Goodness gracious, I can’t seem to stop

I go to Europe tonight. 17 glorious days in Bulgaria, Greece and…*drumroll*… Italy. Honestly, are you even surprised I’m going to Italy yet again? I should just move there. Hehe.

In Bulgaria, I hope to go paragliding from Vitosha Mountain.
In Greece, I will spend a few days on Santorini to find out for myself what all the fuss is about.
In Italy, as per usu, I will eat all the pizza, pasta and pastries and drink all the espresso and cappuccino. MM will also show me around his hometown…and then we bid adieu.

It’s all good.

Unsent letter – to C

Dear C,

I hadn’t seen you in six months. And if I had seen you from the back before, it wasn’t retained in my memory. So when you came into my office yesterday, at first with your back turned towards me, I had no clue who you were. I didn’t know you were coming to my office for a meeting with LCP; he didn’t tell me. When you turned around, flashing that megawatt smile of yours, my heart did a somersault and landed right in my mouth. I tried to mirror your smile, but my lips were trembling too much to maintain it for long. You asked me, very softly, almost mouthing it, “The meeting is upstairs?” I answered in the affirmative, and off you disappeared up the stairs, leaving a trail of tension in your wake.

To my left, AB’s shit-eating grin was taking over his face. I shook my head and warned him not to say anything. But AB said something anyway, not attempting to stifle his amusement at all. “OH. MY. GOD. Oh, that is the best. That just made my day.” I rolled my eyes and tried to return my attention back to my work. Knowing you were sitting directly above me though, I couldn’t do it. Quite frankly, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.

Ten minutes later, I saw in my peripheral vision, a figure in white walk down the stairs and out the door, with nary a goodbye. You were wearing white so I was convinced it was you. I was disappointed that you didn’t bother to say anything to me but at the same time I was relieved that you were gone and that I no longer had to worry about my demeanour, or my hair. But then I heard your voice, deep in discussion. (About chairs. Duh. You are, after all, Furniture Boy.) I’ve heard that voice so many times from distances both great and small, I couldn’t be wrong. You hadn’t left yet. There was hope yet. Or was it despair? I couldn’t decide.

I had just received an email from CB when I heard someone coming down the stairs. I focused on my computer screen, in case it was you. CB’s email was composed of just six words and by the time that person had got off the stairs and sidled over to the edge of my desk, I had read those six words at least eight times. I was afraid it was you. I didn’t want it to be you. As much as you leaving without a word would have greatly let me down, it would have been a lot easier than if you had stopped by my desk to chat.

Which was exactly what you did.

AM met you at a party a few months ago and told me you had a beard. I could see now, with you standing so near to me, that you still do. For what it’s worth, I don’t like you with a beard. I like you better clean-cut. Your beard makes you look old.

“Hi,” we both said at the same time. Was it just my imagination, or were you nervous? If you were, you weren’t alone. I let you speak and I found myself fielding a flurry of questions. A telltale sign that we were once acquainted, was when you asked, “Are you travelling again anytime soon?” When I said yes, you said you were jealous. You said that the last time too.

I asked you the same question, and you regaled me with a story about your Philippines trip that didn’t happen due to your expired passport. You are going to Thailand for the first time in late May. You hoped you would have received your new passport by then. “Fingers crossed,” again we said at the same time. I remembered you saying you were going to South Africa for your school reunion in June, and asked if you still were. You seemed surprised I remembered. Probably not, you said, as you might have to go to East Timor for work. How exotic, I said. I hope you get to go.

The conversation felt too long as it was going on, but when I saw you finally clutch the handle of your bag that you had put on the floor, I wished you would have stayed longer. “If I don’t see you again before your trip, have a fantastic one. Enjoy yourself. Take care. Have fun.” No, you won’t see me again, C. But thank you all the same. I watched you leave and glanced at the time. The conversation had lasted nine minutes. Too long, but too short by our standards, don’t you think?

