A ‘Simple’ 2019 resolve made in Melaka (Malacca)

After a week and a half of playing tourist-explorer in Malaysia, I found myself part reclined on a rather comfortable couch in the concierge of the Swiss Garden Hotel in Malacca. The Hotel overlooks part of the Malacca river where I got half drenched after being caught in an unexpected downpour during a tour. The river was also the place where I had spotted a ‘water monitor’ (a big lizard-komodo-dragon-like species) which seems harmless until you witness it kill and eat a bird.

The ‘water monitor’ by Melaka River

Now, the Swiss Garden hotel is attached to ‘The Shore’, a mall I soon came to appreciate for several conveniences it offered. The hotel and mall had become an important landmark for two reasons. Firstly, I could figure out where certain places of interest were located by looking at which side of the building I was on. Secondly, this would be my final port of call the day I departed by coach from this idyllic town.

On the day I was set to leave Malacca, I found myself with 2.5 hours to spare. Having done my fair share of walking in the earlier days, I instead opted to settle on the concierge couch which was an interesting shade of grey with black trimming. The colours worked well with the natural light that filled the space, and the couch cushions?  BEST padding to support and lull a rather well fed traveller – me.  I do have a thing for good couches in well-lit and ‘strategic’ locations. They make good thought spots, and time permitting, if you are the thought explorer type they can usher you into an enriching introspective zone (at least I think so).

So, as I sat on the couch I allowed myself to sink into a world of thoughts about my stay and trip. It was on this couch that part of my resolves for 2019 crystallized. My main resolve is to make time for what are the finer things in life for me – good sleep, good reads and great quality time with myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate company and meeting people (occasionally) but at this stage of my life where I know I’m prone to more self-doubt than ever, I decided it would do me, myself and I well to fall more in love with all of me.

What do I mean? When you are a PhD student there are several mental and emotional battles you face on a daily that can also seep into your professional and private life(maybe its just me). The likelihood of many other people understanding this is slim because when some  people hear PhD it spells too many other things that cannot be further from the reality and valleys we face, and sometimes excruciating sacrifices we have to make while still attempting to be ‘normal’ (I’m not being dramatic, just expressing it best as I can for I know each has their version of trials).

See, after a good two years of consistently working and going between work and uni related stuff in addition to everything else I had fallen into autopilot mode. I was at a point where my thinking was clouded and unproductive. It took a trip outside my borders for me to fully appreciate how somewhat gone I was mentally. Like I knew it, but I had not quite grasped how deep my mental exhaustion was!

As I sat on the couch in Malacca, I truly appreciated the beauty of time out. I also appreciated Malacca for both its resilience, beauty and the inspiration it had revived in me. The city which is 2 hours away by bus from Kuala Lumpur airport has a rather intriguing history and heritage. It’s setting is perfect for recalibrating one’s pace in life. This city which was once a fishing village that has been subject to Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial rule had turned out to be my place of mental recuperation.

‘The Swiss Garden Hotel Couch’

I couldn’t help but wonder how the locals had felt in earlier years about colonial masters – the confusion and angst of not only having to put up with changing ideologies, egos and various trade and turf wars, but having to constantly wonder which next colonial power would rock up at their port masquerading as traders? In a whimsical moment of thought, I couldn’t help but equate my anticipated 2019 challenges to colonial masters, but that’s perhaps a story for another day. Lol. I do know what lies ahead for me this year and all I can say is God and resilience will get me through just fine!

As I reflected, I also appreciated the fact that during my stay in Malacca I had had the luxury to read just because! I started on ‘The bottom billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done’ by Paul Collier. It is shaping up to be a great and thought-provoking development read. I also got to sleep and wake up without the aid of an alarm, watch some movies and completely unplug from the world. Apart from the ah-mazing local cuisine and great sights, these other 3 things were for me the most treasured of all. Simple things I could perhaps say I didn’t need to travel to do. However, the reality is, sometimes, what one needs is a change in routine and environment to remember how to do the simple things. Like I said, this stage of life does come complete with certain sacrifices. Getting to read just because, sleep without an alarm or watch tv? It is currently a luxury!

‘The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier’

So, as the clock ticked closer to my departure time – I made a mental note to make sure in 2019 I will have pockets of time just for my mind and not feel guilty about it. Understanding the season of life one is walking in is hard enough. Adjusting to it and truly embracing the sacrifices it comes with is another and it requires a certain level of stubbornness and commitment to the cause.  It will most likely offend some, but I am at ease with that now. My mental health and sanity matters more.

I’m excited about what this year will bring on all fronts. Yes, there will be a lot of work and I know it means some days if not weeks on end of  ‘cave like existence’, but, with the right kind of prayers garnished with adequate practical action consisting of healthy choices and doses of ‘No’ to many more things (because I really need to be one with my data), I think I will be just fine!

What about you, what’s your thing this year?





  1. Black Panther and Wakanda reignited the age-old question, where would Africa be without colonial rule. I believe we would have just been fine. Evolved and advanced in all avenues as we were meant to, like all the other nations did. The issue of colonialism gets me so heated so…they were colonized by the 3 countries!!!

    My thing this year, just actively living my life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.