Landing at the Ancestral Land

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“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

After meeting a dear old friend again who share part of her Nepali experience a couple of days ago, I realised my blank state mode was actually quiet normal. The conversation left me with a beginning of a paragraph. Those long process paragraph that need to start pouring out in this story. I had to make a choice in order to put things together with this post, to maybe map myself in this current planet of mine. Picking the trails where I left it off. I checked the sky, the stars and I know where to start from the very beginning of my own personal history. China.

My great great grandfather from my mother side came from Fujian. That’s all that I know. Although from the very beginning I didn’t even plan this trip, in the end I had to pay respect to my ancestor first by literally landing in China. I never imagine I would reach Chengdu in 2013. This part of Mainland, at thirty.

I learned to make peace with part of my blood somewhere along the line which as an Indonesian peranakan has been quiet a complicated experience. This part of your growing up identity sometimes matter much, sometimes it doesn’t matter at all. My first encountering problem of course is because I don’t speak Chinese at all. I had the lack of will in learning the particular language and yes, part of it cause by my grandparents generations all speak fluent Dutch instead (see it’s complicated?). Language and culture all tumble and mixed up so bad along with the Indonesian history plus politics, where I in end always have the difficulty to answer where I originated from.

It took me time to take all about being a Chinese Indonesian, having a mixed blood do make you feel like Hermione in the mudblood situation. My Chinese interest range record was reaching as far as Chinese food, kungfu movies and musing the contemporary Chinese literature translated in English. I learned three kingdoms history from the never ending Japanese manga series “Legenda Naga” (Ryuroden by Yoshito Yamahara). I do somehow often moved by the lyrical sad traditional Chinese tunes, especially those from the classic music records ones which I never catch the title or even understand any single word being said. It is a feeling of a tragic beauty fascination. The rest I often remain ignorance or even denied when I was younger, this part I had to admit. In the end I always feel I can’t take side with 4 ancestry down my bloodlines. My son have another extra 2, which make him with 6, well, at least we have a lot of ancestral guardianship or to put it simple, simply human.

It’s my first time in China, my only Mandarin dictionary was a small Lonely Planet Mandarin compact guide that T (my travelling partner) got hours before we landed into Chengdu. The plane from Kuala Lumpur feels hectic already, we end up drinking two bottle of Soju along the flight, to silence the killing voice of a mad Chinese family who keep on arguing and their scolded children keep on crying, throwing mad fits every 3 minutes at the back of our plane seat. We couldn’t sleep. No, not even the Bob Marley songs in T’s Ipod help with the situation. We arrived in the middle of the night at Chengdu Shuanglia airport with no clue, half drunk on Soju, in the middle of China’s summer breeze.

That first step entering China, was indeed our first step to the journey of a thousand miles ahead.

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

After All the Miles

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Announcing that taleaboutnomad.com is back! I’m currently just arriving after a two months trip from China-Tibet-Nepal. It was a dream come true kind of trip, sometimes on the road I feel like I had to shake myself from what I’m seeing and feeling. Those kinda of moment that said, you’re here, finally here.

In the next couple of days I would start sharing and get my ass back on this blog. It’s been a five months of being away from the life before and a travel of a lifetime. It has been an extraordinary experience, moments and meeting a lot of extraordinary people along the way.

So, yes, by this post I’m getting my ground back. Hola world, it has been a long dream indeed. Thank you universe for everything, like usual it has been a journey and a big slap.

Om Mane Padme Hum

Photo: Prayer flags among the hills in Jergu, Tibet.

Kuala Lumpur: A Meeting After Eight Years

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Bhumy first trip overseas, the boy excitement at 12.30 AM

I haven’t seen my ex-housemate, Bebe, after eight long years. Or even more. I just remember the first time he met his now-wife, Ili. The stormy process of their love and suddenly photos of their first daughter, Sidra. And when I had my own son, Bhumy, they had theirs, Atari. Then not long after, Bima. I saw all the process of their family through pictures, facebook and blogs.

Then suddenly we’re doing our own gardening in our own lawns, his in Selangor – Kuala Lumpur, mine in Nitiprayan – Yogyakarta. Skype chats suddenly involves the updates of our latest garden design and trying the latest experiment based on the permaculture principles. We share ideas and updates on our kids, daily in the social media.

Excitement came when the Yogyakarta – Kuala Lumpur new routes are getting as cheap as going to Jakarta or Denpasar. So it was decided that in the end of March, we will have our reunion. There is also an international street art festival happening in KL which we could see while we are there. I had to take care my son’s first passport and it is our first trip overseas together. Things went well, preparations was simple.

It was just the three hours flight delay that makes Ili and the boys pick us up in the airport at the most ungodly hours especially for the children. Somehow Bebe looks the same, accept with the very fact that he is a punk dad with the additional three kids. I remember Ili with the long hair, but nowadays she cut it short. I guess I agree with Bebe, that this trip felt like a dream, or a long wake after a dream. The long years that separate us seems make the distance feel far away and unreachable physically. But then, we are here. Me and Bhumy together.

Suddenly the trip to KL felt like a time machine. Suddenly we are all above thirty and our kids are already knocking as our next generations. Suddenly our interest met with our hope of the future: our children’s lives. We talk about raising kids, domestic issues, healthy food, recipes to cook, urban gardening, permaculture, our old friends, art scene in KL, politics in general (blah), sustainable living and basically the latest update on anything.

