Daily Click: Journey

Jen Elephant

Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan

“So we can take a jeep or ride an elephant to the top. Which do you prefer?” he asked  nonchalantly.

“Why wouldn’t we ride an elephant? Is there some cruelty to animals thing I’m missing?” I looked at him bewildered.

“Well, because sometimes it’s hot and the elephant will take twice as long.”

We rode the elephant… because it’s all about the journey….

Daily Prompt : Journey

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Daily Click: ESCAPE

Over a year and a half ago I bought a one way ticket from San Francisco to Bali and have been traveling around South East Asia on one way tickets ever since. Three months ago I arrived in India on a one way ticket from Bali.

These photos are from a houseboat trip on the Kerala backwaters in India. Houseboat trips feel like pure escape…

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This Small Thing

Cross walkThis small thing came flying by and my heart stopped. I’m not exactly sure what it was that went whizzing by my face, but it caused me to turn my head quickly and that was when I saw him. I saw him standing in front of a parked black Lexus. His Ray Ban aviator glasses hung from the button of his light blue shirt that was neatly tucked into white loose trousers fitting  his body perfectly. In that moment I realized he was staring at me. Had he been staring at me long? Had we met before?

I wasn’t sure and the more I tried to focus on his face, the more I realized I was staring at him. His dark, wavy hair, the small sharp nose and chiseled feature of his chin. We stood there for what felt like 10 minutes but couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds, just looking at each other in wonder. For a moment I felt frozen in time. As if I couldn’t move or speak and whatever I was thinking about before that moment was gone. All thoughts vanished. The only thing running through my mind was, “Is he going to walk away? Is he going to just leave me here?”

He didn’t walk away and he didn’t leave me there as I started to cross the street. At that moment the light turned green, people started moving quickly, cars stopped at the intersection and I began to move with them. Gracefully putting one foot in front of the other I walked towards the black Lexus. As I gently brushed away the tingling feeling from whatever whizzed by my cheek I saw him smile. He gave me a big, wide, warm smile and I noticed he hadn’t shaved. He had a rough five o’clock shadow and he was grinning from ear to ear. My stomach felt tense, my movements stiff and there was energy, a connection that seemed to be pulling me in his direction. I could feel myself in a current. The green man on the stoplight started blinking and I felt myself relax as I walked closer and noticed his outstretched hand waving and his bright, infectious smile. I stood in front I him and he was laughing nervously as he said, “You must be Jen. I’m Sam. I wasn’t expecting us to meet like this. I thought we’d meet tomorrow when I had some time to recover from travelling.”

And we laughed together. It was the first of many times in our lives we would laugh like that. It has been said an indication of transformation taking place within you is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life. More and more synchronicities, which accelerate to the point where you actually experience the miraculous. It took many months of getting to know each other, only to realize, it was all in that initial feeling we had when we ran into each other on the street, the day before we had been set up to meet for the first time. That moment of knowing how sweet it felt the first time he said, “This is the first time I’ve met a woman who is more beautiful than her pictures. You’re more beautiful than your pictures you know; they don’t nearly capture your deep, rich laugh.”

Kumbh Mela 2013 Part 2 – Varanasi, India

I have so many photos from Varanasi and my first post was really popular so I’ve put together another selection. If you want some background on what the Kumbh Mela is please check out my first post Kumbh Mela 2013, Varanasi, India.

Hope you enjoy and thanks so much for your positive comments.

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Kumbh Mela 2013, Varanasi, India

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Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage with over 100 million people visiting the Ganga River to bathe in the sacred waters. It is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world today and I’ve read it’s been deemed unfit to bathe in. This year the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad was for 55 days, with 6 auspicious bathing days. It’s considered one of the worlds largest congregations of religious pilgrims.

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Every third year it is held at one of  four places by rotation: Hardiwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjian. The rivers at these four places are: the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yanuma and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godwari at Nashik, and the Shipra at Ujjain.

Kumbh means a pitcher and Mela means fair in Hindi. The pilgrimage is held at these four places because it is believed in Hinduism that drops of nectar fell from the Kumbh carried by gods after the sea was churned.

Naked, ash smeared, intoxicated Sadhus camp out along the ghats in Varanasi and tourists (like me) give them a small donation to take their picture. Traditionally Sadhus are renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal. They are solely dedicated to reaching moksa (liberation) through mediation and contemplation. Today, unfortunately, many of them are addicts dedicated to achieving this through the charas, taking “donations” from tourists and quite charming to talk to.

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Flirting While Flying

Have you heard about Virgin America’s new twist on the mile high club?

Now once the seat belt sign is turned off and you can move about the cabin freely, you can send a drink, snack or meal to someone who caught your eye via their new “seat to seat service.”  You get a little help to grease the wheels for some in flight flirting.

