Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy and then sad

I spent two evenings at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.

Last night, two friends who visited me last month in Tokyo, and I, went to dinner at Opus. We arrived rather early and I ordered all my favorite foods (the 62-degree egg with greens for an appetizer followed by the sous vide short ribs as a main) -- and by the time we left at about 11 PM everything was in full swing with 80s music at full blast in the bar and people dressed to the nines just striding past us in droves.

All the music brought back nice memories and most of it was music I hadn't heard in a while, so I was very happy to just sit back and listen from the comfort of one of the restaurant booths.

What made me doubly happy was that the three of us laughed so much all night that my blood pressure actually went down to a healthy level. I had so much fun, and we ended up planning some trips to do together in the future, including a cruise somewhere exotic but not too far away next year.

For dessert, by the way, I usually have the pavlova at Opus. But last night a friend and I decided to share the banoffee pie instead -- or at least Chef Carlos Miguel's version of it, which was a deconstructed banana and coffee pie. I like neither banana nor coffee but I was happy to share the calories of one dessert instead of having my own. I was so glad I did because, gosh, it was so good.


Then tonight I seesawed from happiness to sadness. I've just come back from hearing two people speak over dinner about the state of our country. They were both very good, but one of them was particularly eloquent. I don't recall hearing such eloquence so up close and personal in a very long time -- which is saying a lot, considering I attend a lot of events that involve speeches.

The speaker discussed the state of our country, and the way some parties are so distorting reality that so many people who rely on mainstream media for information have unwittingly lost their sense of the real right and wrong. This speaker said that what we have now is an atmosphere where populism reigns and power is being used almost as a tool of force to bully people into submission, cooperation or acceptance.

I know all this in my heart and mind because if you look at developments closely and the way people are starting to react without thinking carefully about what they're reacting to, you'll understand that we're approaching a turning point to the darker side of humanity -- a humanity that's quick to condemn, eager to lynch and/ or simply willing to look the other way. It's the rule of the mob; and this mood and situation just crept up on us when we weren't looking and now it's sneering triumphantly at all of us in the face -- a sign of things to come.

Travel is so much a part of life and so much about life, and life is so much about issues and situations -- to be a real traveler, one should understand the pulse of a nation and its people, after all -- so I guess it's okay to talk about the latter every now and then. And what I heard via this speech today, which just puts to words things I'd been sensing unwillingly, almost made me cry -- cry for my beloved country.


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