Travescapade

All my life long I have wanted to travel and I have been blessed with a fair bit and if anything that I dream of, is more travel. I dream of travel. I write about travelling. I talk about travelling and pretty much my everyday life revolves around the thought of travelling.  Having said that I am yet to make travelling my lifestyle.  I mean the kind of travel where it is an unknown destination – get into the car and drive aimlessly, stop wherever and do whatever kind of travel.  The boon and bane of a family life!

It is indeed a dangerous combination to have a travelling mind and static life, bound by domestic choices made years ago. It is not easy to break away and suddenly go on trips to exotic places.  Questions arise about cost, timing and much more. It has always left me with a feeling deep sense of despair, an unsettled yearning! I have basic understanding of quantum physics and I know that such despair paves way for more such feelings and occurrences in the future.  I had to find that bridge of peace and I found it. And a tad of insanity always helps to find that bridge!

Here is I was, in front of that red door that I have never opened before nor has another man on this planet.  Now, I had gone through the motions of this in my head and it was pretty simple – open the door, step in, turn on the light and explore. That’s it. Easy!  The key reached the key hole and clicked and I opened the door and stepped inside. It was a darkness I had experienced only inside  a cave in Texas – pitch dark.  I fumbled with my flash light and turned it on and looked for the closest wall with the light switch.  Phew, it was near that heavy red door that had shut itself by now.  Flick! And unlike a dramatic set of high beam lights in a soccer field, came on a dim light. My flashlight was more powerful than that.  I suspiciously took a step along the wall and walked on, as my  left hand touched another switch. Yet another dim light.  My hand felt dust and cobwebs.  First thought – Let’s get on maid mode! But I held off on that one.  I decided to walk further.  And the wall had many more switches. I kept walking as I kept turning them on.  As I turned back and looked, I found I had walked perhaps a mile and the dim light shone a few feet away from the wall.  There was a certain intrigue to this space.  Black empty space.  It was nothing that I had envisioned before. I had seen places – beautiful, gorgeous, sad, scary places, but nothing felt as soothing as this space. It was my first escapade within.  Thus began my beautiful journey inside my own heart – one that hasn’t been travelled to by anyone.  I have cobwebs and dust to clear, certain corners need bleaching, yet other need some colour and I know one day this space will be controlled by one switch and that bright light will shine. Until then I am on maid mode! And I found that perfect place to travel to – no conflict with money, no conflict with scheduling, no conflict with people. I am on my own on a travel plan whenever I want to at any time of the day or night. Right now my plan is to pump the space with love. Air filled with love.  Not love for a person or thing or animal.  Just love. Off I go for now. Awesome!

Fans?

I love documentaries and often I watch them on various channels. Some I record and some I watch live and some I watch and re-watch and savour.  I happened to chance upon one such and I was beyond disgusted and I had to stop watching it mid way because it upset me so badly.  And I had to think and re-think as to why it upset me so badly because it wasn’t about injustice or slavery or child endangerment or inequality or for that matter religion. The documentary was simply dedicated to worshipping a movie star.  I had to stop watching it because it upset me as to how many young people were such ardent followers and such worshippers of a movie star.  Normally, something as trivial would have had no impact on me, because it is indeed their life and their choice and none of my business.  But it truly got me thinking.

I am not one for patronizing. However, if you truly are a fan of someone, here are some ways you can absolutely show your respect for that person.

It is not just about creating a facebook page and updating his/her pictures on a regular basis. It is about doing good work in his/her name (if you wish to give that person credit).  It could be anything from random acts of kindness to humans and animals alike, to speaking kindly to others to actually engaging in productive work that contributes to social well being.

It is not about screaming slogans of praise. It is about imbibing and influencing your near and dear ones in creating a healthy atmosphere of oneness.

It is not at all about sacrificing your life for that person, instead enriching the lives of the ones that are around you by being responsible and caring.

It is not just about tattooing his/her name on your arm, instead getting involved at grassroot levels in making an impact on society.

And last but not the least, how about not forgetting our everyday heroes of our lives – moms, dads, siblings, children, friendly strangers, the garbage man, the grocery store clerk, the bus driver, the mailman, the somebody and the nobody. In our reverence for a person that we only see on screen, we often forget how our everyday heroes contribute so substantially to our lives and our families and our immediate society.  I salute those off-screen heroes that make my everyday life sparkle. Thank you for enriching my life today and everyday.

