Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A journey - final part

That night she and Bob went to a pub that played karaoke every Thursday. It was a lively crowd and they sat getting acquainted with each other. Bob had never been married. He was American and had long retired from his army career. He owned a  sail boat and a small place by the ocean. He had no regrets he said.

"Decide on a song from the list Alanah. I would love to hear you sing."
She was going through the list offhandedly since they had been given the list. She looked up and smiled. And wrote a number to the bartender.

Now you say you're lonely
You cry the long night through
Well, you can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you

Her voice was mellifluous and carried the poignancy of the lyrics beautifully. Bob was quiet after the song.

"What happened to Pegaso?" he asked as he drove her home that night.
"Another day maybe. If we meet again." she smiled
"A man can hope," he said as he stopped at her gate and she got off and waved.

The next morning Lila arrived.

"Mom you seem distracted, are you okay?"

"Distracted, how do you mean?"

"Well for one, you have not spoken about Hazel like I thought you would."

Lila seemed upset. Alanah looked up from the plate of salad at her gorgeous daughter. Youth glowed on her face. The skin aflame, the eyes ablaze, how beautiful Lila was she thought.

"I am not talking about Hazel because I don't want to upset you more than you already are my angel,"

"No, it's something else mom, I can feel it. You would have been distraught, besides yourself, but you are not. Your mind is not even on our lunch date. You are elsewhere Mom. Talk to me," lila coaxed holding her mother's hand across the table.

"Well , if you really want to know, I have met someone," Alanah shrugged with a smile and an eye roll.

"Good for you Mom. Do you like him? Who is he, is he from these parts?"

 Alanah nodded to all the questions but kept looking down at her plate. She felt she needed time before she could really talk to her daughter about this. But Lila was excited and that was her age.

As they walked inside the house after Lunch Lila asked if she could meet Bob on this trip.
"We will see," Alanah said casually. She had not allowed herself to take it to any other level than karaoke night.

"Will you unpack the boxes in your room sweetheart and take the things that you care for. I really must sort things out and clear out unwanted junk. The boxes have been there for ages," Alanah told her daughter. They were sitting in the patio looking at the sun set over the sea.

 "Lila nodded and got up, " better late than never Mom," she smiled and went in.

It must have been a while before Lila's voice woke her up from her slumber. She had dozed off in her rocking chair on the patio.

 "Mom look what I found,"
She was holding a picture of the three of them. It was taken in this patio and everything was the same including the furniture placement. Only time had passed. Alanah looked younger than Lila was now and Lila was a baby gurgling in Pegaso's arms. It was a very happy picture.

Putting on her glasses Alanah took the picture in her hand and looked at it. She made her daughter sit beside her on the sofa and said, " I loved your dad. You know that, don't you?"

"Of course mom. You were the best thing that could have happened to him and to me."

"I still love your dad sweetheart, I always will. No matter what I choose to do in the future. "

"Mom I am surprised that you didn't like someone earlier. I am delighted for you Mom and please don't think otherwise"

"Dad left you mom. He went away to find his happiness. He chose someone over what he had with us. You deserve the same. I don't know what took you so long mom,"

Alanah laughed softly at her daughter's youthfulness, "Life is a bit more complicated than that darling, and love, well, love is a different game altogether. There is no place for spite in it. It flows in and out of your life like a river with a mind of its own. You cannot control it, only accept it when it comes knocking on your door. You will realise one day."

Bob and Alanah waved as Lila went in the airport to board her flight back to Ireland. As the airport gates closed behind Lila, Bob put his arms around the frail woman beside him and kissed her softly.

"Would you like to go sailing with me?" He asked.

"Yes," She nodded and they walked back to the car hand in hand.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A journey - part 4

"Why don't we girls take a cruise? Who all are game?"

"Hmm, sounds interesting. What month do you have in mind Carol?"

"How about next month? There is a cruise ship stopping here, we can book tickets. A month long cruise with the best luxury money can buy. Aaaah, I think it is well deserved."

"Count me out, I get terribly sea sick," said Rosa.

"Alanah why are you so quiet? something on your mind?"

It was the regular bridge and lunch date the women had at the retirement complex up the golf greens. Alanah usually enjoyed the company of her friends. Today she was occupied with thoughts of the past and the future.

"Hmm no no. I am right here with you all. What was it you were discussing? A cruise.. heavens no! I am not going on any cruise. Especially with cantankerous old ladies like you," she laughed gently and evaded the topic.

