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Monday, October 31, 2011

Class dismissed - for now :)

This particular school and the kids have had quite some exposure to foreign teachers in the past, but still, the way they respond to me is still with utter amazement (I’ll give them another week, and the novelty will have worn off!). The first few days were quite overwhelming. It was as if I was being pounced on by everybody but at the same time, I was still trying to get my head around the fact that I was working and teaching again, after having had 2 months of doing ‘nothing’.

Before I started, I made a promise to myself… I was going to be totally honest when it came to answering the question: am I happy to stay in this situation and do I want to teach, yes or no… I wasn’t going to force myself to stay, if it didn’t feel good to be in front of class again. To stay aware of this was quite a challenge especially as I was thrown in the deep-end from Monday onwards. But, luckily I’m able to swim. And as I went into the first class, knackered, overwhelmed and ill prepared, I was testing the water and swimming, all at once. I felt so at ease with the ‘pressure’ that was being put on me, which was such a great sign.

On Wednesday we didn’t have classes because of a national festival. And it was a day from hell, in my head. For some reason I was struck by something awful and I seriously thought I had to leave. After 3 full days!!!!!!!!!!!! But I questioned some more, I wondered, I looked at the bigger picture, and I knew that if I already felt ease during the very first lesson of teaching in India again, then that ease would only increase with time. I knew I couldn’t leave, I knew I’d only be letting myself down, if I did. What a relief that, for once, I wasn’t scared of letting others down by leaving (which was the case in China). Nope. Now it was ME who I’d be disappointing, by going.

I've since realized that this style of teaching and this particular environment is far more than just 'teaching'. It hardly feels like a job or a chore. It’s not to fill my time nor is it for the reason of not having any other options. Not at all. I’ve so many, but I know this is what I want to be doing for now. Even when panic attacks come out of nowhere (like on Wednesday), I know it’s okay. I won’t pack my bags…

By Thursday everything settled and I was flying. I was a ball of energy in the classroom and I was finding those parts of myself that had been put to rest for 2 months. I was coming alive in a different way and it was such a great feeling to get the kids on board so easily. I can’t even begin to describe how different it feels to be teaching here, than it did to be teaching in China, or even the boarding school I was at, before leaving India last year... Wouw…

Just a small note I’d like to add about the place I’m staying… Well, one of the senior staff members from school, Lekha, has taken me in. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be staying in this ‘mansion’. It’s outside of any towns and away from villages. It's on a huge plot of land, with coconut trees just outside the kitchen window. As well as the banana trees and the papaya, guava and cinnamon trees… There’s pineapple plants and a well for the water… Passion fruit, basil, aloe vera, curry, henna plants are growing and every morning there are workers out planting tapioca (a type of potato). The other morning I was greeted by a woodpecker, when I was having some tea sitting on the porch!

I can’t believe this paradise I’m in. I’ve got my own room and Lekha is so accommodating. A little too much at times, but that’s apart of their culture and I have to accept it. I’ll always appreciate it more than I can say.

Anyhow, I'm feeling quite settled at the moment, I’m here to the best I can and I know I’m going to learn so much. Right, I’ll stop the ranting for now and I’ll tune-in again soon. Love you all.

School time again!

One week of teaching later… And here I’m sitting. It’s a Saturday night again, I’m in a different room again, in a different part of Kerala again, surrounded by different people again, in a different situation, again, starting a different chapter again.

It’s only 6 days since I arrived and it feels like a lifetime. I’m in a tiny little place called Sashtavattom, 30 km north of Keralas’ capital Trivandrum. What can I say so far? If I were to spill all, it would be way too much. So I won’t. I’ll keep it ‘brief’ (sometimes I’m not too sure if I actually know what the meaning of the word ‘brief’ is, when it comes to tapping away on these keys, but that’s beside the point).

Monday morning I was picked up by my ‘saving grace’; Mr Suresh Sir, the manager of the schools of the Art of Living Association in Kerala. He was the one I contacted when I was in China and looking for something to ‘run’ to. When I was still in Jinzhou he offered me several positions in the different schools located around this state. Last year I’d already worked for the school in Kayankulam, teaching ‘Spoken English’. This is term, by the way, a common in India, and it’s used to differentiate between ‘normal’ English lessons and English lessons that are solely focused on speaking. The teaching I started on Monday would also require me to only be giving ‘Spoken English’.

So, what I’d be wishing to happen and been wishing to pursue, when I was China, suddenly became real from Monday onwards. I was picked up by the manager, from Allepey and we headed to the school where I’d be placed for the next 2 months. Meeting him again, was like seeing an old friend. I feel to know this person so well, and for so long. But in reality, I’ve only ever seen him twice. The 3 hour drive to Sasthavattom was strange; sitting in the car with this kind man again, 15 months after I first met him and I realized I was coming ‘full circle’… or maybe I could describe it as to feel as though he’d been ‘following’ me ever since I left India last Summer. First to Ireland (by calling me on several occasions, asking for me to come back to India to teach) and then to China (by me contacting him to see if he still needed/wanted me to teach). And finally it was happening; I was starting again to teach ‘Spoken English’ in an environment that’s warm, open, accepting, homing and more welcoming than any other school environment I’ve been in before.

