According to the Kabbalah, the three most intense weeks of the year started on July 24th, and came to a grand finale last Saturday – on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. As my friend the Kabbalist put it, “It’s like for three weeks there’s no ozone layer…. Sunlight is good, but you can get burned if you aren’t careful.”

my weekend. jesus h.

I didn’t want to overstay my tourist visa. The easiest way to do that is to duck out to Kuala Lumpur – we’ll call KL – for a weekend.

I planned to take it easy in KL. Clear my head, maybe meditate or catch up on sleep and watch a stupid British TV series called “Peep Show”. It’s funny. Strong recommendation.

The woman who I stayed with we’ll call SS. She picked me up at the airport. She’s a beautiful 58-year-old Indian yogi, and occasional Uber driver. Her apartment is a clean, small, 2br on the 12th floor. My room was simple: a twin bed, a glass night table, a single shelf, white marble floors. Everything you need to sleep and meditate. When you look out the window, you see very tall lanky trees, and then skyscrapers the distance.

SS speaks slowly. Despite the age difference she makes you feel like you can honestly open up to her. She was married twice, but never had kids. She teaches Hatha yoga. This weekend she finished a writing workshop. She has 3 friendly cats – we’ll call W (white) B (black) and O (orange).

Saturday Morning SS dropped me off in Little India. I saw a Hindi temple, got a dosa for breakfast, ended up in an art gallery where they let me charge my phone and use the wifi. My friend, we’ll call YC, is going to KL today… I left a note for him in the gallery, and emailed him instructions where to find it.

The afternoon was hot. People gave me ambiguous directions, I got lost in multiple parking lots. Eventually I gave up, had a blueberry latte in air conditioning, and mooched more wifi. I thought about being alone; if I would end up twice married and childless after menopause, with 3 friendly cats like W,B,&O; and, whether or not that was such a bad fate.

Status post latte, I went to a city-forest. As good as central park, but not better. Saw a cathedral, bought a cheap yellow scarf at a market, then took a subway to a mall where I bought a ticket for a taxi

THIS IS WHERE THE DRAMA STARTS.

The taxi driver, we’ll call TD, took me to a Chinese temple (why I needed the scarf). It was 4:30pm. I got out of the taxi, and asked TD to wait while I check that I had everything. Sure enough, my wallet was gone. I could have sworn I looked at it when I got into the taxi, to make sure I still had SS’s card with her address.

We checked the car. Nothing. I asked if we could drive back to the mall, to the counter where I bought my taxi ticket. That was the only other place it could be. We went back. I told TD I could pay him when I got my wallet, and I was so so sorry.

At the mall, TD decided to go to the taxi counter with me. No wallet. Then to the mall’s lost and found. Nothing. The mall security. Nothing. The auxiliary police. Nothing. TD did all the talking. He was the same age as SS. At this point, he had decided I was his responsibility. I felt incredibly helpless, and also grateful, plus guilty that I had no way to adequately thank him. By the time the auxiliary police said “No wallet” I started to tear up. I realized I was completely alone in a foreign city with no money or ID. I just happened to be very lucky.

TD drove me to the police station to file a report. My first ever Malaysian police report. I had SS’s phone number, so we called her to explain. TD waited until I was finished, then took me to SS’s house. by then it was 6:15pm

On the drive home, I found out his name is actually Mr. Selapan. He has 4 children, the oldest is a doctor and is getting married this fall. He offered to take me to the airport in the morning. I thanked him profusely.

SS lent me money to pay Mr. Selapan. I remembered I had packed a spare debit card in my bag. I was so relieved I hugged SS. I canceled my other card. She drove me into town so I could get cash. Meanwhile, she got a bottle of wine, asked if I would have dinner with her at home. I thanked her profusely too. We had wine on the balcony. After dinner, we watched the Daily Show, then a British talk show, then I went to bed.

SS was up before me in the morning. Coffee was ready. She told me that when I called her from the police station, she drew a not-tarot-but-something-like-it (we’ll call it NTBSLI) card for guidance. It was the Gratitude card, and she decided it meant I was a grateful person. (So true!)  We hugged goodbye, Mr. Selapan picked me up. We talked about family and palm trees on the way to the airport.

I had weird dreams on the plane. First, a toddler was sick and I nursed him back to health. Next, I was being wrapped in a golden fluffy cocoon. I decided to hide in my room and watch Peep Show season 4 that evening. My housemates invited me out for dinner, but I was in for the night, asleep by 9.

Anyway, that’s everything, Two more weeks in Bangkok. Here’s hoping for some calm.

 

EPILOGUE

  • YC found the note.
  • SS reviewed me on AirBnb: “Rosalyn is a great guest; despite her losing her wallet, she kept a calm composure and ‘went with the flow’. It could have been worse as she put it! I was happy to host Roz.”
  • According to the Kabbalah, the anniversary of the fall of the Temple will also be the birthday of the messiah. I don’t take things like that literally… let’s just interpret it to mean that destruction and renewal tend to happen at the same time.

 

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On The Plus Side

August 7, 2016

One week down at the Thai Red Cross. I said I wouldn’t dwell too much on work – and I won’t – but for the curious, inquisitive, or career-focused readers out there:

I really like it.

I have a few projects with their PrEP programs – a pill that prevents HIV. I get to write a lot, come up with questions, and play with data to find the answers  (maybe). That means I get to learn a new statistical software too. Who wouldn’t love that? The coworkers are sweet, my boss is supportive, I have a lot of autonomy, the office itself is a refrigerator. I bought a sweater yesterday.

Everyone else is Thai. For this pathological chatter, the language barrier is an advantage. I get a lot more done during the day. This month, I’ll also see a bunch of the gay health clinics. Here are photos from this Friday’s field trip:

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SO. Enough about work….

This week, in spite of having a “life” (i.e. a structured activity, that isn’t just for my ‘highest level of amusement’ – which is what my dad calls anything fun), I was preoccupied with minutia about things in New York. A monday email became a week long conversation about logistics. I was latched onto my Facebook feed wherever I found wifi. My mind wandered to New York/America/Home(?) when I meditated, like a moth to the flame.

*Yes. Still doing that daily meditation thing – hello from day 15/100/ 15% transformation.*

And it occurred to me this morning: I wasn’t attached to the east coast, or work. I was stuck on the people back home. As wonderful as alone time is – as addictive as self-reflection can be, wrote the blogger– eventually some kind of gravity pulls you back to community, whether you want it or not. I don’t have one here.

By the end of the week I was too restless to read or write anymore.

Book update – Almost finished Revolutionary Road. Jesus. I almost cried when I read Part 2 on the train. If you ever want a novel full of perfect character development, that breaks your heart over and over, this is the novel for you! Wish it was longer. 

On Saturday, I went online and mapped out an art gallery crawl. This involved looking up galleries, plotting them on a map, making a route, then hitting the road. I saw 2 small galleries, a university show, and an art exhibit called “Business Humour” about comedy  in the fanciest mall I’ve ever seen. The first recorded joke in Thailand was published in 1865! By sunset I ended up at an opening on the opposite side of town. Read: free food and open bar. Not a terrible place to be stuck during the evening monsoon.

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So, darling reader, here are the summary stats:

  • 25% of work complete (1week/4weeks)
  • 15% of enlightenment obtained (15days /100days)
  • 50% of my time in Asia complete (3 weeks/6 weeks)
  • 30% of yoga pass used
  • 26% of subway pass used.
  • 54.2 % of Sunday complete

Results are preliminary. Data collection ongoing. Further analysis forthcoming.

Comments/emails/distractions welcome, as usual.