After 7 years in Asia, it is in Canada that I am living in the tiniest room. It’s a place that is starting to feel like home, and is adorned with my stories from the east.
The silk scarf hiding my HD TV was a farewell gift from my former boss in Thailand. Over a bowl of spicy noodles, she and my colleagues had praised my work in the international office, and wished me well in my future endeavours. Although the 3 hour commute was a daily headache, I had felt a sense of accomplishment, and passion for my work there. The long hours, the reprimands for spelling an exhaustingly long Thai name incorrectly, and the condescending emails from the ‘higher powers’, all were forgotten when the newsletter was fresh off the press, the speech was applauded, and I was enjoying a fish spa in KL after a conference. Saying goodbye to my Thai life was bitter sweet. Navy blue and gold, strong yet soft, finely woven – this was my parting gift.
The flowery table cloth made in India, and the framed pictures of little Buddhist monks are from the Lumpini Night Bazaar in Bangkok, which is now no more. I had bought the beige table covering and pictures when I had moved into the grand studio at my place with the pool. It was my third room in the same building and I had set out to design it, with the help of my friend, an interior designer, as my sanctuary. It was my place to eat, sleep, relax, and entertain. I still remember the 6-month separation when I lived out near the university. Oh, I missed my place….and the nights floating in the pool staring up at the dark sky. The night I moved back there was a big storm; the rain pounded the windows, my air conditioner stopped, lightning danced in the sky, and I was home.
Sitting on the floor comes naturally to me. Pillows and cushions are a must have. When I was in Indonesia I bought 2 meters of beautiful batik fabric. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with it. All I knew was that I wanted to take some beauty home with me. There was something magical about Indonesia. My friend made pillowslips for me and these were the pillows I would sit on while I ate somtum and folded my laundry on Sunday afternoons. At times, I would reminisce about Borobudur and the locals smiling and eagerly awaiting the click of the shutter. Or the Ramayana Ballet and the heat of the night as the story played out. Now, I daydream about Indonesia as my back rests on them while I sit on my sofa/bed.
Magnets. In Thailand, you are often given a magnet when you go to the movie theatre. Over the years, I have acquired a nice little collection. Going to the movies was one of my favourite past times (along with going to the hairdresser) in Thailand. There is something comforting about sitting in a big comfy chair in a dark (and air conditioned) room with a bunch of strangers (and maybe a friend or two). You can be anonymous while at the same time you’re not alone. A sense of togetherness is also felt as everyone in the theatre is instructed to stand and pay respect to the King before the movie commences. On more than one occasion, I became teary eyed watching the powerful images of the King and his love for the Thai people. So, I guess when I look at these magnets on my tiny fridge I don’t just think about the movies, but I think about the King of Thailand, and the comfort of being alone yet together at the same time.
The greatest thing about my new space is that I have the freedom to be alone or with others, and to live out my own story. And my stories from the east will be here to comfort me as I find my way in the west.