Wednesday, 3 February 2021

the mess in meknes


there is a reason why when acts of kindness occur, people say 'and now my faith in humanity is restored'. the future of humanity lies in compassion. and normal levels of serotonin. i think

rachel and i were to catch a bus from meknes to chefchaouen in the morning. it was only 10 am but the heat of the sun meant any enclosed space was a sauna in the making. we hopped on the bus and as we waited, i suddenly felt pain throughout my arms and legs. i had never experienced such intense pain (that didn't involve a large piece of iron, gravity, and my skull). it began out of nowhere... my muscles felt like they were being put through a mincer, i started imagining what a moroccan hospital stay would be like.

while praying and trying to manifest myself out of this pain, the light suddenly started vignetting white, and i knew exactly where this was headed. the bus was still humming its engine, and the heat in the bus was rising. i turned to rachel, and explained to her my vision was blurring and that any moment now, i was going to lose consciousness. i told her not to worry, i was simply going to faint and be unresponsive for 10-15 minutes. she could squeeze my hand or put my legs above my body. 

she asked if we should go to the hospital and i said no (translation: who gets travel insurance anymore?). 

then slowly everything became white until it was black. 

i woke up to the flutter of rachel fanning paper. i felt extremely weak and could barely open my eyes. i told her i needed to throw up, and used all my might to stand up and inch towards the front of the bus. 

the bus was still idling with its engine on. some people on the bus must have known i fainted, because when i got off, someone mentioned i needed to find a bathroom and this tiny man who has been trying to earn a few tips putting luggages away for the travellers took me by the hand and guided me to the bathroom hundreds of metres away. not dissimilar to a pitch black, stone cold, 1m x 1m dungeon, i proceeded to throw up my breakfast. 

when i left the cubicle a lady came out of nowhere and started yanking my dress and screaming. i tried to move away but she wouldn't budge. the man has been waiting for me a few metres away from the bathroom and comes over, he tells the lady to leave me alone but she continues screaming. he quickly reaches into his pocket and gives her five dirhams. she tugs on me even harder and shouts even louder. he sighs and gives her another 20 dirhams and pulls me away before she can grab my dress again.

as he guides me back, i think about how i have to give him something when i get back on the bus. i must thank him. return the money and effort. he pushes me up onto the bus as it starts to taxi away from the station. i am tired, emotional, delirious, in pain, sick, and with the bus moving away before i can grab anything for him, i feel the regret of not being able to repay him start to build.

i drift in and out of consciousness for the duration of the 5 or 6 hour bus trip. rachel checks on me every now and then.

when my mind clears a few days later, i think what i had was food poisoning. the discomfort of which lasted for ten days. the effects of the stranger's kindness lasted longer, but the fact that he paid for my inconvenience and i never got to return it haunts me to this day. 

yes, all my nightmares are about socio-economic inequality, and being kidnapped. mostly the former.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Saturday, 11 January 2020

a good food guide

met a boy in verona with peach fuzz on his cheeks, so tall he looked like a skyscraper in the supermarket checkout line. we chatted briefly and he told stories of dislocating shoulders, six or seven or eight times. apparently once it happens, it'll always happen. once i was lifting myself onto a floating raft in a lake, and another time i was writing... with intent.

he made some tea and it was the best tea i had ever had. when i asked for the recipe, he said it was:

black tea
with lots of ginger
and lots and lots of honey
a lot of honey

quelque chose comme ca? i tried it recently... and is it just me, or do drinks and food always taste better when someone else makes it?

i'm taken back to a time many years ago when i made some shin ramyun for a friend because we hadn't ate dinner, she told me it was the best noodles she had ever tasted. which had to be a lie because she grew up in the noodle mecca that is singapore, but if that's how she felt about my two minute noodle skills which i had been perfecting since i was 8 years old then okay—but even thinking about it now makes me emotional, the thought that one could make the best of something simply by sharing it.

you can make
the best of something
by sharing it

—ooh, my first haiku for the year.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

taipei to taichung

the camera i was using here was a point and shoot which meant i had less control of the composition... which i guess is like being in asia in general. you don't know where to look, there is something happening somewhere all the time. 

we went to taipei because it has been a minute since i had been. then we went to taichung to see something else. the milk teas and mango slushies and fruit juice concoctions made me euphoric. the mushroom hot pots had my heart soaring. i learnt taichung produces most of taiwan's mushrooms, and in one of the farms we ate mushroom tempura, mushroom soup, mushroom rice and drank mushroom juice for lunch. there was also mushroom ice cream. i didn't eat that because gluttony is real and sometimes you need a reason to keep living. (that took a sudden dark turn???)