Her eyes met across their table to a man seated at the far end. He had grey hair, a weathered and swarthy tan, smoking a pipe he sat reading the newspaper. He tipped his head at her and smiled. She looked away and chided herself at being so childish. The rest of the afternoon was smooth with laughter, shared memories and some community gossip.

"Hello there, I hoped to speak to you back there,"

"Oh hello. Yes, yes, I did see you at the greens the other day,"

He smiled. It was a gentle smile not revealing much apart from white, even teeth.

" I am Bob, I am new here. I was wondering if you would be free to have lunch with me?"

Alanah looked at her watch, "Oh hi Bob, I am Alanah. Uhmm it is time for lunch, why not," she said.

He laughed a hearty infectious laugh, " No, no. I didn't mean now. I will ask you out properly. This is no way. Give me your number, I will call you,"

A bit taken aback, a bit flushed, she felt also a bit foolish. Yet the laughter pulled her and she decided to get into the game. "Do you have a pen?"

"No, but I have a great memory,"

"Well then, here goes, 99-563-8435"

"I will call you," said he as he drove past.

She smiled and entered the supermarket for her weekly groceries.

It had been fifteen years since she had been out with a man. She had not missed the company. The initial years she was busy with the upkeep of the garage and Lila was young as well. She had her hands and mind full and the hours in the day seemed less. But now things were different.

She had sold the pump to a good price and invested the money wisely. Lila had a life of her own. The days were long but she prided in sticking to a routine and kept herself physically and mentally occupied. She had her garden, her friends and most importantly, she had Hazel. The thought of the dog made her sad. Hazel was not keeping well at all. She would have to take her to the vet and put her to sleep. Alanah was preparing to mourn again, to say goodbye.

She put on a record that evening. She had forgotten how well she sang and how much she loved music. With Pegaso at home, music was never far. There was always a record playing, or he teaching the Ukulele to Lila. She missed it, she thought now. With her wine she sat in her kitchen going through the old pictures. Hazel sat on the rug, eyes closed, laboured breath. She would miss her pitter-patter steps down the stairs, following her around the house, getting the newspaper, her snores on her bed, her warm coat and her soft breath. She continued to look at the album and she let herself get lost in those faraway memories.

The ring of the phone startled her. She looked at the watch, it was 8 in the evening.

"Hello," she greeted, keeping her voice steady.

"Hi Alalanah, this is Natalie from the vet clinic. Have you decided yet? I am sorry to rush you like this, but the more she stays, the difficult it will get for her. I hope you understand,"

"Oh yes of course, Natalie. I am sorry, I did mean to give you a call today, I guess I have been evading this. Uhmm, I will bring her in tomorrow, is that okay? One more night with my Hazel"

"Yes of course. I will set things up for 9 tomorrow morning. I am sorry Alanah. Goodnight."

She put down the receiver, closed the album, checked the doors, switched off the lights and slowly walked up the stairs with Hazel. That night, after many years, Hazel put her head on her lap. She had stopped doing this since she was a pup. Alanah was awake most of the night, talking to Hazel, telling her about the wonderful new place she would be going to.

She woke with a start, it was just before 6 in the morning, her alarm had not set off yet. She must have slept off. She looked around her. "Hazel, Hazel" she called out gently. Getting out of her bed she walked down the stairs still calling out for her.

Hazel lay by the door, alone. she didn't move, didn't look, just lay there with her breath coming in spurts.

She was a big dog to carry, but Alanah managed. While driving to the clinic she called Natalie. They were ready for her when she reached. She got time alone with Hazel to say her final goodbye and then they injected her to ease all pain.

It was a totally empty house Alanah came back to. She put down her keys, her sunglasses and her bottle of water on the table top near her front door. She removed her coat and hung it and all the time her ears were alert to the footfalls of an eager pup who ran to welcome her in , familiar to the homecoming sounds. She took the small, ornate box of ashes that she had got back from the crematorium and put it up on the mantle next to the family pictures. Hazel would stay there from now. She must call Lila and let her know, but not yet. Let her have some more time.

It was then that the phone rang. She looked at the time, it was 9.

"Hello Alanah, Bob here. I did remember your number," He laughed a soft laugh.

to be continued...