When I arrived, within 10 minutes, there was a small ceremony being performed to give me a blessing, also called a pooja. As this is a Hindu school, by tradition, they take to practicing certain rituals, by singing and giving offerings of fruits and flowers to the guru, on special occasions. It can be for anniversaries or festivals. However this particular occasion was to bless me during my time at the school. It was so sweet. I couldn’t believe that it was only for me. The kids were giving me giving me flowers and at one stage they were even kissing my feet. Well… this has never happened to me before in all my life. I felt it was way too much. I was almost tempted to tell them to stand up and never ever feel that I was ‘so much more than they were’ just because I’m a teacher, just because I’m not from India. Man oh man… but I couldn’t say that of course, so I instead felt amazed at where I’d landed myself and overwhelmed by the whole thing.

The school itself is quite tiny, with only 240 students. It’s located in the most peaceful area, so rural, so open, so much space. It’s gorgeous. As I mentioned, it’s a school of the Art of Living Association, which means its one of the 14 schools in Kerala that’s been set-up by the Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has his main ashram in Bangalore, but at the same time has many other ashrams and centres throughout the world, where yoga and meditation are being taught.

Because of this, these schools are really quite different. Even though it wasn’t my first time to be at one of these schools, I’d forgotten just how positive the affect of their practises is on the kids and the whole environment. Every morning they (or should I say ‘we’, because I’m apart of the school now too…!!!) do yoga and meditation. The whole school together, at the same time! There’s chanting and singing and the kids are so free, so open and allowed to totally be THEMSELVES, instead of the school trying to control, drill and mould them into being and behaving only in a certain way (which is something that happens in many schools, especially in India: kids aren’t always seen and respected for their individuality). Here the kids are free and accepted and at the same time they have enormous respect for their teachers (hence kissing the feet…). This doesn’t mean to say they’re NOT rowdy or disruptive and full of energy… they’re kids after all, and it’s how they’re meant to be… Actually, the yoga only increases their level of energy, making life on the teacher a little tougher, as the kids are more difficult to control. But because the schools beliefs are focused on their freedom and on the acceptance of others AS THEY ARE, there’s never is a great deal of punishment from the teachers side… The teacher simply has to practise the art of patience. A challenge at the best of times…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mallapally -- Allepey -- Moving on

Thursday morning I contacted the chairman of the schools. He was delighted to hear that I wanted to start work earlier… a week sooner than planned. I decided for this speed, once I got to Riyas house. I suddenly realized I was tired of contemplating the whole teaching-thing. I was almost sick of waiting and I didn’t want to be curious anymore about whether or not I’d feel comfortable in front of the class. As well, I was getting more eager to put into practise the following: teaching full-time and alongside, doing what I can so as to keep the publishing ongoing, along with other bits and bobs.

And if I can be totally frank right now:… I’m just tired… FULL STOP. Being in Riyas house made me realize even more, just how much I’d love to put my bags down, for a couple of months. I want to ‘settle’… I want a routine for a while… I know that a routine can be boring, but at least it gives you… REST and the chance to work on things, at a regular and steady pace, with more energy and focus…

I’m feeling that everything I’ve been learning since coming back to India… like the yoga, the meditation, and the publishing, I can only properly use as tools in my life so I can do what I want/need to do, IF and WHEN I’m living according to a routine for a while. Only then will I benefit and see the results in my life. Having a disciplined routine frees up so much more energy that can be put into creating things that will move me forward in other ways, instead of putting that energy into the planning, trekking, adjusting, acquainting, acclimatizing and actually dealing with all the emotions that come along with every upheaval. I make it sound as though I dislike travel… But the thing is, I love it so much, that I want to be fully THERE when I’m doing it… and I have been so far… but if I wish to continue to be fully THERE, I first need some ‘settlement’ for a short while.

So, after saying goodbye to Riya and her family, and thanking them at least a thousand times, this morning (Saturday the 22nd) I got on a bus from the nearby town of Changanacherry. I was unsure when I’d be starting work, but I knew that it would be within days. In the meantime, I needed some me-time before diving into the job. I needed to write, I needed to get on the net, I needed to just be by myself for at least a day or 2… Cause, let’s face it… I still don’t know what kind of situation I’ll be landing myself in, or who I’ll be living with, or how heavy or light the work load will be, or how my weekly schedule will be. So, a day or 2 to myself, I don’t think is too much of a crime to commit.

