And so we watch and so we learn/With eyes wide for our dreams to yearn

Posts tagged ‘world’

Resolution

It’s August. August September October November…time is creeping closer. Diwali is nearing. The time to fly back to India inches it’s way over the horizon and into the periphery of my visible future. 

And I am scared. 

I’ll be flying alone this time. No family, no parents, no grandmother watching my back this time. I’ve flown alone before, but never so unshielded, so without established structure and shelter. And that is thrilling. But…it’s new. Daunting. India is dangerous, especially for an 18 year old, for a white woman. So many bad things could happen. This goes against all the conventions of safety. I don’t even know how well I will be able to cope amid so much unfamiliar, without anyone guiding me. If I’ll even be able to make enough money to afford the full trip. There’s so much uncertainty, trepidation, unfamiliarity and yes fear, of the unknown and quite possibly life threatening. 

But I have to go. 

It’s not a want or a whim or a fleeting dream anymore. This isn’t 2012. This is need, this is the moon calling ocean tides, tugging them closer, dhanyavad, shukriya and nandri being mixed with efcharisto and gracias in my mental responses, to my predominately greek and spanish speaking co-workers. This is the familiarity and trust and joy, established in the three days I had with my friends there, last time, demanding to be built upon. I need to come back, and find familiarity in the sound and sight of friends laughing beside me in person. I need to see the cities they all speak of, the beautiful and the ordinary and the ugly, the reality that created so much that I love. 

And it will be a risk. I am trusting myself to stand alone and strong, beside those who may permit me, in your India. Things can and probably will go wrong. But I have made too many plans to bail now. And I know, I believe with absolute certainty, that it will be worth it. 

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New World, New Delhi

Messy, dirty, madness. Breathe.
Don’t breathe – cover your mouth, filter the fumes
Ancient carvings, airtel ads, cows and pigs roam wild 
Madness here, seeks to push you out
Who are you and why are you here?
What are you doing here, with your blue eyes and red hair
Every face questions you, follows you
Watch your back, watch your purse
But not always. Too much to see
Flashing by in the gap between flapping plastic
Three wheeled madness on unregulated roads
Too many cars, too many people
Each glimpse a question
A sewing machine being used on the sidewalk?
Rows of shiny kitchen utensils?
Piles of fruit, mysterious street food 
Unfamiliar letters painted along walls
Cricket in abandoned constructions…

You wonder at the people here.
At men wandering the streets – where are they going?
No footpaths or signs that make sense to your eyes
The girls here are mythical
Brightly coloured, draped in textures
Or exactly the same as immigrants back home
Here, you are the immigrant
Here, you are the strange one
In a world scarcely policed.
Too much to do
(Baksheesh ma’am? Chai panee please)

Humanity overflows here
Vultures selling services circle;
Hesitation? They swarm
You escape by the hands of a stranger
Kindness pushes between hands that reach out for what’s not bolted down
Tapping at your window when traffic halts
Weaving between shiny cars and men pulling carts
Pressed between sky scrapers and crumbling constructions
Life here fights, in each tangle of power lines
And the scrawny dogs who still droop with lactating teats

Order surrenders to chaos
Though not entirely, never entirely
You can feel the tide tugging, reaching to drag your feet out from under you
There are pockets though, dusted squares
Of organisation – frustration resulting in mediation
‘This inch of land is predictable!’
Proclaim the planners, the pedantic
While piles of dirt heap at roadsides
Remnants of plans forgotten 

Weeds do not exist here
The vegetation fights in armies, or not at all
Tangling and darkening undeveloped corners
Or sprawling between cement patchwork
Until you stumble across tranquility
Serenity in a room, a garden, a cafe
You almost forget what the car horns mean
Abstract notes become background ambience
Reminding you relentlessly of where you are
Reestablishing life’s motion here
Of hassle and noise and unmarked roadways

