Showing posts tagged travel

Ruin is  the road to transformation.

Orange Moon
October 19, 2013
United Arab Emirates

InSANAty in Motion Handmade Tote Bags
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Kutch, Gujrat India 2011
Going back in time to showcase old favorites

One of the reasons why I love photography is because it allows you to go back in time. It allows you to go back to a moment and sit with it. To be able to reconnect with an experience  and remember the story behind that moment, …where I was, who I was with, what I felt …this captured moment is like being in the middle of a bigger story with so many little stories tied to it

I look at this photo I took long ago at pretty much what was the start of my nomadic journey and I am overwhelmed by the rush of emotions that comes not only from the pureness of these little girls but also the time that has passed and what has happened since. I wonder how the two girls are……….
Northern Laos , 2010

Upside Down
Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates

Children and Chicken
Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates

Outdoor Living
Mass of laborers from poorer developing countries,live in old broken down homes 10 people to a room in the UAE.
The scene of the couch outside was so common in this neighborhood , as if to get out of the suffocating indoors to the hot outdoors to breathe a bit.

Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates

It was all once just sand, camels and starry nights. I visited an old part of town where people still lived in old homes with traditional doors and not in highrise glass buildings which is the standard here in the U.A.E. What blew me away was the texture on the tree trunk and the placement of the couch which was perfect to enjoy life passing by.
Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates

In a country ,where everyone owns at least one car this old fashioned bicycle shop was a breath of fresh air. Of course only the poor expats use them and yes the poor do exist here.
Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates

As a travel photographer, I always found it very hard to be inspired by the glitz and glamor of the Emirates.So I decided to take photos of people I could relate to better- ordinary people just like you and me trying to live this extraordinary thing called life.

Al Fujairah- United Arab Emirates



(source : Tumblr on We Heart It.

The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure… I’m lonely… I’m a failure… I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.

I once read that silence is only frightening to those who are compulsively verbalizing. I was one of those people. Following up on my previous post on being still, I would like to share another amazing experience I had at the Buddhist retreat. I was in silence for a month.  I was allowed to read, write, ask my teacher questions if need be and there was also a one hour group discussion session with my retreat classmates but other than this all of us were asked to maintain silence.  Being an extremely communicative person I thought this would be very hard but strangely when I was in retreat the last thing I wanted to do was talk. Maybe it was the space I was in, the teachings I was getting but being granted the gift of silence seemed like such a luxury that I held on to tightly. And when I stopped talking, all my other senses also got to relax and this created such a big space inside of me to be able to listen to whatever was happening in me. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. I had never been silent for so long in my life!

 Only after being in silence for a month I realized how much our senses are completely bombarded by noise of all kinds. Our whole lives are spent being surrounded by internal and external noises. And not only that but this constant need to express oneself at all times. Don’t get me wrong communication is very important but is most of it even necessary I started to ask myself.

When you are in silence you actually listen. Not the kind of listening where you are mentally trying to come up with your own responses and feel compelled to talk. No, but just to listen and be completely present.

In silence it was amazing because I reflected much more on what my reactions would have been to a certain situation or what someone had said to me if I was allowed to talk. I had much time to reflect on my reactive nature and to understand myself much better. I feel that without silence, contemplation of one’s true nature is rather difficult.

I also started to notice things around me and in me that I had never paid attention to me before. How my breath sounded, how my stomach sounded when I ate and of course the sounds of nature from raindrops to monkeys- I was open to all the sounds around me without trying to form an opinion about them.

In silence somehow a space was created to enjoy where I was and also I felt like I had time to do so many other things since I was not talking. Constant verbalizing makes it very difficult to silence the mind and thus even harder to practice stillness so I was grateful for this opportunity. Coming out from the retreat and back into the world of words was not so difficult to adjust to but I realized I was being so much more mindful of the actions of my body, speech and mind.


(photo taken in Melaka, Malaysia, 2010- at my guest house)

Have you ever tried to sit still for more than five minutes? Have you ever tried to just be where you are without peeking and prodding into thoughts of the past or the future? To just, still the mind and not create any stories out of your thoughts and emotions? Have you ever tried to just be?I have and I can tell you it is one of the hardest things I have had to do.
I had been toying with meditation ever since I left NYC in 2009 but this year I actually sat myself down to meditate every day for hours and hours for over 2 months and boy was it tough.

I had gone to a Vipassana course in India and found it too austere for me, so this time I decided to go into a Buddhist retreat and it was just what I was looking for. I remember my first encounter with a Buddhist retreat was in Vietnam in the middle of nowhere when I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I love those moments. I was sightseeing in central Vietnam and happened to chance upon a beautiful Buddhist temple near a lake.  While hanging around there I started a conversation with a monk and we spoke about mediation, India and the Buddha. He then asked me why I didn’t consider staying at the nunnery for a bit and practice. And it happened just like that: the same day I checked out of my guest house and checked into the nunnery. It turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Fast forward three years later and I happened to have the Dalai Lama as my neighbor (well not literally but we were in the same town) and a beautiful Buddhist meditation center right at my doorstep. I would go for a morning meditation class every day and then head to volunteer at the local school (see post below).   I was happy because I had found a practice that revolved around love and compassion and this somehow went down better with my system. But this is not to say that my practice was all bliss. Oh no! Actually nowhere even close to it. The mind started its tricks again- when I asked it to stay calm it quickly wanted to do just the opposite.  It just went over and over the same shit about the past or the same shit about the future. I had what we could call the monkey-mind swinging from one thing to the other and on and on just jumping all over the place. I just saw my mind so clearly going round and round in circles and I would get so frustrated with myself. It was exhausting. Till one day it just happened. Voila! I just sat there being the awareness watching my mind and realized that, I am not my thoughts or anything that the mind was putting out there. After all the books I had read, the teachings I had sat through and everything else added on top of that- I had finally been able to put into practice the theory “You are not your mind.” So if I was none of it then there was no point in getting attached to it or pushing them away. But instead just watching them rise and then ebb away just like the tide.  You are aware they exist and then you see them go away till the next thing arises.

What did this actually mean to me?
You see I started to understand that I feel my feelings, or the emotions I am going through but that I was not my feelings. I will try to break it down further. I was the person feeling them but not them. So if I am angry, I feel angry but I am not angry- if that makes any sense.  In theory it might sound like a whole lot of gibberish but when you sit with it over and over again it helps to understand it practically. In Buddhism it is a huge difficult topic called “Emptiness” and I was wading in the shallow side of it but had realized something important: that at the end of the day the mind is clear like a glass of water. And then you mix some dirt into it which is a metaphor for all the thoughts, feeling etc .but then if you just let it sit the dirt settles and the mind goes back to being clear.

Even though I am nowhere close to where I want to be in this quest to finding my balance I am definitely sitting and watching my mind more often than before.

InSANAty In Motion on ETSY

And I finally have an etsy shop selling my handmade creations with one of a kind pictures from my travels.

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