The Thirty Diary

I crossed the 3- a few months back. I didn’t blog then. And I hadn’t been blogging regularly despite my new year resolution.

If anything has changed, a sense of urgency had crept upon me that I never noticed before. Some days, I lie on my bed, open my eyes and start to think, it’s just another decade before I’m 40, and another before 50 etc. It’s a path of no return. So, what do I want to do with my life?

I am not sure I will find the right answer. But I want this decade to be a process of finding that answer and making it work. I should certainly regret if I never try. For my thirties, I pray for the wisdom to be self-aware, for the clarity of vision in knowing what is important and for the discipline to be focused in trying to achieve my goals. 

There is an interesting Chinese article on Wechat that I read  a couple of months back, <二十几岁,没有十年> by 孙晴悦 . It translates loosely as, “Your Twenties Don’t Hold Ten Years“. There’s a book published by her under the same title, which I hadn’t read. But the article struck a chord:


The twenties are not like any other decade. At the beginning of the journey, we see it as a long long stretch of time. Endless. After all, at the age of twenty, a decade is half your living experience. It appears misleadingly as though an eternity awaits you. But as the author said, for many of us, the twenties are just made of “three” years – the first of which is spent aimlessly in the university, the second of which in we suddenly wake up to submit our CVs, rent apartments, rush after the train, and the third is spent doing work which we don’t like and living in a city which we do not want to. Then, suddenly, we wake up from the daze to discover that we are thirty.

And there is some truth to that. Enough truth that I start feeling a sense of loss for all the additional things that I wish I had done if I were given back that extravagance of the youthful decade.

I’m not saying that I hate being thirty. I love being in the thirties – you are at a stage of your life with enough financial capabilities, limited responsibilities, but enough energy,  and gradually growing into your own maturity/style and having a better knowledge of yourself. What is there not to like?

And my twenties were certainly not wasted. I enjoyed university, and unlike many, I love learning and school changed me for the better. My first job both taught me and pushed my capabilities. I met the best colleagues who remain great friends even after I left. I wanted to try teaching – and I did. I got a scholarship and went to do the Masters that I always wanted, at a university that had been the place of my dreams from the time I was eight. After which I decided I needed to structure my own career development and not leave it in the hands of a firm that clearly had a different agenda from yours, and I went on to take up a job in an emerging economy. I also chose a place where I could retrace my own roots.  I have lived in three entirely different cities in my twenties, each of which as I’m fully aware, shaped a part of the personality that I have grown into today. I explored three different career options, and took back something from each experience. I met a boy (actually, may be more than one) who made me contemplate a future together. It would be a denial of the privilege and good fortune that had been blessed upon me to downplay the wonderful experiences that I’ve had in this past decade. And yet, with the wisdom of hindsight and the maturity that time brings, I just wished… I spent my twenties even better.

I wish I had been even more open minded. More disciplined. I wish I had designed my career/work and love plans better. I wish I had more focus and had been more self-aware of my development path. I wish I wasted less time on unworthy people. I wish I spent each weekend a little better. I wish I spent each free hour more productively. I wish I picked up more skills. I wish I had the perseverance and determination to finish up with the lessons and the skills that I was trying to pick up. I wish I took care of myself better. I wish I took care of my family better.

I still do not know where I want to go, but I wish the thirty years old me will take this to heart and bring the message along as a reminder.

Our thirties will still hold mistakes and regrets and remind us of our inadequacies. But may my thirty years old self spend the next ten years in the company of the wisdom gained. Thou shall not make the same mistakes.

– Letters from my twenties. 


On Seeking Love

There are those inexplicable moments of vulnerability in our twenties which invade our invincible façade and make us start questioning if there was something inherently wrong with us which prevented us from finding love.

Yes, I’ve been through that.

“Being single is a choice. I refuse to compromise. I’m living the life that I want to live and making myself the best that I can be. I just have not met the right person.”

I’ve heard all that. Not the least from my inner self to my vulnerable self in the middle of the night. It can all be true. But there are moments when the truth is not the answer to the yearning in your heart.

And then I started, “Project Getting Attached”. It’s a posthumous name to the Project by the way. I wouldn’t be so cheesy. Or that frank with myself then. It seemed to me then that the endeavour smacks of desperation. Continue reading “On Seeking Love”

[France] – River Seine

The Paris that I knew before I stepped foot on it was a place I associated with the Enlightenment, with Romance, with Beauty, and with the legacy of endless stories told and filmed. I didn’t know what to expect, but the anticipation was real.

More than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or the Notre Dame, the one place that I really wanted to see was the River Seine. It was the place of dreams, the place where Celine and Jesse had the chance to continue the conversation they left behind nine years ago in Vienna. It was the  塞纳河 of many a love songs.


Jesse: Oh, God, why didn’t we exchange phone numbers and stuff? Why didn’t we do that?

Celine: Because we were young and stupid.

Jesse: Do you think we still are?

Celine: I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.

Jesse: And you can screw it up, you know, misconnect.

I often feel that the tales that touch you the most are those with a hint of regret. The younger me loved “Before Sunrise” for its beauty, for its whimsical indulgence of two young adults’ flight of fancy and the promise and anticipation in  the world we are stepping out to explore. The older me broke my heart over the realism of “Before Sunset” and the “what-it-could-have-been” as we look back at the detours we took in our lives and the people we missed.

And because of that, a desire for a stroll along River Seine brought me all the way to Paris.


It was just a whiff as I stood beside him. My heat skipped a beat and the tiniest pause in my words betrayed my surprise. I held my breath for that moment that went on for ever so long. My glance flickered up from the document in my hands into his eyes.

Very surreptitiously, I released my breath in an attempt to cover my misstep. I completed my sentence and  nodded in response to his question. At the same time, involuntarily and in an indulgence of my greed for more, I replenished my emptied lungs with a long, deep and deliberately measured breath.

Be still, my heart. 


I was always arbitrary in my feelings towards Yangon. I felt at the back of my head that I should love Yangon, and couldn’t help feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t know if I did.

The Yangon Skyline this evening


I knew I loved Kyangin, where I was born. I didn’t recall much of Mandalay, where I had spent some of my youth. I didn’t dislike Yangon, but I didn’t feel much for it any other way either.  For a place where I spent most of my time before I left Myanmar, and a place so romanticised by tourists and foreigners alike, I didn’t have the emphatic “these-are-my-roots” sentiments.

The Yangon that I came back to didn’t hold the first-time wonders that it did to many foreigners who came in, eager to see the place where time stood still, locked away from the rest of the word.

It also didn’t hold the familiarity and comfort of a homecoming. Continue reading “Yangon”