I take time

I take time to write and process things. I make space and I take time. I am into depth and to reach depth, I believe in taking the slower path of everything. 2018 suddenly already reach its ending. I remember I was plunging myself in the depth of the Ganges last year around this time. That experience felt like plunging into a journey that reach my soul, deepen my understanding about myself and how I bleed after that plunge.

This year, I commit to myself, plunging unto my own ocean and setting out my boundaries. Its a year long of self talk, it throw me back on my days back in Bodhgaya. It takes that every morning walk and that every afternoon walk I took circumambulating the Bodhi tree where Siddharta became Buddha. It takes me to every time, I open the window to let the morning sunshine reflected to the moment where I pour the basmati rice to our small pot in the kitchen where I cook for my Japanese nun friend, who run the temple. For that memorable 2,5 month of sleeping near the temple altar because I can’t afford any lodging and waiting for my teacher to come to town. For all the faith I believe on myself. For all the Tibetan mantra that went all through my mala, bead by bead. For all the prostration I took to let go my own ego self in the wooden board with all the Tibetan pilgrimages. For the breath of my Gyenla in that cold morning in Bodhgaya. For his smile and the laugh of his students, for all this kindred soul of mine. For all those butter tea cups shared while listening and saw the Dalai Lama teaching. For all those warmth hearted moments that stays with me forever. I am home.

In my journeys I found myself. In my journey I am with my home and my heart. In my journey I healed myself. I don’t write a travel blog, even if I try to document everything I felt in words. I just don’t work that way. I had lost words lately in this overloaded world of information and disinformation. I am not into this negativity vibes and limitations. When words does not reach how I felt anymore. I move my body. I dance my life through.

People ask me why I don’t smile when I dance. People ask me why I move the way I move. People ask me whether I had lost my mind or going mad.

The thing is I move to live. To be alive. I don’t do this for entertainment. For the mass entertainment.

I dance to connect inside. I dance to connect with mother earth. With the wind that caress my being and teach me to be a breeze of fresh air. I dance to flow like water and find my ocean womb. I dance to purifies my fire and transform my fire power. I dance to channel the ether, the spirit realms, my ancestors, my guardians and for my own spirit to takes form. To shape shift. To release. To heal. I dance my medicine. I dance with everything to go back to myself. I dance to be with my centre of being. I dance with myself to process my own things.

And it has been an amazing journey of alchemy. I fell in love with myself and decide to give all the love I had to my own self, first and foremost. Because I deserve me. Because in my darkness, the whole universe and realm shift its gear towards light. In my dark womb, I rebirth my whole being. Inside, I started to understand my own power.

Now, when I shift. I promise to myself, that I will give time. The way I take time and space unashamedly.

Gently. Slowly.

Stepping to the Notorious Bihar State

The road view to Rajghir, Bihar, India

It took me nearly five years to complete this full circle. When I started my Himalayan journey back in 2013, I was thinking to end them in Bodhgaya, Bihar. I did not know that I would accomplish them last December 2017. In the middle of my sabbatical, mobile working attempt and literally recharging my life.

By then, I already lost the sense of even managing a travel blog or at least care about the random things I have been posting at all. Tonight somehow, things sober up a little. I decided to organise my blog and my old writing. Writings is mean to be something you record and to go back to. Then I found that I just started typing again here. I even try the mobile posting mode through my phone to upload the photos. Life is indeed just another post away.

I feel this is where we lost it. In our travels nowadays, we just post photos in our Instagram account. Visual diaries are great but somehow I feel its too much visual junk. I even felt the need to declutter my phone memories. But it lacks stories. It lack depths. It does not tell you anything. The reconstruction of image has taken the social media by storm where we only see things in the surface. I felt that it become something that is very shallow. It even change the way we communicate with each other. We don’t say hi anymore and see people face to face. Instead of expanding your world, it somehow narrow your view about people and easily make assumptions. On the positive side, this facts help me to learn to set my boundaries and knowing how to recognised people real qualities.

