Tag Archives: India

What India taught me about life

31 Jul

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I’ve just touched down after spending a month meandering through India and Nepal. Far from being a romantic jaunt, it was an overwhelming, refreshing, confronting feast for the senses.

I deliberately avoided the internet while I was away, choosing instead to fill an entire Moleskin with my thoughts and reflections. I think it’s important to switch off every once and a while and really live, without wondering how to describe an incredible experience in a status update. So my apologies for being MIA!

July is the hottest time of the year in India. The desert sun is harsh, the humidity heavy and the monsoon rains were late and light. After a cold shower, I was sweaty again before I even had the chance to get dressed. The water in my bottle was constantly coloured orange, as I poured in fistfuls of hydralytes to stay energised. The rugged land sapped my energy, the endless stares and questions from strangers wore me down and by the end of the four weeks, I was ready to head home.

But India is a beautiful place and one of stark contrasts. The poverty, the rubbish, the begging children and the skinny animals tugged at my heart. Yet the colours, the smiles, the sounds and the staggering architecture sent it soaring.

On long train trips, we chose the non-air conditioned cars to save money and see the real India. The locals who weren’t shy would sit next to me as I wrote by the open door and start chatting, eager to practise their English. Others would stare and then say quickly, ‘You are very beautiful’. Most of the time, however, I could feel a thousand pairs of eyes on me as I trudged on with my pack.

In Jaisalmer, my friend gave a small square of chocolate to three children. Their eyes grew wide, their grins swamped their faces and they nibbled on the sweet treat as though it were the most precious and rare gift. I felt ashamed – how often do I swiftly scoff a block of chocolate at home without savouring it or really appreciating it? I learned to give more, take less and treasure even the most basic things.

In Udaipiur, I slept on a hotel rooftop under the stars with nothing but a thin sheet. As the sun rose and the incredible view to the mountains and Floating Palace appeared before us, I felt like I was in paradise. It was all I needed. I learned that life can be simple, and that beauty is all around us.

In Jodphur, my travelling buddies and I decided to go cross-country and wander into a steep valley to attempt to find an alternative route back to town from the old fort. After scratching our legs on prickly bushes and descending deep into the darkening land, we discovered a wide ghat, into which dozens of children and men were jumping and splashing. Two of our friends had taken a different route and got stuck scaling a 20-metre wall. One misstep and they would have plummeted into the ghat. Immediately, a few friendly locals appeared and pulled them around to safety. A large group gathered around them, the children jumping and hollering with excitement. I learned that kindness is free and there’s nothing as gorgeous as a giggling child.

In Agra, we were surprised by the state of the streets. While the Taj Mahal boasted manicured lawns and raked in millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars a year from visitors, the surrounding city was filthy. There were many desperate people, malnourished animals and dingy hotels and eateries. It was a confronting scene and made us wonder where the money from the Taj Mahal goes. I learned that we can’t rely on governments to look after their people. It’s up to us to look after one another and be the change we want to see in the world.

In Varanasi, we sat by the main ghat as the sky turned a spectacular shade of burnt orange and magenta. People of all faiths gathered at the ghat to worship and rest. I felt an overwhelming sense of love, acceptance and understanding. A man blessed us by rubbing red spots on our third eyes. A woman in a dirty sari sat beside me and smiled. As dusk turned to night, great big golden bells tolled in unison, boats gathered at the front of the ghat and worshipers chanted, prayed and sang. I learned that while our beliefs may differ, our intentions are the same. We simply seek happiness, both here on earth and once we’ve passed on.

There are so many other things India taught me, unveiled to me and threw in front of me. I imagine it’s going to take some time to make sense of the experience and mull over my new mindset.

India – stunning, shocking, staggering. You can’t help but be moved.