Sir Richard Branson’s latest social service to launch this is a video called, “Sir Richard Branson’s Guide to Getting Lucky.” I remember when a guy I liked once asked me  if I was a member of the “mile high club”. I was so naive I didn’t know what it was so I faked it and said, “No, not yet.” Soon the mile high club will have card-carrying members with Virgin America!

You can read more about this in the Huff Post article, Virgin America’s Seat to Seat Service will Send Drinks to Your Crush, Help You Flirt While Flying.

I Have Known the Rapture of Travel

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I have known the rapture of travel.

The moments of waking up in a completely new city, new country, not knowing the language and having the whole day ahead of me to do whatever I want. Every moment is an adventure. Walking out of the hotel to find a cup of tea or explore what’s around the corner feels like a sci-fi movie.

Why science fiction? Because I realize in those moments everything is a choice. It’s all about my perspective how the day unfolds the way it does. So many options are available that I’m completely unaware of. Things happening around me I couldn’t possibly understand and have no way of knowing about through my intellect. Some experiences are beyond knowing, they are simply about feeling. They are beyond scary because I have no life experience to compare or give them context. I simply sit back and receive, get into the experience and for the first time in my life get very comfortable with saying,”I don’t know.”

I don’t know where I’m going next. I don’t know why I came to this country. I don’t know why I’m still here. I don’t know why I’ve haven’t been in love yet. I don’t know why I’m not married yet. I don’t know why I don’t have kids yet. I don’t know why I still don’t miss home.

In those moments I have to remind myself it’s all a choice. It’s a choice about how we look at the very next moment. When I’m in synch with that I’m in the rapture of life…and travel takes me there. Travel seems to be the portal to show me where my negativity can push me off course and where my trust in saying “yes” to opportunities that make no sense to me what-so-ever can somehow lead me to a greater, deeper connection with others. The experiences that show me how interconnected we all are around the world and even beyond.

Do other people have to travel to feel that way? I would love to wake up one morning in San Francisco and feel that sense of excitement about the day. That feeling of exploring life in that city. I had that feeling when I was a kid and I lost it along the way. What I remember now is waking up every morning in San Francisco with a deep feeling of dread. Dread of having to check email, dread of going to the office…again. Not wanting to talk on the phone and feeling there wasn’t anything worth talking about.

Life wasn’t working out for me the way I wanted it to. I thought it was just my life. Now I’m realizing this is a common feeling for people. Every day I felt like the day got away from me. My thoughts, time, money and energy were all going in so many directions that I allowed other people to choose and direct my life unconsciously. Other people were advising me. Other people were giving their opinions. I listened closely, (people told me it’s a strength) intently and mimicked them perfectly. I did what they said and things worked out just as they said. Then, one morning,  I woke up saying , “What the hell? How did I get here? This isn’t what I wanted …”

Celebrating Summer with Jurassic Park 3D

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Remember when exams were over and it was the last week of school before the summer holiday? Yesterday, I got that feeling back spending the afternoon with 115 of the kids from Bowenpally Government School in Hyderabad, India when we went to see Jurassic Park in 3D. These are kids from very poor families so going to an IMAX theater to see a move in 3D is something they don’t get to do. The whole experience was more exciting for most of them than the movie itself. Some of them would put the glasses on for photos and then take them off during the movie and look around and talk with their friends. Luckily we had most of the theater to ourselves.

Shreedevi Chowdary and Swati Sanghi are very involved in supporting the NGO the BPGS ShreePassionate Foundation in building up this particular school and creating positive experiences for the children. A few TV channels came along with some of the Hyderabad press to cover the outing and the children LOVED having their picture taken and being interviewed for sound bites on TV. The movie theater donated popcorn and Chaitanya and his colleagues from the Passionate Foundation arranged the bus ride, breakfast, lunch and snacks for everyone.

BPGS Bus Jump 1The movie scared some of the kids but that didn’t effect their fun and laughter. What’s more fun than spending a school day at the movies? It used to be one of my favorite things to do.

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HYDERABAD HOLI

Part of the fun of staying with Shreedevi Chowdary of Hyderabad is that I’m getting comfortable with the press. It’s fun being on the other side of the camera. Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it in life, so it was a blast to have a photo of me looking like a professional photographer turn up in a society magazine thanks to Shree.

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Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. This festival has many Holi 3-1purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hinduism. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.

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“Holi is the day to express love with colors. It is a time to show affection. All the colors that are on you are of love!”

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“Let the colors of Holi spread the message of peace and happiness.”

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“Holi is a time to reach out with the colors of joy. It is the time to love and forgive. It is the time expresses the happiness of being loved and to be loved through colors.”

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