Anna Karenina + ME

I’m thinking of bringing my hand-me-down copy of 
Anna Karenina to Kenya and Ethiopia. Somehow it feels right. 
It’s as if, it is meant to return and to stay in that continent, 
judging from it’s past history. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

My Anna Karenina story begun (consciously) some decade and a half ago.
It was in some heritage rundown Victorian houses on one of those lanes that sprouts out from Lygon Street where we hatched the idea of putting our ambitions down on paper. Unsure what the context was or the fact that any mind altering substances had a part in shaping the bucket list, but mine seems to be travel centric, cultural experiences and an odd book to read.

The odd book was/ is: Anna Karenina … and it had to be read in Russian.

Lygon Street, Melbourne, Australia
I naturally never got around getting the book not even during my medical stint in Moscow.

Frankly, I had forgotten about it like most things the morning after when nursing a splitting headache and a queasy stomach, swearing and promising I’ll never consume anything vile again … only to break that self pledge some 8 hours later; shorter if it was a Friday in Australia.
So, as far as I was concern, the bucket list did not even exist … only to retrieve it at the bottom of a up-cycled shoe box while I was doing the rare spring cleaning back home. By then, I had moved 3 homes in Malaysia and the shoe box and its content had moved along. 
Long story short: the bucket list spurred the creation of this blog.
It was not until four years 3 months later somewhere between the Orpen Gate of Kruger National Park and Johannesburg, a physically handicapped fellow traveler assisted by a hearing aid declared that she had finally finished her book. 
It was voluminous… and though 12 days had gone by, I had not once bothered to ask what she was labouring over or take sneak a peek on its title. I was after all bend over hell determined to finish a behavioural economics book I had brought along – don’t ask! I dip into lots of moments of insanity and the decision to read a behavioural economics book on a safari is really mild by comparison. 
Kruger National Park, South Africa
With views of endless impala and bucks, I turned my graze away from the window and looked at her and smiled.
Then out of politeness rather than curiosity I asked, “what were you reading?”

<bing> light.bulb.moment 


The copy was promptly passed to me making me the 3 non-native individual entrusted with this particular copy of Anna Karenina in Africa!

My fellow traveler is an Australian lady residing in Tanzania… at the moment.
She was given the book by a British lady living in Kenya … at that moment … while there were at Mount Kenya National Park.
And so today it got me thinking if I should bring this 976-page book back to Africa. And if I am an avid and fast reader I may just succeed in closing the loop in Mount Kenya National Park, a destination en-route from Nairobi to Addis Ababa.
Digital photographs by Penelope Haque | All Rights Reserved
I mean what do I seriously got to lose brining it?
Besides additional weight.
Though I know for the fact that suffer from motion sickness and reading Anna Karenina as I make the 1,552 kilometer journey over patchy roads, some with car swallowing portholes, potentially lots of knee jerking brakes, is a very bad idea.
Sure, I had always wanted to read it.
It’s after all part of my silly bucket list – but then again, that was in my younger days and the ambition then was to conquer Leo Tolstoy in Russian [прочитайте Анну Кейрнина (Лео Толстой) на русском языке], as it should be.
But HA! Such lofty ambition: прочитайте Анну Кейрнина (Лео Толстой) на русском языке
My Russian as everyone knows it today is decimal… having put it to test the last time I was in Sofia, Bulgaria trying to make my way across to Bucharest, Romania via rail. Thanks to the bankrupting Greece economy – yes, it now feels like forever as the Greek economy is still in the doldrums – the Greek train had ceased it’s operations and the only option then was the Sofia-Moscow Russian train

Digital photographs by Penelope Haque | All Rights Reserved
Reading signages were literally no different from my 5-year old niece’s attempt to read. Only in my case, it’s the experience of reading out the Cyrillic alphabets, then racking the brain cells to make sense of the worlds from vocabulary that doesn’t seem to exists any more. To a large extend, it almost seems like the person who got admitted to I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy was an entirely different person with no connection with me.

In any case, none of this is relevant as of now.

I won’t be attempting Anna Karenina in Russian for sure.

As is, I’m uncertain if I’d make it through the English version of 976 pages to begin with.
Perhaps back in those days, when Tolstoy explored the themes of  hypocrisy, jealousy, faith, fidelity, family, marriage, society, progress, carnal desire and passion, and the agrarian connection to land in contrast to the lifestyles of the city, openly it was deemed controversial. 


But in today’s context? 
Will the omnipresent third person narrator voice be enough to keep me going?

Perhaps it’s good to first relocate the book, read a couple of chapters, weigh my entire load, then decide. After all I am frankly deciding if I should cut my hair off to a really short boyish cut or to get accustomed to washing my hair once every 2 to 3 days rather than my usual daily routine in the name of getting away with a 85ml bottle of shampoo that will stretch 26 days on the road. 

I will figure out the packing strategy soon.

But for now, it’s time to finalise the flights and travel insurance.
But honestly, right this very minute, it’s about catching some sleep.

But annoyingly, I can’t even locate my lightweight Deuter ACTLite4510SL!

But seriously, jokes aside who am I kidding? 85ml is impossible!

Shampoo is a priority. Braids ain’t my thing.

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One thought on “Anna Karenina + ME

  1. Pingback: to Ulysses or not to Ulysses | {the other 1/2 of} Haque

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