"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Girl Who Consumed Mistborn for Dinner

I've had just enough time to...   ask the girl what book she is reading...

Taken one evening of Harry's in Manhattan, Kansas

A very long time ago, when I was a young man; I found myself thousands of miles away from home in a small town called Manhattan. Not the one in the Big Apple. They called this “the little apple” and some Americans do not even know it exists. The taxi driver looked at me with suspicion for while he was loading the luggage, I promptly went over to his door and opened it only to discover we drove on different side of the road.

I learned a lot of things in my first winter. Snow balls hurt. You can only make two before your fingers froze. Why pushing a car up a very gentle but icy slope is so exhausting. I did not like the cold and the damp. Beyond the heavenly sight, I did not like anything about winter but hot coffee after the snow had never tasted so delicious. But what did I know? I was in my early twenties and have only known one type of weather before then. Experience has now taught me that the first impression is not necessarily the most accurate. Years later, I was sitting next to a lumberjack on my way to Canada and he has this glow as he described how cities depressed him and his most sublime moments are in the wild of the Canadian forest at minus forty.

Fine dining in a grand old restaurant with history...

Now I was back to this little town and the flood of nostalgia that I expected to hit me did not come. I have lost connections with most of the past I spent in this place. I still remembered some particular events that left a lasting impression but then I’ve always have these and my being there did not dredge out new ones from my subconscious. It was kind of disappointing. Maybe, it was because I spent too little time there this trip, only a day and working most of it.

In the evening, the ADM manager who was born in this town took us to his favourite restaurant – Harry’s. As students, we were too poor to dine in this fine place then. I was delighted to be assailed by the sombre atmosphere of a place leaden with history. I imagined the dining hall now populated by happy diners filled with water in the great Manhattan flood of 1951 and the restoration that made it what it is today. We were led to a private room at the very end separated by a glass partition.

The girl who consumed appetizer, dinner, dessert and book.

While waiting for our food, we chatted with our cheerful waitress and learned that she is from Australia. The world has gotten a whole lot smaller. My gaze wandered and rested on a girl seated in the most secluded corner of the restaurant. She was reading a book with her back towards me totally engrossed. I observed her throughout dinner from the appetizer to the main course and dessert. She has a good appetite and seemed to enjoy her food but she continued reading in between bites.

She and the book she was reading intrigued me. To my scale of attractiveness, next to a girl with a musical instrument (see “Did you fall in love with the music or the musician?”); is a girl with a book. Even after they cleared her table, she continued reading. As we were leaving the restaurant, I went over and asked her –

“Hi, I noticed that you were thoroughly enjoying this book. May I know what it is you are reading?
She looked up with a smile and said “Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It is good.”
“I am sure. I must get that book. Thank you”.

We left Manhattan the next morning and that evening in Kansas City, I asked the cashier in Barnes & Nobles if the book is in stock and she let me upstairs and found for me the box set of the Mistborn Trilogy. On the way out, I picked up “World War Z” which I read on the long flight back to Malaysia and which turned out to be the my most surprising read of the year. I would like to tell her that – it is good too. I enjoyed picking my souvenir this way.


  1. Onasill and ΞSSΞ®®Ξ added this photo to their favorites.

    1000 Reasons
    I apologized for this poor shot that was made in very low light. I had to turn my back to make the shot through glass partition on unsteady hands. I wanted to show the image to go along with the story but this time, I don't even have a decent picture to go along so this is the first photo in my photostream that I tweaked and leave the details to your imaginations but with enough for you to do the imagining... :) Sorry ya, trying to make the best of the situation :D Better little than nothing I guess.

    Far & Away (On Assigment - Mostly Off)
    Wondefull abstract Job !!
    Thanks for sharing it, take care and have a great day today !!

    Different Thou....A great mood effect for the view.

    ;) trippy ..... :P

    Rebecca Ang
    I think this is a very touching, meaningful and philosophical capture. It certainly evokes alot of thoughts and emotions. An excellent image that tells a wonderful narrative!

    henrhyde (gill)
    Great presentation of this image-- magical

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Unusual photo ... little mysterious, a little surreal, in my opinion. Maybe because I did not immediately could see her girl and a book? My imagination took me much further.


  4. Onasill, ΞSSΞ®®Ξ, and 4 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1000 Reasons
    This is reputed to be one of the best restaurants in Kansas. I tried the prime rib (always ordered this when I'm in the States) and it was great. Service is excellent though I was surprised that the waitress was from Australia. The world has gotten a whole lot smaller, don't you think? I even met a lady who came over to our table in another restaurant in Kansas City and asked "are you from Malaysia?" She laughed at our surprise and said "I figured you must be when you shoot all the food before you eat!" And she is a mormon from Utah and have been to Malaysia. Is that trait of Malaysian so apparent that others can pick us out just by our photography? Ha ha. I guess she has a point and gave me an interesting insight about how we behave in general. :D

    This is the place Well snapped for the view Thou.

    that is a stylish setting!

    oola *
    I would not mind having dinner in such a nice place... thanks for taking us this far... you framed the photo so nicely...they could use it in their publicity... nice work

    snowshoe hare
    Nice atmosphere and great composiiton !
    Beautiful photo !

    When I see the people around taking the photos of their foods on the table , I will smile :)

    Next time I will tell your story to my friends when they take the photos of the food .( some of them spent too much time taking the photos :(

    october blue
    Excellent composition, light and capture of mood ! Nice to see that 'the little apple' has such an elegant place to dine ....those chandeliers seem to speak of a more elegant era . Your story reminded me of leisurely reading the Sunday newspaper while enjoying a delicious breakfast at my favorite restaurant (informal and relaxed) when I lived in Honolulu . Have a nice day my friend :-)


  5. oola *
    I like what you did with the photo... and the composition is sound... it is a new you and done well...

    I will check in popular book store whether they have Chinese version , I read in internet , it's highly recommended .

    Beautiful lighting and mood, sometimes I became the same like her when it is really a good book :)

    GlobeTrotter 2000
    Excellent work

    Very interesting work! sorry I been away for few days,
    I still cannot comment the way I do, away from home is difficult,

    Andrew 62
    Beautiful ...
    evocative image and the story behind it ....

    Excellent results, thou ...original photographic artistry & beautiful contrasting tones. Love it! And love to see people reading in restaurants ...better that than the damn handheld gadgets *~* David Mamet has a collection of essays in a book he calls "Writing in Restaurants" which of course is where he wrote them.


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