Mar 31, 2011

to grow a tree

I'm not escaping depression. I cannot run away from what entraps me. I'm nothing nothing nothing - a fool fool fool. What is it about mysterious people that is attractive? You think you want to solve them like a Rubik's cube - even so, you cannot help but to refer to walkthroughs for the easy way. Click him into place - click click click - you cannot even see the beauty in chaotic colours. You want him to be uniformly blue on this side, uniformly green on that, uniformly white on the other; you cannot accept that he wishes to be blue in a sea of white, or to be yellow in an array of hues. This cube in chaos is useless. But you do not know that even your heart lies in chaos in order to grow a tree.

Mar 30, 2011

Zarathustra's Prologue

When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he abandoned his home and the lake of his home and went into the mountains. Here he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude and for ten years did not tire of them. At last, however, there was a change in his heart - and so one morning with the dawn of morning he rose, stepped out before the sun, and spoke to it thus:
   'Greetings, Great Star! What would your happiness be, were it not for those whom you illumine!
   'For ten years you have come up here to my cave: you would have grown weary of your light and of this course without me, my eagle, and my serpent.
   'But we were waiting for you every morning, took from you your overflow and also blessed you for it.
   'Behold! I am overburdened with my wisdom: like the bee that has gathered too much honey, I need hands outstretched to receive it.
   'I should like to bestow and distribute, until the wise among human beings once again become glad of their folly and the poor once again of their riches.
   'For that I must descend into the depths: just as you do in the evening when you go down behind the sea and still bring light to the underworld, you overrich star!
   'I must, like you, go under, as human beings call it, to whom I would go down.
   'So bless me then, you tranquil eye, who can look without envy even upon all-too-great happiness!
   'Bless the cup that wants to overflow, that the water may flow from it golden and carry everywhere the reflection of your delight!
   'Behold! This cup wants to become empty again, and Zarathustra wants to become human again.'
   Thus began Zarathustra's going-under.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

come home

...Still the flowers smell the same
Still the memories have not left
Still a man wonders if he's lost
Or just haven't found his way

Mar 27, 2011

I will take the risk

   —Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use - silence, exile, and cunning.
   Cranly seized his arm and steered him round so as to head back towards Leeson Park. He laughed almost slily and pressed Stephen's arm with an elder's affection.
   —Cunning indeed! he said. Is it you? You poor poet, you!
   —And you made me confess to you, Stephen said, thrilled by his touch, as I have confessed to you so many other things, have I not?
   —Yes, my child, Cranly said, still gaily.
   —You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.
   Cranly, now grave again, slowed his pace and said:
   —Alone, quite alone. You have no fear of that. And you know what that word means? Not only to be separate from all others but to have not even one friend.
   —I will take the risk, said Stephen.
   —And not to have any one person, Cranly said, who would be more than a friend, more even than the noblest and truest friend a man ever had.
   His words seemed to have struck some deep chord in his own nature. Had he spoken of himself, of himself as he was or wished to be? Stephen watched his face for some moments in silence. A cold sadness was there. He had spoken of himself, of his own loneliness which he feared.
   —Of whom are you speaking? Stephen asked at length.
   Cranly did not answer.

-James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Mar 25, 2011

plain white

- take to the skies - for what destiny is worth - find the lone star - burst afire - light - within - the soul alight - bright white - blinds all sight - feel - don't see - a white flash - a fall - the ugly duckling - the white swan - the white tiled floors - father's white hair - mother's fish porridge - a rolling pin rolls - torn books - red rage - yellowed wallpaper - peeling - a yellow parakeet - it shit - cabbage soup - the taste of hot water - steamed cabbage rice - plain sight, plain taste - feel - don't see - plain white - names - surnames - i am sim - what is sim? - white hair - black hair - bright - dark -

