My Spanish Experience

In my previous blog post, I mentioned I was travelling solo in Spain. Since I am almost at the end of my stay here, scheduled to fly back home tomorrow, I thought I would do a follow up to my earlier post. So, here goes.

My 1st destination was Barcelona. My goodness! What an introduction to Spain! The architecture, the art, the FOOD, the culture, everything was beautiful! But to me, as an Asian from Sri Lanka, the thing that impressed me the most was how SAFE it was for a solo female traveller!

Not everyone can speak English. Sad but true. However, don’t let that be a deterrent to you! As long as you know “Ola” (hello), “Bon dia” (good morning) and you have a smartphone with Google Translate, you’ll be fine! As long as you smile, and speak with your hands and feet as well as your mouth, you will get on just fine.

Food & Drink:

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Bacalao cooked in tomato sauce

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Tinto de Verano

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Tapas – Grilled Pimento Peppers & Stuffed Mushrooms with Chorizo

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Shrimps cooked with olive oil and garlic

You can get a beer or a glass of wine or something a bit stronger even, at 8 in the morning! Don’t you just love that? Well, I do! Breakfast and lunch in Spain is important as meals, and you can take your time with these. Dinner, on the other hand, is a more light, yet social, meal. Tapas (small bite sized plates of goodness) is very typical for dinner, and even as a single female traveller, you can enjoy this very Spanish experience.

Culture:

A very broad subject, but I will touch on just a few things that resonated with me. Clothes wise, you can wear whatever you want! It’s as simple as that. No one is going to stare at you if you wear those butt cheek showing hot pants during the day or night and take the metro or bus or any form of public transport. If you are like me, brown or dark skinned, you just cannot disguise the fact that you’re not Spanish. So my advice is to blend in as much as possible. But don’t let this stop you from dressing sexily either. It is quite safe here and no one bothers you simply because of the way you dress. You can happily dress according to your personal preference or style. Just keep in mind that it is required that women cover their shoulders when entering a church or cathedral. Obviously! It’s a place of worship and it is necessary to be decent in such places. Goes without saying, right??

If you’re a smoker, well then, you’re in luck. Most hotels, motels, Airbnbs will have no smoking notices. But if needed you can always go to the street and have a smoke or 3! It’s fine! Most Spaniards, male and female, old and young, smoke. And if their building has a restriction due to age of building or some such, rest assured, they would have worked around it. So, fret not. You’re fine.

Safety for a woman. Now this is always a big thing for me when I travel. Obviously I don’t want to be harassed or worse, while travelling! It is VERY SAFE for female travellers! As long as you take necessary precautions to safely hold your bag, you’ll be fine.

At this point though, I need to mention that I nearly got mugged twice. Both times were by kids no more than 18! The 1st time was on the day of Barcelona’s Festival of Fire, which is the feast of the city’s patron Saint (more on this afterwards). I was on the sidewalk with a friend when a young kid who walked past me, tried to grab my bag (or my arse) from behind. If not for my friend, I might be minus my handbag! The 2nd instance was also in Barcelona, when I was lugging my bag up the stairs from the metro, headed for the train station Barcelona Sants, when a young girl no more than 18, lifted my bag from the wheels pretending to help me, and then pushed me towards the wall while her friend was behind me trying to have a go at my backpack. They gave up and went away back down the stairs into the metro. All this took perhaps 30 seconds. I didn’t even have time to react! I just kept smiling at them and saying, “no thank you I’m good”! It was a few seconds before it dawned on me what had just transpired!

Now, as I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to be in town for the Festival of Fire. It’s bigger than new years eve for them, and the celebrations are like our typical NYE celebrations, with fireworks and parties on the beach and all over the city, and everyone spending time together till sunrise or beyond! Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll seemed to be the modus operandi on the beach! It was quite the experience for someone from a backward and immensely conservative country like mine! I think it’s the one day of the year where everyone gets a sort of free pass. My advice? Experience it! If you’re lucky to be around when this is happening, go out and have a blast! Just be sensible about it of course! I think that too goes without saying!

