June 7, 2022
The water hut
It’s hot in Mangalore and finding such water coolers in bus stops is a welcome respite.
Reminds me of the “pyayu” or water huts from childhood days in Rajasthan. In Summer months, volunteers constructed huts to dispense free cold water to people passing by. You could always spot them by the construction material - straw, and earthen pots strewn outside. The dry heat of the desert makes earthenware efficient evaporative cooler. I miss that “earthy” water taste.
December 21, 2021
Phnom Penh at night
Late December is a great time to wander in Phnom Penh past midnight. There is a cool breeze from the river. As you move away, you discover secret places.
December 19, 2021
The Moon (cafe and bookstore) is another of my secret place in Singapore. They always surprise with their selection of books. And probably the only place you can get “haldi doodh”, turmeric milk - the heal all magic potion from the subcontinent.
This visit buy is a novel set in Jinbocho, a part of Tokyo (4th photo onwards) famous for bookshops, an Indonesian curry shop (https://www.kyoueidoo.com/index.html) that serves curry in Aladdin’s lamp shaped bowl, and Sakura Cafe (https://www.sakura-cafe.asia/jimbocho/) that serves maté in metal plated gourd cups.
The cafe in the novel allows people to time travel but they should come back before the coffee gets cold. Where will you want to go if you could travel in time? For me, I will go to the time when I first met you.
December 17, 2021
Forgetting as a defence mechanism
Sinopticon is an anthology of Chinese Sci-Fi. I like Chengdu writer A Que’s Flower of the Other Shore. It is a funny Zombie story that has guest appearances from the author and a famous Hollywood actor. The Zombies or “stiffs” here can communicate with each other via sign language. They sometimes wander into the places where they used to live before the outbreak.
Old Jim puts the photo next to my face, takes another look and nods his free hand. “I can’t see it now, but you were quite handsome when you were alive.” He points at the girl in the photograph. “Who’s this?” In the photo, the girl is half a head shorter than me and leaning into my embrace. We’re standing by the sea and the light of the setting sun is in her eyes, which are also shining bright. I look carefully but can“t recall anything about her. Her beauty is beyond doubt, though. I shake my head, and stow the photograph away. “I’ll tell you later, when I remember.”
“It doesn’t matter who. We’re all just walking corpses. For us, memory is just another kind of virus, one even more deadly and that would torment us more than the Hunger. Forgetting who we are is a defence mechanism for Stiffs. Don’t resist this defence: don’t remember.” Old Jim’s signs are always full of philosophical meaning.
November 21, 2021
Muối tôm- Salt, chilli and shrimp dipping
Suddenly miss muối tôm. Shrimp, salt, chilli dipping used with raw mango or guava.
I saw a Vietnamese grocery shop, recalled all the little Vietnamese that I remembered trying to impress the people inside. But they turned out to be Burmese. Such a funny world. Nothing wasted, we had a chit cat about our Shan state, Chin state and other Northern lands.
November 15, 2021
This time any other year
Ordinarily, this time of the year, I am skipping Saigon, and heading to Hanoi. All I have is the little iPad, a keyboard and two change of clothes. It is cool - perfect walking all day, stopping occasionally at cafes, in Kim’s words “pouring our lives into words”.
Just switched to a mechanical keyboard and remembered all the walking and writing. Read Kim at https://kim-trinh.com