The scary ride called 2016

I possibly could not have envisioned 2016 to unfold the way it did – meandering in its complexity, perplexing me with difficult shots to call, alarming me with fears that I had been nursing but, in the end, mirroring the courage with which I have aways hit back when going gets tough. It has been the culmination of all that I have aspired to through a toiling journey inwards. Oh, and it has been hell at times. Believe me.

This entry is more for me, because face it, you don’t know me. You don’t even know yourself, do you? And if you are smiling at this statement that I have made, perhaps you know what I am talking about. Do you ask yourself what are you afraid of? Have you introspected why you made certain decisions? We don’t normally because we are not required to. Unless the pain cracks you open. The inner unhappiness becomes too loud to ignore. And once you start heeding your inner voices, they show you the mess you are carrying inside. But, as the veil lifts from this mess, you eventually get to be aware. And that awareness is enough. That is where the light starts. This light will guide you to your own golden place. It is like a secret chamber made just for you. Your chamber might look very different from mine. That peace and silence are yours to find.

Now, I can write a fluff blog describing the hundreds of travels I did (and I can show off!) and some success stories. I can boast of what an amazing year it has been. But I don’t want to. I want to share the real joy I have found which has nothing to do directly with partying on the beautiful white sand beaches in Koh, Thailand (I did that), floating on a houseboat in Kashmir (I did), seeing the night fall over Udaipur palace (yep), chanting at 5 am dawn fire in Auroville (seriously beautiful), meeting a fascinating teacher and inspiring people in the hills of Himachal (I did), going crazy in Bali (did, did), roaming around Singapore (yep), or taking a family trip back to our ancestral home in Panna. Ok yes, little enviable details do help! But in a way, all these did put me in situations which kept my inner journey on. It is less about where you are than who you are and what you see.

  • Solo trips told me that I had settled in my comfort zones and it was awkward opening my heart to strangers and experiences. I pushed and these strangers turned into lifetime friends and mentors.
  • They taught me to be comfortable in my skin, in my beliefs, not succumb to live someone else’s life. I shared my voice more fearlessly and got some articles published on leading places such as Entrepreneur, DailyO, Tribune, DNA, EduTimes etc. Frankly, I could never have imagined this a year ago.
  • I realized I had been taking things and people for granted. Some books changed my perspective and perhaps transformed me for life (esp Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC books). The joy came through reconnecting to age old friends or cousins, or even your own parents. I noticed that I started listening more, feeling more what the other person is saying and going through. A strange feeling of ‘oneness’ took over. I realized that you cannot love one person unless you love everyone. There is no special love. I find empathy to be a much better word than love these days.
  • I smile more often because I appreciate what I have. Such a horribly cliched sentence but it is what it is.
  • And I got a tattoo which read ‘no fear’ in April. The moment I saw the design, I knew it was the one. Little did I know that I was about to witness it so closely in the months to come.

Sorry, it is all too much in the surface but the fact is my experience is mine and you cannot learn from it. Just like you cannot learn swimming by watching YouTube (yep, I tried!), you cannot grow from my journey. You have to find your own. And the first step is to look inwards, know yourself and help yourself in conquering the fears you have harbored, work towards the happiness you seek and eliminate the causes of pain. Ha! How simple. I wish it was.

Now, let me see – did I fulfill any resolution from year before? I think I was wise enough to not make resolutions but I did expect that I would create some voodoo magic in my business – I did not. It grew and I got loving students and that is happier than if had I scaled crazily compromising on the experience I was creating (sour grapes?). I did not attain some unbelievable success. I am still an unknown writer and entrepreneur. But I think it’s okay. I mean I am fine with it. I feel more complete than I have ever before.

So that is what 2016 was for me. It was a fire that transformed, a bitter pill that had to be taken to come out of the coma, a splash of cold water on your face early in the morning, a point of no return.

One advice – have faith.

