Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Membrane

It was a very Murakamisque experience, that one; like the idea of spending time at the bottom of a dry well – weird, commonplace, disturbing, mysterious and exciting – all in one.


A quiet wind swept over the surface of the clear blue water sending thousands of tiny ripples marching in its wake. The ripples hurried to the water’s edge where they lapped on the white-stone edges, some inevitably stumbling through the grills into the drainage system. A big brown ball of a buoy nodded in approval from the center of the large round pool.

Behind me, the restaurant was doing brisk business as the hotel residents looked to enjoy a relaxed Saturday morning.

In front the pool-decks were slowly filling up. Young families with little impish-boys and angelic-girls, cuddling couples applying sun lotion on each other, sexagenarian soul mates engaged in serious conversation, attractive women with their large dark glasses, i-pods and unfinished pop-fiction novels – all took their place around the pool; sit, stand, bend, run, prone.

Two little girls, one wearing a pink flower-printed swimsuit and the other in an off-white two-piece, stood at the edge of the pool - their black-goggled faces like that of the Luftwaffe. Chattering, smiling, pushing and pulling, and being the way only girls can be.

In the pool, away from me, a bulky Australian looked around - at me looking at him though my goggles and at others putting their diligent laps. He had his arms spread out behind him, the way one normally rests after one’s rounds.

Behind me a crow cawed - it is strange how the pool was the only place in town where I had seen these birds.

Then I went down.


Along with the blue, a thrilling silence and alienness pervaded the scene below. If I listened close enough, I thought I heard the sound of water running down a large pipe. The blue-tiled floor was unbroken and more or less clean, except for a small lump of feathers away to my left. The surface curved in to the center of the large circle where the tiles changed colour to form a dark flower like pattern. From the middle of that arose a white rope. Far away from me, it stood stalk-like, smoke-like, fragile, swaying helplessly, very metaphorical.

Headless torsos moved all around me. Live throbbing headless bodies propelling themselves around silently - eerie, weird and exciting. Only I could see how the muscles stretched and strained, how the supple flesh trembled in motion, how the legs flayed all over the place and pointed feet moved fish-like at times giving glimpses of perfection. I had exclusive privileges to another world and was privy to some part of these people’s life that they themselves were unaware of and more strangely, may never be. It is strange how when we look in a mirror we don’t associate the head as having control over the rest of the body.

Across the pool, the torso of the Australian stood knees bent and feet pointed together. The two girls splashed into the water, disturbing the calming peace of the place and raising a million bubbles around them. Soon the two tiny lean frames were standing on tip-toe and trying to move around. Arms tugged at each other for a while and soon the feet lifted from the floor. As they swam their limbs moved wildly – arms hit the water as they appeared and disappeared, legs kicked frantically at something invisible behind them, and a thousand air bubbles ran to the surface for safety. Suddenly the goggled face of one of the girls came underwater only to disappear just as fast and to appear once again. In an imperfect but nevertheless stunning display of breast-strokes, the body propelled forward sinuously, fighting the resistance of the water. The chest continued to pump the water as the rest of her body followed suite as if tied to it by a rope.

I looked up.

The surface of the pool, uneven, chaotic and colourful, spread above me like live plasma. The underbelly of the ripples took stunning shades of blue as they scampered all over the place. The surface blinded me from the view above like a live, motley alien membrane.

I lifted my hands from behind me and brought them close to my face. They were larger than what I was used to seeing, fingers wrinkled due to time spent in the water. I slowly raised them towards the surface, watching every movement they made.

What I touched immediately sucked in my fingers and soon half my palm had disappeared through the separation. The surface seemed to dance around the stump of my hand that was attached to it. I pulled back my wrist and fingers and the surface connected above leaving no trace of the intrusion, except of course for the microscopic bubbles that soon swam to the surface and disappeared. I repeated my action stunned by the beauty of it.

Breathless I stayed, at the bottom of the pool.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The rickshaw-race is here!