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“Perfect harmonious spheres”

An “East -West” novella of Salman Rushdi

Piece of “fractal” in the Metaphysical puzzle?

I am reading the French version of “East West” by Salman Rushdi, and I liked one of the novellas.  I love stories that have this taste of vivid current background (like recollection or introspection types), this smell of jasmine of an account that keeps revisiting in our life, in all ages.  I will retell the story my own style.

“I befriended Eliot in my last year at Cambridge.  We had nothing in common in activities and passions. I liked heat and warm weather; he preferred humid gray skies.  I wore Zapata mustaches and hair reaching my shoulders; Eliot had red hair, was slender and tall, and wore tweed and velour.  I was interested in experimental theater, inter-racial relationships, and participated in anti-war demonstrations; Eliot spent his week-ends hunting fouls in luxury castle circuits.  Eliot would claim: “Nothing like killing fouls and animals to uplift morale…”  Eliot threw a feast as Edward Heath was elected PM, and I couldn’t stop cringing.

We had two things in common: our singing was off-beat, and we were interested in the “sciences” of the occult, this good old black magic.  Once, Eliot imposed on me a post-hypnotic suggestion every time he said “banana”.  I had to undress as I hear “banana”.  We were in a nightclub and I could not fight off this slumbering urge of undressing.  By the time I was unzipping my jeans, we were kicked out of this “decent” establishment. My wife Mala said: “Say you two guys. You go sleep together. We are going back home…”

The language of the counter-culture was imbibed with terms such as pentacle, illuminates, Maharishi, Gandalf, the secrets of the Great Pyramid, the mystery of numbers, of gold, and complexity of the spiral, ecstasy (Muchu), coma (Shissi), hypnotic transe (Saimin-Jotai), out-of-body experience (Mugen no Kyo)…

For example, Mesmer wrote on the theory of animal magnetism: “There is a significant influence among celestial stars and planets, earth, and all the animated bodies. A universally subtle fluid, subjected to unknown laws of mechanics, is diffused among all the bodies…”

It was Eliot who introduced me to my future wife Mala.  She was studying to be medical doctor and she kept my balance with the real world.  Mala was vegetarian and never drank alcohol or smoked; she was originally from the Maurice Islands in the Indian Ocean, and loved the Romeo-Juliette version of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, taking place in her original Islands.

My wife was a descendent of agricultural families who immigrated to England after the abolition of black slavery.  Mala spoke an Indian slang of the bhojpuri that no Indian could understand… and Mala never visited India, and my being originally from India (Bombay) fascinated her.  Mala didn’t speak much and looked cold, except at night as sex generated constant loud screams and babbling like: “Come inside you. Enter where you belong…”

In our honey moon in Venice she said: “Get out of all these grotesque superstitions. Stay away from your certified crazy of friend.  You are meeting very frequently and this is not healthy.  Are you following me writer sahib? Drop Eliot like an old pair of socks.  Eliot is incapable of being of any aid to anyone.  Listen carefully, you don’t own Eliot anything for introducing us…”

Eliot had married the blonde Lucy, a rich girl, originally from India.  She was my neighbor in Bombay. I knew her when I was 14 and she 12 of age.  We used to go on camel ride on the beach of Juhu, drink fresh coconut milk, and we kissed.  We parted ways as we immigrated to England. Eliot re-introduced me to Lucy at a chichkebab restaurant on Charlotte Street in 1971.  Lucy recalled every details of our youth, but we never talked about our former friendship and hot kisses.

