quote

Who Knows If The Moon’s

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited, where

always
            it’s
                   Spring) and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves

~e.e. cummings
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Love is…cooking together. Love also is, I presume, Italian! Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset
All above photography by my love, Soroosh.
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Hi there my dear followers. How have you been? How are you Lavanya? Are you still in Brisbane? And you Jose and Bea? How are the kids?! Has their English improved significantly? And auntie Pouneh, how is the new fluffly member of your family?! Yuka, I still can’t believe you have a girl! And Lifa and Akiko, your family is my inspiration! Fukuda sensei, Ashida sensei, do you still visit my blog? Hiromi and Olivier, how I wish to return to your idyllic home! You too, and your hard-work and dedication, inspire me! And Blogger friends, Randy, John, Josh, Teck, how are you?! Is the world treating you kindly? I think of you all, I think of you all fondly…

 

There’s Nothing New Under The Sun. It’s Never What You Do But How It’s Done.

Dear Ashida Sensei,
This one’s for you!
Thank you for reading my blogs. I miss you and I miss Japan very very much, too!

Yesterday, I received a jam-packed envelope containing letters from my ex Junior High School students in Japan. Ashida Sensei, thank you for initiating them. I have always admired you. You once told me that you teach because you feel an obligation to open your student’s minds to the outside world. At the time, I thought your statement was beautiful. Today, with the heartbreaking circumstances of our world, I understand it as incredibly necessary, too. Thank you for selflessly shaping our future. Funnily enough, lately I have been receiving some negative opinions (and unfortunately from those dear to me) about my work. The education of children is not adequately valued in our society. These attitudes have left me unhappy, thinking that perhaps I should have studied something different, something more reputable like medicine or law. Fortunately, other positive forces in my life have rescued me from the quicksand of such negative thoughts. One beautiful lady in particular pointed me to the following quote by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith:

Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children… It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God’s abounding Grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All- Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. pp. 133-134)

So, “the education and training of children” is not only the greatest service of all time but also one that is very difficult to do and to succeed in. Don’t get me wrong, I am not tooting my own horn. Rather, I wish to acknowledge the true importance of a teacher’s work.

I would like to finish with my favourite Japanese Proverb:

Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.
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Be Easy. Take Your Time. You Are Coming home.

A poem by Nayyirah Waheed.
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Every year, during the month of March, millions of healthy and able adult Bahai’s around the world observe the 19 day Bahai Fast. They/we/me fast by restraining from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset as a way to focus all our thoughts and energies on “meditation, prayer, and spiritual rejuvenation”. Obviously, it takes serious will-power and it isn’t always pretty (or at least not for me). In the past, I have fasted at the Bahai World Centre, amongst hundreds of other Bahais (heaven!), during University (seemingly impossible), whilst working in hospitality (what a tease!) and alone in the remote mountains of Japan (yet with incredible support see HERE). Thankfully, this year I have the support of my family and I am no longer working in hospitality (thank God!). 1 day down, 18 to go! #hangryimage-4If you thought I’d given up on my book a week challenge, you get a brownie ball (see what I did there?) but only because strictly abiding by the weekly time limits was stressing me out. So, I’m still reading and maybe even still a book a week but I’ve lost track of the what and when. Here’s book NO.whocares by a very talented writer. Totally recommend it. So funny and relatable (yes, even to a non-mama).
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“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Princeimage-1
Preschool day trip to the Canterbury Museum. Has anyone visited the discovery room here?! It is incredible and only $2 to enter! I cannot wait to take Soroosh, and to show him the room with the 100s of beautiful butterflies! 3 months today xx
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If I Don’t Have Red, I Use Blue.

Today’s plan was to visit The Musee Picasso. Unfortunately, it was closed. Google tells me they re-open tomorrow. So. Stay tuned.

Instead, I walked through the old town, familiarising myself. I tried to look. Really, look. As an artist would, for you (and for me, too). In the words of Sinclair Lewis: “He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all.”

