10 profound reflections from 3 months of travel

Now that I am back from 88 days of travel, this is the ultimate post, rather a note to myself, of the 10 most profound moments and lessons I learned!

1. Mind can be tricked into feeling happy – I was at a palatial Balinese villa full of people moving in gravity defying ecstatic dance. It was my first weekend and the feeling of comfort had not yet arrived. I was missing my friends at that party. That is when I told myself I am going to enjoy this place and moment all by myself. I started smiling (began with no reason but soon the reasons followed), dancing because hell! no one I know is around to watch anyway, and began hanging out with people around me. From that day, I have consciously made myself happy (not waiting to let it come to me on its own) at many instances and it works! So – go and make yourself happy, you do not need any reason, person or place.


2. What block? – My second novel was lying dead since nearly 2 years. I meet Jim at Hubud and he invites me to a writeathon. Write without thinking for 2 sprints of 45 min each. Since that day, writer’s block gone. Force yourself to act when it doesn’t come naturally and creativity shall follow. I am sure it can apply to many other things as well.


3. Remind yourself how awesome you are – I was discussing my business in front of a group of entrepreneurs to pick their brains on how to grow it. And at the whiteboard when I was running numbers and telling them my results, I suddenly felt so proud of what I had built. And I could see it in the way people reacted to as well. That is when I thought, how can I doubt myself? Why do we seek approval from others? Just start counting the good things you have done and believe in yourself. Nobody else matters.


4. Let go – At the water priestess ritual when I was drowning in middle of the courtyard, the priestess asked me to let go of residual feelings and emotions. I did not know if anything happened but I do know that I have not felt anger the way I did ever since. That is probably too tall a claim but perhaps the act subconsciously tricked my brain into believing that my baggage is gone. Either way, I am happy about it. Even if you may not have a water temple or priest around, close your eyes, stomp your feet, cry out if you have to and let go of your negative feelings from the past.


5. Be spontaneous – I kept meeting awesome people in Bali or because that I had opened myself up to others, I was attracting good intentioned people. I was growing and feeling happier. With only few days left in Bali, I knew I had not gotten the most of my trip yet. It is just the beginning, something told me. I don’t know what exactly triggered it but a point came when I knew I had to be back here for my own sake. Fuck the flight ticket, I can figure out extra money etc. I felt a need to be back and I responded to it.


6. Fear is a figment of your mind – For past few years, I had become more fearful of those roller coaster rides (age factor, huh?). As we were staring at the big Battlestar Galactica: Cyclon ride that looked awful even from the ground below, I was terrified. But from there till the queue, I was thinking of the scary decisions I have made in life and wondered what can a ride be compared to those. What is fear of the ride anyway? All the components in it are predictable. You know the deep fall is coming, so why be afraid? As I broke down the ride into logical parts in my brain, it felt less scary. And as I sat down and the car started moving up the slope, I told myself – there is the fall, we know how it feels, lets enjoy the adrenaline rush instead. And I did. Instead of closing my eyes as I normally do, I kept them open, watched the whole ride consciously and it did not feel scary at all. In fact, I ran back into the line again and did it another time. It was fun.


7. Be patient – I had walked 3 km and been riding the bicycle for five km on the East Coast Park, Singapore and had forgotten to carry the water bottle. I kept waiting for the water fountain somewhere but nope, nothing. I did not want to go back to the starting point. The sun was rising and it was already pretty hot. Somehow, I was patient and kind to myself. And at that point, I had a strong feeling that a solution is going to present itself. Particularly, I felt that I am going to find a water fountain. I kept riding and within five minutes, there was a water fountain by my side. It was the only fountain in whole track. Sounds bizarre but it did happen. Listen to your inner voice and you will find the water 🙂


8. Tell people you love them – It was my father’s birthday when I was back in Bali. I have always been close to him and yet, had forgotten how to express my love or gratitude. Now, as with most Indian families, my family is shy when it comes to expressing too. So, we just smile politely, say things diplomatically and then burst out once in a while. I was missing my Dad and instead of the usual HB that I would have said, I sent a message telling him that I feel lucky to be his daughter (no, not publicly on fb!). Might be the smallest thing that I have ignored for too long. It felt really good to convey it.


9.  Don’t stop learning – Not being able to swim has not bothered me as such but I know I am missing out on something amazing and useful. After taking a dip in the pool in Singapore with my cousins, I decided to give it a serious try in Bali. I asked my roommate to help me and she did! Now, I may not have advanced barring the trivial floating on the edge but it is a start. I realize it is all psychological at this stage and I hope I can overcome those flight instincts that makes you panic and lose control of breath. Making a choice to go into the pool has given me faith that I can learn anything I want to. And that it is never too late to begin 🙂


10. Celebrate – Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone gifted you flowers or a book? Of course, it would be. But why wait? Why not go and gift those to yourself? Yes, feel thankful for the lovely person that you are. I was proud of my journey in these last 88 days traveling Bali and Singapore on my own. I wanted to celebrate and I went and gifted myself a beautiful dress. I did not need it, I just wanted to buy myself a present because I deserved it. That’s one less thing I wish from the world now 🙂


And a bonus one!

11. It’s all about people – My whole journey has been about people I met, people I was away from and people I am about to meet. Always the people 🙂



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

image3 (1)

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