beautiful AF

You will have the most beautiful day.

These were my words. And I gave them to her.
Like most boys at the cusp of manhood and the lingering awkward stage of pubescence, I uttered each word with confidence that was laced with sheer ego and punctuated with self-conscious effort. There was not a cloud of doubt, no shadow of paranoia or a tinge of foreboding of what could possibly go wrong and threaten to rain over this lovesick parade. No, not in those days.

The sky loomed over us; the fiery gradient of sunset sort of matched her shirt. She seemed restless, but not really anxious. She kept tucking her hair behind her ear—just one, the left—and tugging at the cuff of her sleeve with her right. Her right sneaker pawed at the dry grass, absently it seemed, yet I discerned a pattern after a while. Was she bored?

The sun was setting. I handed her a tiny square of paper, a centimetre on each side. It was only then I noticed the drumming inside my chest; how long had it been beating like this? Was it really this loud? Could she hear it? I scanned her face nervously. Her gaze was fixed on the piece of paper resting on her palm, completely oblivious to the overworking muscle that was my heart. I rubbed my palms on my pants; damnit, my hands were sweating. Next to my occasional breakouts, I thought my sweaty hands to be disgusting. I’m sure she did too. Okay, I wasn’t sure; I didn’t even try to hold her hand.

I swallowed, hoping to dislodge the lump in my throat. A ripple began to spread behind my neck and my ears. Every nerve in my body was screaming by now, but this wasn’t fear. Not quite. It reminded me more of that time I first leapt off a cliff and plunged into a river on a stupid dare. Well, the minutes—no, seconds—right before the jump, right at the edge. Much like that first time I pulled out of the driveway in my dad’s band new car at 2 am and my very core was in fervent prayer to all the saints in the litany that nobody at home would dare wake up. The spiked senses, the waves of anticipation, the heightened awareness flowing through my lifeline and resonating throughout my entire consciousness. Every minute, every second; I was present.

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Writing in Hindustan

tour bus

I was on a bus in India, staring back at a little girl with the blackest eyes.

Not black like death, but abyssal; pools of deep wonder staring back at me. Nothing else.  These black pools belonged to a small round face, which had a flat, round button for a nose, and a rose bud for a mouth. Black tendrils of corkscrew curls framed this orbital face. She looked no older than five. Her kurta, so tiny it looked like she had worn her doll’s dress, was red and faded as the earth.

Her curls bounced up and down and so did her tiny ball of a head as our bus—this rickety pile of metal and wood with a 3rd-hand engine and four wheels—bounced and rocked its way down a #####-mile highway of rocks and pebbles. Her eyes though, those abyssal black pools, remained as steady and fixed on me as a placid lake. A tiny thumb was lodged inside her tiny mouth, like it belonged there.

The bus screeched to a halt, throwing most of us forward. I squeezed my eyes shut for a few seconds and blinked them a few more times. I glanced outside the window, my gaze lost out into the dark nothingness of night. I tried to peer through the thick clouds of smog, the dark layers of night, for any mere indication of current location. My watch said 4:30 in the morning, which meant I had been riding through Hindustan for over five hours now.

An infant, the round-eyed little girl’s sibling, started to cry.

What am I doing here?

The question blared at me for the tenth time since I plopped on that torn seat. It was a literal question and less of an existential one, though I knew there would be no escaping the latter for long.

Our driver, this frail little man with three layers of clothes on, jumped out to inspect the engine, muttering words I’d never understand. The baby’s crying grew into full-on wailing. The person behind me was kicking my seat, restless. My temples began to throb.

