Journey

Cross Country Ramblings 1

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The tiny Suzuki Alto is crammed with clothing, birds in a cage and a rabbit in a pet carrier. K had been freaking out because she felt it couldn’t be done. The journey is about to begin. We get a late start. Climbing the hill towards Hilton’s verdant green, I begin to feel the relief of leaving Durban behind. Something seems to fall from my shoulders like a veil slipping from my face. I can see more clearly, feel more intensely, dream more bigly, and hope more fervently. I am leaving behind KwaZulu-Natal and going forward and toward the Western Cape, literally and figuratively. As we progress towards the Free State, the skies become more blue and seem to occupy the windshield space with a hugeness not known in KZN. This big sky blue and white take my breath away. There are fields that have been planted and harvested both left and right of my vision. They glitter gold in the late afternoon sun. The golden glitter of the fields of the Free State I will not easily not remember. As I walked on the beach in the Cape Southern Peninsula, I thought of this and felt the need to write down some parts of the journey that have brought me to this destination, by the sea, with the view, with the loveliness of pink late setting suns, of whipping winds and cold sea air.

Images Carol Knox. The beach I walk on, approach five minutes from where I live, the sand fine like talcum powder, large strands of kelp almost the size of an arm strewn across the beach, white, windy, a wildness not quite tamed.

An earlier post: The Felt Weight where the relief from the weight can be likened to the slipping of the veil.

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

What you Think becomes What and Who you Are

My Grandparents

My Grandparents

My grandparents, standing first and second on the right.

What you Think becomes What and Who you Are

ETutor: Early reflections on who I am 05/03/2014

These reflections form part of my eTutor training with the University of South Africa, (UNISA). I would like to record my journey here. The emphasis of the training is on forming communities of practice, where we can reflect in a safe environment, support and learn from one another. For many the online tutor environment is new.

Regarding my early reflections. I was mostly raised in my early years by my grandparents. My mother was a single mother with two children to support, so it was easier that I lived with my Grandparents. These two wonderful people influenced me in profound ways. They were deeply religious and belonged to the Nederlandse Gereformede Kerk – NG Kerk. They were warm people who accepted all. At the skirts of my grandmother I learnt respect for all. Sometimes we would travel by train to visit far flung family. Some of the family were farmers in the Karoo. The history of my grandparents is: they were sheep farmers, my grandmother was a farm school teacher. The depression came as well as a drought and they lost everything, They made their way to Durban with five small children to support. Times were very hard and they were very poor. My grandfather got a job in Customs at the Railways.

So each December we got a free rail pass, and used it to visit family. This was the first time I was exposed to not only racism but also cruelty. My grandfather’s brother treated his workers badly, swore at them and such. He was cruel to the animals, sheep and pigs, with some horses and cows, also a large black dog. From what I remember I was around 12. It left deep wounds in my being, since I had never before encountered such things. I learnt that racism is taught, it does not come naturally, as is cruelty taught. I became a vegetarian after witnessing the slaughter of a sheep. It was gruesome and horrific and has continued to give me nightmares.

These experiences deeply shaped who I have become. My children were raised without prejudice towards others and they were never aware of differences based on population group, gender, background. They never even described their friends in these terms. Again it affirms for me the importance and power of teaching and providing a living example – on how one develops.

With these formative influences I have come to see how easily people are defined by population group and other group formations. In the workplace I have even been told that I mustn’t think I am privileged because of the colour of my skin. Prejudice is easy. Standing against it is not so easy. At university my youngest daughter sees people sitting together in population groups and it pains her. However, she is lucky enough to be deeply involved in debating, where the mix and balance is more comfortable for her. They accept one another for the commonalities that they share.

Therefore, I am deeply sensitive to the issue of respect for one another. When I did corporate training I was fortunate to train members of the Department of Labour. We were doing Conflict Management and we were talking about difference and how this can lead to misunderstanding. I shared that I was a lacto-vegetarian and how this sets me apart maybe more than anything else. I related my story of what happened when I was a child. Most delegates could not understand my choice, they worried about what was left to eat. It was amazing when one delegate stood up and said: “I can understand this. I have chickens at home. I do not want to kill my own chickens, I am fond of them. I would rather go to the store to buy one there.”  Then everyone had an example that they could relate to.

For me, I work from the premise that we all have more in common than we are different. I view difference as interesting and something to learn more about. I think we all have to watch what we think, because that becomes what you speak and that becomes what and who you are.

Image courtesy of Carol  Knox.

City Planners | Notre Dame

City Planners Notre Dame

If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be?

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons. Thanks ZuffeNotre-Dame de Paris (Gothic cathedral), south facade, view from the Seine.

