Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bedazzled Boy

Bedazzled Boy

I'm glad to have a short break before my next project commences. It is a good time to sharpen the saw so that I continue maintaining a healthy freshness towards my work. There are challenges too, even in these easy-going periods between projects for I can easily get sidetracked by the many trivialities of everyday life.

Today I dug up and dusted my old collection of The Great Artists--a weekly publication by Marshall Cavendish, which I had dilligently collected during my university days. Each issue featured one great master, with colourful reproductions of his works together biography, commentaries and historical context. I owe it to this 96 issue collection for my knowledge of the different schools of art from Baroque to Rocco, from Impressionism to Expressionism.

At 4.50 ringgit an issue, it was beyond the means of a student (for my daily budget then for meals and transport, was only 5.00 ringgit), but I persevered for almost 2 years, waiting eagerly for each week's new release. That was twenty years ago; today, you can get the entire content in one interactive CD.

Flipping through this collection of mine reminds me of those heady student days of mine, when the hunger of the mind far exceeded that of the flesh. Even now when I'm mired in the worldly cares of adulthood, I try to remind myself ocassionally of the many diverse interests I had when I as a student, simply to keep my youthful enthusiasm for knowledge alive.

I think it is this enthuasism and spirit which drives me on especially in my line of work when staleness and fatigue can creep in so easily. I am happy that my curiosity for knowledge has not waned after all these years and I know deep down inside, I'm still a boy, in awe with the wondrous beauty of the world around me--a boy who "wandered lonely as a cloud", bedazzled by the occasional burst of daffodils lying on his path.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

On Wednesday evening, after I'd completed my presentation to the client, I decided to relax a bit at the Checkerboard of Galle Face Hotel, watching the sunset. With a good book for company and a bottle of cool Lion beer in my hand, it was a moment of sheer bliss. I didn't do much reading though because the light was fading and the mesmerising sight of the crimson sun slowly dipping into the horizon over the Indian ocean engrossed me completely.

I am happy to have pulled through a very difficult project with reasonably good results. Before the next one starts, I'd want to get a couple of things out of the way first. Now that I'm back in KL, I need to get the renovations on my "new" apartment done so that I can shift some of my stuff over there immediately. I am sorely in need of space. I said "new" because the place was actually ready for occupation over a year ago but somehow I've not been able to find the time to put in the basic infrastructure.

So many real estate agents have called me to enquire about the place but I've rejected all offers to have it rented out. I'm not planning to shift over to this place for the foreseable future either. All I want is a permanent home for all the junk that I've collected over my years of travel. I may not need a permanent home myself but they do.

I have also planned another trip to my second home--this time it is only partially for business. Well, I deserve a small break after all the hard work I've put in over the months. I am hopping that my upcoming projects will be in Indonesia but it looks like I'll have to be spend quite a bit of time in Colombo. At least the beach and the sunset there is something that I can look forward to. Perhaps like Sir Arthur C. Clarke, someday I will like the place enough to call it home too.

Monday, May 09, 2005

At the Galle Face

At the Galle Face

For my stay in Colombo this week, I decided to check into the oldest hotels here, the Galle Face Hotel. Colonial-era hotels have always held a fascination for me and the Galle Face, in terms of history certainly ranks up there with the other grand dames of Asia like the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, Strand in Yangon, E&O, Penang and the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok.

There are people who advised me against staying here because according to them, the rooms are old and in a state of disrepair. And with the hotel's attention currently focussed on the construction of a new luxurious wing, there's also fear that the older part of the hotel will fall into a greater state of neglect. But they forgot that I'm not the typically travelling businessman looking for the sterile comforts of a five-star hotel. As always, I'm intrigued by places with a lot of history and is game to try quirky places with lots of old world charm. The Galle Face hotel, with 141 years of history, certainly fits the bill.

Like many other old hotel, the Galle Face has played host before to a whole list of illustrious celebrities before and certainly has its rumoured share of ghostly inhabitants. My room is hollow, echoey and spacious, facing the Galle Face Green right in front of the hotel, with a beautiful side view of the Indian Ocean.

The floor of the hotel, which is entirely wood, transmits the sound of footsteps clearly; one can hear people approaching along the corridor outside one's door all night. The corridors are gloomy, the scant incandescent lights make the place feel as if it is still being illuminated by candlelight. But that somehow adds to the spooky charm of the place.

The sea-facing restaurant here--the Seaspray and the Verandah--are the jewels of the hotel. They are popular gathering places for the locals in the afternoons and evenings. The view from here is spectacular in the evening; one can sit at one of the outdoor tables, sip a cool drink and watch the sun set over the Indian ocean while being lulled by the sound of waves breaking restlessly on the beach.

I certainly look forward to spending the next few evenings relaxing here with a good book. There's a lot of work ahead for me here but I'm sure glad to disappear from KL for a while. It feels good to be able to live the life of a ghost sometimes.