Posts Tagged With: Unbound Ether Photography By Rohini Das

MILESTONE MOMENTS

A guest post by the wonderful Gypsy Queen who opened her mind and heart to the ways of a bartering nomad. She showed me love, art, inspiration, creation and fed me words of wisdom which I adhere to every day (well, most days).

She comforted me during every hospital visit where I was at the whim of the doctors. She introduced me to a bounty of awesome friends. And she provided a patient ear to chew on whenever my heart and soul needed unraveling

If you’ve ever met her, then you know she truly is an Unbound Gypsy Queen.

Check out her amazing talent on Facebook:  Unbound Ether Photography.

IMG_7022

From the Gypsy Queen:

Please note, I don’t call or refer to myself as the Gypsy Queen but do so here because the Nomad King has generously given me this title in his memoirs and for continuity’s sake, I must respect that in this missive.

It is necessary to admit that I never thought I’d be looking at the opposite side of the Indian Ocean before me. The same trade winds that blew north along the eastern-facing Kenyan coast one year ago, are the ones that are blowing along the western-facing Indian coast, where I am sitting now, one year later, in the little seaside village of Ashvem in Goa, India.

It has been several months now with this testimonial on my plate of things to devour, process and respond to. From day one with the Nomad King, timing has been everything and this missive to The Universe is no different.

Milestone Moments in one’s life have to be patiently awaited for, and even then, it’s only in hindsight do we realise the beauty in those moments. All the pieces of the puzzle needed to fall into place to bring you to that Milestone Moment. When that last dot joins the rest, completing the circle and finally, realisation sets in.

I think of it as Resolution.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. Almost one year ago the Nomad King and I first collided on our paths in Kilifi Creek along the Kenyan coast. I was living and helping build Musafir the boat, and grow the community that surrounded it.

Little did I know that this scruffy, ruggedly handsome Nomad that washed up on our shores was about to jump start my life and put it straight into high gear. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was exactly who I had asked The Universe for, just two weeks prior to our meeting.

Ro and I

© Aleks Leigh, 2016

But that’s a different story.

Freedom has always been a major theme in my life but never once did I imagine that I was about to be exposed to a new kind of freedom, one I only vaguely knew existed, let alone imagine my own journey taking a radical twist the day the Nomad King and the Gypsy Queen met.

I have the spirit of a gypsy, one who must simultaneously follow the wind and intuition, the stars and the dusty road, the fires of the heart and rhythm of the earth, for they are all one and cannot work alone, in order to truly be happy and healthy in life.

The day we hit the road for the first time a new kind of adrenaline became known to me. My whole being was vibrating with a sensation, a whisper almost, of a whole new world tingling at my fingertips. Each physical step forward, packs and tents and camera equipment included, was a step towards the Unknown.

And what greater high than the Unknown?

Every facet of bartering and hitch hiking reminded me of a way of life that addresses the need for living simply that is almost entirely lost to us today – in theory and in practice. Traveling without money, relying on the kindness of strangers to voluntarily take us to the next destination and then, conjuring faith in humanity, all the while constantly renewing this personal relationship with the earth’s geography, space and time.

All vital aspects of bettering one’s connection to the pulse of Life and The Universe.

I thought I was already pretty well connected, so imagine my surprise when I discovered I had only just scratched the surface, that below sat a locked box of life’s mysteries and the Nomad King held the key.

And open that box I did! Quickly. For the road has many teachers, and one must keep up! Every lesson learned on the road with the Nomad King made up for every wasted day that I spent trying to get an education in formal schooling.

He showed me then, and continues to show me a thousand different ways how a person can give and collect love and kindness. Every barter was a gift that we received and a gift we gave in return; a pure exchange of respect and compassion. Every story swapped, every song, every article, every photo, every second of footage, every peal of laughter, every meal, every sanctuary, every kilometer, hug, handshake and ‘hello’ is given and received in gratitude. Very quickly this cup of gratitude spills over, washing over one’s being like a glorious swell.

A surfer’s wet dream.

Though I have bartered many things in my life, I never fully realised the power that lay in an exchange devoid of anything that even remotely smells like money. I’ve always loved to barter, little keepsakes and presents sent out and returned into the world; reminders of a kindred spirit’s touch.

Sometimes leaving something behind in a place that you may never return to again is like leaving a piece of your legacy. It has always felt like that for me with every installation the Nomad and I created together. A part of our story, not just a barter, but a mark that we were once there. That we loved, laughed and created something beautiful . Something that place inspired in us. Our response to the world in the form of beautiful artwork, song, written word.

Through the life of a Gypsy and a Nomad many kilometers are traversed, many souls encountered, many connections welded together on a string, like beads, each individual but essential in completing the Whole.

So from place to place we travelled, each time making a mere outline, allowing the dots to complete themselves, not worrying about plan B (at least not the Nomad. I, on the other hand, had to learn that there is never a plan B), and simply trust in the process.

Many a time the Nomad gently tossed my philosophical ideas about The Universe back at me – The Universe will never give you more than you can handle, being a favourite. An undeniable truth (among others) that would always bring me back to my centre and the moment I’d let go of fear and doubt, the road would magically open up again, sending us just the right ride, or just the right barter, right when we needed it the most.

For example, 70kms shy of our day’s final destination at the lakeside town of Kisumu, Kenya, while waiting for almost an hour by the roadside with barely a car stopping for us and with the sun setting, I frustratingly asked the Nomad what plan B is.

And he looks at me simply and says, “There is no plan B. Just plan A – we get to Kisumu.”

It took a while, but the moment I resigned myself to whatever fate befell us, a pick-up truck slowed down and the kindest driver the road has ever sent me (I say ‘me’ because I know the Nomad has met many a kind driver and I don’t want to take anything away from them), not only took us to Kisumu, but paid for our bed and a couple of meals for our bellies.

