Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cay for Two - Part 2

This is my 4th entry on Turkey.

Before I continue the story on the damn attractive 36 year-old bachelor carpet store owner I met on my first night in Selcuk, let me share another tourist's comment I found on a blog (see: She described him as tall, dark, handsome, relaxed and super-sexy. So, he sizzled, it wasn't just me, LOL! Well, she was also attracted to the hyper and insincere pension owner and went for trip to Izmir with him and all. However, the 40-year old freaked me out the first time we met and it got creepy and overwhelming when I learned that he was still single (I shall more on this in another entry).

Okay, so that evening, Carpet Man posed on the sofa for me to take a photo. I snapped several shots of his shop too. I told him that the pension owner has arranged transportation for me to visit Ephesus the next morning. He said yeah, he was aware and he would be the one taking me there. We agreed on 10am. I kind of looked forward to it.
Then, he accompanied me back to my room. As soon as I opened the building door and stepped in, I heard a woman's voice saying 'hello' in a sing-song way from the basement. Apparently, Mama (the owner's mother) had waited for me to return. Did she not trust her son's friend? Hmm...

As dynamite as the evening had been, I was still disoriented and deprived of sleep. Hence, I slept like a log the whole night. I went down for breakfast at the Homeros colourful dining room at the building in front at around 9.30am. Mama laid a plate filled with cut fruits and vegetables, honey, jam, cheese and hard-boiled egg plus a basket of bread for me. The other guests, an English family was dining at the round table next to mine. They were one of the very few tourists I met whom I did not exchange a single word with.

A few minutes later, the door opened and Carpet Man stepped in. He greeted the English family politely before turning to me. To my surprise, he became kind of formal as if greeting a guest, it was as is the previous night never happened. I told myself probably it was because the owner was there, in the kitchen with his mother.

I finished my breakfast and we got into his car. He lightened up a bit, but it was nothing familiar like before. He put on some Turkish music and asked if I liked it. It was his favourite, old numbers from the 60s. He then dropped me at the ancient site of Ephesus and told me he would pick me up at the exit gate in 3 hours, at exactly 1.40pm, and not 1.30pm. I was disappointed that he didn't accompany me. Only later did I realise the entrance fee was 20TL.

He was wrong about 3 hours being ample though, I had to practically run to the ancient site's exit gate to meet him on time, it was already 1.50pm when I got there. I even missed the Terrace House on the Hills. Luckily, he wasn't piss having to wait for me. He said he hadn't waited long, just 5 minutes. I got into the car. He happily said that he sold a carpet that morning, despite having only 1 walked in customer. He asked if I was hungry. I had planned on treating him to lunch to repay the favour of bringing me to Ephesus. He said he knew a good place. We went to a hidden cafe next to a car repair workshop.

The Cafe only had like 3 choices of dishes. I had already had 2 of them elsewhere. The 3rd one, the one he chose, a pale chicken dish didn't look tempting. I decided to have the same thing anyway. He chose a table outside and sat facing the road. I sat opposite of him in the sun. The heat was refreshing with it being Winter. He said I brought the sun with me wherever I went (He first said it in Turkish). Well, I kind of drove away the usual snow when I was in Istanbul and the snow stopped when I arrived in Cannakale too. LOL!

He got his order first and started gobbling it without waiting for mine to arrive. A man sat sat next to him and spoke to him non-stop in Turkish. He plucked the salad in front of me with his fork. He didn't even address me. I didn't recognise him, or rather I didn't even bother to look at him until Carpet Man joked, you know D. (it was the pension owner, yeah,he didn't even have the courtesy to address his guest). D joked back no, we don't know each other. Carpet Man said we could have Turkish coffee at his shop after lunch, but don't tell D, he wasn't invited. His shop assistant who made great coffee would be in by then. Luckily D left first.

I was surprised to learn that that was like the best chicken soup I had tasted despite its simple and plain appearance, the meat was very tender. I finished my oily rice too. Carpet Man asked if I wanted rice pudding, he was having some. Yeah, we had a bowl each. It was delicious. I said I must have put on weight with all the good food there. He said I looked okay. And 3 days were too short for us to get to know each other. He might still go to KL and get to know me better, and we might get marry. I joked that he should open a carpet shop in KL. There were way too many competitors in Turkey.

