Lost (Found?) in Translation

September 9, 2016 at 9:44 am | Posted in Malaysia, Me, Photo Tuesday | 4 Comments

Apples and incense


The portal to Narnia, or somewhere


Patriotism tripled


Family in black and white


Can you spot the cat?

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.” — Ray Bradbury

I still spend my days in Penang feeling  a little (sometimes a lot) lost  geographically, culturally, emotionally. Don’t even get me started on the seven-story mall, where I stare at the directory, willing the winding corridors and bizarre numbering system to make sense in my brain, while more spatially inclined people whiz up and down the escalators around me, off to the bookstore on Level 3 or the udon kiosk on Level G. I’m slowly figuring it out … which store might sell ice packs or sunglasses or alarm clocks, where I can sit quietly with a cafe mocha and hide for a while, what route home has an honest-to-goodness crosswalk and occasional stretches of, gasp, sidewalk.

On one of my daily walks — the one from the kids’ school to the aforementioned maze of a mall on mostly residential roads with a dearth of scooters (hooray!) and, alas, pavement  I got to thinking about what has made this experience so different from Romania, which I don’t remember hating or crying over or feeling near-constant malaise about. I realized something. I think it’s the pictures. At least partly. In Romania, I was always looking through my camera lens, even if it was only the imaginary one in my brain. I was constantly looking for colorful, different, beautiful, bizarre things to capture. Here, I just see trash, grime, apathy.

So I’m going to start looking through that imaginary lens again. Looking for photographs. Looking for beauty. Looking for something to endear this place to me. I still expect to feel disoriented. But Ray Bradbury says that’s okay, fun even, so I’ll try to embrace the lostness. I’ll turn toward it. I’ll look for it and capture it.

Here’s my first attempt.

When do you feel most disoriented? Can you navigate a mall like a champ? And what did the lens in your brain capture today?



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  1. I’m wondering if your mall is like those here… ALL the cell phone stores and IT stuff on one floor, banks and ATM’s on another, coffee shops scattered throughout — along with bubble tea and other new beverages, food court & restaurants on the same level as the cinema… different. Still can’t find my way around (we have five malls within 20″)… but then again, I’m not a big shopper and so have learned just the “necessary” stuff. And none of ours is THAT gigantic!!! I’ve gone round in circles umpteen times trying to find the hairdresser… now put detailed info in my trusty phone to jog my memory.

    Ah… the joys of adjusting…yet again!

  2. I’m sorry it’s been a struggle to adjust – personally, I can’t IMAGINE! But I know you’ll find the beauty – because you’re brave and resilient and creative and fun.
    I’m so glad you’re writing again – I love following along on your adventures!

  3. I’m still holding out hope for you that it will grow on you. You have plenty of time to get used to it, after all! 🙂 Or maybe life at home was just too good in comparison…!

  4. Hope things improve for you. Even when you were having challenging and difficult situations, you seemed to find a lot of joy in Romania. You made me want to go there. I will never be able to afford that type of trip. But you brought it to life and made it real.

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