wanderlove

If you don’t know it by know, I’m a big traveler. My mother used to say I’d stare out the window when I was a little kid, point at the airplane and shout ‘Bootanna’ – the made-up word I had for the flying machine – repeatedly till it disappeared. The first time I got on my plane, I was so fascinated and excited, I couldn’t keep still. I felt comfortable.

Perhaps it was a premonition, or perhaps it’s just coincidence but till this day, I am hungry to see every inch of this world. The landscapes that tell stories of the earth, the buildings and food that tell stories of culture evolving and most importantly the people themselves that speak their own tales. It’s a romanticism, feeding off the idealistic tinge I possess, that wants to identify somehow with this place I call ‘home’.

I’ve never been romantically in love. I’m 22, and granted in this day and age that’s still considered young, but in a lot of ways I always wished I had taken more chances when I was younger with the infatuations I had. I had always suppressed my idealism in favor of studies (God, it’s such a typical Singaporean tale I’m sad I’m a part of it) but it was only towards my later youth that I allowed myself to chase what I truly wanted. By this point, I was already at a point where no lasting relationship made sense, not till now at least.

And yet, when I finally ‘should be ready’, I’m somewhat unwilling to be romantically involved anymore.I want to keep moving, to keep seeing this world. Yes, I’ve found people in countries I’ve visited that have captured pieces of my heart, but at the end of the day I must leave and move on. I could return; I could stay but my romantic side tells me I’ll play that card when the time is right, and the time hasn’t been right yet.

I shared a Facebook post on my wall recently where it told a story of a couple that met, fell in love and consummated all while on a six hour flight. To me that’s how I want my story to begin, sort of a ‘wanderlove’ experience. Someone who can embrace the spontaneity of life and in a lot of ways also search for lasting truths.

I’ve no longer accepted any one place as my domain. Singapore is my home, now and always, but I cannot exist in it alone. I must continue traveling, continue chasing the eternal unknown – what is it that makes us human?  I’ll document everything and I’ll share my journeys , and hopefully along the way I fall in love the same way the story on my wall goes. Or maybe not, it doesn’t matter , as long as it happens in true spirit of my ethos.

I am the nomad, and I will roam, because there’s something else behind this noise and I have to find it.

geronimo.

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living from a suitcase – a story

“Are you sure it’s here?”

“I’m pretty sure, I came back here a week ago just to check it out”

“Alright, just that it’s getting pretty dark ”

“You don’t have campfires in the day, Rovik”

The four guys emerged into a clearing , surrounded by elk trees and moist air.

“Do you see it now?” Francis said as he walked towards the log around the smothered campfire,

“Alright, alright , I’m sorry I doubted you. It’s just been too long” Drew replied , placing the backpack on the bed of leaves collected in the clearing.

“Way too long. I’m glad we did this” said Prince. He reached his arms over the shoulders of the other guys and pulled them in for a huddle.

The guys held each tightly and just let the sound of the forest moderate their own breaths.

“Nobody can take this from us” Rovik said finally, breaking the silence. “Alright , let’s start the mix. Prince, why don’t you get the ingredients and whip us up the special stew , the rest of us will start the fire. ”

” You know I got it . I’ve been wanting to cook this up again for a long time” Prince replied.

The tall muscular figure walked over to the backpacks and rummaged through for the food.

“It feels so good to be out of the office. People get so irritating sometimes” Drew said over the crackle of the fire that had just formed.

“Isn’t that why you ran for office? To serve the people?” Rovik said, warming his hands now.

“People don’t know what they want. All they care about are themselves” Drew said

“Amen to that. Fuck People… except you guys, I love you guys. But fuck you all too.” Francis said, breaking into laughter.

Rovik smiled and walked over to Francis, and gave him a friendly slap on his shoulders.

“How have you been man? Last I heard you had quit the P.D. What have you been up to?” he asked .

“Probably screwing around with his girlfriends” Prince said cheekily. “Food’s almost done guys”

“Well yes. I couldn’t take the hypocrisy. Memorandums and proceedings… it was just too much for me. I’m not a political creature , I can’t navigate that jungle.” Francis replied, ending his statement with a sigh.

“Come on, you’re a born leader. I remember people would wait for your word when you walked into the room. Even I couldn’t make a decision without consulting you.” Rovik commented.