I asked him what did he do during his free time, after he closed the shop at 5.30pm. He said he was getting old and tired, he would just head home. He boast that in his younger days, he used to have a woman each night, sometimes two women in one night. He insisted that we split the bill.

After lunch, we went to his shop for a cup of Turkish Coffee. It was relatively warm so I left my Winter jacket in his car. I sat down on the sofa from the night before. He asked his assistant to make coffee. To my horror, then the drama unfold. He swiftly picked up piece by piece of carpets and went into what seemed like a well-written and much-rehearsed script. It came with a series of smooth actions too. He asked me to take a closer look, and it was okay to step on the carpets with my shoes on. I was horrified, I wasn't planning on buying any carpet. No budget and no space in my luggage, plus no need too. I was interested in the knick knacks, but he wasn't really interested in selling those, maybe because the profit margin was very low.

To make matters worse, it was clear that he wouldn't stop until I buy something. Carpets too expensive, why not look at Kilims. Difficult to carry? Why not look at the high quality (and expensive) sejadah, those were small but beautiful. He even showed me a rare piece which Kayseri families only make for their own use. That family was forced to sell it because they needed money. I could see how he survived in the extremely competitive business for 12 years. He was really aggressive and wouldn't take no for an answer. I knew I could use something for my new apartment which would be ready by year end. But I hadn't thought about it yet. Also, I wasn't an experienced carpet buyer. The few pieces at his shop that I genuinely like happened to be the most expensive ones, a couple weren't even for sale. See the carpets on the wall (above).

At last, I grabbed a piece of spread with earth-colours patchwork - 75TL. It was very easy to match and practical too, works as a table cloth, single bed spread or just a decoration on the wall. He was satisfied, only then could I move on to the shoulder bags - big and small. He gave me another knick knack for free. After I paid with my Credit Card, he asked me if I was happy. I was but I hadn't planning on shopping in Turkey and I didn't like to be pushed into it. He said he was happy too.

Finally, I reached for my Winter jacket and decided to head off. His friend who dropped by then joked that I was such a warm person, how could I be cold. Turkish men can be charming, can't they? Carpet Man showed me the way to St Jean
Basilica and Isa Bey mosque nearby (10 minute walk).

I kind of got lost and took the far way to the mosque. On my way back, I saw a pretty small cafe and jewelery shop on a hill, just by itself. I originally dropped by for a cup of tea. Now, I hate the Grand Bazaar but an outlet like that was just so cute. The old calm owner greeted me. He said the goods were specially designed and hand-made by his wife. Probably that was why I didn't see them elsewhere. Anyway, the quirky beads arrangements really got me. He slowly and patiently took each one and passed to me. I tried them on and went crazy.

They weren't cheap but I knew I couldn't get them in KL, not at an affordable price. Hence, I bargained hard and spent 330 TL for 7 necklaces and 3 pair of earrings. That was like a 15% discount. He gave me a free bracelet, and a cup of tea of course. The drink was already cold when I got to it.

I left at 5.00pm and ended up staring at the closed gate of St Jean Basilica. A nice old Turkish woman passing by saw me. She spoke in Turkish and signaling with her hand that the place was already closed for the day. Why not come the next day.

The next day, I had a full day guided tour to Priene, Miletus and Dydima, so I forgot about the Carpet Man. He said he could take me to the House of the Virgin Mary but I was disappointed when it was the owner who ended up taking me there on 20 February (at 40TL, not free, as stated by several online guests' reviews). It was my last night in Selcuk, I dropped by at his shop on my way to take a minibus to Kusadasi. The place was dark and the door was locked. I knocked. His tired-looking assistant said he wasn't in but he would come in later.

On my way to the Hamam 3 hours later, I stopped by again. He was in but seemed busy arguing with his assistant. He saw me standing at the door. I told him that it was my last night in town and Mama was cooking dinner for me. He replied quickly that he would be there. Satisfied, I went off to the Hamam. Friday was women's day and the only time of the week the place was opened to women.