Pre-Book Bus / Train / Domestic Flight Tickets:

I used an app called Trainline EU to book my train and bus tickets within Spain. If you’re travelling within the EU region, you can get train tickets for journeys that will take you over borders. It was convenient for me, plus, you almost always get cheap options based on the times of travel. I definitely recommend it.

Buses and trains run on time, so please get to the station at least a good 30-45 minutes before your train or bus is scheduled to leave! Your luggage will go through a scanner, so be prepared to be asked to a side for the security officer to do a manual check of your bags. The platform number (if going by train) or the loading dock number (if going by bus) will be put up on the big LED screens with all the schedules on them, just 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. So always keep an eye out for these screens, because they don’t announce anything over the PA, and besides, it’s not like you would be able to understand them anyway! So just track your bus or train number on the screens and get to the gate in time! These stations are so big and have to handle so many passengers on a daily basis, they operate almost like mini airports. This is where pre-booking tickets is very important, because if you think of going to the bus or train station and buying a ticket there, the chances are that you will get a later scheduled bus or train because the seats are all sold out in advance.

Be smart! Don’t be like me and end up sitting in station for 6 hours, losing money to vending machines and lockers!

Vending Machines:

There are vending machines all over, especially at bus / train stations and even in small cafes and shopping malls. You can get anything from vending machines – from soft drinks / water, to fully charged powerbanks, phone headsets, data / charging cables, to cigarettes! Even tokens to storage lockers at bus / train stations are from vending machines. Of course, even though most have instructions in English, not all instructions are CLEAR! I was at the Granada Bus Station, I had 6 hours to kill before my bus to Seville, so I thought to myself I’ll just store my luggage in a locker and go exploring a bit more. Went to the locker area, saw there was a vending machine to get the token for the locker, put in 3.50 Euros, got myself a token, found an empty locker, chucked my bag in, put in the token, locked the door, and tried to take the key out. But it wouldn’t budge. So I unlocked the key and tried locking again, and it locked! But the damn key just refused to leave its snug keyhole! So I unlocked again and opened the door and to my dismay, I heard the token fall in to the main cavity. I knew then that I got screwed. So no more token and no more locked locker. So I just took the bag out and decided that this was a sign for me to stay put in the bus station.

So, I found an empty seat and parked myself there. Had at least 5 more hours to go, so I just settled in with a book and that’s when I remembered I had busted my earphones, which meant I couldn’t listen to any music. That’s when I noticed the vending machine with the fully charged powerbanks and headsets. So I went up to it, looked at the instructions, which were essentially 2 lines that basically said, insert money and punch in the number of the item you want. So, that’s what I did. Found the cheapest pair of earphones for 5 Euros (yes yes I’m a cheap traveller!), inserted the money, punched in the number of the item, listened (again!) to the money fall into that cavern inside, and waited for my item to come up. But it didn’t! Punched in the number a few more times just for good measure! Nothing! Now I understand why people physically attack vending machines in movies!!

So vending machines basically swallowed up 8.50 Euros! But hey! You might have better luck with them! So give it a go! And just to give you some insight, 8.50 Euros in my local Sri Lankan currency is roughly about Rs. 1,800/-, which is a fair bit of money to lose to a bloody vending machine!

Walking Food / History Tours:

I highly recommend signing up for some sort of walking tour on your first or second day of the trip! It’s a great way to get your bearings in a new city, and if you’re lucky, you might make friends on these tours and end up exploring other destinations together!

In Barcelona, I signed up for a free walking tour on this website, https://freewalkingtoursbarcelona.com/en/ which I found out about through a YouTube vlog! Our guide Misha, was super awesome! The tour was 2.5 hours long, started from Placa Catalunya, and took us through the Gothic Quarter and ended there. I loved the tour! Gave me a sense of confidence to venture out on my own after that! Met some lovely people, and got some interesting tips as well (bonus!)! To sign up to any of their tours, is free. However, at the end of the tour, you can pay what you feel was worth the tour. It was suggested in the video, that it would be acceptable to pay around 15 Euros if you were happy with the tour.