Nostalgia …

I moved to North America over 13 years ago and there are moments that I would slip into, where I would be drawn to what I grew up with.  And I didn’t miss the usual hustle and bustle from back home. In fact the cleanliness of North America, the orderly fashion in which things function here, the order in everything, brought about a sense of peace to me because I am wired for that.  It bothered me back home that something that should take five minutes would take days.  In North America, I found it absolutely strange that when a particular form asked for a copy of a document to be submitted, they mean only that document copy, not the fifty thousand others that I was used to carrying with me. Back home, we call it – “just-in-case-we-need-these documents” and every document was accompanied with”just-in-case-we-need-these documents” because you are likely to come back home for these for sure, should you not have them.  I didn’t miss the food from back home because of globalization, we get everything around where we live. It felt rather easy to slip into this easy mode of life until years went by and I realized what I missed from back home.

I miss hearing my language. I miss going back and forth with a person on the street speaking my language.  I miss just thinking in my language. So bizzare. Never thought how something so insignificant once, would become a nostalgia later in life.  I also miss travelling to different States and being able to talk in different languages.  Of course, we speak the language at home. But its not the same listening to it day in and day out. And then when I go back home, I have this dumb thought, “Oh wow, everyone speaks my language!”. Duh!!!!!

I miss the joy of speaking in my language without being conscious of it.  In fact, when I go back, I have to remind myself that it is not rude to speak in my own language in a crowd.  In North America, I am conscious not to sound rude in a crowd when I switch to my language.  It is so engrained in me immediately translate to the person beside me as to what I am saying in my language.  So much thinking behind just a spoken language!

I miss talking to street vendors on a daily basis.  Even when I lived back home, I would engage in everyday conversations with the vegetable vendor, the iron man (not the super hero! The man down the street that irons clothes for a living) and the milk man (yes, they deliver milk packets to our homes at the crack of dawn every single morning). Predominantly it is the  smile on their faces, despite the hardships they see in their daily lives.  Now that I am older and at least pretend to be wiser, I find that despite odds, those people smiled from their heart.

I miss the sound of bells and hymns that I used to wake up to.  The local temple bells rang every morning at the same time.  It was the same voice that sang hymns and as someone that never trained in music, my only source of hymns was what I heard everyday.  And it is only lately I realize how many hymns I have memorized by simply something playing in the background.

I miss the freedom of walking out of the house without thinking about what footwear to wear! Wow, I had never given it a thought until I moved to North America.  The seasons dictate the footwear in North America.  Back home, I walked around everywhere in flip flops, or should I say rubber slippers? Needless to say, I love how my feet are always clean in North America.  The need for a pedicure is rather out of my need to sit still in one place for an hour, than a necessity to keep feet clean.

For me it has become a story of insignificance becoming significance.

 

Atypical bonds

Much has been said about tv being addictive for adults and children alike.  Studies across the globe are proving how the idiot box is influencing people’s lives, decisions, fashion, politics and the works.  While I have no reason to doubt all those theories, I have a statistically-unproven theory of my own.  Typically, statements like these, I support with personal evidence and as far as I am concerned,  can become a globally accepted theory in itself.

Idiot-box-bonds :): You can never deny this.  Tell me you haven’t bonded with a complete stranger or someone who you didn’t think you would ever get along with, over a TV series.  Come on…… Rake your brains. You have at least one person.  Now what does that tell you? I call these idiot-box-bonds.  So fun!!!.  Now you need to understand the deeper meaning here.  What you just did was take your mind away from plotting how to sabotage someone you detest to, “Oh wow. We do have something in common after all”.  Hence, my theory : Idiot-box-bonds thwart potentially hazardous situations.

Ice-breaker 🙂 : Who said, only weather or politics related topics are ice-breaker conversations in uncomfortable situations – elevators / parties / doctor’s office waiting rooms? Let me tell you.  TV-series conversations can completely take you away from getting into uncomfortable conversations.  Such conversations will get juicy and animated and highly inspiring for more non-sense.  Now, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of disengaging from the mundaneness of everyday life by engaging in idiot-box-series conversations. Hence, my theory : Idiot-box is great for mental therapy. Brings joy.

