Experiencing Singapore – urban garden

Singapore is the 7th country I am setting foot in. Now, that’s nothing compared to what my follow Ubudians had been up to (remembering Amber counting her countries list somewhere in 30s) but hey, its a start! 🙂 After arriving from the lush green land of Bali, Singapore initially seemed like a concrete jungle. The skyscrapers, cemented roads, metros, buses, shopping malls all reminded me of the west. On my first day here, I decided to meet Julie (aha, another Hubudian who was on her visa run here) for the night safari at Singapore zoo. Having traveled a lot in NYC subways, the transport system was easy for me to figure out and I could travel on my own the very first day. The biggest disturbing thing was when I saw super brand conscious public breaking their necks over their smartphones everywhere in the metro and buses. Glittery handbags, watches, iPhones with kitty covers and colored hairs. I was already missing the warmth of Balinese people.

But that’s being a bit harsh. As I explored more (courtesy of my generous cousin hosts), I could see government’s efforts at maintaining greenery in abundance. Be it the gardens by the bay, botanical gardens, east coast parks or even the expressways, palm and yellow rain trees with manually planted bird’s nest ferns will offer a green feast to your eyes. Apart from an impressively maintained infrastructure, what I love about Singapore is how secure it is. One my first night, I was coming alone with no phone at 1 a.m. and I did not have to think twice about it after the reassurance given by my family and friends staying here. Coming from India, that is one thing enough on its own to convince me to spend more time in Singapore. I wish vegetarian food was more accessible though and of course, that things were a little less expensive (expenses are almost at par with US, I would say) 🙂   

Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay

With my travels, I had been feeling as if I was growing more conscious and mature (ha!). And I was not ready to go back to India as I intended originally on 14 Aug. So, I ended up canceling my ticket and planning to go back, once again, to Bali before crossing the seas over to India. This extension also gave me a chance to spend Rakshabandhan with Ashutosh and Megha and have fun with my awesome buddy Geetika. The best parts have been when I got to bicycling on East Coast Park for 10-16 km. My sedentary lifestyle was shaken another time when I got a taste of swimming pool. Something about these physical excursions has given me a new goal – ‘to learn swimming’. Let’s see if I can overcome my fear of water for real. It only helped that Joseph Schooling, the new Olympic champ and hero of Singapore, has triggered a wave of swimming enthusiasts in Singapore. The building pool had been busier than ever 😛

Cycling at East Coast Park
Cycling at East Coast Park

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Talking of Rio Olympics, watching Sindhu win and other fighting performances by Indian girls was only a reinforcement of what I have always believed in – the genius and heroism are never a matter of gender or skin color. I feel inspired every time an unlikely champion raises her head. History knows no favorites.

Other places I loved include the awesome street shopping experience of Bugis Street Mall and the Marina Bay area. I also got to spend a lot of time on my Kindle thanks to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. As I bumped into reading about his work around Non Violent Communication, I have found a transformation in the way I have looked at communication and expressions, particularly anger. I am still in the process of adopting it at a more practical level but it has already been an eye opener to me. More on it later because I am still in discovery phase but it looks promising.

Light show at Marina Bay
Light show at Marina Bay

This is my last weekend in Singapore and thanks to my well wishers here, the time has been productive and fun, both. It had been on my travel wish list for sometime and I’m glad to check it off. I can see how people like working and living here. If you are doing a job at the end of the day, it is a nice place with uber urban culture, interesting food and security. Plus, the location is a big advantage for Indians and it does give good access to traveling the cute countries around on a budget – Malaysia (a bus ride away), Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia etc.

Sunset at Bedok Reservoir
Sunset at Bedok Reservoir
Another day goes down
Another day goes down
Keep Growing
Keep Growing
  

Placid Lake and the Tempest

tempest
Rainy day at East Coast Park

‘O placid lake, why do you lie so calm?’ asked the tempest.
‘Because I have lost the desire to dance.’
‘Oh, but you are missing out the beauty of the tumult. The life of passion. Wait, I shall show you!’
And saying that, the tempest threw a stone creating a million ripples in the lake.

The lake watched herself wave up and down and felt ecstasy passing through her very veins.
‘Hey, I had never felt like that before. The energy felt good and brought back some of my lost treasures back to the surface!’
‘Aha, now you can become the sea,’ said the tempest with a roar.
‘No, my dear, let me now give you some of my calm.’

‘But I am the hail, I am the storm. How can I be calm?’
With that, the ripples on the lake calmed down and she invited the tempest over her. With her moisture laden arms, she pacified the dry storm and grounded it.
‘Oh, that felt nice for me to rest a bit. I have always moved in whirlwinds,’ replied the tempest with a gleam in his eyes.

‘I am the lake with an ocean hidden in me and you are the storm with a calm at the center. Let’s embrace our cores and keep ourselves open to transcending our identities once in a while. Let’s love who we are.’
‘But we are one!’
‘Yes, we are!’

