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!

Woman

Amsterdam
An infamous city with an uncompromising beauty and characteristics.
Picturesque canals,
touching history
and mesmerising architecture.
Her extraordinary beauty and her seductive characteristics-
Resemblance of a quirky, confident yet humble woman uncanny.
Woman.
While entrapped in Amsterdam’s beauty,
the very same word kept circling my mind.
Woman.
A visit to Anne Frank’s secret annexe of 2 years
entrenched me with the feeling that
The most powerful weapon for a woman is her Voice
A walk down the lane where her body does all the talking
Made me think that her body perhaps is more acknowledged than her voice.
It may (or may not) be her Choice that led her go behind the glass doors
A choice that young Anne frank certainly did not have.
But as I walked and locked eyes with the young women behind the glass doors
sharing a half smile, longing for one in return
and mentally offering apologies for being on the other side,
watching them like animals behind cages,
I also wondered,
As a woman,
would it be my voice or my choice of selfie that would be more appealing to one’s eyes.

Can ‘Saibol’ fix the Kerala floods?

T & C-1

The resilience I’m blessed with or the deep appreciation I have for nature and its beauty probably stems from the first 10 years I spent in the most amazing place called Alappuzha. With her seductive backwaters, lagoons and canals, and plenty of other picturesque features no wonder Lord Curzon called Alappuzha the “Venice of the East”.

Our family, belonging to a middle-class Christian family, was settled in a place called ‘Chungom’. Our house overlooked our paddy fields and canals. I proudly bear the scars of my childhood – from climbing trees and falling repeatedly, running the fields bare-feet with friends during summer,and by getting stomped on by a vast amount of people during ‘Mullakkal Chireppu’ (local carnival) . My fathers pure passion for ‘vallam kali’ (Nehru Trophy Boat Race) and competing in the Nehru Trophy as a captain of their boat for one too many years also meant that Nehru trophy, ‘kuttanadan punchayille’ song, the competitiveness and the innate resilience from constantly losing the first place (Sorry daddy!) are all well inherited by me and my sisters.

There was one other thing that was a constant companion during these 10 years- ‘Saibol cream’. House built near acres of paddy fields meant that, during monsoon seasons fields flooded, and in no time, the water would be inside our houses. Us kids loved it- swimming and “trying” to catch fish, why would we mind it?!.

Even though we ‘loved’ it, every morning when you had to get out of bed or go to the bathroom, it took sheer amount of will power and a good couple of minutes before putting the feet down in the cold water. And at night, it itched like there’s no tomorrow.

We grew up with our Ammachi (grandmother) during these years. Shed be walking in the water all day running the house and at night, her toes would be itchy with all the bacteria and she would rub ‘Saibol’ in between her toes.

I experienced this for 10 years..my Ammachi may be for over 60 years after marrying into a family from Alappuzha in her early 20’s. She was accustomed to floods and water and stayed fearless…till this monsoon season. After fleeing her house, going to her oldest daughters and then to her youngest (due to her oldest daughters house being also flooded), at the age of 88, I heard fear in my Ammachis voice for the first time and I could do absolutely nothing about it.

My family house was rebuilt 10 years ago so high from the ground that they never had water inside the house for over a decade. Water still went inside. It was over knee high of my uncle who is 6 ft high. He had to abandon the house, sell all their much beloved animals who were their family members and take rescue.

Now the mentioning of the class again, this is a middle class family who were able to have their house built appropriately according to the area. Now, for those who were unable to afford that..I will leave it up to you to imagine where their house is now apart from pointing out the obvious that ‘Kuttanadu’, a part of Alappuzha, rich with culture, characteristics and Love is pretty much gone. If you were to visit a house is Kuttanadu or Alappuzha..you wouldn’t have gone back home without a full stomach and may be some ‘tharavu curry’ to take back with you.

And if you know anything about a Kerala curry, you know that its a perfect blend and balance of spices and ingredients that just makes the most amazing curry- an imbalance of any one ingredient can cause trouble for instance, chilli or salt.

In the past few days, people have been extremely kind, generous and helpful in Kerala and outside Kerala. Regardless of cultural, geographical, relihious or scoial boundaries, people came together, like a perfect mix. From a kind Sikh individual from Perth, Australia who raised £1000 to School and University students who have given up whatever little they had in order to save Kerala, I have enough to restore my faith in humanity.