Here’s what I found:
Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetIf I don’t have red, I use blue. (Pablo Picasso)Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Hey sis! I’m thinking of you. Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
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The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. (Pablo Picasso)Processed with VSCO with c3 presetLook ladies (you too, Anisa) a “big” beautiful woman in 1927 by Henri Mattise. The “ideal” woman is an ever-changing phenomenon and we don’t have to keep up. Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetNomad, a man of letters looking out over the Mediterranean. As Anita’s mom tells me, it represents openness and unity. A world citizen. More info HERE.
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I’ve only YOU in mind, Lavanya. HASHTAGginger.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
I made a bulgur lentil and herb salad. Served with dark olive baguette, cherry tomatoes, greens, walnuts and fresh mozzarella. All organic.

Deep In My Soul I Know That I’m Your Destiny

Illustrations from Puuung.

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Happiness [is] only real when shared. (Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild)

I look at you and a sense of wonder takes me. (Homer, translated by Robert Fagles)

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What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary. (George Bailey, It’s A Wonderful Life)

He was my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest. (W.H. Auden, Stop All the Clocks)

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It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” (Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita)

I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.  (Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood)

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Because when I look at you, I can feel it. And I look at you and I’m home. (Dory, Finding Nemo)

Deep in my soul I know that I’m your destiny. (Mulan, Mulan)

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We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright. (Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast)

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird. (Noah, The Notebook)

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I wish I’d done everything on earth with you. (Daisy, The Great Gatsby)

But the heart’s not like a box that gets filled up. It expands in size the more you love. (Samantha, Her)

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You will never age for me, nor fade, nor die. (Will, Shakespeare in Love)

I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. (Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally)

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Belgium Equals Bricks

Really, I have never seen so many bricks! And not your regular bricks but these tiny tiny teeny ones. So far, I have visited Brugge and Ghent. Today, we will sight-see Brussels and tomorrow, I will fly back to Switzerland.

Laura and her family have been so sweet to me. Speaking of sweet, my very first Belgian experience after arriving was being driven to one of the world’s largest chocolate factories. It was 9 or 10pm and all we did was park outside and sniff. I kid you not, that’s all that was required. We didn’t have to taste any. We didn’t have to go in. For I have never ever smelt anything so sweet and delicious. If only you were there. #chocolateminusthecalories

Last night, I found myself feeling homesick again. I messaged my mom and called my special friend and then I felt better. Though I couldn’t quite articulate my homesickness. I don’t know, something to do with continously being on the move. Though these days, every day is literally an exciting adventure, I still find myself longing for familiarity and routine. You know when you go on a holiday and nearing the end of it, you kinda can’t wait to go home and get back into the everyday? Well, it’s kinda sorta exactly like that except I’ve been travelling for 2 years (hehe). Yeah yeah I know, first world problems.

This morning, I came across a Simon de Beauvoir quote which perfectly describes it, this feeling of contradiction: “I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger”

Behold, the bricks:
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Relationship Update

Don’t call me the boy/girl who cried wolf but I just wanted to tell you that my boyfriend is going to nursery school!

On another note, just as I posted my Miss Independent post, The Cut published a wonderful piece called 25 Famous Women on Being Alone. You can check out the full article HERE or just read my favourites below:

(Illustrations by Mitsuie Yusaku)

People sometimes seem surprised when I say this, because I’m a pretty friendly person. This is one of the greatest misconceptions about introversion. We are not anti-social; we’re differently social. I can’t live without my family and close friends, but I also crave solitude. I feel incredibly lucky that my work as a writer affords me hours a day alone with my laptop. I also have a lot of other introvert characteristics, like thinking before I speak, disliking conflict, and concentrating easily … introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward. In our culture, snails are not considered valiant animals — we are constantly exhorting people to ‘come out of their shells’ — but there’s a lot to be said for taking your home with you wherever you go. (Susan Cain)
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I think alone time is good to know how to be alone with your own thoughts. I think it just helps you kind of be a better, more grounded person … and also I feel like it builds a sense of self confidence and a sureness that you know that you can venture out into experiences without the crutch of other people. Like, you’re not doing it because you feel lonely or isolated, but because it generates a new kind of experience. (Carrie Brownstein)
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Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. (Cheryl Strayed)
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I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel. (Audrey Hepburn)
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The precious part of my day is when I’m alone. When everybody goes home and (son) Sean’s asleep and I’m just watching the night lights out of my window or something. I like silence, you see. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it’s all right to be alone. (Yoko Ono)

Do It. Throw Yourselves.

