A moment of beauty

We walked out of a restaurant – bellies filled with Pho and hearts filled with contentment – and turned a corner. As we passed a garage and an indifferent street dog curled up on the pavement, we heard strains of  jazz music wafting from above. Intrigued, we turned into the doorway, walked up a dingy flight of stairs and found ourselves in an incredibly quaint cafe; tall white pillars, plush-albeit-slightly-weathered couches, wooden deer heads on the walls and an ornate chandelier hanging from the ceiling. People lounged in the couches, leaned against doorways, perched on windowsills. In a well-lit corner of the room, a singer crooned, accompanied by a drummer and bass player. Mid-song, a man got up from a couch across the room, walked over to the piano (beer mug in hand,) and started playing along. Two songs later, another man walked in through the doors, paused, listened to the song being sung, took out a saxophone from its case and joined them. Not all of these people knew each other. And yet they jammed together for about 20 minutes, creating some amazing music and having a visibly fabulous time while at it. 

It’s been almost 2 months since my visit to Ho Chi Minh, and this experience is still visually imprinted in my memory. This is why I love travel. Because researched and well-laid plans aside, you chance upon these tiny surprises … these unexpected moments of beauty, which leave you entranced and fill your heart with joy.  And that is quite magical.



Perspective, again.

Last week was one of the hottest summer weeks this city has seen in a while. Temperatures soared upto 42 Celsius, with RealFeel hitting 49-50 C. My patience was wearing thin, I found myself more fatigued and carrying a general sense of irritation with life. And this is despite the fact that I have a job that allows me to stay indoors for the hottest parts of the day, in a comfortable, protected environment.

5 years ago, I was travelling in local buses and trains throughout the summer. I was working in schools that often didn’t even have electricity for most of the day. And yet, everyone showed up and worked with the same zeal and passion that teachers are famous for –  some of the most inspiring work I’ve been privileged to be a part of.

This past week has also seen a series of breakdowns in my apartment. The AC conked off, the water pressure pump died (resulting in water coming out of taps in just about a trickle,) and there are ant infestations all over the premises. I’ve spent a number of days stewing in my own frustration.

A year ago, I was homeless on account of a fire in my previous apartment, bouncing around from couch to couch, living with different friends. I was trying to navigate the bizarre construct of being a woman and finding an apartment to rent, not sure if there’d even be light at the end of the tunnel.


This monologue ran through my head over and over last evening. Perspective is incredible like that. Sometimes it can really save you. From yourself.