“Yay-i-dont-have-it” : How often do you watch something on tv and go “Omg. Am I not glad that I don’t live there or I am so happy that didn’t happen in my neighbourhood or Oh wow, people like that even exist? Think about it. What gets reported on tv? The odd stories, right? Does it not bring you to thinking about how lucky you are? I don’t know about you, but for me, it brings me back all the time to how fortunate I am.  Hence, my theory : Idiot box is great for mindfullness and gratitude. 😀 😀

Acquaintances become friends : Oh this is perhaps very specific to me.  A friend known to from years ago and I recently connected on a particular popular series and we realize how both of us perhaps need to go to a tv rehab to get over our addiction for the series! We bonded over characters. Wrote to each other why we related to them.  We even talked about moving closer to each other (we are only a couple of continents away from each other!!!), so we could continue to share our idiot-box-bond.  Hence, my theory : Idiot box is great for the real estate market!

Ever wondered what stress busters are? Babbling on blog is my way of busting the stress, I don’t have. :D.  There is a certain joy in expressing my thoughts to strangers that I will never meet (Lucky them!).  And hence the joy of filterless babbles!!!:)

 

 

My conversations with God

Yeah. I know… Yet another one of those? Once again I am sorry if you have landed this page by sheer chance…. This is not a traditional God conversation that you are perhaps looking for. I had the immense fortune of meeting someone face-to-face a few days ago.  She is doing some incredible work with children.  She started 11 years ago and as she talked with much humility about her journey, I couldn’t help but see God in her.  I gave her a hug at the end of our discussion and told her what I felt.  She humbly said, “Aren’t we all doing just our part?”

Eastern philosophy is embedded in me.  But I find it so easy to get side tracked and get caught up in the disillusion of seeing God as someone on the outside.  This very meeting with this lady was a strong reminder of how God lives in each one of us.  It was a very profound moment for me and then I had an epiphany.  I realize how many conversations with God I have on a daily basis.  The regular people in lives – that say kind words, perform random acts of kindness, my mom who cooks everyday for all of us, my children that acknowledge beauty in everyday occurrences, people who make me laugh are all conversations with God.   In fact, it is important that I acknowledge that my very simple, uncomplicated life is in itself a conversation with God.  I define every moment not spent in sadness, agony or anxiety is a moment with God.  Every opportunity to experience joy is an opportunity with God.  Every moment spent in peace, is a moment spent with God.  Every positive thought is a thought of God.  Every moment of silence is oneness with God.

Ever since this thought flashed in my head, there are innumerable times in a day that I feel so connected to my core. I feel blessed not because some prayer was answered, but because my very existence is surrounded by beauty and thus God.

Everyday blessings

meditation

sunrise

cool breeze

hot shower

half decent reflection in the mirror 🙂

choice of clothes

fragrance of hot coffee

fruits

mom-cooked meals

sounds of children chattering

choice of footwear

lone drive

music

friends

smiling strangers

occasional warm rain

sunset

starry night

crickets

cozy bed

books

soft pillow and so much more. so so so much more.

 

 

Nomad – Fiction

“44, divorced, lonely?”

“47, obnoxious, rude and interfering!”, she said as she continued to read her book and ignore the stranger that sat in front of her at the coffee shop, in a no-name town, she was passing.

“Intriguing, bold and pretentious”, he said.

Although she wasn’t planning on engaging in any conversations, she closed her book, removed her glasses and look up at him calmly, “What do you want?”

“Nothing really. I didn’t find a spot to sit. I wanted to share a table. Looked around and found you reading a book that I have read years ago. Hence decided to chat up.”

Now he really had her interest.  She had begun reading philosophy only lately.  At 48, she had a double degree, a high-pressure job that paid very well and the boon and the bane that came with it. Her large home, manicured lawn, constant first class travels had given her comforts, but nothing beyond.  To save her failing long-term relationship, she had tried everything – vacations, to golf trips, to hot yoga, to therapy.  Nothing worked.  When she reached a breaking point, four months after her relationship ended, she locked herself up in her room, switched off her cellphone, took her home phone off the hook, locked her doors and lay in bed endlessly watching garbage on tv.  Three days later, something clicked.  She walked into her office dressed in track pants and a sweat shirt.  She could see jaws drop.  She walked into the CEO’s office with confidence. The door shut for a good 45 minutes and she walked out with a grin on her face.  Two weeks later, the house with all her designer furniture and the BMW  sold. She packed her clothes in big boxes and hauled them to the nearest thrift store.  Her trustworthy financial planner advised her on what to do.  She closed all her bank accounts but one. She cancelled all but one of her credit cards.  She hailed a cab to the nearest car rental and rented a mid size Sedan.  Her large backpack had a week’s worth of clothing. She drove to the nearest store and bought herself a pop up tent and a good sleeping bag.  She also bought a camping stove, butane cans and basic cooking utensils that fit into a medium sized plastic box.  Before she reached the check out, she browsed through the book aisle and found herself  a book.  It was time to leave Maine. She drove through the coastline for a bit and then branched off towards Vermont.  From there began her nomadic drive.