Hopping on the bus was the most amazing feeling. Man, it was probably the best bus journey I’ve had in India… It only lasted 45 min, but boy-oh-boy, it was GORGEOUS… I’d never been to this particular area of Kerala before. I’d been so close, but never actually exploring it… I’d heard about it so often; all the locals would always recommend every foreigner to visit… And now I understand why. Those sights this morning on the bus are some the prettiest I’ve seen. Canals, canals and more canals… and green, green, green everywhere with countless coconut trees and bamboo houseboats sitting on the waters. In between there were the local women balancing fresh produce on their heads wearing colourful sari’s, standing out from the greenery… I wasn’t able to shoot some pictures but I’ll never forget the images. They totally brought home just how lucky I am: Here I was, sitting on the bumpy bus in paradise… in the south of India… not just passing through. But actually on my way to a job… so easily, so normally, on a Saturday morning, ‘just like that’… as if it’s nothing… I’m so able to ‘settle’ so close to such amazing sights! All I have to do is pick up the phone and I’ve got a job… and the best part of it all; it’s never a job I despise or one that’s mundane or unrewarding… because it’s teaching… because it’s kids and because it’s India. I felt, and still feel, like the luckiest girl in the world.

When I got off the bus and wasn’t being bombarded by Indian men wanting to sell me their services… I felt even better still… This place is soooo easy… People are so relaxed… and they’ll hear my ‘no’ and they leave me alone! It’s heaven almost. There’s something about this place, a certain feel that I’ve not experienced before, in other tourist areas in Kerala (nor in the Chennai region)… By far, it’s my favourite… I found great accommodation, only 10 minutes walk from the beach… It’s absolutely gorgeous, both the hut as well as the beach… I hoped so so much that I’d get to spend a full day here, before moving to the job… and YES!!! Tomorrow (Sunday) is totally my own time, to rest, to explore, and to slowly get myself into teaching mode…because Monday morning at 7am I’ll be picked up and brought to the new school, near Trivandrum. It’s a 3 hour journey from here. I’ve no idea what to expect… Only that Monday will by my ‘introduction day’… and I’ll receive a blessing and ceremony to welcome me to the school, and after that… the teaching shall commence. I’m excited 

Hope to get connected, so I keep updating!

Mallapally -- Giving without end

It’s Saturday night and I’m in Allepey. A coastal village in Kerala, that’s famous for the ‘backwaters’ (another name for canals). I arrived this afternoon after spending 3 days in a tiny village called Mallapally, with a former ‘teacher-friend’ Riya.

I find it hard to fathom how intense the days have been, ever since leaving Chennai on Tuesday afternoon. The 16 hour bus journey was a ‘breeze’ by the way, even though it was lashing for a few hours (and because the windows wouldn’t shut properly, we were getting a little… wet and rained-on for a while). Either way, it was nice to be moving away from a busy city. I only realized just how tiring the city pace can be, once I stopped dead in my tracks when I reached Riya’s house on Wednesday morning. Suddenly it was peace and quiet surrounding the cute little lilac house that was standing on top of a hill, with 8 family members inside, making it into a cosy home. There were her parents, grandmother, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, her own husband (they’re only newly wed) and Riya herself.

Even though it wasn’t my first visit, I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received. Really, it was so… MUCH. I never realized the impact my turning-up would have on the whole family. Really, I was quite shocked. They did everything for me. And if I’d have let them, they’d have done more… if I’d have asked them to wipe my backside (sorry for the details), they’d all have jumped at once to help!

I’m inclined to compare this experience with the experiences I’ve had in Jayanthis’ home. But that’s impossible. Just because they both are good friends of mine, and they both live with their families, and they’re both Indian, doesn’t mean to say that the experiences would be in any way shape or form similar to each other. They’re all different people, from different states, speaking different languages, following different religions and beliefs, in different homely set-ups, with different aspirations in life and appreciating different ways of living. However, one similarity there is: Indian hospitality never ceases to amaze me. Wouw… is all I can say…

Both Jayanthis and Riyas family gave me more than I could ever have asked for; a place to rest, a place to refuel, a place to experience India up close and personal (rather than from a distance… which is what happens in the tourist spots)… They both have offered me a long term home to be apart of, they wished for me to live-in with them. This was, and still is, huge to me… But they have no clue, no matter how often I tell them. They see it as nothing… they only want to give me more and will take nothing from me at all… Never can I part with anything, and all I hear when I try to give, is that my presence is worth more than anything else. Whether this is spoken in such words or not, it seems to be the only explanation and the only ‘thing’ I actually DO: just being there is more than enough… It can be a little frustrating at times; never letting ME show THEM my OWN appreciation for the fact that they’ve opened up their homes to me. Instead, it’s the other way around… they show me their appreciation for me being there, by giving to me…!!!! What a crazy world this is!

