Life, Travel Journal

Discovering The Thirst For Travel

If I had to look for memories of travel from the years I would like to call my childhood, it is interesting to note how memories of times as a toddler were scarce, although looking at the photos and the smiles I gave, I travelled and experienced much more then. Everything after that, excluding school excursions, were a blur of travelling in a car from district to district, from hotel to hotel once in a while.

It was almost like we travelled 5 hours in a car to sit in a hotel room that we could have easily found in our own city. Like that, I didn’t think much of travel. To the very naive me from a half a decade ago (totally possible considering I’m just 18), real travelling was about vacationing in countries abroad, like my rich friends did, finding touristy spots and taking fancy photos. These trips to the neighbouring districts to roam the malls and shop for clothes was beginning to seem tiresome, although I clung to them with my life since it was a short-lived, yet welcome change from my normal routine.

My idea of travel was at once fulfilled when I participated in an exchange program that connected my school with the students of a Danish Efterskole. This meant I had to go there, to Denmark, in the month of April in 2015 for a period of 10 days. It was the most thrilling thing I had ever done. Everything was new and interesting, and I was learning something new every hour, not just about their culture, but of my own culture. But ten days is but a flutter of a butterfly’s wing. It passed by just as quickly as it came.

Things remained stagnant for that period of my life, from the age of 13 to the beginning of my 18th year of life, – I might even go as far as to say that my mind was festering in self-doubt and in nihilism that seemed to have no end – and I was soon on the borders of what one calls depression. What bothered me the most was the fact that my burdens were, in fact, worthless, for I knew others who carried worse problems in their lives. It was painful that way, being unable to open up in any manner to anyone. For anyone I did manage to be vulnerable did not listen; they simply judged and advised.

But last year, I found myself opening up to more opportunities – I had rediscovered the spirituality that was introduced to me years ago by my uncle, and I started to pour my energy into understanding what this world and the ‘Universe’ is all about. I started using the law of attraction and indulged in Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. I began to see radical changes in my life, and one of those was reconnecting with Rumi’s poetry. This coupled with my friend who introduced me to Sufism helped ignite a flame so powerful and deep, that merely thinking about it manifested two separate travel opportunities just three weeks later, each lasting about 5 days.

Ever since then, people have been randomly suggesting various beautiful movies, like Into the Wild, Tamasha, Highway and various others related to travel, freedom and rediscovery, and that in itself has inspired a change within me.

I realized that travel isn’t just about vacationing in a picturesque city or town and taking great photos, and relaxing in a hotel bathtub (although it isn’t a bad idea).

No, no. Travel is about discovering the culture, the traditions and the stories that each place, that each moment has to give us. It is about observing the world around us, about learning more about the way life works, and about adapting our lives after being opened to such diversity. It is about spreading love, about consuming it. It can be anything, as long as you indulge in it fully, without flinching when things get rough -as they will – and without complaining about what could be and what was.

If there is anything that matters, it is about what is.

And you need to catch those moments before they fly away. You need to grasp them and make sure to absorb them as easily as one breathes. It is a lifestyle, that comes from gratitude, self-realization, and a great deal of trust in the Universe.

So, this thirst for real travel is here to stay.

I’m willing to try and see where the road will take me.

 

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Life, Poetry

When Dreams Allow

When dreams allow, 

I retrace my steps

Back to when I met you

On that lonely night. 

I only wish

Those moments vivid

Would let me hold you

But an hour longer.

Z.

 

I’ve found great solace in dreaming and reliving the little moments, and it’s been quite the experience because I progress more and more each time in uncovering the love and peace hidden in the feelings behind every action, every word that you’ve expressed.

Yet, I do not know how you do it, how you manage to mix up all sorts of emotions: You have kept me on my toes, cautiously, yet with so much love. You’ve left me hanging over the edge of a slippery cliff, only to pull me back in and keep me close and warm. You’ve left me ashamed of myself, you’ve left me in a mess, you’ve left me in tears – yet you helped me find myself, you helped me see beyond this prison cell, and beyond this body. You showed me, just by existing, that there is something out there, something that is seeking me as much as I am seeking it, and it can only be felt with the power of raw, unconditional love.

You made sure I was rooted, rooted in self-discovered dreams and beliefs, you made sure I was rooted in reality. Not in the reality of ordinary life, but in the sweet, yet prickly embrace of endless possibility.

