Friday, 10 August 2018

Ibiza moment


I can imagine, or rather speculate, that breast milk tastes to a baby the way this piƱa colada tastes to me right now. Indistinctly familiar, nourishing and life-affirming. I should also probably mention that I am situated in the pleasant semicircular shadow of a straw umbrella which in turn is hatted by a breezy palm tree. Hordes of scantily clad girls, covered mostly by tattoos of elaborate mythic cycles, are engaged in a choreographic cataclysm which seems to tickle the fancy of the otherwise apathetic sunbathers. One by one, the girls are lifting up glittery paper letters revealing the witty name of a club night (something along the lines of intoxication-induced short-term memory loss).
As far as I’m concerned, this contrived observation is my MVP (minimum viable product) for today.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

This man

These are the songs that let me be.
These are the words that spoke to me.
These are the tears that cleared my vision
and made me see that 
these are the wounds that spurted the lava that melted my heart.

This is the man I grew into.
The man I once drew.
He's walking me forth through the day
with a pace sometimes unfamiliar.
And sometimes I wonder:
where on Earth is he leading me to?
This is the man.

The man who is now drawing you.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Carry-on

Sleep-laden eyelids. Eyeballs covered with the thick sticky syrup of lethargy...itching. The vulgar yellow light panels at the airport signposted a labyrinth of lies. They promised you a homecoming but took you to...the baggage hall.

Sleepwalkers, just like you, are trapped in this upside-down, this detention limbo of almost-home-but-not-there-yet. You count the disconnected pairs of itchy eyes, evacuated by the flicker of life, transfixed on a perpetually revolving empty belt. The conveyer of your belongings. A carousel of the no-fun kind, no frills, no golden horses and fairies, only steel and black rubber. Welcome to the longest minute sequence of your life. It is past midnight and your very last train is departing soon.

But wait...the PVC slash curtains are now bulging with suspense and the flicker of life graces your itchy eyes again. One by one, the bags of your fellow sleepwalkers appear on the carousel, like stage-fright ridden members of a rock band after a dramatic intro. Here is the drummer, the guitarist, the (could it be?) bagpipe player, followed by a tedious array of insignificant instrumentalists. And finally she enters the stage wrapped in a glittery cloud, the lead singer, the prima donna, your very own carry-on. You rush to collect her. She feels good. Her handle pulls up smoothly. Her wheels make the sweetest sound. And you know what, the night is oh-so-young. There are taxis and uber vehicles and buses begging to carry you on. You, my friend, will be home soon.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Wishbone

For Brian

It was a bright sunny morning in San Diego and the day held a mysterious promise, like a surprise wrapped in a clenched hand begging me to unlock it finger by finger. I had just eaten the richest omelette ever imaginable paired with the sweetest blueberry pancakes and I was in the middle of a kiss more nourishing than sustenance, when I heard a voice.
"Forgive me for interrupting you", the voice said. "Could you spare some money to buy me something to eat?"

The voice belonged to a man who looked like a messiah of sorts: longish-hair, dark-complexion, haggard body clad in baggy black garments. A man who, as it turned out later, went by the name of Chris. Was there an extra "t" at the end of this name that remained silent? One couldn't help but wonder.

Something about hIs humble approach made his ask remarkably audible. I didn't have any cash on me and there was no supermarket around us, so I turned my back on Chris and started walking towards my hotel. Yet the stranger's ask was gaining more and more volume in my head. It didn't make sense for someone to be hungry on a bright sunny morning in San Diego. I changed direction and returned to Chris. 
"Let's walk to the supermarket", I smiled at him. "I'll buy you food."
"There's a 7-11 two blocks up", he said with unconcealed joy.

I knew that giving and receiving was not as simple and unconditional as it looked on paper, so the cynic in me prepared himself for additional requests, bigger asks, guilt trips. None of these materialised and the cynic's squeaky voice was silenced straight away. 

Chris and I conversed about his birth state Mississippi, Mark Twain, Jack London and the narrative technique in "Uncle Tom's cabin". And just when I was about to throw Hawthorne in the mix, he reached into his pocket and produced a quaint object. A chicken bone...could it be? Indeed, Chris held a dry forked bone in his soot-stained hand. 
"Why do you carry a wishbone with you?", I asked. 
"It's a good-luck charm", he mumbled.
"Do you want to pull on it? If you win, you can make a wish."
"I don't dare", he answered. "I wish that one day I'll have the courage to make a wish."
"And...what is your wish?"
"I wish for my daughter back in Mississippi to go to University."
I felt powerless. That was a wish I couldn't grant. 

