25 April, 2016

Travel-Worn Satchel, I-VIII

safety video
plays while I watch
the jet of steam

phonecall from Shanghai
hello - I think your wife
took my suitcase

toddler chooses
the next track for our journey -
God is a DJ!

all the questions
are provided in advance
Chinese press meeting

flapping in the breeze
the hem of her summer dress
caught by car door

england, nether-lands
separated only
by clouds

no! no! not ours!
she squeals as I point at the
yellow ferrari

fat loud abusive
learning new words -
beijing taxi

1 comment:

Hobbes said...

Another compendium, on the theme of academic travel.

I: as in the image, this little haiku reflects one of my favourites, from Dee Evetts:

20,000 feet
traces of masking tape
on the jet engine

I love the feeling that you're observing something just a little too late. The engagement with the reader is formed when they reach the same conclusion, and it is terribly good fun when it occurs...

II: When I took this phonecall, I was getting my two boys ready for school. More precisely, I had just placed my five-year-old in the carriage that my bicycle pulls behind it, and was in the process of placing my three-year-old into the bike-seat that sits behind my saddle. (Getting up a steep hill to school in the morning is excellent exercise.) The telephone call filled me with amusement and concern, in equal measure - moreso, given that my dear wife tends to travel without a mobile phone and with no means of being contactable. It all worked itself out in the end, but she did (chortle) take someone else's luggage - it was identical to hers, even down to the red ribbon that was supposed to disambiguate it from other luggage...

III: When your (then) two-year-old knows to ask for "God is a DJ", then you know that you're doing parenting properly. My (then) four-year-old was asking for "I Can't Get No Sleep".

IV: I had the amusing (mis?)fortune to be asked to organise an academic conference in a large hotel in Beijing. The CEO of a major Chinese telecommunications company (ahem) was a speaker, along with a clutch of my academic chums. The degree of scripting in the press conference was a genuine surprise - it felt as if I was experiencing just a little taste of what such events must have been like during previous decades.

V: She was happily driving down the road, past me as I chuckled at the sight described in the haiku. I like the "slow reveal" of this haiku, where we first imagine the beautiful scene of summer linen... before the car exerts itself.

VI: They are nether-lands, too, with the hyphen for explication. We are two very similar nations, in language and culture, and a quick hop over from one side to the other emphasised that the distance is but the width of a single cloud-bank.

VII: This was outside a hotel in Malaysia, I think. I had left the hotel with my guide, about to head off to the hospital at which I was supposed to be speaking, and teased the (all-too-serious) guide by making a step towards a very expensive and extravagantly-coloured Ferrari, instead of our taxi. I suspect that my "humour" may not have gone down well.

VIII: I always learn new words in my favourite classroom: the Beijing taxi. It's like taking a short ride with a friendly pirate. Fact: speaking Mandarin is like playing pool, in that my ability seems to become less terrible after a few drinks. Again, as with playing pool, there is an upper limit to this effect, after which the correlation between increasing alcohol intake and ability changes correlation from positive to negative...