jeudi 9 février 2012

TRAVEL IS THE SADDEST OF ALL PLEASURES


I am looking out through the large glass window/door to the last vestiges of the last snow flakes,as it very rarely snows in Paris. But the past few days have been inordinately cold. It also taught me a lesson. I missed the blue skies whenever I came to Paris but the cold weather has brought bluest of the skies over Paris that I have seen and also bright sunshine. It is amazing that one does not feel that cold when the sun is shining so brightly and the temperature gauge reads minus 2 C.
I am psychologically preparing myself for the long flight ahead tomorrow. On Air France (hope they are flying! As there is a strike 6-9 february) 777 seat 20 H, hope I have chosen it well, comfort and not too far from the Loo. The Ipad is loaded with the books I am reading now, but I don't have to shlep them as 1Q84 is a big tome. Of Mr Ho’s list of 100 movies I will download one or two movies so that I can watch them on flight. I will go to the Airport in advance so that I can further relax at the Air France Lounge at 2 E, a flute or two of champagne before boarding the flight, and take with me the periodicals on offer: Le Monde Diplomatique, GEO among others. I am sure they will have a copy of International Herald Tribune as well.
Singapour, especially its airport, is so user friendly. On alighting, a friendly Malay or Indian face would greet you at the Immigration, no more than 30 seconds to look at your passport and photo and you are walking down to the belt where, the chances are good, that your bag is already in rotation.. Taxi stand is well organized, I plan to stay at a boutique hotel in Little India. The hotel prices have doubled in Singapour and their currency has gained strength but that Masla Dosai at Komala Villas in Serangoon Road which is within walking distance of the boutique hotel which is also ecologically minded.

I am expecting to meet two stalwarts of the International Zheng He Society, anticipated with great pleasure. A prolegomenon of the continuing saga of the Great Navigator, Admiral Zheng He. A book is to be published in Singapour where a humble contribution from me, on Zheng He and Cochin, is included.
There is someone else I would like to see, to talk about Ramachandran the Neuroscientist, Alzheimers Disease and Coconut Oil, I can only hope it happens.
Soon after the meeting with the two illustrious doctors of literature, my flight would take off, mapping a similar journey of a child many years ago. I remember standing on the edge of the boat, looking at the mountains and hills of Borneo slid past, Natuna Islands entered my vocabulary then, and feeling with all my heart what Somerset Maugham had written on seeing the very same scenery many years earlier.
I travel because I like to move from place to place.

I enjoy the sense of freedom it gives me.
It pleases me to be rid of ties, responsibilities, duties.
I like the unknown.
I have the notion that by travel I can add to my
personality and so change myself a little.
I do not bring back from a journey quite the same
self that I took.
Somerset Maugham “Gentleman in the Parlour”, 1935
Through the kindness of strangers, I hope to be an Indigenous Anthropologist with a PhD, an ornithologist, a specialist in beads, a café owner and a free spirit..and still have time left over to gaze across the river from the hotel at the white fort that so symbolic of the White Rajah of Sarawak..

Walking along the shop street would bring back the same kind of street in Kuala Belait where in the heat of summer holidays I used to lumber along..
I am sure I will have the diversity of Malaysian cuisine now with added flavours of Borneo..
An early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur to join the eastward pull of Cambodge, and I expect the taxi to be waiting as I get out of the airport, then the French NGO run hotel.
The next two days would be humbling to learn of the enormous success of my good friend with his Peer Education Network, the kind I hope to introduce to my Indian friends in the hamlet of Mexico .. (by the way I would be there in a few days..)

Feel content, once again given the opportunity to sacrifice for the Indians .. to make their lives a little bit more comfortable…
I do believe that the Great Spirit, The great Mystery as the Indians would pronounce, keeps an eye on this humilde medico …
 From Cambodia it is a long way to get to the country of the Indians…
In exactly one month this journey would be reversed..this time to celebrate Nowruz..
But there would be a time of tenderness near the Medina at Marrakech.. Les Almoravids..French and Moroccan week.. Viola!


Photos of Club les Almoravides, Marrakech
This photo of Club les Almoravides is courtesy of TripAdvisor