Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back, At Last, For Good

Yes, I finally have a laptop. And no, it’s not pink in colour. After nearly three months of patient waiting and almost-total lack of blogging, I now have the gates open again to the world I actually inhabit.

I haven’t done much exploring since I last wrote, and there isn’t really much to talk of in terms of experience and novelty. However, I have had the opportunity to do some interesting reading, have a few intriguing conversations and learn a little more about living on my own.
When you are in Singapore and decide to go exploring, you invariably end up in a shopping mall. Naturally, when you see swanky buildings all around, some architecture that leaves you marvelled at the ingenuity of the human brain, dazzling lights that entice and enchant, you cannot help but be drawn to the glitz and the splendour, no matter how much you admire simplicity and plainness.

So it was that, on a couple of occasions, I ended up in shopping malls, riding up and down the escalators, getting lost in the milling crowds of diverse humanity. The variety is flabbergasting- and yet, sometimes, when you are not quite in the mood for it, there might be a tinge of sameness and boredom to it all- the same shops selling the same stuff in different avatars.
At night, I look out of the huge glass windows at the rows of lights on the streets, glittering out of the windows of the box-like houses, made distinct only by the people that inhabit them. An unnaturally voyeuristic desire to peep into those windows creeps up; what are the lives of these people like, how have they decorated their houses, what kind of food do they eat, what are their dreams and aspirations like? In the end, I come to the conclusion that perhaps there isn’t much to separate one house from another, after all. Sameness. All over again. Monotonous in one way, reassuring in another, especially when you are in a foreign country.

The library has been one constant factor, one pillar of support, so to speak. It never allows me to lapse into self-pitying bouts of homesickness. There is always comfort to be sought from long, hard days (or nights, because I work in shifts) in books of various kinds. Literature, religion, and a little bit of contemporary fiction- that has been my reading over the past couple of months, and I’m really trying to go beyond the boundaries that I seem to have unconsciously set for myself.
So many of my thoughts have lain dormant, haven’t found an outlet and died away unspoken. Not that they were spectacular or would have changed the world; still, it always feels good to let some of your weirder thoughts come out in the open, see how people react to them.

At this point, I don’t have a clue as to what I’m writing. These weeks of literary inactivity will take their toll, extract their pound of flesh, no matter how much I might have composed in my head. Revenge from what you love best.

I have Celtic music playing in the background. Haunting, soft, and transporting me to the Highlands. I can almost see the long-haired man in his kilt, standing high up on a cliff, his maiden hanging on to his arm, leaning on his strength, both looking out on a clear lake, feeling the power of nature and of love. What visions good music can conjure up! Celtic tunes have the most magical names- sample this: Solitude, Soft Day, Celtic Dreams, Eventide, Morning Rain, Halcyon Memories, Reverie, Ciara’s Tune…I have found some good Celtic music here in Singapore- an interest that will hopefully develop and bring with it knowledge and travel.

Those moments of disillusionment still persist- am I really in a different country? Is life really galloping by at such a pace, have I already been here for nearly three months? At times, it seems like a really short period of time to account for some of the long, arduous days that have gone by; at others, it is incredible to think I’ve been abroad for three months already. Abroad. I. Who grew up mostly in small towns, enjoying the sequestered comfort of anonymity and home. Setting up my own niche in an alien country, liking it and enjoying the feeling of getting lost among strangers.

Oh, I could go on writing tonight. All the lovely stories I’ve read want to tumble and slip over one another, beautiful scenes come to mind- is it the music, or is it just me? The excitement is not palpable, yet it bubbles and simmers underneath, quietly rising to the surface, tempered, though, by some inexplicable, unknown element. What this element is, I cannot quite figure out. I’m not even trying to. There is no harm in being quietly controlled in terms of emotions. I have not known myself to be overly gregarious in the past few years.

Christmas is around the corner. A month away? Sure it is; but the shopping malls here tell a different story. Look at the lights, the brightly decorated Christmas trees in every possible nook, the shoppers (not quite symptomatic of a festival in Singapore, maybe, because shopping seems to be the express purpose why people come here in the first place), the quantities of wonderful things to see and buy- makes it seem like there is no poverty in the world, like it is always full of Christmas cheer, that the smiling salesperson by the display of toys has not a care on his mind. Somewhere in the distance, a baritone rings out, exulting in the arrival of Christmas. However, I wonder if the excitement wouldn’t pall in a little while; if this early anticipation of fun and goodies is not taking away a bit of the spirituality that ought to be associated with the occasion. I don’t mean that zealots should take over the world and preach doctrines to everybody that goes by. However, there does seem to be something rather commercial and artificial about all that is being associated with Christmas. The real purpose seems to be buying and selling, intentional or not. That said, I cannot help confessing that wandering through the aisles of gift shops, I felt the urge to buy uninhibitedly and give away- only, here, there is nobody to give to.

It is maddening that I cannot connect to the Internet yet, and shall have to wait another day, perhaps more, before I can update my blog and connect to the world that is really mine. Along with the books now, there is going to be something more to look forward to. Life, as I always say (barring in moments of extreme pessimism), is indeed beautiful.

PS: This was typed out yesterday, when I was yearning to blog and couldn't connect to the Internet. Happily enough, the wireless problems have been sorted out, and I don't think I shall sleep tonight, because I have reconnected with the world I've been missing for so long.


Arun said...

hey,back with a bang ! :)

I hope ya dont turn into a mallrat :p

hmm... the voyeur bit reminded me of Rear Window...peeping into other peoples lives...

Will look forward to more posts...hopefully accompanied by pics from yer camera ! (not that yer writing needs any sidekicks ofcourse)

Jaya S said...

Thanks, Arun. It's lovely to think I can be here for good now. No, I don't mean to go scavenging into malls except for dark chocolate :-). Yes, I'll definitely put up some pics as soon as I can.

Revathi said...

Your writing will never fail to amaze me. you are the only person who can write about casual everyday happenings and yet make people read till the last line as if we were reading a thriller novel!! Seriously!! most of the times i end up reading and re reading ur posts (which i dont do with thriller novels!! :P)
ylevol tsop!!
(errrr. i am completely tired of saying 'lovely post' everytime so thought i would say it in the reverse just to show some variety!! :rolling eyes:.
errrr. sad i know. Sighhh!! but seriously Beautiful!! :))

Jaya S said...

Thanks so much, Revathi! I don't know if it's my writing or your patience that keeps you here till the last line ;-).

Mythri said...

I don't mind giving the same comment again and again... 'Amazing'. Everytime I read your post, I wish I could express my feelings like you can.