Category: Fiction

Anatomy of a Tibetan Party in Toronto

The first thing you do—before you primp yourself, parade on the hallway skidding your white sneakers or balancing on the new high-heels, before you have a round of pre drinks or snacks, before you’re hassling this one friend of yours on the phone to tag along even if she’s not feeling it only because she’s the perfect foil for your supposedly outlandish ways—before you’ve even showered, is you turn on your speakers and blast some Bollywood songs. New or old, it doesn’t matter. You scroll through your playlist, or maybe it’s on Youtube, and select the tunes that gets you set for the night. Sprinkle some of that masala to cover up the sight of piss-stained Mr. Leary earlier in the day softly muttering racial epithets about Filipinos at the seniors residence; ease the knots on your shoulders from moving skids around the warehouse for ten hours straight. Nobody wants to go to a party all glum and expensive-like.

Substitute Hindi with Eighties radio hits if you’re born in Canada; hip-hop if you’re in high school.

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We Became Nothing

I remember everything and I know nothing. It was at an art party in a gallery where the walls were bare, the lights dim, and the faces white and animated. A couple of girls, sisters from the looks of it, regarded me suspiciously the moment I joined the festivities. Someone beside the door, the entrance, kept turning away from his conversation to glare at me. I nodded at him, but he looked away.

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A Clash of Kushas

Samten sat cross-legged on the couch in the foyer, picking at the fried chicken leg and the bits of the conversation between the two men sitting on the chairs across from him. They were balancing their polystyrene plates on one, and gesticulating with their other hands and plastic spoons. The older gentleman had acknowledged Samten by the corner of his eyes and a nod when he settled into his chair. It was a subtle reflex that relegated Samten somewhere above a child and below an adult—an object of annoyance and wariness.

“Oho, when the blacks move in, that’s when you know you have to move out.”

“Yes, indeed. You can tell when a neighbourhood’s going to crash just by driving by and seeing the number of black youth hanging out, just hanging around.”

They barely looked at their plates. They were two friends, the older one from Z├╝rich, Switzerland, and the other from Minnesota, USA. Samten opened his mouth as if to speak, reconsidered and attended to his greasy meal. He didn’t think much of it—the masala was too heavy and applied absent-mindedly. He took a swig from the glass of cola, and thought back to the day’s events.

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Three Against the Rain

If you were to look at the sky above the city of Kathmandu before the great flood of migrants into the valley and the explosion of hastily constructed houses following the Maoist insurgency, you might see a pair of kites or two engaged in a mortal dance. They were out and about throughout the year, but it was most intense during the season of Dasain. Storm clouds roiled and billowed above the valley in late summer, and the kites would be among them; darting and swooping like colourful kingfishers above a turbulent sea. The days leading up to the festival would be tinged with anticipation and frenzied: sons and daughters packing up to pay their respect to their elders in their home villages; farmers harvesting crops in the vanishing pockets of land not taken up by apartment buildings; buffaloes and goats packed in trucks for a week of sacrifices; and children struggling to sit still as they trembled with the excitement of acquiring firecrackers, sweets and new clothes.

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