Other Delights & Frustrations
India, January, 2018
It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams. ― Gabriel García Márquez
Some things fit so perfectly into the category of "it's always bloody something". A giant coconut tree falling off the edge of the jungle, and attempting to take a house with it, being one of those things. The Balinese workers seem completely unfazed and are just calmly putting it to rights. I'm working on following their lead.
Midnight in Mumbai airport. Bought my fabulous travel agent in Goa a much deserved, excellent bottle of whisky in Singapore, upon being assured it was perfectly legal to carry it all the way to Goa. Customs in India did not agree, so rather than gift it to them, I poured it out. Sacrilege, (especially for a Scot), but their shocked faces were worth the minor torment.
Travelling 1st class on an economy budget. Had a whole row to myself on the Singapore/Mumbai leg of the trip. Score.
Back in beloved Goa... yet again in awe of how happy I am here.
Happy in the generous arms of Mother India.
When the health hazards, lies, and corruption would no longer be tolerated in the West, big tobacco companies just casually blinked and shipped their advertising clout and poisonous product elsewhere. They up and dumped a whole lot of money here, in Asia, weaving their dark romantic fantasy about how cool smoking is. Tragically it worked, almost every male I know here smokes. Pure corporate evil.
Just watched the Goan Lunar Eclipse that exactly opposes my Aquarian Sun. I choose to believe the Indian gentleman who noted how lucky I am.
In 2009, I met a young kid, Vikas, amongst the rocks in Hampi, selling diaries to support himself and his family. He terrified (and impressed) me by free climbing the sheer faces of the rocks there, and he opened my eyes to the parts of the area that tourists rarely see and we spent days exploring together. We became friends, and when he saw me off at the train station, I bought him a cheap phone so he could stay in touch with his mother (and so I could track him down the next year when I started to bring groups). Fast forward and almost every year I come here to find he has grown more confident and successful in his life. He now has an up and coming climbing business, teaching, running tours, and this year he and his friends started a climbing festival.
Every year he makes time for me and my groups, patiently and kindly taking hikes with us and sharing the secret places of Hampi. He and other friends in India, starting out with no privileges and no expectations, but with massive reserves of integrity, determination and hard work, making their lives work are a big part of what I so love and admire about this land. Proud to be his friend.
Beetroot pineapple juice is one of the yummiest ideas brought back from India this trip.
I don’t remember when the symbolism and mythology of Hinduism started to seep into my psyche (or was it already there?), but I do know that it is now bone deep. I feel, know and love them all so much that I find just being near any images or statues uplifting.
Just met a marvellous 81-year-old youngster. Still travelling all over the world, not worried about stairs, jungle stuff, or any of life's little discomforts. She was a wind-surfer until she was 70. She's a tad tougher than me and smokes (moderately) and drinks whisky. To top it all she just reunited with an old love from when she was 17, and him 26. They are now both widowed. When they originally met she chose to get an education over committing to the relationship. She says she's still not in any rush, him being 90, I'm wondering if he feels quite the same. Inspired and determined to be her when (if) I finally "mature".
I find myself saying that my rooster is a chicken... a lot, because much as I adore him, he is all crow and bluster, and a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to flying up to roost, or actually going out of his comfort zone, (and he does hide behind the girls when the big boy neighbour cocks show up). Whereas "the girls" will pick up their feathers and fly the coop at any given opportunity, and seem pretty undaunted by challenges, plus they consistently pop those eggs out, with no fuss whatsoever.
So is it demeaning calling Brewster a chicken, and then proudly declaring that the chickens are the real roosters - fowl sexism perhaps?
For me, the most dispiriting thing in the world today is our heartless, brutal rejection of refugees, from anywhere and of any religion. Unless we turn this around and start welcoming and caring for them we are doomed... as we deserve to be. Karma is karma.
We're bombing yet another country, but making sure we seal our borders against their refugees, just in case they make any problems.
Taking children from their parents as a deterrent. This shows how completely unaware these lawmakers are of others' realities. These people have no fancy cell phones and internet connection so they can keep current on America's policies. Even if they did, the smugglers are guaranteeing them safe passage, plus when they weigh up the horrors they already face, there often isn't a choice to be made. Reading the words "migrant toddler", somehow underscores how vile we have become.
How callous, selfish and heartless this nation has become with zero ability to raise a mirror, stare itself in the face, and acknowledge that: "there but by the grace of god, (yes, that singular one who apparently only cares about YOU), go I."
Many years ago in Varanasi, India, I befriended a boatman and was invited to his home where he lived with his wife and 7 children in one room. His English was good from dealing with tourists but he had no education and could not read and had no tv. I queried him about birth control. He did not even know that such a thing existed.
Our ignorance and naïveté is assuming that the rest of the world gets the same information as us. THEY DON'T.
People who live in jungles should have glass and wood houses.
It feels like we're inching along, but we are getting there.