Music played for a while. When she got tired, the radio came on.  Her cellphone barely rang. When she got tired, she stopped at a State park and pitched her tent.  If she liked it, she stayed. If she didn’t she continued to drive.  Along her route, she met some wonderful families that were camping. If they urged her to stay a day or two, she stayed. And when she thought, she grew to a point of getting too involved, she excused herself and drove away.  It all began seven months ago and she had driven from Maine to Vermont to New York to Pennsylvania to West Virginia to Kentucky to Tennessee to Arkansas.  Despite her agenda-free travel, she had developed a certain routine.  Every sixth night was in a hotel that had washer and dryer. On the seventh morning, she woke up, took all her dirty laundry including her pjs from the previous night to the washer.  She packed her folded laundry into her backpack and before hitting the road, found a donation box for used books, dropped her book and went to the nearest book store to find her next read.  Some nights were in motels, some nights in hotels and the others in campsites. Life began to feel really different – very silent, yet so fulfilling. She had certain rules that she stuck to.

  • No driving beyond 6 pm.
  • If it felt unsafe, then it is unsafe.
  • No forming relationships.
  • Living in the now and moving.

She had seen State parks, brooks, rivers, windy roads, tall trees, stormy clouds and more.  She had seen them before, but now she “saw” them. And here she was in a small town in Arkansas sitting in front of a stranger, willing to engage in a conversation.

“46, not 47.  Definitely obnoxious and rude, but not interfering”, he smiled. “Your turn?”

“No, I am good”, she said firmly, as she looked away trying to pack her stuff up to leave. But she was definitely smiling.

“Okay. Sure. But how about a meal before you leave?”

She smiled and pretended to be in a hurry to get to her destination, “I just had coffee, thanks. But no thanks.”

“I know you just had coffee. I didn’t say let’s eat now. We could eat after we go for a walk by the stream near by.  It could be a two hour walk and if you choose, certainly in silence”, he grinned.

She burst out laughing, “Persistent!”.  Something told her to go along.  He hopped into her car and directed her to the a bridge.  She found parking close by and couldn’t help listening to the sounds of the flowing waters.  And as promised, he didn’t say a word. They walked along the path in complete silence for over 50 minutes and she broke the silence, “why me?”

“Huh?”

“Why me? Why did you choose to  talk to me?”

“I thought I told you I found you reading a book that I had read before. Would you not buy the kindred spirit story?”, he grinned again.

“Sure I do!!!”, she said as she walked further.  The 3′ o clock sun didn’t seem so hot at all.  “Your turn. Tell me more”, she said.

“46, Divorced. One daughter. Is volunteering in Africa”.

“Okay, so what do you do?”, she asked.

“In the process of shutting down my business and selling off my assets and travelling”.

She stopped for a moment and thought to herself, “Is this some kind of a bizarre coincidence?” Strangely, he seemed very genuine.  She felt no reason to suspect his intentions or his words.

And from nowhere came, “I have a guest room in my house, if you would like to stay the night and come back here for an early morning walk, it absolutely stunning to watch the sunrise.”

And he sure wasn’t kidding about the sunrise. It was breathtaking.

cool breeze

mist-covered grass

chirping birds

gurgling waters

vitamin D soaked sun rays

still mind…….

He was rather different from many.  He did not ask her anything more about her life, than he already had.  Yet he told her about himself.  He admitted to her about his part in his failed marriage. He talked a  lot about his daughter and how he had missed many of her growing years.  He was a present, yet absentee father, thanks to his business commitments.  He told her how glad he was that life gave him an opportunity to think about it and rectify it before it was too late.  He had prioritized her life shortly after his marriage broke and dedicated time to spending all his time with her when he could.

The short walk ended in a sumptuous breakfast and her asking and she spoke without taking a breath, “Would you consider being my travel partner? I am weird. I will become quiet all of a sudden. When I become quiet, I do not like any conversations. I don’t like to justify myself.  I have routines and I have no interest in a relationship.  I won’t be offended if you said no.”

He smiled back and thus began a relationship of two kindred spirits that enjoyed impromptu travel.