The Melancholia of Transition

 

img_1179Jomson, Mustang, Nepal 2014

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” ~ Pema Chodron

The hardest thing in having the habit of living like a nomad is that you are constantly feeling in transition. Often feeling not exactly there.

2015 feels transitory for me, it is a year where it takes me to go beyond my comfort zone and trying new things. Completely new things. Testing my own limit. Going through the different sense of things beyond my reach. It has been giving me all the biggest lessons. It has shown me my capability and also my weakness. My constant travel also teach me something that we all should be careful not to burn out along our journey. That stopping is necessary. That a rest is always good. Even crying your eyes out sometimes. Asking for help. All is necessary.

I wish I could start to write something more uplifting in this beginning of the year, but this writing become more like a reflection.

It become something that I ask myself the fundamental questions about home, when you are constantly moving around. When your comfort feeling often when you just see yourself carrying only one bag in a journey. Then you suddenly feel home. Alone with just one bag. Walking to some unknown destination.

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Death has been a constant blow in my life. Death, I realised can come in many forms. Death has often mark of a cycle for me in life. Last month, my most respected teacher, Benedict Anderson passed away in Batu Malang. I am supposed to submit an obituary writing for him and I haven’t started yet. The thing is, Ben teach me how to live.

My last email correspondence with Ben was about going to India. And I managed to be back in India again last year.

Pause.

The draft of this piece was done in January 2016. Fast forward, I’m continuing this writing in November 2016.

And its start to turn out what November feels. What 2016 for me feels.

I was back to Northern India again in March 2016, to pause a bit, to breath a little bit to things that brought back my sanity. I couldn’t continue my writing before hand. Now, I am on my last night in Saigon and found myself back to this blog.

This year, I ended back in Jogjakarta. I realised after trying to figure out what is the relationship I have with this ancient spot for the last fourteen years, is to also realised its old adapted name, Ayodhya. I missed this fact somehow along this journey to understand better the meaning of having home. To grow rooted.

While 2015 feel transitory, it is exactly in these melancholia that I felt in the shift within myself. The soft breaking of my own walls while staying in India. To stake my own heart once again. To go deeper again than ever before.

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Dharamsala Tibetan Archive, Dharamsala, North India, 2015

I had to go back to Dharamsala in October 2015, to be reminded again where all these journey of the open heart started four years ago. I openly grief and let go of the loss of my parents, letting things go for new spaces to come. I ended up feeling disoriented for a while. And the tinge of melancholia hanging in the air. But I manage not to get overwhelmed by it, since I know already all the things that I need to do to handle it.

I did not plan to take more journey this year. But seems the fact of always having a nomadic streak is just something I need to accept in my life. I end up in different places: Lombok. Gili. North India. Singapore. Toraja. Cambodia. Vietnam. Though seriously you would find me most at home nowadays, even revamping the space after going through so many years of trying to organised a proper home. I end up chucking 70 percent of my things, start a new restaurant venture with my best friend, organised a bi-weekly secondhand market which ended up being a community hang out. While our restaurant, at its best, starting become one of Jogjakarta communal living room. I am finding myself more in the kitchen, from cooking, managing and hosting things. I notice I wrote more while I am travelling solo. And I do these in and out nowadays. Seeing the fluctuation of my energies, those moments when I need to recharge myself and moments when I need to show up for others.

I lost two important person this year too. One is our first restaurant customer, Budi, he was only 28. Another one is one of my really good friend, Chindy Tanjung, she died before turning 40. If Ben Anderson teach me to live, Chindy teach me how to hope. Her best reminder is left at my son’s name, Asabhumy. She add Asa years back when I was still pregnant with Bhumy. Asa literally means hope.

I learn to go through my grief. Keep opening my heart to also celebrate death and all the values behind it. And I see death has the ability to transform so many things. I change my relations with death. It has been a decade since my mother passed away. In all my transitory state, I accept that giving time and space heals everything.

I took the heart to face and not turn away my face in seeing the darkness anymore. Lessons while travelling in Cambodia and Vietnam, flow like water. Being in Vietnam the last few days, the attack of nostalgia is strong. As strong as remembering all my love ones in a bite of food.

In the cold air of the mountain.

