Duality and Hybridism
(Originally published in the Field notes of the Summer school on Cultural diversity and collaborative practice)
We were 23 people of all kinds and colours in a big house. The
night sky was clear. The bed was too soft. My mind was racing
through my tensed body trying to make sense of the day. So many
wonderful people. The emotional regulation required to wade
through the different cultures, genders, generations and personality
types and to get to each and every one of these beautiful, artistic,
academic, and activist minds was challenging. Beyond the
information and theories, what I really wanted to know was the
inside of these people.
Knowing happens when our boundaries blur. What we share
is a cosmic order and when we know each other we come by a
knowledge we always contained but would have never known by
ourselves. Together we generate knowledge and the knowledge
It was the third day in the summer school and under my
watchful eye Evgeny never snored.
We are many in this world and we live in each other. It is only
in a matter of degree that we differ, not kind. We contain all colors.
‘We contain multitudes’ don’t we?
I couldn’t sleep.
The imaginative, romantic, whimsical, emotional Celt and
the stoic, rational, hard working Anglo-Saxon. The same duals
Like inside and outside.
Just like we contain many we are contained in many. Just like
we control many we are controlled by many.
I noticed it first in my legs. They had relaxed and disappeared.
It travelled on to my heart and slowly it dawned on me: this is where
I belong, with these colourless, codeless people; these angels
inhabiting this interstitial heaven where we insatiably consume each
other to grow bigger, wiser and hungrier.
I have become a true hybrid!
What I have been travelling from and what I have been
travelling to, have started to feel the same. I sank in the bed and
slowly started to melt in the darkness. I wanted to fly up in the
sky and hug the whole house. I wanted to wake Evgeny up and
tell him that I had finally arrived. All the Hollywood action heroes I
watched and read to escape the pain from abandonment when I
was sent to a boarding school at the age of five had messed up my
sensitive soul. I had grown an armour around me to appear cool
like my heroes. The meditation and the shadow work I did suddenly
worked. I fell in place. I reached the stillness in my movement.
Empty spaces invade me. Doubts die. Questions drown. The
answer is so bright I can’t see.
Evgeny do you hear me?
Evgeny is a Marxist and will hear only what he wants to hear.
Evgeny is an activist and wants to change the world. Evgeny is a
I just wanted to talk to somebody.
For too long I ate myself to become Rambo. Cool, tough and
callous. Couldn’t understand why sometimes my eyes teared up
or why I rolled into a ball and went under the table, shutting the
door on visitors. And I always felt at every wily turn, that what I
missed was travelling along with me. I only needed to stretch my
arms, touch it, feel it and become it. But suddenly I missed my
arms. Handicapped and helpless I waited. Now I could hear them
see them faintly deep within. The anima, the yin, the east, the
Next day as usual as part of the efforts to unravel the
intricacies of the western mind, I was trying to pick up shades
of enlightenment values splattered on women in the west. That
standoffishness, like a cloak refusing visibility and often inducing
a subconscious colonial mentality in me. More in the west
European than the easterner, more in the north European than the
southerner, very much in the English or German but not so much
in the Irish or French, again very visible in the Protestants but
not so much in the Catholics. Is this the skin of the global west?
Individualistic, rationalistic, egalitarian, self reliant, competitive, and
materialistic masculine/anima/yang of the world? In comparison to
the collectivistic, hierarchical, emotional, spiritual, interdependent,
cooperative, feminine/animus/yin global east?
Then somebody occidental behaved like an Indian woman at
the fire and I melted again. I wanted to hug.
We are liminal people. We are people who left home and
never reached but fell in love with the camp in between. Some
of us have fallen between the stools – like Rushdie says – plural
and partial, the nowhere people with soft corners and spongy
skin. Never to reach is the way, for at our destination the seeking
stops and we grow fangs and learn to discriminate, deduce,
and fight. We are fluid, mixed, always in flux people. We are half
French, half Lebanese, Malaysian Punjabi in Belfast, Australian in
Africa, tree hugger from the kingdom of Cork who loves Germany,
Transylvanian salsa teacher, Italian English linguist, Pakistani on the
run, Traveller with a grounded soul, Portuguese in UK, American in
Venice, Iranian in Dublin, Irish in London, Polish in Ireland, a Russian
who belongs everywhere and the ladies from the multicultural
village called Create.
