June 2nd, 2018

Charah coffee

In Venice

While at the train station in Cambridge, waiting for the 10.30am train to Stansted after the 10.11am one I had initially wanted to take was delayed by disruptive passengers (read: drunk chavs), I felt a distinct regret at choosing to visit Venice as a means of 1) getting out of Cambridge and taking a break of the bubble; and 2) mending my broken heart. I should have gone for a sprawling, bustling city instead, I thought; Milan, or even Paris, and I would have chosen Paris if I had not thought that perhaps I should visit somewhere in Europe that I haven't been to five times. Now that I am in Venice...an evening later, I am partly glad and partly not glad to be here. I am partly not glad because I am staying in a touristy area (I'm parallel to the Chanel Burberry Gucci-lined streets) and tourists are annoying, even as I am aware that I am part of the problem (as Ivan would say). I am also not glad because I walked around aimlessly after dinner and saw at least 5 couples walking along the bridges, hand-in-hand, in the romantic dim of the gently settling night. Very annoying.

But I am glad that I am here now because it's Venice, and I've never been here before, and I just spent 36 euros on a delicious dinner and since I love food, any place with delicious food makes me happy, and the city is really quite beautiful. Admittedly, it is the sort of beauty that becomes rather dull after a spell because the whole place seems to be crafted with the same aspiration to beauty: bridges arching invitingly over canals, which weave through the city, wide and narrow and narrower still, like a life source for its beauty; and these old buildings, terraces dotted with flowers, facades a faded salmon pink...it is all very pretty. And when surrounded with such beauty, it has the tendency to become rather saturated and tedious.

So I want to look for somewhere a little grittier, where tourists don't hang out. A few hours in this area and the artifice is already starting to get to me. Sometimes I like to travel solo to get away from my own life and insert myself into the lives of others for a few days, for a few hours at a time. Being surrounded by tourists, visiting places where tourists congregate, is my own life, or an extension of it, for these people are just like me, a visitor in a foreign place. But I want a more authentic experience. I want to sit in a local cafe and read or write. I want to go where the locals go. This means I need to do some research...but as per my usual style, I don't look up anything until the night before. I didn't even check how to get to Venice from Treviso airport until yesterday morning, when I was sitting outside the exam venue as an examination attendant, and had nothing better to do. So I basically have no idea how I'm going to spend the next 3.5 days here, but I will figure it out.


What Venice has been so far:

- Touched down to pissing rain in Treviso. For a split second, I genuinely thought that I had woken up to 5 days later and I had touched down in England.

- Spent 7.50 euros on the water bus, which was quite possibly the slowest form of public transport ever. This was such a rip-off, and I wouldn't have taken it if the apartment woman hadn't told me to take it. I was going to walk to the apartment from the bus stop. There were 50 stops or something (okay, maybe 8) and it took more than half an hour because it was crawling by so slowly, stopping at every stop, going at 1 km/h, seemingly. I hope to avoid this for the rest of my stay here, but I would probably have to take it again when I leave.

- Dinner. Oh my god, what a delicious meal. It wasn't even anything special; it was literally spaghetti with tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and 3 basil leaves. But it was so delicious. It tasted so fresh. The minimal seasoning really brought out the natural flavours of the ingredients. They even used fresh tomatoes. I also ordered a glass of wine which was divine, and a tiramisu which was delicious. I was very happy with my meal. 36 euros was a bit much but I think it was well worth it.

I think I ought to spend a bit less on lunch. We shall see how this plan works out. I'm not the sort to think of saving money when I'm on a holiday...or, well, ever, really.


While on the plane, taking a short nap, I dreamt of the beginning of what could have been a new prose piece; if only I managed to remember it upon waking up.

Sometimes, I feel a compulsion to write. The words come to my mind and they demand to be put down in black and white. These words then arrange themselves into a structure with an ineffable tangibility that I can shape just by hearing the words in my head. Sometimes, it feels like the words write themselves, and I'm just the vessel for them to come to life.

Often times, these words come to me when I'm in the process of falling asleep, or when I'm half-asleep. The unfortunate thing is that I don't usually (if ever) get up to write them down; at some point, I ought to stop deluding myself that I will remember them when I wake up. I never do. Today, I didn't even remember that I dreamt some words until I got on the bus from Treviso to Venice, at which point the words were completely lost to the realm of the forgot.

I have been writing a lot. It's mostly been about the same thing. Or rather, the same person. Here goes an update, then.