Mar 24, 2011

so plain, so white

- a swimming head - night of turmoiled sleep - dreams and stardust - people i don't know - day by day we pass each other - faces, names, sounds, sensations - a bowl of rice noodles - i once pulled out your white hairs - so plain, so flat, so white, so uninspiring - what love is - what the heart feels - buses and trains to nowhere, evening falls, black and white photographs, blank roofs with no chimneytops, birds fly by - they shit, we shit - hands, holding hands, holding promises in the hearts - so plain, so white - streetlights and moving cars - red and yellow - going nowhere, going round and round, circles, cycles, to nowhere -

Mar 23, 2011

what the heart is, what it feels

Faintly, under the heavy night, through the silence of the city which has turned from dreams to dreamless sleep as a weary lover whom no caresses move, the sound of hoofs upon the road. Not so faintly now as they come near the bridge: and in a moment as they pass the darkened windows the silence is cloven by alarm as by an arrow. They are heard now far away, hoofs that shine amid the heavy night as gems, hurrying beyond the sleeping fields to what journey's end - what heart? - bearing what tidings?

Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

- James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Mar 22, 2011

The Walking Madman

It was too surreal to have walked home from Chinatown this evening, a matter of 4.5 hours and at least 18 km. But what are numbers and figures - time did not exist at all in that moment. It was only when I thought back on the journey, having started at 7.30 and arrived home at midnight, that I then realized, while I had been walking walking walking, there were people who had knocked off from work, arrived home, ate dinner, showered, watched the 9pm Ch8 serial, read the newspaper, and got ready for bed. My legs ache now, but if if if I were to die tomorrow, I'd die a happy man, having achieved some glory in a moment of my own genius and insanity.

Mar 20, 2011

A Traveler's Way

My feet are blistered. Still I walk. Against the endless horizon of blue skies and red earth, a thin white line, there, my salvation lies. Against the beliefs of things I walk to find my truth. Don't let me kneel down this instant to pray or to hope - I will walk until my feet are no more - I will crawl with my arms and torso too. This every muscle in my body bursts into a fierce life, a tour de force that propels a man toward something. Am I hopeful? I am as hopeful as the star who circles in his one eternal night. "Let there be light," it is said - all men rejoice - one star weeps. For the sake of a single star, a traveler must walk.

Mar 19, 2011

It's Never The End

You think it's the end once you're gone - you're wrong
We still have to clear up when it's all over
Bills to pay
Insurances to claim
What to do with your shirts and underwear
We still have to clear up - life doesn't clear itself
Leave our heartaches by the door for the afternoon
Until we're done
Packing your books into brown cardboard boxes
Stacking them in a corner of your room
Dismantling your bedframe
Sweeping out your dust -
Then, and only then
We step out in our sweat
Put on our own shoes
Pick up our own sorrows
Grieve in our own time -

P.S. It's a surreal feeling overcoming to know when I've written something decent. The great irony is that I wrote this in my sobriety. Perhaps, I could attribute this decency to having had three consecutive nights of beer. Are they causally related? Probably. Probably not.

Mar 18, 2011

Absurd Creation: Philosophy and Fiction

To think is first of all to create a world (or to limit one's own world, which comes to the same thing.) It is starting out from the basic agreement that separates man from his experience in order to find a common ground according to one's nostalgia, a universe hedged with reasons or lighted up with analogies but which, in any case, gives an opportunity to rescind the unbearable divorce. The philosopher, even if he is Kant, is a creator. He has his characters, his symbols and his secret action. He has his plot-endings. On the contrary, the lead taken by the novel over poetry and the essay merely represents, despite appearances, a greater intellectualization of the art. Let there be no mistake about it; I am speaking of the greatest. The fecundity and the importance of a literary form are often measured by the trash it contains. The number of bad novels must not make us forget the value of the best. These, indeed, carry with them their universe. The novel has its logic, its reasonings, its intuition, and its postulates. It also has its requirements of clarity.

- Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

let me out let me out let me out

of this Hell

Travel the Road

"If you must choose between being eclectic and various or being repetitious and boring, be repetitious and boring." -Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town

So I went to watch Rango a second time this evening, all for one particular scene which happened near the end of the movie, where Rango is banished from town and he goes back to where he started from. He comes upon the expressway that splits the land into two, with cars passing in both directions mercilessly fast. With nothing left to believe in, he steps out onto the highway and walks to his certain death. The cars and trucks pass above him - a little lizard finding his way across, finding himself - without stopping or swerving to avoid him.