Either ways, back to Riyas house. I was definitely THERE, in their home, for 3 full days. And the entire family and village knew about it! When I say family, I don’t mean just the sister, brother, father, mother… Nope, I mean the whole entire family tree – that branched out in directions I never knew existed. At one stage I felt like I was trying to solve riddles, when I was being introduced to, for example, the child of the wife of the brother of her sister-in-laws mother (who just so happens to be married to her neighbours’ second cousin). How that would work? I haven’t got a clue… It’s just shows how close-knit AND extended their family is. However, even though it’s so extensive, they’re STILL all living within a 5km radius of the little lilac home, standing on top of a hill with coconut and banana trees all around… It was so funny. Quite tiring too, I must admit. Everyone wanted a piece of me, so I kept on giving and in return they kept on feeding me their Indian dishes.

And, just a brief note on the Indian food: At this point, the richness of the Indian food is quite – powerful and has been the cause of harsh and painful indigestion. I’d also like to vent, while I’m on this topic - that every time I’m in Kerala, it seems to happen that my body odour changes…I start to smell of the same ‘scent’ that I get whiffs of when I’m on an overcrowded bus and the ladies are bearing their armpits, as they hold-on to the railing for dear life… It’s not so much a bad smell, it’s just very distinct and one I’ve only every smelt from the ladies in Kerala (not that I’ve been travelling much elsewhere in India, but in Chennai I’d never smell it…) It seems to be a mix of…coconut (quite yummy), but mixed with spice and something… sour… !!?? It’s very strange… When I started smelling if off me, for the first time in the ashram… I was quite… ALARMED… But I heard from other female travellers that they had the same ‘problem’. That was a little relieving and all the more reason to stock up on some more body spray and perfumed powder (an Indian way to ‘naturally’ conceal odours that don’t make us smile!). I guess it’s only normal for India to be SEEPING THROUGH MY VERY POURS… at this stage of my travels. Hummm… Not too sure what to make of that! Anyhow, I’ll be taking to western food for a few days I reckon… only for breakfast and lunch though… cause for dinner I’ll still prefer Indian to western. On that note, I’d also like to add how much of a difference I felt, when one day last week I had some western takeaway; Italian to be precise… And I couldn’t believe how little I enjoyed it and how unwholesome it felt. So, still with the indigestion and the scent, I’ll give a thumbs-up to Indian dishes.

Okay, getting a little side-tracked… Back to what I was saying about the family… It was all very overwhelming in many ways… their ‘giving’ knows no limits… And when I was forced to say ‘no’– by feeling my own limits - it was like I was rejecting their hospitality, their home, their care. So I had to speak with them about it. Or, at least I sat down with Riya and her mom, and Riya translated what I was trying to say: just because I couldn’t take absolutely everything everybody was offering me, it didn’t mean to say I wasn’t appreciating everything they were doing and giving me. They understood my concern, and still her mom smiled that big white smile, and offered for me to stay as long as I wanted whilst holding a plate of fried rice balls stuffed with sweet fruits and coconut…

What did I do? I returned a smile and stuck my ground… saying that they’ve done too much already and that I needed to keep ‘moving things along’. It would have been too easy for me to have stayed there, being looked after like that… One day could’ve easily slipped into the other and another – without nothing really happening. So I got this urge on day 2 (Thursday) to get the next step into action… the teaching! I needed to speed things along…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Negative Nancy

A short recap of the daytrip ‘from hell’: I was there by 8am and already it was roasting hot. I walked only 50m and already the rickshaw drivers, the tour guides, the restaurant owners were bombarding me; the first western girl of the day, who was alone and ‘obviously’ easily to coax into overspending on services she ‘must be in need of’… Well, they were after the wrong girl! Because I ignored, I walked away, I scowled and tried to be unaffected. I was going to do the ‘tourist thing’ all by myself, without needing contact with anybody!!!! Hummm…

