T2 Trainspotting

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At last, a few weeks ago, we got around to watching T2 Trainspotting, released in 2017, the twenty-years-later sequel to Trainspotting, the 1996 film by Danny Boyle about a group of friends (Begbie, Spud, Simon and Renton) in Edinburgh living an alternative lifestyle, shall we say.     

My husband said afterwards, ‘Well if you hadn’t seen the first one that would have made no sense whatsoever.’  Which was absolutely true.  We enjoyed T2 because we loved Trainspotting and because it was such a big part of our culture in the 1990s (I mean watching the film; my life was not similar, I have to add.)  We forgave T2 the lack of much of a plot, forgave the plot holes, the obvious devices and contrivances*, and the unbelievable bits.  We forgave it all, and enjoyed it anyway, because we love Trainspotting and because it was them (the original cast of characters played by the same actors.) 

In T2 one of the things I enjoyed was Spud telling his stories (every day tales of mayhem from the first movie) to a new character Veronika.  ‘I like your stories,’ she says, inspiring him to write them down, by hand on A4, pasting the sheets up all over the walls of his council flat.

Simon and Renton laugh behind his back ‘Whose going to read them?’  ‘Well that’s just it, nobody.’  But Spud is shown with a sheaf of papers, a title is alluded to, the implication being that they become Trainspotting, the novel on which the first film is based (Irvine Welsh’s first novel.) 

*A good example is this, the updated Choose Life speech, which was delivered in such an unbelievable way.  But it was still good.  2017’s T2 Trainspotting speech above.  The original Choose Life speech from the 1996 Trainspotting film is below.  Both worth watching even if you otherwise have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.  Enjoy!

Thank you very much for reading

About the author

Sold house left job decluttered almost everything else.  With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India.   Here are my India highlights.  Recently arrived back in the UK and now living on a narrowboat.  Writing a book about everything…

For photographs of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Sick and Tired in Delhi PART TWO

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Sick and Tired in Delhi PART TWO
‘You took the red pill’

Extract from draft book chapter about our time in Delhi in October

I sent my son some money and a message, ‘Well done, we’re both so proud of you.’ At same time, cutting the cord. You can cut the cord and still be loving. In fact doing that, rather than being distant actually sets you free. It sets you both free.

Same with my mum- little messages with pics, and no angst from me. This sets me miles and miles away. I thought being distant does that, but it doesn’t necessarily do that

Being all cosy cosy can keep you emeshed. This isn’t emeshed. It’s kind, it’s nice, it’s fairly non emotional- as in, it’s happy but not riddled with guilt or upset like before or feeling trapped by my mother.

My son’s doing better set free from me. I’m doing better set free from my mum. But with no angst to hold us in conflict. It’s so simple put like that.

Is this the magic secret, all there is to it, the how to transition from child to adult relationships that I never previously understood? How to transition from anger ridden despair teen breakdown, and overly emeshed thirty something into own life?
Yes, yes, it’s just like this.

Delhi is known for being polluted, and while we were there the air quality was particularly bad. Bryan Adams did a show and tweeted a photograph of himself, barely visible beyond the smog. We wondered whether it was better to have the ac on or to leave it off and keep the windows closed. We researched it and discovered that ac only gives a false sense of security and doesn’t get all the dangerous particulates out. We came across adverts for companies selling bottled air in Delhi. My heart went out to the people who live there all the time.

After Delhi we were going to Rajasthan for a month, a week in each city, we had booked the trains ages ago. But at least one of those cities was as polluted as Delhi. We’d just experienced a lot of pollution in Varanasi. After Rajasthan we had flights booked to go to Kathmandu, also known for poor air quality.

And there was an outbreak of Zika virus in Jaipur, our first stop in Rajasthan. Although very dangerous only for pregnant women, neither of us wanted to risk getting ill with something else.

We procrastinated for ages, the two of us struggling to make a decision, too much choice, not feeling well. Balancing what we want to do/feel up to doing in the present with will we regret not going to all those places once the trip is over. In the end we ripped up the plan, cancelled all the trains and decided to just go to Pushkar, the smallest and least polluted place on our plan.

All the trains were sold out- which was why we’d booked them so far in advance- we could only get there by bus. As there are no loos on buses we had to wait until we were well. We felt trapped in Delhi; we felt like the food and the pollution made us ill, or at least didn’t help, yet we couldn’t leave until we were well. We stayed six nights in that room in Delhi.

On our last morning we ate breakfast at the hotel sitting out into the rooftop, porridge made with water, with banana. It was so nice being out together, it felt like an outing. The past few days had been mainly spent indoors, one of us only going out for food or drink or to the pharmacy over the road. Once or twice we went to the cafe downstairs, which was a bit sad; greasy and with doors that opened into the pollution of the street.