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Bishop’s Bridge

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Barcelona Cathedral

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Narrow streets in the Gothic Quarter

In Madrid, I went on a Wine, Tapas & History Tour with Devour Tours (https://madridfoodtour.com/). Again, I stumbled across them on YouTube. Our guide was Jake. Half Spanish, half Irish, a teacher by profession, he was simply amazing! I would call him a great host, rather than call him a tour guide, because he made us feel like we were his guests, his friends. The group I was with was also amazing! So win win! Since I was scheduled to spend only 1 night in Madrid, I figured, a tour like this would be the best way to see the main sites of the city, hit the markets and tapas bars and sample the city’s culture! I must say, these tours were probably the most intelligent decisions I made in connection to this trip!

My last 3 nights were spent in Granada and Seville. Before my trip, I had earmarked La Alhambra in Granada, and the Royal Alcazar in Seville as my must-visit sites! Accordingly, I booked myself for 2 nights in Granada and 1 night in Seville. Unfortunately, due to my bad luck at the Granada bus station with getting a bus only at 4.30pm, I couldn’t visit the Royal Alcazar.

First, Granada. Granada was a bit too touristy I felt, but don’t get me wrong! It was still nice! My AirBNB was in the old neighbourhood of Albaycin. Narrow, climbing, winding cobblestoned streets and old buildings, and small secret squares ever so often, it was a cosy, lovely feel! The higher you went, the less noisy it became and more intimate almost. Even the bars were less busy. This suited me more than the busier ones at main road level. I spent a fair bit of time, going from bar to bar and sampling their different beers and wines. I especially loved their summer wine – Tinto de Verano! Refreshing, cooling, and oh so yummy! Let’s not forget the humble tapas that they serve you with your drink! I had some of the best chorizo and bacalao (salted cod fish) in these small nondescript hole in the wall bars! Not just here in Granada, but even in the big cities!

My 2nd day in Granada, I went to the Alhambra and my mind was officially blown! Simply wow! Within the complex, the Nazarin Palace is a must! However, they allow only a limited number of visitors and there are time blocks. If you miss your time block, you are denied access. So, I tried to buy my ticket off the official site, but it was sold out for weeks past my last day in Spain. That was when my AirBNB host told me about the Granada card. As with any big European city, the Granada card gives you access to a bunch of historical sites as well as public transport. When you buy this, you can choose the time and date of your visit for the Nazarin Palace. This is the only sure-fire way of getting in. Get to the entrance well in advance of your time block because you need to take into account all the other visitors who will be there in the queue. My suggestion is 1 hour in advance. The Alhambra is the entire complex. But the real tear-jerking architectural beauty is in the Nazarin and the Generalife. A visit to La Alhambra simply would not be complete without seeing these!

Next stop was Seville, but as I mentioned earlier, because I didn’t get my ticket earlier, I was able to get a seat only on the 4.30pm bus. It’s a 3 hour bus ride from Granada to Seville. 2 hours into the journey, our bus broke down and delayed us a further 1.5 hours! So, by the time I got into Seville it was 9pm. Now I had even less time to explore the old part of Seville and I was really sad about this because, the moment I got on to the streets of Seville, I fell in love with her! I fell in love with her energy!

Thanks to my bus breaking down, I made a friend. She and I ended up rendezvousing at this bar called La Carboneria, which is known to have authentic, almost reverential flamenco performances. From there, we went on to explore, finally trudging back to our respective accommodations at about 2am. This particular day, they had their annual gay pride, so the streets were filled with revellers, visitors and locals alike! Even at 2am, there were people still out, and you got the feeling that the night was still very very young!

