Friday, April 26, 2013

Observer in space and place

Normandie Plaza in the royal city of Fes in Morocco. The name is deceptive its not really a plaza but a cafe cum a restaurant. A coffee shop for hanging out or doing people watching. They have wifi here hence one can sit for any extended time to be connected to the virtual world.

It's busy here, seems like its an all men's club. Strong male voices speaking mainly in Arabic, with some French words thrown in their conversation. The street is lined with their cars. This could easily be a holiday coffee or breakfast meeting place or just a weekend time to catch up.

At a given time this can be a cafe anywhere. Women in jeans and pants, what is considered a western attire with no head scarf.

A young couple walks in, another few couples are seen scattered inside the many tables. I watch two heavy set women come out of their fancy car and I wonder will they attempt to come in, and yes they do. They find a table a little distance from the men.

This is me an observer watching and making my "observations", not wanting to turn them into a judgement. I keep my distance and observe. My seemingly uneaten
breakfast still on the table. I had ordered a traditional breakfast, an assortment of breads of different types with fresh juice and yogurt. Interesting time in Morocco to be eating all this as I am gluten and dairy free. A choice I made a year ago and found an incredible change in my health.

A country, it's culture and the society has to be taken in context of itself. Not from the context of ones own conditionings and experiences.
This is a society where the majority of women cover themselves from head to toe. Comes to mind a comment made by a young Moroccan. We had just finished being shown all the wonderful ways that argan is turned into oils, creams and a source of skin nurturing. The girl Fatima who was helping us, herself a young mother of a one year old boy. We asked her to use our scarves to tie into a hijab. When she was done she said, something like : " now the eyes of the men will not penetrate you"...later we discussed how we who do not cover ourselves "appropriately " are being viewed by both the men and the women.
We soon find ourselves draping our scarf over our head, to avoid the sun and the sand, or is it to mingle in, probably a combination.

This aboriginal saying comes to mind, I am "here to learn, to observe, to love, to grow, then I return home".

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Morocco Revisited

Many journeys contained, layered and wrapped in one. The unraveling of self.

We arrived in Tangiers on a ferry from Algeciras. The wait for a 5 pm ferry was the beginning of a long journey. Each turn and each view a sensory awakening.

At Tangiers we walked into the evening light and stopped by the vendor selling roasted chick peas. As we ate the salted and lemon seasoned chick peas we were left licking our fingers.

The hospitality of Morocco was soon evident. We got on the bus to Fes and right away people were asked to move so we three women could sit together. The passenger in the seat ahead of us soon offered us juice and chocolate.

From life and living in the west to the way of the east we were easing into a new way of interacting.

As we pulled up at 2:30 in the morning in Fes, we were greeted by Abdel. Abdel is an important part of, the tour company that arranged our next five days of Morocco travel. Abdel is more then a guide, he speaks more then five languages, is a professional in his interaction and holds space so each and every person feels completely at ease. He is organized and gentle. As he plans and organizes your day you feel that everything just falls into place. His favorite phrase is "Mama Afrika", all is accepted in the great folds of these two words.
Abdel graciously offered us his home, where we stayed the first two nights. The first was already into the early hours of the morning and after introductions and small chit chat we fell into a deep slumber.

A day in Fes, an evening dinner of Tagine, home cooked and by far the most delicious we have tasted. The days that followed took us deeper and deeper in to the Sahara. We crossed into and through small towns. Sometimes stopping to have mint tea, a meal or visit a local business. Tea and more mint tea, seems to be the norm of life in Morocco.

The most impromptu stops turned out to be the most spectacular. A view of the terrain, a stream, the mountains. Enthralled we watched, sometimes moving through a yoga asana. In each we seemed to be expressing exactly what was going on in that moment. Either our senses were wanting more time to immerse in the splendor of nature or it was an asana calling to be expressed. A camera was always close-by and many moments were captured - both through our eyes and through the lens of a camera.

Yet it does remind me that the experience can never be exactly described, words do get in the way. Each click of the lens became a click on our hearts.

The first sunset, as I sat on the sands of the desert, a beacon into my soul. That night brought to surface many fears, we shared much. There was only love, no room for any judgement. We opened ourselves to absorbing all that was offered.

