Overwhelmed By Beauty?

Overwhelmed By Beauty?


Travel has always been one of my passions.

But now, at the end of my first (of many, hopefully) Italian trips, I feel a little overwhelmed.

Too much beauty: in art, in nature, in people.

This here is my third attempt at blogging from my phone, this time on the train from Rome to Milan. Love that my phone lets me not only click pictures and edit them, but also make collages– all from a train doing 240 km an hour.

I’d been to various parts of Asia so far, and loved it— but my first European trip has left me breathless and craving for more. Here are a few clicks from the Rome Museum ( which do only moderate justice to the sheer grace and grandeur of everything I saw)

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by any country you’ve been to?

Are Mistakes Such Terrible Things?


I’m taking a break from my blog, and in the time I’m away, Kate McManus has kindly offered to write me a post. This blog talks about questions surrounding life and writing, and I think the questions she asks in this post fit in neatly with my take on writing, life, and everything else in between.

Take it away, Kate!

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“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”

George Bernard Shaw

Mistakes in Writing

Mistakes in Writing

We don’t like them and twist ourselves inside out to avoid them. But are mistakes such terrible things ? It goes back to early conditioning in childhood. We are told there is a right and a wrong way to approach a task. It’s a simple framework our society provides to keep us from the stress and chaos of having to make our own decisions before we have developed that capacity. It’s something we need to outgrow and as we mature, come to appreciate that everything is multifaceted and can be both wrong and right at the same time.

“Why did I do that? I knew it wasn’t going to work out” A friend once exclaimed to me after going on a holiday- which produced another destructive romantic fling.To heal deep patterns in our life, it’s sometimes necessary to repeat them in order to gain the clarity and consciousness which will manifest permanent change. Most of our patterns are built unconsciously over time and so require this deep level of commitment to awareness of the triggers which produce the mistakes or errors of judgement. In this case, a repetitive mistake can become a healing tool, a portal to new life

To fully access our creative imagination, we have to let go of the right/wrong, rational /linear paradigm. Writing is one big mistake to which we apply the remedy of editing so that it can make sense to our readers. As Ernest Hemingway perspicaciously once said “The first draft of anything is shit.” Struggling for perfection in the early stages of writing is sadomasochistic and ultimately unproductive. Let the mistakes flow! Can you imagine the first draft of James Joyce “Ulysses” ?

Mistakes when you travel can produce fortunate adventures; It’s the mistake which makes your journey unique. That time when you wandered away from the planned route and discovered a completely different part of a city. Mistakes are a large part of the road less travelled.

Is life itself a mistake? Cosmologists now advise us us about the serendipitous evolution of human life; it’s inherent impossibility and fragility which evolved into the dominant life force on the planet.What a happy accident for all of us on planet earth!

Kate McManus travel blogger

Kate McManus

Kate is a blogger, writer, astrologer and healer, who travels around Australia doing house sitting. As an animal lover, she enjoys the companionship of all kinds of pets as she explores different parts of the country. Kate applies an understanding of the Astrological Archetypes to her life and travels. In between house sits, she likes to visit her family and two grandchildren in Canberra.

You can visit her blog at http://www.lightravellerkate.wordpress.com and Facebook page “The Conscious Cosmic Traveller “

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So, what’s your reaction when you realize you’ve made a mistake? How do you treat someone who’s made a mistake– a friend, a partner, a spoude, a sibling, a child, a parent? Is there a mistake you’re glad you made?

Ever have fun simply walking the streets?


I’ve been to quite a few countries but have never had as much fun walking the streets as here in Milan.

The people seem to walk in poetry, the street cleaners are dandified, old men and women take pride in their clothes and walk with a spring in their step, kids are a joy, no tantrums, even the dogs seem content, no unseemly dragging– yesterday I saw a Doberman stroll off leash tongue lolling out in the D’uomo piazza.

Been taking pictures in my head, not many on the phone– but here are a few random clicks….and this my first attempt at blogging from my phone.

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What’s your take on Train travel?


Damyanti:

Daniel Antion has been a huge supporter of my blog, and I love the way he writes. Honest, straightforward, not a word wasted.

Today, I’m sharing with you one of his posts– he talks about trains, how they add so much meaning to a journey, and I could not agree more.

I hate air travel (which is another way of saying I’m scared of flying), and I find the wait at airports annoying. I’d much rather be moving towards my destination than sitting on a chair waiting to get inside a tin contraption, which, as the MH370 has proved, is not adequately tracked by anybody on the ground.

Trains, now, you could get off a train, you get to watch the scenery, and many more things besides.What your take on train travel? Do you prefer flights to trains?

To tell you the rest about it, here’s Dan’s post.

Originally posted on No Facilities:

image Would you, could you on a train?

