Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tempting

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A few days ago I saw a photo of a couple hiking along one of the mountain pathways through the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Southwestern China. The image has stayed in my mind ever since. That could be us, I thought. The sight of those backpackers walking along a narrow track that hugs the side of a mountain with sheer drops on the other side infused me with such wanderlust that I wanted to pack my bags that very minute and just go. Plane tickets to Beijing are on sale, and I have 26 days of vacation that I can use. It’s very, very tempting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why am I still watching this?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why am I still watching this? I ask myself every time I am in the middle of an episode.  The TV show has continually challenged my tolerance for alternating disgust and boredom since the start of its second season.  It has dragged for quite some time now, yet I am still waiting, hoping, for its creators to bring it back to life. There is still reason to cling to the belief that, as with other matters in life, change is yet to come.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

inarticulate sounds

Saturday, February 25, 2012

…sooner or later, we will all, inevitably, be confronted by one of those hearty types to whom human frailty, especially in its most refined and delicate forms, is the cause of mocking laughter, the truth is that the inarticulate sounds which, quite against our wishes, occasionally emerge from our mouth, are merely the irrepressible moans from some ancient pain or sorrow, like a scar suddenly making its forgotten presence felt again. 

~ Jose Saramago, The Double, 2002

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fascination

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book development has started and work is starting to pile up. I am so behind on my Spanish lessons that I need to go back to the very first lesson to refresh my mind and establish continuity once again. I don’t mind starting afresh anyway. The lessons are quite fascinating. I just don’t have enough time to spare for all the fascination that I want.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Separate

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Someone asked me what the Iranian film A Separation by Asghar Farhadi is about. It’s a family drama, I said. But it’s much more than that, of course. I was awed by how the movie was able to deconstruct binaries—modernity and tradition, the conservative and the contemporary, male and female, freedom and obligation—or those that seem to be separate yet actually blend into each other. 

Claude Levi-Strauss posits that the human brain works through binary oppositions, or "contrasting pairs of mental constructs that create social meaning." It is through polarities, through this-versus-that constructions that we make sense of the world. But I wonder how people compartmentalize conflicting ideas or incompatible thoughts and beliefs in the manner of Stephen Jay Gould’s non-overlapping magisteria. Because no matter how hard we try, some things can’t possibly be kept apart. For instance, the wall between our professional and personal lives is permeable; contemporary practices spill into longstanding traditions; emotions sometimes obscure reason, and instinct often mediates logic. Perhaps truth and falsehood are the only opposing classes that are absolutely mutually exclusive. I’m not even sure about good versus bad.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a grave, deep and narrow

Thursday, February 16, 2012

…I can’t think of any greater happiness than to be with you all the time, without interruption, endlessly, even though I feel that here in this world there’s no undisturbed place for our love, neither in the village nor anywhere else; and I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more.  

~ Franz Kakfa, The Castle, 1926

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Art of Kanom Roti

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I was going through the photos from our last trip to Thailand when I realized that most of the pictures I took were of street food. Thailand’s delectable street food was our reason for returning to the country and, yet again, each bite exceeded our expectations.

One of my favorites among the various snacks sold on the street is kanom roti, a crepe-like dessert filled with condensed milk, sugar and bananas. The beauty and grace by which the Thai prepares this dessert are almost as delightful as its taste.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Memories that Fill the Void

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seeking joy in the mundane brings contentment, yet there are times when a yearning for something more seeps in. While some live in constant excitation, life affords us very few opportunities to escape the sameness of every day, and when it does the experience is often splendid, unbelievably so. Made more memorable by their rarity, those experiences turn into memories that often fill the void. Such memories bring the promise of more happy memories.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Of Gloves, Guidance and Sisyphus

Monday, February 13, 2012

I heard on the news today how our world-renowned boxing superstar has decided to hang up his gloves next year for reasons related to his renewed faith. It strikes me how words from the Bible have enabled him to choose such path – to retire despite the acclaim and the affluence boxing has afforded him and the pride and gladness he brings to his countrymen every time he wins. The Scriptures have that kind of power. But for us, heathens, there is nothing to look to for guidance – no bible, no divine authority, no body of doctrines to enable or constrain us. Morality that does not rely on religion seems hollow and ineffectual, but it works somehow. 

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” (Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I am an Indie Traveler

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

the occasional episode in a general drama of pain

Monday, February 6, 2012

But her strong sense that neither she nor any human being deserved less that was given, did not blind her to the fact that there were others receiving less who had deserved much more. And in being forced to class herself among the fortunate she did not cease to wonder at the persistence of the unforeseen, when the one to whom such unbroken tranquility had been accorded in the adult stage was she whose youth had seemed to teach that happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain.

~ Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886

Friday, February 3, 2012

how it felt back then

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Now we keep saying that we’re ok
But I don’t want to settle for good not great
I miss the way that it felt back then I wanna feel that way again
. . .
Oh so on fire, so in love
that look in your eyes that I miss so much
Remind me, baby remind me
I wanna feel that way
Yeah I wanna hold you close
Oh If you still love me
Don’t just assume I know"*

It was early January of this year when I first heard those lines.  It made me think of my partner and how our relationship started. I am thankful because after five years, and despite the distance, I still don’t have to be reminded of how it felt back then.

*from the song Remind Me (2011) co-written and recorded by Brad Paisley with Carrie Underwood

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Climbing Mt Pulag

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

At one point I imagined that I was on Tough Mudder, stomping my way through the muddy swamp. That’s how it felt when we climbed the 2,922-meter tall Mt Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet. The supposedly easy Ambangeg trail, then coated with ankle-deep mud, turned treacherous because of the incessant rain. I saw several slip and slide and fall and rise, with their bare feet, shoes and pants getting dirtier and dirtier as we reach camp. Cold, weary and dripping wet, we trudged through the slush towards our campsite which was then blanketed in fog. 


Near dawn we set out for the summit to watch the sun rise over a ‘sea of clouds.’ I was astonished when I learned that that sea of clouds was the only thing that my friends wanted to see. While I took delight in the agony and the ecstasy of each step, they couldn’t care less about--and looked as if they even hated--the climb itself. 




And when I asked my friends if they felt that feeling of joy during the trek or that certain spurt of exhilaration, that sense of accomplishment one gets after a climb, their response astonished me more. We’d never do something like this again. This is our first and last climb. They vowed. How they felt was completely opposite to what I felt.

 
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