I found freedom when this year I decided to delete Facebook on my phone. I still need to keep my personal network but put a notice that I am not active and people should just contact me personally when they need me. I felt I do not want to participate in this things anymore. I don’t believe in the constructed reality of social media.

My travels in the end always teach me the essentials. I took a forty hours train crossing my favourite continent, of course the Indian way. I was entering the end of my first month of travel. Hopping from Sri Lanka after finally getting my Indian three months visa approved for the first time.

Vasco Da Gama Train, view from my upper bunkbed

I smelled the Arabian Seas and swam in their waves. Spending days chasing sunsets in the Goan hills among its crosses, sleeping in beaches for the sunrises. Cooking and feeding people who I lived with. Doing translations and script editing deadlines in between. And finally took that train ride alone. Overcome a train accident in Allahabad. Walking in Mughalsarai station as a solo woman traveler and ignoring the danger by taking a random auto with the fact that I just skipped death again at 4.30 that morning. Dipped myself in this life again at 6 AM the next morning in the Mother Ganges. Letting myself being fed by a boat owner and share my food with the dogs of India’s most famous ghat. A Japanese guy decided to gave me a piece of lapis lazuli from Nepal as a token of friendship late at night.

While sipping my nth chai in the chill of Indian winter, seeing bodies being burn and listening to stories of people I met. I do not even know whether I will have enough money to survive another three months in India. Being motherless for the last 12 years, I found myself in my home, somehow being taken care off by the universe. Nothing is a coincidence.

My teacher had one of the best advice that he gave me last year. People do have expired dates. Alive or death. I threw my earthen chai cup to the ground in that last Varanasi morning and began my trip to Bihar.

The monks above the hill at Sunset, Rajghir, Bihar

I found myself staying in one of the small Japanese temple in Bodhgaya. I offer myself to help with the cooking. Food is literally my offering. I end up studying a bit about shojin ryori (Japanese temple food) in my exploration of adjusting the Indian vegetables and spices into an adaptable Japanese palate. This plate journey went as far as getting me an offer to join the Japanese monks delegates in the International Mahayana chanting event. I cried at the peak of Eagle’s Peak when they chant the Heart Sutra (Prajna Paramitha) in Sanskrit after hundreds of years for the very first time, again. I even felt the stones were crying in longing.

I end up staying for another two months in Bihar. I ended up cooking from temple to temple. For all pilgrims, monks, nuns, and layperson from all over.

With my Japanese nun friend, Katayama, I found myself slowly studying the Hiragana and chanting the Lotus Sutra in Japanese. While doing my own Tibetan practice during the day, joining the many Tibetans in the Mahabodhi Temple.

I end up joining the monks in exploring the ancient Buddhist sites that just got uncovered. I often can’t believe my luck in keep on stumbling this things in my dharma path. Sometimes I felt like I don’t deserve this so much goodness. Though, I learn to accept my faith, diving in so much gratitude and blessing.

Buddhawana – the cave where Buddha sleep for a night, Bihar

This is my only photo of the Mahabodhi Temple since you are not allowed to bring a phone inside due to the bombing incident back in 2013 when I was going to travel here originally then. I felt I complete a circle in just stepping myself inside. Its the only thing that I can share right now.

The rest of precious memories of even sighting the magnificent Bodhi Tree and doing my daily prostration. Doing kora with my Gyenla early morning and being reunited with many of my Tibetan friends all over again are just pure blessings. I finally had my first Dalai Lama teaching which are priceless.

I remembered all my steps, dreams and vision about being among it since I was in my teens. When everything felt very far away with the unspeakable craving from the bottom of my heart. In these moments nowadays, I know my spirit was home and I am awaken.

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.

***

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.

Karanganyar: Cetho Temple, Kethek Temple and Sukuh Temple

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Sunrise view from Candi Cetho, Merapi, Merbabu and Sindoro Mountains range, Central Java, Indonesia

I’ve been missing Java a little bit since moving to Bali for a while, and I remembered this trip that I impulsively did before I went to Kathmandu again last year. I went with the boys, my ‘brothers’ and my son, Bhumy, to Candi Cetho and Candi Sukuh in Karanganyar, Central Java.