There was a hint at a chance for another shot. At least, I thought there was. I think he thought the same. He thought regret, he thought loss, he thought 'I was unfair to you'; but he also thought logically, he thought the facts, he thought the lack of time before he has to leave. He thought romance, too. He thought maybe this time; it would be different, if only; perhaps if we just.

In the end, he couldn't even meet me to tell me in person that we need to walk away. He wanted to break this cycle of leaving and coming back, of 'what if' and 'maybe this time'. In the process of ensuring that he didn't change his mind and think maybe it could work when he sees me (and my big brown eyes), he broke my heart all over again. Agreeing to come over, indicating he would try to come over earlier, then going silent for an hour until I asked and he said no, he couldn't see me after all.

The acrimony was unnecessary. It was also on me. But there was all this pain, this pent-up frustration and disappointment and devastation swelling up and rising from the pit of my stomach which could only be exorcised by words, spoken words, words spoken to his face. You're making excuses; you're capitulating to the competition; the truth is, you simply don't want this badly enough, and you never did.

Did I really think that it would have somehow worked if we had both committed to it, just because we wanted it and said so? Did I really think that? How could I have in the face of the stark facts which I think made the decision for him? But I believed that it could have worked if he'd wanted it. I knew that there were only two options: walk away or take the plunge. And I knew, too, that I would have chosen the second option if he had indicated a the same desire and conviction.

In the end, he wasn't man enough for me. He was indecisive, he was fickle, he couldn't stand by his decisions or his realisations. He couldn't stand by his decision to break up with me the first time, and couldn't stand by his realisation that he made a mistake the second time. What is the value and purpose of regret if you do nothing with the chance that you have to rectify your mistakes? He simply did not have any conviction of his feelings for me. He was more keen on finding reasons to leave.

A man like this is not man enough for me. A real man is swift and decisive and he knows what he wants and he goes for it, and he provides security and stability to the woman that he dates. He never provided any security or stability; quite the opposite. Therefore, he was not man enough for me.

I wonder if, at some level, he felt that he wasn't good enough for me. By this I mean that I know he probably thinks that what he's offered to me so far - pretty much nothing - falls well below the standard that he should be living up to, the standard that I deserve (that anyone deserves). In this sense, he knows that he has been useless (well, I did tell him this), that he simply hasn't been good enough.

But I wonder, too, if he thinks that I'm somehow superior or better because of my 'intellect'. He seemed overly charmed by my Cambridge PhDness. He thinks that I was aggressive and interrogative whenever we talked about 'us', and he said it was due to my intellect. I, for one, never saw myself as interrogating him. I ask questions, of course. I asked him to give reasons for certain things that he seemed to believe will happen, such as 'it just won't work long distance' or whatever. Is it not normal to have reasons for such convictions? I don't see it as anything particularly intellectual. It's just basic, is it not? He said that our moment has passed or whatever, and I told him point blank (in the series of messages that I ended up sending to him after he refused to answer my calls and come over) 'that makes no sense' because, as autonomous beings with the capacity for choice, the moments don't control us; we control them. We make the moments. So it suggested to me that the real issue was that he just didn't want it bad enough.

If these kind of 'interrogation' made him uncomfortable, then...who did he think he was dating, some random woman who works in administration in the library? If the reasoning doesn't make sense, I'm going to say it.

Also: I had dinner and drinks with a man I met at tennis last night. It made me realise how unengaging Never Again (as I named him in my phone) was when it came to conversation that was slightly more intellectual or philosophical. I don't even think he knew what my PhD is about apart from the basic 'Singapore constitutional rights' description. He never asked me about the problem that I'm addressing, the approach I'm taking, the argument that I am making. A part of me didn't really care because I'm not defined by my PhD; but it's such a huge part of my life that he ought to have shown some interest.

The point is, he's gone for good now. I blocked him immediately after I sent my series of messages.

I just...well, to put a positive spin, I'm glad it's finally over.


On another note, I won a mini league match on Friday against a woman that I lost to the last time. But it was such a horrible way to win, and I almost lost despite being up 5-1. I had a match point when serving at 5-3 but she got my deep shot just over the net which I couldn't get to, and got broken in the end.

I was getting really frustrated and anxious. I started out relaxed, just wanting to play some tennis and not expecting to win, but when I was up 5-1, I REALLY wanted to win. It did not help that my backhand was trash. It was so trash that, on my third match point when she served at 4-5, I framed my backhand return - pure frame, nothing but frame - and the ball dropped over the net.

It was awful. I wanted to win, but not like this. It was anti-climatic and robbed me the chance to get all pumped up and stoked. So yeah, it was quite shit.


Bored of this entry.