(To be continued again)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The First Time I Saw Snow

This is my 3rd Turkey entry, and my first since I returned to KL this morning.

I could never forget the first time I saw snow.

On 15 February 2009, the Hasslefree travel agent to Troy and Gallipoli called me to say that my morning pick up will be delayed to 3pm. My tour guide will accompany me on the Metro public bus for the 6-hour journey to Canakkale . Reason being was because it was snowing there and they could not drive me in the company's car. There were separate rows for men and women on the comfortable bus but since I was travelling with a local guide, I had to sit next to him in the men's row. I was glad that he was there since all the announcements were made in Turkish.

At the end of the journey, the bus got onto the ferry for a 20 minute-ride. We arrived at Maydos Hotel after 10.00pm. It was a short 5-minute walk from the bus station near the Dardanelles jetty. The next morning at 7.30am, the tour began. Two old but yet interesting American women and I had the 2 guides to ourselves. Their husbands did not like to travel so they took off on to exotic places on their own every year. When we reached Gallipoli, there was remains of snow on the grass. There was also a small snowman. To my inexperienced eyes, it was like ice but only whiter. I touched the whiteness on the ground and gasped.

Having said that, it was on 20 February that I actually saw snow falling from the ground for the first time. It had been raining all night. I could hear the sound of water pouring heavily on the roof. The heater at Homeros Pension did not work well so I had to cover myself with 4 layers of blankets. I was also wearing a pair of thermal underwear, knitted sweater and woolen socks underneath all that. The next morning, the pension owner took me to the House of the Virgin Mary. It was raining. Suddenly the windshield in front of us was hit by drops of ice. "I think it's snowing," he said. When we got to the gate, the guards were happy to see snow. The pension owner waited in the car and I got out.

There were 3 big European and American tourist groups there so I had to queue for a while to go into the altar. That was a rare occurrence as I almost had all the other tourist sites to myself due to the low season. Many of the visitors did not carry an umbrella, several had on clear plastic raincoats. They were obviously not concern about being hit by the snow, as was I. To avoid the crowd, I approached a closed area, it was for workers only. Some men were clearing the place with wheelbarrows and all. I used hand gesture to ask if I could enter. The kind-face bearded old man waived his hand, signaling it was okay.

I went in and just stared and stared at the white drops falling gently from the sky. I started taking photos. After a while, the man spoke to me in Turkish and gestured with his hands to the aluminium shade. Yeah, it was tricky holding my umbrella and my Ephesus guide book while clicking my camera at the same time. At times, I had to remove my leather gloves as I could not managed my camera with it on. He noticed that and asked me to take shelter. I nodded, appreciating that I could enjoy nature's gift without hassle. It got really cold after that, so I finally headed for the car. My Ephesus guidebook cover was soaking wet with snow by then.

My encounter with snow continued to the next evening. I arrived in Pamukkale at 12.30pm on Ege Koop bus. It was a 3-hour ride and that was the first time a public bus conductor spoke in English. Apparently, only tourists go there. I had allocated 2.5 days. A few people told me it was too long. When I saw what a small village it was, I was afraid that I would get bored. I even considered changing my flight to Istanbul so I could leave a day earlier.

I had a free and easy afternoon as the Melrose Allgau Pension owner advised me to wait till the next day to go to Hierapolis and the Travertines as the entrance fee was 20 TL and it was already 1pm. I strolled to the tiny town for lunch. It was just by luck that I walked into that particular cafe. The food was terrible, the one and only meal I did not enjoy while I was in Turkey. But the owner, a friendly old man, sat in front of me and started chatting. He said I should go to Karahayit. It was a nice tiny village around 15 minutes away. He said he could take me there. He was also a taxi driver. It would cost me 5TL.