Last house, best house.
The Gift of a Grandchild: the realisation that all of the family history, (both marvellous and tragic), dysfunction, courage, mistakes, and all of those seemingly random choices and journeys led to the arrival of this exact, beautiful soul. Everything suddenly makes perfect sense.
Preparing for a 3-day Bangkok run next week. One of the few cities I enjoy, as well as being a great Asian one-stop port of call. My favourite "Hello Kitty" decorated hotel, super-efficient and safe public transport, delicious food, best massages, and the most efficient, affordable and professional hospital I have ever seen, (going for routine check-ups only).
Oh yes, and Ikea is there. I go with no baggage allowance and come back with a 40 kg limit.
Super early morning appointment means watching the changing of the guard on the streets of Bangkok. If it is even possible to compare, I wonder, whose job is really tougher, the street cleaners or those girls in their shiny high heels? How staggeringly fortunate are those of us who have never had to find out.
Anyone else wake up to a stray orchid growing in the bathroom, a banana plant trying to move the bale in the dining room, and several other wild and relentless plants claiming their space. Love the tropics.
Attempted murder in the morning makes me happy. I awoke at dawn to the wild fluttering of wings and flickering of a tail in the half-light. A tokay lizard was stalking a big butterfly on the wall above my head. He missed but I’m sure went on to succeed elsewhere. He is fat, velvety and healthy.
I love that I get to live where nature thrives, surprises, entertains and saddens, (baby chick broke its leg last week and didn’t make it).
If people want to save the environment, the best thing they can do is find someplace to stay, live there, and protect that place.- Lakota Elder Fools Crow
The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.
Such darned wobbly planetary (mis)alignments.
My mantra of the moment: My insecurities belong to me alone.
Christening the jungle tub; missed the sunset, and it’s ginger, vanilla vodka with watermelon ice instead of wine. Got to make do with what’s on hand. For some reason I’m thinking of all the beloveds who have now passed. May none of us ever forget to live in the moment. Feeling incredibly blessed.
We just had a wedding here and there are lots of flowers left over, which I just told the staff to take home with them. They are all so happy, and every one of them said they were taking them to give to their children. Living in a place where a bouquet of flowers is considered a special treat by a child.
Bali, you never cease to touch me.
Resilience Trajectory; favourite new term of the day.
Kuala Lumpur, London, Chicago.
I’m in the air again.
This 9 hour layover in London is proving a bit deadly. I’ve already had 2 bags of salt and vinegar crisps and a large bag of Minstrels, and I’m about to take a second nostalgic prowl in search of old childhood pleasures.
I’m hoping my digestive system will be forgiving of this impulsive stagger down memory lane.
Never wear un-stretchy blue jeans when off to a Mother's Day Mexican Brunch.
Sweet "Home" California. I’m not a native daughter, but a very grateful foster-child. Happy to be back.
One on ones with great friends, all the glitzy parties in the world can't compare. Loving my time here in CA for all the walks, talks and inspiring catch-ups with the astonishing women here. I head back to Bali super-charged from time spent with them.
As Ms Emily Dickinson so succinctly put it: "My friends are my estate. Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them."
There are 2 quiet little cows a short distance from our property and of course some chickens and a couple of roosters, (one that is ours - that I love).
Luscious, tropical Bali. Love these gentle rainy days, as the earth drinks itself green.
You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.
— apparently not by Buddha, but I think he'd agree.
Watching the situation with those boys in the cave in Thailand with bated breath. A rather over-zealous old love/forever friend of mine (many will guess exactly who that is) took me into those same caves, many years ago. It was the most claustrophobic experience of my life, and I kicked up a huge fuss until we turned around. It was so absolutely black and oppressive, and I vividly recall imagining the flashlights dying, or getting turned around and going in the wrong direction, and then going into a near panic.
I can't even imagine how it must be for those children. May they be finding their own deepest reserves of quiet and courage, and may they be taken out of there as soon as is humanly possible.
It seems the whole world is praying for those boys in Thailand, as they prepare to exit the Underworld. Their story has evoked so much for so many. All this goodness, effort and love being generated for the children of others. If only we always cared this much. May they all be safe.
You know you are in the tropics when something eats the cedar protectant you bought to protect your clothes - from them.
Heard this strange ?bird? flying through the river valley last night. The Balinese tell me it is a tukar... which when I look it up means: to change... and they do believe the jungle here is full of spirits. It sounded very real to me, by the time I found the recorder it was almost gone, hence it sounds quite faint, but it was piercingly loud when close.
They are spraying all the weeds in the rice fields with some kind of Round-Up that then goes into the soil, then into the rice, plus into the water channels, straight down to the river, and then into the sea. Sometimes it feels so utterly hopeless.
Sunset from upstairs at the new house, Sakti... had to give up on the binoculars, such a dense and complex view, it can make one dizzy.
How did a total lunar eclipse save Christopher Columbus?
