Grey Goodbye

I waited during most of November. My eyes scanned carefully. The grey roof opposite looked the same, as always. It was my morning routine check. If it happened at some point during the night, there should have been some signs, right?

Maybe more luck in December, she said.

She didn’t notice the frown. Surely she knew that I haven’t got much time. It’s not her fault though. Nothing in her power could bulge anything in the sky. So I just focused on the things a mere human capable of. Wishing and hoping. Maybe today’s the day. It sure feels like it.

Still nothing.

It was supposed to be special because it never happened to me, at least from where I came. I bought everything I think I should need. I figured protection and safety are prime issues. I started with browsing each crook of the top floor of a shop recommended by her. I’m comforted by her knowledge. There was a long aisle suggesting what kind of things consumers need for our present and future. With my current state, I knew it in my heart that failure to notice this would result in my slow death or tragic mummification.

It doesn’t take long to decide. I bought a pair. I was actually very proud of my investment. I wore it night and day. I might even tell her that it’s a life-changing garment. You should try it, I said. She just laughed about it. Amateurs, she might say. She survived 7 winters here. Thermal clothing is the last thing on her mind especially tight, grey ones.

Next, I succumbed to socks. To be honest, I never really saw the importance of having and wearing socks until I ventured out this far north. It does feel a bit weird walking on our baked, dusty Equatorial ground with socks for leisure. The feet beg for air circulation, not insulation. The sun smirked at fleece jacket, fur lined gloves and thigh high leather boots. Those won’t do. The humidity favors cotton, colorful rubber slippers and the exposing of bare skin. Life is a good trail of sweat trickling down the creek of your bottom.

And of course, free and perfect tan.

Lastly, I should have bought gloves. I wanted to but I already had a pair and surprisingly it was a gift in summer. She told me she would buy me a pair but he beats her to it. It was our second outing. I remember distinctly that I complained about not being able to adapt to the weather. His eyes stretching far ahead and I pretended not to notice. Men, I complained to myself. Poor little creatures with such a short span of attention.

I was wrong. Some men remember better.

Completing my ensemble, I went out every day fully garbed just in case. The cold breeze bit the tip of my nose and fingers. It takes a while for my blood to dart from my heart to my toes. I swam in endless Americanos and expressos. I dived from the tallest book towers to undetermined depth of book trenches. I drowned in my Now. I began to suspect that with one day’s notice, my wish will not be coming true.

It was the stupidest thing. In the midst of wretchedness, I sat in my room hoping for a miracle. I wanted a sign. Something. Anything. The absolute power should care, right? He should listen. I need Him. This is what I ask this year, the year of Nothing-Ever-Good-Could-Happen-To-Me. It was midnight. I was on my bed in an empty room with a big World map peeling from the wall, restless. It was unbearable. Indeed Life was. Sweat forming on the top of my lips. I hate this place, I said. We were scorching from the heat of dry season. Having two seasons didn’t help. It’s either Dry or Monsoon. Nothing fancy, nothing to look forward to.

Unless I could fly. Maybe I could escape somewhere. Somewhere lacked sun. Somewhere cold. Somewhere with snow. And with that thought I managed my first sincere smile.

I have envisioned it so many times. Snow melting in my hand. Snowman army. Snow drizzling down like sugar on strawberries. A blanket of white fur. Me sliding on slippery slope and falling on my face. Snowball empires.

The first part of the thought materialized into action. I flew. But how in the world I could convince the sky to impart some frozen icy water?

And it’s one day left.  What else to do?

Grumpy, I went out all day to say goodbye. This is quite upsetting. I traced the plank of an important dead person laying foundation of the local library. I went up to the third floor and touch the endless rows of books. I contemplate a moment of silence at the basement of a bookshop. Another half an hour at a second hand bookstore. I sat gloomily for the last time at a coffee shop draining a cup of liquid Black Hole.