How can I feel so great, yet so small? I’ve become invisible, yet I am loved in your eyes, and for me, my muse, I now know that that is enough.

I have seen myself in you, and I feel your presence within me. Come what may now, dear one, you are a part of me I will never let go. I cannot let go.

You will live on in every breath, in every word, in every movement, until the sands of time reunite us, be it in this world or the next.

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Featured, Hippie Habits, Life

#NoStraw2019 Challenge

Most hippies are people who are born hippies while others… Well, they morph into them.

Morph? Yes. I say morph because the word morph is associated with gradual change or transformation. Take for example the metamorphosis of a butterfly; it is anything but a quick change or a sudden alteration, right?

Similarly, the transformation into a hippie is gradual and a very rooted process. I have realized that by way of a movement I had come across.

The #NoStrawMovement.

It is a phenomenal international movement that tries to reduce plastic refuse by saying NO to plastic straws. Plastics straws are single-use products that refuse to degrade and consequently threaten our precious environment.

What we don’t understand is that these straws not only damage our natural environment and threaten its creatures, it also has a lot of side effects of on our body over time. If you are too used to using straws in your lives, whether it be in your cool drinks, your take-outs or your movie time beverages, here are a few things explained briefly to give you an idea of what it means to use these harmless SEEMING straws:

  1. You may develop smoker’s lip, which results in premature wrinkling around your lip area.
  2. You may have problems related to excess gas in your system, which causes discomfort and various other problems in the long run including bloating.
  3. Your teeth may take the biggest hit – you may develop cavities if the drink is directed to one area only, and furthermore, teeth may become stained.
  4. Plastic Straw production causes air pollution and considering widely used it is, ACROSS the world, we can only imagine the level of pollution it brings even before we use it.
  5. Plastic Straws adversely affect sea creatures, since a lot of plastic is thrown into waterbodies. They sink to the bottom where marine animals ingest them, and could possibly die.

Gosh. That one straw that we were using… could do this much?

So, think about it; most of don’t really need straws, yet we mindlessly make use of it anyway and throw it out just as carelessly. Can we do something about it?

Yes, we can! If we do it collectively, it is even better!

So, I have decided to take up my very own #NoStraw2019 Challenge.

Are you with me?

#NoStraw2019 Challenge

ToGo Drinks are a major reason for using straws. Enjoy drinking out of cups more and slow down: stay in shop!

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Life

Biggest Commitment Of The Year.

This week I decided something outrageous. I made a commitment. Two, in fact. Two outrageous, deadly commitments. All in the course of one day.

My heart is still pounding. I feel the rush of realization. It’s like I finally feel the clarity I was longing for, in my mind. Finally. My first commitment goes a bit like this:

I am now a writer. I commit myself to the craft of writing, and will consciously work to improve myself.

How silly, you must think. I’m already one, technically. If I dare take the word of Wikipedia – “A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas,” – I fulfilled the criteria a long time ago.

But today is different. I have made an intention, I have felt the desire planted deep inside of me, to write, to bring out stories and touch peoples hearts – at least one heart – with what words I have. Let’s see how far I can go.

My second commitment is my staunch decision to work on a certain writing project I have taken up. A series of biographies of the people in my life. I want to make these and publish them for the world to see the beauty that fills the lives of these people.

I realized that each and every one of these people is amazing, a wonder to behold, with sadness, happiness, beauty and life in them.

I cannot just stand in awe anymore.

I must write.

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Featured, Life

Why A Modern Hippie of All Things?

‘Hippie’ is a word with a rich historical context and even richer cultural meaning. Take a look at the Britannica definition of the term:

“Hippie, also spelled hippy, member, during the 1960s and 1970s, of a countercultural movement that rejected the mores of mainstream American life. The movement originated on college campuses in the United States, although it spread to other countries, including Canada and Britain. The name derived from “hip,” a term applied to the Beats of the 1950s, such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who were generally considered to be the precursors of hippies.”

“Hippies felt alienated from middle-class society, which they saw as dominated by materialism and repression, and they developed their own distinctive lifestyle.”

I became accustomed to this word as several people, in perfectly isolated situations, began to call me so, although I never knew what it was that I did to deserve the title. Even though I knew what it was historically, I couldn’t say why those old ideas applied to me – the ideals of the original ‘hippies’ arose from their political and economic circumstances, so it was always so odd to me to be called the same. However, over the past few months, I have slowly begun to understand that there is a completely different interpretation, just like how a beautiful painting is open to various interpretations by its viewers.

