It’s a tornado of thoughts in my head. I am breathing out before I breath in. There is a rage of emotions in my mind. Ideas dance n dangle behind my eyes. I scream to hush them but they continue to waltz. The tempest builds but I want some calm. I growl, I groan, I am grumbling to the core. I run, I fall, I hurt, I cry…I sob, I sigh, I close my eyes. I breath again. The sound is heavy, laiden with thirst. I reach for the fruit that I have seen but not plucked. I bite a fill of sweet content. The bruises pinch me as I pick myself up. I play a tune in my heart I silence the tempo in my mind. I walk past the hoops I was meant to jump. I feel peace my belly and my laugh. Silence called and came upon…life is today not what lies beyond…
My husband, Ayoub and I love to travel. We enjoy doing bite size holidays to see new places, taste the local foods and just soak up the culture and ambience.
The last destination that we ticked off was Bali. It had been on my to do list since a while now. Days before flying out we did the routine online research about the place – things to do, places to stay, etc. With the itinerary chalked out for our week long trip I began to select the activities I wanted to indulge in. River rafting, spas, Elephant rides and waterfalls did not amuse me. However what really caught my attention was the sunrise trek up Mount Batur. Imagine going up a trail of volcanic gravel stone mountain at 3.00am holding torches and climbing up a height of 1717m to see the sun come up. Interesting, I thought! So we booked ourselves to go for the trek on one of the day that we would be in Bali. The guide explained that the pick up time for the customer is based on which part of Bali you are staying at. If you are closer to the mountain you are collected at 2am from your hotel or else it can be as early as 12.30 even.
Our driver came at 1; we were ready for him. Online reviews of the trek gave me mixed feedback but the one thing they all said was the climb to the top would be worth it. In our bagpack we kept juice, biscuits, a picnic sheet, flip flops, the long distance lens and of course the camera. Yes, we really were ready to go!
The drive to the base took an hour and a half. Once there we freshened – no toilet facilities up for ladies is what the driver said with a smile. He gave us extra bottles of water, some warm clothes and handed us over to our guide. “I will wait in the car for you,” he said as he let us go on the uphill mission.
Less than 30 minutes into the trek and I was panting loudly. Breathe in from your nose, breathe out from your mouth I was told. It was difficult to focus – how far is the peak? The guide smiled. We will go little by little. I took a zillion stops, I lost heart several times, I even almost wanted to give up when I saw those tiny torches almost up in the sky and I was so far from the top. But a tiny voice kept pushing me – this was what you wanted to do, you chose this, if they can do it so can you, be grateful that you are here. At every step I said a prayer going up, suddenly the air felt lighter maybe it was just the altitude. Having crossed the halfway mark I began to feel thrilled like a four year old. I could see the tiny torches and this time they were below me. I had come a long way.
Just few minutes away from the top and it began to drizzle. The guide warned us that since it’s cloudy we could get some rain. Move faster. In that rush of the last lap we reached the peak. We saw many people huddled up in blankets and shawls it was quite nippy. A sense of accomplishment came over us. We were thrilled, so thrilled that for a moment we did not notice the disappointment on the faces of the gathered crowd. We also did not notice that the scene before us was covered in white clouds. The guides roamed around apologetically because there was nothing to view. They gestured where the sun rises from and how we could have seen Mount Ayung ahead of us and the Lake Batur. It was crazy cocktail feeling where I refused to let my spirits go damp. We took some pictures against the baby pink clouds – by now the sun had risen and the canvas of sky was turning from pink to gold to crimson. I prayed hard for a breeze, a miracle and sure enough God heard.
In a moment the clouds brushed away and before us was a magnificent view of the sun rise, Mount Ayung and Lake Batur. Spell bound we stood in awe of nature. Blessed to be there. More pictures and smiles followed. We saw the volcano crater which was rather warm and then began the descend.
The mountain is made of volcanic gravel and it’s path is at a 70 degrees angle upwards. Coming down the same way is therefore a task for the skilled and trekking shoes with proper grip are essential. There were moments when the earth beneath my feet quite literally moved. I was lucky to have the guide and my husband support me through and through. The path going up was on an average 5 kms and the way down was just about 7. The first half of the climb down was largely gravel stone and then came the levelled pathway which was recently installed due the many accidents that had been with people slipping and hurting themselves.
