189 | A MOMENT OF SILENCE, BEFORE I START THIS POEM

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A MOMENT OF SILENCE, BEFORE I START THIS POEM

Before I start this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me
In a moment of silence
In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.
I would also like to ask you
To offer up a moment of silence
For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes,
For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence
For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
Mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,
Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,
Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.
Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin
And the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people, not a war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel,
Their relatives’ bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war… ssssshhhhh…
Say nothing… we don’t want them to learn that they are dead.
Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,
Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.
An hour of silence for El Salvador…
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua…
Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos…
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found
their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west…

100 years of silence…
For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek,
Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be. Not like it always has been.

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the
Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence
Then take it NOW,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
But take it all… Don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing… For our dead.

EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002.

188 | PAINT IT BLUE

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"My hair is actually softer after we dyed it blue. No joke." She’s the girl with rainbows in her hair. From ruby red and dirty blonde to jet black and flamingo pink, Jillian’s crowning glory has waltzed through the spectrum. Unapologetic and determined, she knew she wanted to go blue next, and we were going to do it at home. After a round of bleaching, her hair faded to a dusty and pastel version of it’s former self. Our weapon of choice, Manic Panic Amplified hair colour in Rockabilly Blue, Ultra Violet and Atomic Turquoise. Section by tiny section we massaged the dyes into her hair. Despite instructions to rinse after 30 minutes, being the rebels that we are, we washed it off three and a half hours later. Good things come to those who wait, and this was definitely worth it. Like the untamed sea a siren would emerge from, Jillian’s hair swirled and flowed in waves of ocean hue. Mission accomplished.

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Jeweled jacket Prada

187 | SHADES OF COOL

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A plain linen shirt and light khaki shorts, accessorized minimally, are clean, crisp and cool. It’s mid-July and the day burns ferociously hot and the air is almost drinkable. If you should decide to walk at a pace too brisk, you’ll discover your body feels like melting wax. We seek refuge within confines of coolness, be it beside a stand fan in the bedroom, in an air-conditioned bus, submerged in a pool, or simply beneath a tree in its shade. I take shelter sartorially, steering towards a cooler colour palette. Tempted as I am to plainly call this a blue shirt, Miranda Priestly has taught me otherwise. It’s not just blue, it’s not lapis, it’s not turquoise, it’s not cerulean, it’s Prussian blue, like van Gogh’s whirly Starry Night sky. While boat shoes would have been perfect for a look like this, my foot is still in an unsightly cast. Fingers crossed, these could be my last three days with it on. Can’t wait to wear proper shoes again.

Shirt Blue Harbour
Shorts H&M
Belt COS
Micro Rivale bracelet Hermès
Nightingale bag Givenchy
Sunglasses Prada

186 | ONE MAN COFFEE

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Faiyaz / Mark / Sarah

16 July 2014, One Man Coffee, Singapore.

185 | SEAVIEW

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Shirt COS
Ripped jeans Zara
Evil eye bracelets Thrifted
Weave bracelet Bottega Veneta

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June 2014, Seaview, Karachi, Pakistan.

The white noise of the wind and surf engulf me as water breaks in a slow and steady pulse, surging and receding like air through our lungs. I look to my sides and for as far as my eyes take me are undulating waves, slithering upon silver sands. I look ahead searching for the horizon, but sea spray has thickened the air, converging the sea and sky. I look at my feet and I’m standing in the clouds while the sun is shying away. Patrolling the shorelines are adorned camels, sauntering regally, and horses of every colour, trotting to the rhythm of the tide. ATVs and buggies add to the bustle, laced with neon lights, leaving ephemeral tracks as they race past each other. I finally realise that I am not alone and scores of people are present, soaking in the chaotic tranquility of our surroundings, escaping the confines of routine. Despite the fever of activity and endless rows of housing staring from behind, the sheer beauty of the open Arabian sea overwhelms me. It is the vastness before me that evokes my sense of scale and I remain standing, an insignificant speck, in the ebb and flow that are as old as time.

