Thailand and it’s tiny blue lotus flower

‘Where are we?’ Panicked me asked touching my legs.
‘We are in Thailand!’

Part of the conversation that took place in the middle of the night last night.

As it was a hot night, I slept with my shorts on but I somehow woke up in the middle of the night started touching my bare legs and panicked not knowing where I was.

I usually dissect my dreams and analyse what they mean. This was my analysis: I’ve been putting up pretty pictures of Bangkok on Instagram and people have been asking me how I found Thailand. I brushed this question off by saying ‘it’s ‘good’, ‘busy’, ‘pretty much like Kerala’ etc. But…like one of my friends reminded me yesterday..I’m deep..and nothing ever stops with ‘fine’ or ‘Good’ for me. My water runs deeper than that.

I knew what I felt about Thailand and Sterry shared the same view. But sometimes it’s easier to just not get into the ins and out of things when others ask your view. I suppose that left me feel a bit conflicted subcosciously hence the dream. So here’s my real view on Thailand:

The fruits, flowers, climate, and people all reminded me of my much loved home land Kerala. And it was a piece of heaven to come to a hot country after being in the freezing cold for 2 weeks.

There’s a lot to see, a lot to eat,a lot to buy..and..well… a lot of ‘sexpats’ too.

Thailand has gained an international reputation among travellers from all over the world as a sex tourism destination. Albeit not recognised as legal by Thai government, it has brought in an approximate revenue of 6.4 billion in 2015.

I was accustomed to this fact before entering Thailand and knew what it looked like in theory. However, after being a tourist in Thailand for few days, I got to find out the extent to where this has affected Thailand.

I’ve always supported Maslows arguement that sexual need is one of the primal and fundamental need of a human being. And I know that when you don’t have intimacy in life, it might be of a struggle. Therefore, whenever I saw a sexpat with a woman similar his age, I never looked look twice.
I also smiled and greeted all the fellow tourists when we bumped into them.

But what I forgot is that sometimes just sometimes.. this fundamental and primal need of a mankind turns us into animals with greed and without rationale. I started seeing 70 year old men holding hands and being inappropriate with girls younger than my younger sister, walking around enjoying the sights. These men were old enough to be the girls’ grandads and it left me feeling an unusual feeling in my stomach that I wasn’t able to shake off.

If that wasn’t enough, all the men I smiled at and greeted along with the others weren’t looking at me as a fellow tourist. It was lust in their eyes that interpreted my genuine friendliness/acknowledgement of their existence as an invitation…an invitation to appease their lust or lack of intimacy in life.

Consequently, my friendliness quickly turned into anger, disgust and quite frankly a stare competition. They look at me with whatever they were looking at me with and I with pure animosity.

But what I have to remember is that a coin has 2 sides and you choose which side you want to look at. We were lucky enough to stay in an area where locals with warmth and hard work resided. I’m going to try and choose that side of the coin and embrace that experience over the other.

As for the tiny blue lotus flowers I encountered, I tried putting myself into your shoes imagining how things would be if I was you which probably was why I got that dream. I really cant do much for you except hope that you will bloom into a wonderful blue lotus one day and realise that you’re beautiful now and then.

Goodbye Thailand, people of Thai and blue lotuses.

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Backpacking across Asia part 1

Its been a week since we left home in UK seeking snippet views of a few handpicked countries in Asia that we have always fantasized about. Having covered 3 countries so far, living out of a backpack weighing 6.9kg or not being able to communicate verbally were not the major challenges we encountered as predicted; the hardest challenge yet for me has been keeping up with the intensity of the experiences and the ‘moments’ each countries offer. For a person whose biggest insecurity is her memories, I find myself desperately trying to capture every corner of the places we visit through cameras and retrospectively record every feeling in my travel journal.

When planning our trip or hearing ‘this is once in a lifetime opportunity’ from family and friends when they eventually found out, I held my ground and kept my emotions in check. ‘My lack of enthusiasm’ may have confused a few but it wasn’t that I wasn’t enthused about the trip but rather my superstitious or anxious self that did not want to ‘jinx’ the trip (I know!) as it indeed was going to be a once-in-a-life-time trip.

