Sunday, November 4, 2007

Across the Universe in America

i feel like i'm on a visit usa program jointly arranged by bill graham (the rock producer) and billy graham (the evangelical preacher). from the sweet music of bruce springsteen last night in st. paul to the gaggle of baptist college girls at the a&w in wisconsin longing to 'share their love for jesus' out in the larger
world. 'g-d is calling me to thailand...', she said as i was just ordering a root beer float for the sake of childhood memories and my eternal sweet tooth when the word of g-d moved among us.

in truth, it's been a wonderful time w/ gary up here in his frigid northern climes. from last night with bruce wailing the night away with 20,000 of my white scandanavian siblings ('my people; my people') in st. paul to this morning seeing the amazing new walker museum of modern art w/ a frida kahlo exhibit ('her people her person') to the baptists in the a&w cathedral, it's been a wondrous trip through the beauty, magic, power, innocence, crass commerciality and occasional absurdity of americana.

yet, this spaceless country seems to go on and on, at times, especially out here in the middle north of the nation. while new england, to me, feels enclosed, protected and refined compared to these new vistas for me of the endless dairy farms of wisconsin and minnesota, pushed up here against the cold canadian border.

while a highlight of these american meanderings have been the trees. they are another form of magic, as i hadn't been in new england in the autumn for more than a few years now. the peaceful two hour rides back and forth on route 2 from boston to NMH gave me the opportunity to indulge my visual senses in the rush of natural inspiration that this lingering season offers at this time of year. lusious beauty of a cool, earthy form. the festival of color fills my spirit at such times.

now,a few days later, in wisconsin, much further north, the deciduous trees have a later wintry look with the aspens flickering with golden leaves against the grey skies. a harsher environment here, but with a more open, endless, distant horizon. i'd forgotten that about the midwest. the landscape is relatively flat, without ridges, hills or dark forests, while it appears to go on forever and ever, to eternity, as they say in 'Toy Story', and beyond...

my talk on 'human rights in nepal' at amherst on tuesday was ok, at best, since i think i went on too long w/ too much detail on nepal's political situation. more than a late evening audience had the patience for, methinks. next time, i think it would be stimulating & intersting to pose 2-3 questions on human rights issues, instead, and try to peel away the wrappings on those nuggets rather than swallow four decades of history at one sitting.

still, i enjoyed the stepping out of my professional comfort zone, momentarily, at my alma mater. i met some staff, faculty & the dean of students while there, who all seemed to have those keen minds for which new england prospers.

actually, the lunch session w/ the human rights students was more stimulating, as we had time for discussion & there were three woman there from pakistan (a future politician), a yemenite (a more traditional woman) and an aegyptian (whose mom reconverted to judiasm) who were keenly interested in such issues, both in the public sphere, as well as in their own lives.

i suppose, as usual, i often enjoy congregating w/ the other 'internationals' or 'cross-cultured' given my own life history & trajectory. i see that w/ josh at NMH and for me recently arrived, once again, in this brave, new land. as i joked w/ prof. amrita basu, 'i'd made the reverse commute to south asia'.

yet we can rejoince that some things, apparently, are eternal, forever joyful and truly inspiring, as well. i just saw 'across the universe', the new, wacky beatles movie where most of the script is lyrics from the fab four's songs in a traditional yet unusual story of love lost and found set in the 60s b/n a lad from liverpool and a honey blonde muse in america. great, great fun and totally amazing what serious meaning the actors-singers bring to these magical songs. you'll be amazed! it's a true inspiration! and the only cross-culture is liverpool and new york! ;-)

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