And in every breath I take in feeling alive. Here and now.

dharamsala #5: tsuglag khang monastery and dalai lama’s house

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view of dharamsala from tsuglag khang monastery

i felt this silence peace the first time i enter the premise. it grows the longer you stay here. i did my kora. offered my khata. did my prayer in front of the green tara statue. spending the last minutes of dharamsala talking to this amazing place. it is a beautiful place that i could visit everyday. somehow i can imagine myself taking my boy to this place and do our daily kora.

it was at this place that i felt i can let go all this burden of all the years. that this is the end cycle of my karma. that everything is okay and i owe this place my utmost gratitude in life. it was with this very light feeling that i left dharamsala, asking permission to stay longer next time.

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IMG01693-20120211-1407candles at the tsuglang khang monastery | buddha statue inside | abmi doing her kora | me in front of the his holiness residence | two pilgrims in front of his holiness residence | HH dalai lama’s letterbox

indian love #2: food

P1030321bengali cuisine: befun bhaja, dry matar, gobindo bhog rice, chicken kosha, chhna malai kofta – unbox

i always have a thing with indian food, has been having a crazy craving on them and whenever they are available i always have them. being in india is like being in that food heaven you dream of. every single day that we spend were such a culinary trip. we didn’t even had the time to take pictures of the food we are eating as we already munch them down. and they are too good so we completely forget about taking pictures. this post are the things that survive and all of them worth to remember.

Continue reading “indian love #2: food”

dharamsala #4: finding majeed in dharamsala

P1040300kashmiri winter’s wife at lucky thangka

fifteen minutes before we are taking the metro to kashmiri gate in delhi, our french friend that we met in delhi, constanz, stop us and gave us a mission to find her friend, majeed, a kashmiri guy living in dharamsala. this mission somehow then shaped the experience of our stay in dharamsala.

we arrived in mcleod ganj, accidentally staying at a kashimiri hotel. we started our first conversation in dharamsala with the kashmiri guys at the hotel, asking around trying to find this majeed out of around 800 kashmiri population in dharamsala. another coincidence was that the first day of our arrival, all the tibetan shops were closed due to the immolation happening in tibet. so we end up entering kashmiri shops asking for majeed.

it turns out that there are two majeed in dharamsala. we met the first majeed, who owns a jewelry store. we had our first cup of kahwa (kashmiri tea) there and find out the guy that we are looking for is the other majeed. so the first majeed son took us to the other majeed friend, rafiq, at another kashmiri shop in the other street.

rafiq is majeed best friend. he made a call to majeed’s number in kashmir and we finally finding majeed by phone. he was at srinagar at that time and not coming to dharamsala anytime soon. but majeed was so happy to hear from us about constanz. magically majeed would somehow take care us just by phone while we were staying in dharamsala.

we end up having chai with rafiq (which would be the custom in every kashmiri shop we crash in). we had a long chat with rafiq, he was a really nice guy. gave us extra discount when we were falling in love with the most warmest cutest kashmiri glove at his shop. believe me it was such a life saver in the middle north indian winter. he also borrowed us a pheran which we can return later when we are going home. a pheran is a kashmiri traditional clothing, it looks like a long wollen coat, very warm for the winter climate. this loose clothing allow them to carry hot water bottle or an earthen pots with burning coal. they jokingly call it the kashmiri winter’s wife.

majeed took care of us by phone. told us to meet up with his friend fayaz who own the akash hotel in mcleod ganj. the next day we met fayaz and moona, end up having a long chat and stay late at the hotel living room. we move to akash in our third day and spend our days having long chat with different kind of people in their hotel living room. we even cooked indonesian food in our last days at the akash kitchen. moona took the hassle in trying to find a halal chicken for us to cook and taking us to the lower dharamsala, although the shop was close and i end up making a pot of potato coconut curry and deep fried eggplants  which tasted good with sambal matah. i baked banana with ghee, sprinkled them with shredded  cheese and condensed milk. it tasted heaven for our desert. moona took the liking of sambal matah and learn to make them, he accomplish making them the next morning.

rafiq teaches us how to differentiate the kashmiri saffron. this is going to be such a reference for the guys in forumrempah back home. we made a small video on it. i wish to see a saffron plantation one day in kashmir. the owner of lucky thangka, also a kashmiri, basically explain and happily show us his collection. it was like a mind-blowing exhibition. we thank majeed for all of this.