This building has a deep reverence about it, a worndownness, an ancientness beyond its years. The Gothic architecture inspires terror and fear as if human torments are made real in concrete. There is a feeling of many souls passing through and their accumulated grief, happiness, religious fervor, peace, praise, prayer has literally seeped into the very being of this cathedral. I felt this the moment I set foot on the worn front stairs. Construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII and it took so long to complete. Almost as if it really struggled to be born and to come into being.

I wept within these walls for the profound effect it had on me, literally making my hair stand on end. And the view from the Seine as one passes under bridges, each different from the one before, just passes conceptualisation. The Notre Dame touches me in all unspoken ways. I just love this building and THIS WOULD BE IT!

It was here that I discovered Gregorian Chants, it captures some of the qualities of Notre Dame – “Gregorian chant, in its all-embracing spirituality and poetry, appeals to the deeper levels of the human heart.” Here is a sample from SoundCloud:

Fight or Flight | How about Freeze? | Belongings in the Sand

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365 Days of Writing Prompts: Fight or flight | How about Freeze | Belongings in the Sand

When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?

Frightened, Carol stood, surrounded by her few belongings, staring at the dry sand covering the toes of her new pumps, black, pointy toed, with a flash of red at the heel, just like her, just a flash of the possibility of intrigue. The heat felt like 40 degrees. Cars flashed by at outrageous speeds, but this was only in the periphery of her consciousness. There was nothing but sand and freeway and two individuals arguing in a language she could not understand and two cars parked at an angle at the edge of the desert. Carol was numb, frozen. Her mind could hardly grasp the reality of what had happened. So far from home, frozen in the sand. All she could think in that moment was: “…oh my new shoes are getting ruined. If only I had worn those black ‘takkies’.”

Nothing else seemed possible. No running, no fighting would help her now.

Image from Wikipedia Adbar Share Alike Attribution

Switcheroo | 365 Writing Prompts | Globe-T

365 Days of Writing Prompts: Switcheroo. If you could switch blogs with any blogger for a week, with whom would you switch and why?

I would switch with Bonnet Voyageur | Globe-T

Why? I love the novel approach to travels. The bonnet, or woolen hat, visits places and is photographed there. I would love to see the hat in places around Durban, South Africa. This is the Welcome Message:

WELCOME ON BOARD!

“Born to a knitting pin father and a yarn ball mother, Globe-T. the travelling Winter Hat lives to explore the world. He enjoys posing for pictures in the places he discovers and sharing his travel adventures.”

 

The page design is clean and well laid out and the colours are great. Design is important to me. A pleasure to visit.

 

Here is my hat from the 1970’s, although not wool I thought it would be fun to share.

 

carol's hat new

Tell us Your Story | Reflections | Smell of Acceptance

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Daily Post: Nosey Delights – The Smell of Acceptance

I am linking here to an earlier post which fits exactly with today’s prompt.

365 Days of Writing Prompts: Tell us your story. Tell us about a journey — whether a physical trip you took, or an emotional one.

Ouma, tiny in stature, warm, loving, kind. I can smell the cooking from the minuscule, can’t turn around kitchen. The smell of acceptance and safety. I remember seeing her, I did not know it would be the last, fragile, yearning to go to her place in the heavens, (a deeply religious soul).

“…en ek sal in die huis van die HERE bly in lengte van dae.” (Psalm 23 – I will stay in the house of the Lord for the length of days).

Staring at the coffin, my heart constricts, fluid pouring from my eyes and nose, I wonder why it does not come out of my ears, I feel I am dying myself. It felt like the end, end of a home, a place of safety, an unconditional love. I felt I would never know such a place again. Not so much a place but an attitude. Years later I see her and feel her and I miss her, my grandfather, I miss him, (man of few words, teddy bear of a person, shrouded in pipe smoke, kind), wishing them well in whatever rebirth they have taken. Both my grandparents, down to earth, uncontrived. I have not met such people again. They were innocents in a complex manipulative world. Thank you Ouma and Oupa for your heartfulness. Life really only offers a few such opportunities if we are lucky. Lady luck, turn your gaze on me now.

