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September 2018

           It is hard to believe this is my first letter to you. I had fictional conversations with you all summer, while I read your book of poems Brunizem. I too, like you, grew up in Ahmedabad in India and find myself in Bremen (Germany) as an adult many years later, these two worlds, so distant. Your poems found me at a time when I was trying to understand my relationship with this city.


You wrote these poems thirty years ago. Your words traverse languages with the same ease they traverse time. I feel both, foreign and at home, in all the languages you and I speak in common.



English-the language of the coloniser that is a constant reminder of privilege. We read a city in a particular language, or a combination of several. I can only think of Bremen in German. But since I can't speak the language, I feel at a loss to describe the city I have in my mind.


Your lively description of the salt in the air reminds me of the streets I frequent. The Speicher XI. The few Kilometers that separate Bremen from the sea. The rain and the wind. The small boats parked on the canal. The archives of the ships that sailed to and from Bremen.


With this letter, I am en-closing an atempt to collect fragments that make up my mental picture of Bremen. In your poems, you capture sensations I find myself confronting often, and I wanted to seek your advise on how to bring meaning to my incomplete fragments-the way you do with your words.



Die Freie Hansestadt Bremen. What is this Bremen? A free city, a city with a SchlüsselA Key. A place of departure for the Auswanderer. A new home for the Flüchtling. Do Freiheit, Freedom, Azaadi and Svtantrata all mean the same?


I recently went to the Überseemuseum—the Ruhmeshalle des Bremer Handels. Walking towards the section on world religions, I saw this diorama of a male Bengal Tiger from India.


I thought about the ship he was brought here on. The tiger looked neither fierce nor as courageous and generous-hearted as you describe the animal in one of your poems. I knew then, that this was only a fragment of a reality we both share. I took a picture of the tiger—a fragment of a fragment.


The hundreds of intricate Schiffsmodelle in the Focke Museum or the peppercorn from India found on Violenstraße around 1200 BC, encased in glass that evokes a Schneekugel—once again these two worlds, so distant.



I leave you with these images and fragments for now. Thank you for inspiring me through your words and emboldening me to embrace the city and find myself within it.

              

Liebe Grüße, 
Avani