I wrote this in 2006, after returning from travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway.
A deformed girl who didn't have the use of her legs chalks the story of her life in perfect Chinese characters on the pavement of Beijing. A homeless man reads it.
I've been sitting on my computer at my parents house for a week endlessly and cleanly extracting sunflower seeds from their black shells with my teeth, a technique I finally perfected whilst spinning through the Gobi Desert almost two weeks ago..
When they run out I think I will have to go to a pet shop to buy more.
Going away seems like a dream and I can't believe how much I detached in only two weeks. The savage air conditioning on the Southern Railways trains into Brighton seemed unnecessary and over luxurious. Our climate does not need air conditioning.
People smiled on Southern Rail all the time, but their smiles were empty. Perhaps the Russians have got it right, why smile when it's meaningless? Save laughing for little Russian girls on the train, excited about meeting Australians and British, who'd like to have more English lessons because she really enjoys them but can't because her school isn't open for long enough during the week.
Going to a supermarket for the first time since I've been back was a revolting experience. Everyone I saw seemed shockingly obese, piling their enormous trollies with mountains of needless sugar and cloying, artery choking, advertised food. Everyone looked pasty, pale and blonde and flabby, dressed stylishly, but missing an essential element of human definition and I felt physically sick at the entire aisle dedicated only to greasy pointless crisps.
I hated the huge, spoilt, grunting, superfluous, Americanised English.. shuffling around their swinging fat past the shelves, gloating over their expendable income and tooth fillings, there were no people with rickets, no gentle almost imperceptable air of Buddhist calm, no sense of desperate struggling to overcome poverty placed upon them by insane governmental regimes, no children with deformed hands asking for money or food, no old withered men smoking and drinking vodka or green beer expertly.
No one is fat in Russia, when you eat, in restaurants, from babushkas on the train tracks, in a homestay, the portions seem tiny, but when you eat them, you are full, and its only your warped sense of size overtaking you from back at home, where everything is swollen and thrown at you from the flashing lurid marketing.
I heard on the news about a fatal plane crash in Irkutsk, Siberia, filled with children going to the adventure camp at Lake Baikal, where two weeks ago, at dusk, I walked up the long hill to the top to meet this view: