I am in Bangkok airport in transit, on my way to Pakistan, and being a hard-blogging internet slave I feel I must risk missing my conection to indulge narcissism once more. However, the blogger site appears to be in Thai, so I’ll have to guess which button to click.
After a week of busy packing I am on my way. And emboldened by my victory in tuesday’s Travel Haiku poetry slam, I have a new brutally short haircut. If the photo uploads quick enough you might even see it. I can feel the Zen enlightenment seeping in through my scalp even as I write. An I am wearing an orange T-shirt so I look totally like a local here. Or not.
Doesn’t look like it’s going to upload in time… you’ll just have to imagine the awesome chakratastic Om-ness of my new hair. Ciao for now, sentient beings!
Saturday night was a great party, rooftop a la Beatles/U2, rocking the financial district, with a hundred or so people crowding out the open air Rogues Bar. Thanks to everyone who came along to say au revoir, it was excellent to see you all.
And today, I have finally extricated myself from the office and am thus free like a bird. Squawk!
But now …. post party horror sets in.
Yes, it’s time to pack up my apartment.
Anyone who knows me well will be aware of my usual approach to packing for a holiday. If I have a morning flight, say I have to be at the airport at 6am, I will typically follow the following approximate schedule:
1) Pre-day before: no packing
2) Day before: no packing
3) 9pm: go out and get drunk
3) 1am: return home and watch TV
5) 3am: throw stuff in suitcase
6) 4am: sleep
7) 5am: wake refreshed, ready for a hard day’s travel
8) 6.45am: doze off standing up at check-in at Changi
Packing up all my worldly goods is the same story on a larger scale. The removal people (Mr Eric Goh et al) are arriving at 9am tomorrow. I have just arrived back from the movies. I look around me. Sigh. Well at least the evening has been a good one up to now.
Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? How do I live a good and meaningful life? How do I rid myself of this all-pervading sense of urban ennui, become less jaded and start living in the moment, embracing each beautiful drop of precious existence? What’s for lunch? This blog is dedicated to those people who believe that the answers to these and many other questions can be answered by going on holiday.
My holiday hasn’t started yet. But if you’re in a rock band, as Aerosmith succinctly put it, life is a Permanent Vacation. You get to pose on stage with a guitar. You get to wear sunglasses indoors. You get to make more noise than is strictly reasonable. You get to tell people you’re in a band. And sometimes they don’t snigger.
Last night was my final gig at Fluid, the bar I’ve been playing regular Fridays nights at with my band The Rogue Traders. And tonight I will play with the band one last time. It’s the end of an era, a time for reflection, for getting drunk and maudlin and waxing nostalgic. No more will I be able to shamelessly try to upstage our lead singer by pratting about in a purple feather boa, or chop out funky porn-riffs on the wah-wah pedal, or create beautiful soundscapes of noise which drown out all the less important members of the band. “It’s time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way,” as Robert Plant so poignantly sang before starting to wail on about Gollum. And so I have to Ramble On.
Playing in a rock band is the ideal hors d’oeuvre for an existential vacation. Maybe life itself is like rock and roll music – “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” as Shakespeare so memorably wrote, although he probably didn’t envisage cover versions of You Shook Me All Night Long. Maybe life is like playing a guitar solo, starting out slow with a couple of bum notes before building in confidence and rising to a wailing sort of frantic widdling climax then ending with one foot in the air and a pained expression on your face. Or maybe not.
I may have overdone the philosophy for today.
There’s a fine line between clever and stupid.
Several people have suggested that I should write a blog during the coming year. If you are reading this, you may be one of those people, or at least you probably know me. This page is to let my friends know where I am and what I’m doing, just in case any of you are interested in where I’ve got to, or are worried about me, or just bored in the office on a Friday afternoon. I’ll try to make it as amusing and informative as possible. Kind of like the Discovery Channel but with more lame jokes.
I will leave Singapore, at least temporarily, in a little under two weeks. I’m taking a year’s unpaid leave from my job, giving up my flat at Clarke Quay, putting my chattels in storage in Clementi, redirecting my mail to a P.O. Box and heading off with a rucsac and a camera or two. Yes, I know, it’s a cliche: I’m off to “find myself”, or to lose myself, on my pre-mid-life crisis, a kind of existential vacation. (Thanks to Mark Phong for coining the phrase over lunch the other day. Not pretentious at all, oh no. And an honourable mention goes to Andy Chakravarty for suggesting I have a contest to name the blog and then call it ‘Budget Terminal’.)
Here are a few things I will miss about Singapore: Kopi ‘C’ and Kaya toast on a sunday morning; people-watching in coffee shops; makan (noodles, prata, Thai food at Golden Mile, a hundred others); browsing at Kinokuniya; jamming at the Crazy Elephant on a Sunday; the Poetry Slam; sunday dinners at Camelot; late pub nights playing with the Rogue Traders.
I shall put nostalgia aside for now. My first stop, on the 29th June, is Islamabad, and on to the Gondogoro trek in north-east Pakistan. I have some preparations to complete before then.