Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Time Travel

One of the particular skills I've cultivated since arriving here. 

Lining every main street, on every other block corner there is a billboard sporting some form of adverstisment or other, (this being of little consequence to my point, I will now turn to) what matters is that at the top of each of these billboards is a digital clock that switches between displaying the date, the time and and temperature.

The walk from my apartment to work is a right angle. Four blocks up, then eleven blocks to the left and bam! there you are at my workplace... hopefully not so violently as I've just described but I'm sure, discerning reader, that you get the idea. 

I cross around 5 or so of these billboard clocks on my way to work. The sequence is the same pretty much every day (I opt to vary my walk home as I'm usually not pressed for time). The extraordinary thing about these billboard clocks, (or perhaps it is in fact a freak-skill I was born with that is only choosing to manifest itself in my old age) is that they seem to run backwards.

By 0735, I'm leaving the house. By 0742ish I have reached my first clock, which, as is to be expected, reads 07:42 (or some such perverse hour of the morning to be scuttling about Santiago's streets). Good to go.

Two blocks later, I am met with an alarming 07:52, leaving me with 8 minutes to get to work and be in my classroom ready to inject my faithful students with their weekly dose of the 'present continuous' and 'phrasal verbs'. Heaven forbid they should miss out on even a minute of such delights! Scuttle faster...

Two more blocks, and my spidey-skills kick in. The looming billboard across the road from me reads a comforting (and probably more accurate) 07:50. I sigh the sigh of someone who could have made it in a rush but is relieved that they no longer have to, and slow my scuttling to a reasonable pace.

However my superpowers have not yet had their morning flexing, and only when I come across the last billboard do I find that lo and behold, I've done it again! I''m about to arrive at work 20 minutes early, as the clock reads 07:35- the exact time that I left home.

Impressive, huh? 

My boss doesn't think so...

Saturday, 7 May 2011


(This post was written on April 12th 2011 after recieving some worrying news from home that has since been confirmed but dealt with and thankfully things are thus far going well)

Distance is a beautiful thing. It is air and breath and freshness. It is change and growth and opportunity. It makes the situation more complicated but gives each of us a chance to become resourceful.

I don't have a country I call home. That's probably why I've never understood patriotism. I don't see how you can think your country is great simply because you were born there. Seems a little narcissistic to me.

So perhaps I have always felt at a distance. Home is where the heart is, and so far in my life my heart has gone wherever I have. I spent years on a small island wishing I was on another, and when I finally left I was disappointed that the second island was not as I remembered. For the next three years my heart learned to be portable and travel-friendly.

However one's heart can be in many places at a time. My heart is with my friends, the few I would travel across the world to see; with my greater family, and all those who share my beliefs and aspirations. And my heart is with my family, mostly still on the small island, very, very far from me.

For this reason when there is rupture and disaster, when there is panic and trouble and misfortune, I find myself cursing the distance for being such a double edged sword. For being so appealing an opportunity and yet such a formidable obstacle between me and the ones I love. Although in recent weeks my proximity would not have altered much, I curse the distance for the little lives I am missing out on. I curse the distance for the little support and warmth I could have offered. I curse the distance for extending beyond the reach of my arms and my voice. I curse the distance because there is nothing else that I can do.