Neverwhere is now somewhere only we know. ..

/ Monday, September 19, 2016 /

You know that bit where Alice was roused from sleep by her sister in the final chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ? 

This final blog post is what this is about. 

“The price we paid for the volumes of ourselves that we suffocated in the dark.” 
― Nicole KraussGreat House

- Kai

Because the rain will wash away everything..

/ Thursday, September 1, 2016 /

Hey girl there is always something indescribable about the rain, don't you think? 

It may be over-romanticized but admit it, it still calms the most troubled of us.

So forget about your boyfriend, mom, or boss throwing a fit. As Sarah Kay puts it, the rain will wash away everything if you let it. 

Now, I've made you a mix tape to listen and drift into forgetting. Also, I'm throwing in something that I wrote ages ago.

In times like these, just stick to your guns and remember that there's always the rain to scrub, rinse, and wash away everything — if you simply let it do so

Down the drain the sound of soapy water 
from the rusty dishwasher reigns,
yet barely audible.
There were silent spaces to fill and empty corners to drown.
Up into the chimney, the tasteless smoke seeks,
 but barely visible.
It dreams of red colored roofs; 
seeks of warmer nights when the stars hang so low,
when shirts and skirts meet to tango,
and of foggy mornings sitting in tables for two. 
And came the heaviest of the tempest; 
night and day it reign.
But dearest, 
the sheets of rain neither went down the drain 
nor up the chimney.
Still, it wanted  the same silent space to fill,
 empty corner to drown, and table for two. 
All three were nowhere to be found.

How Not to Give a Damn by Making Squash Soup

/ Monday, April 20, 2015 /

The human body has always fascinated me. It can heal on its own through an intricately-designed series of immune responses. This thought somewhat brought me comfort when I had the most terrible of stomach cramps which was closely followed by a trip to the washroom last night.  And the story didn't just end there because I had to repeat the washroom trips three times for the entire stretch of the evening. I took note of the times that I rose from bed - midnight, 2:30ish am and 4 am. Whatever it is that my body is trying to get rid itself off is doing an excellent job in making me feel sluggish and non-functional. Hey stomach bug, here’s your Badge of Excellence for successfully destroying Hiroshima!
A mental pep talk was in order when the alarm rang at five. You committed to coming in to work today for a shift swap when you snorkeled your way to some island last Saturday, you might as well have the decency to stick to what you’ve committed to. So I grudgingly rose from bed, took a bath and got dressed. Except that when I was about to go out, the cramps began, a sign of protest against the plan to suck up the discomfort and be Miss Illustrious at work. It seems like the most honorable thing to do is stay at home and wait until the immunity cops recite the Miranda rights to the offending stomach bugs. You have the right to remain silent, stomach flu bug.

While waiting and contemplating if I will still have a job to look forward to when I get back to work tomorrow (I have no medical certificate to hand in because I stubbornly believe that simple stomach flu bugs can be single-handedly taken cared of by our wonderful immune system, except in cases when there are signs of dehydration and infection), a warm, restorative soup seems like a good idea.

A large wedge of squash that has been sitting in the chiller for two weeks now is the only produce that screamed soup to me. But coconut milk is nowhere to be found so I quickly thought about letting go of the idea of warm, filling and rich soup. Besides, it’s summer, who would pine for something warm in the middle of the day?

Yet here’s to not giving a damn about soups on a summer noon, the non-existence of coconut milk that squash soup is supposed to have, and the possibility that I may be in between jobs by tomorrow.

So here we go.

Melt a generous amount of butter into the pan. Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Throw in a teaspoon of curry powder and a pinch of salt. Add thinly-sliced squash and pour about two cups of water. Simmer in low heat while you stir it every now and then. Once the squash has broken into bits, adjust taste with salt. Add freshly-grated ginger and thin slices of spring onions. It’s not something that Mark Bittman will gush about in The New York Times. But then again, this soup is about not giving a damn right?

