Monday, August 25, 2014

Just say igen

The Hungarian word "igen" means yes. My life has become about saying yes to the opportunities that constantly present themselves. Sometimes the opportunity might be just the chance to say hello to someone. I did that in the immigration queue at Kuching airport a week ago today when I found myself behind three of the Kenyan professional marathoners who had competed in and taken honours at the inaugural Kuching Marathon. I asked them how they'd liked the race and then ended up having quite a long chat with Cecilia, age 26, a 2:50 marathoner who had taken third place that morning. A week later we are now coach and client, and I have a very daunting training program to follow starting 1 September that is intended to bring my half marathon time down below my personal best of 1:47 (1996 in Melbourne). (I placed 9th veteran woman in the Kuching half marathon with a slow 2:12:56 in my longest run since November of last year and even got a cash prize and a handshake up on the podium.)

Support was at hand when I suffered leg cramps following the Kuching half marathon

I keep saying yes to Kuching because of the wonderful people I've gotten to know there over the past four years.

Another opportunity to say yes was an impulse to call into the boutique hotel in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, where I had stayed for a month in 2011, when I was in the vicinity last week on a short stopover. I was greeted with big hugs and apple tea, and decided then and there I needed to spend more time in that amazing city.

The Blue Mosque

Pistachio and vanilla pudding from my favourite dessert shop

Now I'm in Budapest again, which is very, very high on my list of favourite places in the world. It's easy to say igen to just about everything the city has to offer: fabulous food, great arthouse cinemas, groovy street culture, wonderful architecture, fascinating history, funky art and design, fun friends made last year, and perfect late-summer weather.

My local cinema

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Excess baggage

One of the real challenges of being a global nomad is living out of a suitcase. I’m lucky to be able to store some clothes in New York, which will have been my point of departure and ultimate destination whenever I’m not there, but I sometimes have to pack for different climates, different types of activities and differing amounts of time. When I next unlock the door of the apartment on the Upper West Side where I always stay when in New York, I’ll have been away for nine months. It’s far too long, and it requires that I take with me too much stuff.

I’m not overly concerned with having to pay excess baggage costs; what bothers me is the feeling that I’m being weighed down by things. I need both hands in order to manage a medium-size suitcase, a carry-on case and a laptop bag. That’s one hand too many. It limits my options and makes me vulnerable.

I’m now in my fifth year of global vagabondage and I still haven’t figured it out.

Having just spent two months in Australia and New Zealand, I realise I’m carrying a lot of excess emotional baggage, too. Old hurts weigh too heavily and serve no purpose in my new life. Even if I haven’t yet found a way to meet all of my sartorial needs with what I can fit into a carry-on case, I can try my best to lighten the psychic load I'm carrying.

After a quick visit to Melbourne and Bendigo to spend time with very special friends Martyn and Claire, Barb and Bill, Bill and Sal, and Gordon and Joanna, I’m now happily back in Kuching with my cobbled-together family of very fit and wacky Sarawakians.