Of the Forest

[This is the way I’d like to write – as the celebrated Bengali novelist Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay (1894-1950) did in his travelogue Aranyak, which means ‘Of the Forest’. Bibhutibhusan wrote Aranyak between 1937 and 1939. It might well be the first ‘environmental’ novel in the world, to my mind. Here, the short Prologue, in my own translation]

I had made myself comfortable on the green grass near Fort William after a hectic day at the office.

Sitting there quietly near a stray almond tree watching the ground undulate from the moat around the fort, I suddenly felt as if I was sitting on the bank of Lake Saraswati to the north of Lobtulia – till the honking of a motor horn from the Plassey Gate broke my reverie.

Seems like yesterday though it all happened so long ago.

Immersed in the hustle and bustle of the city of Kolkata from the morning till the evening as I am today, when I think of the forests, the moonlight, the dark and still nights, lonely groves of tamarisk and sandbanks covered with the tall kash grass, the grey line of hills on the horizon, the rapid pattering of the hooves of nilgai antelopes in the deep of the night, wild buffalo coming to the lake at noon to slake their thirst, the wonderful sight of wild flowers of all shapes and colours spreading across a stony field, dense forests of the flowering red palash – I feel as if I had dreamt of a world full of beauty at the end of a long and leisurely day – a land and a country not of this earth.

Not just the forests and the fields, I met so many different kinds of people.

Kunta… I remember Musammat Kunta. As if the poor girl was still collecting wild berries with her children in the jungles of Sungthia Baihar, just to keep herself and her family alive.

Or she would be standing silently near the well in a corner of the courtyard of the Azamabad kutcheri on a cold and moonlit night at the height of winter, in the hope of collecting the leftovers of my dinner – mainly the rice.

I remember Dhaturia… the boy dancer!

Dhaturia came from the Dharampur district in the south, after a bad crop, to earn a living with his singing and his dancing in the sparsely populated villages of Lobtulia… I had seen his face light up with a happy smile at the prospect of a meal of roasted china grass seeds with jaggery. Curly hair and wide eyes, a little girlish in his gestures and his behaviour, otherwise a handsome boy of thirteen or fourteen, Dhaturia had neither a mother nor a father, no relatives anywhere. That is why he had had to fend for himself at that tender age… Before he drifted away again in the currents of time and life. I remember Dhaotal Sahu, the honest moneylender, who used to sit in a corner of my hay-roofed bungalow and cut betel nuts to size with his nutcracker. I remember Raju Pandey the poor Brahmin squatting next to his shanty deep inside the forest, watching his three buffaloes graze while Raju sang –

Have mercy on us, o lord.

Springtime in the vast forests and pastures at the foot of Mount Mahalikharup; clusters of yellow golgoli flowers littering Lobtulia Baihar; the copper-coloured, sunburnt horizon disappearing in the haze of a sandstorm at noon; garlands of fire on Mount Mahalikharup at night when they set the sal forests ablaze. I came to know so many boys and girls and men and women from the poor to the poorest; so many lawless money-lenders; so many singers, woodcutters, beggars whose strange lives I got to know. Sitting in my thatched bungalow in the middle of the dark fields, I used to listen to the strange stories told by the tribal hunters, how they had seen the god of the wild buffaloes deep inside the Mohanpura Reserve Forest: it was next to the hole they had dug in the ground and covered with branches and leaves to trap the wild buffalo.

I shall tell their stories. Those paths in this world which are unfrequented by civilised human beings, where so many strange lives trickle down the unknown riverbed among the pebbles and the stones – to this day, I have not been able to forget my memories of their acquaintance.

But these are not happy memories, rather the opposite. That free and unrestrained playground of Nature was destroyed by my own hand, I know the gods of the forest will never forgive me for that. To talk about one’s sins lightens the load, I have heard.

That is why I am telling this tale.


Love & Sex II

In India, boys get too much love and too little sex; in the West, they get too much sex and too little love – or that, at least, has been my impression after spending half my life in India and the other half in Germany.

To begin with, the Indian boy-child grows up packed in the cotton wool of familial affection like a beetle kept in a matchbox – until somebody opens the box and lets him out to face the realities of life, among them, the separation & segregation of the sexes, though things have unwinded and people are less uptight these days, I’m told. I can only vouch for the way things used to be – which was bad.

