Je suis Charlie

It’s 2015 already. Time flies indeed, and especially so when you are older. Before there were predictions that the world would end in 2012, but it came and it went. We are still here, but perhaps what did end is the world as we know it. Mentalities, attitudes and expectations have changed and evolved.

It’s only been a week and a half since New Years, but already the world is at odds with one another. Shootings in Paris, hostages and explosions. It’s like you’re watching an action movie when you watch the news. The only problem is that it’s real life and real people are being killed.

Je suis Charlie. If I were in Paris, I’d be out on the streets.

No matter what, no matter how angry, no matter how wronged, no matter what your motivation, there is no good reason to justify killing another human being. Even more so if that person is an innocent bystander.

Perhaps there are things I do not know and reasons beyond my understanding, but this is my take on it.

Perhaps it’s the effect of modern day life. The focus easily sways towards “me” and to my self interest. Everyone wants to be heard, to get attention, to be noticed. Perhaps to make up for a lack of self love. Everyone wants “instant gratification” as a friend of mine mentioned. Everything at the touch of a fingerprint. We spend more time in school, but less time talking and learning about life. Even less time experiencing life. We experience it online. We spend more time on social media, but less time reading or thinking. We barely have time to be alone with our thoughts. Evenings spent discussing thoughts and ideas are left to a few.

Discussions or differences of opinion are not tolerated. If you think otherwise, you are wrong. You aren’t as good as I am. I know, so think like me.

It’s a sad world indeed.

I have a wish this year and it’s a simple one. I wish that people would stop, take a breather and spend more time thinking about others. Have some compassion. Empathise. Put yourself in the other persons’ shoes. Me included. More meditation this year.

The Royal Wedding of Kate and William

I cannot go on without mentioning the Royal Wedding of the decade.  Since Diana’s wedding, there has not been one that has been followed with such enthusiasm.  It is a wonderful change to follow “good” news than hearing the usual stories of war, fighting, economic bailouts and deaths that appear whenever one turns on the television.  Nevertheless, I have to admit I hadn’t been following the news so much prior to the wedding but now that the wedding day had arrived, I was excited.

If you live in Bangkok it is hard to escape the hype that accompanies such a wedding. The morning radio news discussed the wedding and as Thais are very fond of such events, we had live coverage aired on Thai television.  Fortunately, we are only six hours ahead of London so the timing is just right. Late afternoon to early evening would be the time of the ceremony.

Though still at the office, all eyes were glued to the television sets.  The air lightened and everyone was relaxed.  Stress levels dropped and heart beats slowed.  Smiles appeared and for that brief hour or so we were all transported to Westminster Abbey to be with Kate and William.  We all had first class seats, watching the event from various angles.   It’s just a pity we could not be breathing in the same air nor smell the freshness of the trees that lined the aisles.

The vows were spoken and now Kate and William are man and wife.  Everyone was touched.  Touched at how sweet and loving they seemed.  The two kisses on the balcony put smiles on our faces. My heart melted.  William looked shy and Kate a bit giggly.

It was a fairytale wedding.  To have a real life fairy tale that’s not in storybooks is wonderful.  Even if its for a couple hours, it was a couple hours when peace and happiness reigned throughout the world. Not only were people watching in the UK, people all over the world in hundreds of countries were watching.  Millions tuned in.  Tuned in to watch and partake in this happy union.

If only the world could unite more often like this. Be happy and be joyful for other’s happiness instead of always fighting for one’s ego or for one’s own power.  Life would be so much more joyful.  No more fighting, no more killings.  It’s little moments like these that we remember and cherish.  The celebration of life rather than the distruction of life….  Wishing you all lots of happiness and peace!  Lets hope this worldwide positive energy remains for sometime yet and gives us all “world peace.”

Peaceful Running

This morning I went off to run before work as normal.  I push my lazy self off my comfy bed and whilst driving to the fitness, I wonder if there will ever come a day when the “lazy me” is gone and dead.  It’s been almost two years since I’ve started running and every morning it’s a battle to ward off the “lazy me.”  Some days, it’s quiet and weak and I can easily push it away, some days it has strength and wants to take over the “active me.”  Nevertheless, as long as I keep my head, the “active me” remains in top place.  This battle, however, stops the minute I am in the car and once I start running it is as if I am transported into a different dimension. Another world.

This morning’s world was one of peace and tranquility.  I ran without my headphones.

Usually I’d spend my runs catching up on the morning news, watching Haslinda Amin recap on Bloomberg or perhaps the BBC news, but today I wanted to try running without the headphones.  I wanted to see what it would be like without having to always worry about my arms swinging and pulling the headphones away from my ears as I run on the treadmill.