If you have kids, had kids or have been a kid at any point since 1960, you probably recognize the title and the first sentence as being from “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. We read that story so many times to our daughter that we still repeat the title almost every time we see a train. I think it’s an appropriate response because seeing a train remains exciting for me. There’s just something about an oncoming train or a passing train, even hearing a train whistle in the distance makes me happy. So, it’s no surprise that I’m choosing to focus on National Train Day instead of Mother’s Day this weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against mothers. I like mothers fine. I love my mother. I love my wife, she’s been a great mom and we’ll do…

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Bits and Pieces of #Japan: Hakone Museums


Hakone Open Air Museum

At the Hakone Open Air Museum

(Before I begin my post- a word on The Tree of Life Collaborative writing project to which I was invited. Lovely story by 26 authors, written based on a song each. Here’s my episode. Comment for a choice to receive your copy of a CD.)

This time in Japan was more about reflection, not like earlier, when everything seemed strange and distant.

Familiarity hasn’t brought contempt, but it has certainly brought a degree of comfort.

I walked through a bunch of museums in Hakone, taking one spectacularly verdant bus ride after the other (so much greenery and everywhere the long-drawn-out, harsh cacophony of crickets, which sound like adamant tuneless birds), but the only ones I could take pictures at were the Hakone Open Air Art Museum and the Glass Museum.

Hakone Open Air Museum, Golden Sphere

Hakone Open Air Museum, Golden Sphere

The Open Air Museum impressed me more. I couldn't get enough of the huge outdoor sculptures. especially the metal spheres. en Air museum Sculptures

The Open Air Museum: Elephant Sculptures

The Open Air Museum impressed me more. I couldn’t get enough of the huge outdoor sculptures, especially the metal spheres.

A beautifully tended garden with all kinds of sculptures, from historical to scifi. What’s not to like?

The Hakone Glass Museum

The Hakone Glass Museum

The Hakone Glass Museum

The Hakone Glass Museum

The glass Museum was too pretty by half out of doors, and fragile, shiny things from Venice filled the indoors. Glass crystals everywhere, as you will see if you click on the picture above for a bigger version.

The highlight of the Glass Museum was a performance by the unusual Russian musicians playing on customized glass instruments, who call themselves the Crystal Trio.

My a-ha moment came when the usually staid and proper Japanese broke out into full-throated song in accompaniment.

Natural beauty in Japan is outstanding, very zen even when casual and wild in the surroundings of a hilly brook. The more of Japan I see, the more I want to just contemplate it without any inane attempts at description.

Natural beauty at the Hakone Glass Museum

The stream behind the Hakone Glass Museum

Bits and Pieces of #Japan: Hakone, Odawara


Hydrangeas in Hakone, Japan

Hydrangeas in Hakone, Japan

Been out and about in Tokyo and Hakone the past few days. Having been here before (blogged about it here), I can look at Japan with eyes that aren’t dazzled by newness. The natural beauty is as usual stupendous, as is the deliberateness with which it is curated by the

ANcient Cedar Walk Japan Hakone

Ancient cedar walk Hakone

Japanese whenever and wherever they get the chance. This being summer, hydrangeas throng the countryside, and some of them have found their way into my blog header above.

I particularly loved them along the Ancient Cedar walk between Moto-Hakone and Hakone-machi– 420 cedar trees planted by Tokugawa Ieyasu around 1618. So the trees are almost 400 years old. This was the view of Tokaido (click on the pics for larger views) as it used to be when famous Samurai traveled down this road between Edo and Osaka, resting under the shade of these very trees.

Donjon Castle, Odawara Hakone

Donjon Castle, Odawara, Hakone

It was so lonely and quiet, and walking down, I felt I had stepped across time, especially when I had images in my head from the museum of arms and armor at the Donjon castle in Odawara.

I’ll try and add odds and ends of what I see in Japan this trip– but I’ve learned to let go and just experience and enjoy a country without trying to photograph and write about it, so I might even do just that.

Of Blue Whales and Turtles: A Slow Hourglass in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is a well-kept secret. In the space of a few days, I helped a baby turtle hatch, watched some of the most venomous snakes in the world up close, (without a glass pane in between!), and got to see not only a a huge pod of dolphins, but also the planet’s largest animal– a blue whale.

We stayed at Mirissa over the weekend, and if you ever find yourself there, I recommend the Mandara resort. After you get over the slightly run-down rooms and slow service (they do try hard to make your stay comfy, but at a holiday pace), you'll enjoy the gorgeous views (the sunsets are incredible), the quiet beach, and local cuisine catered to your taste.

Mirissa Sunset snapshot, taken from my Balcony at the Mandara Resort

We stayed at Mirissa over the weekend, and if you ever find yourself there, I recommend the Mandara resort. After you get over the slightly run-down rooms and slow service (they do try hard to make your stay comfy, but at a holiday pace), you’ll enjoy the gorgeous views (the sunsets are incredible), the quiet beach, and local cuisine catered to your taste.

The staff also takes care of the night-time guests on their beach-- turtles. If a turtle lays eggs on the Mandara beach, the eggs are protected for 45 days, and then once they hatch, the baby turtles are sent off to the sea, thus protecting them from various predators. I got to pick up the babies, and watch them scramble into the sea.

Holding a baby turtle, just hatched

The staff also takes care of the night-time guests on its stretch of the beach– turtles.