Now, under normal circumstances, I would not had taken such risk. I should at least check with the pension owner first. The man was a total stranger. But I was planning to spend a day at Hierapolis and the Travertines and another day at Aphrodisias. I only had that afternoon free. Of course by then, I was already able to read the local people's intention - good or bad. He quoted money upfront, so it was safe to say that he was only interested in my $$$, and not my kidney or something. He took me to his car. I was relieved to see that it was a real taxi. Karahayit, I soon discovered, was where the tourists were. Hotels have thermal pool or hot spring, some in guest rooms. He took me to Oscar Hotel which belonged to his friend. I could swim there for 10 TL (Travertines charged 20TL). I even considered moving there. The 3-star place costed 40TL a night, similar to my pension. It had an individual deep but narrow square thermal pool in each room.

However, the scene that greeted me upon arrival at my pension changed my mind. When I entered the pretty and rustic outdoor dining house with glass walls, the bubbly owner showed me 2 bags of snow on the kitchen table. The women folk were talking away happily, it was comforting. He said they scooped up the snow for their 2 children, it was rare and special. They invited me to try the syrupy snow dessert in a bowl. It tasted just like the Ice Balls I used to have at the canteen of my primary schools more than 2 decades ago. Only the ice is natural, not man-made. Of course by then, the 2 men were no longer in sight. The women threw them out as they had their favourite TV show on too loudly and they could barely hear each other. LOL!

The next day saw the coldest weather since I arrived in Turkey at 3 degree Celsius. It was supposed to be the beginning of Spring already but Winter just kept coming back. It seemed that other countries were experiencing the coldest Winter too. On the way back from our Aphrodisias tour, there were spreads of snow beside the roads. Children were playing snow balls. I was so tempted to get off the van and join them.

That was my first Winter. My costly long waterproof shocking pink jacket from Universal Travel was useful though bulky. The waterproof gloves I bought were big and useless, so I replaced them with a black leather pair in Istanbul. And finally, I got a pair of pink Winter boots at a shop at the old bazaar in Kadikoy at 50TL. They were perfect, though there was a tiny tear in front after climbing the ruins of Priene and small spots of faded colour from the icy rain at Miletus. All in all, I have to admit that Winter is kind of special. It is just so peaceful and fresh. It is a new beginning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cay for Two

Thıs ıs my 2nd entry on Turkey. Yeap, I am stıll here.

Turkısh people serve tea ın a tıny narrow glass on a small plate. It ıs mostly to welcome theır guests, to warm up ın wınter or just as a drınk to hang out wıth frıends. Interestıngly, by my 10th day ın thıs country, I have learned the many dıfferent meanıngs of an ınvıtatıon to tea, and how to read the hıdden motıve of the one offerıng ıt. Competıtıve merchants often use thıs humble beveText Colorrage as a hook to entıce tourısts ınto theır shops. Pensıon or small hotel owners may ınvıte you to tea to convınce you to stay at theır place. You may be waıtıng for your transport, etc and someone at the tourıst-ınterest area kındly asks ıf you would lıke some tea. Well, that does not mean that ıt's free. Local tea ıs cheap at 1 to 1.5 TR.

Before comıng to Istanbul, the only type of tea that I drınk ıs teh tarık (local tea wıth condensed mılk pulled usıng a unıque technıque). I have always been a coffee person. I must have around 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day. However, after several days, I realısed that coffee here means Nescafe, whıch I really cannot stand. Even the four-star Madıson Hotel doesn't have brewed coffee. Turkısh coffee ıs okay once ın a whıle, but not everyday though.

Before I knew ıt, I have resorted to drınkıng Cay (Turkısh Tea) regularly. I remember comıng back on a ferry from Kadıkoy to Emınonu. I had decıded to vısıt the Asıan shore on a whım sınce my pıck-up to Canakkale that mornıng was delayed due to snow. I was seated at the second last row. An old man was carryıng a tray of drınks. He had a frıendly fatherly face. "Cay?" he offered to the passengers, row by row. It was chılly, and the hot pıpıng beverage looked temptıng. I called hım. "Cay!"He carefully lıfted the cup and handed ıt to me. I dıgged for coıns ın my waıst pouch and gave gım 1TL. Then, I sıpped ıt slowly. It was warm and soothıng, ıt made me feel as ıf everythıng was goıng to be okay. It was one of my 2 memorable Turkısh Tea experıences.