Ouma and Oupa standing, first and second on the right.

ouma and oupa with family

 

Sign outside the cemetery, isn’t life ironic?

cats crossing

 

Oupa: 21-10-1900 to 01-09-1985, Ouma: 05-01-1902 to 26-08-1999.

ouma and oupa

Image purchased with my website template Theme Catch Evolution: Meaning and Mindfulness

 

Bangkok and Sri-Ayuttaya

guest house

Photos of some of my stay in Bangkok at Sri-Ayuttaya and a couple of other pictures. I wish to record how thankful I am to the owners of this Guest House, for their kindness and for visiting me when I was in hospital over Christmas, with what the hospital thought was a collapsed kidney. The Bangkok Mission Hospital is fully vegetarian, so that was a treat.  I would recommend Sri-Ayuttaya to any traveler and they made wonderful Thai curries for me, with Tofu. The joys of good vegetarian food. Where: Sri-Ayudthaya Soi 14, Behind National Library Dusit,10300, Bangkok Thailand.

How sad I felt, tethered to a drip, prostrate in white linen with Christmas Carolers singing downstairs. How traveling challenges you with a kind of violent physical purging, especially when traveling in Asia. Physical afflictions plagued me in both Thailand and India. My romantic notions of living in India soon smashed into reality when I become violently ill the moment I ate something in a Delhi eatery. My sensitive sensibilities protested wherever I went. Strange coming from Africa and a warm tropical climate. Just like the mosquitoes like moths, the bacteria and viruses saw a wonderful if unwilling host, territory to be conquered.

Wat Pho – Reclining Buddha Temple

reclining buddha temple

 

The Reclining Buddha

The Reclining Buddha

 

My Breakfast Spot

My Breakfast Spot

 

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  It was an incredible experience, there were tigers all around…this one turned his head and put my whole arm up to the elbow into his mouth…the monk quickly put a white powder on the rock and the tiger let go and turned to lick it…WOW AND WOW! Almost sans arm!

 

Where I used to sit.

Where I used to sit.

The Felt Weight

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“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” 

― Nathaniel HawthorneThe Scarlet Letter

I can say, that for me the release after the weight comes in moments, some of which I record here and will add to in time:

Sitting in a green cafe amidst Bangkok, soft light, sparkling glass, tranquil surrounds, beans seen through a glass-topped table, staring into the tangle of flyovers, concrete, cars and every transport mode known to man, realising the reality of the tranquil space, insulated in the muted sounds and air-conditioning, my daughter beside me – “we are doing it”. Ahaa, the reality of the freedom and the choice. The lived felt juxtaposition of chaos and tranquility.

The back of a small motorbike, whizzing around a tiny Thai town, can do, can do. Having noticed a woman at the boarder crossing into Laos, now on the back of her bike. Once crossed I walked with the weight of my backpack digging into my shoulders, eventually finding a small place in Wien Tien with a lovely courtyard. Sitting there, I saw the same woman and spoke to her in Afrikaans: “Ja wragtig ek dink jy is van Suid Afrika, (yes, I really think you are from South Africa)”. And yes, she was, of all places to find a fellow South African. How we laughed till tears fell that day and the next. How these moments lent an appreciation for small things, a cool room, tepid shower water, someone to laugh with from home, and the possibilities. Ahaa the freedom, the absence of weight.

Moving, boxes and chaos, empty spaces, exhaustion, emotional disarray, loss. How to cope? Thinking, I can apply what I know from meditation, I can label the emotion, name it, then think of it as if a cloud, passing over and dissipating, a watershed moment, again and again I did this, applied to life’s streams it gradually became easier to be more resilient, to lose the weight of the felt moment, by accepting, by letting go and simply being, knowing, really feeling it in my pores, that this moment too shall pass. Ahaa, the absence of weight. Be and be still. Meaning unfolding.

A Bangkok Park – Swamped by birds, the moments:

bangkok park swamped by birds

 

Image purchased at Creative Market.

Pai in the Sky

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I loved this place…sat in the lounge of a wonderful house under a huge tree…people from all over the world were jamming…smells from home – pasta – children playing dogs mingling…a wind came up and leaves and rain blew through the slats at the top of the wall onto my face…the cool…after bangkok…i wept…pai in the sky…how one comes to value the simple pleasures of life…it was Songkran…people were throwing water everywhere…street happiness…largess…i found a magic place after several tries…garden birds…wafting white mosquito nets…green…friendly people…wood everywhere…akin to a paradise…how lucky i was…this was my last journey…after this…when i got back to Bangkok i became sick with chicken pox…after…came home…AFRICA!!!! I came into the airport having wished so hard, like a child wishing for Christmas, that i would hear african singing when i came back home…customs…welcome home…smiling faces…AND african singing. As my luggage was pushed out into the cold highveld air, i screamed AFRICA! Big open skies…my home.

A Pai street:

pai street

Homeless by Ladysmith Black Mambazo from KwaZulu-Natal. I had been homeless and now I was home. Grammy award winners.

They played with Paul Simon, remember Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes? How South Africans can sing, dance and laugh.