Saturday, October 21, 2006


gay stuff

One memory snapshot I couldn’t shake off from my mind. One day last winter I was traveling in a London underground and at one stop a gangly young man entered and sat a couple of seats opposite of me to my right. He didn’t look English but may be Italian and reminded me of that actor model in the Pianist, Adrien Brody but a lot handsomer and also a lot shabbier. Didn’t look like a well to do person, a working class guy probably. And I couldn’t take off my eyes from him. But nothing homosexual at all. First thought that came to my mind was if only I can have his look… and at the next couple of stops a couple of young men, may be in their late teens came barging in and one sat beside me and the other beside the adrien brody man . They must have come from some painting job somewhere as they were wearing grey overalls spattered with white paints all over. And here’s the thing. The boy sitting besideme couldn’t stop tittering. They must have been regaling each other some funny stuff before coming into the train. Every couple of minutes he’d look up to his friend beside adrien brody and started tittering and tried his hardest to control it, much like boys whispering jokes at funerals . And this went on until I came to my stop. And that was it. I couldn’t figure out what made the boy tittered so and why I can still see this adrien brody in my mind just like it happended yesterday.

And another snapshot. Several years ago I read Allan Hollinghurst “the folding star” . I’ve never heard of this author before, but “Shortlisted for Booker Prize 1994” on the front cover clinched it for me. And it was the first out and out gay fiction that I’ve ever read and I must say that I was mildly surprised that I liked the book a lot. It was a beautiful book. I read it while I was traveling in Jordan and finished it while I was in Beitulmuqaddis ( see April 19 05 post on Jerusalem ). And here’s the thing. The old quarters are full of souvenir shops along the narrow alleys and side streets selling all kinds of trinkets, faked antiques, potteries, Christian icons and paraphernalia and I entered one of these . There was no other customers and so the young boy shop assistant in white robe came to me and begged me to buy something but I said no , perhaps next time. And he hold my hand, looked up and pleaded ‘you’ll come again tomorrow, yes ?” and he looked exactly like a young girl pleading to her boyfriend not to leave her. Did I imagine it? May be, as my head was still full of the ‘folding star’ at the time.

I don’t have any personal prejudice against gay men (or women) and certainly not towards gay writings although the image of men doing it to men is repugnant to me (but not women to women although it’s ridiculously more impractical). A couple of months back I walked into the gay quarter of pat pong in bangkok for the first time and that was also just by accident. The place was not as rowdy as the hetero sector and looked rather subdued with some old whites sitting in the bars drinking with a gaggle of thai boys Not my kind of scene at all. Many years ago when I was in my teens I was always hard up for pocket money but some of my friends had a lot which they obtained from one well known old Englishman lawyer who had a practice in my home town. This old man would cruise through our village at night, especially on the weekends and my friends would whistle and he’d stop, picked up a few young boys and off they went to his home. A few hours later he would drop the kids back in the village again and these boys would have big grin on their faces and needless to say also very sore bums and dicks. I actually never exactly know what they did as I was never part of this caper. And none of these boys are gays too. They just did it for money.

And lately by some strange coincidence I’ve been reading quite a few gay books again…what do all that mean ? nothing most likely apart from the fact that some of these gay writers write good books and I happen to like these books …last week I bought a book on the controversial gay artist the late Robert Marplethorpe , a biography by Patricia morrisroe. Several weeks back read Edmund White’s essay “my first European” in Granta (vol 84). And I’m still not finished reading Alan hollinghurst’s 2004 booker winner “line of beauty’ …it’s been gathering dust again as other books intruded into my reading queue , one of which is a memoir ‘Becoming a man’ A National book award winner by Paul monette in 1992 for non fiction. And I’ve been searching high and low for that book which I’m sure is hiding somewhere in my piles of books, a story about a guy converting to hinduism by Christopher isherwood . One of these days i need to archive and rearrange my library properly. It’s getting quite out of hand and i have bought the same books again and again far too often now.

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Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.
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