Until you stumble across beauty
Delicacy in a colour or shape or smile
Or the taste of hot chai first thing in the morning
Sweetness, like everything here, is potent
You lose track of the days and dates
Only feelings matter, only endeavours
Adventure subverts the ordinary
And turns the simplest of tasks Herculean
And the Herculean tasks reform unrecognisably
Because what else could to expect?
Within the dazzling, befuddling world
Between the drama and the dismal and the drastic
Fluctuating between gorgeous and grotesque
The capital of the country, the city of djinns
Here you are. Welcome

Travel: It Changes You

You know when people ask you how something has changed your life? And expect a nice, 100 word answer? Hehe, sometimes it isn’t so simple 😛
Because the thing that people don’t realize is,  is the fact that travelling has been one of the defining elements of my entire life. Literally, I had crossed 2 continents before I’d reached my second birthday. The first few years of a child’s life massively influences them in every way, studies have proven it. Babies imprint on people, things and places, whether they remember or not. My feelings towards a Russian refugee who helped my parents with me during the first 6 months of my life are inexplicably deep, tenderness to that only a handful of my blood family share. In the way some kids grew up in a city or rural town with their close family, I grew up with misadventures across Hong Kong and China, St Petersburg and Amsterdam, Turkey and Portugal.

Winter in Edinburg Scottish Highlands Loch Ness Edinburgh Castle

Kids start primary school with a few friends from the neighborhood, I began feeling foreign and strange, missing my best friend from Edinburgh. In the way the old folks have kick-knacks on shelves that “No, don’t touch that, it’s fragile” we have Zambian wooden carvings, Russian dolls, Indian drums and Moroccan cushions. It was much as part of our family as religion is to others’. Just as my family settled down, and Time in Oz > Time Overseas, and our world shrank to ours and the neighboring state and travelling became a distant dream, we took off for 2 months in Indonesia. My sister and I, who barely remembered more than lingering fragmented memories of Before, truly discovered budget travelling with a backpack. It completely opened our eyes, our conscious minds, to how wonderfully easy it all was, to catch a plane or a boat or a bus to wherever your finger landed on a map. Especially if you took the cheapest option and paid attention when the locals started haggling. Not only was this incredible adventure more economical, it was more real. We learnt the language and met people and went to the least-visited tourist sights. I think it had the most effect on my littlest sister, who was 3 the first time, 6 the second. We made sure to show her, when we flew over the coast of Darwin, to explain how we weren’t in Australia anymore, and she took to it all like a duck to water. Watching your country fade by, with the scuttle of clouds under sky more impossibly blue than you’ve ever seen before…it gives you a profound message of exactly how small the world really is, how easy it is to find your place in a brand new city with fragmented communication – smelling and hearing and seeing things more vividly than you thought possible. Your senses go into overdrive when you travel, you learn to drop ingrained expectations and habits, to adapt to new (or less) road rules, to manners and reactions in everyday interactions, to savor everything that is new, different or even slightly the same.

Kid by the Boats Lush Greenery at 70 km/h Classic Architecture in Bali
And this is doubly the case when one travels by oneself to the other side of the world. To be completely alone, and completely free, in a completely alien environment…it is one of the most incredible and indescribable life changing experiences. When everything, down to the weeds in the cracked pavement, the direction of traffic, the language on the tv’s, the clothes, the music, the buildings and the weather are utterly brand new, the metaphor of soaking things in on a wonderful family holiday is akin to playing in the rock pools and then being swept out to the ocean in a storm. You see so much, you don’t have time to absorb a fraction of what you’re hearing, everything that was your bedrock of support – lost at sea. It’s a psychological onslaught combined with an ecstatic sensory input. The textiles and aromas from crafts that are a blend of Incan and European worlds, ocean, sierra, rainforest and desert climates – waterfalls and glaciers that went thousands of meters in every direction.

