Story M

This is for your own works!!!
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LaurieAK
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Story M

Post by LaurieAK » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:54 pm

STORY M ~~(tied for 2nd place w/story C) almost forgot: Andrew Darby wrote this!


Living Next to Leonard Cohen

Magnificent Mumbai, Beguiling Bombay... yes, this seething Indian metropolis of close to 20 million people became my home for three months in 2003. Incredibly, this urban giant had the same number of human beings within its confines as my whole homeland continent down under! Its streets hummed with life in every exotic, amusing, disturbing or simply peculiar manifestation. So, what was my reason for being there, you may well ask? Quite simply, I was there to do business for ‘big business’.

I was contracted to train staff to answer enquiries via ‘call centres’ that would provide customer service for large telecommunications and other companies that were based in Australia. So my job largely entailed teaching my Indian trainees Basic English, alongside what can best be described as an “Oz enculturation” course that would aid their phone communications with the Australians making service enquiries or complaints. You know, I informed them about the most fundamental Aussie socio-cultural (and spiritual) attributes: the importance of backyard barbecues as weekend shrines; the “sacred cow” of footy in the winter season; the phenomenon of talking with the spirits (ie. with a Bundy Rum in hand); and the essentially spiritual nature of Bondi Beach in the national psyche (being an iconic place of sun, surf, sand – and sex – worship).

While undertaking this work, I was domiciled just off Breach Candy in South Mumbai. My contracting company had taken out a three month lease on a comfortable serviced apartment facing the sea. My daily work routine was perfectly compatible with my ‘night owl’ habits, in that I didn’t start work until 10 am. I usually finished by about 6 pm and after the day’s teaching I would typically start the evening with a drink or two at one of the locally favoured ‘watering holes’. Here I socialised with other staff and sometimes students, then dined out at any one of a number of excellent but affordable restaurants. I often didn’t get in until 10 pm or later at night, so I was very appreciative of the reclusive time I had upon my return home.

I nearly always put on Mr Cohen’s music from say 11 pm until I retired at around 1 am! I loved listening to Leonard at that bewitching time of night (perhaps too loudly – to cater for my impaired hearing). He never failed to put me in the right frame of mind for a good night’s sleep. Weekends were spent doing domestic chores, lazing around, walking and sightseeing. I would also read the local rag, the Mumbai Sun (or simply the Sun, as it was popularly referred to), of a Saturday morning.

I was only half aware of someone moving into the adjacent apartment some weeks after me but wasn’t really curious about this. The only significant moment of awareness of this neighbour, was one occasion when I was reading the Sun on my very open balcony and had the feeling someone was watching me. Upon turning around, I witnessed the curtains in my neighbour’s apartment gently closing, though I was too late to actually see anyone. To say that the life in this half-tenanted apartment block was characterised by a fair degree of boredom (even with poor noise insulation), perhaps reflects badly on both my neighbours and me, but truthfully, nobody seemed to have a social life that was at all remarkable or animated.

Anyway, my first little moment of excitement there occurred on my balcony one Saturday morning, when upon opening the Sun, I discovered none other than Mr Leonard Cohen staring back at me! The accompanying text of this article was about Cohen’s current visit to a local spiritual guru, Ramesh Balsekar. Not surprisingly, I was already aware of a previous extended visit by Leonard to Mr Balsekar in 1999, as I had read about it in the Leonard Cohen Files web-site. So, on an impulse and with high expectations, I headed straight into the city to see if I could spot Mr Cohen in the haunts he was associated with back in 1999 - a man on a mission! I already had a fair idea which hotel accommodated him in 1999. I also knew about his Old Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue visit then and his dining at the Khyber Restaurant on at least one occasion. However, I was only to be disappointed, as I saw neither sight nor sound of Mr Cohen and every enquiry I made about his whereabouts was either followed by blank looks or bewildering conversations that left me none the wiser!

Okay, how then had I eventually discovered that my neighbour was none other than Leonard Cohen? My ultimate moment of astonishing revelation, wry amusement (and some embarrassment) came to me via the contents of an innocent little envelope that had been pushed under my door. It contained this simple, but frank and witty, message:

"Dear neighbour,

You know who I am
You’ve stared at the Sun:
I am the one you play without changing
for some time, up to one

Please don’t get me wrong, you’re choice in music is commendable, as is your very evident devotion to its creator, but unfortunately I’m a delicate old insomniac who can’t stand listening to myself at the best of times, let alone late at night! So please, with the greatest of respect, I would ask that you curtail your late listening sessions or perhaps just use headphones.

Your humble but tired musical master,
Leonard Cohen

P.S. It would be nice to share a cup of locally brewed tea with you before I return to LA in two weeks time."

