Sentimentality Hour: Thoughts on leaving Edinburgh

These days, everyone I meet is a ticking bomb.
And to everyone I meet, I’m a ticking bomb.

There is an expiration date to be revealed with every new interaction that wishes to renew itself, and once the cat is out of the bag and running underneath the bed to hide from the constraints of reality, they always say:

“I thought we had more time together.”


We mutually agree on this regrettable truth. We both begin to bitch about the system of foreign affairs and visas and “why can’t we just live in a place with no passports and discrimination.” We toy around with the idea of a green-card marriage like so many tv shows are doing as of late, before dismissing it unconsciously when we promise each other “to visit”. For a single second I feel like a risky investment before I remember that friendship should be more intrinsic than that.


There are few people I could stay for.

To stay would be synonymous with falling in love, a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity”, or having a reason to justify why I should aimlessly float here rather than somewhere else. Sure, there are my friends…so many friends and lovers whose lives I want to watch flourish. Whose moods I want to help lift when they are drooping into the dark depths of circumstance when routines are crushed by spontaneity and anxiety. But love is not enough to convince the customs officer why I should be able to exceed the limits of my Tiers-4 that took months worth of queuing in awkward waiting rooms in nameless buildings and forgotten downtown districts. I think of those who ponder “wanderlust”, and all I can reply is that “Sometimes, the desire to travel has less to do with curiosity for the world and more to do with aimlessness, fear of commitment, and missing out. A fundamental lack of a sense of belonging and fervent need to fit somewhere.”


I’ve found a place. It’s here. I’ve found a person to sing harmonies with who makes me feel like the world is only a beautiful place, as long as the guitar strings keep ringing in the tunnel with great acoustics. I’ve come across groups of likeminded individuals who want to make shared ideas into reality. I’ve started to understand that definitions of soulmates and the nuances of attraction. How to look passively at another person who shares no blood but has the same passion that runs in very different kinds of veins, and letting that be the main fuel of unconditional affection. I’ve come alive in the span of these past 4 years time. I’m ready to let my roots dig themselves deeper into this Scottish soil that seems to grow nothing but Brussel Sprouts and potatoes, to play around with snow drops and burnt patches left by barbecue kits. I could buy a dog, or a plant, or a membership to the theatre, because these are milestones that signify: “I shall be here for a while.”


But now, the decision at this point is “to fight” or “embrace”. Do I tackle each day like it’s the last one of its kind I’ll be able to experience for a while, or live in denial until the last week I get to feel “not bothered” about walking 15 minutes and go out of my way to see a friend? Do I break unsaid promises forged by familial obligation? They have given me everything but an identity and a voice…They gave me the prompt and the resources but I have crafted my own story. It started here, and this very important chapter is coming to its climax, and that scares the hell out of me.


Sentimentality Hour: A girl walks into Forest Cafe…

Every now and then she enters, often only exposing a bashful nose and quiet eyes through the crevices of her winter gear. Slipping in deliberately unnoticed, she takes a seat in the corner that detaches herself from the communal nature of the cafe.

She looked so familiar to me, like a face I had seen somewhere else in another life. But then again, there are so many people like this, content to stay planted on the walls in a space where they prefer to observe rather than participate. Those same faces whose features only sharpen in familiarity and philosophical conversation, translating how their hearts and thoughts work in tandem to face the perils of living an average life…whose generic beauty is sculpted uniquely through the context in which you meet.

Still, she comes in and talks to no one, always ordering the same meal, as she summons into her hands a small paperback novel. Her eyes determinedly stay focused on the page, even though the pace of this place is spellbinding in its ability to distract. I am one of these victims, feeling rather rude most of the time when I sit inside, never being able to maintain eye contact with someone for too long despite the intimacy of the conversation. Most of the chairs point outwards and the walls are composed mostly of large panels of glass that make the outside world look more like an obscure reality show. If your back is facing these giant screens of mimicry, you will find yourself turning your head every now and then to see why the person you’re talking to seems to be unable to pay absolute attention to what you’re discussing.

On one such occasion, on a busy evening, she had to sit in the middle area that attracted the most friendly conversation between strangers. I was eager to quell a curiosity and went up to her.

“Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so.”

She had nothing more to say to me, but I wasn’t satisfied with such a curt reply.

“I’m sorry, I just thought I had seen you before.”

“Ah you know, this is Edinburgh. I’m sure you have seen me before somewhere.”

I knew better than to intrude on a private moment, even if it was in solitude.

What piqued my interest the most was the fact that she would enter such a loud and social environment to entertain this introverted nature. Perhaps it was her version of social interaction, watching all these lonely creatures congregate in this crazy melting pot of artists, alcoholics, lost souls and hungry people.

How ironic it was that we mostly stared outwards when we were here.

Sentimentality Hour: Words

Whatever I write down and attempt to express, I know one thing: These are not my words.

They have been borrowed from my ancestors and my predecessors; those alike who feel far too much for their own liking, putting pragmatisms on a lower priority. I know I’ll say clichés and relatable things, which are time after time reiterated the same but of a different calibre. But my intention is not to be original. It is to make whomever I write about feel as special as I truly feel they are to my heart and soul. Words mean little unless they evoke personal feeling; they mean a plethora of things to someone that they are written about. This is why when one writes something, their words are monumentally significant to them, to their muses, for someone took the effort to pour themselves onto paper to share with the world how they were inspired by something. Should someone relate to them, then, all the better.

I write merely to feel more connected to the strange place that is the world, and it shall be the only reality that I can know. I want to belong to the waves of humanity that fuel my blood and run through my veins, encouraging my heart to beat and see what life will bring to me.

