Around the World with Love πŸ’•

It all started on that beautiful Sunday morning, the 14th of January 2018. Looking back, our meeting was divinely ordained.
I shouldn’t have been in Mumbai that day. And if yes, certainly not in Gordon House Hotel in South Mumbai.
And Clau and Blanca told me, when I met them in Guatemala a year later, that they too had made the change of the hotel at the last moment.
And again it was a coincidence, that we were at the same long table at the same time for our breakfast.

Clau is a shy young lady, not like the extrovert Blanca! And when we met, a year after our first contact in that boutique hotel in Mumbai, Clau told me that she had heard a voice in her head telling her to talk to me!! She had said hello and told me that I had very peaceful aura about me! And then she asked me what do I do? And I told her about our YSS (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India) cruise the previous evening, my Guru – Paramahansa Yogananda, and the Autobiography of a Yogi. And that was the beginning of a beautiful and loving friendship, which eventually led to my visiting Guatemala a year later.

First and last I had heard of Guatemala, before this, was in my childhood when I used to collect stamps, about 55 years ago!! I love traveling but visiting this country wasn’t even at the bottom of my wish list. It just wasn’t there! But it happened. And I am so glad that it did.

It was such a beautiful and enriching trip around the world. Pune->Mumbai->Los Angeles->Guatemala->Los Angeles-Brisbane->Mumbai->Pune. Three very long flights and a very long stop over in Auckland. Every place I visited and every person I met was so different from the other. Australia and Guatemala are poles apart! 180 degrees!! And Los Angeles another story of divine love and friendship altogether!! But this trip strengthened the world view I have had for many years now. And that is:

People, at the core of their hearts, are same all over the world. Everyone wants some love, some respect, some appreciation…..every one wants to be happy …..they have similar fears, worries and insecurities…… However different people may look and whatever language they may speak; and whatever may be their food habits and lifestyles; essentially they are all same.

 

Featured post

Thy Majesty πŸ’•πŸ’•

Thou art a magician!

Thine unseen touch changes our blemish into beauty, our emptiness into fullness, our life’s harshness into sweet tenderness.

The marvel of Thine infinite majesty fills my heart with wordless ecstasy πŸ’•πŸ’•

Copyright Β© pic by Ashok Wahi

Living in Today’s World beset with Turmoil.

We are living in very uncertain times. 2020 has just begun but the news around the world is not exciting – to say the least 😌

Bush fires in Australia, Revolution in Lebanon, President Trump blowing his trumpet in Iraq, PM Modi doing likewise back home… just to name a few. And the blogging world is filled with personal pain and tragedies- child abuse, sexual abuse, gender discrimination, joblessness, physical abuse, depression and what not.

I am rarely given to negativity and usually shun mass media. But it does effect us all once in a while and I am no exception. Luckily I come out of it quickly.

A couple of months back things weren’t so exciting in my dear country and my dearest friend mentioned blood in her post. I was so disturbed and couldn’t sleep for a few days. While meditating one day I vividly remembered Paramahansa Yogananda telling his close disciples: The world is a joke played by Him on us all; don’t take it so seriously. I laughed out loud and that broke the spell 😊I came out of the negative mood I had fallen into. And remembered my own post : Life is a Reality Show

Politicians are same all over the world. Only degrees vary. And then there are behind the scene manipulators, king makers and power brokers. As it is things aren’t exciting but media makes it worse.

What to do? How do we survive in today’s world filled with so much negativity and turmoil? In one of his talks during Second World War, Paramahansa Yogananda had said, Don’t worry, the world is not going to end. Thank God it didn’t! And it is not going to end even now😊

I recently read an article by President and spiritual head of Self Realisation Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India) – Brother Chidananda. SRF is a non-sectarian and non profit organisation set up by Paramahansa Yogananda. Swami Chidanandaji wrote of how to deal with the current world situation. That was very enlightening and am sharing a few excerpts:

… This world of duality has always been and will always be a battle ground between light and darkness; but the assault on God’s eternal truths of goodness and moral values can seem perceptibly higher in our era of near-constant exposure to the barrage of a adharma and negativity that infiltrates our inner and outer environments through the Internet and other mass communication media.