The four of us, the two close couples, hiked to a hill in the Borders to watch the Jubilee bonfire. Eliot said: “This is not a real “bon feu”. It should be ignited with bones and skeletal of “hetre zumains” (etres humains, of mankind skeletal).  We drank a lot, and Eliot recounted frightening stories.  Eliot was driving 140 miles an hour in our way back. And he stopped abruptly and pointed to a small cemetery downhill where sheep were sleeping, and said: “That is where I would like to be buried.” I said: “This is impossible. You are still among the living!”.  Lucy cut me off saying: “Shut up Khan sahib. You are giving Eliot ideas…”

Lucy inherited a very old boat that was used in 1940 for repatriating the English troops, trapped in Dunkerque (Belgium?), by the Nazi German army. The old motor Thorneycroft Handybilly responded only to Lucy’s.  Lucy baptized this old schooner “Bouguinvillee” in remembrance of her cherished early life in Bombay.  We boarded this boat several times.

Once, Mala refused to join us on a river trip claiming: “Listen, hygiene is priority to me. I love my Dunlopillo mattress and my real WC at home. I cannot withstand pissing in the archaic facilities and spending the night in sleeping bags…”  It happened that Eliot too had a serious excuse to jump out a couple of hours later.  Eliot said that he forgot he had to listen to a conference in Cambridge on the relationship of the Nazi with the occult sciences…

So, Lucy and I were left to continue alone two glorious days, navigating the rivers from Trent, the Mercy canal, to Middlewich, to Nantwich, to Shropshire Union canal.  One night, as I finished the walking adventure of leading the boat through a one-way tunnel, carrying a lantern, Lucy said: “Finally, I made you transgress a law, and I am madly contented with your courage”  In bed, she huddled by my side and said: “Crazy. Love” and she turned her back to me.  It was so close transgressing another law.

Lucy knew that Eliot had mental trouble, sort of schizophrenic paranoid bouts and she agreed to move out of London, where she had a great job, and they purchased a small cottage, which they called “Crowley End” (Allister Crowley founded the satanic circles in the early 20th century).  Once, Lucy called me and said: “Khan sahib, you must come now”  Eliot was caught driving against traffic, wearing a black night band over his eyes, these kinds of things…

For an entire year, I refrained from meeting with Eliot.  Lucy would call me and deliver Eliot mental health diagnostic.  She would fill me in with stories like medicines have good effects on Eliot, except that Eliot refuses to take them; he feels better when he is not writing, but he retrograde quickly when he quits writing…feeling depressed, passive, and inert.  There was nothing I could help with.

The irony was that Eliot knew he had a serious case of mental illness and he seemed very lucid and rational explaining his problems.  For example, he would tell me that he had a case of chemical imbalance, that scientists are close to discovering a treatment, that he is in conference with many specialists in the matter, and that he is doing research on his mental case…

One night, the 32 year-old Eliot lodged a bullet in his brain and left a note on how to clean and grease the gun.  Lucy returned late from work and saw the bloody body of her husband.  Lucy went up and slept as she normally did saying: “It is over”.  She called her brother Bill in the morning, who called the police and then undertook to clean the bits of brain everywhere.

Lucy asked me to take a look at the manuscripts that Eliot left behind.  I went through all the lunatic lucubrations of Eliot’s writings for a week, and gave up:  There was nothing worth publishing but gross and dirty descriptions of Mala, Lucy, and I… Lucy said: “You know, it was not really him writing…”

After the burial in the small cemetery that Eliot had pointed to us on our way back from the Borders, I shook hands with Lucy and never saw her again.

I opened my heart to Mala and could not stop apologizing for not taking her warning seriously, at the first day of our honeymoon in Venice.  I told Mala how she vehemently protested my frequent meeting with this a certified crazy of Eliot, and that he does not owe me nothing in introducing her to me…

I told Mala: “You know, I read the stories he invented, all these stories of strange meetings like the “Last Tango in Paris”-kind, of how he arranged for us Lucy and I to navigate alone for two days, and how he arranged the excuse of listening to a conference in Cambridge in order to meet with you…” Mala stood up and turned her back to me and said: “What Eliot wrote about me and him was not a fable

These perfect harmonious spheres shattered in my frozen heart.” End of story

I preferred the title Piece of “fractal” in the Metaphysical puzzle.

Are you relentlessly striving to see the big picture of what is life and the universe?

