Tag Archives: #amwriting

The Silver Box

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Two weeks ago, Macau was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut. It was a turbulent day with wind speeds matching those of a decent, medium-sized car on a German highway. The village where we live was flooded and, consequently, things moved. Sofas, old chairs, trees, and various types of heavy debris meandered to and fro. The ocean took over the streets, creating surge and currents where usually tourists would amble along, brandishing selfie sticks and nibbling on Portugese egg tarts.

This year, the damage wasn’t as bad as had been expected. Soon all the debris and mud were cleaned away. Only a couple of broken trees remind of what happened.

And the big, shiny, silver box.

A recycling receptacle.

Standing askew in the middle of our romantic roundabout.

It was there before, but a few meters to the left, just in front of the bushes. I’ve been watching this box closely. Every other day, when I throw away the garbage, I wonder if I should just grab the thing and move it myself. Admittedly, I’ve even tried. But it’s too heavy to move for one person.

Sitting at my desk, writing, I catch myself staring out the window, eyeing the silver box.

Each time a city worker walks past I think, “Yes, yes, you must see this, right? This big silver recycling container, standing askew, crying out for you to move it?”

The workers are not even glancing at it as they walk past.

The front doors of the recycling box are busted now. Pet bottles, plastic, and glass have started to spill out. The silver garbage monster is regurgitating what it was forced to digest.

Each day, around 2pm, the garbage disposal truck arrives. A group of workers start picking up cardboard and garbage bags. There I am again, cheering them on in my mind, thinking, “Yes, yes, look right ahead of you. Yup, now a little bit to your right. The big silver thing you almost ran into.”

Nope… off they go, oblivious.

Two city workers came to clean up yesterday afternoon. They swiped a little around the Ying and Yang symbol on the floor, threw most of the garbage into the bushes, then sat down to rest. They leaned against the silver box, a couple of old pet bottles rolling around between their legs.

I looked out the window, more hopeful than ever, “Yes! you must notice those bottles between your legs. Maybe you’ll turn around and notice the doors to the box are busted. Then, maybe, it’ll click and you’ll realize the flood has pushed this ugly contraption away from its original position.”

But all my attempts at mind control failed yet again. The workers lit a cigarette, chatted for a while, then flicked their cigarette butts in a high arc over the silver box, got up, and walked away.

I still feel the urge to go down there and push with all my might.

Instead, I’ve now decided to exercise self-control and rather wager on how long it will take until someone moves or removes the silver box. Considering it’s been 14 days already… I’m thinking it’ll take at least 6 months. Great training for me to let things go. Ohhhhhmmmmmmmmm.

One Step At A Time

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In April 2010, I put this Buddha on the rooftop overlooking the small communal terrace of our apartment building here in Macau. I remember sweating buckets, my arms feeling as if they were being ripped from my torso, and silently wondering what on Earth had possessed me to volunteer to help my landlord wrestle the almost 70 kg heavy statue to the very top of the building. In the end, I was a bit proud of myself. Now, 8 years later, he still looks so comfortable. Keeping watch over the village, he silently sits there, weathers scorching afternoons and powerful typhoons. Never wavering. Always greeting us with a smile when we come up for a bit of fresh air or a sip of wine.

Beginning of this week, I was supposed to start work for a new show. However, immigration allowed fewer foreigners to work for this spectacle than expected… so my search for a backstage job in Macau continues…

Being upstairs on this beautiful terrace at sunset, I am not too sad. I smile back at Buddha, feeling energetic and ready to get back to writing full time on my second book. There is so much to do. I’ll work hard on my own projects while keeping an eye out for any opportunities that might come along. It’s a bit scary sometimes, not exactly knowing what the next months will bring… but it’s also exhilarating to take life one step at a time and try to make the most of it.

Ready for Round Two!

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After three months in Macau, we just moved and – it’s almost too good to comprehend – are right back in the apartment where I used to live. Amazingly, when we moved in, even my old desk was still here!!! This is the view from said desk… on which I already wrote so many papers, notes, and drafts. Well, here goes for round two!

Here Is Where It All Began

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The other week, I went back to our old house on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. Here is where it all began. This was our garden… and behind those windows on the ground floor was our orange-coloured living room… featuring a small table on which I wrote Paralian. One of the happiest years of my life!

It’s Good To Be Back

2018 on old taipa rooftop

It’s been 5 weeks since I moved from Zurich back to Macao…

My toes rejoice. Finally they are out in the open again as socks have become a distant memory. My senses pick up exotic scents finding their way into our living room from the Chinese and Korean restaurant kitchens downstairs. In our own kitchen, I’m becoming reacquainted with surprise visits from cockroaches, the size of small birds. Writing my second book on our couch, I listen to a soundtrack still oddly familiar. Loud Cantonese speaking voices shouting into cell phones, the sound of our next-door neighbour hawking and spitting in regular intervals, and the loud “Euuuuwwwwwww Euuuuwwwwww” of my favorite bird. I’ve never laid eyes on it, but it already Euuuuwwwwww’d to me when I lived on Kuredu Island in the Maldives. Now, here it is again, somewhere in the rustling, gnarly trees across the street, transporting me back home to another part of Asia and to memories of time well spent.

Then there is the ocean. Cafe-Latte-brown here in Macao. But only an hour away, in Hong Kong, it sparkles in myriad shades of blue. And then, there is the rain. The heavy, tropical kind, plummeting from the sky with such vigor, it makes it hard to distinguish individual droplets. When the clouds have exhausted themselves, the air is still thick with micro-droplets, the streets are steaming, and gutters are gurgling madly… whilst frogs and toads of all sizes hop along to after-rain parties somewhere in the bushes. I breathe deeply, smiling to myself. It’s good to be back.

Arrival in Macao

taipa after the storm

The move to Macao is complete. The last couple weeks were all about organizing some last bits and pieces, resting, and arriving. This month, I’m giving myself one more week of vacation, then, beginning of July, it’ll be time to begin writing full-time again and get those chapters rolling. Can’t wait!

Time Traveling

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Just spent an inspiring and heart-warming weekend visiting relatives. In between vivid conversations and laughter, I also took some moments to time-travel through their extensive family photo library. It was wonderful to dive into old family history as far back as 1908. To visually follow the path of my grandma, see how she lived her life… from huddling in bomb shelters in 1942 to attending christenings and weddings of the next generations throughout the years. I also saw my dad growing up in these photographs. His kind personality already shining through on the yellowed photographic paper…

At times, I miss my grandma so much (even now, 18 years after her death) it becomes hard to breathe. Frida had so much strength. She gave without boundaries. Her genuine laughter brought sunshine and happiness to everyone around her. No matter how tough her life was at times (and it was damn tough, believe me), she gave her heart to everyone around her. To this day, she is the source of my strength and my greatest inspiration. My uncle told me this weekend that Frida used to say “If I had cried every time I decided to laugh instead, I’d have been in deep trouble.” I still need to mull this sentence over for a while… for there is some profound truth in her simple words.

In the years to come, I am planning to write at least one book about Frida’s life. I copied a good portion of my relatives’ family photo archive. It will help me to remember my grandma more vividly, not just through my eyes but also through the eyes of others… and to weave all the things I’ve heard about her into a story you and I both will enjoy reading and remembering.