Life, right now

Because the universe is showing us that it holds all the cards, once again

I am not better than you because of my religion, colour, culture, education, status, wealth, etc.
I am not, and neither are you.
I must accept, and so should you, that there are differences between us that we were born into.
Why do we focus on these differences?
Put your hand in mine and let us accept that our differences should not come in the way of us uniting for the basic human values that we share: compassion, peacefulness, respect, honesty, innocence, humbleness and sympathy.
Does a baby born here smile differently from a baby born anywhere else in the world?
Do they cry any differently?
We may not speak the same language and we may not live the same lifestyles, but a smile I put on my face when I see you puts a smile on your face before you can even think of it.
NOW, THAT IS POWERFUL.
I hope that every sense of arrogance or greed in my heart is deviated to a sense of humility, so the wall of ignorance to the real issues in the world can be shattered by the common rights that I share with all of my brothers and sisters in humanity.

Najwa Zebian, ‘Mind Platter’

My Two Pennies:

These words aren’t mine, but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve borrowed the expression, but there is honesty in the thought.
I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again.
You’ve heard it multiple times, and we aren’t close to being done.
The times are hard, for all of us.
It will get worse before it begins to look better; that’s a fact.
The faster we absorb it, the smoother the sail shall be.
After all, it is a time of survival and not war.



It is a time of survival and not war.
Let us try to be considerate of the ones around us.
Let us show that we are really worthy of being at the top of the pyramid.
Let us revise our kindergarten lessons of morals and humanity.
Let us do so without malice and hidden agendas.
Let us not try to out smart anyone…
Because the universe is showing us that it holds all the cards, once again.

THEY, THE TEACHERS!

They are the world!

When the entire world celebrates teachers, I’ve decide to acknowledge and thank my constant teachers.
They don’t bare the title, they play the role. They are unrecognised, they are essential. There are no specific subjects and specialisations but they have all contributed in one way or another.

They taught me that age does not always decide the role.
They taught me that respect cannot be demanded- one has to earn it (age and relationship no bar).
They showed me that just because someone thinks differently than you, doesn’t always mean that either one of you is wrong.
They have respected my space when I wanted to stay alone without confusing me for a lonely person and forced their company upon me when they sensed my loneliness… the difference between being alone and being lonely makes a world of a difference.
They showed me that self worth must not come from grades, qualifications, pay cheques, material possessions, but from within.
They made me realise that forgiving is not easy but it isn’t impossible either.
They have shown me that learning has no age.
They taught me that sometimes proving to be the smartest in the room is the dumbest thing to do as you could be hurting someone with your ignorance of them.
They showed me that being sensitive is a strength and not a weakness, only if you believe it.
They taught me that being caring and understanding of others is a talent in itself and takes practice to become instinctive.
They taught me that it requires strength to say Yes or No, it requires smarts to choose between them and it takes courage to live up to the decision.
They made me realise that nature and our surroundings are our best teachers, only if we’re paying attention and filtering the noise actively.
They taught me that in a fix between two people of different age groups, there are no hard and fast rules regarding who initiates a solution. It is always the one with intent that goes first.
They showed me that the world doesn’t revolve around me and it is better that way.
They taught me that no problem is unique to only me, someone somewhere has been and is going through it with me.
They taught me that the physical distance has no capacity to put distance between two hearts. They will continue to stay connected irrespective of the time zones, with effort and trust.
They taught me that diversity is just that- diverse. Not everything is good or bad, worth or worthless.
They showed me that most priceless things are qualitative and cannot be en-cashed.
They taught me that food feeds your stomach, money feeds your ego and Travel feeds your soul- and we need ALL of them. 

On a daily basis I don’t show gratitude to their contribution as I’m busy in my quest to conquer everything else. 
They are the wheels to my chariot, often un-noticed but the essence of my functioning. They usually come in as small blessings when I am least expecting them and leave with no charade, with no claim for applause.

Who are they, you wonder?

