Where Am I?

Alright, fine: I can tell you exactly where I am. I’m sitting outside the Starbucks in Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral train station, listening to the Jam, and positioning myself just so beneath a ceiling fan because otherwise it’d be almost too hot to breathe (I’m a wuss when it comes to the humidity). I’m waiting on a student; as soon as I’ve seen them I’ll be heading back to the airport so I can fly to Singapore, steal a few hours’ sleep, and then begin the long–the very, very long–trek home.

No, the question isn’t where I am. A better question is, “What day is it?” I don’t automatically know the answer to that one; after a pause I can tell you with reasonable certainty it’s Tuesday, but then earlier this morning I was watching live baseball that was being played yesterday. The International Date Line’s a weird thing, isn’t it? Tomorrow’s second flight, from Hong Kong to Pearson, is 15-1/2 hours long–but in real time (or “real” time, I suppose) it’s three. I’m leaving Singapore at 8:40 in the morning, which is 8:40 the night before in Toronto. All this makes some sort of sense–but at the same time it makes none whatsoever.

Another good question is, “What have I been up to lately?” As mentioned I’m circumnavigating the globe, which feels like some perverse sort of initiation by my new employer. I was in Dubai for about thirty-seven hours, which is about the perfect amount of time to spend there. Then I flew to Singapore, where I got to enjoy a rare day off (which, inevitably, included a stop at Raffles Hotel for a $30 Singapore Sling). I flew to KL this morning. I have a Malaysian passport stamp, which technically means I’ve been here…but really, can you say you’ve “been” someplace when virtually your entire experience takes place in and around a train station Starbucks?  I travel for work; that doesn’t mean I sightsee, and the closest I’ll get to the Petronas Towers is glimpsing them from a distance on my way in from the airport.

I thought I was done with recruitment last fall…but I’m not, and even in the course of travelling around the world in less than 180 hours I’ve found time to pinch myself, a reminder that I’m getting paid to do this. It feels like a bit of a caper, getting to travel the world and help shape people’s lives. I’m glad I got in on the action before someone figures it out. I guess that’s where I am right now on this humid Tuesday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur while Paul Weller sings about the thousand things he wants to say to you (me?) in the city. It’s not a bad place to be at all.


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