Like a miracle Rango crosses the highway, collapses, and wakes in the day to find himself in the presence of the Spirit of the West, who gives him one damn good advice:

"No man can walk out of his own story."

I cried.

Mar 17, 2011

free beer and great company

I'm trying, I'm trying at least to write something. I just had 4 cans of Tiger out of 6 - the other 2 I shared with 2 cool dudes at my place as I was passing them. I did beforehand said that I'd share beer with whoever I come across. Whee! I'm feeling it! Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty! The only way to break free from consciousness into spontaneity is by bypassing the mind! And so I did with my little experiment of getting myself high! High! HIGH!

Of course, I mustn't get myself wasted, no. The whole idea is to become high enough to still be able to write, without having to go overboard and end up sleeping before any work is done. I mean, Kerouac got his benzedrine which I don't know what sort of drug that is and most likely won't have access to it here, so the only way is to down alcohol, huge amounts such that it is enough to cross the threshold of consciousness and enter into trance-like writing. As I am doing so right now; although, I am still not exactly over since I am still aware of my spelling errors and grammar.

I managed to acquaint myself with 2 guys by offering them a can of beer each. One's the friend of the other who's a resident here too. We drank, chatted a bit. They told me they're 18, although, they could be anywhere between 16-18 and I'd be offering them beer illegally! But the whole point was to drink together, have some company, say interesting and random stuff and just be who we are! But I was on my fourth can when they were on their first, so I cannot determine if that is fair, but I guess we hit off somehow. Next time if I chance upon them again I'll surely buy more beer for all of us. Hoorah!

I think I may end up like Kerouac someday, like my hero, imagine that! Who died from consuming too much alcohol! But! It's the only way I can tap into the spontaneity of writing; otherwise, my mind will be too conscious to disallow my fingers to reign free on the keyboard or with the pencil. I've been struggling! Yes, this is how a struggling writer will end up! Struggling, drunk, and poisoned by alcohol in the long run! What for? Just so the world can read his fucking tragedy. Yes.

Well, if you're living around CCK or better still in the Warren condo, please please please I have free beer and good company for you. Let me know - PM me!

Mar 15, 2011


It's a blue blue day today. I finished Kerouac's On The Road. I listened to Shai Gabso. I went from Harbourfront to Clarke Quay to Outram to Tiong Bahru then back to Outram to board the bus home. Ed Wall had lost faith in Dean just like Sam Brady - he looked at him warily when he looked. There were riotous days in the past when they had stumbled around the streets of Larimer, Wyoming, arm-in-arm when the haying was over, but all this was dead and gone.

We clasped hands and agreed to be friends forever. Sal and Dean never got to live on the same street with their families, to be a couple of oldtimers together.

When tomorrow comes, where shall I go? What shall I do? What is there left to believe in?

Going Somewhere

He may be moving slow,
But that don't mean he's going nowhere.

- Norah Jones, Broken

Perhaps I am still searching for something; I don't know. Something magical - a miracle - a shooting star - a supernova. Adam was ready to offer me a life. I chickened out and left. Garrett said he doesn't want to be unobserved, he wants to live to be seen. I told him I'd seen him. I haven't heard from him since. Aaron hoped we'd get along. I offered him optimism then turned down our first meeting. So the cycle goes on, goes on - we go on chasing shooting stars, dropping everything behind us, running on ahead like carefree boys, running to catch the wind.

Van Gogh said: "There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke." We are all misunderstood creatures. We cannot reach the divine road that leads to Paradise. In a way, Dean Moriarty knew inside him what a wastrel he was, who only knew to giggle, to laugh. He had the chance to settle, but he too cannot reach that road. (Isn't it ironic then that he should go with Sal Paradise.) So he ran from life, and he ran from running from life. It wasn't life that frightened him, no. He only knew to run.