We watched a Westerner, he lived right at the top above the dirty kitchen, completing Hindu rituals, or possibly just washing with a water bottle, we weren’t sure. We watched him doing his laundry on the rooftop. What a life. We wondered what his story was? Divorced? Living on a pension? Hindu convert? Disappeared?

That night we got a rickshaw from the hotel to catch the night bus to Pushkar and saw the Delhi smog close up.

I tried to soak up the sights of Main Bazar, the neon lights, the mopeds, the cows, I saw a cow and a calf with big floppy ears; knowing it might be our last time. I lost concentration, and Main Bazar was gone.

We were into a different area, we saw veg restaurants, pure veg places, I thought, Why didn’t we go here? Oh, yes, we were sick and ill and indoors!

And then, utter craziness, ‘worse’ than Kolkata. Cows, thin cows, cows with floppy ears, cows trying to eat non existent grass in the middle of road, like the central reservation, and licking a stone in the middle of the barrier. A group of calves eating from a trough.

Everything grey, dust, dark, dust. Buildings that looked like they had been derelict for decades or were for demolition, by UK standards. Birds nest wiring amongst them and then, a few inflatable toys, bright pink balloons, and big brightly coloured teddies wrapped up in cellophane.

It looked like a market had finished and was packing up. There was every type of transport; lorries, cars, rickshaws, oxen and cart, men with carts, and men with sacks on their heads. Men pulling carts, some with another man pushing, but some alone, with huge loads. A man carrying a huge load on his shoulders, wrapped, two leg ends and castors poked out, a chair or a table, he carried it up to the top of a ladder to a vehicle alone, then men at the top took it.

Dust, dark, dust, and traffic jams. A sign said: Men at work. Oh God yes. If ever that sign was valid, it was there. And everything within a thick smog. It seemed unbelievable how anyone survives, does this every day. How there’s any old people in Delhi.

A cycle rickshaw got caught on our rickshaw. Everyone around just shouted instead of helping. Usually touching of vehicles, even a scrape, does not result in shouting, not like in the UK. Maybe this was because it held up the traffic, and maybe it was a status thing, with bicycle rickshaws considered lower in the pecking order than auto rickshaws.

On previous night bus journey I/we were worried about needing a pee, this time, that was eclipsed by worrying about diaorriah. And then, Oh great, blood, my period started as well.

The bus depot was dusty, with rows of numbered stalls of travel agents, each with a desk and a tiny office with seats. To get to the toilets we had to go down a path to the side of one of the stalls, then along another. There were lots of men hanging about, and big dogs, and next to the toilets there was a big room with men sleeping on the floor, like a paying homeless shelter or very low cost accommodation. There was a hand washing sink outside but nothing inside the loos, just Indian style toilets which was fine, but no sinks like in the trains and not very clean. Even if I had taken a bottle of water in with me like I would on the train, I’d not be confident enough with hand hygiene to use my moon cup so cloth sanitary pads and a lungi would have to suffice.

On the bus a dreadlocked young woman across the aisle spread out a white lungi on the bus seat, it’s good to do for hygiene anyway. I did mine double layer just in case but my cloth sanitary pad didn’t let me down, as they say in the ads. The only thing it meant was not being sure if my pain, was urge to go to the loo, period pain, or hunger; we didn’t eat anything in the hours prior to the journey. But we managed the journey okay, we stopped for the loo and not eating beforehand worked.

We changed buses for the last part of the journey. Outside the window were bushy trees, mountains and desert. I saw a wall painted mauve, and another with delicate scalloped shapes cut out of the bricks, and then we were in Pushkar.

Thank you very much for reading

Sick and tired in Delhi Part One

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Sick and Tired in Delhi
‘You took the red pill’

Extract from draft book chapter about our time in Delhi in October

People were in our seats, lying down; we had to ask them to move for us to sit down. They did so grudgingly, the woman still half laying down so that we were squashed up on half a seat, and the whole group seemingly thoroughly put out that we were there.

It was around eight pm. We’d planned to watch a couple of episodes we’d downloaded from Netflix, and I was going to do a bit of writing. But soon after they announced they all wanted to go to sleep meaning we couldn’t sit up. We were in three tier ac, when the middle bunk gets folded down no one can sit on the lower bunk anymore. We had one lower bunk and the top bunk on on the other side. The top bunks on three tier don’t have enough space to sit up.

Previously we’ve just all worked out when we wanted to go to bed and stayed up until then. But this time there was no negotiation.
And they had used all the pillows and a lot of the blankets.

Anthony had the lower bunk. I lay on the top bunk, meditated, and tried to sleep. Then someone put the big light on. At ten pm I gave up, went and crouched with Anthony for a bit, then went back to bed.