One lesson learned – all that matters is your growth. Anything that will keep you away from your growth will make you miserable. Find it, change it – keep growing. There is no substitute for inner growth.

Stop going nuts over social media. Marilyn Monroe died of drugs and people quote her on self-help matters. Thank you very much, I am fine on my own. Find out for yourself, everything out there is a marketing message. Read real books. Talk to real people.

As Mark Manson says, stop giving a f*** about stupid things in life. Go, live. Do.

Fog is out there. Truth is out there. Discern.
  

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
NT2
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
  

Bali Diary 3: Local Rituals

Are we not always on a journey? It can be external too, but internal it always is. Where it leads is something time will tell.

I started this past week by reinforcing my love for my work. A business that I have nurtured from nothing to a respectable size. A book that is a part of my creative instincts. Monday morning, the Tribewanted group met and we set our focus goals for the week. I like this kind of accountability exercise in which we set out what we intend to do and then share our progress after a week. It makes you feel accountable towards your goals. Better for people with no bosses or deadlines. On Tuesday morning, we did an hour of power in which we decided one goal for that hour and did it right there. It was quite productive and we ended up by celebrating with a little dance and shout outs on the Happy song. Colleen, our coordinator is quite fun that ways. In between, I kept doing my writeathons too. And we had this great skillshare session by a British woman who runs the highly successful blog on Russian Art and Culture, which I totally loved!

Skillshare at Hubud
Skillshare at Hubud

Being productive is always such a nice feeling and I am happy the way Hubud’s environment has helped me break some lulls in my work. And I made more friends, enjoying good dinners around. It is fun seeing so many people working on sales funnels, online courses etc. I am sure I can pick some intelligence from them.

Thursday, I heard that a group is going to the water temple and I decided to join them! I even convinced Jay to join us since it was his last day before he headed back to Australia. However, after meeting the group next morning, we discovered that it is not any temple but we are going to meet a water priestess. What?? Ok, so I was confounded. But as I have decided to accept new adventures on my way, I thought why not! (Poor Jay but I thought he was okay with it in the end too). Ok, so off we went in a cab. First stop was to buy a sarong since you need to cover up before meeting a priestess. Then, we reached the priestess’s place which was a typical Balinese compound with a temple and some humble looking houses.

We did not have much clue what to expect and had only heard vague experiences from a friend. It is a form of therapy with water. Let me give you a little background, Balinese people are mostly Hindu and are big on ceremonies and rituals. But nothing like what we do in India. The language, idols and traditions are different. I had never heard of water healing, apparently there are other forms of healing too such as sound healing etc. We made our offerings and waited a long while before she came out. Then she told us that she will be praying on top of a platform and we can all meditate in the verandah below it. It was while meditating here that I realized how I have ended up here without any plans. May be this is where I belong at this moment.

After 30-45 mins of praying, she told us that the therapy will begin. We were made to stand below her seat and then the holy water pouring started. Mind you, it is not sprinkling, it is literally drowning you in pails of water. Being a non-swimmer, I was left gasping for breath. So, she chants and then drowns you in loops. She also says that you should let go of all your inner feelings, make noises or stamp your feet if you feel like. The idea is to cleanse one out of all their emotional residues. Now, it could have been a great thing for me if effective but I was more focused on catching my breaths than really thinking about any other emotions. I like the idea though, it can be a good thing to let it flow out and believe that you have released the unwanted negativities.

IMG_7985
Melukat – Water purification

I wish we were told more context in the beginning. Later, I found out that it is called Melukat and can be used to ‘release what does not serve you anymore’. Colleen told me that she loves doing it sometimes. She also told me that the priestess we went to is the youngest priestess in Bali, Ida Resi Alit – 28 years old. She went unconscious once and upon coming back, she could recite mantras she never knew before and was more knowledgeable than senior priests (see more here).

Weekend was fun, more on it in next post. Stay tuned, send your love 🙂