Category Archives: Panama

anything could be happening at once

This day was over for me before it began for you, he says, addressing a girl through a computer screen.

She talks with him, someone far away that she cares for, because it brings a sense of hope and wonder. He talks with her, someone far away that he cares for, because it brings a sense of calm and security. Then, he wishes her a good day, and she him a good night. Then, he goes off into deep sleep (into his good night) and she goes off reassured, but hesitating to have her good day.


Anything could be happening at once. Everything could be happening at once, and it is. All over the world, people do different things for the same reasons, and the same things for different reasons. It just depends.


In Vancouver, kids attend a jumpstart preschool program at a community centre in their neighbourhood. They sit watching a Baby Einstein video, sucking on their fingers. They have popular names like Ava and Madison.

In Mumbai, toddlers sit in a circle in a preschool built by an NGO on the construction site they live on. A teacher enlists one boy to help her distribute stainless steel bowls, a healthy snack of chana and curry leaves. Repeating in English ‘one bowl, one friend.’ The kids smile as they receive their snacks, and wait for prayer before they eat. They have Sanskrit names like Pragati, progress, and Mayuri, peacock.


In New York, students might trek through the snow in winter to get to a coffeeshop. Inside, more people sit at a row of tables. Each has a laptop: if the lights went out, you would only see a row of lit-up apples. They also have some cell phone, some mp3 player, some sort of coffee. Having felt like they are a part of this community, they sit down to get work done.

On Panama’s west coast, lean-muscled fishermen haul boats out of the north pacific ocean and separate their catch into different pails depending on the size of fish. Then they sit on logs and smoke cheap cigarettes and laugh. Having gotten work done, they now feel they are part of a community.

Someone might speak, and another might avoid speaking, to exactly the same end. It would depend.


A man might shout and it would be for threat or warning.

A child might shout and it would be for anguish or uncertainty.

A woman might shout and it would be for a song.

It would depend.


In Canada, an Indian girl might dance sexy in a nightclub because it is her perogative, it is fun, and she feels like it. In these moments she loves her life the most.

In India, a Russian girl might dance sexy in a nightclub because she is being paid to do so. In these moments, she doesn’t feel much. It’s not fun, but not bad, but not good either. It’s nothing, it’s just a job.


In Paris, two lovers might might come to know each other without words. Through their two month relationship, they have mostly known one another through physical closeness. The young man wants more than this arrangement. What an assumption to make, he considers, that because you came close to someone’s body you had come to know something about them.

In Varanasi, two lovers might come to know each other without touch. Throughout the length of their nearly three years together, they have only been able to steal six kisses. The young woman wants more than this arrangement, but is anguish over these feelings. How can she assume to know him having never known this other part of him? She wishes to feel that this should be enough, but doesn’t actually feel that way.

The French lovers come close to one another because in that way, they love each other.

The Indian lovers stay distant from one another, rather than risking all that they have built, because in that way, they love each other.

Someone might touch, and another might not, to achieve the same result. It would depend.


In Delhi, a man in a suit stays in a glass building all day on the phone, because in this way, he earns money. He thinks this about money: aaj hai, kal nahi, phir a jaega do din ke baad.

In Jakarta, a man in a sand-stained shirt and shorts toils in the sun all day on the reconstruction of a Mosque. Because in this way, he earns money. He doesn’t think about money so much.


A man has moved across the United States from one city to another. He came to this new place by choice, encouraged by his family to go. He might be falling asleep in an enormous bed, in an enormous room. With one leg falling over a pillow, and thrashing searching arms, it is obvious that he is unused to sleeping alone. He speaks into silence, asking his god why.

A girl has moved across India from a village to a big city. She came to this new place by force, stolen from her family. She might be falling asleep on a lumpy mattress on the second floor of a brothel in Mumbai’s red light district. She speaks into a cacaphony of car horns and fuzzy old love songs, thanking her god that tonight she is sleeping alone.

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