…….The World Without Boundaries

When I First Started

Written By: jipp - Nov• 24•17

I was browsing through my old pictures – when I first started traveling – and it wasn’t anywhere nearby but England no less. I stayed overnight at a friend’s house in Surrey on my first night before heading off to Paris across the English channel on an Eurostar train the next morning.

That would be my very first time sharing a room with a bunch of total strangers. I remember how the room was advertised to have two bunk-beds intended to accommodate 4 persons. What was not mentioned was the fact that it was actually one of two adjoining rooms that shared the same entrance so the guests that stayed at the other room had to walk past our beds in order to go to their room.

And it had the smallest shared bath room which was actually the toilet itself. It was so small that I had to do a little of acrobatic moves when changing my clothes or even putting on my underwear. I remember one of the nights when I returned to the room when the light was already switched off. It wasn’t even 11pm, which was still quite early for a sleepless city like Paris, but I was met with a grunt from one of the girls who was already asleep.

“Why do you switch on the light?” I remember her asking, half-yelling. “How am I supposed to see in the dark? I can’t even see my bed” I shot back. I just had two mugs of beer earlier on so I was a bit tipsy. My mouth did not really stop there but saying a few more things before I managed to shut it up. I remember waking up the next morning and the girl had already packed off.

One of the reasons why I stayed at Aloha Hostel was the free breakfast it provided. I remember sharing a table with a professor from China who was in Paris to present a paper at one of the local universities and of course I had some doubt as to why a professor would stay at a budget hostel like Aloha Hostel.

I was there for 3 nights and I remember how the guy at the counter wouldn’t give my deposit back upon checking out because I couldn’t find the payment receipt. “But I’m sure it is all recorded in the system right? Isn’t it all in the computer?” I confronted him. I was quite pissed off but he wouldn’t budge. When I finally managed to find the receipt and he returned the deposit to me, I made sure I shook my head and gave him a disgusted look (of course I was so naïve back then. I would then find so many other hotels who wouldn’t give the deposit back to those who can’t bring forth the receipt).

Then later at the check-in counter at Paris Gare du Nord again I argued with the guy at the counter who insisted that I showed him my flight ticket out of Britain. I had actually put the ticket deep in my bag so having to rummage through my bag to get to that ticket was quite too much for me at that time since the line was moving fast.

I couldn’t help but questioning the necessity (again, I was so naïve back then. I didn’t know that Britain was trying very hard in dealing with an influx of immigrants who came in using a tourist visa but ended up overstaying). When he tried to explain I waved him off and said “whatever”. He wasn’t quite happy when I said that. “Whatever? I’m trying to explain to you” I remember him saying. “No thanks” I said as I dashed off towards the waiting train.

Remembering it all now, I don’t think I started off well as a traveler. I was so naïve, ignorant and I got easily annoyed. But of course as I traveled more I learned to be more tolerant to the situation that I found myself in although there were (and still are) still times when I failed quite miserably. But then there is no denying that traveling has really changed me a lot as a person. I mean, it’s a constant and probably continuous process but for sure it has changed me a lot. For the better. I think. LOL.

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A Humbling Encounter with Selflessness

Written By: jipp - Nov• 11•17

So I am back in my hometown Keningau and was having a drink with a friend at a restaurant where he actually worked last night. I couldn’t help but noticing that there was a man who sat crumpled in a wheelchair right in the corner of the small restaurant. He’d look at every passer-by and every now and then he’d look at us who’d break into laughter because there were just too many funny things to talk about.

Then I asked him who the man was. He said he was a man they found at the veranda of a shop a few blocks away from there. He is half-paralyzed and he can’t help himself to just about anything but eating. He can eat and he can use his hands to feed himself but that is just about all that he can do. He needs somebody to help him out when he needs to answer the nature’s call. He needs somebody to help him prepare for his food. He needs somebody to help him to bed. He needs a constant help except when he is asleep.

The owner of the restaurant decided to allocate a space at his restaurant for him to stay in. He even bought him a wheel-chair not only for his own convenience but also for those who take care of him. It is easier for them to wheel him around than having to carry him every time they need to.

I noticed how he had built a partition at one corner of the restaurant. It is fully walled except for the frontage which is draped nicely with slide curtains so that it is easier for him to come in and out of the room which has now become his home. My friend and other workers at the restaurant take turn to attend to his needs. This friend of mine confessed how there are times when he gets quite upset especially when he is too tired and this man demands quite too much of him.

“You know when you have worked your asses off the whole day – running the things around and making sure everything goes smoothly at work and by the end of the day you are so damn tried but this guy still demands quite too much of you, you’ll tend to lose it at times” he said.

“But of course the feeling of guilt would come to me later and I’d apologize to him – every time” he continued.

He told me how they took him in and cared for him totally out of nothing but solely for the fact that he needs people to take care of him.

Still quite in disbelief at the degree of selflessness and how they sacrifice so much of their beings for a stranger, I prodded “does he in any way related to any of you, probably to your boss?”

“Nope. He was a stranger. We found him and decided to take him in and cared for him because he needed it” he replied as if it was the most normal thing to do.

I looked at the room to where he had now retreated and was probably soundly asleep. For a moment I tried to think of all the things that I had done for others, things that I had done out of selflessness. There weren’t much.

I returned home feeling so small and insignificant to the universe.

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