Wednesday, April 04, 2012


nothing to be frightened of

do we grow sadder and more frightened as we grow older? if we are lucky we will live to a ripe old age before we succumb to whatever old age ailments that await to give final torments and suck our life away.

i always wonder what an eighty year old feels. eighty seems so far away but so is twenty when we are ten ot forty when we are twenty. but we will all get there eventually , if we are lucky. lucky? there are plenty of eighty year olds around. i should sit down and ask what they feel one of these days.

when julian barnes reached 60 he wrote nothing to be frightened of, a very good and funny book all about getting old and a meditation on death. this is one of the very few books that i read and managed to finish in the last several years.

lately it's getting harder and harder to finish a book. internet is a real bane for book readers. it is not that we do not read more. we do but the things we read are just macdonalds of printed matter. inane and downright stupid facebook updates from fb friends seem to be more interesting than even the best of writings in books. we succumb to information junkfood or worse yes, porn in cyberspace. worse? it can't be worse than reaching eighty .

Monday, December 26, 2011



when jackie onassis died in 1994 her then boyfriend, a jewish belgian businessman read ithaka a poem by the greek poet c p cavafy at her funeral service. i found this out from a nyt column published in our local nst. i don't understand poetry and never read any. always thought poetry is for women sissies homosexuals and cronically depressed people. i thank god that i'm none of the above. the only poetry that struck a chord with me until then was lewis carrol's nonsensical hunting of the snark . full of adventure and illogical fits and madness and nonsense, much like real life is. sometimes i do view life as a form of a hunting of the snark until i discovered ithaka thanks to that jewish belgian businessman final farewell to his partner.

reading ithaka for the first time makes me want to cry . how sublime how true and beautiful it is! and as the year 2011 has flitted by and comes to an end it's a fitting reminder to myself how true the poem ithaka is....


C.P. Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor,
Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

Saturday, November 26, 2011


what i want i won't get

last week when i visited bang malea temple ruins in seim reap i saw a guy perched on a stone ledge with a big camera on a tripod trying to take a shot of some scene which i didn't quite see the significance of. there was nothing special at where he was aiming the shot at. no ornate carvings or ornamentation of any sort. just plain jungle.

bang malea is out of the angkor complex and very much less visited by the normal tourist hordes . it's ta phrom on a bigger scale with the same scene of temple ruins overgrown with trees and clasped by buttressed roots of fig trees. since i've made my rounds of the angkor complex several times from my previous visits before i decided to go to the less visited areas particularly the magnificent but politically contested preah vahear right at the thailand cambodia border in the north east and take a leasurely drive down to Koh ker and preah khan to bang malea and back to siem reap town. But things rarely go as you plan and i ended up only visiting preah khan and bang malea where i met this guy taking shots precariously perched on a stone ledge far from the other group of package tourists.

and so i carefully skipped up stone by stone to him and said don't worry i'll be careful not to trip over his tripods and we got to talking. turned out that he is from LA and has been to cambodia previously for a brief visit and fell in love with the country and the people and now he is having a longer month long visit to explore the country better. he is probably in retirement and so could afford to do this . He's probably in his sixties but could be much younger and look in the best of health. Lanky and thin and unlike the usual overweight and out of breadth foreigners you tend to see on the usual package tours everywhere.

Cambodia and also much of south east asia isn't too expensive and i thought to myself . hey i can do that. when i retire i'll take a month out and stay in bali, than go to luang prabang for another month and then to pai in thailand for another and on to may be baguio in the philippines and than sabah and yangon and round up by staying in siem reap in time to see the birds (feathered kinds) in prek toul bird sanctuary in tonle sap by all the year round...

but even a full year round holiday could be a bore. there's such a thing as holiday fatigue. human can sometimes be such bastards . nothing can please us ALL the time. perhaps all those spiritual people got it right. perhaps those buddhist monks lead the happiest lives. but perhaps not. nobody can run away from his inner demons. the yearning and impossible search for peace. i'm fucked.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


son of a father

as i'm writing this, my old father is in a hospital due to urinary complication and serious chronic asthma attack. he is much better and out of danger now. but i feel bad as i could not be by his side as i'm a few thousand miles away in luang prabang laos which can't be helped. he is warded when i am already out of the country for several days.

and then i see this guardian cif news which is striking on many levels. and although i'm not a theatre goer i wish i could go buy a plane ticket right now and head straight to the theatre. One of the comments sum it best...

from SLIMZ comment:-

.....A son tries to look after his father, an old man, in a stage set that looks like a gleaming modern appartment. The back wall of the stage is a huge portrait of a beautiful Christ. This image of Jesus is immense, the size of a building and his face is beautiful, patient, kind, still and unmoving. And in front of this portrait the drama plays itself out. The son, a middle aged man in a suit, would like to get ready to go out. His father watches TV then shits himself. The son clears up the mess. Then the father shits himself again. Once again the son clears up the mess.

This continues. Over and over. The father constantly shitting himself. The son cleaning. Above them the image of Jesus, kind, impassive, unmoving, still, dead, loving, patient..

.....Then terrible things start to happen to the image of Jesus....

