flying, but not really



Up in the air, it is tranquil. I don’t mean that there is absolute silence but rather, a kind of serenity from seeing everything (the sprawl of street stalls and hotels along Batu Ferringhi) and hearing almost nothing but the sound of wind gushing past. For the next few minutes, I occupy this liminal space where I can see the world but play no real part in it, having been relegated to a mere spectator of life and divorced from the troubles of the common man. You see those girls prancing around in bikinis? Or feel like melting in the insane afternoon heat? Or have to spend half an hour in that traffic jam? Up here, I partake in none of the envy or daily frustrations.

A light conversation with my instructor follows:

“Where are you from?”
“Which part?” he asks. “Bedok, Tampines, or?”
I tell him Simei, I guess, but that doesn’t sound as interesting as telling someone you’re from Ipoh or KL when posed with the same question. And how do you remember the names of all these neighborhoods anyway?
“I used to work in Singapore,” he says.
Did you like it?
“Nice. Singapore is very nice, but it’s – how to say? I go to work, come home, sleep. No time for family and very very tiring.”
Quite true, I say.
“It’s not like here in Penang, where everyday is a holiday.”
I smile, but the workaholic Singaporean in me cannot conceive of an alternate universe where everyday is a holiday.

I look down and there is a Caucasian couple in their early 60s standing by the shore with their feet tucked into the sand. They glance up at me through their sunglasses and I laugh as they / we look so pathetically small from up here. This must be what it feels like to play god, watching from safety, as your human playthings kill each other in the longest-running sitcom that is Life. They are laughing at us, yet we worship the very things that made Man for their personal amusement lol k just kidding parasailing is fun and hello from Penang