Is it a normal urge?  Many accredited crazies have attempted to go for the big picture.  What if the pig picture is just a nauseating repeat picture, a plain portion of this tiny fractal in the puzzle that generates the one of the perspectives of the fancy Big Picture?

What if there is no big picture, and we spend life on the wrong adventure, instead of focusing on comprehending our behavior, passions, weaknesses, and strengths?

Why this urge for metaphysical longing, this hooking to gurus, “masters in special metaphysical” teaching, masters in charlatanism?

Note 1: British author Salman Rushdi, was born in Bombay (India) in 1947. He immigrated to England at the age of 14.

He published his first novel in 1981 “The children of midnight”.  The “satanic verses, 1988″ angered the Mullahs of Iran and a fatwa was issued to assassinate him.  Salman has been under heavy guard and in hiding ever since.  He published “Harun and the sea of stories”, “Fury”… Queen Elizabeth made him Sir Rushdi in 2007.

Note 2: Rushdi mentions a collection of gurus in metaphysical teaching, sort of big charlatans, such as Gurdjieff, Raja Rammohun Roy, Brahmo Samaj, Aleister Crowley, Blavatsky, Dunsany, Lovecraft…

Note 3: I reviewed extensively the two chapters of the satanic verses, related to Prophet Muhammad https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/satanic-verses-revisited/

Rickshaw or the celebration of promised “Radio Transistor”

What rickshaw, touctouc, cycle-push…have in common?  Do these transport mechanisms conjure the image of a very dense urban center, all transport vehicles of trains, buses, trucks, cars, bicycles, rickshaw…use the same road to reaching even denser quarter destinations?  Most probably, rickshaw gives the image of a strong correlation with poor classes, defined religiously as divinely designated to serve the richer classes…

Salman Rushdi (see note) published “East West”, a collection of novella gathered from the Orient and the western tales.  One of the novella is “The free transistor”.  I am reading the French version, and I decided to retell this novella my own style.

“I am a retired teacher, and spend my time sitting under the large tree, smoking my huka or shisheh or arghileh.  I knew the parents of this young, physically strong, and very handsome Ramani.  Ramani was not gifted to learning reading and writing.

Ramani’s parents died, and he inherited a brand new rickshaw.  he didn’t make much profit from displacing people on his rickshaw, working 12 hours a day, every day, but he had cash money.  Ramani was surrounded by a bunch of young men wearing armband, sort of a local militia supported by the government. These militia youth enjoyed the company of Ramani who paid for their bar consumption, and for being an easy target of their innuendos.  They joked that Ramani is more beautiful than the famous Indian movie stars, and that one day he will take Bombay by storm, displacing all the other movie stars…

I hated the company that Ramani spent his leisure time with, and I warned him several times of associating with these brutal youth.  Youth are bold and fearless, and they need to be among their own peer to have good time.  Women and girls also valued Ramani’s beauty and strong body.

The widow of the thief hired Ramani for a ride; she was just 25 of age and had five children. She made ends meet by prostituting at low prices.  Ramani fell in love with the widow, and I blamed him for wasting his time and money on this lost case:  Thousands of beautiful and virgin girls would die to marry him…

I confronted the widow publicly and told her that the best she should do was going to Benares, to the widows ashram, and spend the remaining of her life praying.  I told her that she must be very lucky that immolation of a widow is no longer in practice.  She got in such a rage and retorted: “Malediction be on you, senile old man.  The venom of cobra filling your body and mind should have killed you long time ago.  You should know professor sahib that Ramani demanded  to marry me and I declined: I don’t want no more children…”

Shortly after, this truck dispatched by the ministry of health parked under a large tree.  Streams of males entered the truck, while the armband militia guarded the flow of people.  Ramani exited from the truck looking very excited and he told me in secrecy: “Soon, I will receive a brand new radio transistor, free, totally free!”

