Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There's no place like home...

I told my mom the other day that I missed home. She said it was the first time she heard me say that and she was elated. For my mom to hear that I'm missing home means that I'll be coming home soon.

What started out as a three month tour through the sub-continent and resulting in a year expedition into unknowns has been one of the most amazing series of events that has occurred in my continually written story. I can't find the words to even begin to describe the events that have occurred over the past year of my life. Enormous.

I left with the intentions of attending a wedding, get to know my family and maybe do some sightseeing in India. The real reason was to run away from everything that was known to me since birth. To run towards finding 'me' or where I belong in this world, my purpose. An exhausting task to only come full circle ;) But before I could run towards something that means I ran away from something, and that something will be there when I return.

The caterpillar to the butterfly, the metamorphosis that has affected me and changed me forever. I will never be the same as when I left once upon a time so that means that now everything I've known since birth takes on a new perspective. A perspective that I have grown into and only to know as love. I love my family. I don't say it enough and feign at attempts to be part of the 'Wakil Compound'. Well, the 'compound' has a new perspective and I am fueled with the greatest happiness I have known.

With all these lessons under my belt the one that sticks out at the moment is the one about learning what is important to me...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Right as rain...

The downpour...
Originally uploaded by theusual

I'm not sure where the saying of 'right as rain' came from but I definitely have yet to experience the right of rain during monsoon season ;) I spent the entire day on a balcony watching the rain as it floated past me, whipped by me, hurtled down to the earth and even slid sideways across the sky. Soft rain, hard rain, pouring rain, mad rain, all of the moods of rain except the right one.

If indeed the saying means that there's nothing at all wrong then I have to agree with it because I am thankful for the opportunities that have presented themselves as challenges in my life as of late. For example, the stress and unneccessary attention I placed on coming down to Goa and escavating my motorcycle, having to find someone to buy it in a the hardest time of the year to sell a bike. It's why I'm down here facing the everpouring rain and having to figure out where the new home for this Enflield is.

Least of my concerns really. I had bigger fish to fry over the past few days. I was graciously taken into the home of a mother and daughter who like to yell for no apparent reason. They had their volume and chaos levels set to 11. Non stop 'belagan' is what I refer to it, absolute chaos. It really pushed my sanity levels and it was difficult to find a peace in that environment. The power went out for nearly two days and that's just a bit too much humidity and disconnection from everything electronic which is almost my I.V. drip feeding me my sustenance.

Let's just say I needed to get out and out I got. I'm now a little bit further south into Goa in one of the major hubs, Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa apparently ;) I'll spend the next few days here and then I'm sure something will happen and I'll do something and then possible go somewhere... we'll see ;)

Formerly known as...

Formerly known as...
Originally uploaded by theusual

The Enfield formerly known as Purple Reign and I have been reunited. Attached is the neglect state in which she has been abandoned. I am here to show her some love and tender caring. The story behind this is quite humourous, let us recollect now shall we?! In December I was driving from coast-to-coast from east to west and managed to reach Goa. Not even a few kilometers into the chaotic state I was hit by two bulls whose horns were stuck together going around 60 km/h.

I broke my arm and had some nasty road rash on the other. My bike wasn't in such bad shape but the tank still had an impression of the cow's head in it. So I decided at the time I would get it painted so it would be easier to sell. It was prepped and ready for the final color. I wasn't coming back for a month or two so it was better if I left it unpainted and then just called down a week before I came. Well one month turned into two and two into three and by the time I was ready to go back it had already been raining and the bike sitting for almost five months.

That's a lot of neglect to make up for in a short period of time. The paint I had purchased for it originally was supposed to be a two tone camel on chocolate, but the paint went bad. I opted to spring the extra couple of bucks and upgrade from the last brand of Apsa and head on up to Deltron, the metallic paint. I found a color suited to a bike of such lineage and the new and improved will be dawning a coat of Lavender Mist. The bike has been renamed all on it's own and is indeed, The Enfield Formerly Known As (symbol attached).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When the tough get Goan...

I saw a little boy in a school uniform this morning standing at the edge of the sidewalk in staring down. On the street resting up against the curb lay a lifeless body of a cat. I looked at the young boy's face and the sadness that was weighing down overwhelmed me. He shifted his head with his neck tilted slightly to the left with the greatest acceptance of what had to be; in the blink of an eye.

