Thursday, October 05, 2006

Three Months of Cold Showers

Now when I meet one of my students in the street, I ask them:
Have you done your physical exercise this morning?
Have you taken a [cold] shower?
Have you read anything today? Have you written anything?

(Khalil Sakakini trying to propagate his lifestyle, Sakakini Diaries, 1914)

I have taken up the Sakakini regime; I overdid the exercise (yoga), and had to stop it because of pain in a joint. But for the last three months I've kept taking a daily cold shower, first thing in the morning. True, I had little choice (I don't have hot water in the flat). But I soon embraced this way of waking up. In a time of confusion it gave me an anchoring point, a basic rhythm; it got me out of bed on days I saw no point in starting. This was a hard summer, and often, after nights of anguish and anger, the cold water would wash away the pain and bitterness, and help me smile, as I dried myself, shivering.

I kept it up even when I went away this summer, when I stayed at places that had hot water, I zealously opened the cold tap, put my head under the shower head, and waiting for the gush that would make my breathing stop for a couple of seconds. Then I would shake my limbs, then the world would sharpen, and the day begin. I took a cold shower this morning, in Jerusalem.

Yes I am in Jerusalem, for a few weeks, facing life and doing research. I will be blogging on my Jerusalem blog.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Obscure Visual Sign of the Week (38): Homo Rubishicus

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Five Enrolment Poems

Programme of Study
RRRAHIST, Research History
Mode of Study: Full Time
Year of Programme: 4/FT
Fee Status: Overseas

The type of accommodation where you intend to live during your study can best be described as:
1. Property rented from the university
2. Home of parent or guardian
3. Property owned or rented by yourself
4. None of the above

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Your nationality:
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

waking up again with the rain, again in Hackney, it plays on gutters like tin drum, taps on the skylight like cat fighting with a plastic bag, now the sunshine, now its gone. Jennyäs birthday last night, on the boat, on the canal, i fell asleep inside the cabin, with my bunny ears (theme was cartoons), after eating a big dinner and too+sweet hash cake that had no effect but to send me drifting into slumber. by half past midnight they wanted to take the boat and sail up+canal to another party, themed jack the ripper, see how they can deal with the cartoons, but i said iäm too tired, cycled here with jenny through the park, she had the curry in a bucket on her handlebars, i asked her if we should be behaving like this, dressing up like rabbits and cats and cycling on hash cakes, we are thirty something for goddammit.
They went off to kill the ripper and I had a very good night sleep.

iäm sörry for funny spelling but this keyboard is swedish

+ + +

Cycling to college through Sunday London, on the first day of Automn, it's official now. And it's still so warm - what a crazy hot September it was - but you can feel it in the air, the sweet excitement of falling leaves, that will take us all the way to the new year, to the new jerusalem. My social life has been shifting to north east London, to Hackney, yes I find myself eating Turkish on Kingsland road, watching dusk from the top of the Rio cinema, crossing London Fields and Broadway market, passing people with their Sunday papers. Hackney is a stranger, but a familiar one, around which I've been tip-toeing for some years now. So the memories are there to seize on, if I want, points of reference in a foreign land, they anchor me, they suggest themselves as reassurances. Like the Canal, well-travelled routes to bring you to new places, binding experiences with a narrow tow-path. That tinge of familiarity and strangeness is the charm of this city for me.