Even I don’t know for sure. 
They are my family members. They are my friends. They are strangers on a street. They are my colleagues. They are the house help. They are bystanders.
They are the world!

Responsible Travel

For a few days or a good portion of your lifetime, if you’re spending time somewhere, then at that point in your life that place is Home!
And taking responsibility for your home is only fair.

Before we dive into this one, I thought I should ask you a few quick questions-
1. Do you like to travel?
2. Have you ever moved around (for work or leisure, for short or long term)?
3. Do you think the world is a beautiful place, full of surprises?
4. Do you take responsibility for your surroundings?

Now that you know your answers, lets talk about the most amazing teacher that the universe has offered us and how we can begin or continue to show it our utmost respect!
The chance to experience life from different perspectives teaches us things that most libraries fail to. To witness cultures different from ones own, makes us more accepting than any diploma. A rendezvous with a heterogenous crowd is sometimes all the spiritual awakening needed.

As promised to myself earlier, I asked for insights and help from people around me and I’ve had the most absorbing learning experience. To hear someone passionately talk about things close to their heart rubs off a certain sense of high even on its audience and that’s exactly how I felt. Be it scaling mountains, finding off-beat locations, swimming around the corals or creating experiences… it has been intoxicating.
While my three points of contact had me giddy with the information and the imageries they painted, I’ve tried to summarise and make a list of things that they couldn’t stress enough and are simple to practice.

I got in touch with each one of them individually and they have re-affirmed my approach towards travel and tourism. To me, travel is when I visit a place and let the place submerge me into itself, from the folks to the lores, its economy and cuisines, all of it. Travel lacks the fear of missing out, which for me is usually associated with tourism; the need to finish my checklist of places-to-visit, not necessarily taking the chance to truly enjoy it. (1)

Before I start with their insights, let me list the 7 outdoor ethics that the world should live by.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
3. Dispose of waste property
4. Leave what you find
5. Minimize campfire impacts
6. Respect wildlife
7. Be considerate of other visitors
These pointers form the framework of responsibility and remain universal. These are further explained in detail by Leave No Trace; an organisation that is working towards sustaining the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy the nature responsibly.

Moving on, here are the super obvious seeming things that most of us could easily over look while planning the next getaway, but should not. Things that were suggested by these super amazing travellers, and I know I’m going to adopt as a practice in my travels and life in general.
1. Research. Research. Research. Know the rules and laws of the land that you’re visiting. Acquaint yourself with their culture and practices so as to not offend anyone. Know the climatic swings and the culture sensitive points.
2. Travel Insurance. Its always better to be safe and protected.
3. Maps! Network and connectivity over mobile data could restrict you from exploring isolated spaces, but these will keep you from being lost.
4. Eat, Stay and Shop Local. The best way to support a community and enjoy it to the fullest is by being a part of it.
5. Do Not Feed Wild Animals
6. Carry your waste with you. If you cannot find a waste bin/basket on-site, then carry it with you until you reach one; plastic, cigarette buds, food leftovers, packaging wastes, etc.
7. Bring Reusable Bags. They are always handy and do not occupy space in your luggage.
8. Skip Straws and Single Use Plastic Water bottles. Use a water purifying system as and when possible.
9. DO NOT LITTER. Even if the locals do, and should goes without reason.
10. Lights Out. Everytime you leave a premise make sure to switch the lights off and other appliances, and try to use electricity mindfully.
11. Use Public Transport or Carpool. You never know which interesting story you might hear or become a part of!
12. Conserve Water.

TRAVEL FUN FACTS…. because, what better way to prove the above point!
Driving without your headlights on is illegal in Denmark, even during the day time.
It is illegal to spit in Barcelona.
Eating during Ramadan when in UAE is illegal.
You cannot frown in Milan.

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Much love and power to Mountaineerz, Wandermile and The Lume Weaver for being my points of contact, source of information and sharing their insights.

The picture is by Prakritee Sandilya, thank you love!!