Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Visions of SF

Visions of SF


In the cloak of night I drove through the streets of San Francisco.  A friend, a lover, the city speaks to me in so many languages.  I hear her call to me in my dreams.

I saw a band June 6 night. I did not know what to expect and I was left breathless.  Once more the city delivered.  Trumpet call, bass rhythm, the keys dancing.  Heartbeat of the drums and pure soulful cries while blowing into the harmonica.

It’s been a long time since my soul danced. Since I last saw the symphony.  Learning to differentiate sound as Beethoven continues to teach me.

In the music, I close my eyes and fly…. Fly on the wings of the sounds and soar above the city and the sea.

And I am reminded of the poem that spoke to me Friday night:

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air –
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography –
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Pablo Neruda


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The Lessons of Fate


In Life I have often been misled, opened wrong doors and seduced short term pleasures.  The adversity that follows can leave devastating tracks on our life path.

Many times, I thought it was FATE, the negativity that resulted from poor decision making. Now, older and hopefully wiser. It was not always FATE, it was me.


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The Island of Dreamers.

The name crept into the conversation one of the many starry nights during the last weeks of the rainy season this November. There were no visitors at the lab, only a handful of the long term residents spending an evening alone together. We opened a few bottles of delicious red Columbian wine, brought by an animated and gregarious Columbian, Jorge. I like to call him, the philosopher. Everyone was in a pleasant mood, enjoying each other’s company, discussing our day and various work projects. The milky way stretched out across the sky like a diamond studded charcoal cat. I could almost hear a purrr from the sky as we popped open another bottle, but maybe that was the soft hummm in my ear from the wine. We snacked on large juicy grapes, the size of golf balls, from the lab’s organic farm on the mainland, accompanied with cheese and crackers, yet very informal. We are all friends, have become unusual companions through the course of our stay here. Our group represents several countries. Panama of course, Columbia, Mexico,United States, Puerto Rico, India, Italy, France, and Russia. Between all of us, we have trekked the globe. We are seasoned travelers converging, bringing our unique experiences to the deck under the starry starry night. I love it when we have nights like these, when we share our very different and varied stories, in several different languages. Two of the Columbians are well traveled and are wonderful story tellers. Their stories are laden with detail and prose, told with flair, encouraging laughter from the whole group. I am there, within the story,whisked away to Cartegena, Bogota and the wilderness that makes up Columbia. I listen carefully, trying to capture the essence of their voice and characterizations, hoping to one day capture dialogue style and perspective. Then one of the Italians, Aldo, adds his point of view to a certain country in his sing songy English, slipping in a few Italian words, some of which I am familiar with from my University Italian classes, many many years ago. My belly hurts from laughing. We all argue about the best country in the world and I realize how much everyone is proud of where they come from. We are all here on this island for different reasons with dreams in our heads and goals in our hearts. We share our obstacles and listen to the advice that others give. Jorge exclaims, “we are the island of dreamers!” I wholeheartedly agree. “You are the writer, Alpana, write a story about the island and we’ll make a movie. I can’t wait to accept an Oscar!” he claims prematurely. How can I resist his enthusiasm? Who am I to disagree with that?

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Changes in life are inevitable. We may believe in fate, a master plan, destiny and inexorably chance. I look around me, into the lives of the many diverse people that I am in contact with right now, today, from all over the world, here on this isolated island and then it dawns on me, cluttering my over active mind, of the different paths I could have and probably should have taken and yet, this path, the one I am on now, brings me to this particular place on life’s journey. This island becomes a symbol of my growth, the tunnel into the hidden parts of self through the fresh breath of all that is vibrant and alive around me. I am awakened from a deep slumber by the haunting call of a lance tailed manakin or the grunts from a band of howler monkeys protecting their territory, croaking from the keel billed toucans. I am redefining my existence once more. My job, my successes or failures do not define me. I am not on vacation. I live here. I actually live here.

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