But we need not give in to discouragement about the future. Remember that even as social media can magnify the in-harmonious voice of a single person, thereby affecting countless others far beyond that individual’s immediate circle, so there is equal or greater potential to amplify the influence of truth, beauty, goodness, wisdom, compassionβ€” all heavenly qualities of the soul image of God in every human being. ….

The mass Karma that influences the unfolding drama of world events β€” in our present era as in all others β€” is not always understood by limited human intellect. Ultimately, a nation’s leaders are a symptom, not a cause, of the prevailing mix of good and evil in that society, and its mass karma.

While the actions of individual politicians may be of temporary concern, more important in the long term is the need of the masses of individuals to remove the evils of the godlessness, immorality, and adharmic living from their hearts.

If you find yourself too frequently thinking, reading, and talking about what is wrong in the world or in your own life, try to change your focus. Use that time and energy to think good thoughts, to pray, to perform good actions and service and generosity, and to work on becoming a person who exudes kindness, understanding, and cheerfulness. By doing so, you will uplift your own consciousness and that of others…

Aum Amen Ameen Peace

What an Year it was πŸ’•πŸ˜‡

I surpassed myself in my travels in 2019 πŸ˜‡

5 Continents

4 New Countries : Guatemala, Nepal, Canada and Turkey. All were so awesome and worth visiting again.

Such beautiful places, even more beautiful friends and so much of love from all around. Can’t thank God enough for all His grace πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ’•

Wherever I find love that is my home πŸ’•πŸ’•

LOS ANGELES: Peace Love Nature – December 2018 and January 2019

Ten days in LA were spent in the SRF Mother Center and three days at SRF retreat, Lake ShrineπŸ‘‡

18 Joyous days in the Country of Eternal Spring- Guatemala πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ‘‡

And my trip around the world was rounded up beautifully with 8 days in end January in Brisbane with my dear niece, Uma πŸ’•πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ‘‡

After visiting North America, Central America and Australia in the beginning of the year; April found me in me beautiful neighbouring country – Nepal; with my beautiful niece, Sabrina and her loving family. Whole of Nepal is so scenicπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ‘‡

And then back home on the beaches of Goa with my niece, Kankana and her son πŸ’•πŸ€—πŸ‘‡

The end of the year found me back again in North America, but this time on the East Coast. It has been a dream to watch the fall colours and I got so much more πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ‘‡

The last country to visit was Turkey. Visiting Istanbul had been in my wish list for almost 50 years πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘‡

Amazing Istanbul πŸ’•

I have been wanting to go to Istanbul for the past 50 years πŸ˜‚

I saw a movie : That Man in Istanbul in mid 60s and read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express at about same time. Ever since a visit to Istanbul has been on my mind. Finally I managed to go there in end October 2019, on my way back from Canada.

It is an amazing city, the only one in the world stretching to two continents πŸ˜‡ Istanbul is filled with history, great food (for non vegetarians) and friendly, beautiful people.

7 million in European part and 11 million in Asian part. 3 million people come to work from Asian to European side everyday πŸ˜‡ Galata Bridge connects old with the new European part.

On my flight from Toronto to Istanbul I met two young girls, friends from Edmonton, Canada; traveling to meet friends in Turkey! I love such people πŸ’•

Met many interesting tourists from all over the world almost everyday!

Harborside EminΓΆnΓΌ buzzes with activity as boats unload passengers at the ferry docks near the city’s bazaars. The Egyptian Bazaar, or Spice Bazaar, has stalls full of fruit, teas, and spices, while the halls of the Grand Bazaar are a colorful jumble of carpets, fabrics, lamps, and jewelry. The SΓΌleymaniye Mosque towers over the area, and the 16th-century Rustem Pasha Mosque is famed for its Iznik tiles.

Hagia Sofia (Holy Wisdom) was a Greek Orthodox Church for more than 900 years and for a short period a Roman Catholic Church and Ottoman Mosque for more than 400 years. It was converted into a museum in 1935, once Turkey had become a republic in 1923.

Bosporus bridge (1970 -73 ) connects Asia and European parts. Before this bridge boats were used to travel between the two parts. Bosphorus river/creek merges with Black Sea.

The Blue Mosque can accommodate 10000, including gardens. In summer people sit outside to pray.

Topkapi Palace is another historic and beautiful building.

Dervish performance at Orient Express Restaurant: A dream come true for me.