Monday, October 19, 2015

A journey - part 3

She had let go of her country and her family, but she could not let go of her penchant for Irish stews. Every night whatever be the weather, she made a pot of stew. It brought back memories of her mother and cold Irish nights. She sat outside with her dinner, the courtyard looking out to the sea with fairy lights twinkling on the fence. On nights like these Pegaso didn't seem gone. She missed his salad of potatoes and feta that complimented her stew so well. She missed his dark tan, unruly black curls and his broad, unlined face. 

Alanah had been happy in her marriage. Pegaso was not lazy like his other friends. He did not waste time at the local bars. He had his moods, but he also had his endearing ways. He loved to sing, he played the ukulele to Alanah often, he cooked for her whenever she was over-worked, and he was patient with her on nights that she cried for her parents and family back in Ashbourne. He loved to play with her long red hair, arrange bluebells in them, braid and un-braid them till he was asked to stop lest they got tangled. 

Events had shaped her life throughout. Some she had an active hand in, others she stumbled upon. After six years of leaving Ireland, Lila was born. It had been a very difficult pregnancy. Even the birth of their grand daughter had not been able to soften her parents stand. It had been a busy time, but a happy one. 

The ring of the telephone broke Alanah's reverie. 
"Hello, mum. Where have you been? I left so many messages for you. You did not call back. Are you okay? I got worried"
"Oh Lila, yes of course, sorry, I just forgot...."
"Oh well, so is it okay if I come to visit? I umm need to book the dates"
"Yes, yes, it is. Please do come. It has been a while since you visited darling."
"Okay mum, see you soon. Did I interrupt your dinner?"
"Not really sweetie, I was done. See you soon."
"Well then nighty night"
"Good night darling."

She smiled as she put down the receiver. Who would have thought that Lila would choose to live and work in Ireland, a few hours away from the street she was born and raised in. She listened to
the radio as she tidied up the kitchen. Taking a glass of wine she slowly walked up the stairs to her bedroom. Hazel followed a step behind. The window of her bedroom overlooked their garage and pumping station. It stood proud, a testimony of her hard work and determination and also sadly the venue of another defining event of her life. But today she would not think sad thoughts.

Alanah opened the book to where she had left off last and patted hazel. She perched her reading glasses over her nose, sipped from her glass and started to read.

to be continued...

Friday, October 16, 2015

A journey - part2

The house was silent except for Hazel snoring. The early morning light filled the window frame and the sea glinted blue at a distance. The alarm buzzed like always, it was 6 am. Alanah woke up and patted hazel, "Did you sleep better last night?" she asked the dog. Hazel was getting on in years and slept uneasy mostly.

Climbing out of the bed, Alanah pulled a cardigan over her  shoulders and knotting her hair she stood at her window looking out at the blue bell sea. It never failed to take her breath away. She had lived a lifetime beside it. Hazel followed her down the stairs to the kitchen. she let her out and put on the kettle. The phone was blinking and she switched on the voice mail to check for messages.

"Hi Ma, I was wondering if it was okay, umm, if I came home for a couple of days? I got a free ticket against my frequent flier miles and umm thought of using it to come and visit you. Will Tuesday be fine? lemme know okay.. bbbyee"

Alanah smiled and went to the patio with her tea. She had always loved the mornings. Her days started early and the freshness of the flowers and the view of a beautiful new day being born cheered her up. Lila would be thirty soon. Gorgeous Lila with her clear blue eyes and dark hair, so different from her own. Putting down her cup she rose to start her walk and Hazel followed. Both lived a life of solitude and routine. They had come a long way together. Steady steps downhill to the town, a woman of sixty with more salt than pepper in her wild mane carefully tucked under a sun hat now and a Labrador retriever of 12 with painful joints but an eager heart. The quaint island of Lipsi stretched out languorously in front.

"Hey there, I knew I would catch you around here," waved Rosa,"will you come for the event tonight at the club?" she panted walking towards her friend, " Carol and Lucy will be there too, it will be so much fun. I just can't wait myself."

"What event," smiled Alanah, "oh, you don't mean the twenty second dating game do you? For heaven's sake Rosa spare me."

"And why would I do that? It is fun, it is called socialising. We meet men who are our age, we chat and heaven knows, we might come across one that we want to talk to for more than twenty seconds. What is the harm in that?"

"No harm, no harm. Just leave me out of it please, will you. I will see you girls for our regular bridge session. You can fill me on the juicy details then," Alanah smiled with a twinkle in her eyes as she patted her friend's hand and walked on.