Our last night, in the tent in the desert brought other tourists. One young couple from Australia was on their honeymoon. As they shared their story we ate some delicious Tagine cooked by our two accompanying guides.

We felt that one night in the tent, the camel ride through the dunes with the soft sound of the camel hoofs on the sand, will stay embedded deep within.

As we had made our way from the city and the small towns into the desert, similarly we made our way out from the desert.

The drive through and around the Atlas Mountains, through the high and the low ranges was our journey. At one point we were asked to prepare our senses for a tour of the rose distillery. We were given a tour of the process, blowing our mind as to the amount and the quantity of rosé petals involved in the extraction of the rose water and it's essence oil. Walking into the shop we all wanted to absorb the smell into our being.

The last part of the journey of three friends - yogis, followers and practitioners ended with spending three days in Essaouira. A beach town, a tourist town. We enjoyed the simple life in the hostel called Surf and Chill. A silent local lady was always there, to hand us a towel or wash our clothes. It was like a door had opened and all, visitors and workers alike soon became one happy family.
I spent time chatting with a writer by the name of A. Greenman. His name is Matthew, from England he has been traveling and living in remote places of the world. He shared some parts of his book "I travel light the man who walked out of the world".
From the mountains of Spain to a fishing village in India, for Matthew this was his trip where he is writing his book on Morocco. When I spoke to him the next day he said that he had changed his Epilogue, inspired by the arrival of us three, he had added a new last chapter.

We all shared our last supper together, with two hours of non stop laughter we polished off some soup, bread and Tagine.

I would like to remember the two boys who work at the hostel and also teach surfing. Simo and Kareem. Wonderful boys and although my encounter with them was limited, both Brianna and Mary found their friendship very helpful.

Watching the landscape, the flat terrain and the distant mountains we feel a change has occurred. A transformation which can fairly be referred to as An Alchemy of Morocco. Each of us will be re-writing our story.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

View from above - @30,000 feet

Norwegian airlines offers free wifi on board its aircrafts as I fly from London to Malaga, Spain.

Some 30,000 feet in the air...where I wrote an email to a student interested in the upcoming yoga teacher training, face booked messaged a friend in Malaga and chatted on Whatsapp with a friend in New York! Technology in all its form is mind boggling. We only need to pause for just a moment to appreciate.

A week ago I reached London, met up with Mary at Victoria station and arrived at the home of the Raza girls. The past week was spent doing what! Basically nothing on one hand and so much on the other. For me this home is a home away from home. Over the last thirty years I have dropped in and out of their home, always nourished and nurtured. Loads of laughter and the most delicious food...philosophical discussions, singing and dancing and recalling our family connections with all the wonderful time that we have shared.

It is no surprise that Mary, who wanted to begin her own self discovery journey should start her first chapter in this home. Her energy is already vibrating on a different frequency. She has been nourished and grounded to say the least. In London she experienced life with a family of Eastern origin. An amalgamation of how healthy a meeting of cultures can be when we understand our values and our modes of operation.

And now in flight, an hour from landing in Malaga, where another chapter will begin. I pause to appreciate how fortunate it is to be alive. To live and feel the varying emotions of meetings and partings, dreams fulfilled and those hopes, and accepting what has been shared and cannot be anymore.

In all these moments, one can only show gratitude...we can only remember what we have so deeply felt, in both our agony and the ecstasy...

@30,000 feet in the air, its all in perspective...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The word is only one...

The word that keeps popping in my head is "Inspire" - which view of this word do I face, in any given moment.

Inspire or be Inspired:
?Two sides of the same coin, or one a reflection of the other?

So I plan to dive deep into stories and dramas, aka - life. As I come up to take a breath, the trigger or the guidance will come from whether I am "inspiring" or am I being "inspired".

If its none of these two words it will be time to find some space, for a moment of introspection. Finding and maybe letting go of some fear.

Taking a moment to pause, look with new eyes and once again I ask of this self -
Am I
How can I

And that my friends is the meaning that I have found to the life I am given.

Inspire or Inspired!