We're all going somewhere. Someday, if we're lucky to live long enough to see it, we'll know where.

Kerouac's On The Road (an excerpt)

   That night Galatea, Dean, and I went to get Marie. This girl had a basement apartment, a little daughter, and an old car that barely ran and which Dean and I had to push down the street as the girls jammed at the starter. We went to Galatea's, and there everybody sat around - Marie, her daughter, Galatea, Roy Johnson, Dorothy his wife - all sullen in the overstuffed furniture as I stood in a corner, neutral in Frisco problems, and Dean stood in the middle of the room with his balloon-thumb in the air breast-high, giggling. 'Gawd damn,' he said, 'we're all losing our fingers - hawr-hawr-hawr.'
   'Dean, why do you act so foolish?' said Galatea. 'Camille called and said you left her. Don't you realize you have a daughter?'
   'He didn't leave her, she kicked him out!' I said, breaking my neutrality. They all gave me dirty looks; Dean grinned. 'And with that thumb, what do you expect the poor guy to do?' I added. They all looked at me; particularly Dorothy Johnson lowered a mean gaze on me. It wasn't anything but a sewing circle, and the center of it was the culprit, Dean - responsible, perhaps, for everything that was wrong. I looked out the window at the buzzing night-street of Mission; I wanted to get going and hear the great jazz of Frisco - and remember, this was only my second night in town.
   'I think Marylou was very, very wise leaving you, Dean,' said Galatea. 'For years now you haven't had any sense of responsibility for anyone. You've done so many awful things I don't know what to say to you.'
   And in fact that was the point, and they all sat around looking at Dean with lowered and hating eyes, and he stood on the carpet in the middle of them and giggled - he just giggled. He made a little dance. His bandage was getting dirtier all the time; it began to flop and unroll. I suddenly realized that Dean, by virtue of his enormous series of sins, was becoming the Idiot, the Imbecile, the Saint of the lot.
   'You have absolutely no regard for anybody but yourself and your damned kicks. All you think about is what's hanging between your legs and how much money or fun you can get out of people and then you just throw them aside. Not only that but you're silly about it. It never occurs to you that life is serious and there are people trying to make something decent out of it instead of just goofing all the time.'
   That's what Dean was, the HOLY GOOF.
'Camille is crying her heart out tonight, but don't think for a minute she wants you back, she said she never wanted to see you again and she said it was to be final this time. Yet you stand here and make silly faces, and I don't think there's a care in your heart.'
   This was not true; I knew better and I could have told them all. I didn't see any sense in trying it. I longed to go and put my arm around Dean and say, Now look here, all of you, remember just one thing: this guy has his troubles too, and another thing, he never complains and he's given all of you a damned good time just being himself, and if that isn't enough for you then send him to the firing squad, that's apparently what you're itching to do anyway...
   Nevertheless Galatea Dunkel was the only one in the gang who wasn't afraid of Dean and could sit there calmly, with her face hanging out, telling him off in front of everybody. There were earlier days in Denver when Dean had everybody sit in the dark with the girls and just talked, and talked, and talked, with a voice that was once hypnotic and strange and was said to make the girls come across by sheer force of persuasion and the content of what he said. This was when he was fifteen, sixteen. Now his disciples were married and the wives of his disciples had him on the carpet for the sexuality and the life he had helped bring into being. I listened further.
   'Now you're going East with Sal,' Galatea said, 'and what do you think you're going to accomplish by that? Camille has to stay home and mind the baby now you're gone - how can she keep her job? - and she never wants to see you again and I don't blame her. If you see Ed along the road you tell him to come back to me or I'll kill him.'
   Just as flat as that. It was the saddest night. I felt as if I was with strange brothers and sisters in a pitiful dream. Then a complete silence fell over everybody; where once Dean would have talked his way out, he now fell silent himself, but standing in front of everybody, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins, saying, 'Yes, yes, yes,' as though tremendous revelations were pouring into him all the time now, and I am convinced they were, and the others suspected as much and were frightened. He was BEAT - the root, the soul of Beatific. What was he knowing? He tried all in his power to tell me what he was knowing, and they envied that about me, my position at his side, defending him and drinking him in as they once tried to do. Then they looked at me. What was I, a stranger, doing on the West Coast this fair night? I recoiled from the thought.
   'We're going to Italy,' I said, I washed my hands of the whole matter. Then, too, there was a strange sense of maternal satisfaction in the air, for the girls were really looking at Dean the way a mother looks at the dearest and most errant child, and he with his sad thumb and all his revelations knew it well, and that was why he was able, in tick-tocking silence, to walk out of the apartment without a word, to wait for us downstairs as soon as we'd made up our minds about time. This was what we sensed about the ghost on the sidewalk. I looked out the window. He was alone in the doorway, digging the street. Bitterness, recriminations, advice, morality, sadness - everything was behind him, and ahead of him was the ragged and ecstatic joy of pure being.