Once again, AB was grinning. “Shut up. Don’t say anything. Just be quiet. Shhh!” I commanded. But once again, he did not listen. “Congratulations to the two of you. Your awkward conversation is the highlight of my entire week.” TGT, who didn’t know anything about anything, exacerbated matters when he made this observation out loud: “How come he only talked to you?” AB guffawed. I rolled my eyes. Gradually, my heart rate slowed down to normal. Gradually, everything went back to normal.

Initially I wasn’t sure that you stopping for a chat would be a good idea. Too little, too much, too soon, too late. Absolutely everything and nothing at all. But I will tell you now that despite the uneasiness of the whole thing for us both and the fact that I was AB’s laughing stock of the day, that move was highly decent of you and you have my utmost respect for it. You just proved that I was never wrong about you being a stand-up guy, even if I might have stopped believing it for a moment.

Thank you.

Best,
Me

Day 10-12: La Spezia and Cinque Terre

I know, I know. My trip was almost five months ago. Nobody cares anymore. Blah blah blah. But I promised myself I would finish posting about my October/November Europe trip. So that’s what I’m going to do. Besides, I’ve got to get this out of the way to make way for another one that’s coming up pretty soon. ;)

From Sicily I made my way to La Spezia, Italy, primarily to visit Cinque Terre. My Couchsurfing host was a regular 19-year-old Italian university student. Or so I thought until he came to meet me. He spoke English with an Irish accent. I was confuzzled. What? Why? How? Irish father; Italian mother. When speaking Italian he was full-on Italian, hand gestures and all. But when speaking English he sounded like a bona fide Irishman. It was neat.

Because of ongoing exams, AT wasn’t able to hang out with me in the daytime. But we sure did bond over food at breakfast and dinner. On my second night I cooked him and his six flatmates/friends fried rice, or riso fritto as he explained to a non-English speaking friend. All six boys lapped it up. Most had never had any form of Chinese food before. Not that my version of riso fritto was authentic Chinese, mind. But the boys didn’t know any better. Hehe. AT was a great host and I was sad to leave him the next day.

La Spezia

The port of La Spezia is minutes from AT’s home. It was a lovely afternoon to be strolling by the water.

1spPinks and purples at the port of La Spezia.

2spBalloon giveaway!

Riomaggiore

My first town of Cinque Terre.

3riLooking out to sea before exploring the town.

1riThe hills were calling my name.

2riThe view from the top.

Manarola

This is, in my opinion, the most picturesque town of Cinque Terre, as evidenced by the many, many photos I took. I went on a proper hike here, as high as I could, and saw not another soul along the way. Not a fellow traveller, not even a town-dweller. I cherished the peace and quiet but when I slipped on the wobbly wooden footpath - still under repair from the 2011 landslide - my stomach did a backflip. Nobody knew where I was in that precise moment; if I had fallen and hurt myself and couldn’t move, I wouldn’t be found for days. There was no phone signal so I couldn’t even call for help. Oi! Still I rebelled and hiked a little bit more until I got to my senses and turned around. Ha!

1maFresh off the train.

3maThe famous view.

3maA moment to exhale.

4manA nonna in a battle with the wind.

5manHappy to be alone…mostly.

6manQuickly reopened, eh?

4maBee magnet.

5maSun rays through the leaves.

Corniglia

I couldn’t store my backpack at the train station and had to carry it with me. And then I saw these steps.

11crAll 382 of them.

And I decided to leave my backpack (not even hidden) in the (what?) bushes. I figured – the next train wouldn’t arrive/depart for two more hours, and locals do not travel by that train. So theoretically no one would even be passing by my bag. Unless, of course, the officer at the station decided to take a walk. Oh God, I hope he doesn’t! I took out whatever valuables were in there and said a zillion prayers. If I lost it, the only clothes I would have were the ones on my back! Thankfully my backpack was still there when I returned later. Phew!

10crA picture for posterity.

12crVespas everywhere.

13crThis sweet kitty immediately took a liking to me.

2crCaged sky.

