up in the air…


Nine pm. The sun is still shining over Dublin, fooling all of us into thinking it’s still early enough. A multitude of perfectly pedicured feet clad in sandals or flip flops tread the shiny marble of the shopping centre floor. I am overwhelmed by the racks of clothes around me. I need something to catch my eye. I need something to fit. Something I can mix with other skirts, trousers and tops in my wardrobe. Would this be suitable for the interview? And this top, it’s perfect for Croatia next week.

I am horrified by the merciless lights and mirrors in fitting rooms. They are emphasising everything, the redness, imperfections, the excess weight. It’s warm and stuffy as I put the skirt on. Good, I can button it up. The top… cannot get it past my boobs.

My inner calculator scans the size, the price, the purpose. Yes or no. It feels like a continuation of the psychological profile test I took this afternoon. I had to go through sixty sets of five statements, choose the level of agreement/disagreement for each and then rank the said set of statements based on how applicable they are to me.

By the thirtieth set I lost the will to live. “I like to be around people.” “I determine the way I do things.” “I want to get to the highest position in the company.” “I like change.” “I lead the conversation.” On and on it went.

How should I rank these seemingly unrelated statements? What will it reveal about me? Will I be classified as a “loner”, and not enough of a team player? Or maybe I am not independent enough? I can only assume that leading the conversation, persuading, influencing, are desirable treats, especially for a team lead role. But to lead is also to listen, to allow to be swayed sometimes, if the arguments are supporting different opinion.

Should I be honest and say that I in fact do not feel comfortable negotiating? That my attention to detail isn’t always up to scratch?

By the time I went through the entire questionnaire, I felt exhausted and numb.

“Everything that’s happening: interviews, current work demands, trying to make plans when everything is up in the air, all this will only increase your resilience. It gets easier,” my soon to be ex boss told me. In my head I am screaming; I want this to stop already! Just like Ahmet in Selimovic’s “Fortress”, I want to be able to take a breather.

I could look at the water in tranquility, without thinking. All was flowing, softly, with a murmur. Everything: thought, memory, and life itself, at peace. I was at ease, almost happy. For hours I’d gaze into the clear water, letting its small dense waves flow over my hand, caressing me, as though they were a living thing. And this was all I desired, all I wanted.

Next week, in Croatia, I might be able to do just that.

irish whiskey museum


Said goodbye to 2014 by joining the whiskey tasting at the Irish Whiskey Museum. Huge amount of interesting facts about uisce beatha is presented during the interactive, multimedia tour. At one point the portraits hanging on the wall came to life – the founding fathers of the Irish whiskey started debating which one of them offers the best product, what whiskey is, and what it isn’t. A Harry Potter moment, I thought, but fun nonetheless!

We explored aromas and flavours of Teeling, The Irishman and Bushmills. There was a glass full of coffee beans at hand as well, to be sniffed between different shots. It clears our sense of smell, the tour guide explained.
As we walked towards the exit, we stopped at one of the windows to enjoy the view of the College Green we’ve never seen before.

At our friends’ apartment afterwards, a Lonely Planet Rome travel guidebook was mentioned in conversation. They had a copy of it. We are going to Rome at the end of the month, I said! The guide-book now rests beside my laptop, waiting to be consulted as the date of our trip is nearing closer. And I’m loving those moments of serendipity…!

new year


“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been…”
Rainer Maria Rilke
As I think of the year gone by, I hear the call to prayer, and I am there again, looking at the minarets of Istanbul’s Sultanahmet. I touch the warm, sun kissed stone of Hvar, and breathe in, deeply, the aromatic air of Martinscica on the island of Cres. The excitement of completing my first ever translation of a poem, new friendships made, all those moments that “have never been” in my life before 2014, are now the ones I remember most vividly. I’ve no resolutions for the year ahead, only the hope to create as many, if not more, of such moments. Wishing you a happy New Year!



And they danced flamenco, whilst underneath, in the crypt of this ancient church, mummified bodies looked on. A nun was buried here four hundred years ago, and a crusader, whose body had to be sawn in half to fit into the coffin. Oh, there are lots of coffins under the burial vault, lying in a random fashion, bursting at the seams with an arm or leg sticking up.


Up on an improvised stage, the guitar player would close his eyes, completely immersed in the perfect acoustics of the place. Nothing else mattered beyond the guitar strings, dancer’s heels that tapped across the floor, faster and faster, the fingers that clicked, the clapping.
Forming a circle, celebrating life with all its joys and sorrows, bodies becoming one with the rhythm, with the community. Life defying death.

my burgundy boots


My burgundy boots know this street well. Its curves, bumps, potholes, shops and pubs. All the red brick houses under the patchy grey-blue sky, now perfectly reflected in the numerous puddles left behind by yesterday’s rain. 


We might need canoes over the weekend, my boss said as I was finishing work for the week. As I come down to the Liffey, the ground is soft indeed, grass and leaves wet and slippery. A misty veil of dense, quiet rain, brought by the passing clouds, is barely visible. It’s not like yesterday’s rain, whose big, loud, heavy drops made me feel wet to my bones. This morning’s rain is ever so gentle; if its tiny, cold drops weren’t touching my face, I’d hardly know it’s there. None of the people jogging, or walking their dogs, seem to mind it. The rowers keep on training. 


I wonder what would Mr Bolger do? He used to sell second hand furniture and appliances. It was an old, unkempt shop extending to the footpath of the street well trodden by my burgundy boots. “I’ve been here forty years,” old Mr Bolger told me, “I sold the first washing machines to this neighborhood! Different times.”

