Dream of the Colonial French Style Mansions in Asia and My Desire to Restore these Buildings

I found myself in Asia. I was in a tropical city. Colonial French style buildings lined the streets. My friends Richard and Sri Lankan Nigel were with me. We were on the run from the police. We stayed in an abandoned property that backed on to a canal. The building was in ruins. There was no furniture inside. Just rubble and sand mounds. I crawled up onto a ceiling awning cavity to sleep. There were big spiders inside this building. I tried to kill them including one that rested on the awning with me. In the morning Richard checked to see if everything was OK. A group, which included several people that were looking for us, was going to inspect the property we were sleeping in. The property was for sale and they were interested buyers. We quickly left the property via the back door and walked along the canal and then into a shop. I bought Nigel a Kit Kat fruit and nut snack because he had no money. We were all running out of money actually. I bought myself a chucky Kit Kat but it turned out to be a normal one. Nigel and I then sat in a park opposite the crumbling building we had slept in. I looked at the buildings that lined the street. Some were in ruins whereas others were beautifully resorted. I’d like a buy a place here I thought.


When one thinks of French colonial architecture in the Asian Tropics Vietnam comes to mind. This content of the dream can be attributed to several discussions I had with my friend Greg who was going there on a holiday. The remainder of the dream is a compendium of hopes and fears and foolish flights of fancy.

The two Nigels I know make an appearance. (As an aside Richard appeared in the dream of the skateboard tunnel in February 2016 and fulfills the same role in this dream). The Kit Kat alludes to my Australian friend from Europe, Queenslander Nigel. When I worked in Austria I used to buy a chucky Kit Kat as an after-lunch delight. Nigel and I – among others – would then sit on the stone fence that lines the river Inn and chew the fat before returning to work. Sri Lankan Nigel, a friend I made during my most recent and final university stint, was the Nigel the dream selected as an associative vehicle. He has a strong sense of spirituality and we shared many interesting conversations. In fact as I reflect on the meaning of the two Nigels I realise that with both I’ve had very deep and meaningful conversations. The nature and meaning of existence is the end point we always reach. With almost everyone else I know my feelings on the topic are easily rationalised away by science, philosophy, or worse nihilism. But with the two Nigels we explore an unknown feeling together. Hence why the darker skinned Nigel was selected by my unconscious, because the ideas we explore are dark and mysterious. My talk with Queenslander Nigel in Switzerland the year before last was one of the most profound I’ve ever had. I got horribly drunk too, maybe my way to mitigate the intensity of the discussion, which made the day after rather hard …

The Two Nigels and the stinking canals of the tropics

Decay and ruin all mixed up with restoration and renewal

All it took was a chunky Kit Kat to see right through

I’m not enamored with the idea of restoring buildings to their former glory. Frankly I see the enterprise as a fool’s quest for those held captive by cultural ascetic of our time. This conscious assertion belies my unconscious wish, which as a product of its culture yearns to undertake a restorative task. If I am honest I felt a twinkle of that desire in Portugal. Along the coast near Porto many grand mansions lay in ruins. Why, I wondered, was no one repairing them? Of course the answer is obvious, that the cost is prohibitive and probably impeded by all sorts of minutia. But the heart still yearns, despite the compendium of fears that suppress this wish, like those big spiders I tried to kill. While in Portugal I found the blog of an Australian ex-pat who was doing what I wished. She was restoring an old Portuguese home. I admired her bravery. But what piqued my interest was her post on Little Bay, my home in Sydney. She sung its virtues. That made me laugh. One man’s paradise is another man’s hell. I guess we’re all cursed that way. That grass is always greener on the other side (http://www.emmashouseinportugal.com/travel-in-portugal/little-bay/).

But then there’s the inner mansion. My unconscious is busy assembling a new home. The roof is open to the sky. Sand mounds and insects littler its interior. I have seen ruined towns in many of my dreams. These places are cold and lifeless. This tropical town, however, is a vast improvement. It’s warm. The buildings are colourful. The parks are lush and inviting. Positive moves are afoot in my inner world …

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