These two magnificent old temple have a special meaning to me since the very beginning of my first visit way back in 2005. Its located near Solo where my father lineage come from, its been an inspiration for my favourite theatre, Teater Garasi, in Jogjakarta for their masterpiece work of Watubatu. It has also been always a personal pilgrimage for my Javanese ancestors.

Their unique architecture style are one of my favourite in Java. It is somewhere reminding people with the style in Latin America. I am so glad that I could take Bhumy in this trip and also visiting a newly found temple behind Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek (The Monkey Temple).

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Krisna praying in Kethek Temple, Central Java, Indonesia

IMG_0329The boys on top of Kethek Temple

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Bhumy in the path to Kethek Temple, Karanganyar, Central Java

Its nice to see my son back on his barefoot and exploring the wilderness with his uncles. We rent a car for two days and head off to the temple. The small hotels are still nice like I remember. The feeling of the place stayed sacred after seven years even.

I took the bath in the Saraswati statue, where they have one of the best water spring in the area. It brings the memories of a personal silent time I had with the place years ago and somehow I awash all those memories that I need to let go. I felt home and quiet at peace.

IMG_0649  IMG_0638Cetho Temple, Karanganyar, Centra Java

While entering Sukuh temple, one of the local old guide explained to us a lot and even showing Bhumy a lot of things while we were there. The architecture of both temples are still a mystery for modern archeology. The way they made the statues and the way it constructed like a certain pyramid has somehow become a missing link in the typical Hindu-Buddhist period of Java. I had a long talk before with one of my professor and we agree that the theory of its age is more likely that its dated on the site latest renovation that happened in 17th century. This place feels ancient to me. Much much more ancient.

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IMG_0678Candi Sukuh, Karanganyar, Central Java, Indonesia

The Hindu in Indonesia do regular ceremony and pilgrimage to both places. Also the Javanese that also still practicing Kejawen rituals. Both of these sites are still active, so please show your respect while you are exploring these areas especially when people are praying and practice certain rituals. Its as sacred as any places of worship.

A Reflection of Taking A Rest

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Writing about a journey has never been an easy one. Especially when most of the experiences are inward. How do you suppose to describe the sense of travelling inside yourself. To be honest, sometimes you feel lost in words after many journeys. And when you found yourself in your so called homeland, you only wanted to wrap yourself in a cocoon.

By January 2015, it’s already the rain season outside, in this tropical rainforest state and you wanted to wrap yourself more. You are already back home and scattered yourself all over the main island and the gods too. You never really stop walking. You wanted to rest and you know you mindfully need one. And you did.

***

You asked your local massage guy, Pak Warto, to help you in shutting your body down. This strong headed body of yours, who often forgot it limits, who always chase herself to go beyond her limits and sometimes it feels not so good. The body would take it toll in the end, and in that third week of December, you start your hibernating period.

Closing yourself.

But not totally, because you have your growing six year old boy beside you who would want to snuggle every single time because he has been missing you so much. And he is in a bear cub mode on. But you need that too for your eternal motherly bonding with your children. And he helps you. Reminding the essence of nurturing, that to grow is also by giving nurture. Or like my wise friend, Hanny said, to let go is to let in things too. It has always been a two way process, a circle, not only a one way thing.

And the flu started. A bad one with extra cough. The young cub got one, but not as bad as you. You feel the pain, the choking in every time you tried to speak out and something stuck by your throat. And slowly you sooth yourself down. Hot lemon water, those childhood classic: Ibu dan Anak cough syrup made in Hongkong, the forever saviour of Indonesian: Tolak Angin, and extra extra long nap.

You sooth yourself by slowly talking inside. Very slowly. And listen. Listen to yourself. You feel Bali is calling you, once again, like in every grandmotherly calling.

