Monday, 24 September 2012

Every hour wounds. The last one kills.

It's been a bit grim with the post titles lately huh? But I assure you, this one's merely for effect. It's out of American Gods. Chapter 3 as a matter of fact. :) I'm following what turned out to be an awesome suggestion to follow a re-read of Neil Gaiman here.

I've got to say, the Kindle has lit something of a fire under my reading lately. But to trace back the last few books would quite neatly follow my path from the boat back home. It was, by no means, as simple as that sounds!

The last few days of the trip were spent recovering what gear we had out and heading into Peterhead for crew change. In case that doesn't sound a bit out of place, let me clarify. The only reason we spent days out on the back deck doing that, was because there was no way we could get anyone on or off the boat at sea. Yes, it's the North Sea. Things like that happen a lot out there!

Of course, seeing how the cold was beyond anything I'd ever felt before on a boat, getting kitted out for twelve hours on the back deck starting at midnight was, well, interesting. Too bad I was too busy freezing my ass off to gather any entertaining evidence. Coraline seemed to fit right in with the cold and often cloudy and foggy scheme of things in general. (I had to occasionally remind myself that this was a children's book though.)

Seeing how we were supposed to be heading home, none of that seemed too big of an ask. Unfortunately, I wasn't really sure if I'd be going or staying. (A wayward wood chopper was to blame, and sundry paperwork. But mostly the wood chopper.) So I packed anyway. And crossed my fingers and toes. Even some other peoples' fingers, when I could get them to feel sorry enough. :P

There was even a short and rather happy (and consequently, headache inducing) encounter with what passes for a Scottish town once we made it to port. Then, come crew change day, I was told I could indeed head home! Ha! Best bus-ride ever! The one from Peterhead down to Dyce airport near Aberdeen! The sun was shining, light white clouds scudded past the blue sky! Of course that wasn't going to last.

I made one flight in peace. Finished up with the Gaiman. Then as I was wondering where to go next with the reading while wandering down Heathrow's Terminal 5 towards my gate, the dreaded announcement greeted me. Our aircraft was in need of some repairs. :( I turned to Asimov to provide some peace and calm. Another set of robot stories I hadn't read, The Bicentennial Man.

Soon enough the powers that be decided that we needed a different aircraft and the delay was the exact span of my transit in Delhi. From there on it went more or less downhill. You know what's worse than knowing for certain that you'll miss a connection? Knowing that there is a very slim, but real, chance that you might still make it. :(

And I was so close! I got to the check in counter after less than five minutes of them closing. I had no check-in bag either! (I've actually made a few of those before. You just have to run like hell.) But at the exact same moment another passenger showed up. Only, he had a half dozen family members and what looked like an unending train of baggage trolleys in tow. :-< 

At least they let me check in for the next flight. All of 11 hours before take off. (Hey, there was a political strike in town and the inside of DEL Terminal 3 is fairly civilized. It's got tons of power sockets, free wi-fi, the works!) I had a string of newish excessively violent movies I hadn't gotten around to watching yet. Perfect way to vent frustration, I say. And there was Asimov.

By the time I made it home, the other political strike (in Kolkata) was long over. So at least I didn't have to walk home. Since then it's been pretty cool actually! Well, it was warm to start with, but then it started raining, so. Anyhoo, I'd been thinking about taking up another recommendation for a little bit. But I wasn't sure how well Ayn Rand would go with a rough trip, or a terrible transit. But once home, I figured I was free to start.

Atlas Shrugged is a big book. Even on a Kindle it feels like a big book! It is also easy to tell that it is a book written in another time. Another world. One that seems even farther away than most of Asimov's creations, in fact! (But that's not a fair comparison though, is it? For all their numbers and spans across the stars and galaxies, Asimov's worlds are all essentially our own.)

But there are stretches of pure brilliance. I imagine some things are timeless. No matter how extreme you make your characters, how insanely uni-dimensional, wind blowing hair at a hundred miles an hour is still pure exhilaration. :) For the rest of it, I figured American Gods would be a good companion. I mean, there's probably no bigger contrast. But at least all the weirdness of the one, I'm fully aware of. :)

What I really like about the concept of a re-read is how you can actually remember to ask all those things of a fellow reader that you forgot to the first time. You know how it is, you read a book. You love it. Or whatever, you have your personal moments of joy, hate, inspiration, grief, enlightenment etc. But then someone else reads it, a little while later, and you've forgotten most of it! Everything you wanted to talk about has boiled down to a couple of highlights that just doesn't do it all justice.

Anyway, I've finally found the first whole Alanis Morissette album since Jagged Little Pill that I actually really like every single song on! The combo with Dave Matthews' latest makes for a particularly awesome soundtrack to the reading. :)

Currently: caught up in two worlds
Listening to: Alanis Morissette - Havoc

Friday, 21 September 2012

Growing, growing, grown

When was the first time you noticed it? The fact that you no longer qualified as young. Not in the sense where there's a whole world out there that takes one look at you and goes, oh yes, this one's just starting out at this whole living business.

Was it one morning as you looked at the mirror through the haze of sleep that still enveloped most of your mind? Something seemed to have frozen in a bit. That things hadn't really changed by much in a while. Or was it out in the street. You notice someone and figure, yeah, this is a person. Can't call this one a kid. And then you figure they're younger than you.