In a book of mine – unpublished, needless to say – which I, modest as I am, thought of billing as ‘The Catcher in the Rye of a Calcutta Childhood’, I smuggled in the apology: ‘This is a book about boys; that’s why it’s all about girls.’ I grew up in the days of sexual apartheid. They wouldn’t let me in for the annual fair at my sisters’ school – a girls school – years before I developed those proverbial three hairs on the chin. At my mother’s college – the girls college where she used to teach – I was only allowed to go to the office (staffed by elderly males) and send word to my mother that her son (with more than the three hairs on his chin at the last count) was waiting for her outside the college gate. I might as well have gone to a medieval convent for novitiating nuns where they’d have asked me to wait on the drawbridge over the moat while somebody went looking for the abbess.

In my own college – one of the best and a co-ed college at that, a rarity in those days – I’ve seen the girls run 100 metres in saris at the college sports; otherwise the girls used to play badminton (likewise in saris) behind raised tarpaulin screens in winter. Oh, that was not because they were so demure, but because of the wind and to keep the feathers from landing all over the place, you think? I’ll stick to my theory that it was because the girls were so demure – or maybe we boys were so demure, who knows & who cares. Decency was decency, even if we waited for the sari runners to take a toss or got shouted at for taking a peep through the gaps in the tarpaulin at zenana badminton being played with more gusto than was seemly.

Love meant a long courtship commencing in the first year of college and lasting right through B.A and M.A. – at times even through the doctoral & post doctoral phases & stages – until one got a job and was in a position to marry. The sex thing came afterwards, after marriage: you’d sweated and slogged for around nine years by then, first at your ‘studies’ and then at ‘love-making’, in your spare hours. Don’t worry, Bengali love-making used to be as harmless as Johnson’s baby powder – wrong image! It was the kind of love-making that produced bad poetry instead of bonny babies. Friends patted you on the back and called you a lucky dog if a bonny lass so much as smiled at you in the corridor or in the library – the former sunlit, the latter gloomy as the gloaming but both romantic as hell as the setting for your first timorous, amorous encounter.

We were deprived, in other words.

Yes, deprivation was our privation. We learnt English because we didn’t get sex; we did well in Physics because we did not get sex. We were innocents. We did not know that once you get a bit of sex, you’ll have the feeling that you’re not getting enough of it and worse – that feeling will not go away. You’ll be a good, honest, virtuous, dutiful and well-behaved bank officer, say, for the rest of your life, marry and get promotions, go on holidays and raise children – with the secret ambition fermenting in your mind that you’re going to live like Hugh Hefner in his Playboy Mansion till ninety in your next life. Life, not wife, that’s what you’ll ask for the next time; gimme sex and not love – you’ll be telling the powers of darkness.

Now look at your western counterpart. If your problem was deprivation, then his is surfeit. He’s practically been bathing in girls from kindergarten upwards. He is practically never without girls or without women, unless it’s in the men’s locker room or in the gents toilet – where his father took him for the first time on a kind of male pilgrimage cum initiation ceremony when our young Lochinvar was still a babe in arms. Not that it helped, as we shall see.

Take the girls in Lochinvar’s class who seem to have been clamouring for Love from the age of Teletubbies onwards. And now our poor boy, who just happens to be goodlooking but dresses as if he’s borrowed the bedclothes off a rather careless hobo, can’t keep the girls from falling for him like ninepins, do whatever he might to cool them down; they hound him for Romance on the Facebook & clog his mobile with messages. And then the cruellest cut of them all: they crowd the gym & behave like cheerleaders on steroids when he’s taking a few baskets in his shorts – in short, our boy feels that he’s being treated as a love object.

But there’s this short, sweet, bespectacled girl in his class who takes the same tram to school – she’s dared to look at him twice during the whole of the past week and she’ll probably take another month before she finds the courage to say hi, even if she’s from the same class. She’s the only girl in his class the colour of whose underwear is still unknown to our hero – she never having flashed the same – what the hell, he hasn’t even seen her knees and not because he was being inattentive but because that’s the kind of clothes she wears: any grandmother would have found them très chic.