When we go high and low looking for authentic places in each country, meet more kind people than unkind people on the way, indulge in delicious and sometimes unusual local delicacies; I find myself bargaining with time to give me one more second. Just one more second to soak it all in. But time is fair but unfair as some say. So I don’t get one more second. All I get is a camera to take pictures, a pen to write down the experiences and the heart to take in as much as I can.

The Japanese have a tradition that when they finish work, they go to the exit door, turn around and bow their head for a few seconds with utmost respect showing gratitude for their job. And Chinese believe that every person they meet are the ones they are destined to meet to bring something to their lives. As I enter each country, I will be on the lookout to meet kind faces that I’m destined to meet and as I exit, I will remember to bow my head in respect to say ‘thanks for this once in a life time opportunity’.

How 2018 has really been for me? A packet of bread!

You open a packet of bread, you see that hard piece of useless bread.. you are not a fan of it but you consume it anyway so you can get to the soft, smooth and normal pieces of bread.

So doing Newyears Resolution was something me and my sisters engaged in for years when growing up. Always hated it- never really worked for me, but did it anyway as a ritual with sisters because you know FOMO. However, this year, I couldnt wait to indulge in NYR and wrote down about 15 NYR and ticked off about 13 (ticked off 2 from my bucket list too! Yus!!!).

As a result, 2018 has been THE best year for me. I have lived and loved so much of it to the fullest extent. A year where I really pushed myself, started new things and counted my blessings with all my heart every day.

(Disclaimer on the bread packet):
The implulsive personality trait in me start things on a wimp and the passionate side of me then pursues it with blood and tears. Plus side of this: go-getter, downside: wouldnt know the stop button. Sterry who knows this about me set out a condition before I started my year, ‘do everything you want to do but the minute you get yourself burnt out and repeat the previous years, that would be the end of all the projects’. I happily signed the agreement by spitting and shaking thinking theres no way im gonna get burnt out this year, my time was spread out evenly and I’m doing everything I want to do.

The hard piece of bread vs smoother pieces:
So in the beginning of the year, I started my new job, my volunteering/social enterprise projects, fundraising projects and taking on more photography projects. It wasnt easy but in time, I was enjoying the smoother breads. I mean why wouldnt I? I was doing everything I am passionate about and enjoyed doing.

Bread meets Stale.
Half way through the year, I impulsively decided to stop eating meat and been pursuing it with difficulty. Id also stopped going for dance due to conflicting commitments. A bit of an unexpected piece of stale bread, but thats ok we’ll just deal with it and move on to the rest of the normal pieces. And so I did. Except there werent much left.

Last piece of hard bread:
Doing things that you love doing leaves you all high but it will also leave you quite dry. I preach about mental health and help people with emotional support for living. But ive been a hypocrite neglecting my own emotional and mental health. For the last 2.5 months, Ive been experiencing a lot of unpleasant changes. Lack of motivation for the things that I loved doing, de-sensitization, secondary trauma, feeling overhwhelmed and burnt out instead of feeling blessed, not wanting to go to the kitchen at all, no appetite, struggling to go into shower after work, struggling to get up early, not going to gym, not being able to pick up my much beloved books and read, sobbing every other night about missing meat (KFC!), taking a day off work, and above all, avoiding family and close friends who noticed some of these changes and advised me to ‘take it easy’ or ‘stop’

Im trained in seeing these things in others and helping them through it yet I failed to do the same for myself. I forgot to see the little signs throughout the year and had to wait till it got to the biggest signs and I was beyond repair. I missed out on a lot over the last 2.5 months because of that. No matter how many ticks you tick off during the year, if you work till you are unhealthy physically and mentally, and you miss out on lifes simplest yet most beautiful offerings, it cannot be considered as a succesful year.

Im working through my last piece of hard bread with great difficulty (a bit of peanut butter on the hard bread) and by trying to be kind to myself . It will not be easy but will be finished before i know it and prepare me right for my new packet next year.

Hope your bread packet has been great this year!

Fighting social injustice in my dream

I struggled a little bit to get out of bed this morning. Why you ask? Oh its just because I was up saving lives in my dreams last night.

Dreams are a funny lil thang. They offer you entertainment, moral lessons, creepy feelings and sometimes leave you with feeling rather bewildered. This certainly was the case for me this morning with my dream from last night.

