2021 β€” The Year of Movement

2021 IS the YEAR of MOVEMENT

The year to LEARN, to GROW, to EVOLVE

THE YEAR TO KEEP MOVING

From weakness to strength

From failure to success

From sickness to health.

From suffering to joy.

2021 β€” The Year of NEW BIRTH

Of a NEW WORLD

With RENEWED HOPE

Launch yourself into it with ENTHUSIASM

TRAVEL

EXPLORE

EXPERIMENT

REJOICE

Dawn of the year of Movement. Pic from my morning walkπŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

With love and encouragement from you, my dear friends, my first book is under publication. It is a self help book, based on my life long learnings and experiences. I need your prayers and blessings that it comes out well and helps readers lead abundant and fulfilling lives. I was encouraged to write the book only because of your sustained love and support.

And the wish from my heart is that you, the reader and my dear friend and follower, have the best year of your life ever!! MAY GOD FULFIL ALL YOUR WORTHWHILE DREAMS AND DESIRES πŸ™

Love and blessings πŸ’–πŸ€—

Ashok

PS: I was away from WP for about 8 weeks to finish the book and rediscover myselfπŸ‘

My Forgotten Love and Joy πŸ’•

This post is dedicated to my beautiful and creative niece: Barbara. In her response to the nomination of Small Joy Tag of mine, she had mentioned her love for the sea 🌊

And this made me think: I love the sea so much but hadn’t mentioned it in my list of 15 Small Joys πŸ€” One reason of course is that there are hundreds of things that give me joy 😊 and the other was: I had mentioned only those joys which have been around me these past 5-6 months 🀩 and had completely forgotten my amazing last year and my love for sea. Out of sight, out of mind πŸ˜‡

It was just last year and it appears like another life time! Less than a year ago I had gone to East Coast of North America to see the fall colours. It feels like a dream now! And my visit Around the World and visiting 4 continents in 4 months was earlier last year, and it feels like another life timeπŸ˜‡

I love the sky. I can watch it for hours. But the sky doesn’t give me the feeling of infinitude, which the sea does. I can sit for hours watching the vast expanse of sea, lost in a reverie. Sunrises and sunsets on water bodies are simply divine πŸ’–

Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikh religion, in his Sukhmani Sahib has mentioned:

Water = Heavenly Father

Earth = Divine Mother

Wind = Guru preceptor

And I have had so many amazing experiences of wind and my Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. When I am in any water body with wind blowing and hills around – for me that is Heaven.

Sharing some pics of my love with the sea during my 2019 travels around the world:

Guatemala – January 2019

Brisbane – January 2019

Chandigarh – February 2019

Pokhara, Nepal – April 2019

Montreal and Toronto – Sep, October 2019

Niagara Falls, Ontario – October 2019

Istanbul – October 2019

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: Like a Train Journey

Well a journey by train is not exactly like a Hand of Playing Cards randomly dealt to us! But once we decide the starting station and the destination in a way it is like a hand of cards!

We don’t have any control over our fellow passengers and how they would behave! We have no control over the stations at which the train would stop and the duration of the stops! We have no control over the outside scenery. We have no control over the cleanliness of the train and so on! The quality of our journey, the way we experience our journey depends entirely on how we respond to all that is happening around us!

 

Thousands of people travel on the same routes and trains regularly and all would have different experiences and learning!

Am digressing a little! Writing about train journeys has reminded me of an interesting personal experience! When I had just started to learn English in school we had to write an essay on a subject given by the teacher. And we used to know which were the favorite or common subjects for these essays. During one such exam I had prepared and mugged up the essay on: A Village Fair! And the topic given to us that day was: A Train Journey. I did a smart thing! I started to describe the train journey and then came to a point where the train had to stop for a couple of hours for some failure and repair! Passengers got down to stretch their legs and found a fair going on in a village nearby. And I described that fair (because I had prepared that well!) in big detail πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‡

When I received the answer sheets back after our teacher had gone through these: He had given me 2/10 and written: Ashok don’t act so smart! And I had a hearty laugh πŸ˜‚ And I had also fought with the teacher for more marks 😊

One angle to this train journey we call life is this: That what happens is not in our control; but how we respond is very much in our control. Another angle is this: In a train journey between two stations the stops are fixed or we can say pre-decided. Not only are the stations on which the train would stop fixed, the duration of the stops too is fixed!

And that is what happens in our lives! Not only are our dates of birth and death already fixed; all the major life events: marriage, children, jobs, major health and relationships issues etc all are prefixed based on our past karma or soul agenda or randomly whatever your thoughts about life and its meaning!

 You may like to read my earlier posts on life:

Life is a Cocktail

Life is a Reality Show

Some passengers sleep through the entire journey! And some read all the time! Some like to see the scenery outside and some are busy with their mobiles and laptops! Some passengers love talking and chatting and make friends easily! Some are introverts. Some enjoy the journey and its experiences and some are always restless; wondering when would they reach their destination! They are so focused on the destination that they don’t see the beauty and joy all around in that moment.