On the latter half of our Ugandan trip in Mbale, the Nomad fell terribly ill and between a dozen bathroom calls had to be rushed to the hospital with a horrendous ear infection.

The kind souls of Sukali Hostel where we were being hosted, let us stay for days without insisting that he perform. Insisting he get better first, feeding and providing us shelter without question.

Cut to yesterday:

This Gypsy is in limbo at the moment, hanging out along the coast while my new roomy and I await our monsoon retreat to begin in our new home in the hills of Goa. My friends Adrien, Justine and Emma left on their mini-vacation to the big, bad city of Bombay, leaving me to my own devices.

Having been back in India almost a month now, I’ve had to shift gears once again and adapt to a more conventional way of life here. Namely, paying for transportation, accommodation and meals.

Earlier this week I found some distant relatives in a wonderful creative space called Vaayu where artists, travellers and surfers flock to during the cooler, busy seasons. The end of the season is upon us, most places have shut and the majority of people have begun heading for the Himalayan foothills where life is much cooler.

On Thursday morning I made a sincere intention, took a leap of faith and approached the Vaayu tribe to see if I could barter work – any type of work – for a bed. Though there are many people out there who are doing this, it was the first time I was approaching a community/business to let me in, without having any money to offer, alone and in India.

They have never been approached in this way either, although they do host an artist residency program which attracts a very colourful group of people, which has made them open to the barter way of life and those that live it.

Needless to say, they accepted my offer and even offered me three meals a day. So here I am now, working on this piece, reflecting on my life and watching the last dot connect itself to all the other dots that have led me to this moment, closing the circle – a Milestone Moment that marks the end of one chapter in my life and the prophetic beginning of another.

As the Nomad King likes to say, “The end is the power of the beginning.

And I have all this because one year ago, a scruffy, ruggedly handsome Nomad washed up on Kilifi’s shores and I followed my gypsy heart.

I’ll call this, Resolution.

 

Advertisements
Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Hitch Hiking, Kenya, Uganda | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CHEAP IMPACT (photos by Rohini Das)

IMG_2410images

“I’m hoping to finish it in three weeks,” Toto said as we stood before his baby, a geometric dome house to be used as a guesthouse and volunteer space alongside the children’s home his NGO – Cheap Impact – is supporting.

He’d been building this inspiring structure for the past three months. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he says with a smile. “I’ve never built anything like this in my life.”

Rohini and I had met the 26-year-old German when he visited Kilifi. He was interested in the Musafir project and came down to see how we were doing things and share ideas.

“If you come to Kisumu then you’re most welcome to check it out,” he had invited us.

So after a week in Nairobi, Rohini and I hitch-hiked on eight different rides including camping in an Administrative Police barracks (part of the Kenyan Defence Forces) to meet Toto in Kisumu from where he picked us up and drove us about 10 K’s outside of the town to where the Korando School and Children’s home is located.

Kisumu itself is surrounded by lush green hills and fields. Shambas (farms) spread everywhere, people raising cattle, maize, sugar cane, chickens and standard onions and tomatoes. The 300,000 population reside on the shores of the world’s largest fresh water lake – Lake Victoria, the source of the White Nile.

Toto fundraised during his travels that took him from South Africa up to Kisumu to be able to afford the cost of cement and bricks.

“Once we finish this pile,” he points at a few hundred bricks stacked up, “it’ll be a total of 11,000 bricks.”

“Will that be enough?” I asked.

“I hope so,” he smiles, seeming worry-free.

IMG_2353The fundis (workers) that have been building the 3-dome structure appear to have admiration and respect for Toto as do the 200 orphans that receive their education at Mama Dalphine’s school and children’s home.

The 67-year-old mama cooks, cleans, farms, rears chickens, cattle and even has two fish ponds for tilapia and catfish.

IMG_2732

“She sponsors 40 of her best achieving pupils to continue on to secondary school,” Toto explains. “She is in a lot of debt. Everything she grows is for the kids here. Her husband passed away last year. They started this orphanage and school back in 1997.”

Two Belgium girls had arrived on Thursday night to volunteer at the school. A welcoming committee in the shape of a small choir of singing children danced a welcome song.

On Friday morning we experienced it at a volume of 200 children, dancing, clapping and singing. Smiles glowed all around as the volunteers were invited to dance with the 11-year-old master of ceremony.

“She organised everything,” Toto says proudly, watching the activities. “The kids, the rehearsals. She’s amazing.”

IMG_2538Indeed, the little girl led the troupe with hip-thrusts that had me convinced that if I attempted them, I’d end up on the waiting-list for hip replacement surgery. As Rohini snapped photos she was approached by one of the younger dancers and led to dance with the troupe.

The ceremony ended with a short welcoming speech from Toto and Mama Dalphine and Rohini and I, parting ways with hugs all around, hit the road to hitch a ride to Nakuru, to camp at Punda Milias Camp (for more info check out https://www.facebook.com/cheapimpact.org?fref=ts or http://cheapimpact.org)

IMG_2743I flagged down an empty tanker and we just managed to beat the funeral procession of about 150 motorbikes and matatus (mini-vans), some with people sitting on the roof, wailing out and tooting horns.

The truck blew a tire on the hillside down to Nakuru. We continued on after checking the damage since we had another 17 wheels to ride on. Our driver, Zakaria, was most informative about the region.

I’d write to let you know what it was but I simply can’t remember anything because as soon as we were picked up by Danny for our ride to Punda Milias Camp, I realised, to my horror, that my camera had continued with Zakaria who was continuing on to Nairobi.

Even though we parted as friends and I called him to ask to search the truck, he turned up with nothing.

Still, it was a good week.

Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Hitch Hiking, Kenya | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.