#melaka

I have done quite a bit of traveling my whole life. But this year, I told myself I’ll do that a bit more. Rather than being over ambitious, I told myself I’ll pack my bags whenever I can. My sister and I decided we’ll take a weekend trip to Melaka, Malaysia. Technically, It’s  only a 4 hour bus ride away from Singapore. But I have never been there. So, we did it last minute.

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We took a really late night bus over. Now, when I think about it. That was a huge mistake. Not because of safety. But when you reach a place in the middle of the night, your options are low. And your chances of getting ripped off – HIGH! So we ended up paying a bomb for a cab! But that didn’t stop us from getting a late night dinner. We were famished! Walking the streets at 3am isn’t advisable for women. But we didn’t quite care cos we were really hungry. We had a long day ahead. And we needed food. Image

The next day we got up early with an intention to cover as many places as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. None of the money changers were opened. Here’s the weirder part. The people are friendly. But they had a strange sense of direction. Each and EVERY one of them gave us a separate set of directions. We ended up circling the place for 2 hours. In the end, I gave up and decided to follow my gut. Finally we found a money changer. And, that’s why I dedicate a picture to that experience. Travelling a is a funny thing. Everything and anything you plan will fail. Period. There is no point getting upset. The key is adapting and being open to changes. We finally realized the only way to get a decent set of directions was to ask in broken Malay. English didn’t cut it. My sister and I learned to Jaywalk by the end of the experience. Let me tell you. That’s a skill.

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After battling with Murphy and his laws, we finally managed to get to our destination. GO KART! I always wanted to do it. Honestly, I’m skeptical about the safety. But the fun part was really fun! Image

And TARGET SHOOTING!

I never enjoy travelling like a tourist. I love the backpacker’s way. Independently finding my own things to do. But sometimes, that never works. It’s really okay to get a tour the first few days. Because it gives you a bird’s eye view of what to see. Also, it allows you to study and observe the people. That can save you money. Because SHARKS are everywhere. They’ll make you pay like hell. After being ripped off a couple of times, we took a river cruise.

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And that’s me. Less than zero style!

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And that my friends… is a RICKSHAW. Its something I always wanted to try. We walked around so much, I knew the roads like the back of my hand. And then, there is Jonker Street. There was plenty of food and lots of opportunity to lose money on random crap. Melaka is known for food. But, for me I thought it was the opposite. Maybe, the shops I got to eat in wasn’t that great. But everything, including Jonker street was loaded with MSG. You could taste the diabetes in the drinks.

By the time, we were done with Jonker, we were out of Malaysian money. We didn’t have any money changers around. There was this little place at Jonker where they allow you to pray. Since, I am a fan of Kuan yin, I told her to help us find a way back to our hotel. Strangely, the cab driver decided to buy our Singaporean money. Luck!

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So the next day, we decided to visit the oldest Chinese temple in that area. A kuan yin temple. ImageImageImage

And more temples. The best food I ever had in this region was at Saravanas. NO MSG. Wholesome food. Big Portions. They were surprised we could eat so much :)Image

 

The only few things I bought from Jonker was an iron man action figure, wooden gun and a batik mask. I have a habit of collecting masks from whichever places i visit.

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And that’s Tony all tucked in.

The best part is we only spent a grand total of 120 for the whole trip. That’s pretty backpackerish considering the amount I used to spend in the past! Traveling is like a crash course on life. Everything and EVERYTHING will screw up. Keep calm and keep going. Be like water and never stay attached to anything :)

 

 

#changes

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All my life I accepted what destiny throws out at me. It was like driving a car using a pre-planned route. I didn’t like where I was going. But, I kept at it. Wishing good things come my way. All of a sudden, like a lightbulb going off in my head, I decided to make a sudden turn and I have never regretted my decision.

Wishing is a passive thing. We wish. But nothing ever happens. When our wishes don’t come true. We accept it as fate. Like how everyone wishes the new year brings them some good fortune. There’s nothing more passive than that!

This year, rather than wishing 2014 will be good to me. I decided to make 2014 good to me. I made some remarkable changes. Firstly, I had to detox a lot from my life. Friends that were like family. Everyone wants friends. But sometimes even if they mean well, they can be the very reason why you are not that person you really want to be. I had to give up some really good friends and family.

I decided to make my dreams come true. Everything I always wanted to do since childhood. The ideal Sabreena that lived in my head. I wanted to be her. Rather than dreaming about it. I decided to make her.

