Friday, April 02, 2010

March 30, 2010
For Burrito, Hijack, Pretty, Pooh, Beauty, Choco, Frankie, Gooramee

Monday dawned and the 12-hour sleep was done.

The first freedom act — check out the clock, which read half past nine in the morning.

The Bishkek brandy from Maral was waiting and the kids were already busy downstairs.

It was their first no-school morning and they grabbed a pack of cards and played Pusoy Dos poker at the dining table till noon.

Outside, a pushcart was ambling down the road, past the towering caimito and mango trees and rolling lazily towards the bakery, leaves falling around it as a slow breeze passed through the neighborhood.

Two years after assuming the helm of the NGO Forum on the ADB — the fine network that has been monitoring the ADB's policies, projects and programs since 1992 — my term has finally come to a close.

The last night at the helm — it was spent dancing with a crowd of 90 internationals at Casa San Pablo in Laguna.

A drum chore from Mindanao started the exit rites followed by foot-stomping by friends from Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.

Shouting and silly jigs. Swooning and swaying.

And then it was Creedence, Lou Reed, and The Kinks fueled by a few gallons of 80-proof Liliw lambanog and a bottle filled with Cambodian liquor, ginseng root, marinated cobra and scorpion. Then Punjabi music.

Nina danced with Pieter, Circa danced with Jojo, Pachimu danced with Agar and Gurami danced with Gurami. Then it was a train dance and everybody was a boxcar attached to the person dancing in front, everyone marching and marching round and round until a loud whoop split everyone up and new dancing partners came together like a crazy algebraic equation.

Around three in the morning, everyone was ready for a soft landing.

In comes a Springsteen poem then it's Bob Dylan followed by Field of Diamonds by Johnny Cash and the final click of the sound system powering off.

I slept the sleep of the dead and Monday crept in then Tuesday arrived a day later.

I'm taking things out from the big bag where most of my two years of office stuff from the Forum have been packed.

There are happy things and unused things and reminders of fulfilled and unconsummated desires.

One by one, out they go.

Take out the slippers from Mader and from Lumphini Park, companions in the long slog from somewhere to elsewhere.

Take out the whiskey flasks.

Take out the detritus of NGO conferences — IDs and name tags and IDs and IDs and IDs.

Take out the pillow from Somalia and handle it with care.

It's from Yvette, it's made of wood and ten thousand siesta hours and dreams have passed through it and returned to the soil.

Take out the beer mats stained with ale from countless bars and marked by good thoughts from valued friends. There's a beer mat from The Hague and Berlin and beneath them are clusters from Almaty, Yerevan, and Dushanbe.

Take out the Timbuktu bag and the Yak-Pak from the Strand — each one a comrade that withstood withering summers and harsh winters, carrying immense loads across all sorts of rugged terrain.

Take out the shisha, also called hookah, also called nargillah, also called the week-ending smoke. The apple and capuccino tobacco's all finished.

Take out the wooden cup from Karen, hand-painted by his wife — a reminder of great ties across oceans.

Take out the shiny, red six-ply Indian cricket ball, which has been helping put ideas together since my Greenpeace days.

Take out the books that remained unread — King Leopold’s Ghost, Bone Wars, and ten others that should have been consumed since the first week in my post.

Take out the music CDs, which played the role of daily menu.

At the office, how certain days begin or end is based on the first song that booms out of the speakers.

Is that My Sharona thumping from the top floor? "Sounds like a good week ahead."

Is that Paganini? "Good time for a discussion. He was playing Brijbushan Kabra previously. I think he's read the proposal."

"Oi. It's been Peryodiko all day. Let's roll out the plan."

"It's been AC-DC all day. He's up to something. He must have sent something to Kuroda."

A packet of cardamoms. Ventolin salbutamol. Calvin and Hobbes and Cervantes. Photos of Kala, Rio, and Luna.

In the end, the survival kit's whatever fits and before you know it it's time for the next chapter. #


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