It was hard to climb up, there isn’t a ladder, just foot holds and a bar, and I am short. I woke up at 2.15 am and then at 4.30 am for good.
It’s always a bit noisy; people’s alarms go off and people get off and on at stops along the way. And from early morning there are men selling chai coming through the carriage saying loudly, ‘Chai chai coffee chai.’ Well I didn’t want any, because I was asleep, but now you’ve woken me up I actually do.

But this journey was particularly bad, with loud snoring and farting in the night; and in the morning one of the party sat doing really loud burps.

Of course the fact that we felt annoyed with the people we shared a space with and they didn’t seem that nice made it all the worse.
But as we arrived into Delhi station, the adult son of the family came up to my husband and shook his hand, ending any hard feelings (or at least most of them.)
So we arrived in Delhi very tired. My husband had started feeling ill in Varanasi, with a bad chest. ‘I’m never doing three tier again,’ he said.

We went out for breakfast at a rooftop cafe overlooking Main Bazar, my husband found us a hotel, we treated ourselves to ac as he was unwell and because of the pollution.

My husband got ill with an upset stomach almost immediately, funnily enough, immediately after eating at the same restaurant as he had before when he got sick last time. I went out on my own to eat in Main Bazar. A man said the usual, ‘Hi where are you from, I’m not trying to sell you anything’ (which was almost certainly not true). ‘No talk?’ Acting all offended. He was pushy, but I couldn’t talk very well anyway due to wearing a pollution mask. When he caught me again on the way back I said, ‘I must get home, my husband is ill,’ which worked a treat, and the man backed off. The people out in the street were pushy but not scary, the whole place just seemed touristy.

I wrote to a friend: Now back in Delhi, where we first arrived in March. Having been here before, and having since been to Varanasi and Kolkata both of which are much crazier it seems relatively tame. Polluted and dirty, but not intimidating. I have been out by myself for walks and to eat three times already. It’s interesting to see how my perspective has changed.

I also wrote: I struggled to get up on the top bunk on the train. I was out of breath going up three flights of stairs at the hotel. I probably need to do something, but not yet, and what? The English guy in Varanasi talked about going for a run at 4am but surely the air quality means that would do more harm than good? I have seen a yoga mat for sale. We’ll see. I wrote: Right now I’m just happy that I’m not currently ill, using time to rest and sleep, and catch up on writing.
Ha ha ha, said the forces of the universe, again.

Just as when we arrived in March, our room had a balcony which looked out over Main Bazar, standing out there, for brief periods only due to the pollution, was far better than watching television. I saw four adults and two kids on a scooter. Outside the restaurant opposite, a black and white dog was leaping up, wagging their tail in front of a man, the man acting cool, then the dog jumped up on the man and then he finally gave in and made a fuss of the dog, it was nice to watch.
I ate at the restaurant opposite, I had a masala dosa, it was okay, not as good as South India of course (the home of masala dosas) and chatted to the owner who was from Kashmir.

Later on I saw the kitchen, which was a couple of floors up, from our balcony. The table and walls were black with dirt and grease, and a man was wiping the table with a very dirty looking cloth.

I got sick just after my husband, after eating at the same place as last time, a different one to him. Not the masala dosa one, although it’s impossible to know where we actually got sick from.
‘I feel defeated by India,’ my husband said.

Our frequencies were really low, thinking about the UK, everything, the realisation that we took the red pill, there’s no going back, and what taking the red pill really means. Planning how we will go forward into our new life in the UK, beginning to turn 25% of our attention to the UK and what happens next, practically. ‘We don’t want to have a life changing experience and return to the same life;’ whilst still being present in India.

The room was medium sized, painted white, with a really cosy duvet that we both really appreciated in our sorry states. We watched a lot of old X Factor clips on YouTube, it’s not what I usually do but I enjoyed it. A priest sang REM’s Everybody hurts beautifully. In his introduction he said, ‘In my job I see a lot of pain… a lot of joy and happiness, but a lot of pain.’
I tried meditating, focussing on my out breath, feeling a sense of peace, enjoying the big duvet cosiness. Feeling almost chilly but knowing that my soft sweatpants I bought in Tokyo were nearby was such a sweet comforting sensation.

Meditation had possibly helped me deal better with sickness. I said ‘Oh God,’ a few times but felt calmer during vomiting; I really hate being sick and get a bit scared sometimes. I used to look at the little plastic seat in the bathroom, it was my favourite object in that place; opaque white, decorated with faded mauve and silver sparkly flowers. I had a dream about a silver palace. Waking up, the first thing I saw was the gold and silver leaf design of the curtains which were lit up by the sun.

