Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Laughing Buddha Cab Company/ Chris Mooney-Singh

[First published at RoughNotes]

The title shouted from its cover: The Laughing Buddha Cab Company.

A Buddha's face, an open palm, an old-style taxi cab at the bottom-right.

And the poet himself -- a Caucasian face under a Sikh's turban.

Laughing Buddha Cab Company

Scanning through the pages quickly, some words and phrases caught my attention: "Monkey men", "Metallica dreams"...

Didn't mean anything to me (as yet) but certainly very intriguing.

And so I read the poems on the way home.

This was one poetry book that connected with me, for some reason.

Maybe because it revealed more layers to the poet, as a person.

Chris Mooney-Singh gives his readers a peek into his life and experiences, through the poems drawn from jaunts in taxi cabs, in Singapore and India.

The piece titled "Taxi Pantun" (page 57) was quite poignant. About a cabbie relating his woes of his wife (the cabbie's) battle with cancer to his passenger. Not knowing that his passenger emphatised more than one might think.

Speaking of empathy, lines like these made me ponder:
"I watch the bats
outside the MRT
where taxis stop
as we return
with troubled looks
from anxious jobs.
Their circling wings
match out heartbeats,
a comforting flutter
above our heads."

From p. 65 - "Urban Dwellers"

I thought these were beautiful words:
"Light scaled your hair last night.
A moon rising between apartments
sent down its white ladder through
the window while you were sleeping."

From p. 68 - "Views from My Apartment"

In this collection, Chris' poems gives me the sense that there's an air of acceptance; a coming-to-terms with whatever life has thrown at him.

"Children, Darling, are no longer an option.
Children cannot pour like jellybeans

from old jars. Sweets may not be good
for us, after our half century. Better they

stay away. We can go to other homes
as uncle and aunt and give out Toblerone...
From p. 72 - "Views from My Apartment".

I know I shouldn't draw the conclusion that this collection is about Chris and his life.

But I can't help but think that he's giving the reader hints of his life, a peek into his mind.

Overall, I'd say this collection is "Quietly Colourful".

The poems are contemplative and reflective.

Come to think of it, this collection could be said to be like Chris the poetry-man himself.

The words burst with a performer's flair at times.

Colourful, like Chris the performer of poetry.

And quiet.

When the stage lights dim and the performer steps off.

Perhaps into a taxi cab.

Chris Mooney-Singh. Laughing Buddha Cab Company

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