I walk alone on the pebble beach. For a moment I can’t quite remember where I am. I’ve been traveling by rail across Europe. I think I’m in Scotland now, somewhere farther north. I sit down, my jeans not quite protecting me from the hard pebbles and the cold. I take my notebook out and on every page I write down the names of the cities I’ve stopped at: Milan, Naples, Nice, Montpellier, Barcelona, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Inverness. I’m heading to the Isle of Skye…Continue Reading “Cities”

You are sitting in that small room, almost a vigil for the living and the frail. This woman sleeping in the bed, she is not well. She does not seem to want to recover; you fear she is giving up. Every day passes more slowly than the next, the shafts of sunlight that passes through the windows thinning. She is sleeping, your mother, but she is not sleeping well. You sit at a corner, away from the bed, away from her. She cannot sleep with…Continue Reading “The truth about angels”

There was a girl at a café. Her hair an unruly mop; her mom would complain, “Too short!” How will you attract boys? is what her mom meant. The girl didn’t care. She was content to sit in the café and sip her coffee, watching other girls talking to their silly boys. Coffee is better than boys, she decided. There was a boy at a café. He was there to meet a client. One business meeting after the next. Some days he worked so hard…Continue Reading “A girl and a boy at a café”

Days after my recent wisdom tooth removal, I am finally allowed out of the house today. I’m pretty sure it’s only an excuse for my boy to get some decent coffee though. He cautions me for the umpteenth time: no coffee. Sure, why not? Take all the fun out of life, why don’t you? We walk into one of our regular cafés and immediately we spot a few familiar faces. Friends! Hugs and kisses, a swift flurry of questions about my oral health, random topics…Continue Reading “Sweet potato cheesecake”

I. September 2002: Naples, Italy This is the most alarmingly tasty slice of pizza I’ve ever had. I’m in a small pizzeria in Naples. I’ve been backpacking all over Europe, eating my way through the continent. It’s the end of summer but you wouldn’t know it here in southern Italy. A day earlier I was sunbathing on the isle of Capri (together with dwindling hordes of German and Swiss tourists greedy for the final rays of the season). The weather was perfect. A fellow backpacker…Continue Reading “Three”

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” That was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43. I wonder if she had to endure a modern Valentine’s Day where the ways that seem to count inevitably include a box of gourmet chocolates, a large bouquet of roses (their number and their colors each with a special meaning that a well-prepared gift-giver should have deciphered and assembled in advance), a glossy manufactured greeting card with an equally manufactured message, allergy-inducing soft toys and sparkling bits of…Continue Reading “My Roti Valentine”

Tick tock. Tick. Tock. Seconds pass, then minutes. Hours turn into days and before we know it, almost half of January is gone already. Am I still in the festive mood, what with Christmas and New Year’s Eve still fresh in my mind and still we have the Chinese New Year to beckon with. And my thirtieth birthday approaching rapidly as some well-meaning friends keep reminding me. Oh me oh my. Three decades gone and where am I, I wonder?   Tick tock. Tick. Tock….Continue Reading “Clock”