Friday, July 30, 2010

Middle East to Middle England

Middle-Eastern tour. Gave me a chance to reflect further into the future throwing evermore questions in the air about where I want to be, and what I want to be doing with the next chapter of my life. And, I guess having got this far wandering why I should stop dreaming and start conforming. I met a delightful Frenchman in the airport in Dubai who said to me “many people could be good in business if you choose to go into renewable energy but few people could tell the stories you can.” And it made me think am I crazy to want to go back to society instead of continuing to travel the world and challenging my existence?
They say: Don’t make dreams your masters, master your dreams.
But when you start mastering so many dreams, that you forget to dream or wander how you could even imagine topping the experiences you have had, until you find yourself 2 days ago in a speed boat crossing the border to Iran. Seeing dolphins and swimming in now shark infested waters!

You wander how life actually became a dream.

Until you wake up in Heathrow on Qatar airways in first class as a self confessed VIPSY and it hits you like a nightmare.
The dreams if you stay asleep too long become nightmares. Like gravity what goes up must come down and as you touch down numb silence and I watch through the window and I feel nothing! A holographic transparent empty nothing. Every other flight for the last 8 months has been excitement and anticipation. Flying into Geneva or Vienna or Linz from sleezyjet to private jets from cattle class to first class, Doha or Dubai or driving across the border into Oman a roar dessert of unexplainable depth to here LONDON.

 I almost feel afraid.

And then frustration somehow between touch down and now a mere 6 hours later, still trying to make my way home I have spent 100 pounds. I am still not home having taken 2 buses missed one and the only thing that stops me from racing back to Heathrow is my little brother Maya and Father who I know I will laugh the evening away with.

An extract which I wrote in my diary regarding Oman says:

Where the sands mountains have no shadows, and the sea does not meet the sky, they intertwine as one horizon as the waters edge meets the dusty worlds mirror that forms the seas awesome reflection.
If the world you see is the mirror image of your mind, then the reflection I see before me as I look into my soul is one of enchanted excitement and awesome wander a baron emptiness of peaceful barbaric beauty and never-ending questions without answers.

 An image which if viewed for too long would change as the sun would set and show the horizon and prepare to wake up the land that I belong to, and will return to finding it hard to explain such awesome sites.

In contrast:

The view can see out of the window at my half way house in Bristol as I journey home. Is one of polar opposites not even challenged by the opposite of Everest to Oman.
London to Bristol:

The concrete jungle where city dwellers roam. The locals become refugees as they marvel how the city has grown. A city of culture it says on the wall, next to the for sale and to let signs desperate to take this white elephant from one hand to another. Buses trafficking innocent bystanders who have no arena and therefore become the audience in the by stands of a small game in a small life where they do not dare to dream of any other existence than what they have been shown on their television soap operas and their Hollywood sub-standard values.

Coming from the middle east where I found it almost amusing to watch women in their burkhas shopping in Carrefour until I realised how amusing they must find our outfits. I have to say the view I see now makes me sad. Dyed hair, obese bodies, mixed races, yes greenery but cultivated and planned by well paid architect and council bodies. Earrings and tattoos, unattractive flesh shown bodies, disability and our own cast system not dissimilar to that of Hindu religion but one cast and class. A lower class.
Difference becoming their only similarity! and yet all being the same. A culture so confused where it came from with mixed generations and cultures all amounting as one disgraceful mess. I have to say I wander what I have come “home” to?

There is an Alice through the looking glass moment when you have to think............ There is better world spending the same money, living in the same timeframes, having the same relationships, surrounded by the some comforts, BUT living a better life. So as I put I put on my ipod to muffle the sound with the rest of the refugees, living in their own country, but becoming a minority. I question why I would want to be here, not just why I should conform.

Go Beyond
There is a place … called Beyond
Where "but what if?" and "is that wise?" are never heard.
Where the ordinary, becomes extra-ordinary,
And today is never a repeat of yesterday,
Where people wake up to a cloudy sky,
And say, you know what, I don’t think I’ll take my umbrella.
Where caution is thrown to the wind,
And people dance like no one's watching.
In Beyond, the rule book has never been written,
Wealth is measured in time, not money,
Dirty is better than clean,
Now is better than never,
And dare is better than don’t,
And, well … you get the drift.
We can all get to this place,
Just pack some courage,
Some spirit, and some nerve,
Then go,
Go amiss,
Go off the page,
Go Beyond.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I am unsure how 12 days became 4 weeks but finally I have found time to reflect on the most incredible journey of my life, the biggest challenge and adventure I could not have even imagined physically and mentally possible, and the most hilarious WTF moments possible. And just as I unpacked my bags promising myself yet again this would be for the last time for a long time............... I find myself a mere 48 hours, 3 bottles of wine and 3 bottles of champagne and several whiskies later travelling back to Heathrow to fly to Dubai.

