The wind was as strong as Indonesia’s equatorial sun, the day Mother Nature blew in that tempestuous storm. The darkness threatened overhead, then broke around me. I had no obligation to sail, but in those bitter-sweet final days, time was of the essence. I feared that wild, untamed ocean like a criminal fears a judge. It was a “Sliding Doors” moment: instinct said stay, pride said go. The ocean taunted me, rising angrily against anything in its path. Tears blinded me as I stepped onto the inadequate boat. The sea drew me into its violent clutches, and swept me away.
It’s an enduring image, the woman’s expression. Her face is rigid, pinched with pain. She’s losing her home and trying not to dissolve, but the magnitude of the event is triumphing over her emotional poise. It’s 1992 and all my 8 year-old brain can think of is racing upstairs to my new room in the roof. But this woman crying in the kitchen is reluctant to leave and it seems callous to hurry her. We stand, awkwardly silent. Everything about the moment is acutely uncomfortable. Eventually she relinquishes the keys. Her home becomes our home, our joy becomes her sorrow.
Two girls board a night bus in Bangkok, expertly and competitively bagging the upper-deck front seats. They’ve sent their men to stow the baggage. The Norwegian girl smiles affably at the English girl, realising they have the same intent: maximum comfort for the long journey ahead. Their bond is instant. The men get along too, but that’s immaterial. Twelve hours seems like two. A month of shared experiences follows, then flights between their respective countries. Wedding vows are witnessed, babies are born, families are entwined. Throughout it all the girls’ bond remains strong. This is travel friendship at its best.
Anything can happen in a New York minute. Taxis speed, traffic halts. Lovers kiss, friends fight. Ladies strut, guys drool. Deals are made, fortunes are lost. Coffee brews, cocktails are shaken. Broadway sings, waiters bitch. The subway rumbles, the city lights twinkle. Buildings stand tall, towers collapse. Manhattan pulses to the rhythm of its own unique heartbeat. I stand on what Americans call the sidewalk, my cheeks tingling from the punishing wind. It’s -14 degrees. My fingers refuse to work the light meter on my ancient Pentax. Click. An image is captured. Anything can happen in a New York minute.