Life had not been easy, but it had given her enough. She was not searching for anything anymore. She was at peace with her existence. "I must not forget to call Lila," she reminded herself. Hazel followed her at a much slower pace and she had to wait once in a while to prod the dog along with her gentle words. She remembered the day Lila brought her in, a few weeks old ball of fluff that blinked at her with her toffee coloured eyes. They had bonded instantly.

It would be extremely difficult to part with her, but as the vet kept telling her, it would be soon now. She must be prepared to let go. She smiled at the thought. letting go, she should be an expert by now on that. She felt a oneness with the island she lived on. Like the cruise ships that came and left its shores, so had people come and gone in her life. She had loved and she had let go.

Starting with her parents back in Ireland and of course her sisters. She had tried for many years to keep in touch, sending them pictures and letters along with her monthly payback of the money borrowed. She had never received a reply. Her brow creased as she thought of her father having left the world without giving her a chance to say goodbye. Her mother had been kinder, she had spoken over the telephone with her, though in short, hesitant tones. It was the only call she received from Ireland in all the years and soon after her mother had passed away too.

At a distance she saw the greens of the retirement home and the adjoining club. She smiled at the thought of her friends and their excitement about the event tonight. "Was it possible to love again, the same way that you did the first time?" she asked herself, "Was it possible to see Pegaso in some other man? To hear the tunes of his flute, to see the crinkle of his eyes, the dimple in his chin? Would the flowers always be blue bells? Would he know that she liked her tea with a bit of lemon and no sugar? Was there time to find out anymore?"

"Come Hazel, time to go back home"
The word home always made the dog trot a little quicker, her eyes gave the toffee twinkle and her mouth broadened into the sweetest grin ever. Yes home was a joyful word.

to be continued

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A journey - part 1

The room on the first floor was her favourite. It was always warm and smelt of books and memories.

“Alanah,” her mamma called from the kitchen, “come on down now lassie, you will be late.”

She collected her things and swept another look at the room, taming her wild, red hair into a presentable form, she flew down the narrow steps to the kitchen for breakfast. The others were already halfway through the first meal of the day.

“Late again, my little one,” smiled her father, “now you will hurry with your porridge and leave it unfinished.”

“Look at all your friends, this summer they have all shot up and filled out. And look at you- all that is getting any nourishment is your hair,” said her mother from the counter packing apples and bread for her children’s lunch.

“Rapunzel,” teased her siblings. She had two older sisters.

The little town of Ashbourne was where the O’Rourkes lived, a regular, religious, working class Irish family. The usual banter of the morning always had Alanah taking part with witty repartees but things were a bit different now.  She had met Pegaso. He was from beyond the land of her text books. He was from Greece. Tall, dark and unimaginably handsome, Pegaso was foreign to her part of the world. The mystery along with his looks was intoxicating.

Pegaso worked at the nearby garage. She saw him every day on her way to school. He was exciting, nothing like the boys in her class and he always had a ready smile for her. One day as she passed the garage, he stood there with a bunch of wild flowers.

“For you pretty girl,” he said in a faraway accent.

Unsure of herself and conscious of her friends, Alanah walked away without a backward glance. Evening saw those flowers on her doorstep, a sweet reminder of the morning. His words played on and on in her mind as she helped her mother set the dinner table, as she studied, as she sat listening to her father talk about his day. Never once did the smile or the blush of her fair skin abandon her.

There was nothing much that interested her since then. Her world started spinning around the morning smiles. She hoped to have a lone chance meeting with this stranger, but never once did her cackling friends leave her side.

“I am running late today, you all carry on, won’t you? Will meet you later’” almost begged Alanah to her friends
“It’s alright lovely; take your time, it’s just school we have to go to, not a party. There’s no hurry,” said her friends.
With a sigh and a grunt she met them for her walk to the school. Love can be many things, it can affect the young heart in many ways, but it is always beautiful in its first tentative steps. And so it was for Alanah.

On days she saw him cycling behind her, at a safe distance. On certain nights if she looked out of her window she spotted him looking up at her. She often imagined a meeting with him. She thought about all the things they would tell each other. She wanted to know so much about him and yet it never happened and she didn’t know how to arrange a meeting with this mysteriously beautiful man.
 Irish winters are known to be mild. But that year the nights turned icy. It had been quite a few days that Alanah had not seen him. She was worried. Had he left? Was he ill? She could not stop thinking. On a cold, dreary night Alanah gathered her billowing skirt and her courage and swept across the streets from her home with a blanket tugged under her arm. She reached the garage and knocked at the side door with a drum beating in her heart. The door opened and Pegaso filled its frame.

