We were backpacking. Always backpacking – or often. We had no bags with us but were in transit; I know this. Sometimes I wake up remembering how we were, him sitting behind me in a bus, not quite there, not quite not there; me unwinding earphones. This time, we were moving through some station or other, bagless again, not noticeably so, just factually so; except the station wasn’t making much sense – there were trains, I was certain, but also planes and buses and, perhaps, boats. And the central part of it was sunken like the centre of an amphitheatre, its low, vast base a stage, covered with bright green lawn and families picnic-ing. It was some kind of open-air stadium; some foreign, metropolitan quirk; amusing to us that that a station would be so multi-purpose like this; so shaped like a giant amphitheatre; like some great festival we were swinging our way around in this country I don’t know what. We were in the thick of the space, wandering, moving, winding between, wasting time in the midst of dotted groups and families. He was behind me, dawdling, pointing things out and I turned to smile, to say something, or to hear him say something, perhaps wondering if we should find which train or a boat or a plane to catch; perhaps about to suggest we go up the steps to the real part of the station, when, 100 metres behind his shoulders I saw a thing (some temporary thing; maybe a food van) explode. Bang, and the world was a heady, cosmic mess. Continue reading
Meditations (also: Houses, Curtains and Boats)
Elephant Journal has just published an article of mine:
‘Where God Is: On Home, Travel & Displacement’.
It’s very personal and confessional, a bit silly and a bit serious, and gets to the root of my eternal cravings both to travel the world and to be at home. I could gaze at the beautiful photo they’ve used (above; credited in the article; heaven in sunlight and flaking paint; they even have a sunflower on the door) for ages. Continue reading
‘Why you don’t like papaya?’
‘Why you don’t like papaya?’
He places the plate of fruit salad on the table on my terrace and waits for a reasonable response. I realise I can give none. I shrug apologetically and say I just don’t like the taste very much. (But already I am doubting myself; really, it’s just a bit nothing-y.)
He tilts his head to consider things for a while, then gestures at the watermelon and pineapple I have allowed to remain in my salad; ‘I think maybe you like crispy.’
‘Crispy? The texture?’
‘Yes. You know, like… potato.’ Continue reading
The Horse’s Mouth; clean as a comet
Excited though I am, I’m currently in the wild throes of pre-trip book-anxiety.
That is, as my must-pack-light head screws itself firmly on for a 7-week-ish jaunt around the southern hemisphere, I find myself eyeing up all of the books in my general vicinity and twitching at the idea of not being able to pack them (I once packed four books for a three-hour train journey, but I don’t think that sort of thing is to be repeated or expanded or extrapolated in the 7-week backpacking scheme of things). Continue reading