Saturday, February 28, 2015

MATERIAL GIRL

Some may say it is materialistic to want a lot of money. I beg to differ.

***
I was sitting in a cafe at the entrance of Bangsar Shopping Centre. As I swirled my drink while observing the people milling about the drop off area, I noticed a group of distinguished looking men wearing ties and lappelled business suits emerge from the mall. From the way their eyes crinkled when they smiled and the silver streaking their hair, they were probably in their mid to late forties.

One gentleman in particular subtly exuded an air of higher importance, each individual personally taking the opportunity to grasp a farewell handshake.

At the same time I noticed an interesting trio.

Two maids dressed in white uniforms from head to toe, standing patiently aside. Their hair neatly bunned up, feet clad in sensible comfortable shoes. One was holding the handles of the wheelchair while the other tended to its occupant. In the wheelchair sat an old lady, hunched with age. Her blouse mandarin-collared, skin stretched taut and paper thin over high gaunt cheekbones, face speckled with age spots.

A Vellfire drew up and the door slid smoothly open. I watched as one of the car seats automatically extended outwards then downwards. With the two maids gently supporting her, the grand dame slowly rose to her feet and hobbled the few inches between her wheelchair and the car seat. Slowly, cautiously, she sat down before the seat slid back the way it had came. The maids folded up the wheelchair and bundled it into the backseat before getting in themselves.

He bade his last goodbyes to the group before climbing into the car after his mother.

***
While I do think it is true that the desire for money can be materialistic, that is not necessarily always the case. 

To evaluate more accurately, what do you see the money bringing you?

A wardrobe filled with the changing seasons of Chanel, Hermes, Ferragamo, Versace, Louis Vuitton?
A new iPhone every time Apple releases their latest version?
To flash your cash on booze for simply anyone and everyone in the club?

Or

Provision for your loved ones in their old age?
Freedom of uncertainty for your children's education and future?
Quality time and conversation over a nice meal with your closest friends?




Thursday, February 26, 2015

WANDER THROUGH ANGKOR WAT

Look right.

Bucket list entry no.15
    " Wander through Angkor Wat "

Done.



Sunday, February 8, 2015

THE ISLAND

I jumped off the boat and landed with a splash, the shallow waters swirling around my ankles.


The boatmen carefully navigated our vessel into a small bay which was sheltered from the open sea as I breathed in the beauty of my surroundings. It was mid-morning and we had arrived at Malawing - one of the many small islands in the northern archipelago of the Phillippines. 


Beams of sunshine pranced off crystal clear aquamarine waves. Greyish stone cliffs arose sharply from the ocean with sparse boughs and weeds awkwardly protruding in a haphazard manner. The shore lay before us in welcome, a blissful stretch of unadulterated pure golden white sand as far as the eye could see.

We were there on a disaster relief trip. Typhoon Haiyan had wreaked devastating damage throughout the region. Regrettably, the worst inflicted areas were also the ones with most difficult access. The route from Malaysia to Manila (flight), Manila to Cebu (flight), Cebu to the New Tribes Mission base in Coron (jeep), Coron to Bueno Vista (jeep), and finally Bueno Vista to Malawing (boat) had taken us a total time of roughly 20 hours.



Led by our local guide, we began our trek towards the town - if you could call it that. The houses were hardly more than huts ; four planks placed at right angles to each other with zinc sheets plonked atop as a roof. Most had been destroyed by the typhoon, but a lonely few stood about here and there.



We soon attracted the attention of the children on the island. They trailed along with our group, innocently curious towards this bunch of strange people in their midst. 




Reaching the site where the rebuilding was taking place, we were informed that we would start by levelling the ground. Grasping shovels, we set about the laborious task.




Hours later, the team called for a breather.



I made my way to a nearby cove, eager for a dip in the water to douse the fury of the blazing summer sun. I spent a good half hour sitting amidst the rocky pools enjoying the strong sea breeze before I decided it was time to return.


As I headed back, I stopped by a small hut. Inside was a young girl holding a baby. She smiled at me briefly, then started nursing the child whom I'd first assumed was her sibling. Later, a local woman told me that the girl was only 13 years old. 

From other conversations that day, I learned that the only thing that the natives cared for was basic survival - living off the sea and whatever sparse vegetation they were able to grow on the brutal conditions of the island, growing old, and passing away for their children to continue the harsh cycle.





There was no money or currency to speak of. Groups of men fished while the women farmed. Catch and harvest were distributed equally amongst all. Most would never leave the island.



I still think about the girl, her large round eyes listlessly vacant with a baby suckling her breast.

What about purpose beyond satisfying a man?
What about the world and everything it beholds?
What about the life beyond that speck of an island?

But it would be foolish, perhaps even callously insensitive to enquire.

So I held my silence.

While incidents like these make me reflect and realize how incredibly fortunate I am, they also carry a tinge of guilt. Guilt that I was borne into the world to a more favourable set of circumstances, thus leading to wider possibilities and brighter opportunities. Not that I did anything to deserve it - but by mere sleight of fate.










Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WEEDED OUT

I was hanging out with a couple of others at our hostel's rooftop bar when one of them produced a bag, started grinding up the substance, and rolled a joint. It went round and lasted our group quite a fair while. 

He'd been very generous ; it was packed full and a length at that. 

A short time later, I was feeling slow, stupid, and thick-tongued. My brain was foggy and my speech was slurring. I was also very thirsty, hungry, and sleepy.

Excusing myself from the group, I fixed myself a bowl of cereal, drank a few bottles of water, and crawled into bed. 

Despite the reverberating music coming from above, I fell into a deep peaceful slumber that I swear rivalled Sleeping Beauty's centurial lull and woke up amazingly perky and refreshed.

Nevertheless - don't do weed.