He smiled, a lop-sided grin that crinkled his eyes and she was at a loss of words. Her imagination left her. Holding onto the blanket she stood there; a funny, little picture.

 “What have you here little woman?” asked the strange accent. “Come on in, let me make you a cup-o-tea, its cold out there,” the voice continued.
 Alanah managed a shy smile and thrust the blanket towards him and ran into the darkness, her hair a halo behind her.

Unknown to her, life had taken a turn that night. She would grow with this, she would learn, she would travel outward and deep inside, she would gain, she would lose, she would reach her core and grow again. She did not know all this then. She was not even 18. Her pale cheeks had a glow in them. Her eyes shone like emeralds and her hair carried the spring of Ireland in them while her heart carried the love of a stranger.

Spring turned to summer and before she knew it, the school finals were looming in front of her. At times when you love someone, you distance yourself from every other relationship. It’s sad, but it happens. Love can be selfish in its naiveté, love can be ruthless in its single mindedness and love can be foolish in its blindness. Alanah had set her mind on travelling with Pegaso to Greece. Exams were not on her list at all. Her friends tried to talk her out of this, but to no avail. She fought with her mother. Her father was quiet, ashamed that his offspring could betray his trust in such a manner. He distanced himself from Alanah. It hurt her to see this and yet she continued.

“What is Greece like? Is it as beautiful as Ashbourne?” asked Alanah one day.
“It is like the bluebells I pick for you,” said he as he clipped one on her hair “Like the sky of the summer afternoons here”
A dream was being spun on a spindle with blue and white yarn. Alanah was determined to start her life in Greece.

Every evening at 7:30 a bus left for Belfast. The summer of 1970 saw Pegaso and Alanah take that bus out of Ashbourne. He had a small case, he gathered no moss. Alannah had a big bag plus a case. She had taken all the money her father, a school teacher, had saved for her university education and marriage. She would return them, of course, as soon as Pegaso's petrol pump became a success in Lipsi, the island in Greece he called home. The island that would be home to Alanah much more than Ashbourne ever was. Her friends and also her sisters had come to see her off that day; they gave her cakes and sweets for the journey and wished her well.  Her journey began the summer she turned eighteen.

 To be continued

Friday, October 9, 2015

Raising hell

Being a teenager is hard they say, but nothing is harder than being the parent of a teenager. The angelic kid of yesterday now has horns like prickly pears and skin that breaks out into a rash every time I enter her domain. I feel like I am constantly looping in the wheel of her rejection, neglect, or artful critique. Let me add, being pushed away is only the half of it. Raising teenagers becomes that much more stressful and confounding when teenagers interrupt weeks of frostiness with moments of intense warmth and intimacy.

It goes something like this. My daughter gets so busy with her friends, schoolwork and activities that I hardly see her for days. When I do connect, it’s only because I’ve cornered her to run an errand, which she does with an eye roll and a sigh or she has recruited my help with what might literally be a thankless task. Then something knocks her off balance – a run-in with a friend, an unexpected defeat – and she comes in close. Like a swimmer grasping for the edge of the pool after a rough lap, she clings to catch her breath. Bonding supplants eye-rolling, and she shares details about her trying day instead of the usual one-word report. She entertains my advice and may even throw in some gossip. I touch her hair tentatively to feel her horns; they surprise me with their purr. It feels like a dream, almost sinful. She is listening to my words of wisdom and drawing comfort from my physical presence, yes, totally sinful.

Then she pushes me away, hard. She has her breath back and wants to return to the water, her world away from me, and she gets there by pushing off the side of the pool. She might pick the dumbest-fight-ever or criticize me in her sarcastic best (almost gold medal worthy, if there was a competition), or abruptly walk away mid conversation. I might still be stretching in my glorious and sinful dream but she needs to push away as soon as she is restored. To linger feels babyish, which is just about the last thing any normally developing teenager wants to feel.