The number 66 has arrived. The girl gets into the tram the way a mouse disappears inside a mousehole. Quick as a cat, our hero dives in after her but where is she? She’s pretending to be invisible, which cannot deter our hero from giving her a smile of the energy-saving kind, as per EU regulations. And she has no choice except to smile back. A world-shattering, world-ending romance is about to begin which will last at least half the term, if not longer. Look, she’s texting about it already to her current Best Friend Forever.

As I was saying, in India, the boys get too much love and too little sex whereas in the West, it’s the other way round. But things are changing, they tell me.

Mika’s blog (3): Canine Heaven

It’s naturally difficult, if not impossible, to catch Mika in the right mood for a conversation about the higher things in life. You have to wait for the right moment, such as when he’s relaxing. How does Mika relax? Well, it looks very much as if he’s sleeping or he is dead, which he isn’t, he’s very much awake; just ask him, ‘Mika, are you sleeping?’ and you’ll see the tip of his tail go this way and that to tell you, ‘No, I’m sleeping, can’t you see, you twit? And haven’t you heard the thing about letting sleeping dogs lie?’

Mika is lying on Kasia’s fully made bed, as usual; Mika will never jump on to an unmade bed, a bed unmade, as Shakespeare would have put it. Mika relaxes roughly like Goya’s la maja desnuda, that’s the Maja Nude for you. Only that MiWP_20160224_07_16_11_Proka has his paws in the air and Mika can’t cross his legs, nor does he bother, so that his reproductive parts are fully on display. Looking at them sometimes makes you feel like Goya, who painted a maja vestida or Clothed Maja as well, which only perverts look at. And to paint a Clothed Mika Goya would have needed a lion tamer first, just to put Mika in those clothes, Mika being fully wild and not having possessed so much as a piece of underwear in his life.

So Mika lies on Kasia’s bed in the pose of the Naked Maja and pretends that he is asleep with his eyes open, which follow you around the room revealing the whites either from this side or that, giving you an uneasy feeling as if Mika were the Hound of Heaven à la Francis Thompson. That’s what gave me the idea in the first place: ‘Mika, tell us something about canine philosophy,’ I said.

‘What is canine?’ Mika asked. I explained. ‘Ah, you mean doggie philosophy?’ Mika said, ‘I know all about it. Every dog knows about it. Even bitches know about it. Don’t know about puppies.’

‘Give me the gist,’ I said. ‘Is it anywhere near as simple or as mysterious as Jack London made it?’

‘Ah, that man in Alaska who thought he was a wolf? Oh yes, he was one of us!’

‘That’s very sweet of you, Jack would have been pleased.’

‘Of course he was a dog, that man. All dogs think that they are wolves. Some even go a step further and think that they are lions or tigers. The only thing a dog will never think is that he is a man. A man might be a dog – your Shakespeare is full of that, isn’t he? – but a dog will never be a man.’

‘Is a dog afraid of death?’

‘A dog is afraid of pain, otherwise neither of life, nor of death. We don’t waste time on such things.’

‘Where do you get your confidence?’

‘Don’t you know? A dog lives in the right hand of God, like a newborn puppy in the hand of the Great Big Man. And when the time comes for the dog to die, the Great Big Man simply transfers the puppy from His right hand to His left hand. So we are never out of God’s hand, why should we be afraid? But there’s this story old dogs tell about two silly human beings, a man and a woman, who fell out of God’s hand. Must have been dozing on their watch.’

‘Or doing worse things. What’s canine heaven like?’

‘Boy, the things that are happening to your English since you started blogging… well, it’s your business, I suppose. Canine Heaven is like a huge garbage dump, like a landfill; everything that you throw away here, lands there; so all dogs and birds and all other animals have a field day; everybody’s a scavenger and nobody has to hunt, and if they do, even if they eat each other, there’s no pain and no cries except of the kind you hear at a football match. Nobody really gets hurt and everybody gets up and dusts themselves and curls up for the night to go to sleep.’

‘Eternal night?’

‘Which is like eternal day, like at the poles, haven’t you been watching your Discovery and the National Geographic?’

‘How do I get there?’

‘You mean to doggie heaven? Just die.’


‘Once you die, they’ll take you to the gate of Doggie Heaven where you’ll be asked whether you know any dogs – they’re very understanding, that way. You don’t have to possess a dog; you just have to be kind to some, maybe just to one dog. Or not even a dog; maybe to a cat, a rabbit, a lion – like that Androcles fellow – what the hell, just be kind to somebody or someone and you’ll be in heaven.’

