Monday, December 27, 2010

the going is often as fascinating as the arrival

Monday, December 27, 2010

"…How did you get there? Even without the suggestion of a motive, a prologue is welcome, since the going is often as fascinating as the arrival. Yet because curiosity implies delay, and delay is regarded as a luxury (but what’s the hurry anyway), we have become used to life being a series of arrivals and departures, of triumphs and failures, with nothing noteworthy in between. Summits matter, but what of the lower slopes of Parnassus? We have not lost faith in journeys from home, but the texts are scarce. Departure is described as a moment of panic and ticket-checking in an airport lounge, or a fumbled kiss at a gangway; then silence until, 'From the balcony of my room I had a panoramic view over Accra…'

Travel, truly is otherwise. From the second you wake up you are headed for the foreign place, and each step brings you closer."

~ Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas, 1979

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ill

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The world roared in merriment. Wanting only to be enclosed in silence, she hid in her room to shut everything out. The soreness in her throat, the hot pressure behind her eyes, and the weakness of her limbs afforded her a reason to stay in bed for days on end. Staying in bed enveloped in darkness and bundled in the comforting warmth and tightness of an old blanket gives her a sense of relief.

With her illness as the perfect excuse, she didn’t have to feign interest on anything - not on yuletide and not even on the things that used to give her so much pleasure. She can just close her eyes and pretend to be asleep. But sleep, without the aid of medication, doesn’t come easy. For hours that roll into days, she replays each conversation and every single thing that she said and did wrong.

Her solace lies in solitude and in knowing that she’d recover soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sinking

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The smell of fresh coffee is wafting through the apartment, and she can hear the staccato rhythm of the keyboard as he types. The sun, which fought its way against the leaden sky, passes through the window blinds and permeates the room with brightness that astonishes. She hums softly to herself, not wanting to disturb that morning’s tranquil serenity. This man, this moment, this feeling - there’s nothing more I could ask for, she thinks.  She sits close to him and with her head on his shoulder glances briefly at the monitor then gives him a peck on the cheek and leaves him to his work. As she turns to go, he catches her hand and tries to stop her. I’ll be done soon, he tells her with a distracted smile.  And so she waits, but only for a while; because moments later she had him all to herself.

Fearing that they may never be another moment as that, she feels her heart cave down against her chest. Though struggling hard against its pull, she is sinking into the dark depths once again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

China Bound

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The girls and I have booked the hotel and purchased the plane tickets a long time ago. What concerns us now are the sartorial aspects of the trip. Would we need winter clothes in Macau and Hong Kong whose temperature, as I am writing this, is at seven degrees Celsius, or are light sweaters and jackets enough? We don't want to end up freezing or carrying a suitcase full of clothes that we won’t need. Our flight is in three weeks, and we still do not know what to bring.

And we also do not know where to go. Without an itinerary, we’d probably lose our way amidst the city’s historic sites or be too tired to walk another step. Those things don’t really matter because with or without the right clothes and full itinerary, I am certain that we’d have the most wonderful time together.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dissolution of a Family

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It’s something that we jokingly refer to but do not really talk about. My siblings and I never dared—or cared enough—to ask how, when or why it happened. For years we knew that there was another family on the side, and we just accepted it as it is. And when my father stopped going to my mother’s place, there wasn’t any drama involved – nobody broke into tears of bitter anguish and not a word of recrimination was spoken. We shrugged it off and regarded the whole affair as an inevitability waiting to happen.

I often wonder about this seeming indifference towards the dissolution of our parents’ marriage. Our apathy both saddens and relieves me. We act as though it doesn’t concern us. And it doesn’t: Except for the youngest of us who was still in grade school then, we were already adults living our own lives when they chose to live separately. They made the decision themselves, and we, their children who were never consulted in the first place, opted to stay out of it. Their marriage ought not to have gone rancid and resentful, but—like countless others--it did. My father’s leaving restored harmony in our family. He has been out of our lives for quite some time now and we’ve been so used to it that it’s like he hadn’t been there all along.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

the world within the pages was more compelling than the world without

Thursday, December 9, 2010


"When I was a kid, maybe 12 or 13, my grandmother used to get mad at me for attending family functions with a book. Back then, if I'd had the language for it, I might have argued that the world within the pages was more compelling than the world without; I was reading both to escape and to be engaged. All these years later, I find myself in a not-dissimilar position, in which reading has become an act of meditation, with all of meditation's attendant difficulty and grace. I sit down. I try to make a place for silence. It's harder than it used to be, but still, I read." ~ David Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Doing Gaga

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The entire office is abuzz with anticipation of each department’s performance for the contest during the Christmas party on Friday. While some have not even chosen what song to sing and dance to, the rest are busy preparing for and perfecting their routines. My partner and I decided to do a Lady Gaga and Beyonce number, primarily because of its sheer theatricality and shock factor. With the criteria being audience impact (40%) costume (40%) and voice quality (20%), we focus less on the song and more on infusing drama into our outfits and excitement in the choreography. Being Gagas for the night and doing a spectacular gaga number, that would be enough of a prize, isn’t it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family Outing

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So utterly bereft of privileges our childhood was that we rarely went on family outings. Knowing that we now can fills my heart with indescribable joy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Online Presence Suspended

Monday, December 6, 2010

It felt surprisingly refreshing when my digital presence got suspended for the last couple of days. Unlike some celebrities who have opted out of the virtual world for charity purposes, my absence, though, wasn’t voluntary. For some unknown reason my internet connection at home has been down since Saturday, and I am posting this from the office.

Contrary to what I was expecting, having no web access did me a lot of good.  Instead of endlessly refreshing my home page for new messages and squandering time on Facebook--browsing through friends’ pictures and observing how they’ve changed since high school and listening in on other people’s conversations and wondering why they are having such exchange in public—I lost myself in the labyrinth of the Belgian Congo in the 1960s, powerfully woven by Barbara Kingsolver in The Poisonwood Bible. I was able to take a nap, figure out how to disassemble and reassemble my vacuum cleaner, watch a replayed episode of Glee, and shop for a new pair of denim shorts.

Connectivity has now become a necessity, but disconnecting—voluntarily or otherwise—can be worthwhile, too.

---------
The technicians came at noontime to fix the connection and lift my suspension.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Season of Reckoning

Friday, December 3, 2010

Aside from the prevalent cheerfulness that I feel in people’s hearts during the holiday season, Christmas never held any significance to me. My family doesn’t celebrate it, and I spent my childhood days wondering what Christmas is really all about. When I was a child the Christmas season simply meant that I don’t have to go to school; many years after it means that I don’t have to go to work.

And now that I’m well into my fourth decade of life, the holidays have become a season of reckoning. The year is about to end, and I find myself asking these questions: What have I done? Have I done anything worthwhile? Did I accomplish any of those I set out to do for the year? Did I live my life the way I want it? Was I happy? Was I able to make the people who matter to me happy?
 
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