We walked for what seemed like eternity. By the time I reached the parking lot and the car I could hardly feel my legs. It was as though I had been walking on auto pilot. I wanted to stop, I wanted to rest but my trekking partners knew that to continue to keep going was the only way to conclude the journey. In the car I took off my shoes and smiled at the numb toes. I could feel the blood rushing in my feet. My head was throbbing and my eyes tired from the sun. But I smiled a very happy smile – I had achieved what I set out to and this for me was the real mountain that I wanted to conquer one step at a time…
Words by: Ruqya Khan
At age 24, Menaka Ramakrishnan has a lot going on for her. She owns a content writing business where she provides social media management services for SMEs and writes articles for blogs and magazines on a freelance basis. She is also a travel blogger and instagrammer. On the calendar she is seen as Princess […]
We go through life day after day after day wanting to fit in. We beat ourselves out of shape to match the size that the people around us chose for us. We smile when we want to scream. We chase goals that are not our dreams and then we wonder why life is unfair!
To me, redefine is that moment when you choose to be – unapologetically you!
I think that the reason most people stop themselves in their own tracks is because they feel a sense of security in acceptance. There is familiarity in doing the usual and going with the flow. However what if your destiny is against that flow. Why must you accept status quo as your reality or identity even?
Life is a series of events and at each juncture you have the chance to accept or redefine. That is what separates the ordinary from the extra ordinary. My life is no different from others – of course being a journalist has its perks but beyond that I am just me!
I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a blogger, a writer, a speaker, a Master Practitioner of NLP, a coach and someday I shall be an inspiration too! The roles I play did not come to me from destiny. I had to reach out to them and make them my own.
Over the last 15 years I have dabbled in all forms of media – I’ve been Managing Editor of two magazines, a Content Editor for a government organisation, a script writer for a TV show, written press releases for events like DSF and Global Village and have even had my stories published in the Chicken Soup series! I now have a blog on Facebook (RK rites) and still contribute write ups for magazines in the region. If people came with taglines, mine would be ‘work is always welcome.’
My journey as a writer is not fascinating because of the interviews I did or the roles I played. It is different because I write from a place of passion not profession. I am a graduate of sciences and not journalism yet I took on the media opportunities that came my way and delivered. I wanted to do more in life than diapers and dishes. My son was a few months old and my daughter had just started school! When most career women hang up their boots I chose to take my first step towards my identity as a wordsmith. Love for my children and language were my driving force. My husband was my pillar of strength and encouragement.
When I set out all I wanted to do was to be a mum of whom my children would be proud, each day I am thankful to be a work in progress. Every opportunity allowed the writer in me to explore different areas of interest. All through I remained sincere to the real me and gave respect to my by-line/name. Indeed it has been a great journey – following my heart to uncover the world of words and growing as a person from within.
Every one of us wants to be unique, have a special life – getting there will be possible only when you step out of your comfort zone and complain closet! Stop whining about how life is unfair; step up and give yourself a fair life. There will be times that you may feel lost, feel afraid or even confused. And that’s alright. Being in a place of doubt only means you are asking questions and seeking answers. Trust has its own sense of direction. Go with it.
There are many milestones to conquer. Many lives to touch and inspire. Each of us has a gift that God gives us as a blessing, a talent. Look within, find that place to shine and leave behind a light…
My son Abdullah may have been 10 years old when there would be strong discussions at home about what career path his elder sister, Aiyda would be taking up. She was at that juncture where she had to pick between sciences and arts. A typical fork in the road scene for most children studying the Indian curriculum. He saw her hop from wanting to be a fashion designer to a doctor to a journalist but did not give any inputs. As luck would have it the tables turned one day and we asked him, just out of curiosity – what would you like to be when you grow up? Without a moment of thought he smiled ear to ear and said, “I want to be happy!”
The logical parent brain saw red flags waving; the little voice in my head when on a rampage – is that even a goal? how can he say that? he doesn’t know what he wants!
I took a warm deep breath and reflected his smile. The energy was contagious. The mischief of his eyes brightened mine. “Hmmm…an interesting goal to have!” I said.