We happen every moment, unpredictably. Like there is no
forest in a tree or desert in sand we are not in the event. Neither
are we in reason, emotion, or in their conflict. Like the wind we
thrive on chances. We form, act, and rest at random.
We live in Ian McGilchrist’s ‘in-betweenness’, Deleuze and
Guattari’s ‘Rhizome’, Suzi Gablik’s ‘Radical relationality’, Dan
Seigal’s definition of mind, John Vervekae’s ‘Participatory knowing’
and Elizabeth Grosz’s ‘place around identities’. We live between
land and water. To know ourselves we should become. To become
we should engage in our infinite dynamism.
On the way in, I stopped the car to look at the mountains,
mysterious and calm they lie one after the other. Am I anxious?
Killary Lodge is only a few kilometers away. What am I going to
learn at this school? Will I get a chance to explain the truth of my
practice? My innate need to express and connect and hence my
love of collaborative art and never for the politics of it? Assuming
it is going to be an academic-artist group they will look away.
Without politics, without being arty enough for a gallery space what
is the relevance? They will ask, as usual. My tastes were never
arty enough for a gallery space. In fact, ending up in a gallery is
considered a failure in marginal international art house cinema
– my comfort zone. And my collaborators with their Bollywood
aesthetics has pushed our work even farther away from any sort of
gallery. Then why am I here? Do I deserve this school? Or am I here
because of the colour of my skin?
I grew up confused, between the disciplined corridors of a
Jesuit boarding school and the drunken alleyways of my village
Manjapra. We Manjaprites are known for our love of the bottle. My
father drank a lot, and I am still drunk. My soul belongs to Manjapra
and I will definitely return to it when I sober up, I said when I left
at 21 for the Middle East. We had a temper problem too, but were
open, friendly people like the first Celts discovered in central
Europe. Neighbouring villages had many stories about us as well.
They say we smashed up the very first car which came to the
village taking it for a giant beetle. Yes, we are passionate, impulsive
people who live life fiercely.
These days my heart pumps faster watching Ireland play
matches and a movie on the Famine made me cry.
‘Connectedness is a biological imperative’ says Steven Porges.
Evolution baked it into us because we survived better in groups.
Roots will grow of us unaware. Our limbs will surprise us
one day with a different skin. We will be black one day and white
another; female today and male tomorrow. Diverse as we are we
seek similarity in everything.
We swam the sea, walked the mountains, watched the fjord
sunset and sat around the fire singing songs in every language we
knew. We dreamed up projects, discussed practices, listened to
speakers, ate and drank together and talked late into the night until
we became colourless, genderless and ageless. We teased, tamed,
and seduced conclusions. Like spirits we lived immaterial, sleeping
on theories and ideas.
We are creators and fighters.
In us process meets product, content meets form, abstraction
meets reality, social meets personal, truth meets beauty and
evolves into something, which surpasses all the dichotomies. We
are the stamp of the global on the local, a yet to be concluded
infinitely uncertain entity which connects and disconnects to the
core at the same time.
Is the world ready for this new species? Ready to shift from a
binary thinking to the systemic interconnectedness, specialised to
integrated, demarcated to fluid, controlling, guarded, competitive
to vulnerable? Is the current divisive identity politics and turmoil
around the world the last one of its kind? Are we prepared to
embrace the unpredictability, the fluidity, the non duality, the
hybrid? Meet the opposite inside us and outside us and reconcile in
compassion and love? Sustain the dynamic poise between infinite
chaos and infinite order until we reach synthesis? Are we the
harbingers of the species meant to create a civilization that is ‘antirivalrous, anti-fragile and auto propagating’?
