Sometimes, there’s no better way to travel than by tram. Sure, it’s a bit stuffy – reeks of cheap beer sometimes, too – and granted, there’s always the odd chance that you’ll either get (a) hit on (b) cussed at (c) stomped on, or (d) held up by other passengers and miss your stop. But looking at its green factor and being as how it’s a cheaper alternative to parking on some overpriced concrete slab of borrowed land, sometimes, you watch as the cars drive past behind tinted glass and think, ‘If they knew what they’re missing…’
Like the children who choose to stand along the windows, giggling heartily as they squeal out familiar landmarks. They make you and the other commuters smile, and when you catch each other’s eye, you silently ask the same question, “Where has the child in me gone?”
Like the young lad in school uniform, who automaticallystands to give his seat away to the madam with the bad leg. He doesn’t make a show, and you think no one sees it but you – he unknowingly gives you hope for the world’s future. Impulsive chivalry isn’t quite yet dead. It’s only you who thinks twice to be selfless.
Like the young friends who talk of high school days past with calculated cool and affected manners. They mock mutual acquaintances, who have yet to embrace adulthood. They laugh at the odd shared memory and rattle names away. You long to shake your head in disdain, but you remember that you’re no better, and you are humbled.
Like the mother who feeds her struggling toddler chips in the moving, shaking tram. That’s dinner, because going home takes too long. He has the bluest eyes and ambling limbs, climbing all over you and the seat. He’s tired from daycare; she’s tired from work, but they both make do. You can only give what you hope is a comforting smile, as you say goodbye and he begins to cry for the company of a stranger who merely pointed out the moving buildings in the darkened sky.
Like the woman with her eyes seemingly bound shut, her front teeth gone away and her raspy voice drunkenly wooing the cautious young men who walk past. She puts you on your guard, and you shrink away from her and the ruddy man alongside her. Then you hear them chat loudly and profanely. And you realize he doesn’t know her, but with his coarse, kind words, he treats her more humanely than you ever could. Your heart burns with shame and you try to look away.
Like the elderly gentlemen who guesses your nationality on the button where so few can, and discusses politics as if you were brilliant and wise. He admits that there is too much evil in the world to wake up to – you tell him you find beauty in the rare good. And he calls you beautiful in return and makes you cry a little when alone, because he is the first to tell you so.
You lean on the heels of your feet, balancing yourself as the carriage swerves the corner, its creaking helplessly betraying its age. You look beyond the person’s shoulder, into those four glass walls set into its metal frame, so lonely and so cold. Almost patronizingly, your mind tuts away and thinks, “If only you see what I see.”
It's like a Friendster thing -- one of the many annoying ones you succumb to after a while. Granted, my blog was never that popular, so the complete absence of tagging was understandable. But, I suppose, some things are inevitable.
I'd explain a little further about the whole concept, but it's self-explanatory, anyway. Also self-indulgent, to an extent.
And so, as requested by my darling Shadoro:
Eight Random Things about Me.
1. Ever since coming to Melbourne, I've bought many books that I have not finished reading. The few I count amongst the Done list are HP7 (which was unexpectedly brilliant, despite some lapses in pace and syntax), the Qur'an, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Howl's Moving Castle, and... Yeah, that's it. I find it intriguing how I could finish more books during a summer in Malaysia than I can for all the 14 months I've lived in Australia. Must be something in the air.
2. I have a thing for Moroccan mint green tea and dark chocolate. And for coffee from cafes. Specifically, the cafes in my uni, all of which deserve honorary doctorates in the art of java.
3. I find Doctor Who completely brilliant. The fantastic storylines, the dry Brit-wit and the amazing David Tennant have me utterly hooked. I am so keeping my eye out for blue wooden emergency police phone booths when I visit London.
4. By the way, did I tell you? I'm going to London come December, insyaAllah. I have YanYan and 'Izzah to thank for the trip. (Sorry, Alev. But I had to go to SOME part of Europe...)
5. Shopping with people makes me highly strained. Somewhat self-conscious, and constantly embarrassed. I feel like I have to explain my shopping all the time. Which is why my best shopping is done alone, after sufficient planning and strategics.
6. The last thing that made me choke was reading in Surah al-Maarij: 'No, that is not like that! Verily, We have created them out of that which they know! So I swear by the Lord of all (the three hundred and sixty (360)) points of sunrise and sunset in the east and the west that surely We are Able To replace them by (others) better than them; and We are not to be outrun. So leave them to plunge in vain talk and play about, until they meet their Day which they are promised. The Day when they will come out of the graves quickly as racing to a goal, With their eyes lowered in fear and humility, ignominy covering them (all over)! That is the Day which they were promised!' (70:39-44)
7. I have always felt a sort of kinship to Britain, which, yeah, explains my mostly reason for going. Everything about the British identity fits me -- the weather, the accent (which is so much less stressful to the nasal system than the American twang), their innate need for tea (yes, Alev, my caffeine used to be restricted to Earl Grey, I'll have you know), their look-the-other-way sense of humour, and their literary heroes. And the Doctor, of course. If only they weren't so obsessed about taking over the world way back when.
8. I have to start on my Biochemistry notes soon. That said, I mean to edit this particularly disjointed rant, if I can bother to get to it.
Sigh. Procrastination is so much harder than it looks.
