Friday, July 12, 2019

That Joyful Ride

Friday, July 12, 2019

I just needed to close my eyes and that train ride from Colombo to Galle unspooled in my mind like it happened yesterday and not a year ago.

We arrived at Sri Lanka’s Colombo Fort Station at six in the morning, an hour before boarding time. The station, though bustling with people, was not as chaotic as I expected, and we easily found our platform, from where I watched with glee the coming and going of trains as we waited for our ride. I could have stayed there for hours marveling at the endless ebb and flow of people leaving and arriving at the station, but our train arrived on time and we had to leave.

Our observation car was attached to the rear of the train and gave us an excellent view back along the track.
The train started to move, past the commotion and the wearying tempo of the city, chugging slowly along the Indian Ocean through small coastal towns. Looking out the windows of our observation car, I could see the sweep of the railroad tracks fringed by coconut trees and flooded by the sun’s warm, golden light.  That ineffable joy of experiencing something singular for the first time seeped through me as the train rumbled on and the cool ocean breeze wafted in.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Often, they carried each other

Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Some things they carried in common. Taking turns, they carried the big PRC-77 scrambler radio, which weighed 30 pounds with its battery. They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak. They carried infections. They carried chess sets, basketballs, Vietnamese-English dictionaries, insignia of rank, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, plastic cards imprinted with the Code of Conduct. They carried diseases, among them malaria and dysentery. They carried lice and ringworm and leeches and paddy algae and various rots and molds. They carried the land itself—Vietnam, the place, the soil—a powdery orange-red dust that covered their boots and fatigues and faces. They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity. They moved like mules. By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared, but it was not battle, it was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost."

~Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, 1990

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Rain

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

We live in constant terror. The ominous rumble of thunder triggers that panicky urge to go home before it starts to pour. “Oh no, it’s going to rain again” our minds warn us, as if rain is a harbinger of doom and not a common element of weather.

We can’t be blamed for feeling like this for everyone who lives in Metro Manila knows that rain, even just a bit of it, will inevitably bring flood and flooded streets mean hellish traffic congestions that turn a 30-minute commute into a two-hour misery ride. 
 
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