the whole experience felt funny. i felt like talking to the kejawen guys (the traditional javanese belief) while talking to the kashmiri guys. often i found that our conversation turn out to be rather sufistic. living most of my life in the most populated moslem country and living in the moslem adapted culture, the kashimiri felt like brothers. majeed called us now and then to make sure we are fine. hopefully in our next trip to india we can go to srinagar in kashmir and meet majeed in his queen sheba boat. majeed last word to abmi when we were in the airport was “i don’t know why i’m telling you this, but there are two important things in life. first is will power and the second is balance.”

insya allah, one day we can make a small video title: (finally) finding majeed in srinagar :)

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rafiq at his shop | lower dharamsala market place | akash living room | moona and abmi | kashmiri saffron | the kashmiri boys playing at the hotel

dharamsala #3: the feel of home

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our room window at ladies venture, mcleod ganj

it was six days that feel to be forever. we extented our stay in dharamsala, longer than it supposed to be. me and abmi agreed that we can see agra and the rest at another chance. we don’t want anything else in the world accept to stay there. dharamsala feels homey at the first sight and at our last. i missed the place terribly now while i’m making this post.

we stayed at ladies venture the first two days where we basically just need to open our window to see the mountain. we moved to akash hotel on our third morning and every morning i wake up, folded my blanket and went outside the porch to see moon peak around an hour or two. then enjoy either chai or kahwa (the kashmiri tea: with a tint of saffron, cardamom and cinnamon) before i had a hot shower.

never in my life i take my time and doing the little simple things. eagles flew above us among the small town of mcleod ganj and to the forest area. the sound of birds and that particularly fresh cold air. we don’t really plan on what we do or what to see. we were just taking our time with our surrounding. i feel at peace somehow. i felt like i’m talking to this place and its mountain, asking it’s permission to stay.

the only reason i had to leave is that i have to take my son here. i even starting to feel that we can live here somehow. we went to tibetan children village, passing the pine forest, to take some package for jean-pascal tibetan son. the minutes we arrived at tcv i can imagine my son running around the place. i can imagine myself spending my time in dharamsala just to do my writings. i can imagine myself walking every morning just to do the kora at the monastery.

i don’t want to imagine it anymore. somehow i’m starting to believe i’ll be there again soon enough.

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our comfy room @ ladies venture | akash hotel living room | tibetan flag above the hotel | abmi enjoying the sun | the way through pine forest | tibetan children village of dharamsala | me doing the kora at tsuglag khang monastery

dharamsala #2: snow

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me @ tsuglag khang temple after the snowy candle march night

growing up in a tropical country like indonesia, seeing snow is a rare opportunity. i was twenty eight years old when i saw my first snow and i was extremely happy to see it first time in dharamsala. it welcome us lightly the first morning and was raining hard at our first night in dharamsala. but the next morning was such a beautiful morning, the sun shine and left us the snow from last night. therefor i decided to share the snow of dharamsala in this post :)

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moon peak of dharamsala, one of the so many reason i feel like crying missing this place so much

snowy seat at ladies venture – mcleod ganj | the view of moonpeak from our room’s window | ladies venture | drying the yak blanket and our gloves, even our boots | icy pink rose | clear view of moonpeak

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this is how we have our coffee that cold morning while wifi-ing at a nearby cafe

dharamsala #1: the candle march

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the tibetan shops were all closed the first day we arrived in dharamsala. another monk immolation happened in tibet, the atmosphere of mourning felt all over the town. we went for an afternoon mass prayer and walked the candle march that night from tsuglag khang (dalai lama’s temple). the tibetan community of dharamsala were all out in the street and walk the march around town. snow was pouring hard.

i can’t describe my feeling. being among the monks and the tibetan people. among the chants, prayer and shout. i don’t know the language. but the language of the heart touched my very soul. i cry on the street of dharamsala and among its people. i understand this longing of going home to lhasa, i wish one day to be in lhasa and to be among those mountain once again in this very life. i thankful that universe brought me to dharamsala on that very moment. to cry among them.

never in my life i feel to be in such in a right place. that there is no coincidence like dagpo rinpoche said, where your wheel of life and karma brought you back to where you belong, to your home and you are born a new to the path of dharma. i walked myself among the march, lighting my own candle. my own very name: dian. the candle that would never die. that hope and goodness would never die.

om mane padme hum

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