Hello China!

I first went backpacking in 2013 with my then boyfriend through south India. It was a wild adventure across train delays, flooded roads, breath-taking landscapes, amazing fellow travelers and discovering what it means to get high on the road. Not on spirit or drugs or sugar but on the pure bliss of travel!

We went horse-riding in Matheran, caught fireflies in Kamshet, surfed in Pondicherry, camped in the wild at BR Hills and enjoyed a night under the stars in Auroville. Pune had us partying with friends, Goa had us awestruck at the beauty of a raging monsoon along virgin coastline and Bangalore reminded us of the joys of street food.

This time, in a few hours from now, we’re headed off to China. Oh, my then boyfriend is my husband today.  (We have a crazy story! Check here for more) We will meet up with a dear friend in Shanghai and then fly, drive, hot-foot it and maybe even sail through this vast, fascinating land!

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China, here we come!

Our bags are packed and we’re itching to go. China, we look forward to you!

PS- if you have any tips for us, drop us a line. We probably have a few more hours of connectivity. If not, see you when we re-surface!

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Roadside Chai in Pune
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Zen at an intersection

It beats me why I chose this spot to zone out and zen in. In retrospect, perhaps because it’s a fitting analogy to my present status.
Today is day 1 of my 19th month in a new country. While I have a lot going for me, I also have a lot going against. I love Hamburg and the life it offers me, nonetheless there are constantly new hurdles I need to step over, sometimes stomp on or just let fly.

Take for instance Ms. Pretentious in my licensing exam class (in German) who made her disdain of my language very audible. Upon finding out I’m new (relatively) she switched gears and offered to coach me (at a ridiculous price) on my pronunciation. I, of course, happily let her know that she could go fly a kite. In not so many words as actions. Needless to say, she reverted to her former disdain.

Back to finding Zen. For many of us caught in the cross hairs of life; it’s easy to let chaos overwhelm. There’s many a contender vying for top peeve- boss, the absence of or the presence of a partner, a kid, family, money. There’s always illness, an addiction, pesky neighbours, the weather, you don’t need to look far.

So today after Ms. Pretentious grated my nerves once again, I let off steam by cycling a couple of kilometres and found myself sitting cross-legged on a park bench. The soothing hot chocolate in my hand manages to calm more than my hungry stomach.

The intersection is buzzing with traffic, cyclists whizz past, dogs are being walked, children are being cycle- trained and the occasional tramp gives me a curious look.

I find my ears tuning in to the cheerful cries of tiny birds. My nose picks up the scent of spicy chicken being roasted across the street​. My skin tingles in confusion, unable to decide if it feels warm or cold. For though the sun is shining, a cool breeze of 16°C takes over intermittently.

As I allow my senses to be soaked in the stimuli around me; I suddenly feel completely at peace. My heart no longer runs a race, my lungs breathe freely and deeply and the tension in my muscles slowly leaves.

The devil’s advocate in me gets vocal and asks- so how does this solve all of your other challenges

The Zen I’ve tapped into answers- it doesn’t. 

So this was an exercise in futility. 

Most certainly not. Now that I feel better, I deal better.

A barking dog breaks me out of this dialogue in my head and I notice how light I feel.

To some it might seem strange and silly. But to me, this was a lesson in Zen. A lesson in being fully present in the moment and realising that-

I dont need to have all the answers. Nor a problem free life. I just need to BE. Just be ME.