Rhapsody of Brooklyn

Ship helmPhoto by Driiscol.

    She broke the surface of the sand gasping occasionally for air, her fingers clawing at the sky.  I stood stock still staring at the impossible.  How could such a vagabond go unnoticed by other strollers on this secluded Casablancan beach?  I heard no calls for help.  The castaway almost seemed to embrace its forlorn destiny embedded deeply in the sands of time.   Looming only a few meters from where I stood in disbelief, I watched as the surf covered and then released it, a sad but eternal dance of nature, dominating the figure and then reconsidering with every watery surge and retreat.

I decided to risk an intervention.  Moving stealthily forward I knelt beside the fallen warrior and offered consolation.  Then with rising urgency I began to claw at the shackles that bound this form to its solitary grave.  Bit by bit I felt the body moving, the long submerged spokes gradually rising from the grip of death.

After several intense moments of excavation I gave a final tug and pulled the helm from the beach. I laid it down on the surface of the sand and washed its face gently with the same surf that had moments earlier gagged it.  And then I stood and carried it far up the beach where I could sit and whisper words of hope.

This beach miracle found its way into the opening chapter of my story entitled Rhapsody of Brooklyn:

He snuggled down in the feather bed and pulled Houda close. “Close your eyes, my love. It was long, long ago when my great grandmother, Maimouna, walked alone on the Casablanca beach hours after a great Atlantic storm. She came across a helm sticking out of the sand. She was so excited. She dropped to her knees and began to dig. And when she finally pulled the great helm from the clutches of the sand, she almost shrieked. For hiding beneath the ship’s wheel was this dragon….

I still have this helm.  It hangs on the wall in my home.  (I let the dragon go).

(Did anybody else ever find a great treasure on a beach)?

P.S.  Read the story in my book Teatime in Old Havana.

Temple Bar, Dublin

The Roadster

Temple Bar, Dublin
Temple Bar, Dublin

     After wandering the streets of Dublin till the wee hours, I stumbled into The Temple Bar and ordered a Guinness.  The place was nearly deserted but the old school wooden bar, double arches overhead and winding staircase to a mysterious upper level hooked me so I lingered.  The Guinness came foaming at the bit and I sipped letting the roasted barley calm my nerves and give me hope.  My fatigue gave me pause to ponder the meaning of my life and the dark stout revived the extinguishing lights of wanderlust dimming within.

It was in these exhausted moments of reflection that a strange character strode in from the dark street.  He wore a heavy Hemingway beard with a cap that had the word Roadster scrawled on the bill.  He took a seat at the bar a few chairs beside mine and ordered a drink.  As he waited, he turned to me.  He sensed my immigrant status and it piqued his interest.  “Where you from?” he asked.

“The States,” I said wondering where this admission might lead.

“Ah, the States,” he said as if he were reading his lines for the big screen.  Then he smiled and drank half the glass of beer without a pause.

“You a local?” I asked.

“Oh yeah.  Local through and through.”

“I like your hat,” I said wondering if there might be a hidden story lurking somewhere beneath the word Roadster.

He smiled at that question and pointed outside the window.  “The roadster is out yonder tethered to a hitching post.  Care to see it?”  He winked and wondered if I understood.

“Sure,” I said having no clue to the meaning of ‘out yonder tethered to the hitching post’.”

With that little encouragement this provocateur led me on a fascinating tour of his wild blue roadster parked down the street, a mean machine fit for any back street racing challenge.  And from that episode in this little bar came the story I wrote called The Roadster (in my book entitled: Teatime in Old Havana.)

(P.S.  Has anyone been to this pub or met an interesting character at a mysterious bar)?

The Ambulance Driver

Jugaads

I was eating some cashew nut macaroons at the Dhanalakshmi Bakkery in Tuticorin India recently.  The afternoon was hot as the passersby flittered here and there on a thousand unknown journeys in this Indian port city.  I gazed with a sense of wonderment from my bakery shop window seat at the complexities of life and the conundrums of daily existence.

I was lost in these musings and the crunchy sugary macaroon tip that hovers with sublime grace over the gooey cashew crumbs when I saw him go by.  He was singularly focused.  He wove through the street traffic like a magician appearing and disappearing behind this truck and then that cart of produce.

He pedaled his ambulance cart, a strange kind of tricycle with a caged space behind him for patients in desperate need of medical care.  They call these mechanical inventions jugaads in this part of the world.  They are real world improvisations, contraptions made of dreams and elbow grease and late night tinkering behind some corner store.

I paused in mid crunch, putting my macaroon down and simply staring.  The driver was intense.  He didn’t sit on the make shift seat; no, he pedaled upright with a sense of urgency as if the gods themselves had commissioned him to hasten to some wounded soul without delay.  He looked straight ahead seeing nothing but the imagined patient lying wounded or bleeding on some distant river bank or factory floor.

If I could have done so, I would have leaped from my seat at the bakery and rushed to follow him.  Where did he go?  What did he find?  I will never know.  But it was this frenetic scene outside the bakery where I sat nibbling a macaroon that I conceived the the story of the pearl diver out on a mission to save the world only to find himself the victim of love’s snares and foibles.

(P. S.:   Has anybody tried an authentic macaroon?  Tell me about it).

(Read the story in Teatime in Old Havana)