On the left is Orient Express building facade, still same as decades ago. Pic below that is the inside.

There are 7 islands and known as Islands Princess. Took a ferry ride and visited two of these. Heybeliada is a smaller island and enjoyed horse carriage ride there. All vehicle are electrical but there is horse shit smell😝

Met a couple from Delhi and 6 female friends from Chennai, traveling together – leaving their families behind 😊

Bigger island is Buyukada. All islands combined population is around 10000 and this one 5000.

Sea of Marmara is one side and Black Sea on the other

The guy above was selling some inexpensive kitchen gadgets. What an entertaining performer and he sold many pieces on the small boat ride.

Visited Blue Mosque more than once and prayed/meditated there.

Hagia Sophia

Hippodrome is 15th century BC, obelisk from Egypt; base Roman 2nd century. There used to be Chartiot races etc here.

Cafe Mavera on top of Camlica Hill; great city view. Good cup of tea with Amir (Vietnamese, now living in Finland). He was visiting Istanbul for hair transplant and travelπŸ˜‡ He said it was very cheap here! I was told that the mosque at Camlica can accommodate more than 70000 worshippers πŸ˜‡πŸ™

It was interesting to meet another group of females traveling together, leaving their families behind 😊 These were from Bangladesh, living in England.

Quite like Indian stuffed bread (Parantha). Was good to have a vegetarian one on my last day πŸ˜‹

God willing shall visit Turkey again for a longer stay πŸ’•πŸ™ and see more of this beautiful country πŸ’•πŸ’•

The Fall and Fall Colours πŸ‚πŸ

The last leg of my amazing trip to North America was in Ontario, Canada.

It was such a divine combination of Spirituality and Nature at its best. And once again I got so much love from all. Special thanks to my fellow devotees : Anitaji, Minaji and Shaileshji for all the love and care. And to Heather, my dear friend in Dundas, Hamilton.

Brampton and Mississauga are filled with Indians 😊

A couple of monks from Self Realisation Fellowship HQ from LA were visiting Toronto and I could attend many meditations too along with sight seeing : Nature at its awesome best. Can’t thank God enough πŸ™πŸ™

I had been to Niagara Falls in 2014 but from the US side. Canadian side falls are definitely more beautiful and awe inspiring.

Niagara on the Lake is small and beautiful town on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. A must see.

Could see some of the most amazing fall colours in Mississauga. Thanks to Shaileshji. The tapestry formed by the combination of different shades of green, yellow, red, rust and pink would leave anyone wonder struck and awed πŸπŸ‚πŸ™

Dundas in Hamilton is small quaint valley town of 20,000 inhabitants and millions of trees πŸπŸ‚

Spent a couple of glorious days there with my friend Heather. The B&B I stayed at was an old bungalow with very Victorian furnishing and well managed.

Churches in Montreal and Museum of Fine Arts πŸ’•πŸ™

Notre Dame Basilica- Was The first neo gothic church in Canada and is so beautiful. But St. Joseph Basilica is equally serene and beautiful. Loved spending time in both these.

I love meditating in churches and other places of worship during my travels. Always peaceful and uplifting. These two were even more so ❀️ I also love meditating in nature : on river banks, in hills and gardens πŸ’•

πŸ™ Nippy clicked some pics of mine while I was meditating, unaware of what was going around me πŸ˜‡

Previous posts : Montreal with Love and Graffiti in Montreal

Some redevelopment work was going on around St. Joseph Basilica. Approach and surroundings would become better in the months to come

There was a special exhibition of Egyptian Mummies going on at the Museum of Fine Arts. Great experience πŸ’•πŸ˜‡

Love in Montreal πŸ’•

My amazing travel run of the year continued with my visit to East Coast of North America in September and October. In the first 4 months of the year I had covered 4 continents and I was back again in North America, from where I had started my travels earlier this year! In fact I had started to blog with my post : Around the World with Love πŸ’•

And my last trip ended in my visiting 5th Continent of the year : Turkey/Europe πŸ˜‡

https://ashokwahi.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/around-the-world-with-love/

How I landed up in Montreal is another story of love and friendship. It was to visit my beautiful friend Nippy, whom I had met last 35 years ago when she was 10 years old😍

In my post : Friends or Soul Connects I had talked of our neighbors, the Narang family. On the other side of our house we had a Sikh family from Afghanistan, with seven daughters. The oldest was close to us and I used to take evening walks with the two younger ones and used to tell them stories. Nippy was one of those two😊 This was in 1982!!