At this point, I want to revert back to my observation on safety. Of all the places I visited in Spain, Seville was where I felt the safest! I know that I was there only for 1 night, literally, but I always follow my intuition when I travel, and the vibes I get when I walk into a city or neighbourhood, is my guide. It felt as if Sevilla was simply oozing good vibes! As I said, I was there for only 1 night, but I found myself regretting having not booked myself for a longer period in Seville. In fact, I should have just stayed 1 night in Granada, and made Seville my big bang finale to my 10-day Spanish experience! But I’m just looking at this as motivation to revisit Spain, and explore the Basque and Andalucia more! As I listened to stories from fellow travellers I met along the way, who were either in the middle of their travels through Spain or at the end, or on a repeat visit, the one thing I saw in all their eyes was this wistful look, a dreamy faraway look, that even the heat wave couldn’t burn out. The fire of Espanya had most definitely infected their soul!

And personally, I think it infected mine as well.

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Solo Travel & I

Currently I am in Spain. I travelled here on work and I have to be here for a total of 10 days, plus 2 days for flying in and out.

I was supposed to originally come with either my brother or my GM. It would have been quite the nightmare coming with my GM because he is a vegan and teetotaller. My brother would have been the better companion for sure! Although I would have had to hide my smoking or force him to accept it!

However, what I have realised through this is that, even though I had a sneaky suspicion, it is now confirmed that I am not so fond of solo travel. Perhaps I’m feeling a wee bit emotional these days because I am supposed to get my monthlies in a few days! Maybe I should schedule solo travel after the monthlies, wherever possible!

I think having the perfect companion is important when travelling. Considering you are going to be sharing each other’s personal space for an extended period of time, it is important that you two are able to enjoy each others company. Not just tolerate it. And when possible, do things independently. Go solo for half a day or a full day. Do your own thing. Then rendezvous in the evening and tell each other what your day was like, over a cup of coffee or a pint or three of beer!

It’s the perfect antidote!

Even when I went to the Maldives a few weeks ago with my partner, we ended up having a full day apart, and when we met up in the evening, it was at this waterfront restaurant with fantastic views of the ferry terminal. To this day, he says that that is his favourite memory of that trip. Coming up the stairs onto the deck and seeing me seated at one of the tables near the railing, reading my book with my shades on, in the sun.

Sometimes, what may not seem ideal at the time, turns out to be just what the doctor ordered to preserve everyone’s sanity.

I am an ambivert. Most days I’m 50/50 but everything depends on my mood I guess. The past few months I’ve been more introverted than usual. And in the week following my trip to the Maldives, I’ve been even more so. So, a trip to Spain on my own suddenly didn’t seem too appealing.

Now I’m just trying to make the best of the chance I have got! As my cousin put it, I seem to have lost my fire. Perhaps this trip will turn out to be exactly what I need to jump-start my batteries!

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Relationships Outside Of Relationships

I have heard of strong, independent women saying it’s better to get involved with a married man because then they don’t need to be responsible for that man like in a normal relationship. It can be all about sex and no one needs to worry about the truth coming out, because the guy definitely wouldn’t want to let the world know about what’s going on.

I have heard this being spoken by women, and one of my friends who noticed an increase in the number of women hitting on him after he married also told me the same thing. I found it unbelievable! Even though I had heard it with my own ears!

Why would anyone do that? First of all why would anyone want to be in an extra marital relationship?? And secondly, why would a single woman prefer that over a single guy??

At first I was shocked. Then I started wondering about the why. Eventually I came up with a theory or two.

Most men are kids in adults’ bodies. My theory is that nowadays women look for maturity since they have the option of finding their own men, unlike in the olden days of arranged marriages. And women are essentially romantics who imagine themselves in an equal, loving partnership for life.

Second theory is that women are much more focused on their careers and can’t afford to get distracted by the usual trappings of a normal, straightforward relationship. Sounds shallow, I agree. A sly relationship, kept on the down low, is low maintenance. Perfect for that career oriented woman. I’m not saying every woman is like that. But some are.

