It really is. Watching the sun’s last dying rays explode out of an ever changing bank of clouds. Mauve, red, unimaginable shades of crimson streaking across the sky while the waves themselves reflect the colours in sympathy, before swiftly descending into black. I love the rhythm of the ocean, so constant yet so different. My alone time, my time to bring peace to my mind, sitting on a rock on Marine Drive at dusk, simply watching, breathing and blanking my mind. The crabs play out their little dramas in front of me while the ocean beckons endlessly. A train thunders past, the carriage lights reflecting inside my glasses, kaleidoscoping against the ocean and the sunset panorama. A vision that not the most potent MDMA could replicate. The aching darkness left after the train flurries past. There is no need for a soundtrack, thoughts, loves lost or any base needs. There is only the Indian Ocean, the horizon and my insignificant self. A humbling and liberating experience.
For some reason I’ve been obsessed with Kings of Leon recently. Use Somebody has been on repeat. I’m slowly picking up the pieces of my old lives and examining the shards, cutting my fingers on some of the more jagged edges.
This house is like a museum, I guess old people really don’t like to throw things away. Today I disposed off all my report cards from school. A nondescript bundle I came across while clearing my bookshelves to try and accommodate the library I shipped over from the US. Who knew the school I lost my Sinhalese was called Reseda Baptist Elementary? I never knew I was so good at history either, I guess writing all those analytical essays and topping my class at o-levels has had some beneficial effects. My cyclical aptitude at mathematics and chemistry was also interesting to see. I think it was all down to teachers. Mrs. S, Mr. L and Miss D always brought out the best in me with their belief and free wheeling attitudes. Mr. J and Mrs. C always brought me down with their rigid inflexibility.
I’m trying to figure out how much of that kid remains, a decade and more on. I know I’m wiser and yet more bitter. I’ve tried a fair number of things on my journey, the drugs, meaningless sex, workaholic, partying, love, voodoo chemistry, yet nothings gelled. I know I feel the most alive with a camera in my hand and recently slipping under the waves. Yet I wish I knew what I want in life, some sort of goal which still seems so elusively blurred.
I am piecing the jigsaw together. A million pieces tackled one day at a time. One day at a time. I think that’s the mantra for happiness, but so much more difficult when I haven’t had a proper nights sleep in three years. I miss the constant companions of the last one and a half years. I know the work may have eventually killed me but those were the worst and the best of times with the friends I had, I have, but 10,000 miles away. I’m still navigating the social webs here, trying to figure out where I need to put up walls and where I need to tear them down. The old threads are most definitely fraying and even some of the new ones.
Here’s to six months from now and the jigsaw being somewhat in place. Fulfilling work, the opportunity to practice my passions and some like minded peeps. It’s not much I ask to piece the shards together. Of course nothing comes easy. Also here’s to this.
It was as good as could have got, that Monday, in another lifetime. The Indian Ocean murmuring in the background, candlelight, eyes shining with laughter and footsie under the table. She was expecting the question, finally after over three years of geography, commitment issues and general drama, there were no barriers. Or at least it seemed so.
My heart screamed yes, but my gut whispered no. And I went with my gut. The light in her eyes died as I stayed silent, her hand slipped away. The crab grew cold in front of us and the phone came out, cabs were called. I had just changed too much and she didn’t know it. She had changed too little and I could see it. I’m not who I was in 2006 when I fell deep into those brown eyes. The physicalness of her has no hold on me anymore, the soft lips and hot skin.
I guess irony really has no bounds. When the place is right, the time is wrong. The sad part is I don’t think she understood as much as I tried to make her understand. The hurt shows in her eyes even now when she’s with someone else. For my part I understand that there really was no other way. I don’t know if I’ve grown up, but I for me the confines of a club will never have that allure. No more crazy Friday nights and early Saturday morning. I get my thrills from the wilds, meters under the ocean and she cannot comprehend that lifestyle.
I’d like to think that the last few years weren’t just about my ego, having the It girl want me, playing those games, cold one night, twisting in the sheets the next. There was some sort of deep voodoo connection and I guess there always will be some part of me that craves for her, in the dark depths of the night. But right now I’m trying to stay in the sunshine and keep life good. Too good for complications.
I’m not sure how many moons I had spent in Yala before, but I know it was a significant amount of time. In all those years I had seen a grand total of six leopards and two bear (one I can’t really remember but let’s just assume I did see it). I still remember those days, the wise old tracker quartering the park, looking for pug marks and listening for alarm calls from deer or langurs. Drawing on years of experience they would lead us around the park to the animal’s favourite haunts in a usually fruitless but always thrilling search. A cup of tea at the bungalow and talk of near misses and the pug marks always followed. The memories are quiet and golden, of hushed whispers and muted clothing to show your respect for the wilderness.