This was quite possible, but it wasn’t really the way to make my day a happy one… Because, man, what was I full of hatred towards the people and the whole place…!!!!! It only increased when I went to buy a ticket to explore the temples and read the sign that said Indians: 10 rupees per person, ALL OTHERS 250 rupees per person!!!!!!!! Well, never have I seen so blatantly advertised in black and white, just how much foreigners are being overcharged. It wasn’t just twice or three times the price – something I would’ve swallowed a lot easier. But it was 25 TIMES THE PRICE!!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe the cheek of these Indians!!! At that moment, my hatred wasn’t only growing towards the Indians in that particular town. Oh no, it was now towards the entire state. Nevertheless, I paid, even with huge disgust… And of course, things didn’t really brighten from that point onwards (no matter how bright the sky was or how severely that sun was shining). I was walking around the sculptures and temples, trying to be interested, forcing myself to enjoy and trying to ignore the local Indian men who were hanging around the ‘western girl who was alone’. But, I was miserable! It got hotter, I got more agitated… I didn’t have proper sunscreen, so I was using an umbrella (at first it was only as protection from the sun, but soon it was to avoid anybody seeing my face of thunder - it worked a treat by the way!) And then, to make matters worse… The battery of my camera died!!!! Just when I thought that by taking cool pictures, I’d feel better and at least have something to show for the miserable hours I was forcing myself to spend in that town… But even that didn’t work!!!! Whhhaaaa…!!!!!!!!!!! By 10am I was so ready and willing to leave. My battery was exhausted… and it wasn’t only the one in my camera, it was my own personal one too. I needed to recharge, but given the environment, it was impossible; there was hardly no shelter, the umbrella for protection was a menace, and suddenly I didn’t care if the world of Mamallupuram was a witness of my anger expression… My head too felt to spontaneously nearly combust, due to the heat and my feet were on fire.

It was so strange to hate everything so much. I was walking around, wondering what the hell I was doing and getting more frustrated that I couldn’t shake my mood. The fact was, I simply didn’t want to be there and I probably didn’t even want to go in the first place. I realized I don’t have an interest in archaeology… The only things that sparked something off were the monkeys, the cows, the goats and the trees…

Anyhow, by 11.30am I was done… Most tourists would take a full day to properly explore and get a feel for the history. But, 3 hours after hopping off the bus, I was jumping back onboard! And only then, when I was sitting comfortably by the window and the bus started moving, did I start to smile again. The relief I felt to be getting out of that place, was huge.

So I sat, and I let my thoughts float and couldn’t help but laugh at the whole morning, or laugh at my spoilt behaviour and my anger. Then I suddenly was loving India again. I loved that I was on the bumpy bus, I loved that the windows wouldn’t shut and that I was being blown to smithereens almost, as we raced around every bend, at high speed. I didn’t care about the stares from fellow passengers, or about the different smells coming from outside. I didn’t care about the heat, or about the men doing their business so openly along the roadside. I didn’t care that the lady next me had a sticky arm, that was sticking to my sticky arm and that when I gave her a smile, she returned one and revealed dirty red stained teeth from chewing paan. Non of these things disgusted or irritated me. And I was delighted to be feeling fine with everything again! What a crazy morning…

Once I was back at the house, I spilled my thoughts of the temple town of Mamallapuram… And they weren’t positive. But I didn’t care. It’s how I personally experienced it and I don’t have to claim something was something it wasn’t, just for ‘needing to always be the positive Polly’. I’m only human, which means I too can be a ‘negative Nancy’. And I reckon that being either one doesn’t make me good or bad, right or wrong… it makes me simply… me.

Time to pack up

This is my last update from Chennai; I’m moving on tomorrow afternoon (the 18th); I’m taking a 16 hour bus journey back to state of Kerala. I came from there, 17 days ago… I left from the main city Trivandrum. Now I’m going to a smaller town; Kottayam. I initially thought I’d be around Chennai and exploring the coast, up until the end of the month. But nope… the situation here at Jayanthis’ house has changed; her brother is arriving from Delhi and there’ll be a lack of space. They never asked me to leave, but I know when it’s my cue… And that’s cool…

Friday I started making plans and around the same time I was contacted by a teacher, Riya, who I worked with and became quite close to, when I was teaching at the boarding school last year. She called me and wanted me to visit her as soon as I got the chance. So, the timing was perfect and we arranged for me to move onwards to her place. Wednesday morning, after a bumpy bus ride, I’ll arrive in Kottayam where she’ll be picking me up. She lives with the whole family (extensions and all) who I’ve already met. I stayed there last year too for a weekend. It’ll be brilliant to catch up with her again and I love the settings of their home – out along the ‘jungle like’ country roads of Kerala… Cool! I’ll stay for a few days only, and after that I’m not too sure what will happen. I’m waiting for a few things to fall into place, with the teaching job that will be starting soon. Once I know more about that, I’ll know more about where I’ll be heading. But for now, I’m just taking it a few days at a time.