Third theory involves those men and women who genuinely fall in love with each other outside of any existing relationship or marriage in their lives. Why does that happen? My theory is that because those parties went in to a marriage or relationship prematurely. Before they could develop self awareness. Before they could fully measure the character and personality of that particular partner, and decide if he or she is actually for them. Before they could fully understand what true love is, what happiness is. Most people want to keep up with the Joneses, and in doing so, end up making bad decisions. Some look at a marriage or relationship as an escape from their reality. Others come from a place of insecurity, where they don’t believe that they can ever find someone who will love them because of how they look or who they are. Sometimes they just don’t realise it is a situation of jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.

Sometimes one can go for years, decades even, fooling themselves into accepting and believing that the relationship or marriage they are in is what love is and what a relationship or marriage is supposed to be. Sometimes they tell themselves that no one really sees behind closed doors into the reality of other people’s marriages and relationships, and tell themselves that this just must be love and what it means to be in a loving partnership.

Eventually of course, this illusion is bound to break down, as is the case with any illusion. One day you can meet someone who turns your life, your beliefs upside down, makes you see your reality for what it truly is, makes you regret your decisions. One day you can meet someone who fills your heart with love and happiness, and yet the cost of that love and happiness is expensive. Being with you could mean the end of that person’s stability and the end of their lives as they’ve known thus far…

Most times extra marital affairs are a result of boredom within their relationships. But some times, it really is love. Most people will disagree and go on about lying in the bed you made, taking responsibility for one’s actions etc etc. We’ve all heard them. Even I’ve said them. But step out of your little box and look at their situations from a neutral perspective. Be kind, be sympathetic to their situations, be non judgemental. Remember we cannot see behind closed doors.

Love knows no boundaries, no distance, no reality. All love knows is being kindred in spirit. Calling it a spark refers more to a physical passion. Calling it a rope that links two hearts, instead is more accurate I believe. Like mountain climbers link each other with a rope, so does love. It is life saving and life threatening at once. Just like two mountain climbers link themselves with a rope to save each other, that very life saving object could also kill each other if one person stumbles and falls into an abyss or down a ravine or off a cliff.

I subscribe to the school of thought that we all have lived many lifetimes and that we have all met our key people in our lives in those previous lives. How else can you explain that sense of weird familiarity and connectedness we sometimes feel when we meet someone for the first time? I know that love too happens in such a way.

Question is, what do you do once you’ve experienced that? How do you react? How do you come to terms with that?

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Midnight Musings

I was doing a birthday banner for a close friend of mine who is turning 40 in 2 days. Naughty 40s and all, right? Suddenly, it dawned on me, goodness gracious me, that’s going to be me in 6 years!

I think I have mentioned before how my life truly began at 30. My 20s were chaos in a nutshell. Marriage, not finishing my higher education, perpetual financial problems, the list goes on! Unfortunately that list does not include much positivity.

Hence why I say my life truly began at 30. With the end of my marriage, suddenly new doors opened. I made new friends, was able to solidify my old friendships, was able to attain a certain level of financial independence and stability, was able to dare to dream, had some of them come true and in short, dare I say, just live more!

With me realising just how close I am to the big Four – O, suddenly I don’t want to get to that age! I feel I haven’t done enough before hitting that milestone! Can I press pause on my aging button?? I know it’s only a number and is not a reflection of me personally. But shit! I want to live more! Do more!

I don’t want kids. That I’m certain of. I never was a very maternal person. I’m more the fun and cool aunty. At least that’s how I like to see myself! Hahaha! But kids aside, I still want more. I want to be financially stable, I want to have my home completed so that I never have to worry about where I’m going to be living when I do reach my winter years. I want to travel more! Much much more! My God! I want to see the world!

I also want to love again.

My cousin always says, if you want something badly, just put that into an intention, and release it into the universe. It will gather momentum, and will come plummeting back to you.

It’s true what he says! I’ve always wanted to travel and I am working towards realising that, one destination at a time. Of course it goes without saying that if you want something bad enough, you need to also work for it, especially those things you want that you can control. Love is something that is not. But travel? Hell yes! See, if you want to travel, you need to do the basics like get a passport, save money. Those are all things that are within your control.

