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.


Glimpses of Life: My Dog, Mika

My mother calls my dog a “ragged piece of cloth.” There he lies, sprawled across the sofa, feet stretched rigid in linear lines of fuzz on his side- a resting canvas of coffee coloured fur that has faded over the years. He is exhaling at the rate I can only assume is normal for sleeping dogs. From a distance, he looks frighteningly still. Sometimes I like to yell at him just to check if he’s still alive.


The moisture on his nose is gone now; his nose almost touches the surface of the leather couch, looking like an aged black olive that someone dropped on the floor and forgot. His age is an indicator of when I moved to Taiwan, and how long it’s been since I left. He doesn’t look a day over 2, but he is really already 9 whole years old. That’s the time it takes to produce a somewhat comprehensible human being! I am aghast and refuse to think of the future this way.

“Ahem, what an attractive dog I have,” I would always think to myself when I watched him like this, only to swoop in and interrupt the serene sight by impulsively kissing the dryness of his nose, the curls on his forehead, thoroughly enjoying his drowsy confusion as he would probably think:

“Oh god not this again. Why is there a giant creature trying to berate me with physical contortions and infantile gestures??? I have absolutely no time for this. It is cutting into my slumber schedule.”

For some reason I imagine Mika’s head voice as a post English gentleman’s. And no one can tell me otherwise.