And the next time you eat a tharavu curry from Alappuzha (and I any other delicious kerala curry as I dont eat duck), I hope you and I both be reminded of how all the perfect incredients came together and made a good curry during this crisis (if you know, you know).

One thing people of Kuttanadu, Alappuzha and Kerala are good at is working hard. Like them, I along with my fellow British Malayali youth, we will commit to raising even more funds, to help rebuild our homeland, Kerala, as I think ‘Saibol’ cream is just not going to be enough to able to fix the damages of this flood.

https://www.gofundme.com/sy6kg-kerala-flood-relief-fund

Summer without my cherry blossom

The very thing that I kept admiring every morning and evening and what I looked forward to the most this summer had been “trimmed” to the core. Why? Because this cherry blosson tree stood in someones way and blocked the ‘sun’ while he was sitting out with his phone in his newly done patio area. He demanded the landlord to cut it down completely who tactfully negotiated to “trim” it down. Now, Im aware that he is entitled to enjoy being out in the sun on his phone just like how im entitled to enjoy a cherrry blossom tree out of my window. What upsets me is that he values his money, his sun and his enjoyment over a tiny tree that took years to grow. Saddest thing? He is not on his own. We will continue to complain about the snow, the climate change and global warming..but the reality is when it comes to our own enjoyment..an innocent tree will be cut, for yours, mine and his sake!!
#Humanity

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.

I had a dream

So I had a dream lastnight.

And unlike Martin Luther king, I dreamt about travelling to space along with my husband on a banana boat. 

Now, to get yourself going, you just have to get thrown up in the air (no trouble!). So the journey is long and tricky and it takes days to travel through the dark empty sky on a banana boat. But we presevere. And at one point, i look up and see trillions of stars up above. I look at my husband and say ‘Im so grateful that you are here’. And the next thing we know is that we are starting to float in the air. Gravitys lost (!). Loving every moment of it till the moment is finished and we are back on earth in a dark shady corner. 

A lady in white coat (insert wtf*) tells us my parents were in the space ahead of us and they will be around looking for us. We decide to get ourselves back up in the air on the banana boat lets not forget. Off we go again. Same journey. Same outcome.

After a few times, we end up indulging in a lot of rather unusual but apparently necessary rituals to get ourselves back up in the air. This involves a horse biting someones looong bundle of hair and then me taking the hair bundle off its mouth, circling it and throwing it up in the air(insert wtf* x 2).

‘Are you getting up?’ I hear the voice of my space voyage partner at 6am and my space journey comes to an end.

I will never know what happened after i threw the hair in the air but lets just hope that we ended up in space and reunited with my parents.

The end.

‘You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you will join us

And the world will be as one’

Much dreaded day of the year!

A much dreaded day is coming up for me. My birthday. A day that causes stress in me, my family and friends. This year though, instead of getting gifts, cards, messages and money, I decided to do something different. Below here are some of the causes that I believe in. It would mean the world to me, and make my day and my life so special if you can do any of these for me. Please do message me (privately) if you are able to do any of these, or your own thing if you’d like, and I will cherish that in my life forever.
Bring a box of chocolate to the local ambulance, fire station, A&E (or police station if you dare!)
Give motivational books, posters or materials to the local youth hostel near you. Alternatively, send me a donation for buying these things or send these things to me and I will personally deliver them to the local youth hostel that I work in.
Homeless people- 1, Give a fiver or tenner to a homeless person. 2, Create a care package with snacks, sandwiches, toiletries etc and give it to 5 homeless people. 3, Get to know a homeless person, get to know his/her circumstances and get him a sandwich of his choice for 4 weeks.
Donate money or clothes to your local Barnardos charity for children (or any children’s charity of your choice)
A donation for the older people’s cafe (LinkLiving)that I volunteer at (I will specify what the money will be used for later on).
Help elderly with their shopping.
Ask a shop assistant how his or her day has been.
If you have a grandparent who lives near you or with you, give him/her a hug and a kiss.
Leave a compliment under a young girls profile picture of herself.
Leave a note on your rubbish bin for the man/woman who collects your rubbish thanking them for their service.
Finally, if you are religious, say a little prayer for me to be always grateful for the life I have and blessings I have in life. And for my catholic friends and relatives, may be light a little candle or say a decade of rosary/divine mercy chaplet for me?
Thank you
I will be sure to have the best birthday this year!

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.