Now, I don’t read as much as I usually do these days (for a holiday standard, at least) mostly because I walk, stop for food, walk some more, mingle with cows and pilgrims alike (and after 10 days of walking the differences -at least in personal hygiene- are disappearing quickly) and when the walk is done, the clothes washed and rewashed, the food prepared and the guidebook for the next day read, I usually manage a few pages before total coma. Which is a shame because the books I have with me are good. So I’ve started reading at noon, during picnic break, which I try to take in a scenic and secluded place (when possible, sometimes the stomach just has to rule on its own) and so here are what some of the views from the top of my book have been lately (plus a lot of cows and fields, but those I didn’t bother to photograph, it is amazing how lazy you become after walking so long).
Today we decided to go out on a limb and give up our usual way of transportation (the night buses, their loud music and crazy drivers) for a boat. Maybe seeing all the fishermen on the gigantic Irrawaddy river (which would already be wide in its normal state, but has taken possession of meters and meters of land on its sides) gave us navigational envy. I love ships, and boats, and – compared to buses or anything with wheels – they are my particular friends because I can read on them without the immediate risk of restituting my last meal onto my neighbour’s lap. So we left Bagan on a ship to Mandalay, which is expensive (for our budget, it’s still only 32 dollars for an 11 hour cruise), going upstream to the old capital. The buses do it in 5 hours. Sometimes, the real luxury is to travel slower.
From the deck, then, we watch the flooded shores and the white birds fishing, the pagodas lost amongst the trees and the river, its slow waters spreading almost all the way to the horizon, merging with the sky which has the same blue-grey color. And we read (I’m halfway through “The glass Palace”, by Amitav Gosh, which starts in Mandalay at the arrival of the British and just adds to my excitement at finally seeing it tonight, to compare, but I’m also plucking in and out of Jeanette Winterson’s “Art objects” essays, which take time to process). But mostly I listen to an audiobook – not taking full advantage of my non-travel-sickness-state, as I usually use audiobooks in buses as an alternative way of reading – because the audiobook I’m listening to right now is “The piano Tuner”, by Daniel Mason (would recommend the audio version read by Graeme Malcolm by the way, fantastic narrator), which also takes place in Burma, during the colonial times, and is about a piano tuner sent to tune a prestigious Erard piano in a secluded post in the Shan State. Right now I’m at the stage in the book when the tuner is coming from Yangon to Mandalay, by boat, on the same river I’m in. And there couldn’t be a better place to listen to it.
Geneva in one glimpse: lake. (Fancy) buildings – at least the ones you can see from the lake. Mountains. And not much going on (I’m horribly unfair)
After two months of cycling around Berlin and refreshing my German via intensive classes about “how do you say diarrhoea in German?”) – very useful in my line of work, and it also accounted for the magnificent discovery that cerumen, or ear wax as it is known by normal people, is “Ohrenschmalz ” in German which literaly translates into “Ear lard”, which still makes me laugh about a month later. Ear lard, hahaha, but I digress – So after this Berlin interlude I’m back in Geneva for about a minute – that is, three days but that’s how it feels like – to unpack, repack and leave again. Frankly, that’s how I love my home-town: as a place you’re either arriving again to (and seeing all your friends and family) or leaving from soon after that, and that’s not even such a big exaggeration: there are so many other places to see. Continue reading