184 | DATE ALMOND CAKE

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I really shouldn’t complain about being bored in bed thanks to dear friends who have been visiting me daily (which I’m immensely grateful for), but I can’t help feeling caged. I’ve been itching to actually do something other than watch Gossip Girl and eat ice cream, so I decided it was time to bake. It’s Ramadan and the kitchen is overstocked with dates, so the universe was practically yelling at me to bake something with them… and here we have it, a date & almond bundt cake with with a caramel glaze. As much as I would love to take full credit for baking this myself, I couldn’t have done it without a great deal of help. Coffee and orange blossom water were added to the mix, giving the cake a subtle twist of flavours. Nothing pairs with this cake more perfectly than a hot cup of masala chai. Hope I haven’t made your mouths water too much! Time to go back to bed and lay there after so much of excitement.

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183 | SUMMERTIME SIMPLICITY

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T-shirt H&M
Skinny jeans Topshop
Slippers Havaianas
Picto watch Rosendahl
Bracelet Michael Kors

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Floral embellished shirt H&M
Skinny jeans Zara
Sneakers Converse

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Jumper H&M
Shorts Topman
Picto watch Rosendahl
Evil eye bracelets Thrifted
Weave bracelet Bottega Veneta

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T-shirt COS
Ripped jeans Zara
Bracelet Michael Kors

Some of the things I wore this summer, the season the whole world seems to look forward to. The time for beach vacations, partying all night and fun under the sun. As you probably know by now, I’m not a big fan of warm weather, so you’ll understand my grumpy looks in these photos. While I much rather have spent June chilling in the Australian winter, the first three weeks of the month were spent mostly in Karachi, with a few days in Dubai and Colombo, with close family and friends.

I’m all about aesthetics over utility when it comes to clothes, but when the mercury hits 45 degrees celsius, all I’m thinking about is how to stay cool. Keep it simple. Lighter fabrics and looser fits allow your body to breathe better, which is essential unless you want to drown in your sweat.

On another note, I’ve somehow managed to slip and fall and tumble down the stairs at home, resulting in an ankle fracture. This is pretty much the worst thing for me considering how I have a constant need to be doing something or going somewhere. Hopefully I can spend time writing and reading more. A handful of commitments need to be cancelled and I’m going to have to find more ways to pass time while getting bed rest.

182 | THE FASHION WORLD OF JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

April 2014, the Barbican, London, UK.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, a retrospective of one of the most iconic and daring designers in fashion. To say I was excited as I walked into the exhibition would be an understatement. It was as though a child with an overly sweet tooth found himself in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Gaultier’s work is a tribute to sexual empowerment and the vast diversity of beauty. From delicate Gaulter pinks, pale virgins and lingerie as outerwear to dark femme fatales, androgynous vamps and the European punk scene, one can see that Jean Paul Gaultier’s perception of femininity is far from streamlined.

With over 160 pieces from the last three decades on display, my senses were overwhelmed. It can be easy for clothes sitting on display to be monotonous, but these were not mere clothes. Neither were they merely stoically on display. With mechanical runways, an assortment of archival videos, legendary fashion photography and personal memorabilia, the exhibit was akin to a carnival.

The show is divided into eight sections - The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, Punk Cancan, Muses, The Boudoir, Metropolis, Eurotrash, Skin Deep and Urban Jungle. Every section featured mannequins with faces that were alive, sneakily looking around and blinking, some even daring to speak and sing to visitors, all thanks to video projections. To see couture up close and in detail was a visual delight. I found myself standing awestruck many a times, unable to fathom the hours of effort and skill put into a garment. My favourite pieces were those that drew inspiration from nature and from various world cultures. 

I was especially exhilarated at the Muses section when I saw one of my favourite artists being honoured as one of Gaultier’s muses, Kylie Minogue. I’ve seen the clothes he’s designed for her many times, in photos and videos and on tour, but to see them in person is a whole other experience. Others included in this section were Madonna (duh), Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Another piece that I was thrilled to see was the brown baby-bump pad he had designed for a then pregnant Jourdan Dunn at the Spring/Summer 2010 runway show.

"The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" is at the Barbican from April 9 to August 25 2014. Do check this grand exhibition out if you’re in London.

181 | THE BAY LEAF

Faiyaz / Madhuka / Marissa / Roshi

22 June 2014, The Bay Leaf, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Housed in a Colonial mansion from days of yore, The Bay Leaf restaurant boasts one of the best Italian cuisine I’ve ever had. Humidity thick in the air, fresh acquaintances and conversations swaying between seriousness and frivolity, I undoubtedly enjoyed my night out in Colombo. On our menu: pizza cajun crisp, tagliatelle al tonno, ravioli di ricotta di spinachi & baked alaska.