Mar 11, 2011

Lonely and Free

I am losing this skin I am wearing this not-me thing that I thought was mine but it turned out to be somebody else's great overcoat, Gogol's overcoat which Dostoevsky wore which Kerouac and Ginsberg tore. I see mellow and melancholy yellow streetlamps fill the night suburbs of my moving world through a pane of glass on a rocking bus and realise what it is to be among houses with windows that open into dark alien rooms that open into nowhere. A loner lonely, alone, a lone loner more alone than loneliness all. One little drop of rain running down the window pane cheerily excitedly sporadically stopping to join with other free friends forming a coterie racing the other groups to the edges of eternity, falling around freely from the sky and from the bus, freedom is falling all around me.

P.S. I loved that phrase 'mellow and melancholy yellow streetlamps' because they are what they are.

Mar 10, 2011

A Quatrain

reading reading ever reading
never to be read;
breathing breathing just existing
until i drop dead.

Mar 6, 2011

We Be Comrades Arm-in-Arm

We be comrades arm-in-arm
Marching to the bugle's call
We will fly our freedom flag
Across a free land free to all

No one shall claim the way for us
East to west we'll go with pride
Like two Romeos on the road
Howling into the carnal night

I'll wear your guffaw in my heart
See in your eyes new suns rise
Our skins clinging close expose
Our nakedness undisguised

Til our last day in the world
My heart I gave you shall stay true
Then dying in your arms I'll say:
"My dear comrade, I love you."

I needed a young painter ... who would awaken me.

It is inevitable that when we really need someone we find him. The person you need attracts you like a magnet. I returned to Paris, after these long years spent in the countryside and I needed a young painter, a young painter who would awaken me. Paris was magnificent, but where was the young painter? I looked everywhere: at my contemporaries and their followers. I walked a lot, I looked everywhere, in all the galleries, but the young painter was not there. Yes, I walk a lot, a lot at the edge of the Seine where we fish, where we paint, where we walk dogs (I am of those who walk their dogs). Not a single young painter! One day, on the corner of a street, in one of these small streets in my district, I saw a man painting. I looked at him; at him and at his painting, as I always look at everybody who creates something I have an indefatigable curiosity to look and I was moved. Yes, a young painter! We began to speak, because we speak easily, as easily as in country roads, in the small streets of the district. His story was the sad story of the young people of our time. A young Spaniard who studied in fine arts in Barcelona: civil war; exile; a concentration camp; escape. Gestapo, another prison, another escape ... Eight lost years! If they were lost, who knows? And now a little misery, but all the same the painting. Why did I find that it was him the young painter, why? I visited his drawings, his painting: we speak. I explained that for me, all modern painting is based on what Cézanne nearly made, instead of basing itself on what he almost managed to make. When he could not make a thing, he hijacked it and left it. He insisted on showing his incapacity: he spread his lack of success: showing what he could not do, became an obsession for him. People influenced by him were also obsessed by the things which they could not reach and they began the system of camouflage. It was natural to do so, even inevitable: that soon became an art, in peace and in war, and Matisse concealed and insisted at the same time on that Cézanne could not realize, and Picasso concealed, played and tormented all these things. The only one who wanted to insist on this problem, was Juan Gris. He persisted by deepening the things which Cézanne wanted to do, but it was too hard a task for him: it killed him. And now here we are, I find a young painter who does not follow the tendency to play with what Cézanne could not do, but who attacks any right the things which he tried to make, to create the objects which have to exist, for, and in themselves, and not in relation. This young painter has his weakness and his strength. His force will push him in this road. I am fascinated and that is why he is the young painter who I needed. He is Francisco Riba-Rovira.