On the "to-do" list today was purchase a ticket to Goa and fly out today ;) I used makemytrip.com to find my flight, a site that filters through all the Indian airlines to find you the cheapest, but they do not accept international credit cards. So I used the Taj's Flight Center to try and arrange for it. He told me he wasn't able to accommodate me in either paper or plastic. So I went directly to the airline and booked online; great success. My flight was at 4:15pm and it was already 11am. Not much to do other than pack, get some nourishment and head to the airport.

This time through security was a breeze and thank goodness for that. I was running late and caught the last transport from security to the plane. The flight was short and sweet and even included an in-flight nap. Upon arriving I headed over to the prepaid taxi stand to order up a taxi to Siolim, 52km north of the airport. I was appalled at the price but had absolutely no choice, it was practically the same price of my flight

I arrived to be greeted by the Belgian woman whom I met my last time through Goa. She was gracious enough to open her doors to me. My motorcycle travel tins had been stored with a local restaurateur and musician, Arvin, across the road and had all my rain gear in it which is desperately needed. My mobile phone has one bar on it for a signal (sometimes), there is one computer in the vicinity that provides internet service if it can connect and I'm four kilometers from any real hubs of life. It's a blessing in some ways to be this disconnected and I just have to find a balance

The objective for this mission in the height of the monsoon is to reunite with my motorcycle, show her some love and get her to drier times. I'll go down to Mapusa tomorrow to the shop and hopefully be able to get a signal on my phone to make the calls to the mechanic and my loved ones. I have no idea how long I will be able to experience this monsoon without losing some sanity but I hope for it to be shorter than longer, I like the sun too much ;) I accept that this is just one more of the blessings that I will be thankful for

But like the saying goes, when the going gets tough...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bombay the hard way...

Phenomenally beautiful architecture graces this city. From the airport for an entire hour to Collaba I was swinging my head back and forth to capture the sights of buildings hurdling past.

Sitting in a cafe in Delhi waiting out a couple hours before my flight my mobile rang out with a text message. SpiceJet, the airline I was travelling with, gave me a text message to let me know that my flight was delayed an hour. Then my phone rang with a prerecorded Indian accent telling me my flight is delayed and witll be departing at nineteen hours ;) So I thought it best to be there an hour before my flight, so I finished my beverage and found my way to the airport. Along the way I get a call on the mobile, it's the familiar Indian accent telling me that my flight is delayed and will be leaving at twenty hours. I was already on my way, nothing I can do...

I go through the airline's security, got my boarding pass and on to the next security check. Travelling currently with a backpack and a big metal tin, I checked the backpack with the airline and was carrying the metal tin with me. This was my first flight in India and completely forgot about some of the rules and regulations that they have in place. They asked me to open up the tin and they started going through everything and asking a lot of questions. Then they pull out a knife... oops... I completely forgot that was in there, it was a gift. Then they pull out a five foot chain and then a Leatherman set with pliers in plain view. The next thing they asked me was for my passport and boarding pass. They stamped my boarding pass as "CANCELLED" and told me to check my tin under the plane.

So I went back to the airline desk and they tell me that my luggage is 6kg over the maximum weight that I can check. So usually something like this means it costs you some extra money, exactly the case here. The gent and lady were sympathetic to my story and decided to waive any additional costs and sent me on my way. What I found was funny was that the girl's name was Khushboo, which translates to "great smell" or "beautiful fragrance". The girl's name wasn't funny, it was funny because of my love of flowers and just needed to be reminded at that particular moment.

The flight was quick and painless. The airport was not so intrusively armed with taxi drivers awaiting their victims. I had to find a taxi which struck me as very odd. An hour later I'm in Colaba and reuniting with Akshay. We immediately left and started wandering the harbour and the architectural masterpieces along the way. I've gone from one extreme to the other extreme. I'm lavished with pampering and relaxation with thanks due to Akshay and the Taj Properties that surpass there commitment to keeping their customers content. I am fully enjoying the moment.

The 36 Chambers of Delhi...

Anand Lok...
Originally uploaded by theusual
I managed to squeak out 36 hours in Delhi and got a ton of smiles.

I had the fortune to spend a month here while struggling to obtain my exit visa from India. In that time I spent a lot in the Anand Lok, a small community in south Delhi. I met a lot of ex-pats, embassy types and the like.

Not many of them were left this time around but I did get the chance to meet up with one of the three Molly's, grabbed a meetha paan, had some gulab jaman, stopped off at the coffee shop and of course the internet cafe - all regular pit stops in my previous stay. They remembered me at every place and greeted me with an ear-to-ear and sometimes a hug ;)

Everything was familiar and flowing...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Up to speed...

