Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bubble & Squeak

25 February 2009 – Middle Button Island, the Andamans, India.

I guess I should mention something about the tropical paradise - it’s wonderful, no doubt about it. The sky is blue, the water is bluer, and the beaches are pristine. We snorkel twice a day. It’s spectacular in the way that cannot be captured in photographs or described in words, and so I won’t even try.

Emotionally some parts of the trip are grand and I could do them forever. I love waking up in what John calls “another paradise” each day – often a different island than the day before. Even more, I loved sailing from Thailand to India, where four days at sea delivered us into the bustling Indian city of Port Blair, with sari clad women and the occasional lazy cow sauntering through busy, honking traffic. Those are the great bits, but other days are not so great. Everything in life is a trade-off, and this journey through “paradise” is no exception. Yesterday was great – the setting along the deserted island was magnificent, Alyssa and I swam to a tiny beach and got to know one another better now that Penny and Fuzz are gone. The mood was light, the four of us were relaxed and we ate, for dinner, Nat’s delicious Mongrel Mix. Noticing there was plenty food left for another meal, Alyssa suggested “bubble and squeak” for breakfast, an Australian dish of leftovers pan-fried into pancake patties. Nat smiled big and said, “okay, you cook you cook.” So today, we had bubble and squeak – leftovers of yesterday. Paradise is like that sometimes - some days are like being in paradise for the first time, and other days it feels like hey, weren’t we here yesterday? That’s when the conversations are repetitive, the heat is hotter, the SPF 50 is gloppier and the loo is grimier. And so today, for me, was bubble & squeak.

After brekky, we made our way through the narrow strait from Henry Lawrence Island to Middle Button Island and I listened to Cheap Trick, remembering how much we loved getting those packages in the mail of free promotional albums from Uncle Paul in the 1970s. Then, when the song came on, I recalled how, for about two years, I really listened to the words and started trying to apply Cheap Trick’s directive to surrender, but don’t give yourself away. All day I wondered whether I’m really going to surrender to this and carry on to the Maldives, or if I’m going to jump ship in Port Blair just a few days from now. Then, just before sunset, I read in Shantaram, where Karla says to Linbaba, “tomorrow when you go to Prabakar’s village, try to relax completely, and go with the experience. Just…let yourself go. Sometimes, in India, you have to surrender before you win.”

Well, I’ve been in India 8 days, so maybe it’s time for me to surrender? I’m not so sure I can.

Mommy’s alright, daddy’s alright. They just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.

-Cheap Trick

posted by Ali's U.S. ambassador


Anonymous said...

Bubble and Squeak is British through and through .......... guess who?