Monday, May 01, 2006

Have You Ever ...

Have you ever driven 400 kilometres over a 13 hour day, walked unimaginable miles through Commonwealth war cemeteries, German war cemeteries and towns with names like Kemmel and Poperinge ... always expecting the rain to stop and the clouds to clear, as promised by a reliable weather source the night before?

Have you ever bought cheap Pumas from a bazaar in Istanbul then worn them all over Flanders Fields in Belgian rain only to find that they are clearly 'indoor' Pumas ... in fact, they're possibly not Pumas at all?

Have you ever planned a journey to Flanders Fields, allowing for the late Spring, bought the 82km autocircuit guide to the area only to talk with two lovely Canadian guys at the very first stop and find out that, although they have been in the area a week they have yet to see one of those prolific poppies ... they had heard 'the larks, still bravely singing', as written about in John McCrae's famous poem 'In Flanders Fields' ... the poem that begins with the line 'In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row.'

Have you ever done it all anyway ... laughing as the temperature dropped below 10oC, the rain fell and as the wind blew, trying to take interesting photographs without getting too wet and too cold; eating a green 'verse kervel soep' ... (fresh chervil soup for those English speakers)in a smokey crowded Irish pub over in Mesen while trying to remember where New Zealanders Street was ... the one you walked down only last week?

Have you ever had the sun come out at the end of a long rainy cold grey day ... transforming the bleak landscape into something so incredible that you feel you should photograph every field and building lit by its brilliance?

And have you ever ended your day at Ieper's Menin Gate, with 300 people, all watching in silence as the local firemen of Ieper performed their traditional Last Post in memory of the sacrifices made by the Allied soldiers back in the war?

Well I have ...

6 comments:

The Wandering Turk said...

That's a beautiful poem (just got a book of poems as a gift today!)- very haunting. Sounds like a wonderful day - contrast seems to be so important to appreciating what one experiences. I guess we need some canned misery to appreciate the rays of sunshine that break through the clouds. And c'mon - fake Pumas in Istanbul? That's impossible!

Daily Dog said...

Sounds like a great trip :).

You should read the 'Regeneration trilogy' by Pat Barker.

wandering-woman said...

No, but the way you write it I think I'd like to.

What's a chervil, by the way?

Cristina said...

Have you ever helped building a hospital in a small village in India?
Have you ever lived with people from over 70 different countries?
Have you ever shared a room with people from Hong Kong, Zimbawe, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Bosnia, Egypt, Lebanon, France, Nepal…?
Have you ever taught English to children belonging to a Chinese ethnic minority who only spoke putonghua?
Have you ever gone to class wearing your pajamas?
Have you ever had a monkey looking at you from the outside of your window?
Have you ever kidnapped the principal's son and got all teachers to sing and dance as a ransom as part of your senior pranks?
Have you ever backpacked for a month from Hong Kong to Beijing, all the way down Vietnam and up Cambodia to end up in Thailand for 700 € in total – including transportation?
Have you ever joined your Muslim friends during Ramadan and not eaten or drunk anything from 5 am to 6 pm during a WHOLE month?
Have you ever bargained in Cantonese and actually achieved to get whatever you wanted for half the original prize?
Have you ever encountered crabs, snakes, giant worms and flying termites walking on the corridor?
Have you ever heard over 10 different languages being spoken at lunchtime?
Have you ever shared a drink with a friend from Palestine and a friend from Israel who happen to be best friends?
Have you ever created and organized your own community service?
Have you ever moved around carrying a 700 pages math book just because the whole school community has decided to stop photocopying in order to be environmentally friendly?
Have you done all these in less than one year being under 18?
Well, I have =)

PS: I'm a Spaniard who left her country when she was 16 to finish High School in Hong Kong thanks to a scholarship and who's starting university at the States next year; and I love your blog.

woman wandering said...

Hey wandering turk, fake pumas ... how could I even imagine it?

Someone has mentioned Pat Barker before, I must take a look. :)

w-w, chervil ... I had to look, I'd never had it before Belgium. It makes a green soup that's a little spicy for me anyway ...

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), sometimes called garden chervil, is a delicate annual herb, usually used to flavor mild-flavoured foods such as poultry, some seafoods, and young vegetables. It is a constituent of the French herb mixture fines herbes.

Classification: Chervil is a member of the parsley or carrot family, Apiaceae.

woman wandering said...

hey cristina, thank you. i loved your list and wandered over to your site to comment :)