Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lights Out: Thoughts from Mandalay


View from the hotel window


By the time we reached Mandalay I became ill and was bed-ridden for an entire day and a half. This is an excerpt form my diary at that time:

The rain found us in our hotel room in Mandalay and now it's drenching the city. The lightening flashes across the a sky every so often, not like a giant stripe across the sky, more like the flicker of a dull light bulb, the florescent light in the office that switches on and off with a mind of its own. When the power went out the whole city went dark, even our hotel room was pitch black. Then the generator turned on and the room lit up again. A few buildings also lit up in the otherwise completely dark city.
“Well, now we know who’s rich,” my partner said. Only a few homes had lights on during the storm, leaving the rest of the city even darker.

I slept all day today, only left the hotel room once to go down to the lobby and drink juice. Apart from those brief minutes I’ve been drifting between dreams, both when I am asleep and awake.  Having all but lost track of the time and day. Mandalay has made me moody. My entire day and night were a blur of sleep and sleeplessness. Dreams and dreamlessness. I didn’t really wake up, mentally or physically, until the storm came. The rain stirred me. The monsoon rains seem to come down in one splash, like a giant bucket spilling from the sky. No warning, no prelude, just a sudden soaking downpour. It is best experienced by an onlooker from the sixth floor of a hotel window. From here you can see clouds all the way to the horizon. You can see the lightening. You can watch the rain unfold like a chorus, sweeping rhythmically across the city, everything in sight becomes changed. The thrashing rain woke me up and then it gently sung me to sleep. I thought it was a dream at first but when you stay inside a room all day with the curtains drawn it's hard to know what is and isn’t a dream.

Mandalay is taking me to madness. I feel I will go unhinged If I stay here longer. It’s just as well. We are leaving on a boat tomorrow I am will have no memories of this city except that of my own dreaminess. The reddish-orange glow of the sunlight through the curtains of our hotel room, on an afternoon I would miss entirely. 

- Nov. 7, 2014 Mandalay

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