rao unsqeezedMani Rao (b. India 1965, r. Hong Kong 1993-) is a poet, and the author of Echolocation, Salt, The Last Beach, Living Shadows, Catapult Season and Wingspan. "Cuntree" is around her own experience of immigration to Hong Kong in 1993. "Writing to Stop" is about where she is. Her texture's density comes from how she locates herself, it is a play -- of sound, voice, and perspective. And some of her play in public spaces like cafe windows and toilets can be seen on

The real question today: will an immigrant fight against her home-cuntree?
If you had to take sides, be clear-cut.
One person, one cuntree. As in the whole truth.
Will immigrants held hostage in adopted homes be rescued by the mother-cuntree? Ported across bloody borders back to safe ghetto?
Remember the fractures. India-Pakistan. India-Bangladesh. The Chinese in Indonesia. 1 If it can happen to them, it can happen to me.

No relatives? No Chinese lover?
G raft.
Worse for hybrids, always having to travel with footnotes.

Differentiate between refugees, colonizers and adventurers.
When Alexander (the Great) visited India - not invaded, as he thought - the kind Indian King 2 enquired if people back home did not have enough food to eat.

I arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrived in Hong Kong with two suitcases. Rented a room on Canton Road. The first morning, a walk to the chimm.sah.tchoy Cultural Centre. 3 At the promenade, hordes of students yelling at the sea, throwing at it. Something happened right there and then.
I call prospective clients, present my credentials and get work at once. Nobody asks me if I know their cousins or school friends. They pay on time. 30-day credit period. The only race here is commerce.
Ignorant! You know nothing about it because you are tall and good-looking.
(True, but - ) Disagree. Evidence: immigration signage.
India: Indians / Foreigners
Japan: Citizens / Aliens
China: Chinese Nationals / Foreigners
Taiwan: Taiwanese / Non-Taiwanese
Hong Kong: Residents / Visitors
Summary: India is for Indians, as the name implies. Japan is a planet, the rest is outer space. China is a nation for the Chinese, all Chinese are China's. Taiwan is not for the non-Taiwanese, negation as a precise method. Hong Kong is a place to visit or reside in, no more, no less.
The signage really ought to say Stuck/Free.
I (too) know that landlordsandladies prefer westerners but it is because you cook smelly food.

ADVERTISEMENT: All is forgiven - come back home!
Return to tyranosaurus hetero-sapien a-lie-nation? I'd rather hang on to a stump and float out to sea. You won't understand. ( = I can't explain.)
You remind me of Trishanku. 4 Neither here nor there.
Trishanku was a king of the Solar dynasty, ruler of the kingdom of Ayodhya. He wanted to go to heaven while still in his mortal body. The gods would not let him in. He took his plea to arrogant, easily-flattered Sage Vishwamitra, who said ‘yes'. Vishwamitra cloned the Sapta Rishi Mandala (Ursa Major) in the Southern Sky, cloned heaven, and began to clone Indra (the god). That's when Gods & Co. intervened, and after a meeting and a negotiation, everyone agreed to compromise. Trishanku's new, custom-made heaven could stay, but without new gods, and Trishanku would have to remain upside down, looking away from the heaven he had wanted to inhabit. This is a story in the Ramayana, the Indian epic about boundaries.

Heyhowzlife after the handover? Heydidyoutry to vacate when S.A.R.S came out of the barracks? 5
Look who's yellow!
I spy! I spy!
It's a Bird - It's a Rat -
Flea, Flu, Fly!
Message Received – If you like paper money, you must be dead.
Reply: Money? What Money?
One day a architect got a lot of people together in a place too small for them and yelled – “sit !” That's how Hong Kong's design came about. Nobody objected. After the buildings went up, one woman who worked for a proper-tease company raised her hand and asked where she was expected to spit, when every place was taken. That was when they invented plumbing. You could tell it was an afterthought.
Money Cat, Greedy Cat. 6 The left arm is broken, slung and ringing Gimme Gimme Gimme. The whiskers are too stiff, and the buttocks too large to move.

When I resigned from a job I'd done for years, my colleagues got a teacup designed with a poem from one of my books. In Univers font, 20 point size, along the curve of the teacup, looking like a slogan. It was a one-word poem: Hopemoreness. There was a typo. The teacup became a Hong Kong souvenir: Hopemoreless. A nudge for all the times I was called Mulley/Malley instead of Mani /Money/Munny, and I knee-jerked: M-A-N-I = Mother Apple Nothing India.

A Writers Festival.
Panel: Powers of Observation.
A, E and I discuss the writer as observer. Chaired by O.
A talked about the many varieties of wattles he spotted when he moved to Tasmania and began to obsess about planting native plants in his garden. Surprising how things show up when you look for them.
Audience member complained there was very little opportunity to observe anything in Melbourne, what with the monotony of clean space and concrete flyovers. But in Istanbul, in Mumbai, so much to see! 7 8
I responded, don't remember seeing anything in Mumbai, but last week, wonder-struck by the varying sizes and types of muffins in the Melbourne cafes.
General laughter.

Doctor cross-cultural Love.
Look at all those sad Asian family girls and those bad Asian Wanchai girls dangling on the arms of the dilapidated mid-life alcoholic white men.
Your: heart-failure. Their: love and laughter.
But some of these couples can't even converse.
Speechless, even sweeter, the body language! If all the Asian women are coupling with all the Western men, then, all the Western women and Asian men are on their way to extinction.
That's absurd. You push things too far.
I ?

Don't want to eat snake-soup.
Be longing!
Grow new tongue, exercise new voice muscles.
Language as route.
English knows me best.
Oh that! Common wealth. The English Patient.
Your roots?
My wings.

When India ‘opened up' in the early 90s, many Indian professionals, on the phone and in meetings with multi-nationals, found out they were as good as anyone else, smelt air, packed portfolio and bought air-ticket. You went to the Middle-East if you were a mercenary, everywhere else if you were internationally-minded. Chose Hong Kong / Singapore/ Bangkok / Kuala Lumpur over New York or London because cheaper flights, lower risks. Besides, S.E.Asia might shape up to be the stop-over, the first leg of the Marco Polo to London and New York.
Has there been any discourse about this particular wave?
No. Everyone's looking East-West. Tell me more about China's adoration of Taiwanese pop music, Taiwan's fancy for Korean toys, Hong Kong's idle craze for Korean soap operas, too much lime in Singapore's cocktail, Japan getting into Indian fabrics.

After the Article 23 march, 9 10 my black T-shirt met an articulate cabbie in the rear-view mirror.
He said: So, you are one of us.

CHAO S is also a building near the Sheung Wan market. The missing apostrophe fell to indifference in the Chao family.

— First published in West Coast Line 46

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After Katrina

4.2 Winter 2006

  1. Editorial

  2. Paul Merchant translates

  3. Adrienne Ho translates

  4. Prose Poetry by Mani Rao

  5. Nathalie Stephens

    • Poems
      Introduced by Cole Swensen
  6. Suzana Abspoel Djodjo

    • From Snajper
      Translated from the Croatian by Tomislav Kuzmanovic
  7. On Institutions of Creative Writing

  8. Postcard From New Orleans