July 1, 2022

Why I love Saigon

Someone sketched me

A staff at the cafe I was at came by to show me a sketch she made of me. I was drawing something on the iPad. I am already her fan for the full head of hair. I love this city for its spontaneous and happy people.

saigon travel
June 21, 2022

It was good knowing China

China let us in homes, trains and hearts in the coldest North. China fed us and stayed up all night drinking with us in the wildest West. It was nice to know China when it was curious.

https://restofworld.org/2022/china-airbnb-exit-impact/

AirBnB leaving China

Now when I miss China, I go to Cambodia. Parts of Phnom Penh feel like 2000s China.

China in Phnom Penh Fancy houses.

China in Phnom Penh Golden Street. When people from China first started to move to China in early 2000s, they found making money difficult. They used to call Cambodia Qian Bu Zai.” This sounds like the Chinese name for Cambodia (Jian Bu Zhai) but also sound like There is no money.”

China in Phnom Penh

China in Phnom Penh Money changer.

China in Phnom Penh

China in Phnom Penh The smaller alleys have food from all over China.

Smelly Tofu Smelly Tofu.

June 7, 2022

The water hut

It’s hot in Mangalore and finding such water coolers in bus stops is a welcome respite.

Cold water dispenser at the bust stop

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.

Water hut in Rajasthan

Water hut in Rajasthan

India Summer
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.

Phnom Penh at night

Phnom Penh at night

Phnom Penh at night

Phnom Penh at night

Phnom Penh at night

Phnom Penh at night

PhnomPenh Cambodia
December 19, 2021

The Moon

The Moon bookshop and cafe map

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.

Turmeric milk, haldi doodh drink

The Moon Cafe and Books

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.

Jinbocho area of Tokyo

Indonesian curry shop in Jinbocho

South American Mate at a Jinbocho cafe

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.

Singapore Books Tokyo
December 17, 2021

Forgetting as a defence mechanism

Sinopticon

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.

China Books