Knowing that I was be leaving this area and not knowing if I’d be back, I figured it was time for me to do some exploring on my last full day here. I’d heard about the tourist spots outside the city, and figured I ‘needed’ to take a daytrip. So I headed out this morning, by myself at 06.30am (Jayanthi was swamped with work). It was the crack of dawn and I hopped on the bus to a nearby temple town called Mamallapuram. It’s famous for archaeological excavations of temples, caves and sculptures. I’d been meaning to visit the place last year too. So finally I was branching out and being a real tourist for a day! This meant I should’ve been happy, curious to explore and excited to see some real history of India. Well… do you think I was any of these things? Hell no… I was nothing of the kind! I went there, in such an angry, annoyed and total frustrated state. Don’t ask me why… wasn’t able to figure it out…haha…

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book rant over... for now :)

Oops is what I say, when thinking of teaching… I’ve become so absorbed in the book that I’ve been distancing myself more and more from teaching – it’s probably only natural by the way… and it feels brilliant! But… this of course gets me wondering about the whole ‘teaching thing’… I think I’ve sussed it out already though. Teaching may not be my passion, it’s not my career… but yes, I can do it and be happy. It’s temporary, it’s a one-off experience, and only 3 months of my entire life. So why would I even consider giving in to the temptations I have to complain about it? How spoilt am I to want to complain, when everything is feeling so great!?

Such a need someone can have to ALWAYS WANT MORE PERFECTION IN LIFE! Do I suddenly think that, just for stepping into the world all fresh, fully recharged and with so much inspiration and motivation to get things into motion, that I can be granted permission from whoever it is that’s permitting me to live my life, AND DO WHAT I WANT???!!!!! Do I feel that I’ve suddenly got the right to put my own energy and focus into work I feel is more satisfying and rewarding than anything I’ve ever done in my life??? Actually, I’ll take retrace what I just said: I don’t think there’s one particular individual who’s currently handing out permits to the residents of the world, stating what one can and can’t do throughout the course of their own lives. No, I know for a fact there’s nobody! It’s only US… (and I’m not referring to the United States, no matter how powerful they may feel to be in the world, but I mean OURSELVES).

Humm… I’m getting to the bottom of something here. If I want to say, do and, most importantly, FEEL that I can continue to be apart of the book world, EVEN WHEN I’M TEACHING, THEN I WILL… If choose to believe that I literally AM the creator of my life, then I’ll continue making choices based on ‘the permit I’m applying for’. I’ll grant myself the permission to reside in the world of books so I can do and be in life, in whatever way, shape or form I feel is right for me, no matter what situation comes my way.

So, if the goals, visions and prospects of what is to come – when I stick to my guns (which I happily will do) AND stand my ground (that I’ve only just found my feet to be standing so firmly on) – then time is so UNimportant. It doesn’t matter one bit how long it takes or hard the road gets… it will happen either way. The book will reach the reader! And what’s the best thing about it? I’m not afraid anymore to admit when I’ve made a wrong decision, a wrong choice…

Because I’m new to this territory, this road I’m heading down, the one that’s pointing me in the direction of becoming an Indie writer; which is the abbreviation of an independent writer – someone who publishes themselves, markets/promotes themselves and has total freedom to create, write and express their writing in whatever manner THEY THEMSELVES wish, without having to answer to others. Could a person experience more freedom than this? In my eyes, it’s impossible.… This process however is challenging, daunting, overwhelming. Wrong decisions and f*ck-ups can be made (excuse the language). But at the same time, lessons can (and most definitely will) be learnt. And guess what; that’s what I’m here for! I’m here to learn and I can only do so by putting things into practise and gaining experience. I know I’m a student again and, by seeing how the world is moving and changing at lightning speed, in every which way possible, I’ll probably remain a student for the rest of my life… and will never EVER attend a graduation ceremony. But I don’t care. I’ve never been one for giving importance to certificates anyhow…

And, with that, I’ll leave this little rant of mine for what it is: just a rant… I’m hearing the amazingly chaotic Indian city just outside the front door calling for me to take a walk in the blistering afternoon sun. So I’ll hold an umbrella for protection and buy some fruit and veg from the stall up the road and I’ll be sure to tell the cows I meet along the way (as they eat their lunch from the roadside garbage) that you send your kindest regards… that should put a smile on their faces! What a wonderful world…

Book rant

So, what’s been ‘going down’, here in good ol’ Chennai? Well, I’ve thrown myself into the book world!!!! The freedom I have in this particular set-up, is only pushing for me to work on getting my book to the reader. Yes, it’s going to be a slow process and - for the moment - a full-time job. But, no, I’m not going to let that stop me from re-starting what I’d put to one side when I was in China (namely: publishing). I know that every hour of study, research and preparation I put into the ‘DIY-publishing’ (or ‘self-publishing’ as it’s more commonly known) will be worth it.

For the past week, I’ve been working my ass off… Every day I’ve been reading online, comparing options, contacting people, getting more computer- and web-wise… And after many severe moments of dazed confusion, I’ve forced myself to put my pride to one side, admit to my ignorance and ask questions. Luckily, I’ve always found the answers. How? By connecting with online experts in the field of writing, with buddies who understand how much this means to me, with my family, with my mam and most importantly, with myself.