This time around in Yala was certainly an eye-opener. The digital age is certainly upon us as it seemed the time of the rally racers. The tracker has been shunted into a corner by the new breed of young, fast safari tour drivers. Admittedly since Sumudu had been doing this for eight years the revolution must have happened some time ago, but due to my extended sojourn out of the county it had slipped past me unnoticed.
This is not to say there are no advantages.
Two nights, six leopards and a bear sighting will attest to the fact that the safari drivers’ approach works.
Three (give or take) members of the same company will traverse the park in different jeeps.
The cellphone rings courtesy of a magical Dialog network that only the safari tour drivers seem to have access to.
And then a drive that Colin McRae would be proud of would ensue. I believe our jeep may have started off with side view mirrors, but they were long gone and are probably still festooning some poor spotted deer whose standing by a jungle road going ‘what the fuck was that?’ Trees, rocks swerve by in a flash as you desperately hold on to anything tied down to the truck to avoid getting thrown out into a thorn bush. The jeep then screeches to a halt in front of a slightly taken aback leopard/bear/elephant while the people inside try to figure which way is up and try to remove camera equipment embedded in friends body parts.
Add a few hundred (well maybe just a dozen) cars to the spot in about an hour and you have your sighting.
I’m not sure how I feel about the changes in Yala. Sure it would seem foolishly nostalgic to wax on about some pseudo-golden age where the animals were less hassled and the onlookers more noble, but those are probably selective memories. I am a bit saddened by the demise of the tracker though, at least in the company of the safari tours. The grand old men of the jungle are no more or at least have no voice.
Out with the old and in with the new I guess. At least you're guaranteed the goods.
The trays blurred in front of my face, cheap plastic containers made holy with the most beautiful flower designs being passed hand to hand. The smell of incense curling through me while the drum beat its tattoo. I don’t believe in customs, but I do believe in culture. And I understood the paradoxical need for the two as I partook in the ata visi Buddha pooja. Though I personally prefer a more quiet experience, the pooja did resonate with me. Spending the time with SS, the closest thing to a mother I’ve ever had probably had a calming effect on me as well.
The alienation from my culture and traditions and the life of an pseudo-elitist has made me feel like a foreigner in my own country. Though I am still not and never will be a ‘religious’ person in the strict traditionalist sense, nor for that matter I guess a ‘true’ Sri Lankan I feel less foreign, more with my country now. If even for a bit, I found myself.
Times going by and I’m still wrestling. It’s strange the things that bring me up, a conversation with a friend (who incidentally now knows more about me than most people) brought things I have never talked about to the surface. 21 years is a long time to carry something within myself, getting it out felt good despite the constant fear of the possibility of alienation.
Today brought me closer to my blood, where my roots are and the shell is scouring off, one painful layer by layer.
I just hope the world holds up for me while I return to normality.
It was hot and the priest was rude. The obsequious required of us was not really to my taste either especially for someone who can’t remember a name, when that’s all they really have to do.
The most I could muster was a half bend at the waist, the task of remembering something that I really don’t want to, for the sake of absolving a non-forgivable guilt. I’m never sure what they expect of me…do they expect me to garner ping by feeding some people who have nothing better to do than sit on their asses all day and get fed once a day by fools?
Am I supposed to remember something I cannot, a voice that I can’t remember hearing, a betrayal that’s left me with multitudes of demons to fight without guidance?
To me it’s just bullshit. I’d rather forget, it might as well be any other day as far as I fucking care.
Transitions are never easy. Especially when one has the genetic payload that I’m ‘blessed’ with, the overwhelming perfection streak and the proneness to manicness that my ancestors have passed onto me. The orderliness of the first world is missed, not to mention the routine of the work world. Despite it bringing me close to the brink of insanity, it was easy to bury the needs and wants in 10 hour days, workouts and drugged sleep. Actually dealing with my demons with time off on my hands is a totally different ballgame, and one that is much, much harder.
So what’s keeping me going when getting out of bed seems as hard as bench pressing 200 pounds? It truly is the connections, the friendships and the relationships I have around. SR emailing me all the details from sunny SoCal so I don’t miss anything with the old crew, SO to have random late night conversations about the best in 80’s music, sweaters and see through shirts, the sibling wishing that I find what I’m looking for (perhaps in a few years), the thought that maybe, just maybe I’m somewhat employable, T providing entertainment in that special way she can, A and S being the usual jokers and R akki pointing out that this transition is something that everybody goes through and that everyone who has gone through it, is unanimous that they don’t want to go back.
At the end of the day I guess I should have been more aware that this would be hard. The relentless pursuit of a goal and its actual attainment has left me a bit bereft. Perhaps I shouldn’t worry as much about where I’m going anymore and start enjoying where I am. For one thing the sunsets from Marine Drive, something that’s starting to become a habit for me are truly one of a kind.
I’m looking to each step now instead of the long road since I have in the past been too focused on the destination. To end on a somewhat random (if typical) note, here’s my favourite song of all time (and surprisingly it’s not a Snow Patrol tune(.