I'm cutting beads down each temple as I realize today is the middle of the month. It's not that I'm nervous or anxious, it's the fact that I have a large set of curls on the top of my head and it's forty degrees out in the shade ;)

I left Dharamsala on Wednesday evening after a long drawn out wait in the pouring rain for a bus that pushed out so much A/C that the rain and sweat literally froze up on my chinny chin chin. Haaachooo! That was the sound I kept on making.

I arrived into Delhi first thing Thursday morning. Everyone I know with the exception of a couple people have since vacated Delhi. So I checked into the first air conditioned joint I could find, The Royal Inn. Let me be the first to inform you that the name is deceiving and there is nothing royal about this place. On second thought, perhaps there is. They royally &^#$# me over. I woke up this morning in a pool of sweat and saw the lights were off on the air conditioner. So I call down to the front desk to inquire and he informs me that they are running off of a generator and they'll be back fully power in half an hour. Then he tells me that I have five minutes before I am supposed to check out. Check out?! It's bloody eight in the morning, the sign on the wall says check out is NOON. So I go downstairs to suss out the situation. The manager shows me the receipt that was made the day before and he slyly placed "24 HOURS" on the receipt without informing me. So we began discussing the principle behind trying to deceive me and finally settled on extorting 400 rupees out of me to stay until 2pm.

I had a moment after all of this; I was crestfallen. The difficulties of travel is strenuous to say the least and at that particular moment, it got the best of me. I was quickly reminded of the awesome power that I possess of thought and how energy will indeed follow it.

I have a flight in a few hours to Mumbai and am absolutely looking forward to it. I've never been for one, and secondly my good friend Akshay is there so I will have some stellar company for the weekend and thirdly, it's Bollywood ;)

My planning has ceased and I exist solely on a day-to-day basis. I operate much better when I am just making the call when it happens instead of orchestrating them before they even occur. I have been given a great gift today.

Time to work some magic...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Life's a garden, dig it?!

I haven't been able to take a "look" inside myself lately. I try to see whether I am unconsciously creating a conflict between my two worlds - I call them my inside voice and my outside voice. So I spent some time with my self and just listened for a change. Where I am, who I am with, or what I am doing asks the outside voice while my inside voice speaks softly about my thoughts and feelings. It appears to me that I am internally standing in opposition to what is. That's the only explanation I have to describe the aching pains I inflict upon myself.

Even within the seemingly most unacceptable and painful situation is concealed a deeper good, and within every disaster is contained the seed of grace. -Eckhart Tolle

The war that started years ago within me between the opposing battalions of internal and external have grown tired and apathetic to what once had great meaning, a cause, a purpose. The war will cease at some point and when it does you recognize and realize that you are now free to give up on this ridiculous conflict and live in harmony. In place of the barren war torn land will emerge a seed to courageously break out the light of the world. Take a moment and breath in the perfumed fragrance.

Oops! There I've gone and done it again, I've evolved ;)

When you give up the energy that you consume gossiping with the outside voice, the less you have to spend listening to the inside voice. But if you really listen, I mean really listen to all the sounds around you, all the external voices of everybody else and begin to hear a symphony, one note - you begin feeling the music instead of listening and the inside voice sings...
Acceptance of the unacceptable is the great source of grace in this world.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Workin' the Roman Holiday...

I am truly blessed to be able to travel the sub-continent and work from anywhere that there is an internet connection. I ran out of money a long time ago but I have been quite confident in asking the questions that I need answers to or ask for the things I need. I have been supported in so many forms that I have no other point of reference now.

The work is always flowing and I will now admit that I am a designer and it isn't something I just do to make some money. I design, I'm good at it and I love to create. However, travelling and trying to meet project deadlines for something you know would take you half the time is trying my patience. I spent all day hunched over a computer although the splendid lemon honey ginger tea flowing did not make the situation any worse ;)

I am truly stretching and testing myself with existing in two time zones. I'm eleven and a half hours ahead and I'm up during waking hours there as well as here. I have set a goal to have everything finished by Wednesday so that I may spend the rest of the week collecting my self since I have been out of sorts. My attentions have wandered and my intentions unclear.

I'm caught up in two worlds that confuses me to say the least. There is the fantasy world of me wandering about experiencing and the real life where real things that matter happen. Sometimes I get lost in the details when I'm just supposed to be paying attention to them. We all get 'out of sorts' sometimes and it's important to have someone to share it with.