“Thanks Rovik. But I’ve moved on. I’m much happier now, running a steelworks place down on Smith. ”

“And it’s the best steelworks place around, isn’t it? These are the hard workers that deserve our country’s appreciation.” Drew shouted across the fire, smirking.

Francis stared at Drew for a while and smiled. “Thanks Senator , you’ve got my vote… buddy”

“Alright, enough with the love story. Food’s ready to be devoured by you fiends. This may be my best stuff yet.”

The men grabbed their bowls and walked to the pot over the fire. As the night grew darker, and the wind blew colder, the men poured the hot stew into the bowls, admiring the glossy surface as it settled.

“Prince, my man. You seem to have outdone yourself again.” Drew said. He took a spoon of the stew , blew on it slowly to cool it down, and placed it  in his mouth. “I’ve never felt more like a man. Beef Stew, out in the forest, here with my men. All we need is a bear to wrestle”

“Don’t prophesy now. The night is still young.” Rovik said, laughing .

“You’re a great person, Prince. I’m sorry about what happened between you and…” Francis began.

“Don’t say her name. I haven’t completely moved on” he said, staring at his bowl.

The campfire went silent for a while. “I’m sorry I brought it up” Francis said, breaking the silence.

“No, it’s fine. If there’s anyone I’d want to to talk about this to, it’s you guys.

She broke my heart. I gave her all I could. I gave her a house, I loved her every night, I even told her every day how beautiful she was. But she just wanted something else and she decided to fuck her colleague instead. I asked her why she did it and she said that she can’t let her happiness be inhibited.

Didn’t she realise that she wasn’t thinking about how I felt? Did she really not care for me at all? ”

Prince continued staring at his bowl. He placed it on the log he was sitting on, got up and looked at the group . “Give me a minute , guys.” he said and walked into the forest.

“I never thought she was such a bitch” Francis said.

“I saw it. You tend to meet certain people in life who want to be destructive rather than constructive. The people who want to break things as they move through life, rather than heal the brokenness. ” Rovik chimed in.

“Well it’s a lot harder than you think to keep wanting to heal. Thinking about yourself only keeps the world a lot easier to understand.”  Drew said.

“I’m surprised you’re saying that Mr Senator. Isn’t it your job to serve your people? That’s what you ran on …” Rovik said, and then stood on the log, getting into pose. “I am You are Me. If I didn’t care about you, I can’t say I care about me” he bellowed, impersonating Drew.

“Fark off , and get your ass down from that log” Drew shouted, clearly angry.

“Hey, chill… I didn’t know you really felt so different now” Rovik said, slowly stepping down.

“Well, get off your high horse Rovik. Just because you travel all around the world, get yourself into all these romantic misadventures and make stories around yourself doesn’t mean you get to expect the same of us. We live real lives, lives that are defined by the hurt and reality of this world.” Francis said, pointing his finger at him.

“Woah woah, those are some sharp jabs. My life isn’t all roses as well. I’ve been living out of a suitcase the past few years.” Rovik said, defensively placing his hands on his hips.

“And what about all these sweet little things you seem to always have on your hips. It’s a different girl in every country, a different fuck every time. Tell me you don’t think you have a better life than any of  us.” Drew chimed in.

Rovik stared at Drew, and then stared at Francis. His eyes started to burn. They had seen this side of him before. It was a cold burn, a flash and then a shade. And it would hurt.

“I’m a romantic, I draw stories about love and life and all that jazz. But I am not a hedonist… I’m not in this for the carnal pleasures a much as I am for the pleasures of the soul. What do you think I desire more? Lips on my dick every other night , or a soul to bond with. If you even think you know me, you’d know it’s the latter.” Rovik said, his voice almost chill.

The campfire went silent for a while. The three men sat , looking into the campfire.

“Maybe this was a bad idea… We’ve all grown up way too much apparently” Drew said.

“Nonsense. This is exactly  why we need to meet. If we can’t open up to anyone else, it’s to each other”

The three men turned around. Prince was back.

“Listen, brothers. We’ve been through tough times. We’ve seen each other through hell and heaven. We can’t be afraid of each other now. ” he continued.

“You’re right” Drew said. “I have a confession to make”

He picked up a twig from the floor and started twirling it around his fingers. His eyes were glued to it, intense.

“I’m stepping down from office next week. I’ve decided I can’t be Senator anymore.”

“What??” Rovik said, immediately. “But why? And what are you going to do ?”