If a turtle lays eggs on the Mandara beach, the eggs are protected for 45 days, and then once they hatch, the baby turtles are sent off to the sea, thus protecting them from various predators.

I got to pick up the babies, and watch them scramble into the sea!

Newly Hatched Baby Turtles

Newly Hatched Baby Turtles

Dewmini's Roti Shop

Dewmini’s Roti Shop

If you eat at only one place in Mirissa, make it the Dewmini Roti Shop. Despite their rather unglamorous name, their food is definitely something to write home about.

The range of their scrumptious roti is simply amazing. Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor know what they’re talking about when they recommend this tiny place.

We also went to a snake farm: and here are some of the occupants we met:

The video is shaky because I kept running away– the snakes were not defanged (the handler showed us the fangs on a Russel’s Viper), and I’m not brave.

An angry white cobra at Mirissa, one of the most beautiful snakes I've ever seen

An angry white cobra at Mirissa, one of the most beautiful snakes I’ve ever seen.

I’m not a fan of snakes kept in captivity, but it is better than killing them outright — which is what most people around the world do. The farm is in a village on a hilltop, where tiny farms and homes jostle against each other– snakes are so plentiful that I saw one on the way up, and another came swirling by as the handler was showing us the regulars. Both were non-venomous, thank God!

But the best was for the last: the blue whales. We could see the spouts at a distance of almost a kilometer, and as we drew closer, we could see their glistening blue-black bodies ease gently into the sea and the humongous tail followed right after. The blue whales are shy creatures, not curious like greys — but the thought that something so huge, intelligent, and alive was right next to our boat brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing that they do not overturn even the smallest of fishing boats by accident.

Our captain was a whale-lover, and if you go to Mirissa, I would recommend you go with Raja and the Whales-- knowledgeable crew, who did not harass the whales like I saw the other boats do, but still got us as close as 20 feet to the planet's largest animal. Blue whales get easily stressed, are endangered and reproduce at a slow rate. They need all the consideration they can get.

This Blue whale was within 30 feet of our boat!

Our captain was a whale-lover, and if you go to Mirissa, I recommend you go with Raja and the Whales– knowledgeable crew, who did not harass the whales like I saw the other boats do, but still got us as close as 30 feet to the planet’s largest animal. Blue whales get easily stressed, are endangered because they were hunted to near-extinction, and reproduce at a slow rate. They need all the consideration they can get.

Sri Lanka definitely makes the hourglass turn slow. I was so dazed and awed most of the time, I took very few pictures. All the pics above are from my husband’s camera. If you live in Asia, or are planning on traveling here, please don’t miss Sri Lanka. It has so much more to offer, in terms of beautiful beaches and jungles, awesome fauna, gastronomy, ease of travel, and friendly, smiling hosts, we plan to visit Sri Lanka again.

What I Saw in Siem Reap


Daily (W)rite has been silent the past week. I’ve been in Siem Reap, Cambodia, mostly offline– climbing temple steps, tinkering with my camera, sampling local cuisine, listening to myths and legends, generally taking part in the tourism circus.

Back to regular programming in a while. In the meanwhile, here are some of the images from my camera:Siem Reap Snapshots

Siem Reap Snapshots

When Your Shoes Want to Take a Walk


Singapore Skyline

Singapore Skyline

I live in a country I could walk across, end to end, in less than a day. All twenty-two kilometers of it. If I were fitter, I’d probably do the other way across: 44 kilometers.

Living in a tiny young country like Singapore makes me want to step out every so often, take a flight to a place where the beaches are not man-made, where the history is longer than 200 years, where culture is not a mishmash, where the food is cooked with more emphasis on the quality ingredients than the procedure of cooking.

Travel is irreplaceable when you’re looking for a certain buzz of the body and mind, when you want to be relaxed and enriched at the same time.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

How often does the travel bug bite you? Do you go on yearly breaks, or take a vacation whenever the mood takes you?

Temples, Tigers, Writing in My Head


Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Life the last few days has had very little writing, cos I have been surrounded by sights that are at once strange and familiar, a language that has five tones  and every word and sentence seemingly ends in kha, khap, khrap….

Yes, I’m in Bangkok.

If I ever sort out my life enough to post about this place, I will….because, for now, patting tigers, watching tattooed, cigarette-smoking,  mobile-toting monks kiss tigers, speaking to men who are not men (long eyelashes and hoarse voices but pretty faces), eating all kinds of spiced-up noodly-wriggly fare, walking through streets crowded with Arab women braving the humidity in black burkhas, getting my eyes dazzled by the multi-colored, occasionally gold-plated temples, seeing a humungous,  5500 kilogram solid-gold statue of the Buddha (a prophet who followed renunciation!), has addled my brain.

I’ve been writing, all of it in my head…but who knows some day it will all flow out someplace.  I’m hardly online much, cos I’m hardly indoors much. So, for the moment, I’ll leave you with (very few) pictures. I’ve taken about a 1000 so far, and I’m yet to visit Ayutthaya, the historic Thai capital.