Thank you very much for reading

Keeping the faith

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Photo:  our boat

So adjusting back, or rather into as we’re in a new life, has felt harder than we anticipated this week.  Especially technology.  E.g. My husband applying for jobs and doing CVs on his phone…

My trusty tablet failed me (Samsung S3) about which I’d kept saying, you just need to last the year, then I’ll get back and set up WiFi and go back to using a laptop.  Well we didn’t set up WiFi straight away, I thought perhaps I’d manage by going down the pub or hot spotting to my husband’s phone, not wanting to get bogged down in lots of contracts etc…. plus I’d got used to working on my tablet and thought I’d just get a keyboard for it…

I only lost a few hours of work- I religiously email everything to myself as often as I get a chance- it was more the shock when it suddenly decided to not recognise my password. I’ll need to factory reset it when I can face doing that.

Anyway now we have WiFi, there was a special offer on and we got a super cheap deal.  Setting it up was hard, then resigning in to everything, computer doing updates, blah blah blah, all was stressful.  But once I had put on all my emailed work, seeing all my chapters laid out on a big screen was nice and I’m sure it will be much easier to work where I can flit between documents easily.

And we watched Netflix (Quicksand, recommended by a friend of my husband, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles from Google Play) on the laptop; it was like being in the cinema!  After a year of watching everything on a phone or at most a tablet, it was amazing, I couldn’t get over how big the writing was!

Boat news:  I am now fully competent at emptying the cassette toilet and filling the water tank. We got a second futon off the secondhand site, and went to collect it one evening, and went out for a curry.

We were excited to chat to Indian people, the place was called Delhi something, but the people were from Bangladesh and hadn’t been to India.  We had a nice chat anyway.  We decided we don’t need to go out to eat after a year of doing it all the time, but I did enjoy putting on earrings, a nice top and a jacket (I have turned into a bit of a slob on the boat); and I did feel really happy:  evidence, see below:

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Big walks have continued, I have almost made it into the next village (I go a bit further each time). Greggs vegan sausage rolls have continued.  I have a correction to last week’s post; there were not anti vegan sausage roll protests outside Greggs, everyone just thought there was.  A group of protesters had been hemmed in by police, just happened to be outside a Greggs…

We went to Norfolk and got spoiled with a lovely dinner, use of a luxury shower and luxury smoothies, and went to an event for my son showcasing his work prior to his exhibition in New York.

In the year that I’ve been away he’s bonded with my nephew who is younger.  My son did his CV and my son and his friends all helped prep him for the interview- he just got his first job- as well as providing socialising and fun.  I also got to meet my son’s new girlfriend, his agent and some new friends, who were all lovely people.

My son also sent me a lovely Mother’s Day email filled with memories of good things he remembers me doing when he was a child and teenager, and I think we’ve both put the past behind us (he was a troubled teen and I couldn’t manage his behaviour, or live with him by the time he was eighteen; he is almost thirty now).

So all good there.

I saw my mum, she was restrained in not asking me a lot of questions and I seem to have, for now, created better boundaries. However, my son and nephew told me that she had said (re me going off to India,) that I had had a mental breakdown/mid life crisis, so I’ll probably need to stay strong to ensure that that relationship stays within certain limits.

Has anyone watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  Do you remember the episode that fans hate, where she is shown in a mental hospital, having doubts as to whether any of the being a slayer world is real.  It’s never fully explained- she has been spiked with poison and could be just having visions- which is why fans hate it.  ‘What’s more real,’ she says to her best friend Willow, ‘A scared young girl in a mental hospital, or some kind of superhero slayer and vampires?’

In the mental hospital, her mum keeps saying, ‘Believe in yourself, believe in yourself,’ meaning come back to there.  After a lot of conflict, Buffy chooses to say goodbye to her parents and go back into the Buffy world.

Photos:

20190412_100345We have a beautiful location

20190412_100350There is also a caravan and camping area.  See loo emptying point on the right by the bins, a short wheelbarrow walk from our boat!

20190412_100543Sheep opposite our boat

20190412_100201Beyond the caravan area, a pond and trees

Thank you very much for reading

About the author

Sold house left job decluttered almost everything else.  With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India.   Here are my India highlights.  Just arrived back in the UK and now living on a narrowboat.  Writing a book about everything…

For more photographs of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

Geography Of The Moon

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2019-03-10 19.15.18The man at the bus stop in Da Lat asked us if we lived in Ho Chi Minh City.  It seemed strange to imagine the possibility.  The following evening in the taxi on the way to the gig, we admired the city.  Tall skinny blocks of matching buildings, square blocks of flats with outlines almost drawn around them in white light, a collection of buildings lit in various neon lights, and best of all Building 81, the second tallest in South East Asia (the tallest is in Malaysia apparently.)

We had seen it coming in on the coach, like a child’s building block tower, the stacks narrower and narrower until a thin point.  Interesting in the day, and spectacular at night, lit up like a computer motherboard, and in front of it chunky blocks of flats looming black out of the darkness, lit in patches, like something out of The Matrix or Bladerunner.