To make matters worse, Ramani wed the widow: He had satisfied her only condition of “no more children”.  I went into a godless rage and blamed him for selling his virility for a lame radio transistor, and for falling pray to a prostitute widow.  Ramani told me: “I am pretty virile. this small operation didn’t affect my  copulation power.  And my wife is very contented…”

The radio was not forthcoming, but ramani never lost hope: He started imitating Radio India, announcing the news and singing the familiar songs on his rickshaw trips.  People would welcome Ramani as “Here arrives Radio India; Let’s listen to the latest news and hear his beautiful voice…”

Six months later, this health truck parked again.  Ramani entered to reclaim his free radio. He was booted out by the armeband militia, his face bludgeoned.  Ramani kept announcing the news and singing.

A year passed, and Ramani had sold his rickshaw and a he paid me a visit saying: “We are leaving to Bombay, my wife and the five children…”  I received letters from Bombay explaining in details the progress of Ramani in the sphere of the rich and famous Ramani.  The letters were signed by Ramani: Obviously, he was paying handsomely scripts in Bombay to write his stories.

The stories turned out to be credible.  Most probably, it was his wife dictating the good news of purchasing a large villa, and…so that to get her revenge of my low esteem of her abilities of raising her husband to the level he deserved…

Note:  British author Salman Rushdi, was born in Bombay (India) in 1947. He immigrated to England at the age of 14.  He published his first novel in 1981 “The children of midnight”.  The “satanic verses, 1988” angered the Mullahs of Iran and a fatwa was issued to assassinate him.  Salman has been under heavy guard and in hiding ever since.  He published “Harun and the sea of stories”, “Fury”… Queen Elizabeth made him Sir Rushdi in 2007.

“The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdi, Part 1 (October 30, 2008)

This manuscript is of 547 pages and divided into nine parts: The Angel Gabriel (Gibreel), Mahound, Ellowen Deeowen, Ayesha, A city visible but unseen, Return to Jahilia, The Angel Azraeel, The Parting of the Arabian Sea, and A Wonderful lamp.

I will review the chapter “Mahound” because this section is crucial for setting the geo-political, commercial and society structure in Mecca and the neighboring towns.  This description would help comprehend the climate within which Islam was born and grew.

Mahound is one of several names given to the Devil.  It is very unfortunate that Rushdie decided to represent the Prophet Muhammad by this name just to state that one of the verses was inspired by the Devil, and thus forbade over one billion Moslems from reading this essentially wonderful and most informative book.

Many “fatwas” in the Moslem World, and especially in Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, permitted the killing of Salman Rushdi for this blasphemy.

Rushdi has been since then protected by the British police and been mostly in hiding.  Actually, Moslems should be thankful to Rushdi in not naming Muhammad as the one who delivered the two “Satanic” verses that deviated from the message of One God.  I will use the name of Muhammad in the remaining review.

Mecca at the time of Muhammad was built four generation ago to cater for desert caravans bringing goods from Zafar and Yemen to bifurcate toward Egypt, Iraq/Iran, or Syria/Turkey and back to Mecca.

It barely rains in that region and the only potable well was called Zamzam.  The story goes that Abraham abandoned his Egyptian wife Hagar and his son Ismail to their fate in this unforgiving area.  Luckily for Hagar, Angel Gabriel (Gibreel) uncovered for Hagar the well Zamzam and she survived with her newly born son.

Once a year, the Bedouins of Arabia who adored 360 idols, which are imported from the neighboring countries to encourage pilgrimage to the Black Stone (Al Ka3ba), celebrated the passage of this same Abraham (Ibraheem) in the vicinity!

Mecca was structured around concentric dwellings starting from the Black Stone and fanning away.  Houses closest to the Black Stone belonged to the most prominent personalities in the city council and their respective clans in the extended Kuraich (Shark) tribe.

There were four main clans and each clan was specialized in one kind of commerce; the Scarlet tents sold spices and scents, the Black tents the cloth and leather, the Silver tents precious metals and swords and the fourth colored tents or the owners of the Dappled Camels specialized in entertainments, wine, hashish, and the slave trade. Water carriers were despised because any overflowing of water would damage the streets and homes built out of sand.