“He’ll be joining the property business with me” Francis chipped in. “We’re going to re-develop our town and bring back the wealth that’s rightfully ours”

Prince walked over and sat next to Francis.

“That’s funny, brother. I actually did hear you were going into the  property business. But I heard something else too” he said, looking at Francis.

Rovik looked at the pair, intently. “What was going on? ”  he thought to himself.

“You see, Rovik.There’s a reason why I tried to get everyone here. I know you’d be able to talk to these guys.” Prince said, pointing to both Francis and Drew.

“Francis quit the  police force and formed his own mob crew. He’s been running rackets around the city, impoverishing the hard workers and keeping things under his belt. Drew here, has been supporting it”

“How do you know all of this Prince?” Rovik asked, calling him out.

“Because after my wife left me, I wanted to come back and make a life back home. And that’s when I found out someone was destroying its very essence. It killed me to find out it was these guys” Prince replied.

“Is this true?” Rovik asked the pair.

Francis stood up from his log and walked over to where Drew was sitting.

“Yes.”

He sat down next to Drew and pulled out a cigar, which he started to light up.

“I told you this world was going to the shits , Rovik. You inspire me a lot, but this  is not one of those times. It’s time we tell  you about the reality of this cold miserable world.  And maybe then, you and Prince will join us. Who else to share the wealth with than our brothers?” Drew said, a smile now appearing on his face.

“I don’t want any part of this. Have we all let our losses affect us so badly?” Rovik appealed to the group.

“It was never a loss. It’s just the way things are. Our elevations were the inconsistencies, they were random occurrences that happened but could never be sustained. This form of living, selfish and cold , is the kind that will keep us breathing at the end of the day. It’s survival.” Francis said, and then offered the cigar to Rovik.

Rovik stood up and walked over to where Francis was sitting. They were now sitting across each other : Francis and Drew on one side, Prince and Rovik on the other.

“Tell us a story, Rovik. Tell us one of your beautiful stories.” Prince said, putting his arm over Rovik’s shoulder.

Rovik stared at the fire, letting it warm his soul up again. He felt the heat, and his nerves tingle with excitement.

“Alright, I’ll tell a story.

Milan has a beautiful history. There’s so much to see and do in the city, but the one thing that captured me most about this city was this girl. We’ll call her Sofia. I met Sofia on the steps of the Duomo, a large Gothic church near the centre. She was feeding the pigeons and I asked to join her. She then invited me to get some gelato, and I convinced her to spend the day with me. I took her to dinner, and then took her back to my place and we made love.

The next morning, I was ready for her to say good bye, but she decided to stay. She played with my hair, and stared into my eyes. What are you doing, I asked her. Falling in love with you, she said. I laughed back, and asked her if that was too fast.

We’re Italian , she said. Life’s too short to not want to fall in love. I stared back into her eyes, and then kissed her deeply. We spent the whole day in, making love multiple times and watching Italian soap operas. I had a flight booked for the night to Barcelona and hadn’t decided whether I wanted to leave or not.

I told her about it, and she kissed me. Stay, she said. I will, I lied. I couldn’t believe I had reached here. Was I falling in love? I wanted to find out what was wrong with what I was seeing. I started trying to find flaws in her, to ask her about her history and her background. Who are your parents? What’s your job?

She started getting annoyed, and by the end of the night she asked me to go catch my flight. This was silly, she said. This was stupid, I said. I walked out, got onto my flight, and then felt the weight of my arrogance settle. I ruined the moment, by refusing to believe in the good. I was looking for what was wrong so much I forgot to factor in the beautiful.

It’s been a while since the incident. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find Sofia again… I hope I do. But I know what was possible. I knew it was real, I knew I was a force of action and that I was doing something. I was living. I could never deny that.

So I keep believing. I keep hoping. I don’t lose hope on the good. And you shouldn’t too. This world needs more believers like you guys once were. We need to heal this world. We just need to.”

The campfire was silent. The brothers stared into the fire once again. Every moment crept back on them … the stories their lives had been built on. They had done great things, they had build legacies. They had truly lived.

“What would you think if I sang out of tune?” Prince chimed in.

Francis and Drew looked up. Rovik looked over to Francis, and smiled.

“Would you stand up and walk out on me?” he chimed in, walking over to Drew.

“You’re my brother. No matter what you’ve done, we’re in this forest again. We’re safe here and we can decide to move forward. ” he said to the pair.

“Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key”

Rovik  sang, and then gestured to them.

“You know I can’t resist” Drew said.

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mmm, I get high with a little help from my friends”

Francis and Prince joined in.

Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

And the forest was filled with music, just like it was meant to be. In the darkness, they had found the light that they thought they had lost. And with a little help from their friends, they were back where they were supposed to be.

We all need somebody to lean on.

geronimo.

 

frathouse by the prairie

“You would think seeing a whole place covered in snow would be beautiful, but you know what, I could honestly do without all of this environmental dandruff” Cindy said as she walked down the path with Rick.

“I find it fascinating.” Rick stared at the snow falling, putting out his tongue and letting the snow land on the tip. “But yes, I could do without the chilly wind ” he chuckled.

“I don’t get how you find all of this so funny. I’m freezing my ass off.” Cindy continued to dig her hands deeper into her coat , clenching the inner lining as if it would help her fight the chill. “Why did we even come out?” she continued whining.

“Well, if I remember correctly…” Rick started.

“Don’t you dare. You wanted to go to a frat party just as much as I did” she pointed her finger in his face.

He pushed his nose onto her finger. “Oh wow that’s a cold finger” he said. He did not want to argue with her ; tonight was supposed to be their night together. He would remind her the next day though , how she had continuously messaged him the whole week to find the parties that were to happen that night.

They had to endure a whole night of drunken stupor, dirty dancing, “Do you know someone here?”s and “Take a lap buddy”s . It was iced with some occasional fun moments though. The music at Sigma Phi was to his taste, and he had met a girl at Alpha Gamma that he had managed to have some corner fun with before he realised he had come with Cindy.

He despised the hookup culture on campus – but he kept being pushed to the corner by random people and just played along before his brain took over. Cindy offered something consistent. And that was the closest to romance he could get on campus.

“Let’s just get back to campus as soon as we can. My coat’s in your room right?” Cindy broke his train of thought.

He nodded his head, all the time staring right in front of him.

“Ce était une nuit incroyable!” he heard someone shout all of a sudden.

His heard darted right, allowing him to see a couple coming out, dressed in clothes he had only seen in the movies. Miami Vice if he wanted to be precise.

“Look at that!” he said, tugging at Cindy’s arm.

“It’s just a bunch of drunk grad students. Let’s head back. I’m freezing” she said, letting on a slight sense of annoyance in her voice.

“I’m pretty sure this isn’t a regular frat party. Let’s check it out ” he said. They walked up to the men on guard duty.

“What party is this?” Rick asked.

“It’s a password party, no password no entry” one of the men on duty said.

“Damnit ” he replied. His eyes were drawn to the lights leaking out of the house windows. The music that was seeping out didn’t sound like regular frat party music – there was a sense of elegance to it.

“Thanks Goodness. I was about to leave you here alone if you had decided to go in .” Cindy said relieved.

He looked at her with his face cringed . ‘Thank God she didn’t see that’ he thought to himself as he noticed her head facing forward. All of a sudden he felt a womanly touch on his shoulder. It was a lady with a large classy hat, and a gown covered with a faux fur coat.

“They’re with me” she said. “The password is magia” she whispered .

“Alright you guys can go on in” the man on duty said, waving his hand towards the front door.

Before he could take a step, he felt Cindy pull on his arm. “Let’s just go back to your place.” she said, with a pout on her face.

“Didn’t you hear the password? Magia… that’s magic in Espanol. This is our kind of party!” he said, a glimmer in his eye.

“It may be yours, but I’m done. I’ll just call an Uber and head back, if you’re not coming.” she replied , the annoyance pretty apparent at this point.

Rick looked at her, and then back at the house. The lady was still there , by the man on duty . She looked up and smiled at him, waving her hand. He looked back at Cindy , and felt a sudden limp. “I’m sorry Cindy, you know I have to do this. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I let a chance like this go. Let me know when you get back alright” he said and moved in to give her a hug.

She walked away before he could move in. “Sure” she said, curt and short.

Thank God I avoided that one, he thought to himself as he walked back to the house.

“Was that your girlfriend?” the lady asked him as she accompanied him to the door.

“You’re apparently not from here. Relationships don’t exist in this school” he said, head sinking slightly.

