Somewhere in the World at 8 a.m.

waiting in the lounge A

I said it to her repeatedly: It’s morning already, my dear, not 2 a.m. She really didn’t listen. She was all set to hug the pillows, but instead she was sitting somewhat upright in an airport lounge, absent-mindedly observing the world go by. People of all colors, all denominations and from all corners of the world crossing paths briefly. The espresso machine was humming non-stop, singing its global song: wake up, it’s morning already.

That was of course true for some people, but I understood that for her it was still night, the Hour of the Wolf was slowly approaching. And yet for others, it was already late afternoon or even dinner time. That might have explained the gradual decrease in the liquid levels of the fine wine bottles on the drink counter, even when the clock on the wall showed 8 in the morning. Serve yourself – whatever your internal clock calls for. Her clock didn’t call for anything but sleep. But I was not in the position to serve her that, so I served her espresso and water. Over and over again.

lounge work space

A small minority of people clearly had slept in a bed that night, whether their own or someone else’s. Shower fresh and clear-eyed they rushed in and sat on the office chairs in front of the computer screens or plugged in their own gadgets in the little work cubicles. Doing some last-minute preps before meetings in another city while complementing their hasty breakfast with new selections. That seemed practical for the short-haulers, who were mostly, but not entirely, men.

modern lounge bath room

For the many long-haulers like her, it was good that the lounge had some facilities. This particular one was fresh and boasted modern sleek designs. She was not really able to appreciate the quite spectacular avant-gardisim, but I noticed she woke up a little bit after splashing cold water on her face. It’s morning already, I repeated, you can have more coffee.

airport lounge 3_edited-1

She had many more hours to kill and I noticed she was secretly dreaming of reclining lounge chairs, something like the La-Z-Boy design. She dozed off several times in the modern but uncomfortable leather chair. Her eyes shut and her head fell forward. Then she startled and woke up again a little. Repeat.

Every time she woke up, her neighbors had changed. Now a young couple spoke Hindi in the row behind her, a middle-aged man paced back and forth in front of her and had an argument in French on his cell phone, and yet another couple to her left spoke quietly in Arabic. Someone to her right snored loudly. She could hear an assortment of languages around her, some familiar some not. The world was adequately represented. And right there it appeared surprisingly peaceful. She could doze off once more. And I let her, somewhere in the world, at 8 a.m.

Travels and Souvenirs

bumble there's nothing (4) edited

Taking a moment

Borrowing mom’s old laptop

Writing a news flash.

Hiff there!  This was my first haiku. What do you think? I haven’t been blogging for quite some time now. It’s not that I’m lazy, but the issue is that my sight has kind of gone from bad to worse. I can see shadows, but it’s not fun to be a shadow writer. I hope you agree. It’s a bit sad, but I don’t want to complain. When one is close to 90, one is close to 90. It’s a respectable age, what can I say.

But don’t you worry, life is still good. I’m doing quite okay provided mom doesn’t get an idea that she needs to redecorate, like move some furniture. People are funny that way.  They think the same furniture looks better this way or that way! I’m trying to tell her it’d be a bad idea – and so far so good.

Just trying to type a brief message today, and yes I’ll use the spell checker, to let you all know that mom is packing again. At least her purple little suitcase is on the guest bed and that’s usually a sure sign that she’s going somewhere for a while. I’ll miss my shadow (yes, I still follow her everywhere, at least I’m trying to!) so I hope she’ll be home in no time so I can walk her again. I love the evening walks and she follows me quite nicely.

This morning I also wrote a wish list for some souvenirs: an Eiffel Tower shaped soft bone and dog cookies baked like the pyramids.  They should be at least three. That’d be cool.

If you see some posts in the next week or so, it might be me – or her. Just saying. Take care folks!

Below the Surface

Have you ever seen the world above the surface?

Not much of it, but I don’t even have the desire.

Why is that? It seems so exciting and beautiful to me.

It is beautiful alright, but it’s not all good.

I’ve heard that people have killing machines.

And that’s not all, almost anyone can have them. Pam, pam.

You’re kidding me? Even those who’ve done bad things?

 It’s  like giving bigger teeth to piranhas. How can that be?

It’s beyond me, but I’m not kidding you. That’s how it is.

Then I think we’re much better off down here,

in our own little world below the surface.

Out of Africa

The other day when I was reading a post of a great blogger, Anka, I thought of my favorite actress, Meryl Streep, whom I first really noticed in the celebrated 1985 film based on Karen Blixen’s most famous book “Out of Africa”, written under the pen name of Isak Dinesen. This Sydney Pollack film won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Although almost 30 years old, the film still feels timeless to me. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the trailer  I hope it will entice you to watch it – even if you were not yet born when it first came out.

Out of Africa book and film covers

Both the book and the film start with Blixen telling us “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills”.  The story is multi-faceted and all-round intriguing, spanning the period from 1914 to 1931 when the author lived on her coffee estate close to Nairobi in Kenya. But I will always remember the film, and watch it again, for its beautiful capture of Africa’s natural beauty and the time-typical environments.

karen blixen's house nairobi kenya

When Karen Blixen and her then husband Baron von Blixen Fincke moved from Denmark to Africa in 1914, they first lived in a farm-house called Mbagathi. In 1917, they bought a nearby farm-house, which became her long-time home she affectionately called Mbogani, meaning “the house in the woods”.  She ran the coffee farm there until her return to Denmark in 1931 after some tragic events on the farm and in her personal life.

library at karen blixen's house nairobi kenya

Her house was not available when the film was made, so it was mostly shot at her first farm-house, which was renovated for the purpose to look like her beloved Mbogani. However, soon after the film came out, her house became available and was transformed into a museum in 1986. Many of her belongings were acquired back and now form part of the exhibition, together with some other time-typical items and props from the film. The Blixen Museum in the Nairobi suburb of Karen is a now part of the National Museums of Kenya situated only a short drive from the city center. One hot summer day few years ago, I had an opportunity to visit this museum.

bedroom in Karen Blixen’s house Nairobi kenya

Walking through the house had a slightly magical feel to it. Clearly it belonged to another era and felt very authentic. With a little bit of imagination, one could hear Karen Blixen humming an old song in her bedroom. Or see her waiting for her beloved friend Finch-Hatton on the verandah and the two of them later on sitting in the library, which houses many of his books,  in one of their deep conversations.

karen blixen's house in nairobi kenya

The house has a  vibrant garden with huge trees, colorful bushes and flowers, and a wonderful view of the Ngong Hills. It is obvious that Blixen loved these hills. She describes them in many places in her book, like ” The hills from the farm changed their character many times in the course of the day…in the evening, when it was getting dark, it would first look, as you gazed at them, as if in the sky a thin silver line was drawn all along the silhouette of the dark mountain; then, as night fell, the four peaks seemed to be flattened and smoothed out, as if the mountain was stretching and spreading itself.”

The film captures the beauty of these mountains and, in another filming location, the beauty of the Indian ocean and the beach where her friend Finch-Hatton owned a piece of land (I’ll save this for a later post). Her friend Finch-Hatton died in an accident with  his small plane and was buried by Blixen in these hills. She marked the grave so that it could be spotted from her house. According to the legend, lions come at dusk to guard the grave, gazing toward the Nairobi National Park. Locals say that lions have been seen on these hills as late as in the 1990s. It’s quite a fascinating story.