I listened, learned, and talked endlessly trying to know more,
trying to connect. Hugged everybody on the last day, cleaned the
room, made the bed, walked out into the wilderness behind the
house. I stood on firm ground, among dense green vegetation, tall
Nothing centers me like nature. If I truly belong anywhere I
belong to the jungle, I thought.
Here I am miles and miles away from where I belonged,
claiming new land.
All the people who came to this island, from the megalithic
Gaels through the Vikings, the Anglo-Norman, the Spanish, the
English and all the 161 different nationalities who live here now,
might have stood at this same spot in the history of this island. Am
I the first one?
Did the trees smile? Did the earth move under my feet?
I had that melting feeling again. For a moment I was standing
among rubber trees behind my house at Manjapra, on earth my
forefathers toiled. The ground and the green around me felt the
same. If I travel far enough into history will I find an ancestor who
Since some time now, Manjapra had started to fade slightly.
Why can’t I belong everywhere like Evgeny? Is belonging
everywhere an excuse to truly belong nowhere, manifesting the
intimacy problem of the modern world?
I did not leave the summer school with convictions. Instead
I amassed more questions, thriving on paradoxes. Realised
movement inside me and connections outside me. In five days I
grew up more than I did in a year. Felt like I belonged. Memory,
history, body, and trauma spoke. I heard them in embodied
cognition. The people, the mental exercises, the forlorn setting with
mountains and water staring at us played their parts.
We are in the code not in the material. There are people and
calculations which fit into each other. What it takes to move is
exactly what we should spend to reach our material. We should rest
as we move, and surely we shall arrive. How can we be lost when
‘we’ are the search?
Colourcode (short story)
The door opened suddenly and a tall teenager came out. Since he was hiding a bottle of beer behind him, instantly Raju knew that the boy was under eighteen and that he could end up in trouble. Inside the shed there were two girls and two boys sitting against the wall. Where was Ann Marie? They all stared. Raju had already started to turn away when the boy took him by the collar and dragged him into the shed. A week before two teenagers had killed an east European sticking a screwdriver into his head. It was still in the news. Raju dashed for the door…
This is a true story. Or at least part of a true story, that part which is relevant to the name colour code. Raju will be part of the story until his part in the story fails to break in and reveal what this story is all about. After all, this is a story to decide whether it is Raju or the story which is important. Back home when a friend asked him what was the Irish like Raju blinked. That was when he decided to give it a go, concocted to spin a story around him and live a character.
Before Raju could reach the door, the tall boy caught him; Raju covered his head and cried aloud for help. The other two boys were laughing and the girls had begun to get concerned. The tall boy threw Raju to the ground and yelled “shut up”
“Leave him alone”, said the girls “What is wrong with you”
But the tall boy had assumed the roll of the villain by himself while the other two stood by slightly embarrassed.
-You bloody peeping tom, said the villain
-Ann Marie is a friend of mine, said Raju getting up from the floor
-Ann Marie, your friend Ann Marie
-Ann Marie? Who the hell is Ann Marie?
-I saw her car outside, and heard her cry. That is why I came inside
-What are you talking about?
Raju couldn’t believe the story would take such a turn. He tried hard to remember some dialogues which would make them teenagers think for a while, think anything other than a screwdriver. But all that would come to his mind is the board about chopping boards
‘White for diary, brown for veg, green for salad, red for meat, blue for fish’ said the board about chopping boards . Colours and codes always made an impression on Raju. If white could think and black wore instincts what would brown do? Red meat, yellow cheese, white bread, green salad…
Raju works in a nursing home kitchen. The story started to include Raju in its plot that morning, or it is better said Raju pushed in, and even took control of it for some time. The reason why he ended up among beer drinking teenagers that evening is not the plot alone. Early that morning he had perfect control over the storyline and directed scenes as he wished.
