Saturday, July 19, 2008

Meeting the Revolutionary, Mystic, Political Journalist while finding a sublet

I have been living in the city for 4-5 yrs and have been pretty much subletting since 2005. You know, moving from an apartment in one neighborhood to another every 3-4 mths. People ask me why and i just tell them , "you get to see the city. you get to meet new people." But obviously there is much more than just that .... as in this random sublet meeting.

So i was looking for a new sublet as i was to move from my current place in stuy town(14th and av b - great place). I found a guy subletting his place on 9th and Av C (the source is always . Around 11.30 pm i got to his place with two other friends. I really wasnt sure i wanted to move down to this place but i figured i will have a peek. What happened for next 45 mins was very interesting....

So we walked into this guys place (who is originally from south asia. lets call him O) who works as a journalist. Immediately i sensed we were meeting some one very different. O's place is a small one bed room in a 6 floor walk-up. I hadnt met this guy before - he is short, small frame but high intensity. I was late so ofcourse, the retort, "you are just like other desis, always late."

The guy had fallen asleep and so he was a bit dis-oriented but got talking. He explained that he was looking for some one share the place with him for 2-3 weeks so that he could pay the rent as he was broke after his just concluded visit to Denmark (i learnt later to meet his mother after 17 yrs) and holland.

We got talking. My current room-mate, M and a friend S were there too. O lit a cigarette. His living room was small and a bit unkempt. A bookshelf contained some books - about socialism, marxism, history and other stuff (the person is a political journalist). The walls were adorned by paintings (some rather nice abstract stuff, which O said were made by a woman who fell in love with him, some years ago). A big decoration piece made of feathers was hanging from one wall. Another contained a painting of a native American chief. Rather interesting.

So we got talking - i asked him where he was from (meaning where from in India, Pakistan or bangladesh). That was just the first in a string of interesting answers from O. He said , " i belong to mother earth. I am now a citizen of the United States but i am actually the guest of the American Indians." That was quite a statement.

On explained, that we humans have unnecessarily created ugliness and divisions - we all belong to mother earth but just cant live in peace. He obviously was voicing deep felt anger, frustration with the conflicts that have been fought over land. Going further he said he didnt recognize that two countries had a right to their own dominion (one in which he was born and the other in the middle east).

I noticed a book written in the beautiful language of Urdu. I asked O to recite a page - it was urdu poetry - revolutionary poetry by a famous ant-government poet in pakistan. The poem was about "speaking the truth", even when one is threatened, is offered momentary pleasures or enslaved. So this short meeting for a sublet was turning into a politically intense conversation about freedom, revolutions and much more....

Suddenly O got up and decided to lighten up the mood - he showed me his bedroom - small but decent with a cane bed - said i could sleep there while he could crash in the narrow adjoining half-room that served as his library. He turned on some music on a very old cassette player - some folk music. O said from the indus valley civilization , a famous artist who was recorded without knowing about it. The music was indeed beautiful.

O and M got talking. M and S were both really enjoying something they obviously dont see in routine life - and the music sure was making the conversation lighter. Suddenly, O got up and started dancing - says life is music, life is living in the moment. Life is hashish (hash - he obviously was doped out in Amsterdam).

O then explained that he has been an award winning journalist writing for political justice for the under-represented and under-privileged. He offered to make us some coffee but we had to go. Around 12.30 am, we decided to leave. I spent 5 mins talkin to him about the sublet - i sort of knew i may not stay there but i liked O and i thought it wud be a great experience. So i committed to take the place for 2 weeks and give the money. Next morning i caleld up saying i wouldnt be staying there (but i still stood my commitment about the money.

O invited us to a small party the next day - at his friends house who was about to leave for another great city. The next day i did go to the party.

But sure the night was interesting. And as i said, i can add another reason, why subletting in NYC has been so great and interesting. You never know who you meet ....

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