Friday, July 19, 2013

Dream Diaries

Leifur Eriksson
Took an exam for a course for which I had not attended a single lesson. The course was called Greenlandic Culture and History. The exam was invigilated by the (Greenlandic) lecturers: a gruff man in security guard uniform and a taciturn lady. They gave me a funny look when i stepped in, because I was an unfamiliar face. The lady offered me notes because I did not have any. I was relieved not to find a question about the date of Leifur Eriksson's first landing on Greenland, because I have no idea when that was. The questions were mostly on some sausage and other traditional cuisine, but I could easily guess the answers to them. My classmates, who had attended classes every week, were all Indonesians on exchange.

UPDATE: Leifur Eriksson's landing on Greenland is dated AD 986 (source: Wikipedia)

Getting Chased
Was on the run from a pack of soldiers wanting to shoot us. We were a family (parents and 3 kids) from unspecified place in Europe, a girl and myself. They chased us to a pavilion with a maze decoration (maze with walls that go up to mid-calf height) and gave up and declared a ceasefire. Everyone sat down together and took a rest, sitting on the maze walls, then agreed to resume the chase once dinner was finished. The girl and myself were sent out to buy everyone dinner. Unfortunately for us, both the supermarket and the nasi lemak stall were closed. I forgot that we had to return and went home and slept. When I woke up I suddenly remembered again, and boarded the train back to the pavilion. By chance I sat down opposite the girl from the chase, who was now dressed up like a gypsy, in a purple shirt and a bandana. I asked her if she was going back to the chase, and she said yes. We were both empty-handed.

Bodhi Creepers
Climbed a mountain in Indonesia, somewhat inland from Surabaya. I broke from the group with another guy and went straight up the mountain. The mountain was verdant to its peak, covered by a creeper with large leaves shaped like those from the bodhi tree. The roots of the plant are sparse and hardly held together the loose soil underneath. Halfway up the mountain, there was a pool fed in by a hot spring, dyed pale blue like the one near Grindavik in Iceland. The slope to the summit was gentle on one side and steep on another, and a white building was built into the rock at the steeper slope.

Muslim Toilets
I was looking for a toilet in school. Ended up at the basement of this building, which felt more similar to an EPFL building than it is like an NUS building, being octagonal in shape. The door to the toilet on this floor had a sign which proclaimed "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet". When I went in it was a normal toilet, with walls painted pale green below eye level and white above, except that the left wall is mostly empty and one lonely urinal has been installed in the unlit far side. It occurred to me that I did not understand the implications of using this toilet and I decided to look for another one.

There was a flight of stairs leading down from the basement level. I went down that way. The flight was excessively long, about thirty meters deep. The path is in a narrow tunnel that allowed for two people to walk down side by side. At the end there was a hallway with doors marked 1 to 8. I did not heed the numbers and went straight to the one on the far side. That led down to another long flight of stairs, then another hallway identical to the first one, then another flight of stairs, then another hallway...

Finally I reached a wider room, huge, underlit and dank. The space was inhabited with people walking on crutches, but seemed happy otherwise. There was a row of urinals, less intimidating this time, each one bigger than the usual design and with big porcelain lobes at the side to aid the disabled folk. And from that point there was no more dream.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Back Home

The first thing I noticed about Back Home was the terrible elevator music. The next thing I noticed about Back Home is how everyone wants a managerial job involving sitting in an air-conditioned room for 9 hours a day. And thus concludes my reverse cultural shock period.