I’m always nervous about being too personal in this space, and anyway when you’re traveling with a two-year old your travel experiences tend to revolve around him, so I’ll boil it down to this: Goa sure is nice this time of year. (I’m visiting in-laws, who live here now.)
We were also in London for a couple of days, where I was happy to get to meet Sunny Hundal. Again, let’s keep details to a minimum, and say the highlight of our London experience was a restaurant called Imli, serving Indian Tapas (nice idea, huh).
In a London bookstore I found a book of poems by Daljit Nagra, Look We Have Coming to Dover! (the title poem is a postcolonial answer to Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”). My favorite poem so far is “Rapinder Slips into Tongues,” and I hope the poet won’t mind if I share the poem here, in hopes of provoking discussion. It certainly resonated with me:
Rapinder Slips into Tongues…
by Daljit Nagra
Dad and me were watching the video–
Amar, Akbar, Anthony. It’s about three
brothers separated after the family is parted
by gangsters. You can get it with subtitles, Miss.
When Anthony, who grows up in a Catholic home,
begged Christ for the address of his real parents
then crossed himself, I jumped off our royal red
sofa, joined Anthony with his prayer:
Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary,
four-quartering myself then curtseying a little.
Dad just stared at me, knocking his turban side
to side that I almost thought it would come off
which it normally does when he’s doing his press-ups
and his face goes mauve. Instead he took off
his flip-flop (the one with a broken thong),
held it in the air, shouting in ‘our’ language,
Vat idiot! If you vant to call on Gud,
call anytime on anyvun of our ten gurus,
Do you tink is white Gud’s wife your mudder?
Dad’s got a seriously funny way Miss,
sometimes he cries, and says he’s going to give me
to a Sikh school, a proper school. That’s why
I did what my cousin Ashok does at our local
temple — while you were all doing hail mary
to end registration, I first locked my hands,
knelt down, prayed with this ditty we do on Sundays,
imagined the Golden Temple and our bearded gods
to your up-on-the-cross one, then roared:
A critic named Ben Wilkinson has a brief take on the poem, and Daljit Nagra’s poetic style as a whole, here.