quarta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2018

Choosing Love – Thank you Mother India/ Part 7

Days 12 & 13 – 1st & 2nd May 2018

As the Conference winds down to an end, people start checking out and collecting their bags, taking WEF in their hearts to the four corners of the Earth, like messengers of a New Balance where ALL can prosper, respect themselves and each other, be aware of the infinite value of Life in all of its forms and create harmony one step at a time.

Our buddies from Portugal are headed for Agra where the Taj Mahal is sure to delight their senses and fill them with that intangible Peace that permeates its white marble body.

We ask the driver who is taking them to the station in a large van, if he is going towards the airport or to Aerocity Metro station where we can catch the bus to Terminal 4, but he says he is heading the other way so we happily pick up our rucksacks and head for the underground, but not before a string of grateful and meaningful hugs and joyful goodbyes, wishing everyone a special experience for the days to come.

After 6 days in the luxury coolness of the Taj Dwarka Hotel, the heat outside feels like entering a furnace where we will be burnt down to cinders any minute… but our bodies simply adjust their barometer and after a short while it becomes bearable.

As we are walking down the street, someone starts hooting behind us and when we turn around we are pleasantly surprised by the van with all of our friends in it! The driver decided to take another route so as to give us a lift also and we unexpectedly get an extra credit of fresh air, mixed with laughter and gratitude.

When we are not afraid of asking, have no expectations about obtaining a “yes” or a “no” and remain receptive, somehow life always manages to present us with its best potentials and with simple grace it generously bestows its unexpected gifts.

I haven’t told you yet, but the reason we are going to the airport is to catch the plane to Bangalore, where we will be staying with our friends Anu and Krishna for a day before starting our “Wonder Bike” adventure.

Anu and I met last year at Annual WEF New Delhi and we instantly bonded as long lost Soul Sisters who finally meet again. There was such a deep and special connection between us that not even geographical distance and time could severe this bond.

Last year...


Actually, WEF New Delhi 2017 was rife with deep connections with many Soul Sisters whom I have remained in contact with ever since. That’s what makes WEF Conferences so special.

Anu wanted me to go with her to Bangalore imediately last year when we met, but at the time I was planning to visit the Taj and Jaipur and had only 5 days so I promised to retrieve this loving offer next time I came. And so it is.

The plan is for us to enjoy each other’s company, as well as rent a bike for the next ten days and then come back and hold a BE Love Beyond Illusion workshop and book presentation, generously organized by Anu, Raja Rajeshwari and Suchitra Kaul Misra, together with Karnataka's ALL Chapter, Bangalore Readers and Writers ALL Chapter and Karnataka Coaching ALL Chapter on the 13th of May. After this, we will head back to Portugal. But that is still a long time away in the future, considering the adventure we are planning to embark on in-between.

The garden outside of Anu and Krishna's apartment

Anu’s husband Krishna and their two teenager daughters are delightful. We are received in their home with the same love they would offer their best childhood friends and as soon as we get there it’s as if we have known each other forever.

Today the main thing we need to do is go to a good bike rental shop and choose our two-wheeled companion for the next ten days.

Of course being with a couple who is from Bangalore definitely helps and when the time comes to negotiate price and conditions, Krishna’s contribution is priceless. We get an almost brand new Royal Enfield for just 11,000 rupees (around 130€) for 10 days!

The only condition we were not expecting is, since it is pre-election time and we will be re-entering Bangalore on election day, we are advised not to cross state borders or do so at our own risk. What the shop owner says is that during this time, one can never know what the border patrols will be charging for us to cross and whether they will let us pass easily so we smile and embrace the unexpected, once again.

We had decided not to plan much. Actually, we had only conceived some sort of an itinerary in the last half hour while sitting at the airport waiting for the plane to Bangalore and it included visiting some of the Kerala state. Now we are faced with staying in the Karnataka state and discovering a totally new route. Not that Karnataka isn’t big or beautiful enough to satisfy our adventurous journey! It is in fact huge – about twice as big as Portugal! So Krishna gives us his very well kept guide book – the one he uses when going on holidays or weekends with the family orelese when going for a ride on his own Royal Enfield.