I'm starting to have travel wear on me and am beginning to see what is of true importance. The sacrifices, the commitment, the struggle, the triumphs; they are all there waiting for me to experience. I am revisiting cities that I've been to before and can see where I was the first time around. My perspective has changed and I have a point of reference to where I am. Where I am is where I am supposed to be but why do I keep seeing myself some place else?!
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go” -Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Laynlow Since '75

On coming into my thirty second year I was flowing to destinations I had no understanding, rhyme or reason for where I was travelling to. Something else was drawing me to where I ended up. I was in Amritsar on my way to Rishikesh. I made a call to my friend Akshay and he tells me that he never left Delhi. So I decided I would see if I could squeeze on to the Shatabdi Express that speeds towards Delhi in 5 3/4 hours. I had to wait a half an hour before the 'chart' would be ready and I could get a stand-by ticket. In case I couldn't get a seat I wanted to make sure I could get a non-government run bus to Delhi.

The driver and I had different perspectives on our issue and so I told him that he could be on his merry way and so would I. So I found my self at the bus stand that was filled with government run buses ;) I ended up jumping on a bus almost immediately that was heading to Pathankot, a place I've never heard of until that moment. It is a hub to get connecting buses to Dharamsala. That's where I was heading...

It was Saturday afternoon and the bus left Amritsar at half three and ended up arriving at half six. Then I run to get my 'connecting' bus that arrives at 8pm... hours to be stranded in Pathankot. Well I guess I wasn't stranded, there were some Israelis ;)

The first bus arrived at 8pm and was rushed by locals to fill the limited seats, the rest left standing. I wasn't having any of that. As I was up on the roof loading in all the packs I decided I'm riding on top of the bus and the rest of the Israelis followed suit. That is until the police showed up. I tried arguing with them but they claim to have a rule in place that it is not allowed to ride up top during the night hours. I sat with a couple of younger Punjabi lads after the commotion had settled and just told them it was because we were foreigners. If it was a pack of Indians up there no one would blink and eye and if one fell off they couldn't be bothered to stop. However, a tourist falling off would require a lot of paperwork ;)

So my bubble burst and the bus left. The novice travellers dictated rule and we stayed to wait for the 9pm bus which woudl land us in Dharamsala at around 1am. Same thing happened. The bus was charged towards by the locals, elbowing, shoving and just acting belligerent... some would say that's 'par for the course'?!

I managed to procure a seat with the aid of my trusty mobile home and friend, in other words my pack. I put my bag on the roof and came to sit down. But I wasn't about to give up on my dream to ride on the bus through the moon lit sky. Rolling down the road approaching the very hour that I was born (12:43am) as I stared up into the sky and tried to measure the wisdom that has found me in this quickly passing last year, that's exactly how I wanted it to be.

I gave my seat to an elder wiser looking chap and told him that I was a young man and was no matter for me to stand. The first stop the bus made I made a mad dash to the ladder on the back of the bus, surreptitiously navigated over the bags to find a nice little divot. Laying on my back with my feet up and the cool breeze rustling through the branches as they whipped my ears nearly taking an eye out now and again was blissful ;) Then I heard a voice invade my moment demanding we "come down from up there, you three!", busted. The last three hours of the journey was spent standing up holding on to whatever I could to prevent me from falling over as the bus whipped from side to side through the twists of the valley.

I arrived...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Point A to Point B

Flowing stream...
Originally uploaded by theusual
My mission was to get from Point A (Pakistan) to Point B (India) today. Let's just say this mission was much easier than my last mission of getting from Point B to Point A. I got dropped off at the Wagha border, gave some hugs, grabbed a pack and tin can with a maple leaf plastered on the side. Navigating through all the import carriers dressed in a sea of blue made the transition go along even more swimmingly. At the Pakistan side they scanned my passport, took my picture and told me to have a great day. No bag checking, no hassle, no nothing, just free floating and flowing.

I guess it helps when you name drop though ;) I mentioned one of the custom officers and that seemed to make my travel through customs go effortlessly. I got my stamp and I was off with a porter porting my belongings... it was hot and I didn't feel like sweating that much. We arrived at the Indian customs area and again, no problems or issues. However, the Indians checked just my tin box since either it looks suspicious or I do?! ;) Nonetheless, after only fifteen minutes I was officially stamped into India.

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