Archives for category: lifestyle

‘You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.’

Miriam Adeney



galungan-7Today is Galungan – a very important festival in the Balinese year.

Galungan recognizes good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma) with people acknowledging the creator of the earth, and offering sacrifices of food and flowers to ancestors within village temples and family compounds. 1st galungan-1

galungan-2Each family/compound has a responsibility to create a penjor for the entrance to their home, as well as contributing offerings to the family and village temples.  Preparation takes many days, and the local markets are always busy in the period leading up to Galungan.

Many events occur before and after Galungan. Tomorrow everyone will spend time visiting family and close friends. It all culminates in Kuningan in 10 days time. Kuningan means yellow and on this day the Balinese will make special offerings of yellow rice. 1st galungan-3

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As the year has 210 days, I was also fortunate enough to be here for Galungan last year as well! I was invited to join Made as he visited several village temples to share his family’s offerings. It was a busy, bustling time, nothing too formal! Families, all dressed up in sarongs and kabayas, knelt in temple compounds, offering their gifts and receiving blessings, before chatting to friends and moving onto the next temple. What a privilege to be involved.

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I have packed up and left New York… again. And it was only a year ago that I left London, again moving house… and moving country. And in the midst of this next adventure into the unknown, I was ‘home’ briefly in July, visiting family and friends in Australia. So whilst I am excited about the possibilities ahead and without a physical address for the next few few months, in these times of change and uncertainty, I am, naturally, thinking a lot about the concept of ‘home’.

What is ‘home’? Where is my home? I’m sure everyone has their own concept but with my current experience of ‘limbo’, it’s something I am trying to work out for me. Does a home find you? Or do you need to make a place home?

I have lived overseas for 12 1/2  of the last 15 years. But I have moved address at least every 2 years during this time, lived and worked in several countries, and travelled in many more. I have never claimed to have migrated to a new country, a new ‘home’.  I get back to Australia about once a year to see family and friends – although have recently stopped referring to this as ‘going home’. When people ask me where my home is, I do struggle to come up with an answer.

A home is more than the physical structure, a home really is where the heart is. To me, home is about belonging. It’s about the people, the places, the passion. Is it possible to feel that in different places? Or maybe, as a friend and I were discussing last weekend, different parts of my heart can belong to different places… I guess until I work that out, or some particular place ‘finds’ me, I am going to keep on exploring!!

Anyone who has traveled with me comments on how quickly I make myself at home with the local cafe/restaurant/bar, getting to know the staff by name, and becoming a ‘regular’.  That is one way that I feel at home.

Even living in new York’s West Village, a ‘home day’ does not mean staying indoors, but relaxing in some of my favourite nearby places – coffee on the High Line, shopping at the Chelsea Market, brunch at Gottino…

And every time I return to Bali, upon entering Ubud’s Jazz Cafe, Ayu greets me – ‘Welcome to your home!’

I have spent the last week in Jakarta – I lived here from 2001-2003, and haven’t been back for at least 8 years. My first day out and about, navigating the traffic and mayhem that is Jakarta, I was surprised at how at home I felt!

To all those people out there who think this self-questioning might mean I’m ready to move back to Adelaide, I’m afraid not yet! I still have plenty of travelling to do! But if there’s some way I can create a more permanent home to come back to in between the adventures – that would be great!

The time has come for me to leave New York.  The thought has been mulling in the back of my mind for the last few months, but only settled just recently.  And I’m ok with it!

Work finishes in 4 weeks’ time. I have a few plans for July and August, and then I step bravely (or not so bravely) into the unknown.

New York has been my base on and off for the last 7 years. I nearly called it ‘home’ but I’m not sure whether it has ever really been my home. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s time to move on. Don’t get me wrong – it is an amazing place to live, and I’ve had some great experiences here, the work has really stretched me, I’ve learnt a lot, and I’ve become more of the person I am supposed to be. But it’s time.

This was always going to be a short-term option for me – so to have stuck it out this long amazes me – and the people who know me well!!

I’ve never had the love for New York that I have for London – they are very different cities. But there are many things I will miss. And some special people.

My neighbourhood – which I never leave on the weekends!  6.30 am coffee every weekday morning with Alan and Steve. The dry cleaner who knows my name. The girls at the salon who know I will always say ‘yes’ to a 10 minute foot massage with my pedicure! Sunday morning coffee on the Highline – before the crowds arrive, reflecting on the week past and the one ahead. My bar ‘Gottino’ – equivalent to my local pub in London – where I spend (too?) many an hour sipping prosecco, chatting with friends.

Then there are the ‘big’ New York things – opera at the Lincoln Center, jazz at Carnegie Hall, exploring Central Park, revisiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art to discover something new every time, shopping in Soho, walking across Brooklyn Bridge, the skyline from the apartment deck…

Anne, Bill, Sheena, Alan, Allison, Avon, Pam, Rhonda, Robyn – some of the important people I will be leaving – although they will never be truly gone from my life.

And just to remind myself of some the things I won’t miss about New York – people shoving to get on the subway carriage as I’m still trying to get off; a lack of good coffee options; a very ‘test driven’ schooling system…

I don’t know what the future will bring. And most of the time I am OK with that – except when I wake in the middle of the night and start thinking too much!! I was talking to my Mum recently and, although I know she is worried about me, she also said how proud she is of the way I resettle, re-establishing myself and finding my feet time after time. She knows something will work out. And so do I.

I don’t know whether it was the jetlag or the rain that woke me. Either way, I am sitting on the verandah as day breaks here in Ubud. It all happens rather quickly in a place this close to the equator. One moment it is dark, the next the sky pales and nearby shapes become discernible. It doesn’t come completely unbidden though as the birds and the cocks sense the change and begin their morning calls.

It is the end of the rainy season, although there can still be sudden tropical downpours. The rain has now stopped, but the air is still heavy with its dampness, and the dripping from the buildings and greenery echoes its fall, albeit in a quieter, slowing way. I am surrounded on three sides by foliage. It gives one a sense of privacy in a place that can otherwise seem always full of people. It also hints at the wilderness that, if left unchecked, could easily take over. It looks like it has been here for many years – but I know such plants can seemingly grow inches overnight and a garden does not take long to become established.

The motorbikes buzz up and down Jalan Bisma as the working day has already begun for many. I will go for a wander soon. Firstly stopping to visit the temple with beautiful lotus flowers, continuing my quest for the perfect photo! And then the ‘morning’ market. I like it at this time  – full of locals preparing for their day. Purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared food, sweets,and drinks, as well as flowers and baskets for the offerings to be made during the day. It changes rapidly about mid-morning to become the ‘tourist’ market with sarongs, and batik, and wooden carvings, and packaged spices. The prices change, the atmosphere changes.

It is still cool enough at this time of the morning to need a light covering. That will change rapidly, and humidity will instead add its cloak to the day. There is not much planned. After my walk and breakfast, I will stroll along Monkey Forest Road, and turn at the soccer field to my usual place for a morning coffee and, if room, a cinnamon scroll.  Wifi is available, a place to sit with no pressure to move on, and an opportunity to watch all the nearby goings-on.

What better place to appreciate the here and now, to enjoy just ‘being’, without getting caught up in the past or the future…