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I’m disappointed that I can’t find the clip of this; I thought YouTube had everything.  I’ll describe it as accurately as I can from memory.  In Billions, Taylor begins a romance with Oscar.  Taylor and Oscar go back to Oscar’s after their first proper date.  He has a classy apartment and a great sound system.  He presses a button or whatever and on comes The Killing Moon, by Echo and the Bunnymen.

‘Is this okay?’  Oscar asks.  ‘It’s what I would have hoped for, had I thought about it.’  Taylor answers.

Much is written about how as people get older they stop listening to new music.  It’s hard for anything new to compete with things that are so loved.  Or for things not to remind you of something you already know, and prefer.  And sometimes it’s about wanting to lean on someone older, even though they were young when they made it.  And having seen so much music, been to so many gigs, it’s easier to get picky and hard to impress.

What would we have wanted that night, had we thought of it?  Turns out it was Geography Of The Moon.

Timing:  The day before I’d read Des’s post about going to a very special show in Seattle.  Before the first song was finished… play for me my Lord a song that I can sing… I realised I was going to do a post about going to a gig too.  Psychedelic enough for my husband.  Mournful enough for me, with the kinds of lines I like such as, the taste of a thousand dirty mouths.  

Timing, again: a song that could have been written just for us at that time: wanderlust… the future is unknown… the universe will provide… remember you will die make this an interesting ride…

We’d been in a temporary slump, experiencing a lack of confidence, and then we meet these two.  They had lived on a boat in London, and were now on the road touring Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, just the two of them.

It was good for me and my husband to have a night out.  We were out until 2am and up much later, the noisiest ones in the hostel (except for the staff downstairs who were smoking marijuana, listening to loud music and hugging inflatable balls…)

 

Thank you very much for reading

Welcome to my world!

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photo- where I work

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photo- space: the final frontier. We’ve been scouring Gumtree (second hand site) for suitable seating. Furniture has to be multifunctional, narrow, foldable flat to get in, or all three! This is a Futon Company single futon

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photo- when we get a second futon that will be our second chair and the folding chairs can just come out when we have visitors, or want to sit in the garden. It’s too hot with the wood burner if it’s a mild day so my husband bought an electric heater from Aldi for when a little heat is needed but not a roaring stove.  And then of course it turned cold again!

Welcome to my world

Right now, my ‘routine’ is as follows: Get up (not very early) (my husband has lit the fire and sometimes brought me tea in bed), do yoga, get dressed, do very minor chores e.g. sweep the floor, fill up drinking water bottles, do a few bits of hand washing, then have breakfast and go for a big walk.

In the afternoon I write for a couple of hours, then cook dinner. Breakfast is sugar free muesli with cacao, maca, linseed, chia seeds, a chopped apple or pear and soya milk. For dinner I cook something plant based from scratch; lentils, chickpeas, beans, vegetables, rice, potatoes, rice noodles, and coconut milk are all staple cupboard ingredients.

(In the interests of full transparency, during the day I often eat two iced buns or a Pot Noodle. I used to chastise my husband for living on Pot Noodles and cereal when he lived on a boat when we first met, but maybe there’s just something about boat life.)

In the evenings we listen to the radio- it’s so funny listening to Radio 4 again, it took a bit of fiddling to get the radio to work in the boat which is all metal, but it does, (as long as nobody moves); share a limited amount of data on my husband’s phone, listen to music, eat oranges, and talk. We have nothing to watch on Netflix, any recommendations please tell us!

Even though there are some nice footpath walks around, I’m currently doing a route along the A5 (a main road but it is quiet), with a good path along the side. I do this on average every other day and every time I go a little further. This is where my OCD tendencies come in handy! I am enjoying wrapping up and going for a walk. In SE Asia it was often too hot and the pavements in very poor condition, so this is a definite plus for the UK. I can already feel the benefit.

I have noticed how unfit I am from not having done anything much for a year. I can feel my arms and wrists working when I chop vegetables (admittedly my knives are rubbish, but still), or wringing out clothes, and I ached after emptying the cassette toilet even though I did it a day earlier than my husband would. (That would be a good fitness programme, empty the toilet after two days, then three, and so on…)

Up until now my husband has been doing the boat chores and DIY, as well as emptying the loo, filling the water tank, changing the gas bottle, chopping wood, fetching coal and lighting the fire, as well as all shopping, errands and all driving, as he wants me to be able to concentrate on writing. (I have a wonderful husband, I know.)

