Thursday, June 07, 2007

New Zealand

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The penning of this post had been a frightfully difficult task. I find that my talent for writing (or my woeful lack of it) is highly inadequate in forcing some of the more frivolous flights of fancy fluttering about in my cranium into words.

My sincere apologies if this entry sucks.

On Tuesday morning, right before the Pathology Lab period, I had a short quarter hour conversation with the comel Kak Yana1. In that brief 15 minutes, I was at my most animated and alive in the entirety of this crappy, joyless year thus far. My eyes were bright, my mouth simply just won’t stop yakking (I’m actually pretty reserved in real life – surprise!), and my whole body was trembling visibly from my systemic enthusiasm – very much evident if you happened to look at the big cup of hazelnut-cream-laced-cappuccino I had in my right hand. The froth was doing a Michael J. Fox.

But wait! Before you snatch that very-erroneous impression out of my words and run away with it, I must tell you that my enthusiasm did not come from the conversationalist, but from the conversation itself. Her comel-ness really had nothing to do with it. Scout’s Honour, suh!

I was talking about New Zealand2.



Until the age of 15, New Zealand meant nothing more to me than the land where Fernleaf products grows on trees, and brown, flightless, pussy cissy birds called Kiwis roam.

Until the age of 15 - then along came Middle-earth.

I wasn’t much of a movie guy back then. The only reason I was even anywhere near theatres at all was so I can hang out with the girls in the convent next to my school on Fridays afternoons. Also noteworthy was that then I was only a casual reader of books, and wasn’t at all the humongous fantasy novel freak I am right now. Somehow, someway – in that deceptively short 3 hours (non-extended) I spent in Malacca’s tiny, 4-halled GSC watching The Fellowship of the Ring – I turned into a completely different person. I went straight to MPH after that and bought a movie tie-in version of Mr. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I finished reading in just four days.

Then, I proceeded to read the massive tome all over again in the next seven days.

That was the very sudden beginning of my obsessive and oft-fund-exhausting love affair with the triple dope of Reading, Movies and Fantasy - and with New Zealand.



In my mind, New Zealand is Middle-earth.

New Zealand is also Narnia, the Earthsea archipelago, Faerie, Lyra Belacqua’s parallel world, Tiffany Aching’s Chalk, Abarat, Lilliput, Neverland3 and all the other assorted, wondrous, vast fantasy worlds ever described in literature melded into one.

I see New Zealand as a magical place of impossible beauty, comparable to anything my imaginings could care to cook up. There, I’ve laid an image (or illusion?) of a better life. I’ve architected with my mind a quaint farmhouse to call my own in a Shire-like countryside an hour’s drive away from the nearest town. In that town, I will run a bookshop. I will give discounts to some of the local kids I like, and send freebies to them on their birthdays.

I will build a library in my home – a circular room on the second floor4 with a high ceiling surrounded by shelves filled with all the books I’ve collected and read in my lifetime. The floors would be laid with wood - warm-looking, semi-polished planks (none of that pussy-fied passé parquetry crap, please). In the middle of that room, I will place a sofa set so plush you can practically swim in them and a small coffee table in their midst. Nearby sits a heavy-set, antique desk made of hardwood with a matching chair – and behind them, I’ll have a tall, French window leading to a balcony from which I can see the green, rolling countryside for miles around on a particularly good day. And I’m going to have a beanbag too. No self-respecting private library should ever go without a beanbag, in my opinion.

In the evenings and late into the nights, I will hole up in that room and work on my fantasy novel. I won’t know if it’s ever going to be good enough for publication – but that will not matter because the experience of writing it will be more than rewarding enough for me (*snort* yeah, right). On days when I managed to finish an exceptionally good chapter in my book, I’ll read it to my wife and two dogs, an English Cocker Spaniel and a Golden Retriever. If I’m not married by then, I’ll get a cat.

Are you feeling me?

New Zealand is a symbol. It represents, for me, a place where dreams and hopes and fantasies come true. I know I’m not going to see any Hobbits, Wee Free Men or armoured polar bears there. I know Mount Cook isn’t Caradhras. I know Aslan doesn’t stalk the plains killing evil witch queens and Gandalf isn’t likely to be found in the middle of bridges waving his pussy kinky stick at motorists and hollering "You cannot pass!"but that doesn’t mean that all these things aren’t there.

Reality is merely perception.

That was what Peter Jackson taught me when he first superimposed Middle-earth onto New Zealand six years ago.

Have I completely lost you yet?



Being a doctor was never my dream.

My dream is New Zealand, and everything I imagined to be waiting there for me. My only wish is that I can make it come true one day, even if it meant that I must work most of my life away to get it. Therein lies my heart and soul, and all the possible joy I can ever own the right to, precipitated into a single pinprick of light. I’ve objectified Happiness into something real – something tangible – so I can at least know I am always, always heading to someplace better.

