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.

2014: Feeling the Ground Beneath My Feet

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To be honest, I didn’t know what struck me last year. Places like dreams are all over my memories. Things happens so fast, it all feels like some kind of explosions, over and over again. Moments, people and experiences all somehow cramp up until I lost for words. It is one of those moments, where you feel at lost even as a writer for no words seems audible even for your own sake. I give it time to digest it, to let things seep in. I closed my laptop for some time, even unplugged the internet connection for time to time and in the end finding myself scribbling endlessly in a notebook trying to get some sense back to myself. I know for myself that I for once need to slow down. To stop even and I need too.

The last few days, stranded under the volcanic ash reaching as far as 300 kilometers from where it spew, I picked up some novels which I bought in Kathmandu last September and read on. And thanks to Amitav Ghosh and some Rilke poems found within, I’m tracing this blog back as an attempt to write things down again. Somehow I gain my belief that in the end literature never fails you in a journey, your journey anywhere. It is always a habit to me to have a book in hand wherever I’m going somewhere. It is in the end the best company.

As someone who always constantly moving around among places, I’m starting to accept that life has been offering me that. That movement is part of my energy within, it is part of something that fuel my life. Even with my son’s around, I can’t denied that pulse is still in constant calling. My journey last year has teach me so many things and one thing is to accept my nomadic nature. The title of this blog describe me no less.

Although I’m not too sure whether I could tell all or I would tell less, for that I cannot answer. But I do want to begin with this reminder of Rilke found in Ghosh:

‘ Look, we don’t love like flowers

with only one season behind us, when we love,

a sap older than memory rises in our arms. O girl,

it’s like this: inside us we haven’t loved just some one 

in the future, but a fermenting tribe; not just one 

child, but fathers, cradled inside us like ruins

of mountains, the dry riverbed

of former mothers, yes, and all that

soundless landscape under its clouded

or clear destiny – girl, all this came before you’

For all that happened, I miss my days in the Himalaya.

A Personal Journey to the Edge

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Tibetan summer, Jergu – Tibet

Imagine yourself suddenly moving out from your comfort zone. Your house, the life you have been the last 4 years, your very dear friends, your yoga classes, your students, your work, even your blog and everything you think before was important. Imagine yourself suddenly moving to the place you thought you are scared off after your marriage failed, thought people say it is the island of the gods where magic still happens. Gods forgive your grudges after all. Things work out not the way you want, but in some ways the way you needed. And trust me it’s not all magical.

You finally let your only son to see his father after four years, because he ask you too. You believe in choices and chances. So you giving them a chance. You took that break, even you know you would not like it. It is part of your biggest fear. You give yourself some time alone. Maybe not perfectly alone because you met someone along the way. You decided to have it a go.

Then you decided to realise one dream. Going to one edge of the world. Places you only see in dreams and magazines, in pictures and films. One things lead to the other. You’re finally there. Like just being there.

***

A Nepali guy said this to me, “After you climb the tallest mountain in the world, what do you want to do next? What’s obvious is that you have to go down in the end. I don’t get it why we as human do it like that,” while we are looking at the snowy mountain capes from afar.

I didn’t climb any mountain yet in this journey, but I was up in the Himalayas. A Nepali shaman, Mina, even decided to give me a new name, Himali, as her god-daughter. It means the range of mountain.

I didn’t feel to do some climbing or hiking in this trip, but I feel I’m climbing my own personal mountain along the journey. But it is back to the Nepali guy questions, what do you want to do next? We are all back in this realities. We are back home now. Did something change then? Did ourselves change along the way?

I just realised it took me nearly a month to even continue a paragraph of this post. It took me to take some distance with myself to digest everything after this journey. It is one of those kind of moments. It  does took me time to write it all and I could say most of it is still in digestion.

I feel I’ve been through my own darkness along the way, seeing the glimpse of myself here and there. It’s funny how travelling with someone could make you reflect every single thing about yourself and your life. And in the end still being thankful of the intense journey that both of you go through.

It is hard to write about the places I’ve been through the last intense two months. It is hard for anybody I guess. It is hard to write it wisely somehow. I’m on my way of finding my own wisdom in writing it. Although I found the whole experience had a very personal impact on me. You could called it  spiritual, you could also call it the way to get deeper into yourself. I think it’s what this journey all about. At the end of this day, I think I’m so grateful for making it, for passing it through this regions and also my own regional hearts. It was vast and simple at the same time.

