On the weekend, a friend lent me a book called “How To Be An Explorer Of The World“. It’s a series of small daily projects to help you heighten your senses and be more engaged in the world around you. Some of the principles to being an “explorer” include: “alter your course often”, “consider everything alive and animate”, and “trace things back to their origins”. I like this kind of stuff.
Some of the tasks are hilariously incompatible with living in Hanoi – no, I will not be making a sculpture from rubbish, and no, I will not be collecting water samples from various bodies of water – but most are your standard kind of “creative exercise” to make you get more shit done.
Today’s task is “Write ten things about where you are sitting right now that you hadn’t noticed when you sat down. Do it quickly. Do not censor.”
So I will.
1. A new post-it has appeared in Nathan’s ever-growing “pile of things from my pockets”. It’s fabric measurements from the tailor, written in the Vietnamese way, with commas for decimal points and European-style 1s, 7s and 9s.
2. That gecko poo is still on the desk. I thought I had gotten rid of it.
3. I can hear what sounds like someone unloading large plastic drums from a truck or a motorbike. Maybe it’s those drums they collect the pig slop in. Or actually, maybe it’s empty gas canisters.
4. Cars are making the sound of driving through puddles.
5. The pens and pencils in our pens and pencils bowl are all dusty.
6. The bottle of Scotch, a present for a friend, which is sat behind my laptop has a blurb on it which begins “Caol Ila’s name (say “Cull Eela”) comes from the Gaelic for “Sound of Islay”. It continues, with various words italicised throughout, including the words “hidden cove“.
7. It’s definitely gas canisters.
8. There are many more things on the desk that don’t belong here than I realised. There is a tie, Nathan’s bear hat, a necklace, a dirty bowl from my lunch, my keys, bobby pins, the Scotch, and my sunglasses.
9. No-one is working in the government building over the road, and actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone there.
10. Our landlord’s car has a bumper sticker written in Arabic. Weird.
This task has taught me that my desk is actually really dirty, and that if you quickly write something without self-censoring, it’s really boring to read.