Living with teenagers who only knew a tiny square of the universe, so small and yet so rich with heritage and history, showing clearly in their eyes and their blood. And then there were others, explorers like myself, who understood the joy of flight and the thrill of travel – and bonding with them, sharing our adventures with like-minded spirits, together from so many places in a moment of coincidence. It was 12 months of magic, 2012; a Balinese Christmas and a germanic Argentine Easter, India on the phone and Bolivia across the river, where I never stayed in the same place for more than 8 weeks solid, travelling from almost the Antarctic circle to within the tropic of Capricorn…and when I went home, my world shrank to a 50 km radius. Ire turned back to my secure family, friends who had never left the city and going to the beach 15 minutes away a special occasion.
Skyline of my beloved Cordoba The Igazu Falls. Sheer awe-inspiring magnificence. 300 year old remnants of spanish missionaries Buenos Aires at night Bariloche, in the foothills of the Andes Los Caballeros celebrating in the Intersection La Boca, Buenos Aires The Puerto Marino Glacier, in all it's icy glory Northern Markets in the Hills of Salta Guitarists that we were, in a cross-cultural group session

When you travel, you are bombarded by the majesty of the chaotic life on earth, until you learn to adjust your sails and navigate the winds of the universe. Your mind expands more, than you ever thought possible, to span oceans and languages and cultures – you see how much more there is to the world. How much more there is to living.

Dreaming

It’s easy to forget, sometimes. My world, that is. The rooms around me feel so arbitrary, a safe house, a still point in time – a place of dormancy between journeys, where nothing truly remarkable happens. It is merely a space that can be relied on, for its simple existence. Home, the shell which holds us, a location of healing and preparing, of resting…and waiting.

Still ’round the corner there may wait/ A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by/ 
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run/ 
West of the Moon, East of the Sun

It’s easy to lose your sense of presence here, because how could you focus on the stillness when you know what is happening?
Babies are being born and old grandmothers are speaking fierce words to their loved ones – people are risking their lives to save those who cannot save themselves, young ones are learning, expanding their minds, dreamers are dreaming, adventurers are adventuring, people are dancing, writing music, poems, inventing and discovering, crossing uncharted rainforests, taking specimens from the floor of a volcano, looking for life on the bottom of the ocean – a million languages are being spoken, a thousand cultures are breathing…

I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again – cross the sky and seek out the Great Perhaps. One day I’m going to as free as a migratory african swallow, and I will see it all. One day I will cross the oceans, arrive at places I have only been able to dream of. One day I will shoulder everything I need to live, chase the setting sun and find new worlds. One day I will stand on top of a mountain, dance on foreign shores, look upon the face of the raw wilderness in the animal kingdom, sing exultantly under blue skies that stretch to every horizon. One day I will turn around, take a breath and say “Hello Danielle”. One day I will look on the emotive faces of those I have never known truly before. One day the future will be the present, and everything will fall into place. One day I will chase away the scattered cobwebs that stretch over my mind in the idleness of everyday life, and I shall know every inch of this beautiful, marvelous, impossible world.

But until then…I am 16 and bound to the life of school and suburbia. Until then, I study and I help my mother with chores. Until these days come, 16 months – 508 days must pass, in the sanctuary that holds me here, binds me to this small small pocket of the universe. It will be, it must be, one day I know what I will be. But for now…I am here.

Welcome to the World

Welcome
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to
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our
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wonderful,
ef
beautiful
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world.

Equality

Its a big thing these days. Especially with so many countries making the motion to have rights – ones previously ignored and shunned – made legal, open, okay, free. The world needs to be applauded; so much has been improved in the last 100 years. Slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia…we’re getting there. Slowly, surely, with many fumbles and regressions along the way, but it’s undeniable to even the most obstinate. Look around you! As an australian I can say, at least for us, if not the rest of the world – we’re living in a multi-cultural society now, rich with differences that make us better. It would be unthinkable to discriminate against the jewish family next door, or the chinese lady in the shop. Looking around a regular school classroom, I can count israelis, indians, japanese, eastern-europeans among us – italians, latinos, malaysian, pacific islanders, chinese. There’s barely 7 in a class of 27 that would be considerable in the old stereotype of the light-haired golden generation 50 years ago. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Proto-Aryans 😛