He asks us whether we are sure we don’t want to book any accommodation but we are firm. We will find accommodation wherever we get to arrive and booking would hinder our freedom as it would require us to stay on a pre-planned route and arrive on pre-planned days. We want to decide moment to moment – no strings attached. He smiles and enjoys the idea of such freedom.

We trust Love's Wisdom as it says: Simplicity asks no questions. It simply flows us into the most appropriate direction. And this is what we choose to experience.

I must make a parenthesis here to tell you about an interesting episode that went on at a traffic light on our way to the bike rental place.

Pedro and Krishna went on his bike and Anu and I went by Tuc.

As we were waiting at a traffic light for the traffic to move on, a couple of transgender women/men came to us and Anu asked me if I had any change, which I did and so she gave them some of mine and some of hers and they gave us a coin too and blessed us. Anu explained that a blessing from a transgender is an instance of great luck, because though they are shunned by society at large, they are also considered holy so they are invited to bless newborn babies, weddings and other special occasions. Nevertheless, irrespective of them being literate or even having degrees, they cannot find jobs because they are rejected as freaks. That’s why they also beg on the streets, though they always give their blessing in exchange. What a dual situation these souls live in! And like everyone in India, they accept what is. Well anyhow, it is a good omen for our pending bike choice.

Krishna and Anu take us out to lunch and for dinner we get to eat proper homemade Indian food. The best of both worlds. We are ever so thankful.

One thing that we are surprised at is the freedom the two teenager girls have, each one heading to their own activities and meeting their own friends and we realize that there is not much of a difference between their hopes and dreams, the way they live their lives, and the way teenagers live in Europe. These young girls are lucky to have two educated and open-minded parents who will of course not get them into a pre-arranged marriage and who honour them fully.

Both parents are very present also, because Anu works as a coach and therefore is self-employed and Krishna has started his own digital business with a partner, but many times he works from home and he chooses his own work schedule so that’s why they are available to spend a week day with us and give us the very best of their time and wisdom. Thank you Anu and Krishna!

We have so many deeply philosophical conversations, talking about love and relationships, life and death, self-awareness and so much more.

They tell us their beautiful story. Their marriage was somehow pre-arranged since both their parents had had an astrologer cross their birth charts and their potential as a couple was huge. So their parents did everything to get them together and that’s what actually happened. Now, almost 20 years later, they are grateful for being together, though as in any relationship it hasn’t always been roses, they have learnt to grow and adapt, to communicate honestly and deeply respect each other, never wanting to sap each other’s freedom.

Time to rest in Anu and Krishna's youngest daughter's room, which she genereously is offering us, though her dad says she has a vested interest in this, as spending the night with mum and dad is always a lovely experience. Thank you.

Tomorrow we will leave early in the morning for the first of our 10 day adventure on Indian ground.


Read Post 1 of this series here, post 2 here, post 3 here, post 4 here, post 5 here, post 6 here

domingo, 11 de novembro de 2018

Choosing Love – Thank you Mother India/ Part 6

Women Economic Forum Annual Conference, New Delhi - a place of Re-Union

Days, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 –  26th April to 1st May 2018

Arriving in New Delhi after Khajuraho is a shocking contrast of silence and noise, but we embrace it, as everything else. No point longing to be elsewhere but here, now.

The station is gigantic and finding our way out towards the metro station is not an easy task. Fortunately there is always a helpful soul around and a young man who is headed the way we need to go escorts us to the exit.

We are then assaulted by a drove of Tuc owners wanting to take us wherever we wish to go, but by now we know full well what a fair price would be so when we say how much we are willing to pay, one after the other leave us alone. Eventually one of them comes to an agreement with us and off we go - on a rikshaw :) My first time on one. The rikshaw owners are poorer than the Tuc owners, so it makes complete sense to us to bring some business to this young man whom we ride with in deep Gratitude.