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Sometimes, you have to do things so out of your way to be the ideal person you always wanted to be. This year I took up martial arts for the first time. I always thought I could never do it. I wasn’t athletic. I’m a dancer after all. But I did it. I took up an ancient old fighting system called Kalari Payattu. It is a tough martial art. I had to face so many fears week after week. Push my body to such extremes. I did things I never thought I could do. Especially after having a permanent knee injury. But life is interesting. Sometimes, when you open doors you meet people. My master is a very disciplined man. I look up to him a lot. Week after week I learn something new about life. I’m in a phase of life where I am chasing after my dreams. There is no place for fear. And, that is what exactly he is teaching me. I am the only girl in class. Sometimes, I ask myself why I put myself in such uncomfortable situations. Then, it dawned on to me…I am different. I always have been. And, always will be. But that’s what makes me unique. Despite being the only girl in class. I get lots of encouragement. Sometimes, even special treatment. The masters take good care of me.

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I decided to take this martial art because I was drawn to the stick. A weapon used in this artform. It reminded me of the cane in belly dance. If you trace history, it was supposedly a war dance. I wanted to learn to spin the stick in unique ways. I am no where near that standard. But I wish to be.

My body has become more flexible and muscular. I am much stronger than I thought. Weakness is only in the mind. Once you overcome that, you can be anything. This indirectly helps me chase my dreams. To remove fear and go get what I want.

I also took up Kathak. It is a dance from North India. I decided to take it to improve my flow in bellydance. I always felt I wasn’t graceful. After 8 years I realized why I wasn’t growing as a dancer. My vocabulary in dance was limited to bellydance. I needed to know more to be a good dancer.  My Kathak teacher is my biggest inspiration. Everything about her is so philosophical. She teaches me to be strong, to let go and not be afraid to fail. Something I find so difficult to come to terms with. I would always say sorry when I screw up. And she would say never be sorry. You are only learning. Be patient with yourself.

With such strong mentors by my side. I stopped being so afraid. I decided to march ahead.

Even though life is about achieving your dreams. We need to learn to laugh on the way. Life doesn’t need to be a battle. It can be fun. Even though i spend hours on my animation. I keep my saturdays and wednesdays work free. I go and try something every week. It makes me feel fresher, happier and rejuvenated. Sometimes, I kayak, swim or cycle. Anything. As long as I can forget work and embrace my inner child. Because it’s she who keeps my imagination alive.

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I told myself in 2014, I am going to make changes. And, when you make changes, you open doors, meet new people. Our life is a pattern. The universe throws at you what you reflect to it. Look around you. Your friends and lovers are a reflection of you. If you don’t like that reflection, break it. But just as much as you destroy, you need to create. You create new doors for people to walk in. Every month i decided to take up something new. I am looking forward to learning swimming and archery. Probably take sailing lessons. But every month, something new happens.

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Every year, I am going to travel. At least to two places. The world is big. There is lots to experience. Many people live their whole lives in crammed offices. I don’t want that. As much as I want to achieve great things, I also want to enjoy every minute of my life. I love my work. But what keeps my work flowing is me being happy.

I have learned to say no. Set boundaries. Cancel bad dates. When life throws lemons at you. Don’t make lemonade. Throw it back at life and ask for a new menu. Because the universe is testing you. Interestingly, when you give up a friend or a lover. Life sends you a similar lemon. Not because it wants lemonade. But to test you to see if you have learned your lesson.

Wishing all of you well. :)

#UNSTRUNG

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This post is about another dream I had. I began recording dreams to find out what my subconscious is thinking. I have made many changes to my life lately. I had always been a yin person. I reflect and think a lot. I began to realize i had to put more yang into my life. I use dreams to find out what my inner mind is up to. I believe our dreams hold clues to our fears, wishes and of course dreams.

In this dream, I am in a rundown building. I see myself surrounded by students. It feels like a music school. But the entire school is very grey, full of concrete. I don’t know how old I am. But I was late for band practice. I see the students playing violins. I feel an immense pressure to get my musical instrument. But i already had an idea what I wanted in my dream. I walk to this blocked off area. It is like a short wall. I try to lean towards to pick this electric black guitar. Interestingly, this guitar was on some treadmill. So it keeps slipping away from my grasp. On the other side is a small hole. The guitar could easily slip out of my reach and fall inside that hole. I was determined in this dream and didn’t care if i missed the band practice. The students didn’t look too happy anyway. They look like they were being forced to practice.