I loved the feeling.

I felt a certain “peace” to be running on the treadmill with nothing but my shoes (and my clothes).  No phones, no headphones, no TV.  All I had to keep me company were my neighbours and reflections in the mirror.  My mind was focused and a certain “clarity” prevailed.

I concentrated on my breathing (which I’ve been working on the past few runs) and it flowed more with each breath.  I am no longer heaving or puffing like the big bad wolf about to blow down the little pig’s house.  I breathe rhythmically.  It’s a wonderful feeling. I pray I can keep it up.

I start to look around and notice people around me, the reflected room in the mirror and the wavering trees outside the window.  The hot blazing sun and the sounds of feet thumping on the treadmill belt.  I listen to the sounds my own feet are making and feel my arms pushing back and forth.  It’s meditative and relaxing.

My brain seems to extend time.  One minute seems so much longer and in that one minute, I feel I can do so much.  I have time to look around, be with my thoughts and analyze my running.  All the stresses dissipate and my brain feels energized.

I find myself starting to have a certain fondness for running.  I start to enjoy its meditative nature and the sense of peace and tranquility that comes with it.  I am slowing getting addicted to how rested and happy I feel upon completing a run.  I know this feeling will come and go, and on some days I will probably be lazy, but every time after a run, I find myself at peace.

At peace with the world. 

All is calm, no anger, no madness, just pure contentment.  Perhaps we should all do a little more running.  Run for clarity, run for peace and run for tranquility.  Happy Running!

I like, You Like : Peace

I like, you like. We all like different things.  Life is strange, everyone of us like different things. It makes things complicated sometimes, but then it is also the spice of life.   Imagine how monotone and plain everything will be if everyone on earth all liked a particular shade of blue and loved the exact same food.  We would be one big monotonic human race. Boring.

Oftentimes though, we forget that others like different things.  Sometimes we like things done a particular way or like things a certain way to such an extent that we come to think that is “THE” way to do things, the ONLY way.    We’d start thinking, “I like A and B, because of C and D.  And because I think so, it is the best way.  Everyone should like and do it the way I do.  If they don’t, they are making a mistake.”

We get so obessed in our beliefs and so set in our likes we project ourselves onto others, all the while, forgetting that he/she is not like me.  He/She is NOT me.  We get annoyed if they disagree. 

That is not the way it was meant to be.

Each and everyone of us develops his/her own likes and dislikes as we grow older.  To see another person clearly, we should realize that he/she doesn’t have to like the same things as we do.  I mean, even the simplest things like colours can be argued about.  For example, just look at the colour “pink.”  Some like pink, some like dusty pink, some like shocking pink.  There are so many shades and each appealing in different ways.  Some dislike pink altogether and like grey, dark grey, charcoal grey. 

Even colours differ, how can we expect everyone to like the same foods, same books, and have the same ideas as us? 

Love everyone for who they are.  Note and observe their differences, their likes and dislikes and life becomes a lot more fascinating.   It allows us to learn about different things and experience new aspects of life that surround us.  Forget not that he/she is NOT me and that everyone has a right to choose what they like or don’t like.   Bathe in our differences and life will be so much more pleasant.  This world would also be so much peaceful…If only we had world peace.  Peace my friends.

Quiet Time, Quiet Contemplation

Today I escaped hectic Bangkok to Khao Yai ( a mountainous area not far from Bangkok) and I have to say it’s wonderful. I am in the middle of nowhere and I can hear the sounds of nature around me. Absent of light pollution the stars shine brightly in the night sky. Orion is clearly visible.

The temperature is just perfect. Lovely and cool without the snow. I am starting to feel like it’s the New Years afterall. It’s quiet and I can hear myself think. It’s great to have some peaceful time and relax surrounded by family. There really isn’t much that one needs.

And so this year I urge everyone to take out some quiet time to think about what it is they want in life. You could say you know, but do you really and truly know? Be careful what you wish for. Don’t be fooled by pretty packages.

Sweet dreams and have a good night everyone!

Calmed by the River Nile

Gliding down the River Nile, it is not surprising why since ancient times, it has been a source of inspiration for many.  As I sit on the sundeck looking out at the vastness of this river, I imagine that not much has changed here over the centuries.  The riverbanks are lined with palm trees and uninhabited fields.  I spy an occasional buffalo and watch birds fly in the clear blue sky.  A sense of calmness comes over me.

This River, I imagine has this effect on people.

The cruise ship quietly glides down the Nile at a steady pace, no rush, no hurry.  It is elegant and at one with the river.  I too am starting to a feel a bit of this calm rub onto me.