It was over this same cup of tea that I also discovered that Leonard’s other neighbour (in the adjacent apartment to the east) was none other than Ramesh Balsekar himself, the spiritual guru Leonard had come to visit - something I might have figured out earlier, if I had been more observant and also read Kahlid Mohamed’s 1999 Times of India article (posted on Jarkko’s web-site) more carefully!
Fljotsdale
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Post by Fljotsdale » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:16 pm

I didn't think this story (although interesting) was leading anywhere much Cohenish: but the ending was delicious! :D The nice (mis)quote of the lyric was excellent!

Love it. :D
Only just found this video of LC:
http://ca.youtube.com/user/leonardcohen?ob=4" target="_blank

This one does make me cry.
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Diane
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Post by Diane » Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:04 am

Ooops I'd missed this one. I love the unusual setting and the humour, Andrew. Well-deserved runner-up!

Diane
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Kush
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Post by Kush » Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:13 pm

Terrific. I could see where the story was heading but certainly not the specifics of the form that it took. The laid-back flow to the story and subtle humor is very appealing.

"Magnificent Mumbai, beguiling Bombay" - I like that. But no mention of the ubiquitous Bollywood??? And a brief paragraph on the history of the city could have been nice, especially since the story evolved quite 'descriptively'.
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Andrew (Darby)
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Post by Andrew (Darby) » Fri Oct 21, 2005 5:24 pm

Kush wrote:... But no mention of the ubiquitous Bollywood??? And a brief paragraph on the history of the city could have been nice, especially since the story evolved quite 'descriptively'.
Kush, your point is well made - I had those very thoughts myself, even before I finally submitted the story! I guess the problem I was wrestling with was that of the 1000 words limit - I would have been able to do more of what you're saying with (say) 1500 words. :(

My challenge was to adequately develop the story in such a way that it would all come together logically and also set up the 'punch line'. I also wanted to weave in a little bit of cultural self-deprecation for fun (which also recalled an excellent documentary I recently viewed on Indian trainees for Aussie 'call centres'). I do wish, though, I had mentioned Bollywood - it did come to mind at one point, then I forgot all about it! :oops:

Cheers :)
Andrew (Darby)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Andrew (Darby)
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Post by Andrew (Darby) » Fri Oct 21, 2005 5:36 pm

Diane wrote:Ooops I'd missed this one. I love the unusual setting and the humour, Andrew. Well-deserved runner-up!
Thanks Diane. :D

Cheers :)
Andrew (Darby)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
Nan
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Post by Nan » Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:25 am

Andrew, I like the setting too! Congratualations!
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Andrew (Darby)
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Post by Andrew (Darby) » Sat Oct 22, 2005 4:43 am

Thanks Nan. :D

Cheers :)
Andrew (Darby)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Joe Way
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Post by Joe Way » Sat Oct 22, 2005 6:26 am

Andrew,

Very well done, sir. I've enjoyed reading all of them.

Joe
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linda_lakeside
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Post by linda_lakeside » Sat Oct 22, 2005 6:41 am

I enjoy poetry, it's something I'm only beginning to appreciate, but I've always found a good story, to be just that. A good story. I thought this was well done, entertaining, all the things a good story should be.

Whew! I'm glad this wasn't a poetry contest. As much as I love to read the poets, I'm so certain thre are some playwrights, novelists, or journalists out there.

Good work, everyone.

Linda.
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Andrew (Darby)
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Post by Andrew (Darby) » Sat Oct 22, 2005 6:32 pm

Thanks Joe and Linda. :D

Joe, I'm only half way through the stories, but already am astounded at the variety of styles, ideas and settings! 8)

Linda, your point about the literary mediums is a good one - and after all, Leonard wrote prose as well as poetry. He also seems to dabble in art, so maybe we need to have an art competition next! :wink:

Cheers :)
Andrew (Darby)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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linda_lakeside
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Post by linda_lakeside » Sat Oct 22, 2005 7:13 pm

Then we can have "Karaoke Night". :D

Linda.
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Diane
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Post by Diane » Sat Oct 22, 2005 7:33 pm

Karaoke, sculpture, dance. Hey, what fun it's all going to be!
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Kush
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Post by Kush » Sat Oct 22, 2005 11:01 pm

Kush, your point is well made - I had those very thoughts myself, even before I finally submitted the story! I guess the problem I was wrestling with was that of the 1000 words limit - I would have been able to do more of what you're saying with (say) 1500 words.
It was just something that came to mind reading the story.....but I completely appreciate what you are saying. Easier for me to say than for the writer to fit everything in within the word limitation!! In fact my own entry was 1000 words of complete silence on living next door to LC. 'Twas apparently discarded by the "judger types" as I couldnt find it in the list of stories. It was very Zen, very profound....I thought it captured the very essence of living next door to LC. It also had a lot of space to fit in any of readers ideas.
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