Author: jasmine

Record: Langkawi

Looking for a place to go on a short family vacation in Asia is about predicting the rain. That’s how we ended up foregoing a trip near my mother’s hometown in Eastern Malaysia (on the Bornean peninsula) in favour of the little island of Langkawi on the western side of the country, just a short (and I mean 15 minutes of cruising time) flight from Penang. Before this trip, my only memory of Langkawi is a matching pair of shirts/shorts that Joanne and I had as children. I really didn’t have many expectations; I was here for the family. Langkawi, like much of Southeast Asia is a strange mashup of all kinds of things. History inflects, erodes, builds and tears down in messy and complex ways. I always know what I’m getting-ish: the stray cats, the lizard calls, sudden rain, giant worms, glorious sunlight, simmering heat, lush foliage, entitled tourists, the noise of the street market, the smell of coconut and durian, green chilli. But then things surprise me, like how loud and insomnia-inducing the …

Record: Golden State

Turns out Cali glow is a real thing, but California mythology is exactly that – mythology. I went to visit some of my extended fam in-laws over the December break who live in San Fran, and had a chance to peek a preview at San Fran, LA and Murietta for almost two weeks. Needless to say, urban textures and vegetation were my main interest after eating. Whenever I arrive in a city whose mythology precedes it, my instinctual reaction is caution. What are truths, what are experiences, what are expectations, and what are rose-coloured lenses? Because story and language are so fundamental to my experience of the world, I can’t help this self-awareness. “California” is a word that has become the stuff of legend. Golden as in desert. Golden as in Gold rush. Golden as in sunlight. Golden as in celebrity and fame. As with everywhere else, mythology sustains dream, identity and belief. As with everywhere else, California is constructed from language. So imagine me stopping to stare at a tree on the sidewalk, fascinated …


Perhaps it’s because I consider my old self someone whose heart was too small and too inward-looking. Perhaps I want to redeem her by justifying her and making her better than what she really was.