Mika saw that I was getting confused – being only a man.

‘Don’t worry, when you arrive, they’ll call out for me or for Gypsy to come and vouch for you. Then we’ll have to come and say, yes, we know that man, he’s not all that bad. And they’ll let you in. And then we’ll be able to bite you to our heart’s content but don’t worry – it won’t hurt.’

‘But that hurts! Would you bite me if you could?’

‘Would you eat me if you could?’

‘I’d rather die!’

‘And so would I.’

The pity of it, Iago, the poetry of it

That’s what Othello should have said, like the rest of us, by which I mean Shakespeare’s readers & audiences four-hundred-and-thirteen years later. What Othello said was ‘but yet the pity of it, Iago! O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!’

Othello, Act IV, Scene I. Othello is still impressed by Desdemona’s needlework – ‘so delicate with her needle’ – and moved by her singing – ‘will sing the savageness out of a bear’; he admires her ‘high and plenteous wit and invention’. He has previously called her ‘A fine woman! A fair woman! A sweet woman!’ Has proclaimed that ‘the world hath not a sweeter creature’, one ‘fit to lie by an emperor’s side’. And yet he now intends to ‘chop her into messes’ for cuckolding him. Sound familiar? The fact that Othello the Moor strangles Desdemona can be seen as a crime passionnel as well as an honour killing. Isn’t that very much like our twentieth century or the not unsimilar one that followed?

What is not 20th or 21st c. in that scene is precisely Othello’s regret: the pity of it, Iago. If Othello had had just a bit more of Hamlet’s equivocation, he might have killed himself instead of killing Desdemona. Let’s fantasize. What if Dreamworks had hired Shakespeare to make a film of the ‘American Beauty’ sort out of Othello? Wow, Desdemona in rose petals, Othello smoking marijuana. They’d have asked old Will to take a good look at Sam Mendes’ film, which would certainly have been to Will’s taste, I’m sure. ‘There’s enough there for ten plays,’ Will would have said.

And then they’d have asked him about the scene he liked best. ‘The plastic bag scene,’ Will would have said: ‘Give you the Swan theatre and the apron stage for that.’ Why? Ricky holds his camcorder in any direction on any subject and out comes the dance of the plastic bag; what’s so special about that? It’s the first half-metaphor Will has seen in a Hollywood film which is in effect a full metaphor – Will says. What’s a half-metaphor? ‘That’s what they’re calling an old trick of mine these days,’ Will says. ‘I’m sure you had to do Macbeth’s soliloquy about to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow in your secondary, didn’t you? Remember what I wrote? All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Now, how do tomorrows turn into yesterdays? By dying, they die. Death, dusty death – dust to dust returns. The funeral procession: do not all our days point the way to the inevitable end, are they not the mourners, the candle-bearers to our own mortality? I’m not here to give you an online correspondence course on half-metaphors – let me just remind you of what that Francis Thompson fellow phrased so surprisingly well some time back’ (actually a century & more). ‘Thompson wrote: “Turn but a stone, and start a wing!” Now, what do you start when you turn a stone? A bird? An angel? What you start is a half-metaphor.’

‘The true image, the poetic image, is like that,’ Will was being thoughtful now. ‘You have to start it, startle it, and it takes to wing. I don’t know how Sam Mendes did it, but he must have chanced upon that plastic bag blowing this way and that in the wind and the leaves following it around as if playing follow the leader. The rest is just asphalt and the brick wall, as bare as the apron stage. The dance of the plastic bag is the most beautiful thing he ever found, Ricky says. Also the most terrible, if he only knew, and as I have been finding out. That plastic bag represents all that is wrong with America, all that is wrong with your world, with your time. Your civilisation is drowning in it. It’s landing in the ocean where fish and dolphins and sharks mistake it for jellyfish and eat it and choke and die. And it’s an empty plastic bag. Four hundred and thirteen years later, you’ll find that plastic bag is all that has remained of American Beauty. The half-metaphor will have become a full metaphor by then.’

