letter #11:in india: the adventures of ola y chau
I went to India and came back without taking a single photo. Not taking photos while on this trip was a decision that I made while I was flying there. It was an experiment for me to see how my eyes see or if they were capable of actually seeing without the phone camera. If i did not document this moment then would it disappear, will i still be able to tell of what i saw. I am losing interest in accumulating memories, repetition without renewal or growth, pushes me to change. I can see the repetition in my images especially those taken while i am traveling, how many skies or seas or sunsets or idiotic self obsessed images of me climbing a 200 foot hill can i keep taking or showing? I went to India, it was my third time, and only for 8 days and every moment was unique, every vignette had in it layers of newness, and still i did not want to document it. I wanted to keep adding to those moments from my own memory, and re-imagine them from what was left from my memory until those moments were just in my body.
In India, I was present—fully. Present with my eyes, my ears, my legs, my tongue, my feet, my heart, my back, my fingers and mostly my voice.
I was born with the umbilical cord hugging my neck. In India, it was the first time i felt it coming undone. In India, I heard my voice.
In India my intestines were happy. In my dreams there, I saw white clothed humans sitting muted by the power of human sound.
In India, the teachings were given by practice and being present and not by dictation.
In India, I saw patience, dedication to one’s own truth, and music, music, music.
I will keep seeking music, that is the only clear path i believe i can follow, until i can no longer hear.
I thank Oraib Toukan, my dear friend, for her piece Cruel Images which i read just before I left to India, it inspired my photo awakening moment.
I was plucking my nose hairs the other day, for the first time ever. Nose tickling and eyes smarting, the whole deal, but only for a few hairs as I catch a couple from this nostril and a couple from the other. And I thought to myself: I am plucking my whiskers.
There is context here: You shared your thoughts and findings about long hair in the traditions you got to know on your trip to India and others around the world, recognizing how hairless you are (i am not more by much), and the role hair is expected to play as a sensory tool. Also, I have been missing the possibility of a deer visiting the back yard or the knowledge that we share our apartment building with a family of raccoons or standing by the edge of the world at the border of a city watching whales travel the Pacific. Furthermore, I am trying to figure out extreme human reactions to other creatures sharing our spaces (mice, cockroaches, poor and refugees). And I am taking a workshop with Samah Hijawi where I expressed my desire to process my relationship or build one with the wild/nature through my art practice so Razan from the workshop gave me Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson: Uncertainty in the City to read.
Back to plucking my whiskers, joining in with yet another act of de-animalizing myself. I want to belong to our-glorious-human-selves, our-esteemed-chosen-homo-sapien-selves! (infantile creatures of the earth who (that) think we grew up). What a joke. We surrender our natural sensory tools (google maps and weather applications will do the better job), losing touch with our own bodies, seeing them only as failing machines that need improvement, we need to be told what and when to eat or drink and when to sleep or walk, boxed (dying?) in consumer towers aspiring to develop the quickest most sure ways to shop, supplementing sunshine with pills. We shall continue to try with all our order, vigilance, diligence, perfumed and coiffed, moisturised and shaved, educated and spiritual, urbanised and technologised, fenced in and observed, we shall continue to try to step away from our animalism, from our wilderness and savagery (including humans of sub-human categories of whatever time). And we shall continue to fail.
I want to pay my respects here to the feral cats of Amman streets that maintain and generously share final (and very fragile) links to the wild.
I go to a blog post from our road trip, September 16, 2017 and read the notes as a reminder.
هذه المدوّنة هي جزء من المراسلات بين علا وديالا توثّق مغامرات أولى إي تشاو
This blog post is part of the correspondence between Ola and Diala documenting The Adventure of Ola y Chau
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