Travelogue : 2017 in Review

Monday, December 25, 2017

If I can describe 2017 with one word, it would be: timing. This year has been the most challenging, yet at the same time rewarding for myself. What had begun as a rough start of the new year by leaving a full time job (with the most loving boss) and went freelancing had taught me a lot about really figuring things out on my own. Most people thought I had it all figured it out when I went freelancing full time. While in fact, I spent the first quarter of the year focusing on simple things that bring me contentment; start from reading books that have been piled up to the top of my desk, 30 minutes evening run, to spending more time with my mum. In other words, I learned to slow down.

When my long overdue trip to Vietnam on April with my closest friends was cancelled last minute due to my mom's sickness (she's fine now, though!), I thought that was it. But boy was I wrong, turns out it was only the beginning of everything! Looking back, most of my travels this year involved going somewhere to work on an assignment while meeting amazing people along the way. Somehow, I still thought it was pretty much unreal, though I guess you cannot force things to happen and it's right when they say 'there's always a timing for everything'. Enjoy this year's travelogue and reminiscent of intimate moments! p s : each of the prompt is from The Moon Lists.

B&W leftovers from Lahiri

Saturday, December 16, 2017

While Vatican taught me the art of looking up to beautiful masterpiece in St. Peter's Basilica' ceilings. I realised there's a magical feeling that always leads my mind back to the canals of Venice. I still can recall those moments of crossing the bridges, the overwhelming amount of tourists, being mesmerised by the hidden alleys, and the crowded Dodge's Palace. It is beautifully written in Jhumpa Lahiri' In Other Words with the setting of Italy which is her fifth book that I'm currently reading right now. Growing up with her Indian roots as a successful American writer was not easy, since she struggled to find balance between these two; to keep her mother tongue, Bengali whenever her parents were around and her present language, English that has lifted up her career as an author. This book took us to her journey of immersing into a new language, Italian. It gives her a chance to reconstruct herself and take a different literally path without getting attached emotionally to any of the culture.

I find it fascinating how her mind wonders and creates a correlation between the painful process of learning a new language with bridges over canals in Venice. The struggles were real of being misunderstood by her exotic presence in a foreign land where you can no longer distinguish between a compliment and an insult because every word sounds beautiful in Italian. As someone who wanted to learn a new language, she took me on a whirlwind ride through her writings. Having a nostalgic ritual of browsing my old photo archive every year, Lahiri made me look through the black & white rolls from Italy last year, untouched on my hard drive. Since I feel bad for not publishing these earlier, reading these lines from the chapter entitled 'Venice' were sort of healing my incurable desire of going back to the harbour. I hope you enjoy this too as much as I do!

taken from In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In this disquieting, almost dreamlike city, I discover a new way to understand my relationship with Italian.
The fragmented, disorienting topography gives me another key.
"It's the dialogue between the bridges and the canals. A dialogue between water and land. A dialogue that expresses a state of both separation and connection. " 
In Venice, I can't go anywhere without crossing countless pedestrian bridges. At first, having to cross a bridge every few minutes is exhausting. Each journey seems abnormal and somewhat difficult. In a short time, though, I get used to it and slowly this journey becomes habitual, enticing. I ascend, cross the canal, then descend on the other side.Walking through Venice means repeating this act an incalculable number of times. In the middle of every bridge I find myself suspended, neither her nor there. Writing in another language resembles a journey of this sort.

My writing in Italian is, just like a bridge, something constructed, fragile. It might collapse at any moment, leaving me in danger. English flows under my feet. I'm aware of it: an undeniable presence, even if I try to avoid it. Like the water in Venice, it remains the stronger, more natural element, the element that forever threatens to swallow me. Paradoxically, I could survive without any trouble in English; I wouldn't drown. And yet, because I don't want any contact with the water, I build bridges.
"I notice that in Venice almost all the elements are inverted. It's hard for me to distinguish between what exists and what seems an illusion, an apparition. Everything appears unstable, changeable. The streets aren't solid. The house seem to float. The high water can flood a square. The canals reflect a version of the city that doesn't exist."

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican


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