Sunday, 26 June 2011

Of stars and woods, and the world's longest footpath

Having not read a single scrap since flying to the boat last time, I was actually quite happy to spend these somewhat unsettled days catching up. I finished what Asimovs I had left unread in my possession and duly noted how, somehow, it all seems to tie back in. Sometimes rather obviously, sometimes with a somewhat more liberal use of imagination :).

I have to say though, The End of Eternity is indeed quite something. Unlike much of the Foundation universe books (which, wildly removed from our reality as they are, always seemed to me to be something not that far out of reach or beyond say a couple of fortuitous, albeit highly improbable breakthroughs in science or whatever :), and for all their other-worldliness they seemed to involve a humanity not that far from home), this one raised such fundamental questions of the point of existence for me that I was quite surprised, shocked even, for a bit!

In any case, suspecting that I'd be running thin of reading material before long (not counting GRRMs, still) I'd acquired Artemis Fowl from the store under the escalator in an attempt to move from the sci-fi to the magical. (Having failed to locate any of the other books that populate my 'recommended' list.) But that still didn't seem to provide an appreciable enough departure. Then I happened upon that rather unscrupulously appropriated Christmas gift from last year!

Thus it was that I started on my first foray into non-fiction in quite some time with Bryson's A Walk in the Woods! A couple of days, and what was it, 870 miles later, I'm a devout fan!! The man is pure genius!!! What else can one possibly say? Thoroughly entertaining, equally funny and depressing in his observations regarding the general world all around, quite enlightening in many - possibly sometimes unnecessary - ways. These are just some of the things that come to mind.

Of course, having read the lengthy excerpt from The Thunderbolt Kid, I'm absolutely dying to lay hands on that one. (These people certainly know how to sell books, I tell you!) But even more than that, I'd like to have a go at Neither Here Nor There first, primarily to read more about the often incorrigible yet rather lovable Katz! And yes, I shall also get to A Brief History of Nearly Everything someday soon, as my biologist cousin keeps telling me I absolutely must :).

Right. So on to Ireland's most notorious criminal then! All the while holding on to the thin ray of hope that sometime this week I might finally hear something of my expected whereabouts at the end of the next fortnight :|.

Man! Has it been raining a lot or what?!

Currently: waiting, wishing...
Listening to: Chicane - No ordinary morning

Friday, 17 June 2011

Monsoon has landed!

Once again I find myself staring out at the incessant pouring and cant help but be impressed by the sheer persistence of the monsoon rains here. It's been at it for over half a day now, and no half measures, this is consistent heavy downpour with howling wind and everything!

I decided to go on my mandatory round trip of family visits early this break, in case I get stuck home with visa issues later on. Plus it gave me an excuse to get out of the stifling Cal humidity. Halfway through the three day trip though, the rain had arrived.

The drive back home was rendered quite interesting, what with sudden trysts with passing clouds that would choose to unload significant portions of their water right on top of the bit of highway I might be on at the time. Not that I was complaining. The only trouble arose when the rain came with high winds. With empty fields all the way to the horizon on either side of the highway, stability was becoming slightly suspect at times :). But good fun all in all.

It was, however, a completely different city I returned to, cooled down significantly by some opening bouts of thunderous rain. And since then the weather's been quite chilly even. Accompanied by the constant pattering outside as pinpricks of water appear on the other side of frosted glass windows and the occasional shudder of the panes at some particularly forceful gusts of wind...

I guess my only regret is that the clouds pretty much wiped out that lunar eclipse. Oh well, one cant have everything I suppose :).

Currently: marooned!
Listening to: Chicane - Nothing

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The colour of dust

Let me share a revelation. It's nothing new, has happened over and over again, quite a few times now. Landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, you name it - they all look so much better on the way off the boat than while heading the other way :D.

This being the last time I should have to sample the dry and dusty barrenness that is the road between Duba and Tabuk, I made sure I managed a nice window seat with great visibility all around! All the better to capture everything that I will be missing terribly in the foreseeable future. Not!!

You can tell how much I've loved working there can't you? However, some of the pictures did come out okay :).

As for the rest of the trip back home, unfortunate seating and topsy turvy sleep patterns made sure that I arrived at home quite heavily jet-lagged. The one thing I was not expecting was for Cal to actually be hotter than the Red Sea :(. Thankfully, it appears that the monsoon rains are not far away!

Now of course there is the uncertainty of waiting without knowing. I hate that part. And ending up sick right at the start of the break doesn't help one bit :(. There's still a month left though, and hopefully some of the travel plans I was making might even work out!

Currently: stuffed
Listening to: Moby - Victoria Lucas

Monday, 6 June 2011

Here today, where tomorrow?

Now that it looks like we're leaving for sure, I thought about listing a few things that were interesting about this part of the (sea-) world, not in a bad way :). I must say, despite all our fears, it never really got that hot! Then again, it appears we timed it right and beat the worst part of the year to be here, which is the next couple of months.

What we have had, are the fringe effects of proximity to the Suez traffic. For one thing, I've never heard so many different languages spoken over the radio. To put it in perspective, our crew at this point collectively speak almost twenty languages, and there were still many we couldn't understand!

I have to admit, on the whole, the sunrises were rather more picturesque than the sunsets :). The band of haze that seems to be permanently stuck on the horizon does have its uses though. That's what makes sunsets every day look like pottery in reverse, what with the disc of the setting sun constantly being dismantled ever so subtly, and continuously, until it disappears with that unheard whoosh. I'm still waiting for the green flash to go with it :).

The moon-rises have tried to keep up. Sometimes with fascinating God of War looks. But I guess there's just so much less light to work with that it's a losing battle...

It's those hours just beyond daylight though, that are the best. Whether it is when ruddy darkness resigns to be blown apart by the rising sun, or when it prepares to repossess the sky as its foe sinks below the edge of the sea. When the breeze is soothing and you close your eyes and breathe in the salty air, it is difficult to imagine that you are surrounded by desert to the east and west, pirate infested seas to the south and an unending stream of strange tongued ships just over the horizon.

And then of course I get back to work and find all hell has broken loose and those few moments of peace and equanimity evaporate like they never were. Yup, I love my job... In all fairness though, I'm kidding only some of the time when I say that :).

Currently: one and a wake-up!
Listening to: Alison Mossheart and Carla Assar - Tomorrow never knows

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Arabian nights

Into no-mores, and so far so good. Hopefully this would be the last week I spend in this country for a while. Then again, who knows. I don't even know where we are headed to next! And no, I'm not the only one :P.

However, there is the break to look forward to in the mean time! :) And some random plans being hatched. Well, not so much hatched as idly contemplated and sometimes whispered out loud (well, relatively speaking) to see what they sound like...

At some point in the last week or so, my mind seems to have engaged in a partial shutdown of sorts. I'm hoping I'd get through the next six days on auto-pilot :D. We shall see.

Currently: no more Wednesdays!!
Listening to: Marilyn Manson - Sweet dreams