Monday, August 28, 2006


I called Ima tonight to make sure she wasn't too unhappy and anxious about her new book. Finally got across the idea she can go ahead to make a mock-up with the low-res scans I left for her.

What jazzed her up even more was my suggestion that the Cheitharol Kumbaba be restarted. She will check with Pabung Khelchandra to see if I am right in thinking it was stopped in 1955. She will also meet with Leisemba - the historians must be his appointees and it matters less whether it is well written and more that it is his perpective. We are agreed in this. And that he should be given very definite, specific tasks as his issues are immense.

Also I suggested that Oja and she should get Leisemba to start the 3 loisangs again and to get the Pranalika registry back from Oja Kulachandra's son.

My reason for this, at least what I admit to? That when I conceptualize my international Manipur projects, I want the distinctive features so key to my framing to be in existence. Ima agreed it is perfectly fine to have a gap in the Scapegoat Chronicles, as in times of war. Rather this than nothing. It is so lame to say something wonderful is no longer around. Plus I'd rather my projects did more than mrely present and entertain. They must reactivate, contribute, change.

Maybe I will also get to be the Scapegoat after all! I didn't remind her of my idea about this that time we were driving back from Nabadwip in 2000.

She will write an article.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Bernardo Atxaga

In his nest of dry leaves the hedgehog has woken
his mind so suddenly filled with all the words he knows.
Counting the verbs, more or less, they come to twenty-seven.

Later he thinks: The winter is over,
I am a hedgehog, Up fly two eagles, high up,
Snail, Worm, Insect, Spider, Frog,
which ponds or holes are you hiding in?
There is the river, This is my kingdom, I am hungry.

And he repeats: This is my kingdom, I am hungry,
Snail, Worm, Insect, Spider, Frog,
which ponds or holes are you hiding in?

However he remains still like a dry leaf, too,
because it is but midday and an old law
forbids him sun, sky and eagles.

But night comes, gone are the eagles; and the hedgehog,
Snail, Worm, Insect, Spider, Frog,
disregards the river and undertakes the steepness of the mountain,
as sure of his spines as a warrior
in Sparta or Corinth could have been of his shield;
and suddenly, he crosses the boundary
between the meadow and the new road
with a single step that takes him right into my and your time.
And given that his universal vocabulary has not been renewed
in the last seven thousand years,
he neither understands our car lights,
nor realises his forthcoming death.

Translated from the Basque by Amaia Gabantxo.

Monday, April 10, 2006


As usual, Mike made coffee for me. I complimented on her talents as a hostess. She graciously accepted my compliment. I cannot display a table with flair. How do they do these things?

Even as a child, I picked flowers from their natural and their not-so-natural arrangement in my parents' garden. Then I rearranged them in a vase. Gathered and displayed this way, the flowers took on a new beauty. And yet, one could still see in each the individual beauty that had drawn me into plucking it from its bed. The arrangement gave me a new, yet familiar, pleasure.

On the M66 crosstown bus over to Mike's
today, I was thinking that my work these days has to do with rearranging. Perhaps a variation of remapping, I thought. For it was not merely showing my friends Manipur, but showing my Manipur, that was my intention during that wonderful, engendering field trip a year ago. But now it is more than that. I turned to Richard during the meeting and responded to his query about 24/7 security for our coaching program in November. The people will protect, I said. The leikais will protect, if we build our baseball project from the ground up. The same leikais, I say to Richard, that we discussed with Peter. And what I am urging Bidisha now to make the lynchpin of her public health model for us. The leikais are there and have been there all along. But now we will use them.

So, as with baseball, as with leikais, I will pick and choose what I like from my Manipur, to make a new arrangement.

Jim called in from Tokyo for the conference call. MLB International is on board. I must travel to Manipur soon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Major League Baseball will send 2, maybe 4, coaches for the coaching workshop in November. This may be the turning point for the project on a long and winding road, both back and in front of us.

Monday, April 03, 2006


If there is a theme that I have explored in all my work, especially now with the Manipur projects, it is cultural framing. It is why I do my baseball project without the least bit of interest in the sport. So I have been following the framing discussion in the political debate here, led by the linguistics guy at Berkeley. Lakoff is his name if I recall.

I recently read Paul Vitello, a NYT journalist, who wrote: “There is an almost magical power in naming things. To give a person, an act or a group its name is to define it, assert a measure of control over how it is perceived.”

Framing is core to my remapping explorations with their focus on the need to re-fashion a role and future of smaller, politically minor cultural traditions.

I have encountered the issue of naming literally, as in my use of Eastern Himalayas and Tibeto-Burman.

But it reaches into other areas as well. Just this past weekend I told Gary, apropos his desire to volunteer for a gay marriage organization, that the straight world would understand better, and we would be better served if we defined "gayness" not as sexual orientation but as affectional orientation. Being gay is about who you love, not merely about who you have sex with. It is about who you are emotionally and psychologically able to love; the sexual act is merely an expression of that.

I think this framing would raise less hackles, be more true and respectful of cultural history and conditioning, more accurate and therefore more useful.

In a similar vein, I mentioned to Gerard, I thought our perception of the political spectrum is muddied by terms like Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal. We need definitions that would put W. and Hillary in the same group.

Taking a leaf from Emerson, I suggested Establishment and Progressive. But would a Progessive not become the Establishment upon election to office and power, he asked? Well, so be it. There will always be new Progressives even as some in their ranks join the Establishment.

