48 hours, 3 beds… and one life lesson.

I don’t know when today actually started, I slept so little that I see yesterday  as a long stretch of time leading to whenever I am now. TIme during which I did too many things, visited too many places and slept in too many beds.

Think about it. I live in Jakarta but recently I moved to Jimbaran, Bali, where I had previously stayed three years ago. I then went to Ubud for a week, something I used to do from Jakarta. Then, from Ubud, I went to the airport NOT to fly, but to pick up my motorbike in order to fly later, to Singapore, thing I also used to do from Jakarta.
If last week was already short in the sleep department, In the last 48 hours, I have slept in 3 different beds, never long enough to get anything close to a real rest.
Confusing? My brain concurs.

That is probably why I wasn’t able to figure out where or when I was when I woke up this afternoon.
“I’m gonna miss my plane, the sun is rising already”… that’s the first thing that came to my mind.
“I’m already at destination and it’s not dawn I’m seeing, it’s dusk”…was the delayed follow up.
Every time I shut my eyes, I am everywhere but in my room.

Sleep deprivation and disorientation are not the best things you can ask when you’re abroad; alone in a place you don’t really know. Wonder if you need to show your passport when buying a movie ticket is not the wost.
The worst is going to the movie alone and going back alone, an anonymous figure in an anonymous crowd.
You crave for someone to talk to. About anything, whatever, as long as you both relate.
Damn… I went back in a taxi just because I was expecting a chat from the driver.

But then, I went back to Geylang… the home of the deck apes, scoundrels, loners, criminals, weirdos… and me.

From the airport, I directly headed to Geylang to check-in my hotel room. On my way to the building, I heard someone call “HEY BROTHER!”
I was thinking “Who the hell? No, I’m too tired to meet a random drunken bloke that think I walk funny or something.”

Then I realized I knew the voice: It belonged to Probably-Pimp-Johnny. Why “probably”? Because I don’t know for sure. He talks like a pimp, behaves like a pimp, but that 64 years-old pirate-looking Indian man could as well be a bum. He owns the place, that’s true, but simply by being there all the time. I’d met him 3 years ago while looking for an old friend and we’d talked for an hour or so. He still remembered my face.

Probaly-Pimp-Johnny sounds like Tom Jones, that’s the reason why I hadn’t forgotten him either. He was sitting there in front of a cafe, sipping very slowly a neverending glass of light beer, surronded by two younger men as drunk as a bad marriage.

A tall one and a short one, I can’t recall their names. They must have told me at one point, but words were spread all around and it took them a little while to swim through the alcohol in their brains and form a neater line to their mouth.
The short one immediately proceeded to grope my arms and tell me “You look like 2 fast 2 furious, you have arms like a fighter bro!”

Meanwhile, the tall one was apparently delivering a real-time report of his inner planet’s exploration.
“When you have someone who plays the music… then you know, the fans, or the people who… there… or like, this sort of things… they listen.”
“But I tell you, sometimes life sucks balls… but yeah… sometime it’s mine…”
“Guys can try as much as they want, their cock will always be black as evil… but not you, you’re white”

In all my confused, sleepless perception of life, I was still sane enough to figure that none of he said made any literal sense. Although, I still believe tall man is going to be, one day, the head of his own cult.

They did sober up eventually. Others came in and out, we exchanged stories in 5 languages, and I left to ultimately collapse on my hotel bed until the next displaced wake up.

I met them again, later. Short one hugged me.

Then I understood something. I know now why places like Geylang are so magnetic.
When you go take a walk on Orchard (more malls than cars) and look at people coming and going, busy with their phones and tablets, and bags of things to buy this month and discard the next… You don’t feel you belong.

I don’t feel I belong. I’m not Chinese, not Malay, not Indian… and I don’t feel any closer to the westerners either
For whatever reason, whenever I walk in Orchard, I feel like I will never be “like them”.
Then I go to Geylang, and I am “Brother”. I am brother to Probably-Pimp-Johnny, tall dude, short dude…  I am 2 fast 2 furious, everybody wants to know me AND know everybody else. People mingle, talk, exchange.
I feel the place like a jacket over my shoulders.

Am I still a deck-ape? Tough question. Do I want to become one? Maybe. It would be so easy. All I’d have to do is let go and keep on with my messy sleep patterns, add a few beers a day and tons of little workaround to get out of life’s way.
But what do I want? Do I want to touch the bottom every now and then, kick it, and go back to the surface? Or do I want to stay there and drawn happy?
I do have goals. I thought I didn’t, but I do. And they reminded me.

People go to geylang because they are happy to get in, happy to stay and happy to leave.

48 hours, 3 beds… and one life lesson.

Posted via email from Walking down the dragon’s back


Danny Hefer

  Free roaming opinionist, Danny spends his free time roundhouse kicking life in the nuts and doing really weird startup thingies. Even if out of context it does sound kind of gross, Danny is the Lemon's daddy.

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