However I am going to make sure I learn how to do everything over the next few weeks. Today I plan to empty the toilet by myself, just as soon as I’ve had that iced bun…

PS My husband just arrived back with Greggs vegan sausage rolls! Greggs (a cheap and cheerful high street bakery) introducing a vegan sausage roll is big news in the UK. Actually we even heard about it when we were in South East Asia. Some meat eaters have been protesting (even though their pork sausage rolls have not been taken away); Piers Morgan, a presenter, spat it out after trying one on national breakfast television (even though according to my husband who can remember eating the meat ones the vegan ones don’t taste any different). So, civil war between vegans and non vegans, leavers and remainers, remind me again why we came back?!

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photo- the kitchen, complete with iced buns!  The keys hanging up have a float, everything that can go into the canal, will go into the canal, they say

Thank you very much for reading

About the author

Sold house left job decluttered almost everything else.  With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India.   Here are my India highlights.  Just arrived back in the UK and now living on a narrowboat.  Writing a book about everything…

For more photographs of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

March 31st 2019 The Matrix 20 year anniversary

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I believe in following the white rabbit.  Do you?

I’m not necessarily braver than you.  I’m not necessarily any more mentally intact.  I actually physically went somewhere else, but that isn’t necessarily necessary for everyone.

I woke up in my life and realised I had to do something in order not to die without having lived.  Watching, and thinking about, The Matrix, and Alice in Wonderland- see blog, helped me break free and dismantle my old life.  Placebo provided the soundtrack see blog explaining their impact.  My Escape the matrix posts one two and three

It is twenty years since the Matrix film was released see my previous post.

I watched The Matrix with fresh eyes once I started ‘waking up,’ at the time I didn’t get it.  It was the same with Blade Runner.  Later I watched  Black Mirror and Battlestar Gallactica.  Westworld will do it too, but that’s too violent for me to watch.

I sometimes think about where we ‘really’ are, and the nature of reality.  I sometimes think of being a brain in a tank, or going ‘back into the tank’ to regroup, especially when I was in the capsule in Tokyo! 

I have on occasion believed I just arrived in this day or moment, and that all my memories are a feed.  I also sometimes think, Wow, if I created this back story for myself, I really did a number on myself.  It’s not glaringly dramatic, I sometimes think that much more extreme lives might have been experienced by this consciousness, but that this is the last one and so is fine tuned to have any experiences that were missed previously; the things that upset me are so complicated and subtle and detailed and just keep on hurting, and therefore keep me emeshed and prevent me waking up fully.  In Blade Runner, they implanted memories, families, a back story, into the robots ‘to make them easier to control.’  I still feel a bit goosebumpy thinking about that

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In Siem Reap we watched The Thirteenth Floor and afterwards went for a walk.  Me feeling like I’d just arrived, Look at that, look at that.  A purple building, a row of neon lights.  I had to sit down on a bench, but even that was overstimulating, pictured above; shells and mosaics are kind of a thing for me.  I decided to have a working hypothesis that it’s a matrix.  That would mean: don’t worry about what people think, in cafes, walking past, don’t get distracted.  Instead focus attention, choose, consciously choose, don’t go around saying hi to everyone, don’t waste energy, don’t feel self conscious, don’t be scared of mother, believe I can do anything that any similar person can do i.e. write book.

Since then I’ve been lower, and right now I’m higher, confidence and frequency and understanding wise.

There can be many signs that awareness is increasing.  It can be seeing the beauty and feeling bliss.  It can be seeing the beautiful things even when feeling very bad.  Beyond that, it can be seeing things in real life that I’ve just seen on Netflix , or vice versa.  Or hearing similar conversations.  Or timing.  Or meeting people you need to meet.  Or the clock whenever I look at it saying 04:40 or similar: when I turned on my tablet to write this post and looked at the clock it said 07:07.

It’s about fearlessness.

Beyond all the films, books, the spiritual teachings, the New Age philosophy, it’s about waking up into your life.  And realising, really  realising, that you are a being, that you are here, in a life, in this world.  That you are conscious, that you are alive, but that you will die and that that could happen anytime.

Once you realise this, as Neo said, what you do with that information is up to you…

Thank you very much for reading

‘If you think you’re enlightened, try going home for Thanksgiving

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For SMUT and Self-Esteem, a very wise and perfectly written blog. Reflecting on everyday experience through tools such as mindfulness and Buddhist teachings.

Even at the age of forty seven I was scared about telling my mum of our plans to give up work and go off to India, particularly about selling the house. And on the way to telling her about the boat I was as nervous as if I were on my way to hospital for an operation. I played the song above, ‘You say you can’t, I hope you can, I hope you can…’

My mother is an astonishingly capable individual, potentially a lot to live up to, and who has very strong opinions. But feeling as if I’m not free to live my life as I wish to because of what she might think or say isn’t on her, it’s on me.

Again and again people say, no one can have power over you without your consent, and such like. Certainly in the run up to going away I said the same kinds of things to myself and tried to deal with it on an intellectual level. I did what needed to be done, but I made a big palaver about it, putting things off and getting stressed out, and expending a lot of time and energy on it all.