I try – leaping without looking

7 May

Oh, hey blog! It’s been a while. Apologies for the neglect, but I’ve been doing something just a wee bit exciting…

Last week, I quit my job. Without a whole lot of thought. I also bought the last items on my India packing list. And I snapped up the domain for my newly-launched business, Kat Tate Copywriting! I even have the certificate to prove it (apologies for the dodgy shot):

In essence, I invested in my future. My freedom. I launched myself off the cliff and free-fell. Without knowing where I would land. It was a week of being courageous, of listening to a little voice that told me to jump. And ignoring the voice that said, ‘But what if you fail? What if you have no money? What if…’

My plan is to freelance in June, jet off to India & Nepal for a month-long health and wellness quest in July and return refreshed and ready for my next adventure.

Here’s to living fearlessly. Here’s to leaping without looking. What a feeling!

Wordless Wednesday – oh the places we’ll go

28 Mar
India – colourful. chaotic. magnetic. A place I will roam for 3 weeks in July.

Source: hola.com via Reyes on Pinterest

Koh Samui – a haven. paradise found. I will bathe in her beauty next week!

Egypt – where I long to next venture.

Source: tumblr.com via Rachel on Pinterest

Would you REALLY help a stranger?

22 Mar

Picture this: you’re walking down the street and a small child tugs on your sleeve. They tell you they are lost and ask if you can call their home. Would you help?

You would, right?

According to a recent social experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram, only 46% of us city dwellers would. The rest would give the kid money, ignore them or say, ‘Your mum is in that restaurant. Go in there.’

Shocking, isn’t it?

Well, it is to me.

I’ve always strived to help someone before I help myself. It’s just what I do. It feels right.

On a recent windy day, I saw a woman struggling to cram three packages into the post box, while trying to keep her skirt from flying up and revealing her frilly knickers. I jumped in and held the parcels, so she could complete her mission without flashing the whole of Elizabeth Street.

In the bus queue, if the person in front of me doesn’t realise the fare is pre-paid, I will dunk my card twice.

It’s no big deal. It honestly feels like the thing to do.

So I would hope that when a child asks for a helping hand, the majority of us would oblige.

Yes, there may be some danger in it. That kid could be part of some stealthy ring of under-aged thieves who distract passersby, while their buddies raid their pockets. Or they could be hopelessly lost in a sea of faceless people and have no idea where mum is.

That man asking you for $2 for a train ticket might end up spending it on a bottle of scotch. Or he may be desperate to get somewhere.

For many people, asking for help isn’t easy. It requires humility. It’s risky. After all, you could be the dangerous one!

My friends have been telling me that I will struggle on my impending trip to India. They reckon I’ll want to help everyone and simply won’t be able to. I can see that will probably be a challenge. But my heart is my heart, and it will always pulse with a desire to help.

My feeling is this: help out the person next to you, because you never know how much they need it.

Are you surprised by the stats that only 46% of people in the city would help a child in need? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Just post a comment below:

Today I…say yes

15 Mar

‘No’ can be such a naughty word. I’ve noticed that I say it quite a lot. No to an impromptu dinner invitation, no to the gym, no to my alarm when it bleeps incessantly for me get up and meditate or do yoga. It’s just so easy to say no (except when I’m offered a Tim Tam).

‘No’ doesn’t require any effort, any risk. But a life without risk means a life without rewards.

A few months ago, an old school friend mentioned she was throwing herself back into travel and asked if I would like to join her in India in July. Immediately I said no. A million excuses raced through my mind: ‘I won’t be able to get the time off, I won’t be able to afford it, India is scary, I might get mugged, my hair will go frizzy, it’s easier to just stay at home in my normal routine and let everyone else gallivant around the world, they don’t have Tim Tams there…’

Two days ago, she asked me again. ‘Come and meet me in India in July. I’ll be taking photographs and wandering the streets. You could come along and write.’

YES!

Why the heck shouldn’t I just say YES? Yes to throwing myself in the deep end. Yes to leaving my life behind and seeing what awaits me in one of the world’s spiritual hubs. Yes to opening my heart and my journal and seeing what flows forth. Yes to frizzy hair! YES!

I’m ready to get real, to get raw and to descend on a foreign land and see where it sweeps me.

I’m ready to live!

What have you said yes to today?

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