He leaves us at a not so evident place but with Pedro’s excellent orienteering skills we manage to find the entrance to the underground. I still have my Travel Card since last time I was here a year ago (it is valid for 10 years!) and it still has cash on it! Pedro gets his and we choose our route, headed for the Taj Dwarka Hotel where Annual WEF New Delhi is being held.

When we get out of the underground station we figure we can walk down to the Hotel since it seems pretty nearby. 

Reality, however, shows us that distance is relative when the heat is sticky and the sidewalks are broken.

Arriving at a 5 star Hotel with a a fairly worn out backpack and looking like we definitely need to refresh ourselves is a contradiction of sorts, but one thing is certain: we are at the right place to unwrinkle our look.

India being India, no one really cares how we look and that is very liberating, though at this point we don’t really care either 😊

It is still 10.30 am, the Conference has begun by now but we cannot check-in immediately because the room is not ready. So after registering at the Conference reception desk and being received by Nikita Agarwal’s broad smile – Nikita is ALL’s head secretary and an example of pure sweetness – we walk around a bit, enter the main Plenary Hall for a while.

Immediately we have the privilege of listening to the young author of "It wasn't her fault", Aakash Mittal who is an activist against rape and speaks with such purity, such passion, such honesty and conviction, that I cannot help myself but go up to him after his session and congratulate him for being so authentic and driving such a precious message forward, inspiring change in a country where this issue is at the moment a cause for great unrest.

The following day Aakash brings one of his books to offer me and I feel so honoured by this gift. I highly recommend it, especially after knowing that Aaakash actually hated writing but had the courage to overcome his self-perceived limitation for the sake of spreading his message to a wider audience, and then came to realise that with help and determination he could do anything. Congratulations Aakash!

 After a few more brilliant speeches, we decide to go and check whether the room is ready. And it is!

Ahhhhh! Solace! A warm shower, a fresh change of clothes… Feeling renewed again. 

While I’m looking out of the window, who do I see coming up to the Hotel door? Our buddies from Portugal!!! They arrived in India only this morning and now I know they have just arrived at the Hotel too!

We go down to meet them with a huge hug and much laughter. We are all so happy to be here with the added bonus of being here together. When Pedro and I booked, we had no idea so many would choose to come along and join Annunal WEF as well.

The following days roll out as a red velvet carpet, as we feel so wecolme and meet so many new and interesting people whilst also reconnecting with friends made at last year’s Annual WEF, also here in New Delhi.

These Conferences are intense. Not only because of the amount of sessions going on continuously, but because of the strong vibration created by so much inspiration being shared, which in turn triggers deep transformation for many attending the event as well as creating an ocean of inimaginable opportunities – it’s the Magic of Love at work. Dr Harbeen Arora’s permanent smile and lightness, her compassionate presence and unabated enthusiasm, her freshness and the sparkle of her ethereal glow, create an aura of understanding and appreciation amongst and for ALL, no matter what each one’s background may be and though there is much to do day and night, she sets this example of inexhaustible patience that gives everyone a reason to linger on.

In the Plenary Hall the Award sessions go on successively, hundreds of people being recognised in their own fields of expertise. The Parallel rooms are like the river canals in Holland, filling and emptying periodically, as each one is summoned to attend according to the interest each session sparks for individuals and groups alike.

One of the most special strings of meaningful moments at this particular WEF Event, has been re-connecting with most of the other 16 authors, including the creators (Sindu Sreebhavan and Anjali Aggarwal) of this outstanding project – Breakthrough - Secrets of Growth, Happiness and Bounceback from Women Around the World

Us managing to be here and present the book together, sharing so many moments of joy and purpose, knowing that the book will not only inspire many to break through their illusionary boundaries, but also contribute to girls growing up with better opportunities through the donation of this book’s revenue to their institutions, gives us all many reasons to rejoice and celebrate this occasion.

I get to listen to and applaud some of my friends from Portugal, most of which are speaking in public for the first time with the added challenge of doing so in English. Blessed be the courageous! 😊

Our city Councillor, Filipa Fernandes and Abrantes’ Municipality President Maria do Céu Albuquerque, Ana Margarida Moreira and I (My Award Reception Speech) also receive Awards and the whole Portuguese crew gets to present our country for 30 minutes in the plenary hall and again in a Parallel session, opening the door to the upcoming WEF Portugal 2019 Event to be held in the town most of us live in - Tomar, right in the heart of Portugal.