This brings me to ‘short’ and (as always) reflective rant… sorry… (feel free to tune-out at any time, I won’t be offended)… When I was on the meditation course and in that zone, I was living and breathing my book. I knew and felt so strongly that it was the only thing in the world I needed to do. I’m not going to go too deep into just how powerful this urgency was, or what sacrifices I was willing to never be fazed to make, just for the sake of my book reaching readers wherever in the world, through whatever means necessary - this isn’t the time or the place to go ‘there’. If we meet in person, I’ll be happy to share ;)

Anyhow… back on track. In my last post I briefly spoke of not knowing how to place myself in the world – just after the course ended. And now, I can see that I was ‘starting a fresh’ and feeling like a lost child for a while. BUT, since starting to work with so much excitement and passion on my book, I’m finding my feet again. I’m finding a way to place myself in the world, simply by being apart of the book world. At the moment, it doesn’t even matter how insignificant a role I’m playing, I’m joining in and I’m apart of the game. I’m absorbed and I feel apart of life more so than ever before… Hummmm… Is this a slight exaggeration here on my behalf? It doesn’t feel as if it is… it’s the only way I can describe what’s going on right now. I guess, to put it less extravagant: I’m more clear of my place in the world – and I’m not referring to India, to Ireland, to China, to Australia, to Africa, to America (going a little extreme again) Nope… I’m referring to NONE of these places; it doesn’t matter where I am. Because I’m doing what I need to be doing, and it’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I’m loving every minute.

So, I dumped all of my teaching stuff from my mind, when I was in 10 days of silence and over these past 2 weeks I’ve been putting into practise what I saw before me. Again, I don’t care if this is sounding airy-fairy to anybody… you’re still free to tune-out! I’m gonna keep on typing… Yes! I’m continuing to use my clear mind to keep my long-term goals clear (from which I’ll remain detached, by the way). With this clarity I can learn, envision and create as much as I like, before I have to start accumulating teaching stuff once again. Oh oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is where it gets tricky!!!!!!

Why? Because, on the 1st of November I’m due to start teaching again… Ooops…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

REAL LIFE concluded

I remember during one of the last meditations: I was struck by a fear when thinking of the outside world; I didn’t know how I’d experience it. I didn’t want to face the changes. I didn’t want to take off the glasses I’d been wearing – that had always made me blind and ignorant to any suffering inside of myself as well as outside. But I’d by going into silence, I’d started the process of truly opening my eyes. And reality first needs to be witnessed inside, only then can it be witnessed it outside. So I was wary because I felt the change. But I had no choice. I had to be apart of the world; which was/is India.

But, hang on! Hadn’t I desperately needed to be here, when I was in China??!!! Yes I had… So why suddenly reject an awaiting world of which I should want to apart of? Well, thankfully, with reality comes clarity and I’m able to put it into perspective. In China, only India would’ve made me happy. Why? Well… whilst being unhappy in a situation, we’ll always force ourselves to move mountains and reach a place that, once upon a time, had been magical, in the hope that the chosen place of refuge will offer all that we desire, once again.

And to me personally, India always represented magic. So I believed I could only have a life of magic, whilst being ONLY here. So, I came. And ended up on the meditation course, where I was faced with my own reality. This is the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Because it’s leading me to witness the reality in this part of the world; India. And this in turn, this truth of this present place, has released so much of pressure. Suddenly I can happily accept the dualities I’m faced with and I feel there’s no need to cling to India and this experience, for dear life (which is what I did last year and was trying to do from the beginning of this trip too - so terrified I was that something would happen and I’d need to leave and my world would crash, for not being in this magical spot). Because it’s changing. Or I’m changing. I know that magic and excitement can be experienced, but so can tragedy and heartache.

Does this mean I’m no more an optimist but instead a pessimist? Not at all! Does this mean I’m going to hop on a plane and head back to Ireland? Nope. What does it mean? It means I can start letting-go of the need to ALWAYS see magic. There’s no NEED for this! If I see, feel, hear or taste it, then so be it. If I don’t, I don’t! I don’t need to search India for it. I don’t need to search the world for it. Because for all the magic I can experience, I know there’s just as much misery. And by forcing myself to only see and feel bliss, I’m blind to pain. But in this blind-sighted ignorance, pain isn’t resolved. If the pain arose and wasn’t dealt with, it won’t disappear. It will still be there, simmering, brewing, stewing. But not being attended to… My natural tendency to always be optimistic can smother a painful truth that could be harmful in the long run. And…. Voila! This is exactly what happened in China!!!! Wouw… yes yes yes… What a lesson I’m learning, just as I’m typing this! So, to come to a conclusion: If magic appears, I embrace it. If darkness appears, I embrace it. In both cases, I thank my lucky stars because I’m here to experience and to be inspired by it.