Dear ones,
I am experiencing a transition. My life is changing. So. I am excited and of course, scared. As some of you may know, I had planned to go to India but after being unable to get the correct visa, I’ve had to amend my plans. There’s also something else – something which I can’t tell you about (just yet). It’s overwhelming but good (I think). For the time being, please bear with me. Or is it bare? I don’t know.

So. As always, I have taken solace in literature. C. JoyBell C comforts me with this:

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

I am throwing myself. I am taking a leap of faith and letting life happen.

Travelling is amazing but it is getting harder. I have a few plans. Next, I will visit my auntie (whom I have never met but talked to several times over the internet and who seems like the most incredible woman) and her family in Geneva (Switzerland). From there, I might visit my friend Anita(a beautiful Italian girl who I worked in NZ at Cafe Valentino with)’s mother at their holiday home in Antibes (France), and hopefully, Laura (my WordPress friend who visited me in Mimasaka) in Brussels (Belgium).

I am struggling to live in the moment. I must practice mindfulness. I keep thinking of the future. What will I be doing after my travels are over? Will I settle down in NZ or some other place? What will I do for work? Can I make it as a real writer? So many unanswered questions. Sarah Dessen comes to help: “It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”

I will be patient. I will be positive. I will be joyous. I will expect good and I will throw myself.

Lastly, my blog has turned two. So I want to say thank you. From the bottom of my heart, from the mountains of rural Japan and the rivers in Galicia. Merci (farsi not french), gracias, thank you and arigato for flying with me. For being a listening ear, an understanding heart and the best travel companion a solo girl could wish for.

At each step I have longed to share my life with you. This I hope I have achieved and will continue to achieve, in the truest way possible. And, I hope that at the same time, I have given and will continue to give, some sunshine too.
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Osaka Somewhere

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Guys, I said I was gonna blog less, not not at all! I mean, I blogged every single freakin’ day for two entire years. So now, only 3-4 times a week, if that’s okay with you (hehe).
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Japanese grapes are like no other. Really, some of them sell for thousands and thousands of dollars! The purple ones (similar to these) are usually peeled. I can still remember the first time I saw my colleague, a 50-something year old carefully peeling her bunch of grapes as if they were bananas or apples. My mind was, and still is, blown. Also peeled by Japanese: pears, apples, the inner skin of all citrus fruit and figs.
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I volunteered as a security guard in Haifa, Israel once where we used the code 10-68 for inappropriate behaviour. Nowadays, even though 5 or 6 years have passed, every time I see something “inappropriate” I think 10-68! Funny how some details stay with you.
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It’s not all green-smoothies and health-foods. You know it’s a bad day when you find yourself sitting inside a Mos Burger at 9.25 on a Saturday night alone. Biting into the flesh of a dead animal as a second dinner – after having already eaten a big plate of cold left-overs plus two cream buns. Which, is the reason you’re out at all, you know, to convince yourself you’ve killed some of em kilojoules. Listening to Adele through stepped-on-broken headphones while using the restaurant’s feedback pad to write ex-lovers depressing love notes.
image[3]image[6]image[4]image[3]“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” -John Burroughsimage[1]image
100 yen vending machines are popular because they only require 1 coin.
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Singledom has a completely new meaning when you’re with the flu. These are freshly squeezed orange and carrot juice – my attempt at mothering myself with my real mama so far.
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Would have been a completely vegan meal if not for the fish flakes atop the tofu. Of course, still delicious. I am really going to miss soba. Both soba and tofu are my favorite Japanese foods.
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Often I have to remind myself that being single and living alone has its benefits too. I swear, except for the time I ate my feelings through a Mos Burger and fries combo, there hasn’t been a night where my dinner hasn’t been muesli and fruit.

PS I have had some recent fame, you can check it out HERE also, my latest Savvy article, HERE.