The dialogues came from Maggie the chef as usual. As a person Maggie the chef was all too kind and considerate that even the tiniest trace of racial shades she flaunted pricked. But it was all part of the story
“Well Raj do you have Christmas in India” said her
Maggie the chef was too fat to move and so talked a lot. Asked questions but never waited for answers and thus preserved her ignorance so that she could always keep asking questions. Just like any country Irish granny. Just like any country Indian lad Raju talked less and moved more to compensate. At that equilibrium where egocentricity met altruism they seem happy, at least for the sake of the story. Maggie was colour blind. Quite the right person for this story.
‘About 50 years ago in the part of India I come from we had macro families and every member had a place in the hierarchy. Raju said, just to try a dialogue.
Maggie looked at him long and turned her hip to move away as though she was insulted
“Where is my place” Raju asked the board about chopping boards. A place to deploy from is very important for any character especially if he has plans to invade.
Maggie moved away and lingered around the oven. To retaliate Raju’s talking she wanted to ask him to clean it. But as she couldn’t articulate it in a question form eloquent enough to match his she headed off into the break room
Jesus these people carry their ego in the most unlikely of places, thought Raju like they think here in the west, defining every twitch of a muscle with a name and place.
Since Raju came to Ireland he had been stopped several times by his sensibility not to relate yet. Then after a year he found himself still sitting out of the story. The day Raju decided to break in nothing stopped and Raju failed his part. Unless the axis slants and he sees on par how will he do his scenes. Story happened beside him. Whenever he thought he climbed in and fixed a horizontal axis to roll on somewhere he was ditched
‘Are you alright Raj” said the girl I always cautiously kept to the margins of my story lest she infect the structure. I couldn’t just find room for her noise. Her name was Ann Marie. She was so good natured and pleasant a person Raju found it often hard to determine whether her xenophilia exuded from her benevolence or her benevolence was a result of her consumption of difference. It’s all too complicated to describe a simple child like eighteen-year-old girl. But Raju followed a way of life where simplicity was discouraged as boring. In his world things attained a complexity by ruthless scrutiny. Now, the most boring being the most good one could almost say that given a chance Raju could had have played a charming hero with that touch of evil.
The little parts Raju played were confined in the kitchen setting for Raju never knew how the story went about outside the kitchen. Since the day Raju met Maggie out in the supermarket queue once, he had been cautious of meeting characters outside the nursing home mes en scene. At the supermarket queue When Maggie’s colour-blind attention failed to detect his uneven tone even after all the movement Raju did right in front of her Raju decided to shout and make the story turn and take notice.
“Maggie” he called her name.
She flinched, then turned to wish, and fled, story on the trail. Raju blushed and steered sideways to a wordless plot stuck in between easy cook rice packets. He felt ashamed of his skin. After all the questions and answers, moving and talking, how could she be so blind, he was dark enough not to be missed in daylight and fair enough to stand out from his shadow and so cannot be invisible even in a black and white world.
At the breakfast table when everybody went out for a smoke Maggie had to talk to Raju. Prudently she jumped in with comments rather than questions
-Nice weather Raj
-Like the Irish
-Ha ha ha I know what you mean
-There is more to it than what it means
-Oh yaa, I know. I know you are well educated and all
-Nobility is a cast Maggie, if you are not born into it, it is real hard to work you way into -it
-You are talking weird today Raj
-I am only trying some dialogues
-There is a story going on
-Oh yaa. I know, yaa. God at least you are talking today
Contents of self respect have too long a past to discuss. We are many in this world and we live in each other. It is only in a matter of degree that we differ, not kind. We contain all colours, Raju wanted to say. It could have made good dialogue. But Maggie was not worth it. She finished her yogurt and sat staring out of the window to avoid looking bored
-I have to get out as I can’t break in, said Raju.
-Are you trying dialogues again Raj,
-Have you heard of Samuel Becket?
-Who is he?
I stopped it there.
It all could had have ended elsewhere if Maggie had known Samuel Becket.
