Mediterranean (from Tarifa to you)

I watch the weather where I was
and where I want to be;
too cold for summer, too hot for winter,
too comfortable to be close to anywhere.

I’d stood at the sea’s entrance and
seen the smudge of Africa, nine miles
close, not knowing your blood, that it flows
from the other side.

So that’s why the words zanahoria, azúcar, taste so
sweet and alfombra, almohada, feel
like home.

But you wouldn’t understand.

Between a figment of memory
and a fragment of imagination
I begin to invent the past,
explain the future,
making the present a gift;
making it magic.

I crossed the Atlantic, dipped toes into the Pacific’s
east, Oriental Miss Columbus me.
Meanwhile you were on the west coast
of another kingdom.

We were strangers then.

Lean in, listen keen
to the drumming of my heart: that
all along this was a call
for you to come and take
me back to your Mediterranean Sea. Continue reading Mediterranean (from Tarifa to you)

NYE lessons from Ecuador

Australian New Year’s Eve traditions mostly involve drinking hard, watching fireworks and calling it a party. This is followed by spending 1 January sleeping it off. Where Christmas Day is family time, NYE Down Under means time with friends. In Ecuador, I was introduced to the tradition of making and breaking monigotes (mon-ee-GO-tez): life-sized replicas of yourself and people you know. These effigies are also known as muñecos … Continue reading NYE lessons from Ecuador

Cambodia: Cycle. Sweat. End slavery.

This month Cambodia marked the fortieth anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge. It’s prompted me to finally share on this blog something of my visit there late last year. My 9-day trip involved a 5-day cycle tour (with law firm Wotton+Kearney in support of International Justice Mission), plus time in Phnom Penh and Kampot. * Day 1 Day 1 of the Cambodia Cycle Challenge … Continue reading Cambodia: Cycle. Sweat. End slavery.

On recovering Anglicans, vegetarians and nomads

I like to say my boyfriend is a recovering Anglican. He’s actually not even Anglican, he just happens to go to an Anglican church and I just happen to enjoy having a go at Sydney Anglicans. What I really mean when I say he’s recovering is that he is no longer doctrinal about his faith and how he practises it – in fact, he’s ardently against legalism.

Similarly … Continue reading On recovering Anglicans, vegetarians and nomads

Going for glocal

The other day my dad kindly informed me that if I ever stood for politics I’d need to renounce my Malaysian citizenship. This, of course, occurred in the context of the dual citizenship debacle that has kept Australia entertained for the last few months. Now I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that my father thinks a political career is a real possibility … Continue reading Going for glocal

City love (and lack thereof)

There are lots of things I love about you, Sydney.

I love your dazzling waterfronts, stretching out from the Sydney Harbour that the tourists see, all the way west up the Parramatta River – simply spectacular, even on an overcast day.

I love your cafés, even if you’re no Melbourne.

And I actually love your trains, even if people are always complaining about how these are always running late.

Royal Botanic Gardens-6

When I thought I might be leaving you for good last year, it was easy to list the things I would miss.

But loving things about Sydney isn’t the same as loving Sydney.

Now that I’m back here with you again, I’ve realised that I … Well, I don’t love you.

Unfortunate, hey? Continue reading “City love (and lack thereof)”

Australia: Not the place I thought you were

The other day after work, I was flowing with the peak hour crowd down Anzac Parade, when I witnessed something awful.

An Aboriginal man was heckling and shoving an East Asian man. The Indigenous guy was yelling obscenities and things like “Go back to where you came from!” to the suited up Asian guy, who was trying, literally, to shake him off. That was Awkward thing Number 1.

People just watched. And did nothing. That was Awkward thing Number 2.

By people, I mean mainly Asian people. The University of New South Wales appears to be predominantly Asian, even the law faculty – a contrast with the College of Law at my own alma mater. That was Awkward thing Number 3.

And I did nothing because, frankly, I’m both Asian and female. I actually thought I might get hit. That was Awkward thing Number 4.

It made me think about how Australia is not the place I thought it was when I was little. Continue reading Australia: Not the place I thought you were

From travelling light to living light

Packing light Coming back from 12 days away over the Christmas-New Year break, I realised that I only used half of what I’d brought along with me – the rest could have stayed at home. I really thought I’d gotten good at packing light. When I travel with others I often get comments about how little luggage I get by on. I’m a bit chuffed … Continue reading From travelling light to living light