While I was satiating my post-exams winter craving for fudge brownies, I curled up in front of the heater and continued reading Soe Hok Gie’s diary, Catatan Seorang Demonstran.
I stumbled across Soe Hok Gie while I was Youtubing during SWOT-VAC. I saw the movie overnight, and while I was taking a break in the Bailleau, decided to search if there was anything on him. And I found his diary (and also that his brother, Prof. Arief Budiman, is teaching at the university’s Asia Centre).
For someone who wholeheartedly swallowed fiction when I was younger, reading about him has reminded me of how far I’ve matured since the time I used to be gullible enough to believe the written word as truth. My dissection of Gie as a person distances myself from him with our differences, but I’ve also found within me respect and to an extent, affection for the tragic young revolutionaire, which extends beyond our shared surname and ancestry (so my father, the Chinese pseudo-culturalist, believes).
Sometimes, I feel like he has written the words away from my mind, and this was one such moment:
… Segi lain adalah segi ras. Mereka percaya bahawa ada mentalitas (naluri) yang tidak bisa berubah lebih-lebih bila bertengkar dalam segi orang Tionghua. Mereka katakan bahawa orang Tionghua itu semua materialis, pengkhianat dan sebagainya. Aku mengetahui semua tadi. Tapi aku juga menunjukkan bahwa tidak semua begitu dan itu dapat berubah. Kepribadian bangsa bagiku adalah suatu proses yang lama dalam situasi tertentu, tapi dalam situasi lain itu dapat berubah. Juga kami ribut dalam soal nama dan seterusnya, dan seterusnya, dan seterusnya.
…Another aspect was the topic of race. They believed that there exists an unpliable mentality (instinct) that remains unchanged, especially in regards to the Tionghua (Chinese). They claimed that all Chinese are materialistic, traitors, and so on. I acknowledge all that. But I also know that not all are such, and that it can change. (The formation of) Racial identity, to me, is a long process, but which can be changed when provided a different situation. We also debated issues like names, etc. etc. etc.
I admire Gie for his intellect, astute psychoanalysis of the moralistic society, and his blatant honesty.He was brilliant, no doubt, but he had too little faith in the world. He was a self-proclaimed atheist and pessimist, while simultaneously being a moralist with relatively idealistic principles (he believed that sex tainted true love, and often declared that love was the only reason left for living). He pushed forth his ideas on the crucial need for democracy but stopped himself short from politics (eventually becoming part of the Angkatan ’66, the Indonesian student uprisal which brought along the Orde Baru under Suharto’s military rule). He adamantly debated his opinions with his educators, and his refusal to compromise with tact cost him his friends.
Mari sini sayangku. Kalian yang pernah mesra, yang pernah baik dan simpati padaku. Tegaklah ke langit luas atau awan yang mendung. Kita tak pernah menanamkan apa-apa, kita tak ‘kan pernah kehilangan apa-apa.
Come here, my dear. Those of you who were my mates, who were kind and sympathetic to me. Look to the heavens wide, or the heavy clouds. We never vested anything, we shall never lose anything.
And so I suppose that we will all share the same fate, us like-minded people. Those who believe that the world is worth better – that things should change. Those of us who still hold on to ideals despite pessimism, and understand that ‘change will not come to a people unless they change themselves’ – we may never be understood. But that ultimately, it is not the end, but the journey which matters.
Pada suatu saat dimana kita berhenti. Memandang ke belakang. Dan memberi salam. (Mesra tetapi sayu).
Masa lampau adalah seperti mimpi. Terlupa dan berat menarik ke belakang. Terkadang kecewa. Yang bilang, semua hilang. Seperti Usus yang lenyap kelemasan. Dan kecewa seperti Asvius yang patah hati. Kemasakan, dan juga kenaifan. Keberanian dan pengkhianatan. Apakah kita bisa bicara tentang nilai-nilai? Sebelum dewasa?
When the moment comes in which we halt. Look behind. And greet each other. (Amiable but melancholic).
The past is like a dream. Forgotten and heavy, pulling us back. Sometimes disappointing. The counted all are gone. Like Usus who disappeared, drowning. And disappointed like the broken-hearted Asvius. Maturity and naivete. Bravery and betrayal. Will we have time to talk of virtues? Before we grow old?
Well now. It's been a while, innit? The past month has been a blighter of a winter. I was barely alone, which is saying something, seeing as how I am so elusive. I only had a proper week to my own (necessarily) selfish pursuits. Had quite a few accidents and injuries (much to the worry of my pharmacist-housemates). Pulled a few muscles, had countless cuts, strained a few tendons, but it's all good. I think.
My reading list is only half-done i.e. I've only read half of everything. My new semester has got off on a very promising start, which has seen my brow creasing constantly during lectures (signaling knowledge-processing) as opposed to a look of glazed acceptance (indicating daydreaming), and many, many lunches with Alev, who just can't quit the law library.
That said, it's easy to lose track of what is important.
And since dinner shall not cook itself tonight, I shall leave the video below to your good judgment:
Note to Alev: Ehem. I truly did read about it in The Age, before you posted it on Freakazoid Times. Really.
Some people punch walls. Some wallow in empty spaces. Some people become vindictive. Me? I just corner you and let my gob speak for itself. Welcome to the inner recesses of my life (sounds almost pathetic, dunnit?)