Om Mane Padme Hum

IMG_6902In the middle of Lhasa, Tibet

P1020883The misty mountain view from the cosiest place in Bandipur, Nepal

If Tomorrow We Disappear

564329_10150669284377043_1967720761_nIf tomorrow we disappear, I want to remember life as it is. As a cycle of life.

2012 has been a year of calling. And now I recall.

P1040227Of remembering my first step arriving in Dharamsala, the first snow that fall in my face and saying to myself that it is not a dream.

IMG-3815Of remembering the sea and remembering the mountain.

P1060347Of remembering the many sunrise and many sunset all over the places.
IMG_6026Of remembering the feel of home and the feel of going away.

IMG_6474Of remembering the good times and the bad ones.

IMG_6911Of remembering the death and be among the living.

IMG_5304
Of remembering to let go of your hate to feel loved.

IMG_5379Of remembering to share to feel rich.

IMG01216-20120402-1727Of remembering to throw all your emotional baggage in the exact bin.

P1040372P1040344Of remembering what is important and who really matters.

P1000564Of remembering in order to reconstruct you have to deconstruct and it’s a pain, and all of it goes away in the end.

mpOf remembering that the past help you to move on to the future and to be in the present.
P1010038Of remembering your own darkness and to make it your best friend in peace.

_MG_0014That going outside is merely to go deep inside yourself.

P1060212And in the end remember your balance.

_MG_0253That in the end, beauty stays. No matter what.

The last two months, after my trips from Rembang, I fall sick. I stop everything. Turn out I also need for my wisdom teeth to be pull out. Turn out also wisdom did not left me although it prolong my sickness. Sickness also is not always physical.

I’ve been sick, tired and overworked. I’ve been broken from time to time. But I have learn that I could heal myself. That the hardest thing when you feel dark is to wake up to the light. And that the undying light itself is within yourself. I learn that my parents name me, Dian, not for nothing. It mean to be the candle that never died.

And that every lesson are trying to teach you the same thing until you learn. That by learning to listen and see the universe, you realized how things are connected. Now and again. You learn and grow. And even, if tomorrow we disappear, I choose to wake up to the light.
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Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

The Lord of the Rings – J.R. Tolkiens

Photo caption:

[1] 2012 – My first sunrise in Ternate, turn out that Sultan Tidore just passed away and the coffin come out right under my seat. Photo courtesy of Labodalih Sembiring.

[2] 2012 – Me in my Kashmiri slippers while drying my boots after a snow fall the night before, at Ladies Venture, Mcleod Ganj – Dharamsala

[3] 2005 – My long time converse sneakers, on a ferry boat trip from Merak to Bakauheuni, on the way to Lampung, it was my family last trip together before my mother got sick

[4] 2012 – Sunset in Sale, Rembang among the teak forest

[5] 2006 – My mother on her 60th birthday, two months before she died, we were from the hospital from her last chemotherapy and ate lunch in her most favorite restaurant of her lifetime, Trio Restaurant, Cikini, Jakarta

[6] 2006 – Farabi’s farewell dinner to Netherland and sleepover, minutes before my flight to Jakarta when both of my parents were critical in the hospital

[7] 2006 – My father with my brother, reading a birthday card from me, my father first birthday without my mother

[8] 2012 – Me and my son, Asabhumy, at our house in Jogjakarta

[9] 2012 – The AMAN Media team going home from Dodola Island, Morotai

[10] 2012 – Me in North Java Sea, Lasem coast

[11] 2012 – The books from New Delhi and my son, Asabhumy. My soul mates and best friends in Sangam Restaurant on Losar 2012, Labodalih Sembiring and Abmi Handayani, photo taken by Jean Pascal Elbaz

[12] 2010 – Finishing my tatto series of Om Mane Padme Hum, with Munir Toxic Tatto, Jogjakarta, photo taken by Megan Ryan

[13] 1965 – My father at 24 and my mother at 19, Buitenzorg, the photo taken by my father’s best friend who become a photographer later on (I forgot his name). It was the year when they started going out, it is also the year when darkness swept Indonesian contemporary lives.

[14] 2005 – Buddha in Borobudur Temple

[15] 2012 – Me in my journey from Ternate to Sofifi, Mount Gamalama at my back. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring

[16] 2012 – My son at the back of Inna’s house, Nitiprayan – Jogjakarta

[17] 2012 – My hot pink nails and a small white butterfly in Tobelo, in the middle of AMAN Congress. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring.

[18] 2012 – Me doing a warrior yoga pose at the dock of Dodola Island, Morotai. Photo courtesy by Labodalih Sembiring.