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 datelines 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.

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.

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jalan solo: the silk road tour of jogja

P1020996i was so busy since november last year, this post was meaning to be publish and i was totally forgot about it. having rearranging my thought while rearranging my house after so many getaways, being totally at home and taking things slowly always mean to be good. and because this is a cool sunday morning, i guess i should post something beautiful :)

so elia from simalakamma made this program at the end of december 2011 of touring the silk road of jogja: jalan solo. jalan solo is famous of their indian shops selling various kind of fabrics. the long history of jalan solo started in the 80s where most of the indian shops move here from malioboro street. now it become one of the most busiest street in jogja where they have many shops which you can see clearly still dominated by indian fabric shops.

Continue reading “jalan solo: the silk road tour of jogja”

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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