At the 7-11, his ask was far from big. Three protein bars and a drink was all he wanted. 
"And how about a place to sleep tonight?", I asked.
"The cheapest one is 18 bucks". Chris shrugged helplessly. 
Right! I saw an opportunity. A tiny flicker of an opportunity to make a messiah who'd lost the will to wish a little happier.
I marched to the supermarket cash machine but it grimaced at me as if to say: "I got the money. Now work for it"
And work I did. After a fierce game of give and take which included multiple false dispensations, calling fraud alert numbers that promised me a mortgage, free cable tv and an a-list online selection of singles, I got hold of the coveted 20 bucks. And so did Chris. 

"Here you are, my friend". I handed him the 20-dollar bill and the protein bars,  shook his hand hastily and hurried back to my hotel.
I wished I could do more. I wished I could erase the soot off his hands and paint his world bright and sunny. Like the morning in San Diego. Yet the only thing I could do was encourage him to break the forked bone in his pocket and dare to make a wish. 

I could hear his footsteps behind me and then his voice, this time more familiar, called me again.
"Hey dude...thanks for coming back. That was pretty awesome."

With this pretty awesome blessing, I ran into the bright sunlight, beaming. Back to my world, back to the kiss which was more nourishing than sustenance and was about to taste even sweeter. In less than 15 minutes, I had become rich. Rich with the fulfilment of the day's (no longer mysterious) promise. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

#LoveIsLove

On my way to the city this morning, my eyes sparkled at the sight of the grand rainbow slogan #LoveIsLove proudly crowning Tottenham Court Rd tube station. I was surprised and impressed. An inclusive slogan of such proportion was more likely to be spotted in my former home Amsterdam.

It was a bold statement with beautiful design bringing warmth and colour to the busy London crossroad and its hustle and bustle.
I tried to take a snap of it, one that would do it the justice, but gave up in the end. I am not good at shooting postcards when I can't attach a story to them. Just as I was processing this thought, an attractive transgender woman walked past me. Her elegant attire emphasised her femininity. Her gait was proud. There was a quiet strength to her appearance.
Unsurprisingly, I was not the only one who registered that. Two middle-aged British ladies paused their Sunday stroll to Primark in what seemed like utter shock, craned their necks in the direction of the disappearing beauty, then looked at each other and shook their heads disapprovingly.
I studied them from head to toe. Blond hair painfully pulled in a bun, uncomfortably skinny jeans and tight tops, faces twisted in an expression of disgust and disbelief. They were far from attractive. Yet it wasn't their physical appearance that made them unattractive. And it certainly wasn't God who made them so. Fear and ignorance did.


I took another look at the rainbow slogan and it made even more sense. It wasn't only beautiful but relevant and important too.
Love is Love. As simple as that.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Trying to be gentle

"I'll try to be gentle, ok?"
The thick Russian accent of the lady dentist numbs me like the anaesthetic I won't have.
I look up fearfully. Masked and fully equipped with drills of mass destruction, she is ready to turn my mouth into a battlefield. Behind my tightly pressed eyelids, I can see her triumphantly poised on top of a tsar tank, aiming Kalashnikovs at dental mines.
"Lift your tongue", she suddenly bellows. 
"Don't push it! Lift it!" Her voice rises dramatically.


"Will you slap me, if I don't?", I'm attempting to say but a muffled miscarriage of an utterance comes out instead.
She stares at me in silence, drilling me with her eyes, whilst I slowly retreat behind an iron curtain of fear. Then the unmistakable grinding sound of the real drill announces another battle and I can see Katyusha (shall we call her?) bending down on me in slow motion, trying to be gentle with a vengeance.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Free coffee

Today is a big day. I'm due for my free coffee at the Coffee Shop I have pledged loyalty to. Strung together in claustrophobic array, the nine round stamps on my lovingly frayed cardboard card are my badges of pride.
I paid for this reward diligently. There were times when I could have done without a coffee but I still ordered one knowing that today would come. Of course, this reward isn't a surprise. It's a reward I sponsored to remind myself of what it feels like to be rewarded. I can only dream of the joy I would reap from the completion of my pension plan, the repayment of my mortgage...
"Here's your free coffee, Sir. No sugar." The girl behind the counter flashes a smile of unsweetened excitement. "And here's your brand new loyalty card."
Now this is a surprise. Not only was a given a "free" coffee, I was also presented with an opportunity to finance a future reward. The nine round slots on my brand new loyalty card are staring at me with urgency and, could it be, accusation. Right then, I'd better start stamping.