My other encounter, however, was not as pretty. It was my fırst nıght ın Selcuk. I stepped out of my tıny room at the pensıon to go to the tradıtonally decorated dınıng room ın the opposıte buıldıng. It was just a few steps away but I had to put on my bulky shockıng pınk wınter jacket. I was not used to the weather. I had ordered home-cooked dınner that nıght, the owner's mother prepared ıt herself. To my surprıse, a good lookıng young Turkısh man greeted me as I opened the door. I replıed and sat down at one of the round tables. The old woman seemed busy ın the kıtchen. The man brought over bread, soup, rıce and several dıshes. He ıntroduced hımself and saıd he was a frıend of the owner. He started askıng me the usual tourısty questıons and I responded. I started eatıng. Feelıng awkward beıng served by hım, I ınvıted hım to sıt down. He swıftly pulled the chaır and sat opposıte me.

We talked and talked. He commented that I had a frıendly face and he could see that I came from a good famıly.
He complimented my sweater and said I should consider keeping my hair short for work. He told me that he had been managıng hıs own busıness ın Selcuk for 12 years. He was happy beıng a bachelor at 36, able to do as he pleased. Sınce I am Muslım, he started askıng me about my relıgıous vıews. He saıd sometımes he was a Muslım and sometımes not. I dıdn' realıse that the old woman had taken a seat next to me. He then eyed her, saıd she was tıred and ask her to retıre for the day ın Turkısh. She needed to close and lock the dınıng hall. Let us have some tea at hıs carpet shop just down the hıll, at the sıde of the street.

Caught off guard, I followed hım. I only had sandals and woolen socks on, I wasn't even wearıng proper shoes. It was only 7.45pm but quıet and dark outsıde nevertheless. Hıs shop was an elegant carpet and kılım store wıth walls lıned by pıeces of woods. He opened the door, swıtched on the lıghts and ınvıted me ın. I sat down on the sofa as he boıled water ın a kettle. The colourful tradıtonal knıck knacks caught my sıght, I got up to look at each of them closely. Oh, you can have that... and that, he saıd to the few that I touched. He brought over two tıny glasses of tea, told me that ıt was made wıth fresh leaves, not Lıpton as used by most people. I took a few sıps, ıt was hot and delıcıous. He asked me to take off my wınter jacket, obvıously expectıng me to stay longer. He went back to my relıgıous vıews, sayıng that I seemed very modern. He saıd that the gırls at hıs vıllage were conservatıve, matchmakıng was stıll much done.

Well, he had the best spoken Englısh among all the Turkısh people I had met. We could dıscuss and debate and I dıdn't have to repeat what I saıd, not even once. I was really enjoyıng the conversatıon. After a whıle, he kept goıng back and forth on whether I had a boyfrıend, was I allowed to go out wıth men ın my country, etc. Fınally, he asked straıght out ıf I had been wıth man. When I saıd no, never, he commented that I was conservatıve. He refılled my tea. I was nervous about beıng alone wıth hım and could not help wonderıng ıf he had drugged my drınk. It was gettıng too ıntımate and there was a strong electric current between us. I started talkıng a lot to kıll the dısturbıng quıetness of the evenıng. That backfıred as he saıd he lıked my beıng talkatıve and ıf we had been ın Kuala Lumpur, he would have marrıed me.

Too much excıtement ın a day. I put a stop to ıt and decıded to excuse myself. I told hım that I had just arrıved from Canakkale at 6.15am that mornıng and had not slept at all on the 7-hour bus. He walked me back to my room.

(to be contınued - see new uploaded photos)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tricky Turkey

Today marks my 8th day ın Turkey and 1st day of ınternet access. It has been quıte an adventure... both good and bad. Travellıng alone as a woman ın a unıque country on a free and easy schedule ıs really enrıchıng´ though ıt ıs rısky and scary ın many ways. My 5 days ın Istanbul was smoother than I had ımagıned but full of contrastıng experıences too. My 2 days ın Canakkale was quıck but fruıtful. Now I am ın Selcuk... and thıngs are startıng to get even more ınterestıng. I am extendıng my stay here for another 1.5 days before movıng on to Pamukkale to see the cotton castle.