I lie down on the sundeck and watch the change in scenery as we pass by.  For most of the time, all I see in front of me is the vastness of this river which has been the conduit of civilization for thousands of years.  This great river had been the source of life for without it’s waters, which also proved to be an important mode of transportation, life would have been very different in the desert.

Palm trees stand out against the clear blue sky and together with the wild grass the river banks transform into a beautiful sihoullete.  I am enthralled.  I wish I had brought my watercolour set so that I could paint this view, but then I want to travel light and I’m not that much of an artist.  It’ll have to be another day.  For now, I opt instead to do a rough sketch in my little moleskine notebook. 

It’s quiet up here on the sundeck and the engines are so quiet I don’t hear much other than the splashing of the water as we glide by.  Occasionally we pass by another cruise ship and then to the delight of all those on the sundeck, we’d start waving at those on board the other cruiseline.  It’s friendly.  It’s fun.  I’m feeling chilly with the wind, and have wrapped myself up in my scarves but on the other sundeck people are sunbathing.   I gather they must come from somewhere very cold.

Cruising down the River Nile, we have no space for stress, for anger, or for all those emotions that make us humans insufferable beings.  Here, we are back to nature and at peace.  I feel like I am reliving a bit of history.   I feel like time has slowed down and that I have found a part of me that had been lost in all this crazy, hectic world.  It’s effect is so unlike any other that just writing about it, I can once again feel myself sitting there on the sundeck with the breeze through my hair, sitting, watching the scenes roll by.  I am at peace, I am calm.  If only I could feel like this everyday……. 

The thought remains as the sunsets and I am reminded that another day has ended.  Another end brings with it another beginning and another chance for me to once more find myself at “peace” with the river.

Japan’s First Capital: Nara and the Todai-ji Temple

The Todai-ji Temple

On holiday one goes to so many sites within the space of one day that after two days you feel like you’ve seen so much, experienced so many things and nourished your senses. Yesterday I went to visit Nara, founded in 710 as the first capital of Japan and it is definitely a site not to be missed. There are eight Unesco Heritage Sites in Nara alone and the best part is that a lot of them are within walking distance (though make sure you have comfortable shoes.) I like it because it doesn’t have the large bustling atmosphere of a modern city. I can feel its history in the air.

The main sites are located in Nara Park which is an area so large you would probably need an hour or so to walk around. Being someone who loves to just soak in the atmosphere of the place, I took longer, much longer. I spent at least two hours walking around. I couldn’t help but just stand and look at the large wooden columns that towered over the entrance of the Todai-ji Temple. On each side of the towering gate were two enormous wooden guardians fiercely guarding the entrance to Japan’s largest Daibutsu (Great Buddha). It reminds me of the fierce giants standing guard over the temple entrances in Bangkok. I suppose buddhist countries all have similarities.

The Daibutsu (Great Buddha)

I like this temple not only because it houses Japan’s largest buddha, but because its completion set the capital as the center of buddhism and ensured that the religion would prevail. This was the start of Japan as we know it today. Its amazing how decisions over 1,300 years ago can have so much impact on millions of lives.

Hoards of tourists walk in and out of the temple as if there was a big festival going on. I am so busy taking photos, soaking in the atmosphere and trying to capture the roaming deers on video I feel like I should have another pair of hands. I spot parents out with their children brought along in a little buggy cart, I see students on class trips walking in orderly lines, and I watch elderly couples walking together to see this great buddha.

Upon entering the large wooden hall you cannot help but feel how insignificant you are next to this Great Buddha. How short our lives are compared to eternity. Although only two-thirds of the original cast in 746, the present buddha was built in the Edo period and is still a staggering 16 meters high! Can you imagine that?? I stare up at this huge buddha image made of 437 tonnes of bronze and 130 kgs of gold and wonder how heavy it must be, how expensive it must be at today’s prices.

So big yet so peaceful is this great buddha. Size doesn’t mean you have to be large and fierce. You can be large and gentle. Large and calm, large and at peace.

With a Messenger of God

Heads of black, brown and blonde bob up and down around the Great buddha, taking pictures exclaiming sounds of joy and all sorts of languages can be heard. In previous times, this place must have been a place of worship. It must have been so austere and terrifying. It must have been accessible only to a selected few. Now it is for all to see and worship.

I’m lucky these past two days the weather has been absolutely divine. The sun is out, the sky is clear and a soft breeze blows. I walk slowly down the walkway, playing with the “messengers of gods” (the deers) and succumbing to their big doe eyes. How incredible sweet and tame this animals are. How lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place. I wonder if they will be reborn as humans many many many lives from now. I wonder if they know they are the messengers of god.

Family Outing