Back to my roots

Posted on September 5, 2012


This journey into my past really began, appropriately enough, in a departure lounge. My copy of the Journal of Virology was opened to an article about the use of virus to cure cancer, and sprawled over my laptop.

As an eerie Sunday afternoon light cast its soothing, golden pall over a comfortably huddled mass of humanity, I paused to wonder why I had taken my laptop on holiday. I suppose it had just become such a handy, comfortingly familiar, carry-on accessory.

I glanced up to ponder how I can apply this newly attained knowledge to my current study, and noticed the last of the aged, infirm and very young passengers boarding the plane. Aided by the warm and unflappable service-mentality of the ground crew, they gracefully made their way to their seats and shook hands with the cabin crew. As the first boarding call was put out for the rest of us, the impatient began to mill, as if wanting to buck at the gate. Forgetting their allocated seats and the inevitable wait on the tarmac while the stragglers are given three boarding calls, they grew ever more anxious to climb aboard and take their seats.

The world over, the human instinct to be first – or at least not last – mocks common sense in this rare and elegant feat of order.

If only the broader world were so: Everyone has a place, and everyone’s needs are met. Those with special needs are advanced, and those ruled by the primordial impulse to clamour are bound only for frustration in their impetuousness.

Perhaps it is.

But such travel serenity has to be earned, like so many frequent flyer points. It was my good fortune that, by the age of thirty-seven, I had been given the rare opportunity to achieve both. In fact, the heady routine of air travel and jetlag has underscored an improbably salubrious chi in my existence. While work travel has thrust me into an ethereal world of boundless discovery, the yearly pilgrimage back to my origins in Penang, Malaysia, has become my fulcrum.

Posted in: Story