imaginary cities: basi —

Go back to Basi. Get silly fresh. Tidy your hair. Check that every memory you can recall is actually yours. You may not get another chance to protest at the passing of time with such rigour. In Basi, where all the men wear shoulder pads, hoaxes are committed on a daily basis. Don’t be worried, over-confident or fooled – you have already been defrauded. Smell the long wisps of a lie, coiled in the air just above your identification badge. Walk the streets and cross yourself off wanted lists. Graffiti is encouraged here. Custom dictates that women should be served first, whether it be a restaurant or a bureaucratic exam. Water pipes dispense a strange liquor. Bathing in this yellowish gooze is said to ward off many ailments, though those who make this claim are also said to be in the employ of one company or another. Did you forget your satchel? How, then, do you expect to gain entrance to our gentleman’s club? You will be forced to spend the next four hours in a cheap and dilapidated hof, throwing peanuts at the walls and lining up to urinate in a closet half your size. Don’t even think of initiating a bowel movement. Poetry evenings, while abounding, suffer from their organisers’ insistence upon playing syrupy background music during the recitals. You will one day experience the sad fate of mis-recognising your own words, pumped out of a loudspeaker, their meaning changed by the simple juxtaposition of violins or piano with your original intent. In this city, no one is allowed to clap hands. To do so would be to violate an unwritten law. You may sleep, but only under the neon moon. The weather is surprisingly mild at this time of year. The mopeds barely disturb most peoples’ slumber. But their dreams – ah! If only you could see them, feel a sleeping heart’s beat! When morning comes, be sure to keep a map beside you, if only to reassure your nocturnal half that Basi is real, just like the obscure system of pressure points that is said to lead to another most ordinary city, that of the smile.

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