The Red Sweater Gang: Delicate, Mild-Mannered Vignettes from Ubud

Poet mountain

Eat. Pray. Love. Or maybe just the first one.

It is 4 a.m. The Taipei Airport transfer lounge. We have been here for approximately 6 hours, and will remain here for another six. I have never been so awake in my life.

I don’t mean that in a oh-the-beauty-of-the-world sense, either–I want sleep, desperately. I feel it inside my bones. My hands quiver. My eyes are heavy. My breathe rattles. I need to be unconscious. But there are several factors impeding this.

It is about 16 degrees Celsius: a joyous retreat for travellers making their way from the sweltering Taiwanese summer to far-away lands, but a frozen hellscape for anyone attempting to sleep in an airport. A movie is playing in the adjacent part of the lounge – something starring Mark Wahlberg, and maybe it is in Italian. I can’t be sure – the video is not playing, just the audio, a series of haunting, sourceless grunts and explosions issuing from the very ether. Someone has opened a fire door, and there has been a constant beeping for three hours.   

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