The next five days felt so short but it create something huge. Time always passes by. But moments are  eternal. Despite all this technology convenient mobility thing, meeting your old dear friends and family is always become the best thing that we always treasure.

UntitledOur first morning: Munching roti canai in the garden

Our kids play together, share foods and toys while us the parents sharing all the stories of our lives. I didn’t develop the interest to explore KL that much this time, accept more to seeing Bebe and Ili. While Bhumy joining the Gang Chaos: Sidra-Atari-Bima. We also have the trip together with the kids to the Padang Jawa: Street Art Festival. The children are excited to take the bus and train. Play on the streets and under the rain with the kids in Kampung Padang Jawa. It’s a refreshing side of KL. It is the other side of urbanisation never advertised in any tourism pamphlet on Malaysia. But things feel connected, the reality is real, our problems are familiar and our discussions are to search the solutions together.

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Bhumy and Atari at Padang Jawa

UntitledThe boys practicing body surfing under the rain of Padang Jawa

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Taking the bus trip with Gang Chaos

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Bhumy being nice with the local kids

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Sidra, the big sister :)

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Sidra and Bebe in the garden after a moning rain

I somehow change my perspective on visiting Malaysia after this trip, the joyful trip to Kuala Lumpur this time really makes me to look forward for further of the many trips to the home of my dearest friends and their kids :) Miss you all!

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.

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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.

The Social Traveler on Indonesia Featuring Cokiliciouz

I know him since I was 16 and I finally met him when I was 23. We crossed path along the way, but we finally met in Yogyakarta. After long emails on Pablo Neruda poems, of Garcia Lorca and all the long listed favorite authors that we are both crazy with.

I come to Yogyakarta when he left. We met accidentally seven years later, not recognizing each other over beers and bilingual conversation. He thought I was Japanese and I never thought that he was Coki. He cut his famous dreadlocks by then and time changes our expectation.

Through time he become one of my great friend, part of my soul mates, my brother and the trusted uncle to my son. He is my partner in crime of the twitter timeline in making people drown with melancholia by posting the lines of our favorite poet, Pablo Neruda. We share recipes because we both love cooking. Though he complain that I never cooked for him yet and when we met it always the other way around. He is one of the amazing cook that I ever know.

I love how his tattoos grow. His amazing personalities, heart and his personal bluntness on every single thing. Above all, I’m a big fan of his works, all his writings and documentaries (click the youtube links and you will know why). Something did not change since I was 16, and my brother, Coki, happy belated birthday :)

With this video of his, it reminds me that it is so hard to not fall in love with this country. And when you did, it is so hard to keep on loving it.

Gunung Kidul: The Sacred Beach of Ngobaran

P1050968Bowing towards the sea from Ngobaran beach

She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” into the sky. ~ Monique Duval

Entering the last month of 2012, somehow made me reflect a lot. The above quote is a summary of about how I feel this year. Those quote somehow remind me of the feeling when I arrived in Ngobaran beach. I had my first trip to Ngobaran beach with Patrick and Pak Moko. We passed the hilly roads of Gunungkidul which had that certain melancholic view, crossing the teak forest and all. Ngobaran, the word come from both Javanese and Indonesian “Kobar”. “Kobar” means flame, “ngobaran” means in flame.

The place itself believed by the local as the place where the last Hindu king from Majapahit kingdom, Brawijaya V, immolated himself to death. Some believe he is “moksa” (vanish into enlightenment). The official story which I read in the morning of the government tourism sign, was a little odd myth. It is said that the last king had two wives, they were being chased by new ruler from Demak, which are no other than one of his son, Raden Patah. Before he immolate himself he asked the two wives a question “How much is your love to me?” His second wife, Dewi Lowati, said her love is as big as the mountain. While his first wife, Bondang Surati answer that her love is like a dirty nail, where when she cut it, it will always grow. Realizing that his second wife love is lesser than the first one, he pulled Dewi Lowati to burn with him into the fire.

Although there are many tales around about the death of Brawijaya V, I found this quite intriguing. Not to mention, the surrounding temple complex. A sacred pura (temple) with Balinese style undergoing a renovation. A new looking candi recently build by the Kraton. A sacred petilasan of Brawijaya V, with wooden huts on top of the highest cliff point towards the sea. A temple build exclusively to the South Sea Queen. Caves. A mosque facing the south and next to a lingga. The diversity of beliefs in this place make it one of the favorite sacred spot for many people coming here.

IMG00660-20120917-1718A new recently build candi

P1050955Temple complex and above the hill is the petilasan

P1050980The mosque and the lingga

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Sea urchin stir fry, high protein!

Magnificent sunset from above the petilasan. Sleep under the stars by the candi. Hearing the waves all night long. Eating stir fry sea urchin of local specialty with rice and hot sambal. Entering a cave that rain from the inside. Those were the things you could do while in Ngobaran. Do things with respect because you could felt the sacred sense of this place no matter you believe the myth or not.

IMG00663-20120917-1726The magical sunset of Ngobaran

I really could stay up in Ngobaran once again, just to make it another sanctuary when I need to write my own language. Where the nature, spirit and self talked as one.