Thursday, August 11, 2011


life is like that...

the day that guy DSK the once sure bet for the next president of france had kinky sex with that african refugee hotel maid in new york sofitel hotel and ran off and got apprehended in jfk airport i was at the same airport too. i felt funny the way some significant events sometimes happen near you. when thailand had the last coup i was cooped up in a hotel not very far away. when the second bali bombing occured i was booked in a hotel less then a kilometer away. it goes to show that all kinds of funny things happen just near you everyday. just that you mostly are not aware of it. it's perfectly conceivable that the guy sitting next to you in a posh restaurant is a serial killer. or have just raped a six year old girl. just that he's not caught yet. or ever will.

this DSK fellow's sexual madness may seem to be incomprehensible to some but it is all perfectly normal. normal in the sense that if we know what men do when they think people aren't watching, it's absolutely astounding. there's no end to human depravity. most of us are real bastards when we really get down to it.

the other day for instance. i was having a formal meeting in our -what they call- iroom with this perfectly straightlaced and serious guy . a high flyer in an MNC. and in the middle of the discussion he said, ok let me show you this neat system where we can share the documents...and i said oh no, i'm very bad with all this new stuff. he said, no, it's very simple i'll show you. his laptop was connected to that thing that projects the image onto the big screen and he clicked his laptop keypad a few times and before he could do anything ten or so pornograpic images of couples screwing and pussy close-ups appeared in all their glory on the screen. his acute embarrasement was somewhat lessened by the fact that we had -what they call- one-on-one meeting rather than in a big room full of people. and i tried to lessen it further by asking him to copy the glorious images onto my thumb drive.

but that goes to show you never know the secrets of men until they get caught or they are blown out by some stupid clicks on the keypads. so be careful when you're doing big presentations. keep all your nasty stuff in external drives.

all these remind me of another thing. i haven't been reading much lately although i dip into a few short stories now and then. the last story i read is a story simply titled 1% about bikers in "playboy's College Fiction: A collection of 21 years of contest winners". 'Haven't read any novels for quite a while although i've been searching second hand bookstores for the late david foster wallace's infinite jest for quite sometimes now. i'm piqued when i heard the author mentioned that the book was written after a few of his friends committed suicide (which he too later did) and his comments that he was surprised many readers think the book funny whilst he considered it a very sad book. he said all these (and much more) in a fascinating interview with charlie rose. infinite jest is a gargantuan and 'difficult' book and in all likelihood i will not finish it as i tend to these days but one other book that i've been looking for i'll most likely finish it in one or two sittings. it is one racy and evil book that i think i will enjoy. i've been searching this book by the late Sebastian Horsley, his memoir Dandy in the underworld high and low to no avail but one day i'll get it. this guy admitted that he had slept with thousands of prostitutes and was not ashamed of it. he even gave a rather funny and smart guide to whoring as you can see here. that idiot DSK should have adopted sebastian horsley's philosophy or taken his advice rather than destroying himself in such a silly manner in the NYC sofitel.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


the hutongs

i skipped one of the sessions of a congress i attended last april in beijing and decided to walk the hutongs around liulichang instead. didn't feel guilty about this as the session did not really concern me. i was just an observer afterall. It was one of the last sessions and half of the attendance were nowhere to be seen since the day before. The ones that were present looked bored to death and some of the african nations' representatives were in total stupor since day two of the week long affair.

most of government representatives of all the continents and members of the UN were there. the opening was grand, with some africans looking magnificent in their colorful national attire and the rest choose to be safe and came in dark or black suits. the early sessions were rather formal as to be expected but the sessions quickly degenerated into semi casual affair. what i found remarkable was that this congress generally mirror the state of the world as we live in now. Day one started enthuistically enough. minor african nations clamoured and competed with each other to put their names on record by seconding every motions put up by bigger western countries . we support the recommendation put forward by Germany, said the representative of lesotho or some such country. we agreed and seconded the proposal by the USA , exclaimed burkina faso. Asian nations were quiet except thailand but perhaps understandable as this was a food safety congress and thailand is an important agricultural nation. singapore was alert but keep their peace. japan was very attentive but didnt' say much. malaysia didn't utter a word for whole duration of the congress and maldives slept all the way through. and by the third day the meeting was generally conducted among a few representatives of the western nation and china. the rest took time off to do sight seeing.

and so i too went to the hutongs around the famous tourist area of liulichang. but even the hutongs are now very much geared to tourists and you can wander around anywhere with perfect safety and peer into the homes and little shops or take pictures with not a glance from the locals. the only good thing about this hutong area was that it is still not visited by the package tourist hordes and you just occassionally see a depressed looking white who was probably a travel writer. and you can still see that strange chinese toilets where the doors are absent and people just squat and shat alongside each other. how can they do this is beyond me.

it is interesting that paul theroux didn't mention about this in his funny travel book on china riding the iron rooster. he whined and grumbled about the chinese and their spitting, that other strange chinese behavior which i have never witnessed even since the first time i started travelling throughout china in 1997 . but i could see the open door toliets everywhere even now and paul theroux did not seem to care or saw it even when he was travelling around in 1980s.

Monday, May 02, 2011


i grieve

osama is dead.
i grieve

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