The goods...

1) Turkey really has a wıde varıety to offer. 15 days ıs not enough.

2) Publıc transports are well-organısed and realıable. I have taken 2 ferry rıdes´3 long-dıstance publıc bus rıdes´2 mını-buses rıdes´2 tram rıdes´etc.

3) Turkısh are very hospıtable people... 9 out of 10 wıll assıst when you need help.

4) Tourıng wıthout a tour guıde reveals a dıfferent sıde to thıngs.

5) Travellıng alone means you adapt faster and mıngle more. Also some people go the extra mıle to make you happy. Sometımes you need to follow your ınstınct to just enjoy ıt when you feel that they mean well.

6) Travellıng free and easy gıves you a really flexıble schedule and you get to absorb so much more.
7) Turkısh food goes well wıth me. It ıs what locals eat so ıt ıs not expensıve for Europe. Also each restaurant has a clean restroom wıth a buılt-ın pıpe ın each cubıcle.

8) Turkısh bath - hamam ıs truly unıque. I have trıed Cagaloglu and Chemberlıtas ın Istanbul. I am waıtıng for the women day to try the one ın Selcuk.

9) The fake jewellery here ıs lıke a dream. I dıd not buy anythıng at the Grand Bazaar - too bıg and messy for my taste. But I bought a lot at Tara - a tıny shop and cafe near a tourıst sıte wıthın walkıng dıstance from my hotel.

10) As for my choıces of places to stay - Pensıons (Inns) are quırky wıth lots of character and help from owner or staffs. They encourage you to venture on your own at a mınımal cost. 3 to 4 star hotels are practıcal and realıable but staffs are too formal. It makes a cıty appears dıstant.

11) Wınter ıs a good tıme to travel. Sure you have heavıer luggage and the days are shorter. But ıts my 1st experıence of snow and popular places are deserted. You have ıt all to yourself. Though sometımes ıts unpleasant when you stay at an ınn where hot water and heater are unrealıable. But I fınd bathıng ın cold water ın cold weather ıs not as bad as ın my warm weather country.

The bads... I shall share thıs when I return. Sometımes a sımple ınvıtatıon for a Turkısh tea from a charmıng and good lookıng man means somethıng else...

So many storıes to share. All and all thıs has been an amazıng holıday decısıon!

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Unlikely Rescue

Disclaimer: please change the channel if you don't fancy this particular topic.

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while. A lot has happened ever since Mr Designer parted with his ex-partner. And I never thought that there would be a day when the former would serve as a back-up for the later. Now that I have met his ‘secret team’, it shed lights on so many matters. It showed me a completely different side to Mr Designer.

Yeah, back to the incidence, satisfied with his ex-partner’s new designer’s designs for an earlier advertisement, I took a risk and asked only them to design our buntings. Their rates were the lowest, and Mr Designer would still get his 30% commission. I was convinced that they would meet the deadline and produced quality designs, judging but how fast the young chap worked the last time. Come Friday (the morning after the due date), I came back from a seminar and found nothing in my mailbox. When I sms his ex-partner, he replied that his new designer was on MC. He didn’t even realise it until I asked and Popeye expected it on Monday morning. Taking it lightly, he said perhaps he would send it during the weekend or on Monday morning itself.

I was really pissed, I gave them 3 working days! The other supplier told me they couldn’t do it in 1 day, and they don’t work weekends. Hence, I made an SOS call to Mr Designer. He did tell me earlier on to give him smaller jobs, he’d do them himself. Bigger jobs would go to The Team (I’ll share more on this in another entry). I bluntly told him that from experience, he took way too long to deliver. He assured me that won’t be the case anymore as he has access to The Team’s assistants, provided that he gives the company’s owner 15% of the profit from the job. He said he had wanted to tell me that for a long time but couldn’t do so until then. The week before, after he introduced me to The Team, he finally told me about him and his ex-partner’s separation. He smoothly related it to the fact that he had to delay paying the small amount he owed me as his ex-partner hadn’t paid him. That went on to their misunderstanding on the profit percentage and salary (nothing was in b&w) and lastly, he didn’t want to do any more job with the guy. Hmm… smooth.

