The Pollinators of Technology

by Evan Edwards

DownloadOn the night of Monday, April 3rd, a man stood in the middle of the intersection at Franklin and Columbia in Chapel Hill, NC. Within minutes, thousands of people poured out of bars, houses, apartments, fraternity and sorority homes, and who knows where else, barrelling down the largest streets in the town to join him. There’s a video that shows it happening in high speed. The University had just won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament which (if you don’t know) is a very big deal.

I grew up in North Carolina, and as the week drew closer to the game, I watched so many people that I know from Middle and High school making their way back to the state, just to be there if/when they pulled it off. If they couldn’t make it, many documented their excitement wherever they were, on social media, and sent messages and memes to one another as the game loomed closer, just brimming with enthusiasm. Although I never really got into sports, it was a bit moving to watch people get so very joyous about something when nearly everything else in the news is tinged with a kind of abysmal horror.

If you watch the video I linked to above, you notice that the frame shakes as it pans from side to side. Because we’re used to it, we can read this erratic movement as the work of a smartphone camera because professional cameras and drones aren’t this sloppy, and no one uses handheld video-cameras any more. In the shot, too, you see the arm of the man in the intersection upstretched in the first few frames, the luminous glow of his iPhone at its apex, almost giving him the look of an angler fish wandering the deep, or a single firefly waiting in a meadow. As the crowd rolls in, you can’t always make out the screen glow, but it’s clear that almost everyone in the crowd is either raising their phone up to take a picture, to record video, to go live, or to snapchat.

When I was younger, my friends and I did something similar to this. We would call each other during concerts, to leave voicemails or let them listen for a while if a song that meant something to both of us was being played. For me, it was a special way of using technology to deepen a personal friendship. This was before I was on Facebook (you had to have a college e-mail address to get an account when I was in High School), Myspace was not used for sharing things like this, and so the concert voice mail was, in some way, the most cutting edge social medium we had. It was extraordinary to wake up to a voicemail like that from a friend. Absolutely moving.

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How Does My Garden Grow?

by Gautam Pemmaraju


DSC00104 A distinct advantage to my small rental in the once ‘leafy suburb’ of Bandra in western Bombay is its garden. Actually, not quite a ‘garden’ in the sense that it is arranged with great care or acuity, tended to diligently, or bedecked with decorative flowers and plants, it is rather, for the most part, an unkempt, somewhat derelict yard with several planted trees and a wide range of wild ferns, creepers, fruit, herb, and vegetable plants. The diversity of botanical life is pretty fascinating, not to mention the many song birds, from the White-Throated Fan Tail, the Oriental Magpie Robin to the Asian Koel, and lest I forget, the many worms, slugs, bees, butterflies, garden lizards, frogs, squirrels, snails that are to be found in residence – occasionally at my doorstep. Itinerant cats, the odd fatigued kite, noisy crows, sparrows and pigeons, barn owls, and bandicoots pass through, and I have often imagined an irascible rodent knocking at my door demanding a change of music.

The space around me is a wild urban garden.

DSC00142 Encircled by tall apartment blocks, the low-rise character of the structure allows for immediate contact with what is outside. Boundary walls enclose this very modest plot of land that supports an impressive range of plant life. When in season, there are guavas that may be picked from outside my window; some ripe ones, half eaten by parakeets, fall to ground and release a squishy, heady aroma. Two types of bananas – a large beveled plantain (possibly from Kerala) which can be used raw (in cooking) or eaten when ripe, and the small, squat and delicious local elchi (butter plantain). Cultivated coconut, including one variety brought from Singapore, and seasonal mangoes are in abundance. The lone lime tree, verdant and generously fertile at one time, which used to catch the fancy of telephone linesmen, postmen and other civic workers entering the premises, is in need of some help. Recently, the jackfruit tree bore fruit for the first time. Several others though – custard apple, tamarind, Java Plum or Jambul, fig, locally known as umber – are yet to be as productive as the others.

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This is not a poem – learning by heart in a rote world

By Liam Heneghan

For Patricia Monaghan, poet and friend

“I am cold and alone on my tree root, sitting as still as stone.” I recited this forlornly, lost in E. J. Scovell’s poem. I was ten years old and competitively reciting at the Father Matthew Feis, an annual all-Ireland poetry festival. The year was 1974. “The fish come to my net,” I continued, “I scorned the Boy Fishing0001 sun, the voices on the road and they have gone.” Beneath me I could feel, not the stage boards of the Father Matthew Hall in Church Street, Dublin, but dead root-timber; the stage light was the sun. “My eyes are buried in the cold pond under the cold, spread leaves; my thoughts are silver-wet.” The scuffling schoolboys and girls, their mammies and daddies and their elocution teachers, were gone; I was staring into the peat-dark and swollen waters of the Finglas River which emptied onto an Atlantic beach in Camp, Co. Kerry, my fishing rod in hand, dressed up as the sky.

This was my father’s experiment: on an overcast afternoon, beneath the dreep of autumn hedges, dress your sons in plastic rubbish sacks, fashion hats out of blue shopping bags and set them loose on the banks. No bites that day for me; perhaps the fish were fooled or perhaps in their own piscine way they shared the bemusement of the mirthful onlookers who strolled over to examine the young boys that were disguised as the sky. I scorned them, I scorned them all and slumped humiliated beneath the hedge and gazed damply into the waters; I endured my own thoughts; I waited. Though I failed at being the sky, and failed as a fisherman, I was, however, remarkably good at memorizing poems. An achievement made more remarkable maybe, by the fact that, at the time, I remained functionally illiterate.

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