Thursday, September 26, 2013

If this isn’t reality, then what are we doing here? - Please don’t tell me that living abroad isn’t “real life.”

Looking out over the real world

I’ll be the first to admit that of this crime, I am a culprit. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when the words emerge from behind my teeth, catapulting off my tongue into existence, I immediately feel guilty. Whether or not the transient, travel, and abroad lifestyle is something one adopts for the short or long term, the truth is, this existence is, in fact, real life.

For those of us who have shed our homeland reality for the unbridled freedom of being abroad, we’ve definitely experienced similar results from our friends, family, and acquaintances. Some are very supportive of the choice. The ability to learn, grown, and experience in an atypical fashion is something they admire. Others are not as keen to the idea. Marred with conversations about money, future, and personal health, those unfamiliar with this very normal lifestyle tend to believe it exists outside of the “real world.” As if the experiences, places, people, growths, emotions, falls, triumphs, cuts, scraps, scars, sounds, smells, tastes, loves, laughs or lessons presenting themselves each day are not as relevant as those that exist within the paradigm of our homeland. While the world we all see every day is very tangible, the idea is that only certain aspects of it can be considered “real.” This frame of mind is a misconception.

The problem with the idea of travel being of the fabricated nature is that, if it isn’t real, what the hell are we doing? If experiences in different cultures aren't part of the existing world, what does that mean for the places, the people, and the past times which we have all imbibed in for some part of our reality? I’ll give you an example. An absolutely stunning friend of mine has spent the better part of the past 6 years  imbibing, surviving, and most importantly, thriving in southeast Asia. She has spent time in a multitude of different cities, has worked as a teacher, dancer, and currently as a blessed jewelry designer. Profession aside, overall she is a highly intelligent, spiritual, and beautiful person who has seen both her quality of life, and more importantly, overall health greatly improved since leaving her humble abode. In the same light, she has a boisterous, supportive community of other fellow travelers (wanders, tumbleweeds, hustlers, gypsies) who have also chosen the same lifestyle. Because these folks decided to take an irregular approach to life, does that not mean their triumphs have not been exceptional

There are setbacks, naturally. Many of us do exist in a world of duality. We may be able to permeate boarders with chameleon like grace, but keeping a balance between our home and our home sometimes poses a problem. Choosing to travel can put strain on relationships with those not along for the ride. In the same regards, remembering and realizing pressures from the west can often times combat the beautiful reality staring you in the eyes each moment. Learning to juggle, though, is a small price to pay for creating a reality you see fit. 

Whether you are a person who aspires to live abroad or not, calling this lifestyle unreal is belittling. It takes away from the amazing efforts of those who have chosen to design a reality they adore, as well as the people they are meeting, the beautiful countries they visit, and the aspects of new cultures that keep them hustling everyday to stay afloat. The next time you find yourself in this conversation, realize reality is subjective. While some may chose the school, family, career, death lifestyle, it is OK if some don’t. Reality is what we make of it, and sometimes it is just a bit brighter when it involves beautiful mountains, dancing peacocks, and a strange land you are eager to become acquainted with

Monday, September 23, 2013

A surreptitious oasis in the middle of Jaipur, India: Free Yoga and open space to escape the struggles of the city

Early rising yogis in Jaipur's Central Park

 Visiting capitals around the globe is bound to leave you in a concrete jungle. Whether it be bustling, well thought out, or a chaotic amalgamation of roads and buildings lain when forethought was on vacation, peace and quiet aren’t always readily available. Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan in India, is no exception.  While most travelers are met with scorching heat, professional hustlers, and a desire to just sit at a hotel pool, there is a place where a weary soul can recover.

If you find yourself low energy and need to be at full power, 24-hour (Indians love this saying!), Central Park is your refuge. Located only a few km from the Old City walls, Central Park offers an ocean of green grass, with scattered benches and happy onlookers, as well as a 4 km long jogging path. Along with the grass and paths, each morning at 6:15 am a free drop-in yoga class is offered. The class is rarely frequented by westerners, and is taught by a charming 70-year-old man who looks as if he isn’t a day over 50. Accompanied by his wife, the couple have run the course for over 10 years. The men and women are split between two large cloth tarps, with individual mats being provided. Don’t expect a western style sweat fest though, as this yoga is “Indian,” yoga according to the guru. For the hour, class I found myself switching between my bum and knees, doing surprisingly difficult breathing exercises, and roaring to my heart’s fullest extent during tiger pose. 

Like all aspects of Indian life, the park is heavily populated. The running trail can feel like a highway at points, and even the inner grassy areas can look more like a Miami beach than a secluded oasis. But for all the hustle and bustle, one is rewarded with majestic low-flying kingfishers and prancing peacocks around every bend. The sounds and smells do provide a firm reminder of your current location, only to be fortified by the women in brightly colored saris jazzercising their way around the park.

While blazing around the jogging path, one encounters both a colonial-era polo ground and a few fenced in holes of Jaipur’s golf course. The polo grounds are now nothing more than a great place to add a bit more mileage to your run (apparently Polo died out with India’s independence), but the golf course is a sight to see. Though well maintained, each hole has at least 10 people aiming for the same shimmering green simultaneously. Whether party sizes are larger than that of other courses, or India’s population negates the idea of “private” anything, the spectacle is definitely one you will remember.