- Gertrude Stein

Mar 5, 2011

To Be A Writer

to be a writer
the tv set must go
along with the dvd player
and the playstation console.

a black expedit bookcase
from ikea, complete with desk
will have to take its place
in the now empty recess.

my books will be arranged by
author, title, publisher;
prose, poetry, philosophy -
a healthy range to inspire.

my notebook in the center
of the desk, a lamp on the right,
on the left some pens and paper;
i am now ready to write.

Mar 4, 2011

Kerouac to Ginsberg. Jan 13, 1950

Dear Allen:

Tonight while walking on the waterfront in the angelic streets I suddenly wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are. Please don't dislike me. What is the mystery of the world? Nobody knows they're angels. God's angels are ravishing and fooling me. I saw a whore and an old man in a lunchcart, and God – their faces! I wondered what God was up to. In the subway I almost jumped up to yell, "What was that for? What's going on up there? What do you mean by that?" Jesus, Allen, life ain't worth the candle, we all know it, and almost everything is wrong, but there's nothing we can do about it, and living is heaven.

Well, here we are in heaven. This is what heaven is like. Also in the subway I suddenly shuddered, for a crack had opened, like cracks open in the ground when there's an earthquake, only this crack opened in the air, and I saw pits. I was suddenly no longer an angel, but a shuddering devil.

Mainly, I wanted to tell you how dearly I regard your soul, and value your existence, and wish for your recognition of my heart's desire, in short, I admire and love you and consider you a great man always. Let me boast a moment in order to give value to this, for what good is regard from a dunce, a spook, an elephant or a chocolate drop: My English editor, (ain't met him yet) sent G. a postcard showing picture of the antique Counting House in their firm, and said, "Place looks exactly like it did when we published Goldsmith & Johnson. Please tell Kerouac is in good company, and what is more, is worthy of it."

A beat American kid from a milltown, me, is now side by side with Goldsmith & Johnson. Isn't it strange historically? if not actually? Let us get on with the mystery of the world.

For instance, why do I write you this note in spite of the fact that I'll see you tomorrow night? – and live in the same city with you. Why is everybody like Sebastian in the record, stammering, stumbling at the end, fainter and fainter with all the scratching, saying, "So long, Jack old boy ... take it easy, please ... goodbye ... old friend ... see you soon, I guess ... goodbye ... take care of yourself, now ... farewell ... I guess ... 'bye ... so long ... goodbye old man." Most people spend their lives saying that to their best friends; they're always putting on their coats and leaving, and saying goodnight, and going down the street, and turning to wave a last time ... Where they go?

Let me tell you what the Archangel is going to do. At a big Walter Adams party, or a Cannastra party, the Archangel is suddenly going to appear in a blinding flash of white light, among actual waterfalls of honey-light also, and everybody will keep still while the Archangel, with its voice, speaks. We will see, hear, and shudder. Behind the archangel we will see that Einstein is all wrong about enclosed space ... there will be endless space, infinities of Celestial Vine, and all the gores of the mires below, and the joyful singing of angels mingling with the shudders of devils. We'll see that everything exists. For the first time we'll realize that it's all alive, like baby turtles, and moves in the middle of the night at a party ... and the archangel is going to tell us off. Then clouds of cherubs will fall, mingled with satyrs and whatnots and spooks. If we were not haunted by the mystery of the world, we wouldn't realize nothing.