I didn’t really get his peeve with his ex-partner until I met ‘his multi-skilled secret team’. Now I understand his complaints about him having to design alone when his ex-partner was busy rushing here and there. He was chasing way too many businesses in a wide range of expertise, without dedicating a team to work on them should they materialise.

So, I gave Mr Designer a deadline on Sunday noon. When he called me to ask to delay till evening, I wasn’t surprised. I even started to wonder what made me ‘blind’ again. I thought that he would disappoint me, as usual. Since my internet at home was down, he printed the designs and personally brought them over to my condo. I was watching ‘Juarez’ then, a movie about the rapes and murders of Latin factory workers. It had been a while since I last concentrate on a movie until the end. The seemingly normal plot was unpredictable and the pace was really good. Mr Designer asked me to finish watching the movie first, no hurry.

When I finally went down 20 minutes later, he was already seated on a new bench at the foyer downstairs. He looked relaxed. I was relieved and surprised when I saw the designs, he actually delivered them within 1 working day. And he was like the only person who didn’t mind working weekends; in fact they are no difference from weekdays to him. Oh yeah, I was alone so I didn’t invite him in. Not even when he had to use the washroom. It turned out that he has a cousin who used to live at my condo. So, he knew there was a washroom near the poolside. He himself wouldn’t take the risk to come up to my place anyway. And I found it refreshing meeting him downstairs, without getting into his car and taking off somewhere like always. It was already around 11pm.

On Monday morning, after I’d already printed Mr Designer’s designs and submitted to Popeye, his ex-partner emailed his young designer’s work. I was shocked with the outcome. The feminine colour choices were totally off. The text wasn’t complete, let alone catchy. The buntings didn’t even have proper headings. Popeye would have chewed my head off. Man! Thank God I had a back-up plan. I can’t believe that Mr Designer actually saved my ass that time. Yeah, after all that he’d put me through:)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Picking Up

This morning, somehow I got the inspiration to re-look and re-approach a long overdue story. I first submitted the story to my instructor in December 2007. He rejected it, saying that it has 2 different stories within it and I need to decide which one I wanted to write. He also said it was impossible for a gay man to turn straight and years later form a relationship with his partner's ex-wife.

After trying out at least 3 different angles, I got stuck again, and again. I then shove it aside. This morning, I thought of laying the 2 main characters at Pulau Ubin instead of at Clark Quay. And I think it changed the emphasis altogether. Probably, the story will just remain focus on their argument before the big day, instead of having a long 'ala detective plot'. Intro is as below.

The Other Woman - 5th Cut

The two handsome men have not said a word to each other since they arrived. Probably in their early-thirties, they look like models or movie stars. The Malay chap is dressed in a black shirt with long gold chain around his neck and a pair of black jeans. His Chinese companion is dressed in a white t-shirt and bright pair of bermuda.

They sit quietly on the boardwalk and watch the mangroves below. Spear-shaped roots of the plants stick out of the reddish thick muddy earth, struggling for oxygen to breath. Bubbles burst through the water when mud-skippers jump. On the far right, green algae peek through the shallow sea. Patches of sands rise through the water. Two purple twin mountains greet in the distant horizon.

More minutes pass and the greyish and mossy shades above starts to crack. The sea slowly mirrors the gloominess of the sky. An infinite line divides the two, depicting an illusion of the edge of the earth floating in the galaxy. Rain is coming soon. Visitors quickly leave the island. But the two men do not move, oblivious to the sorrounding and the scurrying around them.

The one seated on the left sigh loudly and shake his feet, the sight of his black sneakers dangle down the balcony. Finally, he speaks, “So, you are marrying her!”
“Hey, it's not like that!”
“Don't insult me, Ron! I saw the wedding cards with my own eyes. Were you even planning on telling me?”
“Hey, Ali! Will you calm down for a second.”

He looks away, a tall tree standing distinctively on the left catches his attention. Its' leaveless branches dance to the bright blue background, graced by fluffy white clouds.