I'd like to think of a fluid and dynamic categorization with good and bad people in both and not about damning one side or the other.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Met with Henry and David today. Gave them a PPT presentation. Good meeting. Hopefully something will come out of it. Least of which, I hope we can get Kangla on their 100 Endangered Watch List.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Poured. A lovely temporary waterfall under the Manhattan Bridge that Steven and I loved. But it was too gray and messy. we all had to move indoors for the shoot. A drag, but it turned out well I thought. Finally we will have some regular pictures for our website.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

DIGITIZE!: Met John today. His library is willing to be a repository of the electronic library of manuscripts. I hope that I will be able to also find a university that will be the locus of scholarship for a new area of Asian studies. Or these manuscrpts will just lie there all nicely digitized.

I had a great talk with Evelyn a week ago and took up where we left off last November, threads of our discussion on transnational mountain cultures. She will present this digitization idea to their humanities digitization personnel today. They are working with Cotton collection of burned Beowulf manuscripts so some fitting but unfortunate analogy. Evelyn liked the idea of a Hillbilly International!

John confirms that US universities that have an interest on Tibeto-Burman languages focuses more or less on Tibetan only. Being an atheist is even lonelier than I thought.

Our collection of manuscripts could very well be the cornerstone of an academic process of enlarging the scope of Tibeto-Burman studies once we start the process of digitization. My desire is to see Manipur at the cultural and intellectual center of this new area of studies. John was amused I gave a linguistics professor fifteen guesses which Tibeto-Burman langauge I spoke and he never got to the most advanced and contemporaneous of them all!

John also thinks we might work with the Library of Congress' Overseas Operation. That they can disseminate folios to member libraries all across the United States is an idea that overwhelms me with its boldness and generosity of thinking.

I have had a copy of my proposal couriered to the Oja , so let's see what he says first. That, and of course, getting some more tech information. And man I gotta do an exhibiton of these manuscripts at the library down the line. Must keep at it with John.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

MOZART'S 250TH: I was beginning to feel like a little boy who knows there's a birthday party happening but had not received an invitation. Relieved when Raphael invited me to the last of the Berlin Philharmoniker's concerts at Carnegie Hall celebrating the miracle of Mozart. Rapture!

[Also relieved I didn't have work out meeting Philip, after his inelegant dinner invitation. Ha!]

Interesting programming: a young Brit called Thomas Ades and Maurice Ravel to round off the program. New York audiences so embarrass me with the self-congratulatory and obligatory standing ovations and drawn out applause. Even Simon Rattle, who i assume is more the reserved Englishman back home, hammed it up to the gallery. But we got a lovely Satie as encore. So the audience's lolling labrador behavior did yield a dividend. I felt ungenerous.

End of a full day. A grest conversation taking up where I left off with Evelyn in Lexington last November about the Appalchian Center perhaps being the stage for a study of the Northeast. Has possibilities.

Friday, January 27, 2006

BASEBALL: Finally, a personal Holy Grail of sorts. Mirra and I went over to the Natural history Museum where Naomi had set up a screening of the Cutting films in the Northeast. I had heard of this since the early 1990s when I showed the Cutting films on his expedition to Tibet in the Tibet Film Festival.

Valrae thought it was just Assam, since the description of the 19030 silent film told merely of a British military expedition to the Naga Hills. I told her I'd still want to see it as I suspected it might have Manipur in it, Assam being the larger adminitrative term the British often used when referring to the area between India and Burma. And I was right. Half way through the film, Cutting and Teddy's son? brother? Kermit Roosevelt descend into the valley and shot scnes of boat races, wrestling, foot hockey, polo and a bunch of anthroplogical shots. Amazing stuff.

The film itself is a curiosity. There was a flawed and amateurish narrative about two Sema Naga boys. Charming but a bit embarrasing considering we sat under an original poster of Nanook of the North. Flaherty must have rolled his eyes if he saw the film then. And surely he rolled in his grave today.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Met with the new Consul General here. I have had not truck with the legation here since Nengcha left. Perhaps something to do with the political climate being represented here before this new administration. I remember Indrani made a comment to me as about the difficulty of connecting with the revivalist mindset.

I had gone to talk about baseball but ended up proposing a program celebrating King and Gandhi. It was sparked by my puzzlement at being given an appointment on King's birthday. Should not the conculate be closed, I had wondered, while waiting in the reception area under a large painting of Gandhi.

I am happy the Ambassador, an urbane and cultured lady, responded ao favorably. Not only will it express the ties between the two countries in a constructive way but it will also be a way of participating in an American debate. I want to say, Look here guys, King is not just a Black and White issue. He is more than that. Ideas are not just about which state closes their libraries in honor of King and which refuse to. The thoughts of the two statesmen drew from all, belong to all and can be used to the benefit of all.

I will speak to Richard about Lincoln Center and Linden about The Asia Society.

Friday, January 06, 2006

1891: A very productive day. Ima is disappointed that I am staying away so long this time but she knows a lot of things are happening. She would have enjoyed the meetings I had with Robert and Esa.

Robert wants to bring Laihui to the US in Spring of Fall of 2007. I suggested that we do Khongjom Parba using the photographs at Alkazi’s collection. He loves the idea and will talk to Ralph, Rachel and Tim McHenry. Funny thing, I set up my meeting with Esa at Sepia without this in mind but jazzed things are clicking into place.

Esa offered use of the Manipur pictures even before I asked her. We looked at the Johnstone album together again. Too bad the 1891 album is in New Delhi but she will get it scanned and loaded up on the server. So I will ask to use the pics for WMI, the baseball film, Ima’s book on Idhou Sanakhya.

I am thinking Eigya Syam for direction, Ima for script. Excerpts read onstage from Mrs. Grimwood’s terribly self-serving but charming memoir? I will also talk to Jim Ivory about doing the show here. Maybe Vanessa Redgrave I am thinking.

Can Laihui do Khongjom Parba? Will it be only percussion? How about Pena? Do we need Ibeni or Manimacha? A counterpoint of perspectives of two divas at their peak of their craft might be fascinating.