Among journalists, December is a year of much joy and also haste – putting together year-enders (especially for TV journos like me) meant looking back over the year archives, picking and choosing incidents and stories to cobble together into one-hour year-ender shows – so the order usually is research, amassing the footage, writing over visuals, editing the script to 42-45 mins of running time( you need to account for commercial breaks too!) and then finally sitting down with the editor, choosing music, audio, voice overs and finally the piece is ready!
I miss the buzz of the newsroom. So I decided to boo the winter sloth and write the first piece before 2014 ends. The Flashback, yearender, thanksgiving – call it whatever.. like Shakespeare wrote, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet! Travel nostalgia is fragrant, smile-inducing and often results in affirmative action (if you know what I’m hinting at with that loaded phrase!)
So I decided to create my own moments for 2014 – experiences I wouldn’t trade, but would love to add to in 2015
In random order – the best moments/experiences of 2014
- Walking miles on a chilly moonlit night through Petra to see the candle-lit Treasury. Paper lanterns lining the path and a full-moon give the Siq a surreal air. And once at the Siq, listening to Bedouin music strummed on the Oud with a gently illuminated Treasury in the background is a memory for a lifetime.
- Meeting the rabbi of the 20-member strong Jewish community, at the Musmeah Yeshua synagogue in the largely Muslim dominated downtown of Yangon, and conversing with him in Urdu that he picked up from his Muslim neighbours
- The camel ride across Wadi Rum, astride a camel that felt like nuzzling up N’s legs, much to his discomfort.
- Exploring the painted havelis of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, abandoned by their rich Marwari owners and lived in by tenants, who rarely feel any joy looking at the centuries old art on their walls.
- Spluttering, choking and blinking after stinging waters of Dead Sea overwhelmed me.
- Being awe-struck at a surprise private barbeque N organised to celebrate our anniversary, overlooking the Dead Sea panorama, with the lights from Ramallah and Jerusalem winking in the yonder
- Catching a public ferry from Yangon to Dala in what turned out to be a futile search for pottery shops deep inland in Twentay
- Standing breathless as the Sun bade adieu for the day, leaving the sky painted in the most spectacular hues along the King’s highway on route to Petra from Dead Sea
- Marvelling at the years of cultural assimilation and shared influences while watching Myanmarese artists perform at the Karaweik palace in Yangon.
- Feeling like a speck in the continuum of Time, standing before the last remaining pillars of the Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel. When you stand wind-swept amid the ruins, you can’t stop wondering at how mankind creates, Nature ravage and destroys, but leaves back stories to dig for among the rubble.
Gingerly patting gold strips to anoint the Buddha at the Shwedaggon Pagoda – the golden Buddha stands a silent witness to the heart-melting prayers and indifferent curiousity that lead hands to apply layer on layer on to his stony body
- Learning some ‘magic tricks’ from the Bedus – the bedouins, the inhabitants of Wadi Rum, the fellow travellers of Sir Lawrence Olivier aka Lawrence of Arabia.
- Haggling for Burmese gems, art and even sarongs at the shops lining the Scott Market in Yangon
- Going in search of the tomb of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India, who died in exile in Yangon.