In another universe, I shall find all my conflicting dreams, flickered stars, wrecked ambitions and empty promises stepped out of an old, scribbled, unrecognizable, blackened notebook as bright, colorful rose petals blooming hungrily in boundless garden. One day all this will make sense to me. Someday.

That grim, grey, cold day I wept. The day of Infinite Goodbyes and right on cue, the cloud announced rain. The streets were teaming with people scattering and searching for cover. I went inside at once. The unpleasant episode of the day is best watched from a safe place. There’s something about the sound that made me look for a big window. The sky rarely lies but what was that sound? Thumping and bouncing like racing pebbles down a creek.

It was not rain.

Those little round white things drummed the cobblestones and unfortunate heads in such a blind force that it’s painful to see. It thudded, bounced and rolled. My eyes widened. I saw another thing coming.

Hailstones, or what I read; Hope.

It’s a sign. I knew it. This is it.

20 minutes. The world was covered with grey specks. I touched some remains on a bench just to make sure that it wasn’t a dream. It really happened! A part of me wants to jump and click my heels while another bargaining to kiss strangers. I was torn thinking for appropriate response for this awesome view when a tiny white dust settled on my arm. Another landed on my shoes and a thousand more minuscule parachutes landed from heaven. My faint smile widened. The salty taste on my tongue disappeared. Really, this year wasn’t so bad after all.

I looked up at the bright clear sky and said what’s due.

Thank you.


The irony of goodbye. The mixed feelings. It’s always a blurred line. Nothing is definite. I have the range of polar opposites. Sad and happy, black and white.

I choose everything in between. I choose grey.

Almost 6 Months

Six months ago I would never guessed that I would be here. I was crying alone in a tiny room, resenting the air that I breathe in. I did not go out of my room, let alone the house. I was determined that no one cared. No one would help.

I was thinking of a short cut. Maybe there is. Maybe I can do it.


I was broken in so many places. I couldn’t put myself back together. After several attempts, I didn’t even bother trying.

I stopped talking. I stopped being fun. I can’t even laugh out loud. I didn’t bother much about eating. I resented company. I hated everything.

I existed. Pretty much.

The change came swiftly. I wanted it to happen so much that I covered it with a lie. I felt guilty but that’s the only way that I can survive. I want to properly breathe again.

It’s amazing how I can almost be whole again.

It’s nice to laugh again.

It’s nice to move again.

It’s nice to breathe again.


Summer Walk

I am quite proud of today. I had a long walk with my friend. I almost forgot that I had a camera in my bag when I saw this view.


It warmed my heart just standing in front of it.

Can you see it? Let me zoom it in.


Marvelous, isn’t it? I am not even a fan but I love the vibe I got from watching the majestic stadium.


It was a brilliant day. The sun was up, the chilly wind burning my cheeks. I was having the time of my life.


I only could imagine the nicest things inside. This stadium might be the reason for some people to be here but all I wanted to do was to read the missing pieces after I was introduced to Ender’s Game so my friend brought me to Oxfam.

Nothing. Not a single book by Orson Scott Card.

Hmm…Maybe something bigger.

“Like a library?” my friend asked.

And so we went to the City Library. I went up to the third floor and it’s exactly what I wanted in life.




I know I will have a hard time and waste a lot of money looking for these babies in Malaysia so I am absolutely over the moon when I saw them.


And after that I went to Waterstones and saw Dan Brown’s Inferno for half of the price. I truly wish I could stay forever.

Waiting for transit plane in Dubai. I have about 2 hours to kill. They promised nasty turbulence on the way to Newcastle. I’m quite nervous but I think everything will turn out fine.

I’m a lucky girl.

I have a knack for being lucky. I escaped 2 separate bombings unscathed so turbulence warning was not something I worry much.

The thing I don’t like most about this trip was that I can’t sleep. It was 7 hours of The Big Bang Theory without being able to laugh at jokes that I used to like because my mind was numbed with lack of sleep. I end up listening to Coldplay and Sting over and over again.

The problem was simple. My seat wouldn’t recline at any type of command. Also the guy sitting next to me and his friend are making an effort to get to know me and I couldn’t bring myself to say no. In the end, I end up giving him a number that I invented on the spot.

