Category Archives: Writing

Border Crossing





Fear lurks

in the guts,

winds its way


hesitates at the heart.

Thoughts beat

against the bony bondage

of the brain,

cursed to crave

and hope

and wait

cold and forlorn

at the rusty edges of

communication’s gate

where words

hang suspended

from barbs of metal,

where children


at jumping


and creativity

now means


a route that will

somehow work.

They say the land

will hold your step

while death still rules the waters.


Dandiya Raas



The late K.P. Kunhiraman and his wife Katherine, founders of Kalanjali: Dances of India, are best known for their lifework of disseminating the dance styles of Kathakali and Bharatanatyam in the U.S. Under their tutelage young people have achieved professional proficiency, some going on to perform, some to teach and share the tradition.

But as I sit here – far away in Berlin! – on the eve of Navaratri, I recall another dance, and a performance some 30 years ago under a bright blue sky on the stage of the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. After a couple of rehearsals with Katherine, dressed in bright yellow and red, with gay painted sticks I got to take part in Dandiya Raas, the traditional folk dance form of Gujarat, India. It’s the featured dance in Western India during the 9 nights and 10 days of Navaratri (starting this Tuesday) when Hindus worship the nine forms of the goddess Durga. The dance is a staging of the mock-fight between Durga and the fearsome demon-king Mahishasura.

It was a small thing, maybe, but for me as a non-Indian – and a non-dancer as well! – it was a little bit of India, as the beating of the sticks and the drums caught me up in a movement both ancient and visceral. Thanks to K.P. and Katherine Kunhiraman. Sometimes small things are not so small after all.

Image: Durga fighting Mahishura, Brooklyn Museum