When you have the basics down pat, the opportunities will come a knocking, and when they do, you are better prepared to grab them.

So right here, right now, I am making a pledge to myself. I am going to work on the things that I can control, like my dream of a home and travel.

As for love, well, I am going to be as open minded as I can, and not fret too much about it. I want love. I want to love. I want to be loved. God knows that. The universe knows it too. They will combine forces to make that happen for me, when I’m ready. I think they will know when I am. Till then, I shall try to move forward as best as I can.

I have this feeling that great things are coming for me. Beautiful, wonderful, great things are in store for me. I just need to be ready for them.

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Life, Love & Loss – A Day Of Remembrance

It is Poya here today in Sri Lanka, a full moon day celebrated by Buddhists. It is 7.13am and I am sitting in my garden listening to chants from the nearby temple, peppered with the sound of birdsong. It is strangely relaxing.

It is also making me reminisce.

The chair I sit on is a garden chair I bought a lifetime ago, back when I was married and making a home with my now ex-husband.

I am sitting in front of a hydrangea plant I planted 12 days ago in the grave where I had to bury one of my babies – my cat Grey.

I have had so much loss in the last few years. I have had new beginnings, new experiences too. But for some reason, with the passing of my beloved Grey, I have been doing nothing but focusing on the losses and the sort of dead pan life I seem to have led myself into.

It is a lonely existence. The hardships, the losses, and even the good times, all I have had to shoulder on my own. No one to share anything with. Especially during the hard times and days and sometimes months, it is all done alone, and these past two weeks have been spent wondering, what am I doing with my life and what is the point of this lonely existence.

A friend of mine recently told me that relationships are for the insecure. I strongly disagree. Not everyone who yearns for one is insecure. Sometimes we are just tired. Nay! Exhausted!

I am blessed. I know this. Yet I am finding it hard to reconcile my head and my heart. My head says, be thankful. My heart says, enough of this. I can be content with my own company and that’s the truth! Most days I am on my own. It just becomes very difficult when hardship or tragedy strikes. Having to be level headed and practical when all you want to do is scream in anguish… Somehow it just doesn’t feel natural. And yet, that is exactly what I have to do, to keep on living, to keep on going.

This is when the questioning begins.

Isn’t it ironic that we forget God, faith, loneliness and sadness when everything is going well and life is good? I do. I also know I am guilty of it as well. Aren’t we all? I hope most of us are… I do not want to be alone in yet another aspect of my life and character.

Which brings me back to my original question… What is the point of living this life?

What the FUCK is going on?

So…. I met someone. I have literally known him for all of 4 days. 4 DAYS. But it feels like I have known him all my life and then some. Anticipating each others’ moves, their next sentence, completing their current sentence… This is all just normalcy between us. And we did not set eyes on each other till 4 days ago. What the actual FUCK is going on?

I am a firm believer in the theory of the afterlife. And, since I do have memories of a past life of my own, I am obviously a believer. But this is quite literally the 2nd time in my life that I am meeting someone, and ended up feeling like I have known them more than just this lifetime. I kid you not!

But as always, the Universe also throws a massive curveball. Distance is one curveball, but it isn’t the biggest. The main curveball is just circumstances. It is not a simple decision of just uprooting one’s life. It is far more complicated than that. Sadly.

So my question then is this. What do you do in such a situation?

In this modern day and age of connectivity and global village theory, distance is not as unbearable as it used to be once upon a time. But circumstances will always be the spoke in the wheel.

I am suddenly inspired to use a lot of expletives (in private of course)!

At the same time, I have been seeing a lot of travel related posts on Scotland, so I think I’m going to see how feasible it is for a poor Sri Lankan like myself, to go to Scotland for a visit, to maybe just Edinburgh.

As you may not know, I believe in travelling the world, one city at a time.

Istanbul – My Love… 

For 9 amazing days in December of 2017, I was in the beautiful city of Istanbul. I fell in love as soon as I stepped out of the airport and saw the beginnings of Istanbul. Beginnings as in the first sights that a visitor sees as he or she sets out from the arrivals section of the airport.