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Overshare

Transferred from the About page:

To overshare, I spent all my formative years in a Catholic girls school and danced ballet. Raised by nomadic hardcore religious adults, I met the late Mother Teresa at the age of 3 while slurping on kosher yogurt and straddling a suitcase, somewhere in Israel. At 7, I began writing about animals and sending handwritten manuscripts to several relatives and convivial adults. After growing up with Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Good Housekeeping’s Monthly Fiction series (usually on the throne), I decided to start my own publication on stuff like ballet, animals, and high fashion by cutting up magazines and writing/drawing/pasting the editorial content. Readership was nil. At 13, my graduation gift was a summer in SF without parental supervision; I was never the same. I became an adult and tried to follow my grandfather’s footsteps via a career in foreign service or international development. One day, I quit my  job with a magazine, packed my bags and moved to Singapore (yes, it was for love). The time in the red dot city was monumental and pivotal for many reasons, such as cementing my love for words, learning to swim in tech/digital waters, and the discovery of shisha (nothing less than Al Fakher tobacco). I returned to my mother-island, after a brief stay in rural Nepal teaching kids stuff they already knew. I also returned to the first company that took my writing seriously enough to pay for it and air it on television.

Sunrise Flow

At the culmination of my 200-hour yoga teacher training with American Yoga School under the tutelage of James Brown, we were asked to turn in a final essay describing a day in the life of our future selves.

Quite pleasant to read along to the Her movie soundtrack.

I wake up.

There’s a slow ease to it, waking up. Like how a song cross fades into the next; I gradually stream this transition from unconscious to subconscious to awakened consciousness. My eyes slowly blink open, and while the scenery of crashing waves and pulling undertows from my dream lingers on, it gradually fades out and melts into the darkness of the room.

It’s still dark outside; a canvas of twilight with a faint swirl of tomorrow looms overhead. The sound of sleep is the only audible noise.

I stretch—my arms and limbs reaching out to the opposite sides of the room, pulling from the tips of my fingers and toes. My spine, awakened and lengthened, curls slightly as I roll over to my right side and my feet find the warm nakedness of the wooden floor. It’s funny how there is barely any distance between my bed and the floor, but feel dramatically separate—physically and figuratively—sort of like how two nations are separated by a 2-metre bridge and a sign.

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Handbrake turn

Not another long overdue update. Well, yes and a complete content overhaul.

For a quick recount of goings on in the last 3 months,  I was away mostly on multiple, consecutive shoots around and outside the country. Much of the work was anthropological and sociological, visiting indigenous communities and digging into ethnolinguistic cultural norms. Personally, I think this has been a privilege and one of the most fulfilling components of what I do. It is delicate, it is sensitive, and (I think) requires some  integrity, ethics and empathy. Being in this industry (the media) has kept me constantly in self-check; how do I dig without being intrusive? Is my presence imposing? Who exactly benefits from this story? Is the angle presumptuous? Although many would say these questions are more self-questioning than necessary, I like to think these help keep my work clean and grounded.

I’ve also recently picked up on yoga again and committed myself to consistent practise. By committed and consistent, I mean, making it a job and working in a studio. To push myself further, I took the early morning shift, which means getting out of the house before sunrise. The work itself is part-time and a composite of studio management and an apprenticeship. Someone suggested that I blog about this experience, this not-so-convenient route to a life in yoga. While I try to refrain from posting “dear diary” accounts on this blog, I agree that keeping track of my progress and thoughts on the mat could be interesting.

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On Loop

That moment of total exhilaration, upon hitting the “Save”/”Send” button; a quick glance at the clock, the slow realisation of finality (It’s really over?!), a blank slate/a tabula rasa—a reboot is in order; a wave, in slow motion, made up of relief/anticipation/adrenaline/sleepless-caffeine-induced-hallucinations, comes washing over.

That’s been on loop in my head for nearly two weeks now.

And just the same way I murmur to myself, my own pom-pom wielder, each time I am 1 kilometer away from the finish line:

You’re. Almost. There.

Okay, distraction number 18934397547 over. Back to Me–versus–Cursor. 

Be firm and hold your ground when drawing the line between right and wrong—but never, ever, break their spirit.

I know nothing about motherhood, but—if/when the time comes—these are words of advice I will surely live by.