So it is not in our hands where the train would stop; but it is very much in our hand what we do in between these two stops! It is not in our hands who would be our co passengers but it is very much in our hands how we relate to them. Let us not wait for a perfect journey. Let us make the best of the phase of the journey we are in.

 

None of us is perfect. No life is perfect. But all lives can be peaceful. All lives can be happy. All lives can be meaningful.

Wishing you all the best for the Journey of your life πŸ˜ŠπŸ€—

copyright Β©

Alien in the Web

I had visited Brisbane earlier this year. Everyday Uma, my niece, and I used to walk to the nearby Metro Station. One day we saw a passion fruit tree in the kitchen garden of a house on our way. It was such fun to be able to see the bud, the flower and the fruit on the same tree!! There is no end to the beauty and the wonders of nature! Another day we saw a small mango tree with rather big mangoes for its size!!

But the best experience was watching a spider web just outside our house. Both of us were admiring the spider and realized we were not looking at the same spider!! There was one at the top of the web and it was beautiful! Nothing like the spiders I have seen in India! But most amazing was the one, almost at the bottom of the web. It was a small thing (I still refuse to call it a spider!); not more than 1 cm tall! It had 4 limbs and a face and eyes!! I asked Uma couldn’t it be an alien? Some life form from some other dimension, from the outer space? She laughed it out πŸ˜‚ Naturally πŸ˜‡ But I still wonder?? I tried my best to take pictures of the web with the alien and the beautiful spider but couldn’t succeed. Was it due to insufficient light and limitation of my mobile camera or the alien web of secrecy?

Passion fruit pics on my iPhone

Cyclicity of Life πŸ˜‡

In this pic except me everything else is more than four centuries old πŸ˜‡

Ever since I visited Braganza house and Kala Chitra in Goa last week, I have been thinking about:

Whole of life is cyclic! And that nothing lasts…

Take 1 Goa

Located in Chandor Village, Braganza House was built in the 17th century. This huge house is situated on one side of the village square. It has now separate houses, with a common entrance. The east wing occupied by the Pereira-Braganza family, has a small chapel with a relie of St. Francis Xavier, which is a fingernail. The artefacts collected by the family over a number of years, have added to the beauty of the house. There is a Great Salon, a big ballroom with the floor made of italian marble antique chanderlier from Europe adorning the ceiling, and heavily carved , ornate rodewood furniture. What stands out among the furniture is a pair of high-backed chairs, beating the family crest, which was given to the Perira – Braganza family by King Dom Luis of Portugal. Most of the furniture dates back to the 18th Century and is made from local seeso (martel wood), lacquered or inlaid with mother of pearl by craftsman from Curtorim Village. For antique aficionados, the house holds many delighful finds. 

The west wing of the house belongs to the Menezes braganza family. Apart from its exquuisite furniture and Chinese porcelain from Macau, it also houses a collection of family portraits, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The library is believed to be the first private library in Goa .It has almost 5,000 leather bound books collected by Luis de Menezes Braganza (1878-1938), a reputed journalist, renowned for the part he played in Goa’s independent movement.  

The family has excellent lineage and awesome history. But today they don’t have enough to maintain this huge property. They depend on the tips/donations of the tourists to do the maintenance.

Nothing lasts. Whole of life is cyclic. What goes up, must come down.

Take 2 Family

I have seen this cycle in our family too. Our grandfather was very well off and our family lived in Lahore, now in Pakistan. All my older sisters were born there but I and my younger brother were born in India. Big family πŸ˜‚

My father had a decent government job and as it was a joint family and our grandfather was rich; my father’s pay was his pocket money! All was well and all of a sudden partition of India happened in 1947 and our family had to leave behind everything in Lahore and move to India.

To digress a little : My grandfather was an amazing person. Always calm and smiling. He was the one who should have been hurt the most, with the partition and loss of his fortune. But I never heard him complain and talk of good old times.

Fall from affluence to scarcity. The struggle started. We had a roof over our heads and decent food. Nothing else. We studied in Hindi medium, government schools. And slowly, very slowly in the beginning and pretty fast laterlife again went into an upward cycle. Because of my father’s insistence on education and no other diversions all the siblings did very well.

Nothing lasts.…Whole of life is cyclic

Take 3 Spiritual

That life is cyclic, I had known for a long time. I knew ups and downs is part of life. But two years back I was exposed to a new thought altogether. I learned that – Falling down is a MUST!!!

We had a discourse from a visiting YSS monk and one of the things he said was : “Spiritual path is never a straight line. Falling down is a MUST to learn and scale higher heights. I was a little shaken and surprised but realised that it was true. I could see this in my own life.

And I could also relate to it with the stock market. If it keeps going up it will lose all meaning. It must fall to scale new heights.

Yes my friend, nothing lasts. If good times didn’t, bad too won’t. Whole of life is cyclic.

And as I am writing this post, I am enjoying the monsoon clouds and the sunrise. The short cycle of day and night; and a little longer cycle of the seasons. Can’t thank God enough for His grace.

Embrace the Cyclicity of Life my friend and stay blessed

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