One of the interesting thing that happens at Annual WEF Events is that as the days go by more and more women tend to show up in amazing Saris, elevating the standards of feminine beauty to new heights. There is something about these flowing gowns that honours feminine grace. I myself am offered many gifts, including a new Sari to add to the one I had been given last year by my dear friend Mahiema, who had taught me how to drape it also. It is quite simple once we get the hang of it, but since it is not my regular attire, I not only get the gifts but the friends to help me wear them. Thank you Anu Vittal for your generosity and love.

The food is delicious, the room is perfect, the whole ambiance is freshly soothing, considering the 45ºC outside.

This time WEF is also awarding Young Innovators and these are definitely the speeches I most enjoy. Some of the Young Leaders I listen to on stage are so awesome I manage to interview them and share their inspiration on Linda’s School Facebook page (view videos: Eashan, Nicole and Josh) but there are many more equally awesome Young Leaders I don’t get to speak to personally but who nevertheless are well worth listening to (WEF TV).

All in all, there are so many meaningful conversations throughout these 6 intensely unique days that when the Conference comes to an end I cannot but feel profound gratitude to ALL, deep appreciation and a calm sense of fulfilment. One more leg of our journey in India wrapped up with golden lace, to be kept in the heart and cherished for many years to come. (Interview with amazing Dr Kuiljeit Uppaal - First Image Scientist in the World)

Sharing Joy & Friendship

Thank you Mansi, for your outstanding Presence

Click to view: Friends on Video,sharing experiences

I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed when I came last year, for the sheer dimension of this event. It was hard to grasp it all at first, but as the days moved in and out of each other I felt more and more at home and this time, having understood the Dynamics of a WEF Conference, it all seems pretty simple, though the amount of dedicated work that goes into organising something like this is indescribable.

Thank you ALL <3

Love says: Pure magic only happens when one allows it - Purely. 


Read Post 1 of this series here, post 2 here, post 3 here, post 4 here, post 5 here.

quarta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2018

Choosing Love – Thank you Mother India/ Part 5

Khajuraho – a Peaceful Sigh of Isness

Days 5 & 6 –  24th and 25th April 2018

We arrive around 3 hours late, which doesn’t make much of a difference, considering it is still around 9 am.

During the last few minutes of our journey an interesting entrepreneur who seems to be in his sixties, tells us he has guesthouses in several towns, including Khajuraho which is his most permanent base. If we had not already booked online we would gladly stay at his place, where he also owns a small restaurant.

The people of India are natural born entrepreneurs. I know this is a very general statement, but from what I have been able to experience, there are more entrepreneurs here than in most places, many of course just owning a very small business, or even just a Tuc Tuc or a rikshaw to ride people around, but nevertheless, they have created their own businesses. And here this is not equivalent to having higher education or even having been schooled at all. It is a natural instinct – as I believe it is anywhere else in the world but schooling tends to stifle this to a certain extent. Well, Let’s not go into this for now…

The kind man takes us to a good honest Tuc owner who drops him off at his Hotel and then takes us to our humble abode. It cost us a mere 3 dollars per night and the young man who opens the door tells us it opened just a month ago. He is 21 and once again a clear example of an entrepreneurial spirit.

The room is clean, though it has no air-con but it does have a fan and a private bathroom.

H lives with his whole family upstairs, where there is an unfinished terrace which we come to realise is also the "breakfast hall".

We are invited to eat breakfast which we do, and meet two young ladies, one from Spain and another from Germany who are travelling alone – they have just met. One has been volunteering in education here and is now doing some sightseeing and the other is on a Gap Year experience, thoroughly enjoying her journey, which she does not plan ahead for - she moves on day by day.

We have asked the Tuc owner to please pick us up at 10 am to take us around the Temples, which are quite far apart from each other, so after a hefty breakfast washed down with delicious chai – hummmm, I just love chai – we take off.

