Friday, July 15, 2011


I had booked a rental car for my four days in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, while I was in Sydney last week. When I went to pick the car up at the Brisbane airport, I realized that I has not brought my drivers licence with me. The Hertz guy smiled, shadenfreude, shook his head. Taxis and trains it was. I was not expecting to hire a car when I left Singapore, in fact I made a decision to not bring my licence. Sigh.


I had to zip back down to Sydney for one day in the middle of the Queensland week, and it was an early flight. I was up at 5am. I use the Xoom to check my email. Groggy, really bad cough, I put the Xoom next to the sink and lots of harsh phlegm cuts its way out with each rasping hack and retch, spit muck into the toilet. Again. Take the anti-biotics and everything else, shower, spray anti-stink, dress in yesterday's shirt and jeans (clean chinos need ironing - this a cheap serviced apartment - full laundry in the bathroom), and try to recollect, what day is it today?

As I walked or the door, I wondered if I needed my passport. No, not for a domestic flight, so I closed the door and took the lift downstairs - a Colditz like reception here, three small windows set in a faux-granite wall, each with roll-down aluminium shutters. Harsh. The people there are often surly, yawning, but this emo girl calls me a taxi.

In the correct taxi, after a bit of an inter-South-Asian stoush about whose ride I was, I looked in my man-bag, which seemed suspiciously light. Yep, I had left my Xoom in the bathroom when I was coughing. So that meant no eBooks, no Words With Friends, no sudoku - no great loss, but a pain, considering how much I enjoy playing on it. It'll be there when I get back at least.


Sunrise over Brisbane was superb, awe - real awe, fragile high clouds a brilliant burning orange/red, stippled, no more like corrugated, into waves of darker and lighter intense hues, a bas-relief effect that augmented the three dimensionality of that discrete part of the world into something beyond the artistic, beyond words, almost beyond thought.*

The spooky, mystic, weird thing is that sunset last night was exactly the same. But over there, behind me.

A thought came to me. I remember someone who was talking (in a book?) about living life to the full while you have the chance, asking, "How many more sunrises will you see before you die?"

Thinking about the taxi driver on his morning shift. Me on the red-eye. Way too many.

(* A Samuel Beckett line.)

Anticipating yet another morning in the tea room waiting for the Doc to start the cases I was needed for, I picked up a book to read at the airport, one of Iain M Banks' Culture novels. Fell asleep trying to read it on the flight of course, something about an avatar and a forty year pregnancy, while listening to an Al Di Maeola album...

Kerthump! Did we crash? Where are we? Sydney. I wake up pale, bleary eyed and confused, like Edward Norton in the first scenes in Fight Club.

As I was walking down the aisle towards the exit, the steward called me back. I had left the Banks book on my seat. When I went back to get it from him I realized that I had left my iPod and earphones in the seat-pocket in front of me as well and had to squeeze past the surprised steward in order to go all the way to my seat at the rear (51F) and retrieve them, before they were lost.

Coming forward now down the aisle, I grabbed a newspaper from another seat so that I could do the sudoku and crossword later. I ducked into the toilet in the airport for a slash and I left newspaper on the wash-bench. Echoes of the Xoom.


Not a morning person.


Now I'm trying to stretch my breakfast at Micky's in Darlinghurst for three hours as the list (we doing endoscopy for the last two weeks) has been delayed until the afternoon. I could have taken the 11am flight and get things sorted a bit better in my head. I type most of this on my phone, over Eggs Benny and pot of English Breakfast tea.


The customer was on the ball, my presence was not much use, a bit of a loss really, except for a few tips about contrast agent settings (injections for ultrasound? what next!) which the Doc did appreciate. Easy. My rep and I shook hands and we parted company on the street, he to his office in North Ryde, me to the airport to return to Brisbane, somewhat early, but hey.

A kyphotic old Nun (Sister?), tiny and shrunken, slow motion, climbed into the front seat of the first taxi to come along. She was wearing a full purple/mauve/grey (can't remember, I don't notice these things, I should, I know) gown with a wimple around her face, its veil came back over her head and down her hunched back, the old-fashioned look (these religious extremist and their obsession with sacred and profane, with head-gear, this is illegal in France you know). She was aided by a patient, smiling nurse (sister?) who then sat behind.

The next taxi went to a lady who sorta pushed in front, OK, maybe she didn't see me approaching from down the street a bit, up to where the nun had got in, and she was coming directly out of the hospital entrance. Fair cop. Another taxi lost.

A Chinese driver came along soon. I was so tired, no iPod playing, no book, my phone in my hand. I remember, I was holding it by the edge, the side to my eye, the bottom edge was on my knee, the leather flap covered the screen. I can still see it. I had just sent an email. Roaming charges through the roof. Traffic was a crawl, so the driver went off the motorway and into the web of side streets. I drifted off, lulled by the soft radio, the swearing of the driver, the comfort of the phone in my hand.

With a jerk I awoke. Had we landed? No, here was the airport departure terminal, I was in the taxi still. I scrambled under my butt to find my wallet, secret pocket (private joke), signed the credit card chit, pulled my Dryzabone from under my arm, put my man-bag over ny shoulder and went in to try and get an earlier flight. Cheap tickets, no cannot.

As I move towards the security check I go to fish out my phone, my phone, no secret pocket, not this one, not that one, it's not there, not anywhere, not in the man-bag, not in the coat pockets, not in my back pocket again, not in my man-bag again, not in my coat pockets again.

I have my receipt with the driver's code number, the taxi registration. But not the taxi company, it is not one of the common ones. The Information lady tries to help, cal your number now, but there is no international calls form her phone! The taxi coordinator outside tries to help, he calls the numbers through to the pickup stand, maybe the driver has joined the queue at arrivals. No.

Another taxi driver hands me a card with the Central Cab number, they manage a lot of companies. At Information again, she passes me the phone and I call Central. "Not this one, no we don't handle it. Call the company direct, the number is **** ****."

I call. "Our office hours are 8am to 5pm, please leave a message after the..."

Click. It is 5:05, I kid you not.


So, I am currently 'between phones'.


And I swear, I had already written the first parts of this post before the loss of my phone (well it's not really lost, it's in taxi 1365)


p.s. someone from North Ryde (huh? - no, not my rep!) has it. Expect to see a photo of E@L on page 3 of whatever reincarnation News Of The World, or videos of me cavorting in Wanchai, all over the internet. The SIM is blocked, my passwords have all been changed. Should I ask him to send it to me in Singapore or take it to the Olympus office just around his corner!

In the interim - which phone to get now? Galaxy S2?


anthony said...

Maybe its time you got a single gadget to travel with instead of the many you keep loosing? :-)

Or employ someone to be your PA and then it becomes their responsibility...

expat@large said...

Love the idea of a travel companion. Maybe when I am back in Thailand I could hire one...

rockstar69 said...

HIRE one!! You've always been so "shy" of taking on such long term hire purchases!!

PS: In the same time zone for weeks and not ONE fecking call!

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