'Meaning' is the word. I’ve put 'meaning' into my existence in this pointless, random, nonsensical cosmos. Some finds it in rock music. Some finds it in yoga. And some finds it in God and faith and heaven.

Mine, I found, is in New Zealand.

P.S. I have never shared with my family about this dream of mine. If I should ever die suddenly, please help me to tell them to have me cremated, and scatter whatever is left of me across that country. I must get there, one way or another.

On my way,
k0k s3n w4i

1 She’s younger than me, by the way. See pinksterz? It’s not only you, okay?
2 Either that or it’s the caffeine. I don’t tolerate coffee that well - they give me rather serious tremors (yea, the trembling when I talked to Kak Yana had nothing to do with my excitement). I needed the coffee buzz that day because I pulled an all-nighter again.
3 Respectively of C. S. Lewis’ chronicles of Narnia, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Terry Prachett’s Wee Free Men books, Clive Barker’s Abarat novels, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
3 My house is going to have three floors, with the library being in the highest, reachable only by means of a winding staircase that starts from the ground floor. Sounds like a sorcerer’s tower isn’t it? That appeals to me immensely.

All pictures courtesy of The photographers' user names in deviantART can be found under 'Alternative text' if you right click on any one of them and open their 'Properties' window.


michelleg said...

i would love to visit ur "home/library" like what u mentioned. sounds really magical to me. haha..

oh, u make me appreciate nz more now. =)

bevE said...

If I should ever die suddenly, please help me to tell them to have me cremated, and scatter whatever is left of me across that country. I must get there, one way or another.

Omg. Drama much? xD

New Zealand looks breathtaking. A little random, but good. =D

Your first paragraph of how you see NZ as suddenly reminded me of the Sound of Music. xD

And seriously. How can you say your lack of talent in writing can't portray dreams and fantasies well? You write better than I do ! (Not that I'm that good lah, but I wouldn't say I suck either.)

Jen said...

its always been ireland for me. sure, not much stuff is based there but artemis fowl sealed the deal (leprechauns/LEP-recon's, faerie folk, and the like have always been a fascination since whenever). those rough rugged hills are just chock full of limitless possibilities in my mind's eye. gah.. a measly comment wouldnt do it justice.

great writers, moviemakers, our imagination. all are absolute, pure magic. to be able pick one single spot on earth and turn it into a fantasy land so believeable, its an escape. to be able to touch and see all those scenes that we've played over and over in our heads with ourselves as a character, watching safely in the wings but still in the thick of things; magic.

and i read the trilogy before the movie came out. hah! *smug look* must find the time to read em again. took me ages back then.

p.s. you hit the nail on the head with your library description. thats how mine looks like (i mean, how i've always imagined it to be)! i wouldnt have it any other way =) though i forgot the beanbag. damn. how could i miss out the beanbag.

pinksterz said...

your p.s sounds scary to me.

and you are a good writer ok? no need to be that down to earth lah bang!

note: if you happened to be a junior at my skewl, (and if it's in my society some more) you sure would ended up with 100 of detentions because of that kakak title you are giving me. because i hate to be adress as that.

but what can i do now?

regretting the day you happened to know my name lor.*sigh*

Anonymous said...

"Being a doctor was never my dream.

My dream is New Zealand, and everything I imagined to be waiting there for me."

loved that

"being a doctor was never my dream too. my dream is Disney."

bevE said...

i forgot a p.s. ! footnote 1 reminded me of a conversation with pinksterz, and what she said in reply about her being the youngest of most of the bloggers she met.

your description of your fantasy world makes me think that it's very victorian - almost like something from Beauty and the Beast? My library sounds like yours too ! I wrote about it in a little short story form of a few paragraphs some time ago. I'm going to go find it now! xD =S i hope.

the library i envisioned in mine was more of something out of Beauty and the Beast than yours though I think.

Wan Yean said...

my dream is playboy mansion.

Innocent^^Guy said...

yea..just a couple of months back..someone was sulking over the probability that she will be sent to NZ...and was bitching about how Europe rulez... -.-" You know who I'm talking about don't you? Ha ha...

pinksterz said...

exactly. haha! you were the ONLY ONE (that claimed to me), to be younger than me. haha!(act, there are few younger that i know before beve but they never said so lor):P

michelleg said...

senpai: :P hey, i've accepted the fact ok. but europe still rulez for me.. there's so much to experience there.

nz is not bad too! but still 2nd in my list. haha..

baby sa said...

okie, I shall change my future honeymoon destination from Maldives to New Zealand~!!!
NZ is gorgeous~~!!!

k0k s3n w4i said...