Hippies don’t really have a fixed way of life. These are people who simply look for liberation from the restrictions of society and its outdated, often suffocating rules. This means they often diverge from the mainstream life – often done by preserving their individuality and finding their own truths of life and way of living. I have realized that I am, in this sense, most definitely a hippie. A modern hippie. With a messy splash of spirituality and love, juxtaposed with the thirst for life. Interesting, right? I get to decide what I want and have a chance at discovering the life that I truly deserve. But this sounds oddly like a very general way to live, doesn’t it? Or perhaps it seems like this is what everyone deserves, anyway. Unfortunately, this is not what everyone is blessed with. Many of us are prisoners to our lives, and most of us, even though we have the power to break free, choose to remain behind those imaginary bars. I find the way of the hippie to be very much like a rebellion. A rebellion against anything that doesn’t seem right deep in our hearts, a rebellion against limits (on any level), and a rebellion against our own mind that often shoves us into deep spells of confusion and conflict.

I hope to fill my blog often with these things I discover in life, for they come and go with the most fascinating speed. The beauty that I witness in the day are washed away the moment I close my eyes for some rest, although this is also always preparing my heart and mind for the wonder that is life.

I acknowledge that this is only a very rudimentary definition of what a hippie could mean. Perhaps this will grow over the years for me. I’ll wait for that, for I have only planted my tree sapling this year, and cannot expect a large tree the very next year. Instead, I will try to be steadfast in my devotion and care, and ensure I give and do things with love.

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Featured, Life

Rebirth.

It was inevitable. A change was coming. A change in attitude, a change in perspective.  Something was looming large, no longer just on the distant horizon. I knew this, of course, but only somewhere deep inside, as something that emerged once in a while as a very visceral fear or discomfort, and sometimes as a gentle reminder, that the people in my life, my daily routine, even my way of living – it was just not working. Knowing this helped me stay sane. I knew I had to be patient. Tiring days and exhausting nights, terrible pains and uncontrollable mood swings; despite it all, and myself, I held on to the invisible hope that was somehow keeping me warm on very, very cold nights.

Everything had to go, of course, but not as dramatically as I hoped. I’m too soft for that. It started small, with the clutter on my desk, my unwanted clothes, the empty suitcases under my bed, dusty books in the corner and the empty bottles of perfume in my cupboard.  I cleaned up my social media, keeping those who mattered close and brushing aside anyone I didn’t know. School stuff was next: seeing that my work was messy beyond a quick clean-up, I realized it is more about acceptance of the busy situation school often puts me in, than about giving up every time my assignment workload gets a little overwhelming. I also somewhat gave up several illogical and useless desires – although I would often crave things out of habit, I stopped acting on them which has helped wonderfully. I started to whisper words of gratitude whenever I could, sprinkling kindness and bits of love whenever and wherever I could.

Luckily or unluckily, my life was changing. In the most cliched way ever, I felt happier, and it seemed more opportunities and lucky coincidences began happening to me. I was able to connect things and see meaning in things like never before, and somehow, I saw beauty in both the highs and the lows of my life.

This certainly didn’t happen overnight – everything I was doing differently now were only things that came from what already existed under the sun. I knew what these things were. But it was never time yet, I simply wasn’t ready yet. Sometimes when my mind wanders I like to pinpoint some things that triggered this change within me: I must say, what really, truly brought out this interesting side of me, this not entirely optimistic, yet contented attitude full of love, was one very interesting friend I had made a while back. His words charmed me, but only because I was green with envy to see how he lived his life, and how he loved, and what he believed in. It was all crazy to me, to find someone that seemed like a character out of an imaginary paradise, someone who was already everything I ever wanted. Crazy. It was then that I began to demand changes in my own life, when things became clear, what I wanted and more importantly, what I didn’t. I couldn’t go back to my old life knowing the endless plausible possibilities that lay ahead of me. So I decided to walk forward, head held high and arguably, with my heart on my sleeves.

Today, I am still trying to figure out the many endless problems and worries that arise, much like any other time in my life. The only difference is that now I am happier, with the trust and confidence in the universe that everything will be alright.

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Life

A Friend – Strange Yet Perfect

Perhaps my ideas have started to have more to do with confirmation bias and fantasy than to do with anything that remotely resembles a realistic perspective on life, but I have begun to feel that the people in my life are the people that I have attracted by my  own thinking, and this idea has grown more powerful in my mind, especially in the last few months.

I feel like every person that has entered my life has had something to share, perhaps a lesson, or maybe even just a smile. Every single one of those people has somehow influenced me, and I know that I probably don’t even appreciate how much. This made me think about how important it is to cherish the people in our lives, bad or good. They’re there for a reason.

Obviously, there’s always someone – at different points of your life – vying for a place in your heart. It’s like they want to consolidate that relationship and make themselves permanent, but life will hardly allow for it. Neither can they have me, neither can I hold them prisoner in my heart, because that would suggest accepting attachments. With attachments come expectations and expectations bring suffering and misery. Yet they are very real, these expectations, and necessary, to maintain the health of any relationship.

Then, of course, there’s the idea of compromise, and sacrifice and tolerance – all things that would bring negative connotations to the mind of a tired partner or friend. But, it really shouldn’t have to be like that, right? Taking my own life, I love my friends, but… I can’t help feeling they are not right for me sometimes. I must acknowledge that there is this endless social life cycle, in which I find no joy nor sadness, just emptiness.

That’s when you know you need a change, and whether you like it or not, that change will find you, especially if you want it. After all, “What you seek is seeking you.” (Rumi) 

And I did find it – but very traumatically, I must admit, since I lost a wonderful friend in the process. But when change comes knocking, sometimes you don’t have time to pack up everything you own. You just have to take a leap of faith and leave.

I did.

It took me a while to understand that the door was always there, and it was always I who had chosen to stay back within the walls of the prison I let my society build around me.

Moreover, I also found my heart in the process; it was not the fragile closed box that I thought it to be. There is some deep connection between love and who we are – and so the day I will know true love (which, I gently remind you, does not have to be romantic love) I will truly know more about myself and who I am.

What prompted me to think this way, is beyond me. I cannot explain my sudden strong inclination towards such a different perspective.  But something that helped me find the path, or at least showed me that there may be a path, was a particular friend I made.

It’s someone I never thought I’d befriend, someone who I knew existed but was always out of my sphere of friends. This person (also a colleague of sorts then) was always so far from reach, that I had given up finding out who he was; he was always amongst his people and way beyond the clutches of common banter. He was always running around helping wherever he could at our common worksite, apparently very active and also equally reserved. Reminded me of myself, actually, and this made me wish I could be as helpful and active as he was.

Society has its own unique barriers for everything: you are aware of how in some places it refuses to accept anything beyond a ‘formal’ friendship. This meant that we never progressed past acknowledging the existence of one another – that is until recently we began to find one another outside of the workplace. Everything was the same as before, but it was not. The coaxing convictions of assumption that took root in our minds just festered for days, yet mild curiosity took hold of things external: we often smiled at one another. But that was it.

Then came RUMI; what made sparks fly was our common love for this brilliant Persian poet. It was a simple quote from one of the most respectable and mind-blowing people in this entire world that tied the knot to our friendship immediately. Being us, neither of us trusted one another readily, but we were taken aback by how similar we were. To me it was fascinating how such a person was roaming the same streets I was, worked at the same place, and even had coffee at the same shop, same time! We met coincidently several times, but our meeting and the consequent sharing of ideas were no coincidences.

He is a wandering, lost soul, looking for answers, much like myself. A true and real romantic, he travels the world, effortlessly giving and consuming love and life. It is he who exudes the essence of an ideal life, though, I know there is no such thing. It’s easy to fall into a delusion when he talks of his life, but his hard-hitting words also often dragged me back to reality, which not only upset me, but also intrigued me, because he showed me (to my utter confusion and awe) that reality can be as beautiful, or perhaps even more, as the ideal life. It’s all in the mind.

It was he who introduced me to Sufism, a beautiful and almost parallel religion that I could almost immediately identify as my own. This is perhaps one of the most important unexpected surprises of my life as it helped me come to terms with my religious identity. It helped me accept love, travel and music as plausible ways to find the Truth, and it urged me to look for beauty through its mesmerizing and romantic poetry. Being a deeply self-propelling religion, it greatly values travel, and encourages its true devotees to take the journey deep into ourselves as well!

How beautiful is that? But this is nothing; I have but scratched the surface with mere words and feelings. What I meant to convey was the happiness I felt in having found this strange, yet perfect friend. I looked for higher possibilities in my life, and this first time, I have found a friend, a mentor and perhaps, a fellow lover of life.

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