“That sounds horrendous.” she said. She slid her arm around his. “Well my name is Elaine, and this is the start of a beautiful night”

Rick turned towards her and smiled. “Seems like I made the right decision he said”

___

The party was unlike anything he had seen. As he walked in, he was transformed to another world. The room was decked with low hanging lights , the music was a fusion of jazz and electronic music, the people were dressed to impress.

“Why don’t you grab a drink? I’m going to say hello to my friend , he’s hosting the party. ” Elaine said into his ear.

“You know the host?” Rick asked , surprised.

“Oh yeah. Do you want me to introduce you to him?” she said.

“Why not” he replied quickly. He would love to meet the person who was creating this magic.

She led him by the hand to a couch at the far end of the floor. There were all kinds of people around , with all colours worn, and embellished with probably any foreseeable form of jewelry and apparel, and then some more. Amongst them all was a simple man, in a simple sports jacket and bowtie. “Is that him?” Rick asked, pointing at him.

“You have a good eye. He likes being called Doctor, but his name is Reinhardt. We all just call him Doctor”

“Is he a real doctor?”

“No one knows. He does know the solution to almost every problem we bring him though. So in a lot of ways, yes he is a better doctor than some”

Elaine walked on over to the Doctor, kissed him on both his cheeks and embraced him. She gestured over to Rick, and the Doctor came over.

“I see you chanced upon our humble get together. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I am, greatly in fact.”

“The night has only begun. You’ll notice there’s something special about this place. When are you from?”

“I’m from Chicago”

“I asked, when, my fine sir, not where. If you didn’t notice by now, this is not just a themed party. This is a party in what is known as the Roaring 20s. And by your response, I judge that you’re not a time traveller like the rest of us.” The Doctor turned back and faced Elaine. “You brought another straggler in?” he asked her.

“He’s cute” she said, and winked at him.

The Doctor turned back. “Watch out for her, she’s the most dangerous one amongst us all. Have a good time tonight, and don’t get lost. That has a different meaning here.” he said, slapping him on the back and walked away.

Rick stared past him and looked at Elaine. “I’m in another time?” he asked stuttering.

“Magia ” she said, and pulled him away to the dance floor.

They danced the night away, to the best music he could remember in a long time. As if Baz Luhrmann himself had transported himself to the 20s to be re-inspired, the music spoke of a different kind of ambition. Of ideals and hopes, rather than throwing one’s life to the dogs.

Elaine’s palms were wrapped around his arms, and she pulled him in closer.

“You know what’s making me in love with  tonight? I don’t feel like I’m here to make risky decisions I’ll want to have the chance to forget the next day. I actually want to live right now, I want to make risky decisions that I can live with ” Rick said, and planted his lips on hers.

They continued in each other’s embrace , and finally moved to the couch at the side.

“I didn’t expect people to be this open in the 20s” he said , chuckling.

“Honey, I’m not from the 20s. I’m a time traveller just like anyone else here. I’m from the 2100s. The 20s were my favorite period tho.” she said, placing her hand on his cheek.

“You dance almost like you fit in, especially in that attire”

“They still wear heels in the 2100s. I’ve yet to understand why” she laughed. Rick joined in, and they laughed for a good while. She leaned in on his chest, and lay there.

“Will I get to see you again?” he asked, playing with her hair.

“Well that depends. Now that you’re here, you get to choose. You can be trained as a time-traveller, or you can go back home. If you go back home, it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again. But if you get trained, who knows? Maybe we’ll see each other soon.”

He continued playing with her hair in silence.

“What are you thinking?” she asked, holding his hand tighter.

“My whole life, I’ve been looking for moments like these. Pivots in life , that can throw you in a whole new direction. I’ve met people who are comfortable with what they know. But I’m constantly seeking things I don’t know. I’m always scared, because I may lose the progress I made – my family, my friends; but I’ve always ended up making new friends, and finding ways to connect with my past. What if one day I lose that ability? What if I keep pivoting till I forgot where I came from?”

She turned her head and looked at him.

“Those are exactly the questions I didn’t know the answers to. And you know what, there’s no other way to answer them other than to truly be forced to answer them. The only question that matters is “Will you?” . So will you?” she asked.

He stared at her ,and then took a look around the room, glancing at everyone in it. All the travelers, of time and space. He glanced at the door, from which he had left Cindy, and from which he had left what was a “consolation prize”. He found the Doctor , meeting new people from all over the timeverse , and then looked back at Elaine.

“Magia” he said, summing up the moment. And then he kissed her, like nothing before.

___

geronimo