On Thursday of last week we made our first trip back to Norfolk to visit people. Firstly we went to see our dear friend K, who made us a lovely lunch*, let us go on about India, and was very supportive about my book and our ideas. She asked us each if and how we thought the year of travel had changed us. We both said we felt it had, but that we didn’t know exactly how yet.

Then we drove over to see my mum. Towards the end of the year of travel I had had dreams about this meeting, and woken feeling anxious and intimidated, as I was when I visited before I left. This time, I didn’t feel even a flicker of nerves on the way there, and sailed through the visit authentically and confidently. We showed her photographs, she made us a delicious meal**, and we chatted about general topics. We all seemed happy to see each other, and had a nice time.

In the past I had involved her too much in my life, and I had felt shadowed by her strong opinions. The year away provided the opportunity to reset boundaries. I’m sure she doesn’t approve of everything I’m doing but she appears to have accepted that I’m doing it anyway, and didn’t question or comment.

I know it’s because she cares but I have to have this bit of separation in order to fully realise my own personal potential.

I wasn’t fake friendly or fake tough, I was totally myself during that time, and that is best described as relaxed and powerful. And it just happened that way, that’s how I’ve changed. (Just got to keep it up!)

Then we went to see my son. He’s not, as far as I’m aware, working on the same things with me, but I know he’s done better the less I’ve been involved in his life, culminating in him being offered, while I was away this year, the chance to exhibit in New York in May.

(I still have to work on resetting habits and expectations re money though, now that he is almost thirty and I am not working at the moment.)

We all acknowledged that he’d done the best all by himself, and I told him what the Swiss shaman I met in Kerala had told me, that when you have a baby it is your job to ‘Give them the bliss,’ but then when they grow up you must set them free. The shaman said I must set my son free so that he can become a great artist.

*beetroot and chickpea burgers, pasta in tomato sauce and broccoli
**vegetable curry, rice, samosas, and apple crumble and (soya) custard
We were thoroughly spoiled that day!
Thank you very much for reading

Italian Baba

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In Hampi in India (for blogs about Hampi with pictures see here, here and here) we went to a chai stall on the temple side of the river; out of the main village, past the Rama temple.  Twenty years ago my husband had visited this chai stall and met Hanuman and his wife and was surprised and pleased to find that they were still there!

We visited most days for chai and coconuts, we chatted with them, fussed their pregnant cat and watched the monkeys in the tree nearby.
Hanuman told us about an ‘Italian Baba’ who lived opposite, on the other side of the river.  They said he had built an ashram there that had been going for forty years.

Hanuman explained how to get there and a couple of days later we set out to visit.  We had to walk beyond Hanuman’s chai stall, we went wrong once and had to go back and be redirected, but we got to a place where there is a man who takes people across the river in a coracle.

We explained we were going to see Italian Baba.  The coracle man told us that he had died the day before from heart problems; he had been taken to the government hospital but the doctors were unable to save him.  He said it was still okay to go to the ashram and pay our respects.

The coracle was beautifully made, there was just the two of us and the man rowing us across.  The water and the scenery surrounding it looked absolutely magical.

The man showed us where to go, and handed our money to the man on the other side, his boss.  We paused at a little temple first, we hesitated, unsure if we were allowed in.  An Indian family beckoned us, and showed us the way; we followed them down a stone corridor, at the end was a shrine with a very old Baba there.  We followed the family, gave some money and had a blessing.

The man who had rowed us was still outside and pointed the way through scrub and old garden to the ashram.  I had imagined lots of mourning devotees and was unsure if it was even appropriate to go, but there was no one about.  The ashram looked as though it hadn’t been active for a few years.

We met an Italian woman who had come especially to see him, she was very moved to have arrived the day after he died, and we all had a hug.  A caretaker was there, but no other residents.  An Indian man who spoke good English showed us around.  He showed us the Baba’s bed and a picture of him on the wall and we took photographs.  He asked to take a photograph of all of us together in front of the Baba’s picture, ‘To remember this day.’

He explained that he had grown up knowing the Baba, who had come to India as a young man in the 1960s and stayed, at first he had lived in nearby caves.  For the past four years the Baba had been living between Goa and Italy and hadn’t been to the ashram, as he was very old.  He had decided to visit the ashram and look around and do some tidying in the garden.

He had travelled from Goa to Hampi, which is quite a journey along bumpy roads; he was staying in a guesthouse in Hampi not at the ashram as he needed somewhere more comfortable with a fan.  When he arrived in Hampi he began to feel unwell.  His wife and children were with him.  He didn’t get to the ashram but he did get back to Hampi.

I asked the Italian woman if the Baba was famous in Italy.  She said not exactly famous, but known because of a book that had been written about him by a fellow Italian.  She said the title translates as ‘Barefoot on the Earth.’

