I’ve always lived in cities, these labyrinths of concrete and steel. Navigating through a city like Manila is an exercise in patience. After being away for over a decade, I find that I am still finding my footing here. And sometimes, losing my way also feels like the same thing. We meet again, Manila.

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Once Upon a Sandbox Winter

I talk about the lives I used to love. He blathers on about Rushdie’s egregious misuse of the English language, which I staunchly defend. He tells me about all these words, how they are all just shouts in the void. We volley this idea back and forth until we finish our meal, and for a brief sliver of time, I am unencumbered by the things on the long list of things that adulthood demand of me. Life is simple again.

I briefly get to talk to F and S over the phone, and tonight they feel like they are right next to me and not hundreds of miles away. Love feels close and within my reach again.

I cross the street to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy and catch my own reflection on the glass door as I exit: my dress, rich gold and green satin, is cold on my skin and flutters – as I move – in the late evening breeze with such liquid grace. In this particular moment I cease to be just another Asian expatriate in the gulf and J’s Land Cruiser is no longer just a truck with leather seats gloved in faux fur. Tonight, I am an exotic Indian princess about to ascend onto my palanquin perched on a white elephant.

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Stay. The word is so foreign to my lips. I have been other places; so many other places that nowhere is ever truly strange, and here is never really ‘home’.

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One day, you are – by some fluke – early for your flight. You have checked in online, packed your signature leather weekender [properly this time], and still have 3 hours to kill at the airport. Being a creature of habit, you return to old haunts; you grab a chai latte and head for the bookshop. […]

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Why We Travel

I smiled at both of them and raised my camera, motioning that I was to take their photograph. They let me. Out of the whole trip, this is my favorite photo. I don’t know why, but there was just something about that moment.

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