The people are amazing! Warm, kind, helpful, always ready with a smile and curious about a brown skinned woman like me, often mistaking me for an Indian! And I love it how they pretend that they know where Sri Lanka is! It is very cute! And when I laugh and ask do they really know where my little island is, they sheepishly smile and say no. The people I met are not proud to admit when they don’t know something. They also aren’t afraid or ashamed to be themselves, which is truly refreshing in this new age of pretense. 

The food was out of this world! There is not a single thing that I had the honour of eating, that I disliked, let alone hated! A true gastronomic journey it was.

Istanbulites also are the epitome of showing kindness to animals! As an animal lover, I can’t think of a more tolerant and patient community and I can’t help myself when I wish my own country was more like that. Known as the City of Cats, the people of Istanbul go above and beyond the call of humanity when it comes to taking care of the street cats and dogs! I hope that that never changes! Istanbul is a city and its people are a people that can be a glowing example in how to be kind, not just to one’s fellow kind, but also to those creatures that are considered animal. It takes a special kind of culture and humanity to understand that all creatures are God’s creatures, and that they deserve kindness and patience and dignity… 

And the city itself! Oh my word! The architecture, the intricacies, the narrow uphill or downhill side roads and the streets lined with shops and cafes and the busy city squares with all the hustle and bustle of a truly metropolitan city that has also managed to save its warm welcoming sense… That to me was the most beautiful experience I could have ever wished or hoped for! Istanbul is a city that drives you mad with desire! A desire to live there every single day of your life! Istanbul welcomed me with open arms, and I had to pry myself away from her warm welcoming embrace. She made me daydream about what I would do if I moved there. Made me daydream of my own life and what it would be like if I were to uproot and just move! I have never visited a place that has felt more home to me than my own home! Imagine not feeling homesick! Imagine that! Well, that is exactly what happened to me. Istanbul is my siren call…

I have never felt safer! Even in my own home town, I try to get home as early as possible, and if I am venturing out afterwards, I do so in a vehicle. I would never dream of stepping out for a nightly walk no matter how much I would wish for it! Oh no! Never! So just imagine feeling safer in a foreign land than in your own land of birth? Isn’t that truly sad?? 

Yes, there are the areas that are not as safe as others, and yes they do have the same social problems that all other countries and cities have, but for this female traveller, who can’t even speak the same language, I never felt alone or isolated or unsafe. Never! 

Oh Istanbul my Love! I want to come back to your homely embrace! I want to come back home… 

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Polyamory

My biggest complain during my marriage was that he expected me to fulfill multiple roles. Not just be his wife, but to be his mother, his friend, his confidant, his advisor, his therapist, his carer, his housekeeper. And if I failed in one or more of those roles in my capacity as his wife, then he would go in search of a replacement to fulfill them, claiming that he felt I no longer loved him and that he too was feeling less and less love towards me. This was his excuse for cheating on me. 

Recently I came across the concept of polyamory and I have found myself lately thinking about that and wondering if that would have worked for me and my marriage. Now in hindsight, I believe that the breakdown of my marriage was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, and that it was inevitable, polyamorous or not. 

But first, let me clarify the word “polyamory”. It’s meaning is literally, many loves. It is being in multiple relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved. There is no cheating. In fact, a polyamorous relationship requires complete and utter honesty. It is the complete opposite to a cheating relationship. 

Now this appeals to me. For one thing, it speaks to my personal opinion that one person cannot fulfill multiple roles. Therefore, if my partner were to be open about it and tell me that he or she would like to date someone else, I would be ok about it. I believe I would lay down some ground rules like giving me an early warning, at least in the early days. I would like to get to know the other person. It would be difficult for me to endorse a relationship with someone that I don’t get along with. 

The partners in the primary couple must get priority. That would be rule #2. Never let your primary partner feel inadequate. Make him or her feel loved at all times. The most basic reason for jealousy is feeling inadequate. Don’t let that green eyed monster get in between you two. 