we also met a boy called 'little big brother', i asked him why he was little big brother, and he said someone else was already big big brother.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

under the crescent and star

the plane lands and the passengers all rise immediately during taxi. everyone is standing and opening the overhead lockers while the staff sighs over the intercom. please stay seated and do not open the overhead lockers. it gets repeated a few times, and has no effect. by the time the plane stops, people are all lined up in the aisles with their belongings.

when we disembark the person who had sat next to me, and borrowed a pen, says 'au revoir' and quickens his pace. naturally we meet again in the crawling passport control line. he asks me after we exit if i need a lift into town. i think about how you should never accept lifts from strangers and i answer 'yes'.

he drops me off right outside the old city a hundred meters from where i need to be. kindness from strangers. damn. i want be thankful but all i manage to muster is a simple thank you tinged by the mild shock of my peripheral vision: 100 stray cats (at least) jumping around, kids yelling '¡hola!', the pungent smell of dead fish, and the beginning of every person in sight breaking their fast for the day. it was sensory overload.

years ago when i was visiting the beautiful home of a family friend, i went through quite a few coffee table books in their study. there was one on interior design in morocco and a home in tangier made such an impression i knew i had to visit the city that housed it. well, now i have a different impression of tangier. but that's fine...

there is a fat cat that will not stop jumping on me as i eat. at one point she puts her jaw around my arm. stop stroking my head and give me a shred of food you piece of garbage—was probably what she wanted to say. i give her a few olives at regular intervals so her tail can stop caressing my face and allow me to lunge forward to take a bite of my dinner.

wow, so i'm finally here, i think as i fall asleep the first night. before suddenly experiencing a pan of panic about how dehydrated that cat might be from all the olives.

two days later i meet rachel in marrakech and the fun—however interpreted—really begins. those stories another time though? we travelled the country, we met some good people, we met some bad people, rachel bought a tagine, i fainted on a bus. something like that.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

river runs

1. verona
2. torino
3. marostica
4. venice
5. côte d'azur
6. arles

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

the tourist

when you are not travelling-in-a-relationship, you will be the designated photographer for a lot of random couples. sometimes i offer if i am in the middle of some deep ass swiss valley with no one in sight and they are struggling to rest their newly purchased dslr on a boulder of sorts. most of the times, if you are somewhere popular—paris, prague, (gah i'm out of p cities), rome, london—people just naturally form a line in front of a monuement and hand me their cameras as if i won't do that joke where i take a rapid step to run just to see their panic.

then, the polite couples will usually turn and ask me if i'd like a photo. i only said 'yes' once, in 2011. i was in london and there was some parade going on, a couple asked me to take their photo, and i did. then the couple asked if i'd like a photo, i passed them my camera and forgot about it.

months later i was looking through all the developed photos and there was just a random one of a blurred buckingham palace with a parade in front. it was kind of on an unintentional dutch angle, as if the shutter had pushed one side of the camera down. what is this photo??? i searched the photo like a page of where's wally for a clue of why i might have taken it. then in the lower left hand corner, i see my face, but just my face, taking up 1/20th of the frame. you'd think i accidentally walked into the shot.

though i feel like with instagram culture, most people are pretty good photographers these days? so i should try and say yes again in the future to finally update that profile picture from 2016.

Saturday, 23 February 2019


the other day i caught a train to see the dune du pilat which is a pile of sand an hour from bordeaux. when i arrived i was reminded again of my love for oceans and forests and the mist that settles around where they meet. the place can be described as an underwhelming and rationed version of dunes in australia. i'm not saying this dune wasn't good enough, because it was beautiful, but let's just say there's more sand to be found at a chinese construction site.

towards the end of my trip i encountered a taiwanese mother and son duo on holiday in the region for the week. the son told me i could hang out with them if i wanted to—as i was alone.

yesterday i was talking to my love about how i met these two people from taiwan and he said 'oh, i met a taiwanese person recently,' i looked at him and knew, 'it's the same person.' 

me: he's tall-ish and has a bowl-like cut if the bowl was dish that is very shallow and could double as a plate... 
him: yeah...
me: he speaks english with an american accent and is super polite!
him: yeah
me: *pulls out a photo* IS THIS HIM??
him: *bursts into laughter* yeah!

damn, in taiwan they call that 缘分.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

when i saw stars in the sea

les calanques near marseille—there are numerous—i went to the calanque de sugiton because it was the easiest to reach. i had woken up at five am that day because i had to catch a flight to marseille airport which was (still is) 100% not in marseille, then a bus to town, then a subway to an outer suburb, then a bus to an even outer suburb, and then hike an hour. so you can bet your bottom dollar i stayed in the sun until i was out of snacks to eat and pages to read but mainly snacks to eat.

walking back up the stone steps by the sea made me feel like i was in some cinematic version of a greek summer. the grand rock formations by the crystal clear water easily drew out human emotions, like you felt... if a town was at its sea-step it would bear only love stories. of course then you catch the bus back into marseille and the love story becomes some gritty redemption film.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018