What I’d hoped to gain from meditation really is happening. A slow process, but it’s starting. I’d said, before entering the 10 days of silence, that I wanted become grounded in my travels. Meaning; I wanted to stop pushing to be elsewhere, which is a push that comes from my urgency to search and experience magic. We believe it’s always somewhere else and never in the present situation… As a result we always wish to be some place else. It’s the search for a perfect world. But… it doesn’t exsist! If we search for perfection in the world, and are guided by the LIE that there is such a place, then life will present one struggle after another. One collision with dreams and reality will follow the next… A person would never stop and smell the roses or smell the urine!!! Depending on where they are…

I see so clearly that this is exactly what I’ve been doing. But I wished for it not to be so, before entering silence… I wished to become more grounded, or to at least find something that would offer me even the tiniest of degrees of grounding so I could start living in this present situation, accepting that these are the choices I’ve made, and be fully responsible for my actions, without feeling that to move would be better the already amazing situation I’d place myself in. I wished to settle into a lifestyle that gradually takes me all over and that’s here and now, for however long I want it to last, without a time limit attached. When we see that something will end, we cling to it, if it’s good, and we wish it away, if it’s bad. But if travel is my life, and life can present us with both good and bad, then I don’t have to cling to the place I’m in, or crave for the place I’m going to. Every situation is will always change, magic comes and goes, as does misery.

Every stop is only temporary… For every place, there’s a time to arrive and a time to leave… It’s so simple, so logical, but only truly truly truly clear, when it’s being lived. And a person can only realize if it’s being lived, by taking a step back and reflecting. Those reflections are then taken forward as the next venture is embarked on… Yes… and this is my reason for blogging!!!! This is so grounding, this is so real… this is life. Wouw… Thank you so so much for reading… forever grateful...


Taking a 15 hour bus journey from Kerala and rocking-up in Chennai on Saturday afternoon (the 1st of October), brought me back to a place so familiar. Instantly being in this huge city, with approximately 10 million people, felt so normal. Forgotten memories came flooding back, when I was sitting on the local bus, stuck in traffic, sweating bullets, cramped on a seat with a sweating mother and child and trying for my baggage and me, not to get in the way of the 30 other passengers. It was as if I’d never left…. The joys of city life!

When I was in China, the place I thought most about, when wishing to be in India, was Chennai. I wanted so desperately to return to the base I’d found when I was here last year. The base being at Jayanthis house. And here I am, being given the chance, once again, to be apart of their lives and apart of this city life, just for a short while. This step has made me realize just how easy and comfortable it’s gotten for me to be apart of peoples lives, even after time has passed. I rest easily, in places that aren’t native to me. I put my bags down, for however long we both feel it’s comfortable. And no matter how far I travel or where I may go or what challenges may occur along the way, there are always people I can turn to, those who I’ve met along the way, who I know will always be there in their place of residence. I happily let myself be absorbed in their lives and give all I can, in many different ways. And just as easily as I approach them for help, I easily accept their rejection, should my time of knocking not be the right one. And the only way to know if there’s comfort and ease on both sides, is by being honest. I figure, it’s all I can be, so as to maintain the balance in our friendship. And I can only hope that it’s happening right now, in my current situation.

So… for now, I’m placed in Chennai. It had been such an important place for me, during my trip last year. And I think it’s only normal for me to automatically witness the changes in myself just by being placed in the same place and a similar situation.

After the meditation course ended, I wondered how I’d see life. I wondered if there’d be any huge differences in me. And now in Chennai, I can notice the affects. The course really has opened my eyes. I see REALITY so REAL now… And Chennai is the perfect place to be confronted with the truth of India. Being here, and looking back on my China experience, I see that life can’t always be magical, amazing or ‘out of this world’. We can’t always be flying high on excitement. The amount of pressure a person is put under (which is self inflicted) when this ‘LIE’ (of always needing to be flying high on life or else a life is wasted) feels like such a TRUTH. BUT TRUTH BE KNOWN: it’s harmful to live life in such a way. We think that by seeking and moving towards amazement, we’re bound to be happy and successful in all that we do. But how can happiness and success come when we’re secretly forcing ourselves to be ecstatic in every single situation. When life isn’t like that?!

I see it so clearly now: when I was in China, India was magic. When I was Ireland, India was magic. When I was India last year, India was magic. And how is India now? India is… REAL. Yes it’s mystical, but it’s also harsh. It’s colourful, but it’s dirty. It can smell of jasmine flowers but of urine too. It’s full of warm hearted people, but of people who possess corrupted warped minds too.

Where has this come from? Well, during the 10 silent and secluded days - which could’ve taken place anywhere in the world - I got so in touch with the reality of ME: I saw light and dark together. And I happily saw that I’m no where near being a saint, just for the fact that I can easily be a devil. Good and bad are inside. And that’s so nice, real and true. After experiencing this truth so closely in my physical body, and coming out of meditation mode, it was only natural for me to be forced to see that same reality in the world around me; good and bad side by side.