Between then and now my boy is six years smarter. I have often thought about that conversation of ours. It comes knocking at my mind’s door when I am with too many things to do and deadlines to meet. It makes me think, what am I chasing? Is this really making me happy?
Two summers ago I was travelling from Hyderabad to Dubai by myself. My favorite stopover before I board the plane is the bookshop in the Duty Free at the airport. I usually pick a book from the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series – it makes for heart warming reading while on the flight. This time however another book caught my attention. It must have been the colourful cartoons on the cover that did the trick. The title was: Making Friends – A Guide to Getting Along with People; written and illustrated by – ANDREW MATTHEWS. “Interesting!” I thought to myself. I picked it up for my kids and read it cover to cover on the flight. It’s easier to read a book that has drawings and illustrations. Keeps the inner child hooked!
That book did us good. I read it. My daughter read it. My son read it. We then passed it on to our neighbours who have little kids. The journey in the book of acceptance and what it means to be happy as yourself were lessons I grew from. So when the National Achievers Congress 2016 was announced to take place in Dubai with Andrew Matthews as one of the lead speakers, he out shined the rest of the givers on stage for me.
I had to meet him and ask – Can happyness be a goal? I attended the event with this single motive. Of course getting to hear the great Robert Kiyosaki and Lady Michelle and Andrew Herrington was bonus too!
I did my interview with Andrew right after he mesmerized the audience on stage – 90 minutes of drawing, speaking and connecting. He was cheerful and vibrant just as my smile. Through his presentation he had put all the pieces of the happiness puzzle together but I needed some answers to glue it in place.
“If happiness is so important and we all know that – why do some of us choose to be in other states?” His lips curved into an intrigued smile and he measured his words to say, “I think a lot of it depends on how we grew up. Some of us grew up with role models who demonstrated that we don’t get too stressed about minor things. SO if we had the good fortune to have a role model like a mum or dad who just said life is to be enjoyed then often we just automatically do that. We become part of our environment because that’s normal. Different people are different. Some people need to be on their knees before they say my view of the world isn’t working!”
“So would you say happiness is an achievement for yourself or a mindset to achieve?”
“If you can’t be happy what’s the value of anything? If you can’t make your journey joyful then what’s the point?”
“How often do you think one must look back to move forward?”
“For me, gratitude is key. I have got a board by my desk where I have pictures of the people and experiences that have meant the most to me. I call it my gratitude board. But when I look at it I don’t want to think how happy I was or how lucky I am. Some people have photo albums to just look back and think ‘wow, it was so good then’. I think if we have that mindset that life is blessed and the good things that have happened to me are part of the continuing journey. That is so much more powerful and positive.”
“Can happiness be a goal?”
“It can be a goal but we need to be mindful of the things that lead to that. Some people would say all I want to do is be happy. But if you don’t have a plan on how to get there – how would you know if you have arrived or made progress even? Doing your best and putting your heart and soul into what you care about is enormously important. Not blaming people. Being grateful for what you have and getting acceptance for things and situations is what takes you there.”
I spoke to Mr Happy for a very brief while but his answers etched into my mind. As I put away my voice recorder and tucked away the freshly autographed book a smile began to sneak up on me. I felt aligned with my values. I felt happy. I felt abundant in joy!
A space for me to share my mind…a window for me to see other point of views…this is where I let my thoughts take over…I write and let my thoughts think without the refrains of a deadline or style…It’s like setting up the stage, drawing in an audience and not knowing what the performance will be all about…but it will unfold a word at a time, one like at a time and sometimes there will be silence and this will mean the tempest is readying itself for a loud applause!!
My affair with words began at a young age. Being the only child I shared my emotions with paper and pencil, churning out every now and then what people called poems. To me they were a reflection of my heart’s feelings – a companion in my lonely hours. When I found a friend, a partner, a soul mate in my marriage the poetry died but the love for words remained. I drew to journalism and started writing features for local newspapers and magazines.
Over the years I have allowed the writer in me to explore all areas of interest – health, beauty, fashion, food, lifestyle, people, parenting and even events. Its been a great adventure – following my heart to uncover the world of words and growing as a person from within.