  

Bali Diary 6: Accomplish and Celebrate

Ok, I admit I’m somewhat of a workaholic. Whenever I get stuff done (the slang is get shit done!), I feel awesome and then I get more stuff done. My projects are coming together naturally as I surround myself with other interesting people – we have marketing geniuses, content writers, film makers, app developers here at Hubud. Monday to Wednesdays have been super productive and then we have our social time on Thursday lunches and Friday excursions.

On my third Saturday, I attended the energetic Invasion pool party (there is no dearth of these in Ubud) in the picturesque Bali Resort. I spent the Sunday relaxing on Sanur beach with Colleen. And I got the Balinese massage which was fantastic. Bali is all about healing, massages and spa. I had not planned any tourist activities in Bali and have let things happen on their own. I think there are better beaches to explore in Bali, perhaps some other time.

Invasion Party, Ubud
Invasion Party, Ubud
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Sanur Beach

Fourth week of working hard resulted in my coming up with strategic decisions for next season of SS. I also managed to publish the divorce article that I have been holding for too long now on DailyO. It seemed fitting that I post it from here where I have felt most myself.  Our third Tribe lunch was at the permaculture center, Moksa Cafe where all the ingredients are grown fresh. We had most amazing organic coco drink and rice bowl. Oh and the bamboo straw was so cute! The rice fields surrounding the restaurant called for a lovely walk. For my last Friday here, I headed to the beautiful Tjampuhan Spa where Amber even tried to give me some swim lessons! This, by the way, is a very beautiful place. The hot water pool is enclosed in carved rock caves overlooking the jungle and the river. I love how Balinese preserve their greenery.

Rice fields behind Moksa Cafe
Rice fields behind Moksa Cafe
Organic food at Moksa Cafe, Ubud
Organic food at Moksa Cafe, Ubud
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Tjampuhan Spa, Ubud

I spent a very soulful last weekend with Ash when we headed to the Holy Water TemplePura Tirta Empul. I had been wanting to go there ever since I landed, thanks to Ash for pushing me to go there finally.Bali offers some very beautiful temples and this is more than a 1000 years old now. The fresh water comes from the spring in the temple and thousands of visitors bathe in it. I and Ash took turns to bathe under the designated spouts. Definitely, an experience I would remember. I do not see any prominent statues inside Balinese temples although there are lot of carved figures outside. We also visited the stone temple next to this one that featured gigantic rock with faint carvings but were at a loss to understand its significance. On Sunday, we walked around the famous Monkey Forest in the center of Ubud. Balinese monkeys look slightly different than Indian monkeys but compete well in terms of mischief and chaos. Many a times, they would jump on the roof and garden at Hubud, making for amusing scenes.

bathing at Holy Water Temple Bali
bathing at Holy Water Temple Bali
Holy Water Temple Bali
Holy Water Temple Bali
Monkey Forest, Ubud
Monkey Forest, Ubud

Last week went by quick with a merry happy hour at Watercress with Ash and Aline and a closing lunch at Laura’s place. Her daughter cooked for us and that to me was very sweet 🙂 Laura’s home was again very beautiful with a garden and sunbathed pool. She served us some traditional Russian equivalent of potato filled tortellini and salad. We ended with fruits, honey and spicy tea. In this last lunch together, I had a lot to acknowledge. After all, Bali has given me so much.

Happy Hours at Ubud
Happy Hours at Ubud

The reason we all are able to spend good time celebrating is the fact that we are getting so much done. When you are productive, you feel happy. It has nothing to do with how much time you have. It is all about how you spend whatever time you have. Ever since I started working, I had felt a need to maintain a very healthy work life balance that gives me time for myself. But although I now get a lot of time for myself, I often squandered it away in India. As a result, I was neither productive nor enjoying as much as I should. This month at Hubud has shown me the promise of ‘work hard, celebrate harder’.

My first innings at Bali came to an end. I had come distraught but am leaving with a smile. I am heading off to Singapore now. This is not the end.

And, here are the previous posts in Bali Diary:

  

Bali Diary 5: Connecting Meaningfully

Another week started with our Tribe meetings where I committed to continue working on first draft of my book and come up with online courses for Scholar Strategy (SS). Of late, I know that I can do more justice with SS but have always felt a resistance within towards doing videos, which is, of course, stupid. From the students feedbacks, I know that they are benefitting a lot with what we are offering and online course is a means to reach out to many more students than I personally can. As always, Tribe came to rescue. I did a brainstorming session with Ash, Fiona, Colleen and Laura and asked for help! From that came out some concrete ideas on what exactly should I focus and immediate next steps. It was magical. As a solo working entrepreneur, sometimes it becomes difficult to strategize and focus. Tribewanted has been an amazing help on that. Colleen gave me a challenge of creating a video this week which I accepted and executed successfully.

