THE OCCASIONAL COMMUNIST
Posted On 14.07.2020
FEATURING AWOOL SHAHRULNIZAM
HE ACUTELY RECALLS the first time he travelled; at an efflorescent age of seven, on his BMX bike around his childhood estate, Ang Mo Kio. Even then, a neighborhood vicinity was huge enough to get lost. For Awool, travelling is indefinite to jetting off from you homeland to another city. He believes that travelling is to meander yourself through any form of unfamiliar ground.
Needless to say, he has voyaged his fair bit across familiar tourist spots in Asia. More notable ones include the hermit kingdom North Korea, Beijing, China and Saigon, Vietnam. Thus, the self-given, not so secret codename, “The Occasional Communist” (O.C).
“I LOVE THE COMMUNISM ERA MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE DESIGN INFLUENCES, FROM ITS ARCHITECTURE TO GRAPHIC DESIGN. I BELIEVE THAT BACK THEN, SOME KIND OF EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS BEINGS MADE FREQUENT VISITS TO THE SOVIET UNION AND SHARED WITH THEM PLANS TO BUILD SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND FUTURISTIC ARCHITECTURES.”
He started his journey as the O.C four years ago, to overcome his fear of flying and heights. It was the picturesque moments and memories that trailed him to venture out more. Subsequently then, exploring cities became a continual habit.
He painted me his favorite memory from his travels, in a town called Karakol, Kyrgyzstan.
“I went to visit JetiOguz, a home to a wonderful rock formation that looks like seven bulls from a distance. Spotted a few sculptures and monuments of Gagarin, the soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space, in the middle of nowhere behind an abandoned one story building and a Lenin monument hidden behind a tree.
As it got darker, I walked to the bus stop to commute back. There wasn’t anyone there – just a few locals staring and smiling. I had no clue that I boarded the last bus in and out of the area. I strode in the 7 degrees weather, with hopes to hitch a ride. A couple passed and did not stop. By now, the sun was setting and thankfully, out of the horizon, came along an old soviet jeep, loaded with logs. There wasn’t much space on the jeep, but the guys hitched me a ride anyway. I was holding on to my dear life with just one of my feet on a narrow 10 cm-wide platform and the other one hanging. I can’t even begin to describe how great the feeling was – riding on through the sunset with the mountains surrounding me just left me speechless,”
When questioned his least favored part of travelling, he said none – before gushing in to declare, “it would be when I’m on the plane back home”.
Awool tries to utilize his passport as much as he can to satisfy his ambiguity, in between his desk job as a graphic designer. Meticulously combining annual leaves and public holidays, this year itself sailed him out on eight trips.
“I THINK TO TRAVEL IS TO GET LOST, LEARN A LANGUAGE AND HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT LIFE WITH RANDOM STRANGERS AT BUS STANDS,”
Follow Awool on Instagram for a glimpse of his transits through the eye of an iPhone camera.