We moved from that locality in 1983 and Nippy’s family left that place too and all contact was lost. After more than 30 years it was revived- thanks to FB!

Ever since we got in touch with her I was keen to visit Nippy. And I chose to start this trip to see fall colours by visiting Montreal, where she has been living with her husband, for the past ten years.

It was so wonderful to meet Nippy. She is so filled with love and selfless care. Can’t thank her enough for all that she did for me, including 8-9 days off from her business to show me the beautiful city of Montreal πŸ’• Where there is a friend; where there is love – there is my home πŸ’•πŸ’•

Canada has great vibrations. And my first experience of landing and immigration/customs clearance itself was so awesome. Everything worked with clockwork efficiency πŸ‘

Montreal is a beautiful city. Even the downtown has still retained the old world charm by keeping the century old facades of many buildings. A vibrant combination of modern skyscrapers and old beautiful buildings.

Loved the picturesque and quiet Montè Royal Plateau, quaint little part of Montreal; and open spaces and cafes of St Paul Street with some performers around. Notre Dame and St Joseph Basilicas are so Divine. Loved the Museum of Fine Arts and the cruise around the old port.

Though it was an extended summer I could still catch some beautiful fall colours when we drove to Rawdon Falls for a picnic with Nippy’s friends.

Beautiful, scenic and love filled days flew away rather too quickly πŸ˜πŸ’•

Mont Royal Plateau πŸ’•

Rawdon Falls

Mont Royal

Morning view from Nippy’s house πŸ’•πŸ’•

St Paul Street πŸ’•πŸŒΉ

Life is a Hurdle Race

And yet another way to interpret life is to look at it like a hurdle race.

Life simply is! It is neither easy nor hard. It simply is about learning and growing. Life keeps throwing challenges at us. It keeps creating hurdles in our lives by ways of health challenges, by way of obnoxious people, by unhealthy relationships, by ups and downs through cyclicity of life and so on. And till we learn the spiritual lesson of that situation or from that hurdle; it will keep repeating itself. Those situations and challenges would keep coming in our life again and again till we learn the lesson. We could say: Life is a school, and we are all students! Till we pass the exam we have to repeat that class again and again!

And after going through some challenging times when we finally learn the lesson we feel so good, so fulfilled, so uplifted! And the moment we relax life quietly keeps another hurdle in our way. And like any hurdle race it would be bigger and tougher! It has to be because the earlier hurdles have made us stronger and better!

Yes we don’t have to keep running all the time. We can rest for a while and enjoy the glory of overcoming the hurdle, of learning the lesson but we need to get up and get going again, if we want to pass the next exam and go for higher degrees! 

Is it a must that we go for higher degrees? Do all of us need to be PhDs? Do all of have to be Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers? No, not at all. My life, my choice! As we saw in Life is a Cocktail, it is our karmas which decide the story of our life. And our mass karma decides our collective story. If all of us were in the same class and doing the same subject would life be any fun? Would this reality show attract any audience? 

When I look at my grand daughter already burdened with so many subjects to learn and she is just in grade VI 😊 and then I look at some friends and relations so worried about their children’s high school; and some others worried about their professional courses and so on! And children themselves looking forward to finishing their studies and starting to earn and thinking life would be so cool after that! But they don’t know that it gets worse, in a way, with every passing day! Mortgages start and relationship problems start to surface and then the journey with their own children starts! Our studies, our hurdles, our challenges keep getting bigger and tougher with each passing year!

Thank God that I am through all that! And I pray that He gives me strength and wisdom to face the next hurdle, which life is bound to throw at me!

Life is not easy. It never was and never would be. We can make it drudgery, a chore. Or we can make it fun and a sport. 

*********

Earlier related posts :

Life is a train journey

Life is a Hand of Cards

https://ashokwahi.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/cyclicity-of-life-%f0%9f%98%87/

https://ashokwahi.wordpress.com/2019/07/02/life-is-a-cocktail-%f0%9f%8d%b7%f0%9f%8d%b7%f0%9f%8d%b7/

Copyright Β© Ashok Wahi 2019

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