I sulk, throw a fit, behave like a teenager and slam a few doors. I ignore her and praise the son; over feed the dogs, have conversations with my husband, I do it all and then some more. I muse on becoming unavailable to her during her need. “Why am I doing this to myself,” I ask, “Let her notice my absence, let her want for my company. But being unavailable comes at a cost. Do I really want to miss out on some wonderful, if brief, moments with my daughter? Worse, should she be left without a wall to swim to and have to navigate choppy waters all on her own? I can obtain a measure of protection by readying myself for the kick that will certainly come. When it does, I can strive to be the adult and say, “Hey, that’s not nice”.

I’ve heard exasperated parents refer to their teenagers as “toddlers on hormones”. Nothing seems more difficult than coping with adolescents who are trying to liberate themselves. It tests the strongest of us, even on good days.

With my daughter’s horn changing shade and texture every month, I am set now to see my son grow his own pair of stubbly horns. Is the second time around easier? Will I be more prepared, more accepting perhaps?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Up, up and away...

The photographs are courtesy my husband, Sanjoy. An avid traveller, he also takes pictures as a hobby. These are his thoughts penned by me.

People don’t do this where I come from. They don’t go backpacking around South East Asia and they don’t go chasing lost civilisations across the atlas. The reasons for this are many and complex, to sum it up it is simply not in our culture.
The photographer at Huen Tsang Temple. Sun Moon Lake, Nantou District, Taiwan

I have been living away from home for far too long and the novelty, maybe, of luxurious resorts and touristy locales have lost their charm to me. I wish I could say I did everything I ever wanted to do, but that would be untrue. I only got to fulfil a small fraction of the dreams I held, and in an ironic way, it seems that as I go about ticking things off my ‘bucket’ list, I add up more and more at its end. It is wonderfully addictive, in a very fulfilling, worthwhile sort of way! And although my ‘bucket list’ is now, four years later, much longer than when I started, that is because such experiences change you in your very core, teach you things about yourself, your abilities and desires you had no way of ever knowing before. I consider myself privileged and feel extremely thankful for everything that led me to the eye-opening experiences I had, the people I met and all the marvellously diverse things I learnt from them.

A photograph captures not only a snapshot in its best light, but it also captures memories of the grains that come off the temple walls on my fingertips as I trace the etchings, the Buddha face, the teeth of the Guardian Lion, how hot the sun felt as I climbed the steep and uneven rocks to capture a sunset. A photograph is all of that and more.

Apsara dance at Seam Reap, Cambodia

The exquisite ancient sites litter our planet like treasure maps to our past. Be it the relics of temples on the Nile or in forests of Cambodia, their artworks, architecture and artefacts remind us about our humanity as well as our mortality. One of my personal favourites among the lost cities that I have travelled to is Petra in Jordan. This desert city flourished on frankincense, myrrh and spices until an earthquake destroyed its water system. It was lost to Western knowledge for 1000 years. Petra's architectural mix of Roman, Greek and native Nabatean buildings are carved into the hillside's red rock.

Hindu mythology on the walls of Angkor Bhat, Seam Reap, Cambodia

Ruins of Luxor, Egypt

Facing history at Petra, Jordan

One of the pleasures of my travel is meeting people and getting acquainted with different cultures. Many are alarmed by some of the countries I have visited. They only hear negative stories and stereotypes perpetuated by the mainstream media. And so, it bears repeating: traveling illustrates the inherent kindness in the world. Yes there are dangers out there, but the friends I met these past four years have welcomed me into their homes, and generously offered their time to share a piece of their culture with me. When I take candid shots of people from various cities of the world, they remind me of the generous hospitality I received in that country.

The tattoo guy of Vigan City, Phillipines

Walk on the Great Wall, Beijing, China

The Terminal, Subarnabhoomi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

Early morning at Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

Architectural wonder, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abudhabi

Supervision, old lady, Vigan City, Phillipines

Last but not the least; travel is not complete without the wonder of architectural splendour. Each country offers a variety of landmark monuments steeped in rich cultural heritage and also in trend setting modernity. From the mosques of the mid-eastern countries depicting the geometrical symmetry of Islamic architecture to the Zen like minimalism of clean lines and monochromes of modern buildings, travel shows us all.
Rolling hills of Batan island, Batanes, Phillipinesiew from the top, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Misty morning at Sun Moon LAke, Nantou district, Taiwan

Rolling hills of Batan island, Batanes, Phillipines

Travelling has taught me to respect how different our lives can be, but even more the shared commonalities. Travel made me look at each new conversation and experience as a chance to learn something new and carry home a nugget of wisdom or a nuance of culture from foreign shores.

Traditional Balinese dancer, Indonesia