If you could imagine Maggie talking about Samuel Becket I would reckon you understand why I am trying to push my words to evolve in you, so that you take part in my effort
But Maggie did not know Samuel Becket. Let us …
“Are you alright Raj”? Said Ann Marie. I have bound Ann Marie to this question for the most part of the story because if she is allowed to speak more I know she would never stop and I would end up with a mono act play instead of a story.
“Ann Marie, do you know Samuel Becket” said Raju
“Of course Raj, we had to study his short story, or drama I can’t remember, awful isn’t he. My god I could not understand a thing. And they say that is the idea behind his writing. Not to make people understand. And he got Nobel Prize for that…. Oh my god I had the weirdest dream last night. When I opened the fridge all those people started to come out of the fridge, like the one I had about that airplane that day…
I have to get out as I can’t break in. Besides Ann Marie is not going to stop.
That evening after he left work Raju took a detour which was out of the plot. A detour which helped him to break out of his imagination and see for real what it is like to be in a story with someone else controlling it. Along a lonely country Irish narrow road out of an impulse to investigate, his car glided. It might seem he acted out of some secret news he got. But in fact he does not know why he took that detour to this day. The road felt warm and his car swung around curves, he was almost laughing when suddenly he had a feeling he passed something he was used to. He couldn’t tell what. He turned the car around and drove back to find Ann Marie’s car parked on the side of the road. He stopped in front of Ann Marie’s car, there was somebody leaning on the Car smoking. Raju got out and saw that it was Brian, a care staff at the nursing home.
-Hello what are you doing here… said him and walked away to attend to a phone call on his mobile, then came back still talking on the phone, got in Ann Marie’s car and drove off saying bye to Raju with a raised hand. That was when he heard the cry from inside the shed. It was Ann Marie’s. Raju can still swear on it. These incidents may look a bit strained to get Raju to the Shed scene we started out with in this part of the story. But believe me these were those rare incidents in one’s life where the real felt so fictitious, that its memory often confuses Raju regarding the point whether he left real behind and entered the fictitious or parted with his imagination to face real. Raju’s first instinct was to run away from the scene. But then that impulse which made him take the detour that evening took him towards the cry.
-You don’t know Ann Marie? Asked Raju with disbelief
There was silence for a moment
-Bloody trying to make up stories, said the villain -nobody knows any Ann Marie here
-I am sorry then I was mistaken, I am going
-No you are not going anywhere
-Leave him alone, said the girls
Raju tried to walk outside
But the villain dragged him to the floor, Raju tried again frantically and the villain became more forceful and stuck Raju’s face in the mud on the floor.
-Rony, Have you gone mad. The girls stood up,
-we are going. The girls left
The other two boys tried to pull the villain away from Raju, but he resisted
-I will tell the police said Raju suddenly
As an answer to that Raju received a neat punch on his nose
-Please don’t hit me, said Raju getting up -I am sorry, I did not mean that about the police. Please let me go
The other two boys moved out too
-You are not going anywhere. The boy seemed to be getting ready for a fight
He pressed Raju to the wall tight; Raju shut his eyes when another punch landed on his face making his lips bleed.
The boy stepped back to kick Raju in the stomach. Raju fell on the floor with a groan
-Get up, the boy ordered. When Raju did not move the boy kicked him again in the stomach. Raju stood up coughing. The boy stepped back preparing to kick again but then stopped when he found Raju staring
-What the f–k are you looking at?
When Raju did not answer but kept staring the boy lost his interest in practicing his kicks
-I say what the f–k do you want, stop staring mother f–ker” said him,
Okay… go, he commanded
Raju did not move
-I say go.
Raju stepped away from the wall and walked towards the door, the boy went and sat on a piece of log and lighted a cigarette.
-I am sorry, said the boy, but you should not peep you know
-Okay, said Raju turning to acknowledge it
-People don’t like it, said the boy
-Okay, I am sorry, Said Raju and started walking again. Before opening the door he turned to look at the boy
-What? asked the boy
-Do you know Samuel Becket?
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