One thing I am noticing is ever since I have started putting myself out there, approaching people, I am already feeling people reaching out to me, opening up to me. There’s another game that Colleen made us play as a part of her Emotional Intelligence session – we all had to come up with 3 qualities that we value and want to be associated with us. And then, define a tagline for our ‘games’. I came up with – wise, empathetic and genuine. I am calling my game – ‘Creating my Magic’ which is tad bit inspired from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic that I am currently reading. Now, you need to ask yourself whenever you take any action and make a decision – does it adhere to these qualities? Does it take you further along in your game or not? This will make you do things that you truly value and stay away from hopeless pursuits. Weirdly, all of us started noticing how we were actually being associated with these qualities. For e.g. Someone actually called me ‘genuine’ the other day casually in a conversation and this person has no knowledge about my exercise with Colleen. Ash witnessed it too when someone called her inspiring the other day. This stuff is powerful! Try it sometime.

Goya Resort Bali
Goya Resort Bali

I caught up my first Tribewanted group lunch this Thursday at the gorgeous Goya Resort. It is located with the pool and restaurant view of the jungle. While we grabbed some chilled drinks and delicious falafel wraps, we took a moment to acknowledge the good stuff we have been up to and appreciate everyone’s efforts in their own journeys.

Now, let me come to the real stuff. As I talked to more people, sharing my problems and statuses, Amber told me that she can help me with online courses. And then, she actually sat down with me and gave me ton of useful advice and help me structure things. For me, that is more valuable than any paid advice. It made me realize that we are probably surrounded by incredible people all the time, we just don’t take time to ask for help or talk to them. It, of course, works both ways. Take some, pass it on, give back – engage, connect with people for god’s sake. I have been so bad at this stuff that it is a whole new world to me. But the ride is starting beautifully. I encourage you to let go of your tiny voices that hold you back. Connect in meaningful ways – not with an intention of getting something back. Put your problems out there, let the universe come back to you with solutions. I got plenty of great advice from Amber and Derek this week. So thankful to them! You can do this too even if you are an introvert. Good intentions and energies are not a prerogative of extroverts you know. Just be receptive 🙂

Tribewanted Bali
Tribewanted Bali

PS. No wonder I love Amber so much. She has an awesome blog called Climb Out of the Cubicle where she tells her story of leaving a boring government job to travel the world.

  

Bali Diary 4: Eat and Meet

Saturday morning, we decided to go take a walk around the famous paddy fields of Ubud and there is a comfortable trek called Campuhan Ride walk for the same. So, I joined Chantal, Colleen, Derek, Julie and Andrew at 9 am in the Starbucks which is located in the beautiful Saraswati temple area. As I was clicking pictures of the beautiful lotus pond, I bumped into Tulasi, a great Indian origin but now in Holland girl who makes films! She is soon joining BBC as a trainee and was traveling solo too. So, we clicked pics for each other and got chatting. She ended up joining us for the walk. That is what I love about meeting people randomly on road.

Pura Saraswati Temple, Ubud
Pura Saraswati Temple, Ubud

The ridge walk was fun although we were quite sweaty by the time we ended up at Karsa Cafe which is a great restaurant cum spa located in between the rice fields. We grabbed our cute hut and ordered pancakes, coconut waters blah blah. We badly needed replenishment. Apart from the food being delicious and we ravenous, we ended up talking random stuff – tinder, spirituality, game of thrones, why one should go vegetarian as we heard chicken screams in the background etc., for more than an hour. It was time to head back and get a good shower. I have heard nice things about Campuhan Spa and that goes into my to do list.

Starting the Campuhan Ridge Walk
Starting the Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ride walk
Campuhan Ride walk
Campuhan Ridge walk
Campuhan Ridge walk

Saturday night, I joined Colleen at Eric’s party. So, one good thing about working from hubud is getting invited to a lot of events and parties even if you don’t know someone directly. Eric’s house was beautiful and I met more interesting people there (shout out to Gabriel, the serial entrepreneur who has lived and worked even from Alaska!, Prof Rachael who is gathering some material on digital nomads and might interview me) and celebrated Mose’s bday party too. Sunday was more chilled but Colleen graciously invited me to tea at her place. Looking at her place makes me hopeful about life. This is the kind of place humans should live and not those rathole apartments in the cities. There were flooded rice fields in front and jungle at the side. Her cottage is more beautiful than many resorts I have seen. She told me that she follows minimalism and owns very few things. I hear you Colleen, I totally do. Her swimming pool is out of this world! I am so happy for her.

Beautiful places to live in Ubud
Beautiful places to live in Ubud

Anyway, I do also meet the cute Emily at the tea. Somehow the conversation veers to cuddle parties (yeah apparently that’s a thing!), visa extension in Bali, polyamory and topics that I would probably never hear of in India. But at the end of day, one thing is universal – relationships and one’s eternal longing for love. What I am amazed at how fluid people are here. Everyone is going in and out of places, more living in the moment and laughing.

Oh, and I also discovered that I really like Kafe Ubud which is quite close from my room. I love sitting on a low table there and writing. I have spent many a lunches/dinners there writing the book. One day, I ordered the Asian Curry noodles and was delighted when a maggi like dish came up. Yes, it was delicious! I am liking the Balinese food, there are lot of veggie options.

Balinese food
Balinese food