Two Cups

I decided to give myself a “congrats on the new job!” gift of a fancy mug. In a shop selling tea and all the accoutrements, I found these: Since wǒde zhōngwén bù hǎo, I asked the shopkeeper what the inscriptions meant. “Money” she said of the one on the left, and “peace or freedom” for… Read More Two Cups


Ritual Airports

Airports always bring out a kind of wistfulness in me. They are a strange liminal space, giving  closure to one phase of life and opening the gate to the next, holding equally the emotions of partings and reunions, the promise of adventure and the fear of the unknown – and yet something about them calls… Read More Ritual Airports


Owning and moving

I’ve just thrown away most of my old notebooks. Strange to think that the photos of marginalia are all I have left of them, though not nearly so strange as how I feel about letting them go. I expected to feel so much more – I mean, I’d kept them for years (some for over… Read More Owning and moving

Visual art, Writing

Drawing vs. Writing

Writing is not conscious of letterforms, as long as the words are legible. (I don’t imagine the look of words before writing them down.) Drawing is full of conscious deliberation. Each line must be attended to; also the relationships of parts, the harmony of the whole. (Mentally I mark the page before setting down ink.)… Read More Drawing vs. Writing

Multicultural issues

Open and Closed

When I was growing up, it was impressed upon me that getting along with people – and different kinds of people – was important. (Not saying there weren’t “wrong kinds” of other people – and goodness knows I got into trouble for not always being able to discern who they were – but they were… Read More Open and Closed

Artwork, Multicultural issues, Writing


A few hours after posting about a feeling of resonance I’ve been missing from stories, I realized: I know a term for that! The word is ترحيل (tarhiil), which is Arabic and has dictionary definitions of ‘expulsion’, ‘transference’ and ‘resettlement’. I first came across it in in the context of Middle Eastern music, where it… Read More Transference


On Resonance in Stories

Publishers and readers alike want imagination – the kind that gives life to situations that possibly nobody in the world has actually been through. Especially in speculative genres, which by definition present situations that the author hasn’t been in. Yet when a character or situation – or even an environment – is written with real knowledge of the… Read More On Resonance in Stories

Artwork, Visual art


A lot of people have wondered if my ink drawings have been influenced by mehendi. I can’t say it’s ever been deliberate, though perhaps it’s been floating around on an unconscious level since mehendi has always been a regular feature of celebrations in my maternal family. (Though I was never particularly fond of wearing it;… Read More Mehendi