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Someone else’s conversation

A Chinese lady in her 40s and her younger Indian companion sat at one of the cosier seats along the wall of the restaurant. They were about to finish their meal when I requested a seat change, and moved in beside them.

As I started on my sandwich and Kindle, I could hear their voices filering in and out in the background. I didn’t mean to listen in on their conversation, but her soothing and accented voice against her friend’s hard and rather bitter tone seemed to implore me to do so. It didn’t help that the first thing I heard was, so where do you want to migrate to?

I couldn’t catch her friend’s reply above the multiple conversations going on in the restaurant. But as my lunch proceeded, I could make out parts of their chat. Words like education and paper qualifications were thrown out. I learnt that Bitter friend is a foreigner, but I don’t know that about Soothing friend. Judging from these snippets and tones, I found out that Soothing friend was dishing out advice and options to a friend who seemed to be having a difficult time getting desired employment. Her voice never once hit a decibel higher even when the latter hit back with negativity and doused her in her bitterness.

I finished a chapter of my book and my ham and cheese sandwich as they went on this way while drinking up the rest of their after-lunch tea. By then the lunch crowd had dispersed and the restaurant was visibly emptier.

The space returned to its pre-lunch status but Soothing friend never managed to turn Bitter friend’s mood around. As they took their leave, Bitter friend, sounding not so much defeated as defiant, told her friend that she’s tired of this city, and there’s nothing here she wants to do, essentially wrapping up the session and possibly bringing the entire conversation back to square one.

A mini Feb update

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2018 came late for me. I was still stuck in old ways and rushing my year’s project when the rest of the world moved ahead, refreshed and determined. And there I was, holed up at home with my laptop, notes, and refills of hot tea. I haven’t seen my face in a while, and my head’s wheezing from the cold I caught on the last day of the old year.

6 weeks on, I’m working on the last bits of work, running errands in between, stealing some hours on the weekend for appointments, but the tiny pockets of time that I have mostly go to tv – because all I really am doing is waiting for 2018 to happen. I’m not usually this way. Can’t wait for the time to reboot.

Snippets of Pingxi Line (平溪線 )

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These mostly blurry shots were the result of experimenting with the Yashica Microtec Zoom 100, a compact camera which I found lying in an old drawer at home. I don’t think I have taken it out for a second test roll, although I really ought to give it another go. 2018 goal, maybe?

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See you later.

2017 was a year of broken resolutions, too much putting off of things, and tested confidence.

It was one I was thankful for nonetheless. Small everyday moments reigned this year (will write about this another time). There was more letting go and sharing. Acquaintances and friends, old and new, and family, guided my path and renewed a part of me with little reminders, advice and their presence.

And above all, 2017 was a year of laying foundations. In 2018, with a thankful heart and nourished mind, I am ready to be a better version of myself.


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This late morning, I was on a comfortably-packed train, wondering if I should drop by the poke bowl shop to pick up lunch before heading for the office. I had a small craving for it, but not enough to rule out a simple sandwich, or a bowl of noodles, completely.

Lost in thought over my first-world problem, my idle fingers found the folder of film-taken pictures on my phone. I should post something on the blog, I thought above my lunch thoughts.

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I flipped through pictures of my Italy holiday, my multiple Taiwan escapades, and weekend walks, pleased to see them again. Then my finger hit a folder of experimental double-exposed (and somewhat failed) photos. I had connected with a stranger on the other side of the world for this little project, and for my part, I wandered into the streets off East Coast Road to complete it.

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But as I looked at these photos, it wasn’t the stranger I thought of. Or the streets I could no longer name. Or the reason why I couldn’t take a proper double-exposed photo. My thoughts strayed onto the companion who’s absent, yet undeniably present in all the photos.

Strange how life could change the course of a friendship, how archives and archives of fond memories were not enough to keep it together. Not nearly enough.


Then the overhead sound system announced my stop. I barely heard it, but my body has learnt the routine, and I stepped out to join the rest of the working crowd.