You had to take a flight exactly at Christmas night, that nearly poked your brain to death, which you commit not to ever take another flight when the flu happen. But like all things you arrived safely in Sanur. You had come to rest. Breathing the sea breeze of the Balinese southern sea and sleep in for some more. Enjoying your private space with your son. Your soul mates popping up in the house. Giving you all the love, hugs and food for all the nourishment of your heart. And in the end you find yourself in the magic mountain of Pupuan. Finding yourself in the circle of women healers and the heart of your soul mates. And be blissful, be thankful. Finding all the love in the eyes of loved ones in the first light of 2015. And you snuggle in for some more.

Everything feels out in the open of the grass fields and the wind slowly whisper in your ears. The moon is still. And you burst slowly like a never-ending fireworks. Seeing your own beauty. The beauty of each moment of your lives. Even the beauty of all the pain that had transforms you until now. And you let yourself be healed. With every tears that runs, you wash away all your sorrow. With every smile you give, you give all the love you got inside you. And just BE.

With all the imperfections of life, the impermanence of a moment and FEEL them completely.

Your purpose in life is often to find this BALANCE. In where to start and where it ends. When to keep walking and when to stop. Life has teaches you that in your journey, you start picking up your pace. Smoothing things out. Slowing things down. Stretching yourself to see the flexibility of your heart. The beauty of a certain fall, the courage to stand up and the ways to fly away.

And you know there would be time for you to walk again, start that run and raising that head once again facing all what lies ahead.

For now, rest, my dear heart.

Listen to your own heartbeat.

photo: Asabhumy snuggling in Sanur’s house

QUOTE #2

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“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
― Pema Chödrön

***

My favourite Pema Chödrön quote with the photo I took last month in Upper Pisang, while doing the Annapurna Circuit. It was my first clear glimpse of Annapurna Mountain Range. I realised to take a mountain photo you need all the luck and friendship with the weather. Things can change so very quickly, sometimes in second. May all the lives who are lost in this region last week find their peace.

Nepal: Early Note of Going Into the Wild

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Thorong La Pass, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

You found yourself walking briskly, back on your steps with your thinning rubber sandals, that you start to realized being slightly too thin in the growing cold of Kathmandu weather. You know: winter is coming and you get to used seeing snow peaks lately. You know that you need to buy yourself a pair of a walking boots in this city, the weather can turn to be very unpredictable, the pavement either splotchy or dusty.

You know how it feels to walk under the raining snow or even small ice balls attacks from above the Himalayan sky. Those different types of rain. You past the Tibetan quarter market to find yourself writing in a corner of the city. Back in putting your thoughts down. And all those self talk along the way, the hours, the days, the whole one month out of touch. Finding their words slowly. Very slowly.

But today you feel completely human. Completely alive. Parts of nature you know had somehow left you with that knowledge. On appreciating every single thing. In being grateful to even breathing. On the shortness of life and how beauty can turn to be dangerous in a single moment. In being aware, that a misstep of a foot can led to a fatal slide. On facing that border of life and death. How the news bring things to you today and how you react. How it makes you pray and let things go. And thankful, with those strange powers that life brings you.

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Magar Women singers in Maikot

You remembered the nights under the moon in top of an ancient fort of Maikot. Where old women shaman sang their songs about the past glory and the stories of their ancestor in a completely different tongue of the Magar clan, while they drink their nth cup of raksi. How they put flowers in your hair while they sang and dance. How some nights there is nothing but stars along the way and the ice white peaks glistening by the distance. The moon was the only light in your beaten path. And sometimes barbecued potatoes were the only thing you ate that night. But you walk all the same. The hills you cannot imagine before, since these hills were in the size of your mountains in your home country.

You amazed yourself by passing three mountain passes. Although you know you nearly died catching your breath going up, or your feet hurt so bad you can’t even feel them. But you learn how to know your strength and also your weakness. You learn how to train your leg by walking properly (most of us don’t). And in the end how to step on your ground properly, then understand the basic principle of really being grounded.

Nature teach you to face yourself, all the time. It shows every side of you. The beautiful and the ugly. The between. And in total silence when you find your connection with nature, you found yourself in that point of tranquility where you don’t need anything else. That moment which effortlessly leave marks in your life. IMG_2416 Om Mane Padme Hum.

May all beings found their happiness and peace. May all be remove from sufferings.