Glad to be of service ;) . You can repay me by filtering back tons of photographs from NZ using that camera of yours. Use it don't waste it!!!

Deep inside every blogger, is a dramatist waiting to break free XD
Anyway, how do you know the portrayal I've put here in my blog is like what I see in my dream? There's always incongruity between what I write and what I can see in my mind. All I hope at least is that feeling remains intact.
P.S. I enjoyed your piece on your fantasy library. I forgot the ladders in mine XD

C'mon. Do a post on Ireland sometimes. I'd love to read it.
And yea, I know I read it after the flick. Don't rub it in. That was the first and last time that happened, okay. Nowadays, as soon as any interesting 'based on the novel by..' movie trailer comes by, I'll be out getting the book before you can say "Foalywearsatinfoilhat".
P.S. I gotta get a DNA sample from you one day. You might be my long lost sister or something. My 'real' sister used to like reading, but she had recently succumbed to the evils of anime and manga.

@Kak Ellina
If I'm a good writer, I won't be in med school d. I'd be signing books and entertaining my fans in some huge mall, and giving inspirational talks on going after ones dream WTF.
Aww, c'mon. Kak Ellina suits you. Don't believe, you go ask bevE :D

@kit sze
Disney? For some reason, through my entire childhood, I've never once wanted to go there. There must be some defect in my brain somewhere.
G'luck in getting there, kitz!

@wan yean
Send me an invite when you get there.

They should have just sent her to India and she how she likes that :|

@baby sa
Okay, but Maldives will still be my honeymoon top stop :p ...

michellesy who's sick of brisbane said...

Ah, I am glad to finally meet The Library of Your Dreams in this blog.

It sounds like it is: lovely. (Beanbags, woot!)

A point of contention though: How would a cat be sufficient replacement for a wife and two dogs? Or would a cat better fit in with a bachelor's image/lifestyle?

Random thought, I know =)

But it is a lucky person who has found his dreams personified (or in this case place-ified).

To distil that nameless longing into a place, a person and a time, is to know what it is you're longing for.

Can I visit you when you finally build that house, set like a jewel in the idyllic rolling green hills of NZ?

ps: *Stares at Sen Wai in amazement that he only read LOTR AFTER the movie was released*

pps: I think some of the places depicted in the pictures are more than an hour's drive from the nearest town. One's more like five, I think =) But no matter, you'll find the right place to build that dream house of yours.

ppps: Are you trying to wean yourself off the p-word? It's working so far =P

pppps: I say visit, because my stint here in Aus has made me realise there's a raging urbanite deep within me waiting to be released. Hence my inability to live in NZ. Wtf.

k0k s3n w4i said...

I did intro my library to you a few days ago on MSN, didn't I XD? I still remember that you have the same one in mind (with French window as well) - except yours is octagonal and has no beanbag (sacrilege!).

About the cat, it's just something that comes out without my thinking about it. I was sort of 'streaming my consciousness' when I describe my library. Maybe I want to emulate Jon Arbuckle or something, LOL.

And of course, you can drop by! Only, it's not something that I definitely can get next time. Many things can happen yada yada and all that jazz.

P.S. Those places in the pics aren't where I want to build my home, actually. They are just there to make this post less boring.

P.S.S. Finally, someone noticed my effort with the P word!

michellesy said...

LOL - yup, we've got the same taste when it comes to libraries =)

I only chose octagonal shelves because I thought rounded ones would be too challenging to craft. WTF.

I'm practical even when dreaming dreams about my dream house
*smacks forehead*

ps: The post would be riveting even without the pictures, lovely as they are. I have to say though, they certainly paint a fair picture of NZ. From what I gather, it's probably the most pristine (inhabitable) place on earth. NZ landscapes certainly look very Fernleaf-ish.

*As a narrator launches into a voice-over* The cows drink fresh water from these streams and eat the lush green grass, producing clean, fresh milk. WTF.

Too much TV as a kid XD

Anonymous said...

ive been to disney. what i meant was, i want more. maybe to work in disney... be a part of it, or even own it. that kinda thing. not just go on rides and eat mickey shaped pan cakes.

fuolornis said...

its been a long long time since i step into here

I prefer Caribbean and Mediterranian

k0k s3n w4i said...

NZ IS fearnleaf. Were you a Fernleaf baby like me? Or a Dumex kid? *raises eyebrow*

@kit sze
I'm sure they'd want some doctors on their staff. ppl faint and get hurt there all the time. G'luck!

Yea, I was wondering where you've been!
The Mediterranean is a place I'd definitely visit - but not live in.

michellesy the fernleaf baby said...

Fernleaf all the way, baby! *winks*

My mom was a real sucker for those ads depicting life in good ole idyllic NZ XD