Either way, what I'm trying to figure is, did the feeling creep up on you? Or was it one of those bolts out of the blue? That you weren't growing up any more. You were already grown up, and from here on out, you'd just be getting older.

Currently: tired, even after sleeping 12 hours
Listening to: Chicane - 1000 mile (initial sketch)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I'll cut you into little pieces

Yes, one of these days. I think this was in some music video at some point. Metallica, was it? Or some guitar solo that I can't place right this moment. I of course, can't help but feel that way right now.

You ever find yourself levitating? Just beyond proper sanity. Oh so close though. But just beyond.

Scottish bars and goodbyes. Not a combination I'm used to, I must say.

Another day another surreal experience. With bits and pieces of stark blue clarity thrown in. I'm floating. I like it that way. Some people like their bubbles bigger. I don't. Well, I do, but I'm scared witless when it comes to trying.

There are two bags to pack right now. Let's see what goes wrong now.

Currently: high as a kite
Listening to: Alexi Murdoch - All my days

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Of storm birds and lengthy pieces of string

I don't particularly mind weather downtime :). A bit of peace and quiet. Well, not exactly, what with the thundering swell smashing about the hull and all. Quite a nice bit of rocking to help you fall asleep too, unless the feeling as your bed drops off from underneath you worries you, that is. :D

I do find my cabin this trip, one right at the bows, quite entertaining in that respect. Till stuff starts falling off the various tables, shelves etcetera. I don't much like getting woken up in the middle of the night.

The other reason why I like weather downtime, is that there can be somewhat interesting by-products of my attempts at keeping my fingers busy :). And of course, there's a fair bit of entertainment to be had from polling opinions on what random bits of string might look like to different people :D.

Right, then. One more week to go. In the mean time, I shall steadfastly continue my attempts at not getting wet while attempting to catch some fresh air!

Currently: into no-mores!
Listening to: Chicane - Flyover

Friday, 7 September 2012

The river and the fountain

A week, as far as lengths of vacations go, is a period that would mostly fall in the adequate or even perfect category. Sometimes, depending on the time and place, it can feel like a bit much. Occasionally, you find yourself wishing you had a fair bit longer.

There are some places, where a week starts out seeming just about right. But then, the more you explore, the more it begins to feel like not nearly enough :).

The weather in Asker, while not terrible, had been a bit on the wet and freezing side. Lisbon was perfect! I showed up wondering if the lack of a jacket would trouble me unduly. As it turned out, the evenings were indeed a bit chilly, but more refreshing than truly misery inducing.

On my prior visits to the city I'd stayed mostly in the new part of town, the one of shopping malls and high-rise hotels. And on one occasion, on the boat while it was alongside, rather close to one of the several marinas of the city. This time, I decided to stay further down-river, closer to Belem.

Belem itself is fairly steeped in history, with palaces and old gardens and squares practically strewn about all over. But that doesn't stop it from being one of the more densely populated parts of the city.

I spent a lot of time around St. Jeronimos and especially the rather spectacular, if somewhat temperamentally timed fountain. (Honestly, I stared at it for days, and never quite figured out what logic is followed for switching the water on and off!) The monument of discoveries and the Belem Tower are both quite close by.

On the Sunday, we decided to take a trip along the coast and visited Cascais and Sintra. The Pena Palace had been recommended to me by a friend, the USP being that it looked remarkably like a Disney palace :). I have to say, I couldn't agree more!

Set as it is on a high craggy hill surrounded partly by rolling green parkland, the tops of forts and castles peeking through the trees, and partly by sloping, sparsely filled land running all the way down to the sea, the views on all sides are quite breathtaking!

While in Lisbon, I spent a lot of time along the river. No matter how hot the sun, there always seemed to be a thrilling cool that radiated out from the lazily flowing water :). As on my previous visits, I was almost continually entertained by the imaginative use people seem to make of the promenades and side walks there!

I had visited most of the historical centre last year, but it's too beautiful to ignore, so I wound my way through those streets a few times as well, and while I was at it, decided to visit the national monument which I hadn't been able to get to before. I must say, I was a wee bit disappointed to note that there seemed to be no way to actually get to the island at the centre of the circle. Not without risking getting run over that is :S.

I was a bit happier once I caught sight of the flag :). I'm a sucker for gigantic colourful pieces of cloth getting thrown about in the wind. As an added bonus, I was a little surprised to see that the gentle upward slope of the path from the banks of the river manages to prop you up high enough to grab quite a commanding view of the city. I spied on the ramparts of St. George castle and happily reminisced about my afternoon spent exploring those walls last summer.

I have to say, one of the fun things about the trip was the variety of food! There was ice-cream for lunch, superb spreads for breakfast, Italian, Argentinian as well as a healthy dose of the local of both the street side and the posh restaurant variety :).

Before long though, it was time to leave, and suddenly I realized that what had seemed at the beginning to be a longish visit, had turned into something that left me feeling like I still hadn't seen so much :). But then again, I had decided this was going to be a somewhat lazy vacation. On that front, I really have nothing I could possibly complain about :).

In the end I said my goodbyes and flew out as I had several times before, only this time, I was wishing I could have stayed a little longer.

Currently: weathered
Listening to: Geoff Zanelli - Righteous buttkicking