It was getting a bit heavy, so I had to ask something to change the topic. How did he manage to modernise his English? I asked W.S. He went into a huff: ‘I write Modern English.’ And then, after I’d soothed him: ‘From the books in the No Fear Shakespeare series, from somebody called SparkNotes,’ Will revealed. ‘You mean you read them the other way round?’ I quipped, trying to suppress a smile. ‘And what has been the proudest moment in your four hundred years as the greatest poet on earth?’ I asked. ‘It’s when the ELBS’ – that’s the English Language Book Society – ‘was selling my complete works in India – in one volume – for six rupees,’ Will declared. ‘I know,’ I said, ‘I bought one of those from the A. H. Wheeler stall at the Gonda railway station back in ’78.’

‘A. H. Wheeler? An Englishman?’ Will said.

‘It’s a hundred percent Indian company founded by a French author and an Indian businessman – a Bengali, by the way – back in 1877. They specialised in selling books at railway stations,’ I told Master W. Shakespeare, wondering what his reaction would be.

Will seemed pleased: ‘So you bought me from a merchant half a world away? At the back of beyond, as that Scott fellow would have put it? Boy, am I famous! To which happenstance do I owe this honour?’

‘They founded the East India Company, that’s your John Company, in 1600, when you were thirty-six years old. The rest is history, yours as much as ours,’ I said.

So what’s wrong with the Scarlett Johansson bot?

Though I’d have preferred a Scarlett O’Hara bot, let’s say in the Vivien Leigh robotic version, unaccompanied by Clark Gable, I insist. We don’t need that kind of competition, not even from a robot.

Whereas the main objection to the SJ bot seems to be that it implies a new (?) direction as well as a new (?) dimension in the objectification of women. In which case every portrait of a beautiful woman by a male artist should be considered a form of objectification, I submit. My theory is that an object is an object, whether object d’art or sex object, and both equally objectionable as such.

Let us begin with the artist & his model in the cold & draughty painter’s studio: he, fully clothed like a Rembrandt in casuals; she, fully naked, because the artist is painting a nude and not experimenting in robotics. As a matter of fact, some part of art has always been like a key sequence from ‘The Nude and the Dude’, a film you’ve never heard of mainly because it has never been made, at least not under that title. To say that men have painted women in the nude solely for the sake of art is like saying that a man cohabits with a woman solely for the sake of reproduction.

The basis of human nature – perhaps of all human existence – is biology. And biology runs on sexual desire, sexual gratification and sexual frustration. Ergo, human civilisation runs on SD, SG and SF. It happened like this: God had created man and woman as His new toys and was playing with them happily – for a divine second or two – when either Adam lost an eye or a limb and Eve lost her – no, not oops I did it again, because this was before the Fall.

‘These new-fangled toys might be fun but they’re no good,’ God was telling the snake – might even have been Basuki, from our Hindu mythology. ‘They get broken and then I have to make new ones all over again.’

‘Or they get old and ugly,’ Basuki hissed with obvious schadenfreude.

‘Well, I can’t keep making new Adams and Eves,’ God complained.

‘What you need are bots,’ Basuki said. ‘The whole system must work like a watch; doesn’t even have to be a smartwatch, an old-fashioned watch will do; you just wind it up and it will run on its own, if not for all eternity then at least for a couple of million years.’

‘How do you wind up Adam and Eve?’ God asked.

‘Let me do it,’ Basuki said with a smirk. So Adam has been chasing Eve and Eve has been chasing Adam ever since, round and round the mulberry bush – with one difference: Eve has never gone to the extent of making an Adam bot, preferring to leave it to Mary Shelley to think up Victor Frankenstein.

To return to films and to acting: aren’t actors just humanoid robots understudying for fictional characters? The joke being that the bots are real in this case, whereas the originals are virtual! Ask any woman whether she’d prefer to watch a George Clooney film or go out with Amal Alamuddin’s husband in flesh and blood – if only for a coffee capsule Nespresso.

Madame Tussaud’s of the future will be filled with male bots the ladies can dance with and women bots you’ve been ordered by the management not to approach within ten yards. Don’t worry, your girlfriend will be sending you little, intimate, forget-me-not plastic statues of herself made on her own 3D-printer – just take care that they don’t get stolen.

But the ultimate Scarlett Johansson bot will be a clone. Order an SJ clone online and don’t let your wife/girlfriend know.