Mar 2, 2011

A Hitchhiker's Dream (Where This Blog Got Its Name)

I remember a time back in December 2009 where I was on holiday with some friends in Japan, when my trip had to prematurely end due to a friend's accident back home. When we received the news, it was evening, we were in Hakodate, Hokkaido and were about to head out for dinner. I couldn't find the appetite so I told them to go on ahead without me. After breaking down in the hotel room out of sight from them, I knew I couldn't continue with the holiday which would last another week, so I went to use the computer at the hotel lobby to make plans home.

Not being able to converse much in Japanese (I could read better) and without much clue as to how best to get home, I remember poring through the online train schedules and finally finding one that would allow me to depart for Sapporo that night, arriving in the morning at the airport and then catching the first domestic flight back to Tokyo, all seemingly within plan. The difficulties, however, did not end there. My return ticket by Malaysia Airlines was on a special rate, and however I tried to negotiate with the staff on the phone there was nothing much she could do except to sympathise with my plight. The only solution was that she'd inform the departure counter at Narita Airport and told me to get there to see if they could put me on the next flight home.

All settled, I told my friends when they returned from dinner that I had to go home. They understood, and they told me to send their regards. They helped write some helpful Japanese phrases which I could use if I needed to communicate. "Kyuu-kyuu desu", or "it's an emergency" - was extremely helpful. They saw me to the train station and bought me sandwiches and milk to eat on the train since I did not have dinner. And when it was time to depart, I walked through the gate alone, turning back many times to wave to them, until I stepped on the train and could no longer see them.

It was the first time I felt alone and a little frightened to be this bold. I traveled to Kuala Lumpur via train by myself before but the feeling now was entirely new. I could not keep worrying about things. What if I overslept and missed the stop I must get off from? What if I missed the domestic flight? What if I could not secure a flight home and be left stranded at the airport? What if all of these were too late? What does all this mean? Through silent sobs and bites of cold sandwiches I thought and thought, and finally drifted off to sleep. When I woke up, it was 4-something in the morning, and I felt relieved to know that my stop was coming soon and I was not going to miss it.

After successfully transiting trains and arriving at New Chitose Airport, it was about 7 in the morning. I flew from the train to locate the domestic counter, and was surprised to see that an extremely long queue had already formed. At 7 in the morning! It never occurred to me then that domestic flights are somewhat like taking the metro for the Japanese. I foolishly joined the queue, but after waiting 10 minutes and realising it was not moving much, I broke away from it and ran desperately back and forth to see if I could cut through. I could only take the one domestic flight departing in another 20 minutes' time in order to catch the international flight home. In my panic, I asked some staff and thankfully they directed me to a queue meant for international tourists, which was way shorter and faster. Eventually I secured a ticket but I only had about 10 minutes left before the plane would depart. I ran through customs. I had to remove my cumbersome pouch secured to my belt to get past the metal detector. After the scan I picked up my things, did not bother to put them back on, and ran to the gate with my life. There was nothing on my mind except to catch that flight. And I did. The moment I got on the plane and slumped into my seat, I was breathless from the trauma and it was only then that I found the moment to cry in anguish and relief.

The rest of the journey home was more or less smooth-sailing. The only hiccup I faced at Narita Airport was that the Malaysia Airlines plane had departed (the window of time I had to transit between flights was too small) and I ended up purchasing the most expensive plane ticket ever - more than $4,000 - on a Singapore Airlines flight home. I paid using whatever yen I had left at the time (thankfully I still had more than half of what I brought) and charged the remainder to my parents' supplementary card, with their approval. And so I arrived home that evening, after a crazy 24-hour Amazing Race of my own.

Things have been different since then but that journey home was perhaps the most memorable experience I had in Japan. Granted it was the most adventure I ever had in my life, succeeding my solo trips to and from KL. I now have an aim to travel across land via trains and buses and cars and a traveler's two feet, on a journey spanning 10,000 km, to fulfill a certain dream of finding Pushkin in St. Petersburg, Russia. These days I sit in front of my computer reading about others who are on the road braving the dangers and the wild and living a life not contained by these imaginary borders all the world's nations are fighting about, thinking back on that memory of Japan and wishing to hit the road again.

I know I must and will make this trip, if only to find myself on the highway of life.