He lowered his voice then and quietly added: “There was no single person of color around here back then!” At first I wasn’t sure how I should take this remark. Of all the stories and trivia from decades of shopkeeping in the same street this was the first thing Mr Bolger wanted to share? The way he said it though, wasn’t tainted by hatred. In fact he had an Indian man working for him. Someone to help him move sofas, tables and washing machines off the footpath, back into the shop when the rain got too heavy. Everything would be out again as soon as it stopped raining.


Passing by the shop, back on the street, I see a locked door. A ‘for sale’ sign is up. Yes, I recall, Mr Bolger retired. So too will eighty-two year old Mr Boles, who took over a pharmacy fifty years ago, just across the road from Mr Bolger. The place is very old Dublin, a bit scruffy, with dark wooden cabinets, no fancy cosmetics, lotions or potions but a history lesson on the street and surrounding area comes free with whatever you came in for. 

Will my favorite burgundy boots get to meet any other part of Dublin so well? Am I in transition, the same as the street I live on?

The old ways are vanishing slowly, with new ways slow to replace them. 


turning up the volume


We giggled, talked about what’s been happening lately, about writing, men, her time in Thailand, and the upcoming volunteering stint in Cambodia. Had a whole pint of beer, which is a lot for me , felt warm, dizzy and fuzzy, and words were flowing. Not only flowing, no, we had to shout at times, as the restaurant was busy, and music was rather loud. “Don’t know why, it’s so loud, but it just works!”, she said, and I had to nod in agreement as I was cutting a part of the delicious, long rib rack, the tastiest I had in my life. Shall I mention the tacos, and corn-on-the-cob we ummmmmed and aaaaahed over repeatedly, whilst washing it all down with Margarita?

A postcard was handed to us with our bill. A bit of unexpected fun was had as we deliberated what we should do with it. Didn’t take us too long to agree: she wrote her address on the postcard, and I promised I’d write a few words and post it. It will greet her when she comes back to her town.

The following morning it was business as usual – up just before seven to get ready for work, for overheated, a bit overcrowded open plan office. Ready for tuning out other people’s conversations as I try to focus. The lipstick in my makeup bag will have melted a bit by the time I finish for the day. Just like me.
Ever since we moved to another part of the building, I feel I’ve no space. No way of escaping people as they are seated so close to me now, and we have lunch together in the canteen. Lunch break used to be the time to take a deep breath and unplug from the constant flow of e-mails and instant messages. Now, it’s a small talk time. Bonding with your colleagues time.

Kicking and screaming, the introvert in me was pulled out of the bubble, and the office became much noisier place. I’ve no time out, no time to look inwards. This change is probably a good thing, but I grieve for my quiet lunches. Though it never brings me any earth shuttering ideas or plans for my life, I find comfort in should’ve, could’ve, if only kind of thoughts. Silence is like a best friend. But aloofness is not something people look kindly upon, though. Time to let more voices in, turn up the volume.

dublin, sunday edition


Dublin is still asleep. Shop shutters closed, its streets eerily quiet and deserted. Ghost signs, and features of different buildings, become more visible. Fast food litter and an occasional pool of vomit tell stories of the night before.

It’s not my habit either to venture into the city centre this early on a Sunday, but on the occasion when I do, it feels like Dublin is nursing a massive hangover. Only a handful of places serve coffee at this hour. Nothing is supposed to move, or give any signs of life, before noon on a Sunday.

Beautiful olive tree greeted me as I climbed down the stairs into the small yard of Olive Tree Studio Dublin . I was way too early for yoga class, so I sat on the cold, concrete bench in front of the tree, soaking in the peace and quiet. “A better life starts here”, said the writing on the wall behind me. We all want that, don’t we? A promise of what could happen, only if we gave it a shot, tried harder. Only if we weren’t that lazy. Or afraid.

I’ve never done yoga before. I didn’t take the class this morning either. Only dipped my toe in, by speaking with a wonderful instructor Kim who told me how it all works. I pay only when I attend. There is a yoga intro class every Wednesday evening. Yes, yoga is as good for toning up the body and losing weight as anything you’d do in the gym. So, what am I waiting for :-)

one million dubliners


On the way to the Lighthouse cinema earlier on, I took a picture of Goldenbridge cemetery, the first Catholic cemetery built in Dublin after the Catholic Emancipation in 1829. I was off to the screening of the ‘One Million Dubliners’ documentary. It’s the story of Ireland’s biggest cemetery, Glasnevin, where one and a half million Dubliners are buried.

The documentary starts with a funeral scene. Next minute, Shane Mac Thomais, Glasnevin historian and tour guide, talks about the early history of the cemetery. At that moment I knew I’d shed a tear before the closing credits started to roll. Shane is a radiant presence throughout the documentary, as he tells a ghost story to a group of visiting school children and explains to them, in very simple terms, why Michael Collins died. He spoke of his own father, who was also a historian and Galasnevin guide, and is buried in the cemetery.

“My father taught me one thing about a good tour: tell people a bit of what they know, add something that they don’t know, make them laugh at least once, and make them cry.”

Maybe there will be a tribute at the end of the movie, I thought. I was not prepared for the turn the movie was going to take. Because, the funeral scene from the beginning of the movie, was Shane’s funeral. I knew he died, at a fairly young age, earlier this year. His death ocurred so close to the end of shooting the documentary that the film-makers were able to use the material as a wonderful tribute to the man whose premature death saddened so many.

“Million Dubliners, one Shane Mac Thomais” was written beneath his photo at the end of the film. “I don’t imagine there is heaven,” Shane said, but if there is anything… I’d like to think it feels the way I felt four or five times in my life. Connected to everything, and everybody.”

I hope it is like that for him, on the other side.