Meanwhile, if you look deep into the future, you’ll see that race of intelligent robots populating the earth as they enter a new millennium and are about to create their very first human being! Completely organic and recyclable! Reproduces itself without cloning! Just keep the man bot with the woman bot overnight in the lab – in the same cage – and see what happens after nine months.

They’ll be calling it the greatest discovery for robotkind since Karel Čapek.

Where have all the poems gone

All Bengalis are poets, as we have seen. It’s a kind of adolescent disease which rarely lingers on into adulthood. Then there are those cases of late flowering such as the retired bank managers and government officers who begin to write poetry after prostate surgery; but they are like the flowering bamboo, which dies after it flowers – the habit, not the man! The question still remains, exactly as Pete Seeger put it back in 1955: Where have all the poems gone? Young girls read them every one. When will they ever learn – that it is hyperacidity that causes heartburn and so on.

My own poems, and Bengali poems at that, all forty-four of them, you’ll find put together a bit carelessly but handsomely bound, with a lovely cover designed by some young man who doesn’t know me from Adam but hit the spirit of those poems to a ‘T’ – things fit to a ‘T’, but can you hit them to a ‘T’? Who knows. Mine didn’t, one way or the other – I mean my poems and the Bengali poetry-reading public, no fit and no hit.

This talented young man put a young girl in an old-fashioned frock on the cover, with a large, male, butted, tattered and shapeless umbrella – unfurled – floating away over her head as if in a strong wind, in front of what looks like a waterfall of colours – autumnal colours, of the European kind – whereas the girl is unmistakably a Bengali girl. The girl and the umbrella are in black, as the rest of the cover, though the girl is already drowning in that deluge of colour. The back cover is just black, there’s only that umbrella floating away and taking all the colour with it, being the only object which is in colour. In colour? No, you see a bit of the front cover through the silhouette of that umbrella – computer trick? Computer graphics? I wouldn’t know. All I know is that this young man – whom I’ve only had the opportunity to congratulate on the phone – had wrapped my poems in a poem of his own, like a greeting or a salutation from one artist to another, across generations and continents and cultures. ‘I understand,’ this young man was telling me, and I’m sure he did, though I still don’t know how.

I wish I could tell him how those poems got written. They were mostly written during a series of holidays in Poland, mostly on the Baltic coast or in the Danziger Lakeland, in tiny beach resorts and fishing villages on the banks of tiny lakes. Bits of Poland are still like Europe in a dream, like the abandoned sets of old movies about war and deportation. Usually I don’t carry my laptop with me on my holidays, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get up with the birds and have my first cup of tea – after which I have to write. As imperative as going to the toilet for me.

So I used to sit down somewhere on the wooden verandah or the wooden steps of the bungalow and open my notebook (ordinary kind, 0.0 version) and write – poems, in Bengali, about Bengal, about my mother, about the women in my life (beginning with the girls!), about the city that we Bengalis love to hate – Kolkata. I write poems only in rhyme and with rhythm, in the traditional Bengali manner. And I write them only in places with names like Pobierowo and Spore and Wiselka, about the craziest thing a Bengali can do.

What I didn’t realise was that this was about as close as you could get to Yeats’ (actually his wife’s) automatic writing. Those poems came over a number of years and a number of holidays and I added two leftovers from my early youth like village ruins for the others to land upon – but in the end they were like a flock of birds coming together and settling down to tell each other all about the pains and pleasures of migration in loud peeps and squeaks and chirps and trills. I could hear the words, I mean the birds flap their wings and preen their feathers before they found their place in stanza and verse.

I just had to arrange those poems and out came the most perfect circle – I mean a cycle of poems relating the story of my life as only poems can. Good friend of mine – again a young woman, at least compared to a Methusalem like me – prevailed upon a publisher friend of hers in Kolkata to bring out the slim volume which appeared and disappeared like a pebble in a pond at the next Book Fair, without a ripple. Except for the critic who noted that the poems dripped, oozed and squelched in nostalgia like wet shoes in the Kolkata rains – no, even that image is mine, we should leave the poor critic in peace.

In peace? Is that why I haven’t written a Bengali poem since? Did those birds flap their wings and preen their feathers for the last time? Did the whole flock rise like dust at the approach of the combined harvester-dredger of Time and float away towards the horizon like pollen in the wind, furling and unfurling in the intricate, billowing spacetime patterns of future intergalactic migration?

Why don’t you ask my critic.