Monterosso al Mare

The second prettiest town of Cinque Terre. Pity I didn’t have a lot of time to spend here.

‎Mon2Another moment to exhale.

m‎onKids and cats.

Vernazza

The last town I visited of Cinque Terre.

1vePeople watching.

2veCats don’t care.

3veArrivederci, Cinque Terre!

Jogjakarta, Indonesia

In late January, I went on a weekend trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia, with a bunch of people from Couchsurfing. I knew one person properly, one person I’d met briefly before, and the others were total and complete strangers. Umm, what? Why did I, who have always preferred to travel solo, suddenly decide to travel with other people?

Simple. Sheer desire to visit Borobudur and no time like then. Didn’t even have to apply for leave. Left on Friday evening, back on Sunday night. Easy peasy. And to my surprise my travel mates were actually cool. All of them. Even this one girl who I pre-judged for looking like a snob. She did turn out to be a bit snobbish but not so severely that we haven’t hung out a number of times since then. Look at me, making friends!

1Prambanan, a 9th-century Hindu temple compound.

1.2Little boys and their toy cars.

2Gudeg – traditional Jogja food made from unripe jackfruit boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk. Eating sweet gravy with rice was weird for me, but when in Rome.

KidYeah, I stalked this kid.

4Borobudur at sunrise. Totally worth waking up at 3am for!

5Foreground: my group. Background: Indonesians taking a photo with a white guy. Because he’s white. Later they would also accost the white guy in my group for a photo. It was hilarious.

6Handmade wayang kulit (shadow puppets).

7Street food. I was told off by these women for snapping their pics but not buying their food. Haha.

Family affair

I lost my blogging mojo. I’m not sure if it’s truly back but I do want to put some words out. It’s been way too long. I shall break it up into a few posts, starting with what happened in January.

In January something big happened. I have tried so many times to write about it but I couldn’t decide how – the long version or the short. But I’ve decided now that I’ll go with the short. The long is just too long.

My cousin F passed away suddenly. He had had a benign brain tumour since he was 13 – well before my mother got sick – but in the end what took his life was pneumonia. He was supposed to turn 25 in April. Cousin F is the son of my mother’s sister, Aunt Y, who stopped speaking to me in 2008, and coerced the others to do the same. I won’t go into too many details, but I will say two things:

One, is that my heart is not made of cobblestone as I previously thought; I grieved and I mourned in a way I didn’t think I would – not for the son of Aunt Y.

And two, this event effectively ended our 5-year silence. We are not chummy or anything, but at least now when we bump into each other – which we tend to because we live in the same apartment building – we smile and stop for a chat. It’s just unfortunate that it had to wait until cousin F passed away for this to happen.

Taking the piss

Yep. Finally breaking my stony silence. Not that I haven’t had many, many reasons to write in the last one and a half months. But what happened early this morning is just too hilarious to let fade and not document forever on this here public blog o’ mine.

So I’m always deathly thirsty just before bed for some reason, and 12 midnight yesterday was no exception. I gulped down a glass of water and went to bed shortly after. Sometime later I found myself with the urge to pee. I came across a chair, sat on it…and proceeded to pee in full view of…everyone passing by. I actually did not care. I just…let go. And boy did it feel good.

If you couldn’t tell by now, that was a dream. Seconds into letting it allllll go, I woke up. And immediately felt wet down there. My eyes widened. I gasped.

I had, indeed, urinated for real.

And no, it wasn’t mere droplets. It was a proper pee-fest. Which I was somehow able to stop midway while I nervously patted around the area to check if I had wet the bed. Miraculously, I hadn’t! It had not reached my bed sheet yet or even my shorts for that matter. I gingerly got out of bed, headed to the bathroom, finished the deed, washed up, got changed, and went back to bed, mortified and laughing at myself.

I’ve had ‘need to pee’ dreams and woken up needing to pee countless times, but I’ve never ever actually done it in bed. Wow.

So yeah. My first update of 2014 is about how I almost wet the bed.