Around the year of 600 the businessmen in Mecca were losing trade to the sea transports; worse, another new and famous Temple was built in Sheba in Yemen and pilgrims were investigating these new regions.  The pilgrims were getting scarce in Mecca because they realized that they were being bilked (milked) from every penny they had and young girls were abducted for ransom.  Consequently, in order to keep afloat the Kuraich tribe encouraged vile entertainment activities during the pilgrimage season to attract more customers.

The Black Stone enshrined around 360 idols brought from around the neighboring civilizations to entice pilgrims in from all around the regions.  The colossus Hubal the shepherd was sent by the Amalekites of Hit, the idol Kain was the patron of musicians and blacksmiths, Astarte (He-of-Shara) was brought by the Nabataen as well as saturnine Nakruh.  Manaf was the sun-god, in the eagle-form Nasr, Quzah or rainbow; Uzza the goddess of beauty and love, and Lat the all-powerful mother goddess.

The idol Allah had some sort of overall authority, an all-rounder in an age of specialist idols and thus was not that popular and didn’t generate money.

Hind, the all-powerful wife of the preeminent Karim Abu Simbel owned the three most famous goddesses of Al Lat, Manat, and Uzza.

Muhammad was rich (he married one of richess women in Mecca Khadija), but he was an orphan and his clan was of lower stature and thus was not represented in the city council. His wife Khadija was 10 years older than him and she had hired Muhammad to lead and manage her caravans heading to Damascus.

Khadija was the first person to believe in the predication of Muhammad.  By the age of 44 Muhammad message of “no God but Allah” was not making any major breakthrough among the city dwellers.  The lampoons of the very young and most famous poet named Baal were pinned up all over town “Messenger, do please lend a careful ear.  Your monophilia, your One, One, One, isn’t for Jahilia. Return to sender

Beside his uncle Hamza and a few poor fellows not many were paying any attention to Muhammad revelations.  Among those poor individuals were Khalid the water carrier, Salman from Persia (who later would suggest to dig a wide ditch around Medina to prevent the cavalry of Kuraich to enter the town), and Bilal the mighty slave that Muhammad set free from his owner and would later be appointed the first official “muezzin” calling the believers to the five prayers of the day.

In order for his message to breakthrough Muhammad was inclined to accept the deal of Abu Simbel.  Abu Simbel would recognize Allah as the mightiest God and would offer Muhammad a seat in the city council in return of recognition of Al Lat, Manat, and Uzza as Gods or the best interceding goddesses to Allah.

The clan of Hind, the Umayyad, owned these three most privileged Goddesses from pilgrimage revenues.  Muhammad thus returned from the Mount Cone and delivered publicly the verses stating that “Lat, Manat, and Uzza are the exalted birds, and their intercession is desired indeed”.  I guess these were the “Satanic verses” alluded to by Rushdie

The disciples of Muhammad were beside themselves and could not assent to accepting a God but Allah.  Muhammad did not dare face his wife Khadija that night and did not enter his house.

Follow the story in the next part or the chapter “Return to Jahiliahttps://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/the-satanic-verses-part-2/

“The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdi, Part 2. (written in November 1, 2008)

This is the period before Prophet Muhammad fled from persecution to Yathrib (Medina) in 630 BC.

The public in the tent were listening to the poets declaiming their yearly poems, competing for the best seven verses.  The Prophet Muhammad entered the tent. Eyes closed, he recited his new revelation saying “Have you thought upon Lat, Manat, and Uzza, the third, the other?  They are the exalted birds, and their intercession is desired indeed”.  

Muhammad was found unconscious in a street by Hind and her servants transported him to her palace. In the morning Hind made it clear that her three Goddesses would never make peace with his Allah; she also proclaimed that she is Muhammad’s equal.