I have another 6 hours from Dubai to destination then probably a car ride to my friend’s house.

And maybe, just maybe I’d deserve a good night sleep.

Impulsive Shopper

Right. I am not the kind of person that storms into a shop when she saw a sign that says 70% off the latest items. Please. I’m not a girl.

But little bubbles formed at the corner of my mouth when I saw 70% off round way ticket to Frankfurt.

*fangirl scream*

That’s how I resigned from my job and backpacked for 4 months around Europe in 2008.


The thing was, I didn’t know anyone in Frankfurt but I had a friend studying in Cologne. That’s 3 hours away. She skipped her master’s class to pick me up. World class friend, she is.

I stayed with her for about 6 weeks before deciding to go to Barcelona. I have another friend there and was supposed to give him a souvenir from Malaysia.


Who would have thought that I ended up flying to Bordeaux? It should be serious offence, my friend’s indifference towards the names of the places in Europe while going through the list of the destinations displayed on Germanwings site.

So I flew to a place I did not plan to go. Big deal. I’ll just take a train to Irún (France-Spain border) and later a bus to Barcelona. Problem solved.

In the meantime, I got to enjoy Bordeaux.


I loved the cathedrals. So Gothic and beautiful and scary 🙂


Can you believe that this was the court house? That’s mindbogglingly awesome!


And the fountain looked a tad scary too. Maybe this angle is better.


Amazing! It looked so majestic. How do I build these things in my garden?

I finally got to Barcelona a week later and spent quality time getting to know the city before visiting Madrid again. It’s so different than the Madrid I knew in 2005.


There were less tourist. More beggars. More misery. The crisis had started.


I went to my favourite place; Plaza Mayor, but it had lost its charm.


The city was  different. The were a lot of anger, hostility and rudeness. I wonder if the attitude was always there or situation forced them out. I always thought Madrid was home but I changed my mind after an old lady told me to ‘go back to my country‘ and how she hates Colombians.

That was uncalled for but if she truly met one, the Colombian would not let that get away unpunished, so I behaved.

Next stop: Seville.


I loved the people; kind, generous and a bit mischievous. Of all Spain, I love the southern accent the most. The drawl, the little breath they make when they pronounce S and T side by side on the same syllable, the lack of personal space, the food, the songs, etc. I love Andalucía!


The only complain I have is the lack of grass. That would be all.


I had several stops more before falling in love with Santander. I wish I could park my yacht carelessly too.


Or maybe cheaper ones over there.

Santander is by far one of my favourite Spanish cities after Bilbao and all the cities in the south. Sorry Madrid. You are no longer on the list.

With a bit of miracle, I secured a ticket to Edinburgh.


In less than 2 hours, the train left me at the Newcastle train station, where a friend waited for me. I wished I could stay longer in Edinburgh. The hills made me fertile. OK. The men jumpstarted my hormones. Man, I sounded like I’m a full swing female were-wolf.


Maybe it’s something in the accent or something malicious spreading in the air. Very fishy, I know.


It’s nice to finally see tufts of green grass again.


The park was nice. It’s clean, people having civilized conversation and playing with their dogs. Sanity. It’s all I need for a while.


What do you think a great host would do?

They’d bring you do Alnwick Castle, of course. If you’re a true Potterhead, then this information would not need explanation.


This gentleman’s name was Harry Hotspur. Kinda get you thinking of another famous Harry, doesn’t it?


You can do a lot of stuff. Like archery or like me, target practicing. You know…in case the muggles found this place. It’s unfair to fight them with magic.


I heard the heir of the castle is a single man. Quite young for my taste but I think I can live with that.


This little cottage was situated just outside the gates of Alnwick Castle. The owners weren’t there when we sneaked up their rose bushes.

Oh, this is it. Life.

I think it would be my greatest achievement, if I could own a little cottage like this in any part of Europe.

How long is this bloody crisis anyway?