I manage to grab the guitar. I remember feeling so happy. I take my own sweet time to wipe off the dust. It was covered in it. The guitar was slender, sleek and beautiful. I was glad I worked hard for it. I was thinking to myself, underneath all that dust this was worth it. I proudly walk with that guitar.

I woke up and googled the symbols. There are two interpretations. The dusty guitar could symbolize a certain aspect of myself that I forgot. By wiping off that dust, I am cleaning it off its negativity. Guitar could also mean passion, creativity and energy. An electric guitar is known to be loud and showy. Possibly, this is an aspect of me I had forgotten. By cleaning it, I am bringing it back into my life. Interestingly, I have been doing activities I had shelved aside. There were so many things I wanted to do. But after a terrible breakup, I finally got the space, time and courage to pursue everything I always wanted to do. I do not care about consequences. I just go out and do them. Being late for the band practice could symbolize how I feel about the whole thing. Society has a way of setting a timeline to everything. I might be feeling I am not in par with society. But I do not care. I know what I want. And, I am determined to get it.

The guitar interestingly has another symbolism. It means love and passion. It could be a romantic side or interest I have shelved aside. Wiping off the dust could mean cleaning off the negativity or the act of pursuing.

Whatever the interpretation is. I was happy getting that guitar. I am on the right track. This feels right at the moment. Because I want to live life to the fullest until I am breathing.

#NO

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I am a big fan of Renee’s articles on the Feminine Woman. I came across an article about people pleasing. Do check out the link below

http://www.thefemininewoman.com/2011/04/pleaser-women-always-lose-out-the-difference-between-pleasing-and-giving/

This is what I have been practicing for the past month. The art of saying, “I don’t think so.” I did the little exercise on that article and had to do a little self reflection. All our lives we have been drilled to believe that if we don’t please someone, we might end up losing them. So we learn to be the “Yes” man or woman. But interestingly, each time we go out of the way to please someone. We end up with the opposite result. By pleasing them, we are hoping they would return us the favor or stay with us. Interestingly, neither happens. Take a moment to remember a decision you made where you had to go out of the way for someone. Especially, at your expense. How did you feel? Did the person last?

No. Never.

Now, remember the times you said No to something you didn’t want? How did you feel? Did you lose the person?

Interestingly, we feel more empowered. Stronger. In control. Worshipping our inner bitch is important. At the end of the day, when you please yourself – you save money, time and a potential headache.

Every decision we make, we must reflect if we are pleasing someone or we are doing it out of our own accord. If a friend, calls you out to go for a movie. Are you going to please your friend out of fear of losing her? Or are you going because you want to watch the movie as well? If your reason is the first, you are probably going to lose the person any way. If you learn to serve yourself, you can serve others. If not you end up being an empty bottle. Nothing can fill that void. Nobody wants to be around a void.

Personally, I feel every child should learn the word No before they can even say Mama.

#Journey to self love

It all started with a dream. My subconscious was screaming to me, I wasn’t loving myself enough. And, this sparked a journey. A journey to self love. All my life, I learned to suppress my desires, wishes and even my childhood. I had to take care of a Mom who was very much a child herself. I grew up with a void. I ended up overcompensating to feel accepted. Being in abusive relationships. Until one day, that dream screamed at me. And so, it begun. This journey to fulfill everything I always wanted to do.

I told my sister to be my pal. We wrote everything we wanted to try. And, we would fulfill it.

I always wanted to learn Kathak. I have been bellydancing for 8 years. I love bellydance. But, I felt I could do more. My hands weren’t very graceful. I never had a real mentor to motivate me. So, I decided once and for all to learn it.

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It began a beautiful relationship with a very beautiful teacher. By the time I went to her, I was a broken woman. My self esteem was rock bottom. I had an injury, a broken relationship and lots of fear. Of course, she doesn’t know any of this. I would scold myself each time I screwed up. She looked at me and asked me why? Every time I would get nervous, she would stop the lesson and talk to me. So to loosen me up. I started to learn better when I was less nervous. This was one very emotionally intelligent lady. I know zilch about Kathak. I have seen it in movies. But, I decided to love this artform more because of her. A true teacher inspires. And for this lady, I would practice at home. I started to see beauty in Kathak. Even though, it has only been two lessons.

In Kathak, we use the feet a lot. It uses a lot of stamping. Each time I stamped my feet, I felt grounded. I felt like I belong to this world. This is my footprint! This is me! I deserve to be here. I deserve a place for myself. I deserve to love myself and be loved. I felt present for once.