The reactions of Muhammad disciples, his uncle Hamza, his wife and Hind sent Muhammad hurrying back to Mount Cone and spent the night in the cave, 500 meters below the top of Cone facing the vast desert.

The Prophet returned with a counter verse and recited it in the House of the Black Stone in front of the praying pilgrims of the three idol female Goddesses “Shall He have daughters and you sons?  That would be a fine division!  These are but names you have dreamed of, you and your fathers.  Allah vests no authority in them.”

The previous night, the three disenchanted disciples Khaled, Salman, and Bilal got drunk and had a brawl with four Kuraichi youths wearing gold masks.  Hamza reached the place in the nick of time with his sword and killed two and two managed to flee.  The two dead young males turned out to be the brothers of the all-powerful Hind.  Everyone understood that a new period is beginning and that they would have to leave Mecca pronto.

Muhammad told the disciples of his counter verses and that the previous one was inspired by the Devil “Shaitan“.  Khaled replied “My faith is stronger now since the Devil is real”.

The Prophet finally got home and he found his 70-year old wife dead! He mourned her for 40 days in seclusion and had ordered his disciple to leave to the northern city of Yathrib in small groups.

How Muhammad slipped away to Yathrib and how he managed this city and ruled over his followers you may read in my book review “Aicha, the beloved of the Prophet“.

The satiric poet Baal composed a valedictory ode: “What kind of idea does “Submission” seem today? One full of fear.  An idea that runs away.”

The next part is extracted from the chapter “Return to Jahilia”.

After 13 years from his flight of Mecca, Muhammad returned victorious. He destroyed the 360 idols and (kept the same old worshiping ceremony at the Black Stone with different connotations to the meanings in the procession. It is reported that Muhammad forbade to erase the pictures of the Christian Virgin Mary and kept the idol Allah intact…

Hind is the real power broker in Mecca but her husband has made a deal with the Prophet; the city would open its gates and no revenge would take place; the citizens would stay in their houses.  Hind faked conversion to Islam by reciting at the feet of Muhammad “There is no God but Allah”.

The Persian Salman had fled Yathrib back to Mecca incognito.  Salman was the official scribe to Muhammad and he got suspicious with the increased rate of rules issued every day to organize and manage the lives of the followers.  Salman started experimenting and tampering with the verses recited to him by the Prophet and then he realized that Muhammad was about to find him out.

In a long night of drunkenness Salman told Baal, the much heavier, forgotten, and decrepit satirical poet, that the Moslems in Yathrib hated him (Salaman)because he suggested to the prophet digging a ditch to save the city from the cavalry of the unbelievers, a realization that was not conform to the practiced chivalry in wars. He also told Baal that once the bold Aicha, the favorite wife among twelve, replied to the prophet “The Angel Gabriel has a way of answering all your wishes“.  Bilal later intervened on behalf of his long time friend Salman who had his life saved from certain death.

Baal hid in the famous whore Curtain House called Hijjab for over two years.  The prophet had taken the suggestion of Abu Simbel not to close this House right away because the conversions of the citizens of Mecca are at best skin-deep.

Baal suggested to the Matron of the House that each one of the 12 whores emulate one of the Prophet’s wives in name and in historical incarnation.  Business was great and the 12 whores got the crazy idea of asking Baal to marry them all as the Prophet did an idea that was consummated.

Two year later, Muhammad returned to Mecca and closed the Curtain House.  The girls were incarcerated.  For 12 days, Baal would show up in front of the prison and recite wonderful and touching love odes to each one of his wives.  The guards finally realized that the names corresponded to the Prophet’s wives and Baal was taken prisoner.

The girls were stoned to death.

During the trial, the public would not believe Baal’s story and thought that he was jesting which aggravated the Prophet’s mood who said “In the old days you mocked the Recitation; then too these people enjoyed your mockery.  Now you succeed in bringing the worst out of the people

Before being decapitated Baal said to Muhammad “Whores and writers Muhammad; we are the people you can’t forgive.”

The Prophet replied ” Writers and whores, I see no difference here.”


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