What a messy desk can doSeptember 01, 2016

I made a major decision last week. It was time to stop hiding behind the clutter of a messy desk. There was no need to come up with lame excuses. And the mountains of paper and books triggered my creative thinking. My housemates looked at me in a strange manner, as if I still had any shame. I couldn't blame them, as they weren't students of the English Department. Besides, I didn't share their obsession with healthy eating. I would need my soda and chips while writing my paper. I would listen to music, now and then, but I craved for empty calories.

It was a good time to go out for a stroll, but I chose to stay in my room. After coming up with a 2,000-word essay, I thought loafing would be the best way to take a break (from the routine). It didn't last long, as I found myself checking the latest new moments later. I learned about the earthquake in Myanmar, which damaged tens of pagodas in Bagan. I went there last summer, but I opted not to check out the centuries-old stupas. And I didn't regret it. I wasn't the kind of traveller who kept up with the Joneses, as I wanted a different experience. I would do it in able to brag it to my mates, but my last holiday was an exception.

Terrence, my guide in Mandalay, asked me if I wanted a trip in the countryside. I didn't think long and hard about it, as there wasn't any trace of humidity (in the air). Three hours later, we found ourselves on a mountain slope. He brought me to a cave, which startled me. Buddha statues lined up the passageway, while the cave walls and ceilings were adorned with curious illustrations. Burma was a mighty kingdom many centuries ago. I sensed that Terrence brought his customers to this part of Mandalay, and there won't be many. Most tourists seek rest and recreation. I told myself that I would come back. I wondered if the quake affected Mandalay, and debris would harm the artifacts and figures.

My rights as a young traveller

I missed home, such that I imagined the second floor of the Suvarnabhumi Airport as my living room. I lied in the seats sideways like I was in a fetal position. I was checking my e-mails (on my iPad), and I didn't pay attention to the other tourists passing by. I had a connecting flight, but I have to wait for a few hours. Fatigue made me unmindful of my behaviour, which wasn't an excuse. And I winced at such a moment.

This was my first time to travel far from home, and I wouldn't know my rights as a passenger. I just found out a while ago. (A messy desk could sharpen my memory.) Perhaps I missed being on the road. I was thinking of the highway leading to Mandalay, which was virtually deserted. And there were hardly any sight of housing on the sides. I was thinking of penning a short story. It was a dusty road, with the parched land reaching the horizon. I was told that gold could be found in Burma, but I saw golden stupas far and between. The young monks claimed it was real gold. I didn't give them the benefit of the doubt, as I was exhausted from the long journey from Calcutta.

A horseman told me about an old ruin at the end of the river. "No one had been there for some time," he said. I didn't travel far for nothing. I neither hesitated nor have second thoughts. I haven't figured out what would happen next. I had all the time (to think) later that night.

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