So…….. Myself, my 2 sisters, and someone else (might have been my cousin) were at a family/family friends’ house party that was right beside our house. We were all high school children and had an exam the next day (😐). In the tiny room that we were hanging out there was another girl who was of a similar age to us. She dressed differently and looked different from us. She had a scarf over head with some jewellery covering her forehead. One of my crew members got talking to her and learnt that she was from some part of Africa. The girl was taken away from her home and was forced to become someones bride. Her ‘prospective groom’ was somewhere in the house, a face that she might have never seen before and a man probably born atleat 15 or 20 years before she did.

When I got up to leave the house party and go back to my house (to do the revision I am sure :/), one of my crew members asked me ‘why dont you take ‘her’ with you as well?’

Nothing was said. We thought of well devised plans to sneak her out of the house through the back way without any adults seeing us. And we did. With great difficulty ofcourse (mainly because of her anklets that were really noisy). We gave her a big tub of celebrations for the road (that definitely would be plenty to last till Africa!). This took all night apparently and we ended up getting back home at 8ish the next morning (missing the exam ofcourse!).

We look over to the house next to us where the party was held and see that the celebrations lid was lying on the ground. We go into the house, and see our father standing in the hall way. I say to him that the exam was hard and walk away. He suspects nothing. Next thing I know, my middle sister who is not as talented as i am in lying or being sneaky says to him that she heard his friends new child bride got away with a tub of celebrations last night! 😑. He looks bewildered.

We go to our room. And i say we need to come up with our responses to this and learn the same thing so we wont say anything different to the adults.

Fast forward to the climax (or slow forward); its the 16th century where me and my sisters were dressed in white and head all shaven traveling in a vehicle to the house where the party was held. We were being punished because we were women who did something horrible?! 😑

They open the door and let us in. We see the girl we tried to rescue standing there. She got caught half way. They lock the door behind us. She smiles at us. And l smile back thinking dyamnnn we gonna have a goòd time here!!!.

Conclusion:

1. Child marriage, exams, illtreatment towards women- Not acceptable to Archana Mathew.

2. Archana Mathew’s dreams should be made into movies and nominated for Oscar.

The End.

For real.

A new day, a new start..an answer to my predicament.

6am,

Its dark, its cold,

And your life is on hold.

Muscles hurt, brain is frozen,

And you want to stay in bed for a reason.

Just a little bit more,

I’d wake up in 5

And it will be a new day,

A new start.

An answer to my predicament.

But hey,

That aint how it goes

I aint a snoozer

I dont wanna be a looser.

Hurt those muscles more,

Unfreeze the brain to the core, 

Put your reason to stay in bed on hold, 

And it will be a new day,

A new start,

An answer to my predicament. 

Lets put the world back together, piece by piece

In the days that are filled with pain,
In the world that is filled with negativity,
Lest we forget,
Evil cant fight evil
Evil wont fight evil

Lets put the world back together,
Piece by piece

Spread a little positivity
Smile at someone,
Wave at a stranger,
Feed the homeless, or give a fiver
Open the door for elderly,
Help a mother with her shopping bags
Do your bit.

Lets put the world back together,
Piece by piece.

Non-titled post 

I’m not giving any titles to this post as no title would be appropriate for the confusing, complicated and perhaps inevitable thoughts that come with that one dreadful word that I can’t keep away from: ‘Life’.

Life.

Four simple, straightforward letters.

But the meaning?

Not so simple or straightforward is it?

Now, I know when I was given Life,

But I know not when I started living Life.

Is it time, is it age, ot is it the stages that signifies Life?

Or the feelings that you know of or not know of?

The questions I can never find answers to,

The answers I can never find satisfaction with,

Makes me feel lost of the very same dreaded word.

I breath.

I see.

I feel

And I learn

But that’s not all what Life is, is it?

I dream

I yearn

I try

And I wish

Then again, that’s not all there is, is it?

I must surrender

To the Four simple, straightforward letter,

That does not ever give me a simple, straightforward definition.

To Life,

Yours.

I’m more than his Alien!