On Columbus’s fourth voyage, his ships ran into a storm that led to him becoming stranded on Jamaica. After beaching his two remaining ships (he started out with four) in June 1503, he and his crew threw themselves on the mercy of the local inhabitants. Accounts vary but clearly by February the following year, relationships had soured between Columbus’s castaways and the indigenous people.
In order to continue to receive food and hospitality from the locals, Columbus needed to do some persuading, and he turned to his astronomical almanac for help. Spotting an upcoming total lunar eclipse, he is said to have gathered the locals on the evening of 29 February 1504 and told them his god was angry with their decision and had decided to project his wrath on to the moon. According to the story, when the blood moon appeared, the locals panicked and gave Columbus all the provisions he could want. Hmmm.
Happy Lunar Eclipse... my alarm is set. The literalness of astrology. Sometimes charming. Other times. Not so much.
Having struggles with the wifi for seemingly no logical reason, only to find that an army of tiny biting red fire ants have invaded my modem, messing with all the connections.
Mars and Mercury retrograde. Wreaking havoc.
After 6 years without a sighting, and firmly believing they aren't even in this area, a large male monkey was just spotted in my house, upstairs in the bedroom... hanging out of one of the windows. There goes the neighbourhood.
August, 2018: Strongest, longest earthquake yet. We are all fine and nobody hurt here, but our staff were terrified. Deep, ancient, cellular memories seem to be evoked.
A guest just stated their disappointment that the village where we are located in Bali is “so culturally barren”. Speechless.
Life has been so hectic I barely remembered that I leave on the 9th for the USA, until the airline most kindly reminded me with an offer of 2 extra inches of legroom for $120. 5 days in California, and then onto Chicago and Grandma cuddles.
Time to pack... again.
Hopping into a last jungle tub, then it’s back to indoor plumbing, for a while.
There’s something about flying that makes a bag of tackily flavoured crisps a perfectly acceptable breakfast.
Jet-lag - non-optional, involuntary, enforced relaxation. An up/down side of rapidly crossing the planet. Yet another time when the body truly lets you know who's boss.
Trust... perhaps the most potent ambiguous illusive, powerful, empowering, disappointing, rewarding, and challenging feeling/reality in existence.
It's not easy, (understatement extraordinaire) but aren't these retrogrades at essence just times of CONSEQUENCES... and therefore ultimately for the good? Without the shake outs and, (often nasty), shocks from our own (and others) unconscious actions, denials, narrow-mindedness, lack of insight or plain misguided stupidity (message to self), it is just too easy to blindly and messily keep muddling along forever.
The state of the world is constantly underscoring how insane and destructive things can get when egos, pettiness and greed run the show.
May these wake up call times in our personal lives shine a light on where we are most out of touch. And then we can either dig our heels in deeper, or somehow crawl or claw our way of these self dug ruts.
And it is supposed to feel horribly uncomfortable, and be squirm/cringe inducing. If it doesn't feel pretty awful, we aren't really getting it done.
Pondering the difference between assumptions and intuition, because I (personally) usually experience them as polar opposites. Assumptions are, (often unfairly), formed from a need to relief the tension of not fully comprehending and/or trusting a situation or person. Intuition arises from trust. There may be a myriad different ways to see both.
I am convinced this presidency is a Ricky Gervais skit.
The word supreme does not belong in any title involving humans, unless it's a very cool girl band.
Visiting the Children's Museum with Henry... he is already obsessed with knowing how everything works. The joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
The insanity of humans. I haven't been stoned in over 30 years, but I seem to remember it intensifying EVERYTHING. We need to get over ourselves, nothing WANTS to die neither can they be conned into enjoying the experience, especially when it means being boiled to death. If you are going to kill and cause suffering, accept it and cop to it... that's at least honesty. This rant was triggered by some bozo claiming that blowing cannabis smoke at lobsters made being cooked alive a more pleasant experience.
Off to fly the bizarre and quirky skies again with Hallo Kitty. Will miss baby Henry like crazy, but nowhere soothes the heart quite like Bali.
Fake it until you make it. It's only when we are in dire need of their wisdom that these seemingly trite little aphorisms actually make sense.
Just scootered across my favourite island, (although it took 4 hours not 2, fyi, Google Maps). Arrived at my favourite Bali Beach spot and now settling in for 7 days of listening to the ocean and doing next to nothing else.
Living the life. To be continued.
New digs for a couple of weeks... in a Balinese family compound. They’ve already made me feel right at home. Best thing about having to move is all the great other places to be found that wouldn't be discovered without the "disruption".
New Zealand. In exactly one week begins a completely unplanned adventure. My dear friend Marcia Davis and I have a book, a map, a list, a car, our International licenses, a rendezvous in Christchurch airport arranged, plus our 1st night staying with a friend of a friend. Otherwise, we have exchanged less than 100 words on what we shall do.
Can't wait for all to unfold.