It’s the last Tuesday of the month, a time when I send these monthly email Dispatches that I’ve promised you’ll receive when you signed up for it. This is supposed to be words about our shared humanity in our shared cities but if you’ve been around this newsletter long enough, you’ll know that it is a very broad umbrella under which I put a lot of things.
There’s been a lot of movement and change on my side of these words since the last time I wrote. Following the life-changing events of many moons ago, I seem to have plunged myself deeper into this change, moved with it, and as Alan Watts would say, danced with it.
Instead of my relative reclusivity in 2019 and earlier in the year, I have put myself on a run of ‘public appearances’ for work lately. Over the last month and the coming one, I have been and will be part of discussion panels as guest, as a moderator, and also as a presenter at various webinars. These public musings and conversations about the future of communities and cities have gotten me back into the fold of my professional life and it all feels familiar and different at the same time. It is such a contrasting pace and I consider all of it part of finding my footing in this new world I live in.
Change is also happening on a tectonic scale as I am in the midst of relocating to a different part of the island so that I may start a new chapter. Faulkner writes: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore”, and I am indeed heading very far away from the shoreline. Moving house is part of my moving forward.
All this change is extremely uncomfortable and often a pain in the butt and in the heart, but I am discovering so many new things about myself as I go through this. I’ve encountered my demons and fears, aspirations and perspectives I never knew I had, and at times met parts of me that I didn’t recognise. I also find myself forced to engage with the sum of my life till this point, decide what and how to make them part of the future, and deal with all the complexities and decision-making that a move demands in entirely new ways. In these times of change, I take Maya Angelou’s words to heart: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
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Some months ago, I was invited to contribute a piece of writing to an independent magazine with the theme of ‘Spaces’. The intention was to explore ways in which spaces are created, experienced and lived in both urban and rural areas, and reveal new dimensions to it.
My contribution titled ‘Morning Intervals’ takes the form of an observation journal, one where I observe and document the city around me in that space between the start of my day and the start of the work day.
I’ve published an excerpt of the piece at adibjalal.com/morning-intervals/, or if you would like to know more and purchase the entire publication, visit sali-sasaki.exposure.co/spaces. Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt of the excerpt.
Hushed. The call of the koel birds have not yet begun, and one can barely make out the polite rumble of vehicles. Considering the number of people living in close proximity with me, it seemed unnatural that I could not hear any conversations or crying children.
A cool breeze was blowing and I walked over to widen the window and let some of it into the apartment. It was still dark outside, leaving the vibrant greens of the tree canopy in the neighbouring precinct reduced to an indeterminate bushy carpet with some blocks protruding out of it.
Looking out, I saw that the sky was a scene of perfectly blended shades of black and deep blue. The lack of stars in the scene above the horizon contrasted with the glowing veins crawling across the ground below me. A constellation of light spots pepper the ground: red, amber, green, white, and the distinctive shade of orange-yellow. I wonder if people call it “street-light orange”.
The arteries of the city were still unclogged and the few drivers on the road were enjoying the smooth and easy drive. That could change very quickly in the coming hours, beginning with the appearance of service vehicles that will be preparing the city for the day ahead. But for now, the late sleepers and early risers get to enjoy the abundance of time and space in their city.
I consider the idea that some people enjoy a city that never sleeps. But I much prefer it when it does, and when it still is.
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Before I end this dispatch, just a couple more website stuff.
1) The “link in bio” phenomenon of Instagram is an inconvenience and I’ve created a workaround where I now have a page on my website to list all the links that I would like to share. So instead of a linktree link, there exists a page that is literally called “Link in Bio”.
2) I am in the process of reshuffling the website and for now, have stripped it down to its bare bones. I expect some work to be done to it in the coming months and in that period, do not be alarmed if it looks weird when you try to visit it.
Thank you for reading this far and all the support. Till the next time my words reach you again, be kind. Onwards.