He suggested that we watch Martian and that I’d like it. I agreed, rather reluctantly. Whilst watching the movie, I asked him if he’d ever like to go to Mars. He said yes, to which I asked him ‘then why don’t you?. He said he’d need immense amount of training and knowledge to be able to go there, to which I asked him ‘why don’t you?’. He took his eyes off the screen, looked at me and said ‘I’m actually happy on earth’. I smiled and said ‘because you’ve got your alien here! ‘You’re more than an alien’

Wedding day speech on wedding anniversary

Came across this speech I wrote for my wedding reception but never got to read it out due to your usual wedding-receptiony-never-go-things-as-planned stuff. Thought I’d post this here, on the 1st anniversary of our wedding so that I can look back on this and actually praise myself for writing a good damn speech.

‘I’m standing here in front of you tonight mainly because I wasn’t really given a choice. ‘People are making an effort to celebrate your special love for each other, so its only fair that you put an effort and show them why your love is special’.

Some of yous know that I have a deep love for philosophy and use philosophy and metaphors to learn about life. Even though most of yous don’t know this about us, the beginning of mine and sterry’s meeting was of a philosophical one.

I was going back to Scotland after my October holidays, being all sad and weary on the stenaline bus. Off comes the hero with a shoulder bag on one hand and an apple core on the other. Sitting in the ferry, looking out of the window and embracing my philosophical side, I asked Sterry a thought provoking question. “what do you see out of the window”. The reply I got left me in pure amazement. Ive heard a lot of philiosphical explanations and thoughts in my life, but what I heard from him that day has to be the one that will always get me through life. Taking a deep breath, looking out of the window, he said “ I see doses and sambar”. Love at first sight guys love at first sight.

Everyone will have that one person in life who will bring out the best in that person. Sterry is that person for me. Couple of months past this coincidental yet enlightening journey, he asked me to join him for a coffee on a cold January morning. Now I’ve never been on a “coffee” with a person” like that, so I did not know what to expect. I mean I had a lot of guy friends but I never had a coffee with anyone, so naturally I was nervous about meeting an opposite gender for a coffee. Don’t really remember much of our conversation but what I do remember most and will remember for potentially the rest of my life is how he commented about my eyebrows. So the conversation went like this “whoever did your eyebrows, did not do a good job. They aren’t equal.” I stayed silent I went home and looked into the mirror, closely examined my eyebrows, and the only thing I could think of was I cannot believe I spent a whole of 10 minutes doing my eyebrows for this guy!! But because of this incident, I learnt the art of mastering my eyebrows and it’s all thanks to his honest feedback. Told you he’s brought the best in me.

We’ve been through some good times and bad times. Good times that make your love even more special and bad times that make your love grow stronger tests your relationship. I’d like to share a bad time I faced in our relationship recently, I hope it’s not too personal. So last week, I went through a real trial and temptation. Hardest time of our marriage. Last week, Sterry had a cold. A cold that resulted in severe amount of snoring. Snoring that kept me awake, snoring that made me poke him several times, snoring that made me look up on Google how to get used to snoring, snoring that made me do a lot of unusual things. Long story short, after what it seemed like the longest and toughest two of hours of my life, the storm calmed down, literally and it taught me a biggest lesson in marriage. There will always be loud snoring in marriages that will cause some sleepless nights, but if your love is stronger than the snoring, you will always surpass all the snoring in the marriage.

In all seriousness, regardless of the hard core feminist in me, who did not favour marriage, I found a not too bad guy, thanks to my mother’s constant prayers, candles, and intervention. Like everyone, I had my insecurities about relationships and marriage. But honestly speaking, the 6 years with him brought out a woman in me who can be stronger with her man, confident in herself and her abilities, gives me the courage to go on in life, inspires me or pushes me to work hard and teaches me to be patient.

When my mum phoned me last month, out of nowhere she asked me you’re really happy aren’t you achu, n I said ‘yeah’, ‘I am actually’. It’s often difficult for a human being to feel content in life in this day and age. But tonight, standing here in front of all you close family and friends, some missing, I can honestly say that I’m content in life. I am happy that I have a dad who gives me the ‘go ahead’ signal on life and dreams, I’m honoured to have a mother who has given me her compassionate side and sacrificed the life for us; sisters who are the most amazing people in my life; bestest friends who are more than I deserve, and in-laws who has made me one of them the minute they met me. Thank you to all you guys for being part of our lives, for helping us get here. We hope you can stay with us as we continue the journey of happily ever after life.’