So where to start? My father asked me at dinner “what was the highlight of the trip?” I said “I feel I grew up, I had 8 hours a day for 3 weeks walking and thinking time and I realised many aspect of my life that I would like to change. There are the obvious..... Got a job, get a house, get just one responsibility and get a man and hopefully in the future fulfil my feminine maternal duty and perhaps consider the idea of children!

This was discussed one night at Gorak Shep roughly 5200m in altitude slightly lacking oxygen so my brain not fully functioning when a lovely lady who I envisaged a dangerous liaisons esque teacher who had a class of 60 students in a Californian state school. She turned a said “Gee you’re nearly 30 you had better hurry up or you’ll have to wait 10 years for people to be getting divorced as all the good ones will be gone!” That night I lay awake in my sleep. I am unsure if it was altitude sickness (which by the way I call attitude sickness) or what she said but I did feel slightly unwell and sped up my ascent up the mountain somewhat the following day.

With no communication with the outside world bar the Nepalese watchmen who fed us curry tasting porridge for breakfast, rice for lunch and an assortment of choice in the evening which ended up tasting the same. I was starting to feel ready to return home. Exhaustion had started to creep up on me and I started to feel as though if someone said black I would say white. I often hid myself in our dormitory and reflected on myself and my thoughts and constantly had to remind myself I chose this path and there is absolutely no way I was going back. It never actually crossed my mind to give up, but there were many times I wished I would die!!!!

While walking in the extreme ever changing conditions a much less trampled path was ahead of Bernie and I and we were walking completely alone at one of the highest points on Planet Earth. Which was starting to look more like the moon as the climate changed completely and horizon started to come to an end. We feared at one moment that we were perhaps lost and just then as we discussed weather to turn back or carry on above our heads soaring between the mountain was a beautiful eagle with its wind span sweeping the snowy peaks. I turned to Bernie and said “The American Indians believe if you see a bird of prey you know you are going in the right direction.” Needless to say just over the hill we say a small cluster of 3 tea houses and knew we were not far from our final destination.

The incredible and awesome sight coupled with the altitude and sense of achievement when we reached Everest Base Camp silenced me.

The glaciers were majestically soaring up in the sky shards of ice covering the foot of the greatest mountain in the world.

A mountain which has taken so many lives but has made so many people live.

When you are on top of the world nothing can bring you down.

My mind was emptied and for some silent moment I had a euphoric feeling of contentment. It made me think about the meaning of contentment and realise the contentment and happiness are both momentary feelings. Nothing last forever including love as we all die and it does not live on after we are gone. So for that moment I felt a blissful freedom and contentment.

This was until I tried to do my times tables and could not manage so properly I decided after realising neither Bernie or myself were able that we should start our descent back through the ever changing terrain or Everest.

There was a moment while we walked along The Khumbu Glacier which is located in the Khumbu region of northeastern Nepal. The Khumbu Glacier is followed for the final part of the trail to Everest Base Camp. The actual start of the glacier is in the Western Cwm of Everest itself. Khumbu Icefall is on the southern slopes of Mount Everest; the glacier itself is between Mount Everest and Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. At this moment I produced our bandana which for the most part of our journey we referred to. We did have a map incidentally which en route back down we gave to a Chinese explorer who like us looked fairly unprepared for the conditions and path ahead. And as karma would have it we met a Lukla airport as due to the extreme weather conditions the authorities declared a no flight zone for 3 days!

And as a result of an avalanche there were NO PHONE LINES which meant. No bank machines, which meant no food in fact in meant NO NOTHING! Until the Chinese explorer literally bumped into us….. he gave us back our map, paid our tax money and gave us some sweets and a much needed cigarette.

I sat in the mist and cloud on the side of the runway in the airport literally on the side of a mountainous cliff and for the first time in years cried. I am not sure if they were tears of frustration, anxiety, ore of the challenge, excitement or extreme gratitude but they rolled down my face and I asked God for help. I thought as I was still so high far above the clouds I was effectively whispering in his ear and asking to get me off the mountain. This is not because I feel closer to God or because the next thing I knew there was a commotion in the airport and before my watering eyes the clouds started to lift but within 2 hours we were on a mountain plane not quite smiling but thanking God for taking us home.

Through out my journey I read 2 books The first and because “when in Rome” I read The Wisdom Teachings of The Dalai Lama and The second Eat, Pray, Love. A much anticipated and hugely recommended book. While reading the book Eat Pray Love I thought wait a second I could give this book a run for it’s money! Try Everest, Safari, Meditation Retreat.!!!! So I will now start a new section as they both deserve pages of their own and explain how I broke out of the yoga retreat and found myself riding an elephant in alligator infested waters in Chitwan rainforest. Yet another “my insurance certainly wouldn’t cover this moment!”