In a state of haze…

Again, I have lost the will and motivation or inspiration to write. As I talked to a friend over lunch today, I realise that there is something I need to do. To let go and just take care. Yet it is often easier said than done.

Sometimes, it hurts a lot inside, from what I do not know exactly. Probably it is just the culmination of things that happen around, stuff people do that somehow have an impact on me, whether it is a case of over-sensitivity or over-thinking on my part, or simply because it is easier to think that way rather than feel positive. Oddly, it feels so much tougher to be positive.

Flash back to July when I went to Sapporo for holidays, we rented a bicycle on the second day when we visited Furano. In stark contrast to the first day when we went to Farm Tomita where the sun blazed down furiously and threatened to give me a heat stroke, the second visit saw the temperature almost halved as a light drizzle fall from the low-hanging rain clouds overhead. It was a cool, almost cold (at least to me) day, which made it a nice ride at a leisurely pace. However, we probably overestimated our own stamina and fitness, because some parts of the route that we had to take to the Cheese Factory were somewhat uphill that left us panting for breath. Particularly when the bicycles that we had weren’t exactly the best that facilitated easier riding.

But still, it was a nice week away from everyday life. Sapporo, though just another city like Tokyo, is rather different. It is much smaller in comparison and the pace of life seemed to be slower too. It was more enjoyable in a certain way, and each day on waking it was just to think of where we should go for our daily meals to indulge our gastronomic senses.It is haze season in Singapore right now, if that is the right term to use. Haze visits us almost on an annual basis, courtesy of our neighbouring country, but it comes at different times depending on the year. I can’t remember when it usually happens, but the last time when it was really bad was in 2013 and that came in June, when thankfully I was away on a business trip in France, and suffered through the choking haze upon my return for a day before some heavy rain and change of wind direction took the haze away pretty much.

This time, it’s already September but the haze suddenly came to us and one evening it got so bad that from Raffles Place where I could usually see far beyond the horizon of the Marina Bay area, I couldn’t even see the Singapore Flyer. Supposedly, the PSI went up past 200 that evening, but a light rain eased it slightly, and then rains over these couple of days have also helped a bit, although the wind direction is still not changing to move the haze away from us.

In one of my yoga classes, the teacher reminded us to still be thankful, because we know this is temporary, and as compared to certain cities that are perpetually shrouded in smog and haze for the good part of the time, we are already very lucky. She told us that when we have our sunny skies or rainy days back, we ought to think back on this hazy period and give thanks that we can have those hot, sunny days or wet, rainy days where the sky is blue and the air is crisp.

There are many things to give thanks for, yet I just want one thing now, though I have no idea when that is going to happen.

finding my way home

It has been a few days since I have returned from the so-called City of Love, or City of Lights, I don’t know which is the true moniker but those are the two that I have heard of.

While I was away, I had been hearing and reading of reports of the annual haze that would blanket Singapore, and this year it seemed especially serious and bad, with the PSI hitting the 400-region, somewhere we have never ever come close to before. Even the last reported worst situation that took place in 1997, the highest-recorded reading was 200+ and I remembered back then, it was already very bad because I recalled being out in town and when the haze hit a bad patch, the burnt smell was choking and visibility was greatly reduced.

It wasn’t surprising then, that airport operations were affected, since planes need extra care in taking off and particularly landing, when visibility is compromised. The flight I returned on on Saturday morning was not delayed, but we had a rather bumpy landing. And it was pretty evident that the sky was blanketed in a cloud of grey, and perhaps I was being imaginative, but I thought I could already detect whiffs of the haze while still being in the plane as we waited for the doors to be opened. Standing in line at the taxi rank also afforded me a hazy view of the situation, and truly the air quality was bad. I couldn’t breathe properly, and was glad to shut the doors of the taxi and proceed home.

That morning, the haze was rather bad, though an improvement from the days before. I was also monitoring the PSI when I was still in Paris, even though there were some comments circulating online about the veracity of the published figures on NEA’s website, I guess it was still a gauge of how things were.

Thank God that the situation became better during the rest of Saturday, and from then until now, I kept praying that the winds will continue to stay in our favour. It’s unfortunate that our neighbour up-north is now bearing the brunt of the forest blazes, but I’m thankful we have clearer skies now. Despite that the weather is now extremely humid, a marked difference from before I left for Paris, I think we all would rather have just the humidity and enjoy clear blue skies with clean air. Before this episode, even if we always expect that haze to return each year during this warmest periods of our climate, we never imagined things would become so bad that at a point in time, there were so many people wearing masks out on the streets. Not even in Tokyo have I seen so many masked people.

The weather in Paris was unpredictable, alternating between bright sunny days and gloomy rainy days, with temperatures fluctuating from the 10s to high-20s. It was all very nice there, in terms of weather, and even the weekend I spent where we were blessed with glorious sunshine on both days. But I am still happy to be home; these are the days when I would appreciate home and my family. July is coming around soon, with half of 2013 almost gone. Time is passing too quickly…