“HOPE” – my word for 2016

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Cape Town to Mumbai…lost between two countries…

From the beginning India was explosive. Every experience in India from my first visit in 2013 has tested and pulled at logic and heart strings. Now, after our third trip in two years which was an extended 5 months we have been back in Cape Town for four and looking in bewilderment at how quickly time has passed.

Mumbai tuk-tuk

Facing 2016 around a tornado of activity has forced me into a very quiet and reflective state. After an emotional block this is the first time in over 5 months that I have sat in front of my computer to write and hope to use the opportunity to uncover some of my journey and our accomplishments which have been suppressed by overindulging in negative thoughts.

“I thought I was stronger than this.”

My faith in self had been limitless until I began to build protective barriers around me to absolve or suppress the pain of disappointment, fear and failure. I once wrote an article about detachment explaining the process and highlighting the need for ones intention to be honest when working through this process but my distance from everything around me once we were back in Cape Town only fed depression and I was inevitably not happy. I just could not continue as I had before…too much energy, too much information, too much work, too much stress, too much of everything! The hamster wheel we had spoken of before we left in March was like an invisible UFO hovering overhead waiting to beam me up.

I have been considering the difference and weight between change and transformation and how many of us wish and will for both of these things in different areas of our lives. There are usually many things that need to change before the transformation process can happen and it’s easy for us to think that change is transformational when in actual fact it isn’t. Within change we can easily fall back and make excuses for past habits to reappear. For me absolute transformation would be to live my life completely and wholely as a yogi. I may only ever reach this state of being later in life or not at all. As a Karma Yogi I am susceptible to living ‘normally’ to place myself in situations where I may be needed. That is a test in itself as I engage with those less likely to understand my sacrifice. Perhaps I should rephrase that word ‘sacrifice’ by using the word ‘gift’ instead, which should elevate my own understanding. Choosing change in the smallest ways will have certain effects which will beat against my will and contradict the norms in which I grew up. Change for me means slowing down, being aware of what takes too much of my energy and finding ways to rearrange my time to meditate, immerse myself in a daily practice, research and writing. These things are just as important to all of us, to bring us back to a unique sense of self and a richer and more rewarding sense of reality, one that encompasses our environment, nature and the community around us.

Like the rippling effect of a stone thrown into water we have no idea what our thoughts and intentions may reveal or how our actions may inspire or affect others but we can be assured that change is in process all the time and it requires our earnest captainship to steer our soul on its destiny path.

Mumbai

MUMBAI MADNESS – 12 April 2015

I looked out from the hotel window on the morning of our last day in Mumbai. From the sanctuary of The Leela hotel life had stirred much earlier than I had awakened in fact I knew it had been bustling throughout the night. Crows were already swooping towards the pool for a cooling bath and the palms rustled with many other feathered residents.

Mumbai had been just as chaotic as the first visit last year October and this time we were sucked into the hum drum which left us surrendered in exhaustion by intermittent travel into the surrounds of the big city. Albeit we were living like royalty in the confines of the palatial Leela and its honorable courts we had endeavored to subject ourselves to a firsthand local experience in contrast to our fellow financially pocketed foreign tourists.

Mumbai on a shoestring? Impossible! On a lesser budget maybe, but then what would an informational and fulfilling day of touring cost. The answer for us would simply be don’t hesitate to avoid the historical temptation of India, more specifically Bombay, but be aware. The prices increase everywhere and dramatically the closer you get to the Gateway of India, a beautiful draw card camouflaged with expensive shops, conning taxi drivers and every other kind of distraction ensuring to empty white faced wallets. It became intoxicating to be on asphalt – bonnet to boot – in the extreme heat, taking in exhaust fumes and other putrid smells through my scarf which I used constantly to protect my gasping mouth. The evenings were worse as the decaying vapor seemed to settle like a light fog of heavy aromas.

We were in no position to splurge on extravagant hotel meals so our breakfast formed sustenance for the day’s undertakings with simple dry snacks and water in between. Our thrifty approach meant a dire need for a local restaurant which would also fill the bar and comfort criteria. Shankari Restaurant and Bar was a fantastic recommendation from an otherwise unreliable source as we found all that was local here. A risky ride after a passerby gave our driver directions in Hindi to our previously unknown, and pretty far from point A, destination. We all too often indulged in ice cold Kingfisher quartz’ as a welcome alternative to the staple water and this helped us to avoid sugary juice options. It must be difficult to keep a healthy lifestyle here, however the simplicity of togetherness may make up for less appealing physical attributes. That togetherness was amplified during our daring tuk-tuk rides as we raced through treacherous and often puzzling urban designs. We seemed to travel in circles and amused ourselves when familiarities popped up in earnest when in actual fact we didn’t know where we were.

Our senses heightened enabling us to make impromptu connections with speedy two wheelers. Like jockeys racing to a finish line only to break an inch before the next bumper. The journeys were animated and comical in contrast to the surroundings, whilst our gracious drivers would feel just as much relief at finding our destinations after rigorous attempts at deciphering each other’s language. Reaching our target meant a sigh of relief and the willing return of our sense of humour.

There would be no sentimentalities when leaving here but there’s still an unfortunate burden that would bear on any human soul when subjected to ‘sightseeing’ such impoverished conditions. It does get easier to absorb the obscenities, something our minds aren’t used to having to deal with on a daily basis. It doesn’t become the norm in one’s life but whilst you are in India you are constantly reminded of how fragile we are and can begin to accept the true nature of humankind, our pain and suffering. Within these hardships one experiences mourning, the 5 stages and the many layers of denial and acceptance one can begin to appreciate in the process of letting go. Our response to these things just proves how much we value human life, of those we know and don’t know, how helpless we feel and the effect that helplessness has on our psyche…I have cried many tears over this…

Throughout each stage, a common thread of hope emerges:

As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life.

 

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