If a place to lay your yolk, even momentarily, is what you desire, then Central Park in Jaipur is where you need to be. For those making the pilgrimage, the best times to visit are in the early morning (5-8am) or the early evening (5-7pm). The road to the park is (relatively) calm at these times, and tyrannical sun’s oppression takes a nap. Enjoy the calming effects Jaipur’s not-so-hidden oasis.

Photo courtesy of Panoramio

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rough audio and transcription of a new poem

So it's been quite some time since I've posted a poem on here. In fact, the last time was in 2009, right here! Anyways, I started writing this new poem awhile back, but a few recent occurrences made me actually finish it. It's a rough version, and the audio is pretty rough too (I'm in a guest house and was a little embarrassed to get too loud!). It is a very targeted poem, I'll admit, and some may realize what it is about. To be honest the majority of it was written about an experience pretty far back in the past, but a few lines were added and tweaked in the end to bring it to this state.

Though poems may come off harsher than our actual reality, for me, it's a great way to process and move on. I hope you enjoy, and as soon as I can think of a title and get a video of me reading it, I'll post it on here.


I got a tattoo.
It’s one I’ve been thinkin about for awhile.
It covers the better part of my back, and trickles down my arm like spring waterfalls before the snow melt inundates the stream.
It’s simple.
I like the way the colors blend into my back.
I got it sometime between when you said you didn’t want to see me and that you wanted to be friends. And I’ll pretend
That the unabashed laugh, and the smile a mile wide when you read the words plastered on my billboard eyes were perfectly normal responses between “just friends.”
But I draw the line when you mistook the prose below my brows, surrounding the nose for someone you once knew.
Someone who was beyond devoted Proselytized by your songs and psalms like the ubiquitous black lines framing your clandestinely brown eyes, I couldn’t remove the dogmatic blinders.
My fake guru I allowed you to renovate the plot once housing my essence. But today is a new day.
Through ablutions and purification i’ve eradicated the yolk once extending from your gaze. You would have to be crazed to think that this man now momentarily found in your presence will shy away from calling you out on your bullshit.
Though I have unreciprocated respect for your beliefs in reincarnation, my cross cultural examination has led me to the brink of realization of new manifestation emerging with the each passing dawn. I’m not wrong when I say that today I’m changed. Though the resemblance is uncanny, like the transmuted skin on my back you’ll never embrace, you’re not any part of the happiness now etched permanently on this epidermal canvas. My face may appear the same, but the newly acquired wrinkles, like rivers from the pristine ocean adorning my eyes, tell tales of smiles you neither aided nor created. Aging scars may house your remnants but they are no impediment to forward progress, only talismans of mistakes that will never again resurfaced.
So of friends, I say one should not pour foundation on malleable land, and deceit is shallow soil and if you love him, let your union flourish by not stowing it away from the light. And now that he’s found the strength ot drop on one knee, embellishing anxiously awaiting finger with a promised ring, I hope you have the tact to cease from contacting me. You don’t want that rock to scratch your phone’s screen.
I’ll tell you there is not one ounce of disgrace, in this new verity I’ve embraced…that I wish you the best in all your endeavors. Triumphs, failure, ebbs, flows, falls and ascensions to grace. But I pray I’ve already lived through the last time I’ll ever see your face.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to clean yourself and your clothes while backpacking with 11 simple steps

If you are like me, when you travel, the only possessions you have are what you can fit on your back. While some people may bring an extra large bag or try and traverse the unknown with a roller, most backpackers like to trim the fat. In fact, most backpackers pride themselves on only carrying a small amount of “kgs,” whatever those are. With this being the nature of the game, backpackers are generally wearing the same couple of outfits continuously until they return home. Though hygiene is relative to each traveler (and some people definitely abuse this truth) the fact is, you need to clean your clothes and yourself. Why not follow these simple tips to do both at once, saving yourself some time and hassle? Enjoy an excerpt from Mulv Jones’s (patent pending) Guide to keeping yourself attractive to the opposite (or same) sex while traveling, known as the 11-step guide to clean clothes and a clean body:

  1. Buy yourself a pouch of powder laundry detergent
  2. Find a working shower, and enter shower fully dressed in the clothes you want to wash
  3. Turn on the shower
  4. Was your feet (this will make sense soon)
  5. Soak all areas of clothing so that they are nice and damp
  6. Without getting your pouch wet (this can put a damper (get it?) on the situation), dump a healthy serving of laundry detergent into your hands
  7. Lather your clothed self up like you are using soap, and get a good amount of suds all over. Focusing on stains or areas that get the stinkiest is best practice
  8. Remove lathered clothing, dropping them on the floor under your nicely washed feet. Alternate between stepping, stomping, and pulling clothes while letting the suds from your regular shower seep onto the pile
  9. After shower, let your clothes soak in a bucket for 30 minutes or so
  10. Ring out clothes as thoroughly as possible
  11. Hang clothes in a place that gets lots of sun, or is hot enough to eradicate dampness

There you have it, an easy way to wash yourself and your clothes simultaneously. Not only does it optimize your time and water usuage, it even gives you an incentive to not be a completely disgusting backpacker. Smelling good FTW!

Photo courtesy of Travelpod