to start dissing) that all men and women should, for the sake of the people of the 21st century, master their passion and abstain from all activity that may result in ’00 babies.


Imagine if that actually happened. An year that saw no babies. Pampers and Huggies would go bankrupt.  As consequential as it would have been, I think it’s a step people from the 20th century should have taken. 


It should have even been a matter of security. Such a high number of zeroes in someone’s birthday is scary. After all, zero is like the most secretive number ever. Kids don’t even know that it’s a legit number until they learn about Whole numbers in primary school. In some cases, they don’t know it till after they get into middle school. This is rare but very common with kids who have way cooler things to do than learn about numbers. Even NASA when they do the countdown for their launches makes sure you never hear the zero. They blame it on the rockets. I don’t believe that for a second.


You have to know that I’m extremely grateful to have been born in 2000. I came pretty close to losing the title. Thank God my mom didn’t meet my dad a year before. What a disaster it would have been to be born in 1999. At the cusp of making history but falling down into an abyss of numbers that are not special at all. A bottomless pit of numbers that lack the abundance of the magic of the 0 (cue choir Aaahs). 


Imagine all the recognition and fame I would have missed out on. It would have been such a pity. But it would have been a greater loss to have missed out on the practicality that comes with being born in 2000. I just need to look at the last two digits of the current year to know my age. Believe me when I say it’s a much faster process.


If after all that I’ve said you still don’t believe me, I don’t blame you. Most ’00 babies are still on their way to becoming famous and successful. But mark my words when I say we will take over the world. 


Peace, hugs, and love.


P.S. If you were not born in 2000, hit the like button. If you were, where the heaven have you been all this time??? 

Author’s note:
The above post is part of a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’. This series will look at seemingly silly ideas and make them weirder. Some are meant to be funny, while others are meant to bring out the aesthetic qualities of an experience. This particular piece was inspired by my belief that being born in 2000 is cool.

award

Sunshine Blogger Award

Once in a while, some really kind person sends an award nomination my way and I get the time to work on it. I am really sorry if I there are others who have sent me award nominations and I have not done a post on them. I really appreciate you guys and these nominations really make my day. I never thought I would find such a friendly audience. I am not talking about numbers, I am talking about kind and supportive you guys are. So thank you, for making this blog a great blessing.

We have one great blogger to thank for this post. Alan over at Fuel For The Race writes some amazing stuff. He’s one gem of a person and I can’t thank him enough for the kind words he said about me. Do go over and show him some love.

About the award:

This award is given to creative, positive and cheerful bloggers by other bloggers as a token of appreciation and admiration.

Here are the rules:

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.

• Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.

• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

Here are the questions that Alan asked me and my answers to them:

Who encouraged you to launch a blog?

The truth is that nobody did. I was genuinely interested in the concept of being able to connect with people I probably might never meet through my writing. Blogging was also a great way of recording my thoughts. I wanted WordPress to be like a hard drive for my creativity. That being said, my family has always supported my writing. Their encouragement has been a great reason why I have been able to keep going. A lot of credit goes to my parents who have sponsored me since my birth. Whenever I’ve needed something to further my talents, they’ve always been very generous.

Who was your first blogger-friend & what drew you to that writer?

This is a very hard question because there were many. I can’t think of one single person specifically. But the ones who were there were so supportive. From giving me suggestions to praying for me, a lot of my blogging friends have become friends in life. I’m very thankful for that. To answer the question what drew me to them, I would have to say it was the sincerity in their writing.

What country, or state are you writing from?

I am currently writing from Hyderabad in India. I study here. But Kerala is my home state.

Has your writing evolved over time & why?

I’d like to think so. Coming to college, meeting new people, the change in the kind of books I read, has influenced the way I write.

Be honest with me on this one.  How often do you consider the unseen spiritual aspect beyond the tangible?  If “never” is the answer, let me know.  It’s okay.  No tricks.

Haha. That’s a good question. I am genuinely interested in the topic. Being a Christian also has made me ponder on such things a lot.

Do you have a pet?

I don’t. But the campus I live in has a lot of tame dogs and cats which is definitely a treat.

When you wake up in the morning, what is your first thought?

Being a college student, my first thought is usually whether or not I have overslept. That usually leads to me frantically jumping out of bed, or a very slow, calm sigh. After that I like to put on some music and get ready for class.

Do you eat breakfast?  If so, what does it consist of?

I usually have a very light breakfast. I have it from the hostel where I live and it usually is some South Indian food. When I’m back home, my mom makes me a very bitter, extremely nutritious smoothie every morning, which gets me going.

If you’re still friends with a childhood pal, tell me what has kept you together?

I never had many friends as a kid. Also since I’m still a teenager, it’s not like childhood was a long time ago. The friends from school I still have contact with are some very kind guys who decided to hang out with a weird kid and make his schooldays a lot more interesting.

What keeps you returning to the same blogger?

Connection. Once I feel like I’ve connected well with someone, no matter the quality of the content they put out, I still like to show up to say hi.

Does your own family read your posts?

Yeah. It’s a great joy.

I’ve decided not to nominate anyone this time. I’ve not been able to read a lot of blog posts and I don’t think I have a good enough idea to do justice to it. That being said, I’m still going to put up 11 questions. You are all welcome to any question you like. It could be a great way to connect, which is what this blog is all about.

My 11 questions:

  1. If you could be a teacher, what would you teach?
  2. A simple thing about nature that fascinates you.
  3. Your favourite spot on the earth?
  4. If you could have a cartoon character as your best friend, who would it be?
  5. An underrated artist.
  6. Something interesting you can do.
  7. What do you think is most important in a relationship?
  8. What nickname would you give yourself?
  9. If you could give water another colour, what would it be?
  10. The best blogging tip you ever got.
  11. What would you name your autobiography?

I know. These questions are kinda weird. I just wanted you guys to forget about your worries and just be a kid for a few seconds. It helps. I hope some of you answer these. I would love to read them.

God bless! Have a blast existing!