I personally would like to explore this more. I feel my personality is more suited for this. At least who I am, right now. 

I read somewhere, if we are able to love multiple friends, and not be judged for it, then why can’t we love multiple people, be in deep and meaningful emotional and sexual relationships with them and not be judged? 

Polyamorous relationships challenge us to be more aware of our own personal tickings. If one is to enjoy the full scope of being a polyamorist, one has to be willing to analyze oneself and understand what makes you jealous, what hurts you, and it challenges one to be honest and open about one’s feelings. Isn’t that a good enough thing in itself? 

My goal is to be comfortable with who I am. If I find myself leaving mainstream thinking and leaning towards this rather bohemian way of living and loving, I’m most certainly going to explore it. For me, being a polyamorist means that you are free. And if you are a possessive person, then this would definitely not be for you. Unless you want to work to correct that about yourself. My ex husband was possessive. Was jealous. And worst of all, he had a very short attention span and a short capacity to love and be tolerant of my shortcomings. These character flaws he dared not address. He believed himself to be perfect and therefore not in need of self improvement. A person like that would be the worst kind of partner to have in a polyamorous relationship. This is why I believe, our marriage still would have ended up on the rocks even if we were in such a relationship. 

Don’t judge this post. Don’t judge me. Instead, think about this. Really think about it. See if it fits you. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too! Not everyone can agree with this out-of-the-box thinking.

Requiem for a lost soul

How is it that you can have your dreams and hopes shattered into a million pieces within a matter of moments?? 

For months, I have been happy in the knowledge that I’m free of the usual heartache issues like broken relationships and broken hearts. However, now, I find myself heartbroken because I am about to lose my home….

In my humble opinion, I feel there is nothing more heartbreaking than losing something as stable as a home. Relationships are (at their best) volatile. They are completely and utterly dependent on the other. Not you. But the other. Therefore, under these circumstances, isn’t it more pragmatic to hold a requiem in honour of all our lost or dead hopes, rather than the loss of a life? 

We may pay tribute to a lost life, but who is going to pay tribute to the lost soul? 

Pets and kids

Back when I was married, my husband and I used to foster stray puppies that were rescued off the dangerous streets. We fostered nearly 30 dogs and while most of them died due to tick fever or parvo, the rest remained with us.

Why did they remain with us? It was because we were extremely strict about the conditions they would be in, in their forever homes. Most people didn’t think like us, or even if they did, didn’t have the conditions we were looking for. As a result, we rejected all the potentials and they remained with us as our kids. 

What many people don’t realize is how attached we become to our charges. Just like with kids, we feed them, bathe them, nurture them, watch over them through sleepless nights when they’re sick… Anyone who has ever had a pet, would know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately that’s just a handful of them who behave and think like us. 

Recently, I brought home a pup who was not being looked after properly. The ‘owner’ was obviously feeding him and bathing him, but was not giving him the security a puppy needs when living near a major city road. This pup spent most of his time on the road or inside our office. He’s a happy puppy. A loving puppy. And through sheer fear I brought him home and he bonded with my other babies. Now the ‘owner’ is asking for him and today I have to take him back. There is no doubt that he loves the little fellow, but what good is love if you can’t also provide fully? If it was a child, would he allow that child to play on the road unsupervised? No, I most certainly don’t think so. He is asking for him back because he’s sick in the heart without him, but what if something happens to him? 

Unfortunately I can’t keep him when they are asking for him. So please send out all positive vibrations towards this innocent little guy and pray that he will stay in good health and be safe always, and that he will always be the happy doggy that he is sure to grow into…

And on a final note, there is no difference between a pet and a child. They too need love and kisses and cuddles (lots and lots of cuddles) just like a human child. Just because they don’t speak in the same language as us does not mean that they are not beings. In my opinion, animals show more humanity than humans. Just think of a pet as a kid who speaks another language and who has a lot of love to give. My gardener made a comment yesterday. He said, “Would a human come to us and show us love if we disciplined them? Or hit them? No.” Very true. 

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