After Hampi we left India and went to Cambodia.  We spent a few days in Phnom Penh and then went to Otres Village near Sihanoukville.  There we met a Spanish woman who speaks and reads Italian.  She had borrowed a book off another guest to read… guess what it was?!  Yes, the book about Baba Cesare the Italian Baba.  We took a picture of the actual book, above.  Below, the river and coracle and the ashram.

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Thank you very much for reading

About the author

Sold house left job decluttered almost everything else.  With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India.   Here are my India highlights.  Just arrived back in the UK and now living on a narrowboat.  Writing a book about everything…

For more photographs of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

Tales from the riverbank, part one

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Tales from the riverbank, part one
For Ms Lockwood at The Lockwood Echo: not a real newspaper, one of my favourite blog names.
Photo: we have made friends with a swan

So re-entry went well, thanks to our forward planning and a touch of magic from the forces of the universe.

We left our hostel in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam at one thirty am local time on Thursday, flew to Bejing, had a few hours there then flew to London. We arrived in London at around six pm local time Thursday, after a journey of around twenty three hours.

We got the underground to Kings Cross. My husband pointed out that there were only four colours of clothes on the train and that I was the most outrageously dressed, in a burnt orange jumper and blue scarf.

We walked to the Travelodge, dumped our bags, had a quick wash, brushed our teeth, dressed as respectably and warmly as we could, and went out to the all you can eat Indian veg in Chapel Market with my husband’s children. They commented that we seemed much more together than they had expected, which we were pleased about. Ooh, but it was bitterly cold walking about that evening!

We went back to the room, watched five minutes of Netflix and fell asleep. The next morning I showered and washed my hair even though I didn’t feel like it, knowing I’d feel like it even less on the boat. I forgot that UK bathrooms are not all wet rooms like in India, so that’s why they have the sign explaining how to use a shower curtain… The toilet seat being cold on one’s bum, was a ‘new’ sensation.

In the spirit of making the most of hotel opportunities I had a big breakfast of Linda McCartney sausages, baked beans, mushrooms and tomatoes before we left for the train station.

A woman almost walked straight into my husband, she was looking at her phone. Everyone seemed to be in their own worlds. It was busy, but so quiet. We saw more homeless people in two minutes than we had in six days in Ho Chi Min.

When we got to Northampton we bought sleeping bags just in case all our bedding on the boat had gone mouldy, then got the bus to our village.

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At the village we took photos at the bus stop like we had before we left. See blog post Nothing to lose but our dignity from March last year. We bought a few things from the shop and walked to the boat.

The boat was fine. Everything was dry inside, which felt like a miracle. Our clothes, our bedding, our mattress, everything was fine. It was Friday afternoon. After lighting the fire and eating beans on toast we went to the yard over the road with the wheelbarrow and got coal, logs and kindling. We went back there again Saturday morning and got another bag of coal. The yard is closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday all day, so arriving back Friday afternoon was perfect.

We had a warm welcome from our landlord, and we met some of the other boat people again, which was nice.

We weren’t as tired as we had feared, and it wasn’t as hard as we’d feared. But we were tired. The first night I wondered was it too late to message someone, then looked at the time and saw it was only 8.20!

As well as sleeping, the first few days have been spent unpacking and sorting out where to put things. Rediscovering things in the cupboards and drawers; jeans, natural shampoo, moisturiser, and best of all, Marmite! Enjoying Heinz tomato soup and toast with wholefood peanut butter after a good walk.

The garage came and collected the car on Monday, it passed its MOT easily and we walked to collect it on Tuesday.

We had five days on the boat before we went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it had been five days! We’d hardly done anything, and yet I couldn’t have done any more. It was the best possible place to be post re-entry, on a boat at the edge of a village. It was nice not having a car and just using the village shop and not having to brave a big supermarket.

Walking about, everything seems really clean. A bit plain, but nice and green, with blue skies when they are there. Dogs seem really big!

No street sellers, no plastic tables and chairs on the pavement creating a pop up cafe, with a karaoke set up on a motorbike stopping by to add to the party, like in Vietnam.

We walked 3.7 miles to the garage and aside from our village shop at the start, we didn’t pass a single shop. Not like in India, where there’s always food and drink nearby, someone selling chai, a street vendor selling bananas.

My husband said, it’s the price we pay for law and order, regular rubbish collections and clean drinking water, things are sanitised, and therefore in comparison, a bit boring.

Feeling the matrix now that we are back in the UK but remembering, interface with it on your own terms. Stay in the present, stick to the plan. Finish the book. Maintain the blog. Keep frequency high. Keep fear at bay.

Realising, now is the time to let go my fingertips from the cliff face and trust fall into the universe. Not the trip, now. This is the new life.

Thank you very much for reading