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Jhumpa Lahumpa Lahiri at Angel Orensanz & Beyond

I think that I’ve always been someone more comfortable observing life ... intensely so as a child ... -Jhumpa Lahiri (in conversation with Charlie Rose)

I once had a crush on a writer named Jhumpa [pronounced joom-pa] Last name: Lahiri For years now In my mind's ears and my poor wife's She was Jhumpa Lahumpa That's how I thought of her, how I referred to her I couldn't stop

If you don't know, this is ridiculous The London born, Bengali-Indian author from America Her stories are not silly They're New Yorker literary Jhumpa doesn't write for kids That's not her style Not Jhumpa Lahumpa Ahem, Lahiri Sorry

No, but seriously At 33 For her first book Jhumpa Lahumpa Lahiri! Won the Pulitzer

It's that name I can't stop converting it to Willy Wonka creations

Jhumpa, Lahumpa, zoompitty doo

This is unfair She is a serious writer I have an actual anecdote

Last year I flew to New York to meet her Truth told, I was to meet many famous writers The annual New Yorker Festival

She'd share the stage with two other American scribes Also with unique names T. Coraghessan Boyle And, really, what're you gonna rhyme that with And Jeffrey Eugenides Which only ever made me think of Eugenics Which brings up the Nazis And there's nothing funny about that (Unless Tarantino, Roberto Benigni or Mel Brooks are involved)


But Jhumpa Lahumpa She didn't have to be funny Her tense, realist, powerful stories sure weren't

The three writers were on a stage in a converted old synagogue Angel Orensanz was the venue's name Someone famous probably I didn't google him Left him a Sephardic Jewish left fielder in my mind Angel Orensanz If he'd been any baseball good Shit, if he'd ever gotten to wear the pinstripes They'd have had to name a fizzy citrus drink after him Angel Orensanz Ksh Glug glug glug Ahhh!

It was a Friday night Sabbath eve at the old synagogue Not that anyone seemed to notice

The writers were speaking

Jhumpa who had been Lahumpa on that stage In Angel Orensanz's wooden cathedral of a synagogue Eugenidies and Coraghessan on either side Up there she became Lahiri La-lousy

She was so cold and closed As if she were angry to be there To share Not just uncomfortable Because believe me, I was ready to give sympathy To Jhumpa who had been Lahumpa We all were Lovers of her Interpretation of Maladies But this woman was downright contrary What flow the other two writers on stage produced Lahiri cancelled out Like a negative bug lamp Zapping any good buzz in the room The Shul The Orensanz

She was awful Anti-social Discomforting Unsettling Disagreeable Awful

I couldn't help myself Going up after Joining the line of the many who went up after

No photo request No, no, I don't want you to sign my book Just hear my appreciation Know my thanks For your big-brassy talent For the depth of your soul-shuddering insights

To the lined up folks before me Lahiri was glass-eyed cold That stage awful It was also personal

Things would be different for me For us She and I I knew I was wrong It was not She shook my hand She did not smile Those cold eyes

There was no Lahumpa to this Jhumpa

Crush crushed Romance over I'd no longer even like her It was decided

But then I heard that quote That soundbite I wrote above The half I wrote above And the half I left to put here, below

...But I think that that’s really … always a part of me – the fact that I am very comfortable removing myself from actual experience.

It's not personal, Jon You don't even know the woman It's her books you fell for Her short stories Remember I do And soon I'll return She is that good That Jhumpa Lahumpitty Lahiri Doo