Monday, January 1, 2007


And I return from family vacations on New Year's Eve. Vacations are good for the soul.
So are pictures.

Imagine a family of four; two parents, two girls; off on holiday in the family car. Imagine overloading and shopping and spilt food in the back seat. Imagine tender coconut and thali meals; teas by the roadside and restroom stops.
Imagine driving a car at 110 kmph, the highest you've ever driven it, while beside you your father dozes with his head on the window, and behind you the girls sleep with mouths agape. There is nothing as frightening as knowing that the lives of those closest to you lie in your hands.
Oh, but I never knew fear could be beautiful.

Imagine a Tibetan village. Imagine a monastery where monks drive motorbikes I wouldn't mind road tripping on. Imagine gardens immaculate and serene, imagine coloured flags flying in the breeze, imagine dancing skeletons. Imagine a temple full of the sounds of birds. Imagine five hundred prayer wheels.
Imagine somewhere where electricity vanishes without warning, where there is no reception on your cell phone, no telephone, no internet, no computer. Imagine the nearest convenience store at a distance of eight kilometers.
Imagine dinners around bonfires with a dog or two in artistic repose heaving huge sighs at your feet. Imagine night walks with your sister under a moon as bright as neon streetlamps, only prettier, prettier. Imagine playing charades by the light of hurricane lamps and telling ghost stories by the fire. Imagine morning walks through the woods with the lord of the manor and his dogs; imagine finding little surprises city eyes will never see. Imagine sunsets in a sky so unpolluted the entire horizon is a uniform colour. Imagine green. And some more. And a little again. Imagine evening walks through coffee plantations, with two long girls and a boy in rubber slippers.

Imagine a sky so full of stars your eyes ache for the looking. Imagine lying back on a stone in the middle of the garden, with a blanket around you and three sweaters on and shivering for all of that, and wishing for someone to identify constellations with.
(how badly did I want someone else awake with me at four in the morning? do not ask. i cannot bear to remember. but when asked, the sister said, not now, i'm umph hrmgunf; and the mother said, lovely too cold cover your head I'm going back to sleep; and so i went out in the morning alone.)
Imagine climbing barefoot up stone steps to gaze at a view that you could only capture a fraction of because you were too tired to charge the batteries the previous night.
Imagine the tall one on her voyages of discovery. Imagine the fat one and her constant whine.
Imagine snapping and biting and screaming and fighting and all the other little things families do.
Imagine laughing and laughing and laughing.

Families are a good invention.

Happy New Year, everyone.
The one just past deserves to be dated from.

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