It seems so strange at times, how people can dislike or judge another on factors they cannot control. On their skin or background, sexual orientation or their physical or mental health. And looking at that, we should rejoice! Change cannot be in solely the laws and leglislation – but in the mentality of the people. And it is. Our generation has been brought up with the open-ness of the internet, the mindset of change, of acceptance, of freedom and of course people should be allowed to love who they want, why would anyone want to put down the foreign dude? He’s so cool, he speaks 2 languages! Granted, there will always be arseholes and bigots in the world, but screw them! 😀 We are so much more than that, there are so many more of us than them, and we are winning. Need proof? Look at Glee, on of the the most mainstream and popularly consumed television shows on air. The main reason people dislike it is because of the cliched songs, dances and plotlines. Nobody seems to notice the ethnic differences, the sexual differences, the races and beliefs and cohesion of the entire cast. And to that, we say Bravo!

Bravo world, for leading us to this.

Time and Space

22 months. Not so long, and yet ages and eons and more. Lifetimes will pass, until the tomorrow when It happens. I know it will – because it must. The dream that I hold onto when the relentless wearing of school tires me, I’ve envisioned it so clearly its as if I could reach out and fall into it, as if it was only a small piece of time and not at all space that was my barrier from it. As if it would be the easiest thing in the world, to drive to the airport and catch a plane, to watch my country slip away from a window at 40,000 ft. To escape my world for the thrill of another, to land somewhere so wonderfully alien and wild, the source of all my dreams; India. Oh india! I can almost feel it, the heat and the smells and the sounds, the crowds of people and the hum of irrepressible life! No matter how wild or chaotic, my face would stretch to a grin that would split my face, my eyes huge as I try to take it all in. Forget your home, forget the tidy suburbs where you grew up in, embrace the universe and get swept away in its magnificence! It’s all there, I can feel it calling to me, reaching and tugging me, soul first, body second. 😀

First stop; the airport. The heat hits you as soon as you step off the plane. The rest is quick to follow, a tidal wave of noise and movement. Crowds of black headed men, colourfully draped women – dark eyes, teeth and tongues busy to add to the conglomeration of voices, noises, music, the ocean of languages and accents foreign to my ears. The signs pasted on the the walls, the floor a maze of busy feet, a jungle I must wade through and fight to find my own way. I could, would – and will!

And then, I’d see him (or her). Either at the terminal or outside, at an address or outside somewhere. In the sea of a strange new world, I’d see a familiar face, one I knew as well as any of my family, and yet never have seen a day in my life. They’d be there, right there!- after years of Skype and whatsapp, messages on Facebook, flung across the Internet and through the world of cyberspace. But not anymore, not when they’re living and breathing… I’d made it, I’d really made it, they were right there in front of me. Heart racing nerves, thrilled adrenaline, excitement, joy, giddy glee, all bubbling out of me – I know it will be, because it already is just thinking about it! I’d call out their name, watching their face, recognising me, oh, to bowl them over in a hug, or to handshake formally and pompously – eyes shining either way – meeting for the first time, and yet knowing each other already, so much.

It’s so far away but it’s the most amazing thing, that I physically cannot wait for. To go to The Most exotic and amazing country in the world is a dream in itself, but to be in such a world, with people I know and love, friends to whom this world belongs! To hear and see him laugh, to watch her draw it right in front of me, to actually be there, know them, know their world! To go somewhere new is always daunting, but – can you imagine? I’d be like Ariel when she got her legs, asking endless questions about the silliest of things, trying it all, reacting to them, and have someone to laugh with me and show me something more! It seems impossible, sometimes, to imagine existing somewhere that’s so different, and yet I know people who do, who can teach me! What an adventure it would be, to get to know people, friends, and worlds, that have existed only on the screen of my mind for far too long. People I will one day reach out and touch, play guitar with, sing with, fuss over and laugh over, grin and hug and talk and run with, through the marvellous today that hasn’t come yet.

You and me, time and space. Oh, you watch us run.