If we want to be good at something, sometimes we have to look out. I learn the beauty of hand movements in Kathak. Something, I could never do in belly dance. I was mostly self taught. It really pays to have a teacher to inspire you. Someone who emotionally understands you.

I always wanted to learn an indian artform. So this is it. I’m doing it. I’m loving myself!

Life is about challenges. Pushing boundaries. Fear stagnates us. So, I started doing daring things I dream of.

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Our journey to self love begins with a boat. I love water. I decided to teach myself how to Kayak. Rowing the boat with my sister taught me a few things. We almost hit the rocks. The tide got really high. My sister started panicking. I was panicking inside. But, i decided to be calm. Just like I wanted the waters to be. Because, If i were to panic like her, our boat would capsize. I am not a very calm person by nature. But I taught myself to be calm. Especially during danger. Panicking solves nothing. But being calm, helps one think rationally. I calmly told her to relax and rowed away from the rocks. We were safe.

Water is an interesting element. It is clear. Yet, we don’t know what lurks underneath. It is very much akin to life. We can choose to be afraid and remain at the shore. Or brave the waters and learn new things. This means a lot to me because I am at that point in my life.

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And the best thing about all of this…

I started to see a friend in my sister.

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I am going to keep doing all the things in my list. Why wait for retirement? Life begins now. This very moment. For once, I am going to live life for myself. Because, I deserve to be here. This is my footprint!

 

 

#Learning to say NO begins at the sales counter

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Cosmetic companies and bad boyfriends are pretty much the same. They lower your self esteem. Convince you need them. And, make you pay for it. Today, something interesting happened. I wanted a vegan daily cleanser for my face. I am a big fan of Himalayas products because they don’t test on animals. I knew very well what I wanted before I got to the shop. A sales lady hijacks me. She tells me bluntly “No offense. You have terrible skin. You should try this product instead.”

She lures me to another counter and promotes this other product which is priced double. Her sales pitch begins. I decide to listen to her anyway despite the fact she just cut my self esteem into half. I have a habit of making friendly conversations with sales people. I found she is from Kerala as well. I continue talking to her. She then nails her pitch with these fatal words, “My daughter uses it. I can guarantee you it works!”.

I find myself in a dilemma where lots of others find themselves. If I were to reject her, what would she think of me?

Recently, I read this book. “How to get in touch with your inner bitch.” We often find ourselves saying yes to things we barely want. Buying things we barely need. Saying yes to a guy we would never date. Saying yes to a bad job offer. Saying yes to an obnoxious colleague. Or that bad boyfriend.

We don’t want to make them feel bad. My, my what would they think? Let’s play nice instead. And so, we find ourselves sitting on a mountain of shopping bags, being in a relationship with a guy we have no spark with, falling asleep at our jobs, being a slave to that obnoxious colleague, and promoting that boyfriend to a husband who in turn is going to end up being an ex husband with an axe.

How do we feel inside? Just awesome isn’t it? Being nice is soooo nice. Right!

All this could simply solved with one word. NO. Or like what this lovely book taught me. “I don’t think so.” If only we say no. We wouldn’t have that ex husband chopping at our door at 1 AM. Think about it!

I know I have terrible skin. But to trust a complete stranger who tore my self esteem into half and buy a doubly priced product. I don’t think so. Besides, shouldn’t I know what’s good for my face? Cosmetic companies do that a lot. They convince you that you aren’t good enough. Then, tell you their product will make you good. And, we buy that crap. We buy that crap from a total stranger who just labeled us as not good enough. What’s worse? We trust them. That’s not nice. So why should we play nice?

In the end, I listened to her sales pitch patiently. I completely understand she was just trying to sell me something. I looked at her and told her, “Nah. I know what I want. I rather buy the product I came for. Thank you.”

We still had a friendly conversation after that. It didn’t change anything. She didn’t like me any lesser. The foundation of our friendship built 5 minutes ago was still standing strong.

There is an inner bitch in every one of us. Call it a gut feeling. When you are torn between two roads, listen to your inner bitch. Cause, she is always right. It is better to listen to her than say yes and kick yourself for the rest of eternity. It’s not worth it. By the way, do that to cosmetic companies. By you saying no to their crap, you are saying no to their claim of you being not good enough. In other words, you are good enough to know what’s good enough for you.

If you want to practice saying no, go to a sales counter. By the end of the aisle, you’ll be pretty damn good at it and you won’t have to end up with that ex with an axe!

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