Friday, 26 October 2012

Knee-deep in history

This year, I have taken several day trips, for work, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Canterbury in Southeastern England. Today was probably my last trip there so I was determined to make the most of it. On previous trips, I would get so busy and snowed under with work that I wouldn't get a chance to visit its most famous attraction - Canterbury Cathedral, home of the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I have been aware of the significance of this monument ever since high school, when I studied Geoffrey Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales', which is a series of fables told by various characters, all making their pilgrimage from Southwark to the crypt of Thomas Becket, arguably one of the most famous martyrs in the British history, for the way he clashed with Henry II and his murder at the hands of the king's knights.

My colleague in our Canterbury branch Michelle decided to accompany me there. We told them that we worked in the old city centre and that got us free passes. I wonder if this is not simply out of the goodness of the Church's heart but because we already pay so much in another way that free admission was the least of privileges that they could have rewarded us. After all, the Church is probably our landlord, as there are underground tunnels that connect the Cathedral to all the buildings in the vicinity, including our office. It was genuinely eerie when Michelle and I went to visit the crypt of Thomas Becket, known as the matyrdom, where he fell at the swords of the king's knights. All sounds terribly Da Vinci Code, doesn't it?

It might seem like an obvious realisation that I live in a country with such a rich history and it is all around me. I don't even have to go looking for it. I just have to stop, take a moment, observe and absorb it. Amazing!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A call to paradise?

Yesterday, I was invited to my cousin's wedding in Mauritius in May. When I say invited, I mean, she messaged me on Facebook to tell me about it. Seriously, I hope that we haven't evolved in this digital age to the point where a message on a social networking site constitutes as a legitimate wedding invitation. My cousin is from my mother's side of the family so, like me, she is of Chinese Thai descent. It's terribly exciting that she has met a person that she wants to share the rest of her life with and even more exciting that he is from a totally different part of the world and of a different cultural background (he is Muslim and of South Asian descent). 

I have never been to Mauritius before and while it is not at the top of my list of dream destinations, I am seriously considering going to this wedding. Obviously, it would be lovely if i could go just to show my support for my cousin. Plus, this island state is a fantastic tourist  destination. It is commonly known as the jewel of the Indian Ocean, with its idyllic, unspoilt beaches, developed economy, cultural diversity and political stability.

However, what draws me to Mauritius above all else is the fact that this was home to the now extinct Raphus cucullatus, more commonly known as the dodo bird. It's strange, I know, but it makes me believe that there is something strange and special to be experienced there...hmmm, it was probably that line of thinking, on the part of 16th century European settlers, that got dodo birds in trouble! It is believed that these almost mythical creatures became extinct once explorers reached the shores of Mauritius, bringing with them cats and dogs, not to mention rats, because they were a flightless bird. Evolution led them to become flightless due to the abundance of food on the island and the lack of predators for a long time. Once predators arrived on the island, they were unable to fly away from danger. The lesson I take from this is that you should never get too comfortable, even if you are living in paradise!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Change is growth and growth is great...

Believe it or not, it has been a year since my last blog entry. I feel really sad that I have neglected my beloved blog for so long. This blog has been such a wonderful outlet for me to express myself and it's about time that I return to it. 

A lot has happened in the past year and while I don't want to turn this blog into some sort of online journal, I have to say that I am grateful for all the changes that have occurred in that time. Change is growth and growth is great. In the past year, I changed jobs and finally got myself on a career trajectory with really exciting prospects. I am a student again, for the first time in years, and as difficult as it is to balance my studies for my professional qualification while working full-time in a very demanding job, I know that it will all be worth it in the end. 

I moved to a different part of London. After being an SE1 boy for over four years, I am now a SW11 boy and it has been, and still is, a bit of an adjustment. London is such a vast city that there is an infinite supply of new experiences to be had in this city. 

I got to see more of Europe, which is something that I have always wanted to do. I traveled to some awesome cities I hadn't been to before. Barcelona was beautiful. Istanbul was intoxicating. Berlin was seductive. Lisbon was mesmerizing. The best part of it is that there are still so many great destinations that await me...I'm thinking that 2013 might be the year to venture a bit furtur...I'm thinking, Cape Town, Tel Aviv or Rio! 

I let go of some heavy emotional baggage and officially moved on from the most significant relationship of my life thus far. It took a long time to get to that point...but time heals all wounds.

The most exciting thing that has happened this year, though, is finding out that I am going to become an uncle for the first time. My future niece/nephew will arrive at the beginning of next year. In a Chandler Bing intonation, could I be any more excited?

Soooooo much change that even I'm surprised as I recall all of these leaps forward. 2012 has been so challenging but so rewarding...and we still have another 10 weeks to go!