The man asks whether we mind if his younger brother comes along too because he’d like to practise his English, so we welcome him on board. He is around 17 and says he has a Russian girlfriend whom he is very much in love with. He can speak good English and says he intends to learn Spanish also. Apparently there are many Spaniards and Latin Americans visiting Khajuraho, which explains why our Hotel host also spent 2 months in New Delhi learning Spanish at a language School.

Our first stop is at a small Temple and as we go in we find this young man studying Astrology sitting in there. He is apparently one of the many keepers of these temples and as soon as he finds out that Pedro is also an Astrologer they engage in enthusiastic conversation. This Temple is small but significantly represents the different faces of Consciousness – ranging from illusion to divine wisdom. It illustrates this that nothing is what it seems. When we go beyond appearances and feel, a whole new Universe of Isness opens up.

When we get back to the Tuc, the driver warns us that there is a keeper at each Temple and that if we engage in conversation we will never get through all the Temples but we know that this was a special occasion and it isn’t likely going to happen this way at all other Temples.

I haven’t told you yet, but Khajuraho is so Peaceful one can almost hear the sky sigh with contentment. It is, in fact, one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. I suppose it has to do with the sacredness and devotion passed down throughout centuries and generations of devotees who chose this land to become One with All that Is and then having been protected by a dense jungle for many ages up until the XXth century when it was unveiled and recovered by the British.

Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the largest group of medieval Jain and Hindu Temples and the erotic sculptures that ornament only 10% of their outer walls are a legacy of the Tantric Cult that was practised here, as a way of transcending human desires and attaining Nirvana – therefore sexuality is not seen as something to be rejected or condemned but much on the contrary something to be lived fully until one transcends desire, as all other worldly attachments.

There used to be over 80 Temples round about 1000 a.c but now only 22 remain sufficiently intact to be conteplated. One curiosity is that there are no erotic sculptures inside the Temples, signifying that in order to connect with the Divine, one must leave carnal desires outside. Eroticism is thus used to depict one of the many human practices also shown on the outer walls’ sculptures, such as music, harvesting, pottery, etc. Within the Temples there is place only for the Divine.

Phew it is hot! As we leave our shoes at the bottom of the stairs before entering each Temple, we have to step fast and lightly in order not to get the soles of our feet burnt on the stone stairs.

Fortunately inside it is cool. It’s as if even this detail was meant to be, for Divinty is always a soothing Home to fall back into and take a deep breath, letting go of all of the outer world’s struggles.

We absorb the peaceful magnitude of this sacred place in silence, moving in and out of Temple after Temple, mesmerized at the purity that can be felt, especially in the Jain Temples.

There is nothing to be said. It is a sensory experience through and through, as if God were holding our hand and taking us personally on this soulful tour.

It is around 1 pm when we finally consider ourselves to be satisfied with our visit. By now the sun is high, relentlessly heating this land as if it were stoking a furnace.

We decide to go to the restaurant that our young Hotel host recommended, for a drink and eventually some grub.

We are served some delicious Indian cuisine and after a while along comes Pilota – this is how the young man who owns the Karma Guest House we are staying at is called.

We realise he is highly respected amongst his fellow companions – they all look up to him and would like to be just like him. It is interesting to observe such behaviour amongst such young peers, but then again, this young man is indeed a very outgoing example of a good looking go-getter.

Well, our time in Khajuraho from then on is restful and slow, basically enjoying the silent peace up until the time we have to catch our train to New Delhi the following afternoon.

This time it is in 2AC Class, which is a fair deal more upper class that Sleeper. Here we have sheets and a pillow and blanket, people are quieter, the windows aren’t open because there is air-con and we can definitely have a very comfortable night’s sleep. On both occasion we have chosen to travel by night so as to lessen our impression of distance and allow the hours to float by as ships sailing through our dreams.

At the station...

Khajuraho was a very special instance of our journey and the Peace that blankets the entire area has become embedded in my cells and will stay with me forever. 

Thank you Khajuraho.


Read Post 1 of this series here, post 2 here, post 3 here, post 4 here