What was the last city you traveled to and how did it make you feel?


Last week, I went to Paris.

I would have posted excited pictures, breathless descriptions. I would have told you I saw the Eiffel tower, arriving there after two missed trains, just when the lights began to blink, that I stared up at it against the clouds, that it seemed to rise and hover in the air, like a golden tower made not of steel, but strings of light.

Paris evening

An evening in Paris

I would have told you that the bridges gleam day and night, that the coffee is lighter than in Rome, that the croissants and crepes disappointed me somewhat–not that they were bad, that sitting outside watching the world go by seemed overrated when tourists sat by the Seine in traffic smoke, that the Notre Dame looked like calligraphy in air, like a papier-mâché thing I dared not visit for fear that the illusion of its lightness would disappear.

That the Mona Lisa underwhelmed, the ladies taking selfies with her made more of an impact, but that the Louvre made me feel like I wanted to lie down and die, because surely then I would be reborn inside of it, as a guide, a cleaner, a waitress. And wouldn’t have to leave. That d’Orsay does not do justice to the Impressionists, shutting away all their shimmering outdoorsy light in a smallish hall, where you have to peer over heads and shoulders to see them from a distance. That Van Gogh looks sadder in his swirly blue self-portrait than I remembered from prints, that his starry night over Paris looks far better than the sky today. That Rodin’s Thinking Man makes just as massive an impression as I imagined from the pictures.

But it is the people who remain with me.

The waiters who looked down their noses as they took orders, unsmiling, the pretty girls in snug scarves, that tall man crossing an alley shouting in French on his phone trying to look manly, the Chinese model being photographed at the Tuilieres Garden, who joined us minutes later in the metro wearing frayed shorts and golden eyeshadow, the artist at Montmarte drawing a smiling little girl’s portrait who would be oh-so-disappointed in a few minutes, a group of old women dressed in black lace, hobbling uphill on walking sticks, laughing, lugging loaded Desigual shopping bags, the Arab women covered top to toe, being led along by their husbands in shorts, the tall black men at shops and restaurants, regal despite their valet coats, the young couples, kissing in parks, eating long sandwiches, sipping wine, smoking, always smoking. I’ll remember being stuck in a jam in a back alley, looking up at the sky, only to find a bald old man and his Persian blue cat staring straight down at me from their red-flowered window.

I will, of course, go back, given half a chance. And this time I would spend more time watching people in the less tourist-infested areas. I’ll sit down and get lost, merge, disappear. A writer’s job is to paint what she sees, not interfere with the picture.

But on our way back now, on this long haul flight back to Singapore this is all I can think of: each of us, the protagonist of our lives, is just a part of the picture in someone else’s eyes. Note to self: no matter where you go and what you do, you’re just a tiny, insignificant part of the picture, remember that. The world is bigger than you, it would go on. Be here, now, and let that be enough.

Been to Paris? What is the one thing you remember the most? Would you go back again? What was the last city you traveled to and how did it make you feel?

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.