Sometimes, there are things that we can't control like coconut milk being nowhere in sight. Or let’s just say that some people we hold dear in our lives do not give the same weight and intensity of caring as we do. But then there's squash soup. Now go make yourself a bowl of your favorite soup because anything that is warm, rich, and with lots of butter will somehow make things okay for the time being.

I Know My Life Has Changed Due to Being on the Road Often When..

/ Friday, March 21, 2014 /

Mt. Madjaas, Antique

1. I frequently withdraw from social media.
For the past year or two, I have deactivated my Facebook a couple of times which stretched for a couple of months, went on a Twitter sabbatical often, and have ignored Pinterest until I receive email notifications that some stranger just re-pinned one of my pins.
One of my longest social media withdrawals happened after we scaled two mountains in Bukidnon early last year -- Mt. Dulang-dulang and Mt. Kitanglad. It was by turns the most memorable and most difficult climb I’ve had to date. We lost track of the trail on our way down and we ended up trekking like zombies for roughly 18 hours. Good thing we finally made our way into the houses of the Daragyuhan tribe who, without any hesitation, allowed up to sleep for a few hours in their huts.
So why go missing in social media? Every so often, trips like my Bukidnon climb make me reevaluate how I live and see things beyond the usual macroscopic point of view. Will something positive happen if I tweet about what I just had for dinner? Will I make someone feel better if I write about how emotionally drained I am in Facebook? Mind you, I’m no saint. I even once took a photo of my cats and posted it on Twitter. But at some point, after spending some time outdoors, an omniscient voice inside my head (like that voice in most Woody Allen films) makes it his business to regularly remind me of the most important things in life. And unfortunately, it does not count hours spent on Facebook.
2. My kitchen skills and the way I eat has improved immensely.
What does the kitchen have to do with traveling? Unlike some people,  the act of cooking itself was never a permanent fixture in my life. I can cook a few insanely simple dishes but I did not really love the idea of cooking in the first place.
Why bother cooking when I can eat something out of a can? Or grab something from the cafeteria? That was me talking before I started to spend more time on the road, traveling out of Cebu to scale mountains in neighboring provinces.
A multi-day climb always involves preparing for a meal plan -- the ingredients, where to buy this and that, and the need to make sure that those recipes will sustain us during the mountaineering trip. In addition, being able to talk, mingle, and live with the locals made me see that there’s more to microwavable food sold in convenience stores.
I started to see cooking as an important yet frequently overlooked factor which affect how we operate every day in our lives. When you’re in-charge in the kitchen, you know exactly what’s on your food. Such thoughts led me to the conclusion that knowing what I put in my body will make me healthier and consequently, more productive (less sickly days, anyone?) in what I intend to do.

Have you tried using  whole food sources such as dulaw (turmeric) or atsuete (annato) for recipes that call for food color?
Did you know that you can't really say you've eaten the best comfort food unless we’re talking about tinolang manok bisaya (native chicken soup)?

3. I sometimes find myself with nothing left to wear for work.

I admit it has to do with me being too lazy to frequently do laundry. Yet it largely has to do with me letting go of a lot of my stuff, most of which are my clothes, when it occurred to me that I don’t need to have tons of possessions to feel fulfilled or happy or whatever positive emotion you can associate a smiley emoticon with.
When we scaled Mt. Madjaas in Antique (we traveled from Cebu to Iloilo), I was initially surprised when our guides showed up with nothing resembling of a backpack (we were supposed to trek and camp for three days) except for a machete that prove to be useful when the trails on the way up were almost impassable. We had to provide them with tent and food.

Of course, one can argue that most of our countrymen (like our guides in Mt. Madjaas) were minimalists not by choice but by circumstance. However, isn’t it worth trying to live minus the excess physical weight (and perhaps the emotional baggage of worrying too much about your new smartphone’s screen getting unsightly scratches) of the things you own that has been sitting in your closet gathering dust?  

I usually say, in the end, okay, it’s love and it’s work — what else could there possibly be? -- Maira Kalman


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