Sitting in a coffeeshop overlooking a huge cathedral in florence. Sitting reading a book near the Amsterdam canal. Sketching over the Bahai terraces in Israel. The smell of bread in Lyon.
The reflection of water over the Thames river, the bridges in Florence and Venice and Lisbon.
What do I remember? Seemingly not as much as I should. There is as in the words of American Beauty ” so much beauty in the world” . But it is not in the large sites that give me joy. It’s in small things.
There are things which attract me to a place. The twists of architecture in oxford , the way the buildings curve in Portugal. It’s the smell of the Bahai centre in Madrid, or the feel of grass in Green Acre.
Can I say how many places I have seen but not truly as a tourist? How many of the ” great sites” i have missed, just to be in someone’s home , listening to their conversations… talking to children, learning their stories.
How many stories can I know?
Last week I was stranded in milan in an airport. People came alive with stories. There was the turkish girl who was a dancer and actress. The chilean girls who were off doing an MBA. There was the guy from Sierra Leone working for the past 12 years, and the young guy who was happy to be in a five star hotel when he had to go to work the next morning…
But i yearned for home. Sometimes you grow tired of meeting so many people, they flash by and blur around you, all these stories. The stories which I keep in the back of my mind, thinking I will somehow get to them eventually.
When I am in one place, to keep me sane, I am there completely. I forget the sounds of the other. I become what i should be for that place. I store those elements which would not be allowed here. I compose the pieces of me that they would understand. I configure myself according to what the culture is.
That’s what TCK does. I wish though, that I could be complete somewhere, and not parts of one thing or another. It’s perhaps why online, or writing we transcend those differences.
Despite this, things remain the same. A smile in a stranger is always universal. There are far more good people in the world than there are bad ones which we are led to believe. After all these years and all these travels no one has ever stolen from me. If anything, people are always willing to be kind. We stick to so many barriers that we shouldn’t be surprised how similar we truly are.
I write this in a little town in chertsey. It is a small french inspired town , but it has so many different cultures. It is a small cosmos of great things underneath.
And i think of all those who are around me, near me and I am content.