It is nice to be validated, so that one does not feel alone, just as it is equally nice to be commended for the skill possessed to do so adequately. What is the best, is to see this appreciation returned in some shape of form, for we are all artists of sentiment, able to fashion beautiful gestures.

I don’t expect to be remembered in the world where billions of lives are in the same plane of importance, each valuable and worthy of commemoration. All I want is for you to listen, and hope that the fundamental emotion of universality interacts with you the way the words of a friend do. Just like how the narrative of a novel resounds in your mind, and the presence of its pages makes you feel more at peace.

I hope you take the daily rituals of conversation and stand behind them, keeping the significance of words as powerful as all the great poets and authors do. For as of late, I know the letters that are strung together can be as hollow as a well that someone expects to have water, yet when they lower their pail down, thirsty for sincerity, can be met with nothing but an emptiness that inhibits sorrow. There was no malicious intent, but merely a passive neglect that was not realised. What a shame it is that such actions still damage, and the hurt usually surfaces as self-loathing, for it is far easier to hate yourself than to hate others. Literacy is common, so the art of literature and the craft of linguistic communication has become cheap, thrown around like a paper ball whose loss is not the least bit influential. I will not say that I do not fault in the way that I condemn, for it is difficult to keep up idealistic visions of how one thinks people should act. But I will promise that I am trying.

I cannot say the same for anyone else.

Sentimentality Hour: Musings on the Metro

Shall I create an excuse
To talk to you?
Beautiful stranger.

Your colourful jumper precipitates
A colourful personality.

You jumped out at me
In my attention
Which was sorely bemused by the state of affairs
I wonder to what extent
You know that I care,
And that I am watching you fetter.

And then,
You’re gone!

For my courage was daunted
By the expectation
To keep to myself

You were gone before I had the chance to even make an opportunity
To feign myself stupid
To ask a question:
This question was crafted for your ears alone
Though it sounds guileless, this fact is unknown.

Should the answer solicit further interest
I would have been ready to plunge myself into darkness
And you would have no idea
That I was thinking
This much
For you.

Sentimentality Hour: Photos

My friends and I had the pleasure to experience the 101 fireworks in Taipei with an incredibly advantageous view from a hotel window. Everyone had a phone at hand, taking videos and Instagram things that I didn’t comprehend completely. Personally, I hate being in photos except for the occasional selfie.

What I don’t understand is why people take some many pictures. I guess with the new age of technology, it is important to document things, but sometimes it gets in the way of really appreciating the moment. I know it’s an overstated revelation, but it’s almost scary how prevalent it’s becoming to some people. Perhaps I’ll only really appreciate it when I’m old, and I only have the photos from other people showing me how I spent my time when I was younger, but I’d rather let the blurriness of distant memories embellish the past as I can recall it. I suppose the concept of filters can make paused glimpses of reality seem “grander”, yet I’d rather let imagination and time affect the way I view what has already happened.

I too, am victim to the craze of “smartphones”; this, I cannot deny. It doesn’t stop me from growing horrified that there are young kids who don’t know a life without them. We once were human creatures who didn’t need electric devices to have fun, who weren’t always distracted by the tiny lit-up screens and notifications. I’m sadly surprised to find my neck sore from glancing downwards at my iPhone so much.

For the older people, however, I completely understand their obsession. They lived in a time where none of this communication was possible. I still hear my mother and her friends exclaim at the seemingly simple concept of being able to use “Google Translate” to understand other languages. “So you can just put the sentence in here and it does it for you? Than why are you studying Spanish?” my mother once said to me. How did the generations of language learners not have this handy tool at their disposal? I think we have to work much less hard than they did, which means the rate in which we learn must be unfathomable more efficient, our potentials unlimited as the space on the internet. Maybe our obsession with vintage and old-fashioned things is subconsciously related to the fact that we will never have to rely on those outdated methods and styles that were the forerunners of how the present is designed. Why else would we put want to put everything through a “1950s” lens?

All in all, I hope people out there never become to driven by their social media outlets so much so that they forget to enjoy themselves existing without these platforms. I am one of those people. I hope they are loving the fact that they are able to live in such a way where convenience is at everyone’s fingertips. I hope they don’t have a void of affection that can only be filled with the number of “likes” for a certain thing. I hope this for myself too. I hope I hope I hope.

Now for something a bit different: Sentimentality Hour

The world is such a funny place. You are born, then you die, and somewhere in the middle of that you strive to make some meaning of it.

You’ll have fun moments, some lesser than others, and you’ll have moments more sorrowful than others.

And along the way, you find some other lonely souls that try to make this period special. And that can mean a lot of things. It could mean something nice. Happy, even. A sense of temporary euphoria that is understandably worth living for.

And there will be those who make you question the point of it all. The way that I see it, you seem to attach yourself to people and hope that they’re a good enough anchor to keep you sane. A place that you won’t regret leaving a piece of your heart. I find that more and more I find fragments of my affection scattered amongst the people I surround myself with. And there are times when I don’t doubt for a second that it is exactly where they’re supposed to be. Or…you cry.

You sob internally when you realise that there are some pieces that you’ll never get back, and it starts an endless pour of ache that might never stop.

All you can really hope for is that someone will come along and stop it. But that doesn’t seem realistic. Sometimes there’s really not much you can do to stint a waterfall of pain. Maybe all you can do is wait and see if you can soothe the splashes on the bottom into little flutters of puddles.

I’d like to think that I am just a waterfall, and that life is just an endless stream of suffering. But in that outbreak of natural waters there is an unsurmountable beauty to behold. We all bask within each other’s flow of suffering, and for that moment you are connected. You are completely absorbed within one another and there is a comfort of being connected. And that’s all you need. A presence to be there and feel the impact of emotion crashing down and down and down.

We are infinite; but only together.