On bellydance, warungs & beautiful armour

A few days ago, arriving at a local community space for a tribal bellydance class (which had me afterwards ruminating about my oft-visited idea of teaching it as a side project, though I later wonder if what I mean is that I would love to simply perform more; of all the dances I’ve danced over a dance-filled life so far, it is by far the most intricate and the most sensual; the most hypnotic and precise), I bumped into a man I’d met here a year ago (we played scrabble together when the whole island shut down over Nyepi; he beat me to a pulp with his easy familiarity with two-letter bizarrities of the English language, only later letting me know that he’d competed successfully for years, by which time I was pretty sulky on the inside). He is an interesting and energetic fellow – speaks Indonesian fluently (I’d forgotten this; it was a surprise when we were ordering our juices together the next day at a secret hideaway warung I’d never been to before) and attends a multitude of AA meetings, dipping in and out of the UK doing short stints of social work to fund his spins on his bike around Bali. Anyway. He introduced me to the local library, which is just inches from my homestay but so tucked away I would never have known about it. Outside, the corridor of approach is lined with what appears to be an installation of giant water bottles; anyone can refill their own bottles for a fee. You have to crouch to hold your bottle neck under the giant bottle as though receiving a blessing.

As I entered the library, I felt like I was walking into a wonderland; Continue reading

Inside an ear; outside a life

This morning, a doctor inspected my ear. I felt about four years old as she placed the ergonomic device into the holes either side of my head, one by one (and I almost wish I’d asked afterwards to have a look at her ears, as I’ve never looked inside an ear before; I wonder if anyone on earth has ever said that to a doctor after having their own inspected, and if so, whether their wish would have been granted; I just imagine ears look very interesting; all weird and intricate). Anyway, as a child, I used to get ear infections all the time. It got so bad during one family holiday that a doctor who spoke no English decided each of my bottom cheeks needed an injection before I could fly home, and after he’d done one injection I was so upset that I wouldn’t let him do the other – I remember there being lots of bruising as I kept jumping around and screaming. In the end, my Dad told me a long, involved story about how I simply had to be injected a second time, in the other side, otherwise I would be lop-sided and the plane home wouldn’t fly properly. I didn’t understand this at all, yet believed it entirely and bravely allowed myself to be symmetrically punctured, for the good of the other passengers (in the meantime, my older brother announced that his own possible ear infection had absolutely and miraculously gone away, so he didn’t need the doctor to look at him, thanks very much). Continue reading

Meditations (also: Houses, Curtains and Boats)

elephantjournal article

Elephant Journal has just published an article of mine:

‘Where God Is: On Home, Travel & Displacement’.

It’s very personal and confessional, a bit silly and a bit serious, and gets to the root of my eternal cravings both to travel the world and to be at home. I could gaze at the beautiful photo they’ve used (above; credited in the article; heaven in sunlight and flaking paint; they even have a sunflower on the door) for ages. Continue reading

North South East & West; How to be Both, or More

(Note: I found this blog post saved in my ‘drafts’ folder. I’m not sure when I wrote it, why I didn’t quite get around to clicking ‘publish’ and I never actually do a ‘draft’, preferring instead to pour things out in an unthinking flurry of fate and parentheses, but here we are. Its content seems timeless, at least… So I’m giving it an airing.)

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you-can-do-anything-but-not-everything-prints Continue reading

‘Why you don’t like papaya?’

‘Why you don’t like papaya?’

He places the plate of fruit salad on the table on my terrace and waits for a reasonable response. I realise I can give none. I shrug apologetically and say I just don’t like the taste very much. (But already I am doubting myself; really, it’s just a bit nothing-y.)

He tilts his head to consider things for a while, then gestures at the watermelon and pineapple I have allowed to remain in my salad; ‘I think maybe you like crispy.’

‘Crispy? The texture?’

‘Yes. You know, like… potato.’ Continue reading

On Japan, Magic & Pillow Breath

Japan has been high on my travel lust-list for well over a decade; I even had flights booked to go there on my way back from Australia (via Bali) three years ago, but ended up forgoing them both to stay longer in Oz. Ever since, I have considered it, with yearning, each spring and each autumn (do I want the cherry blossom or the autumn leaves?) and have repeatedly had to cast the country aside for other ventures. I know I’ll go sometime and it will be magical; I think I want it to be a trip in itself – not just a stop on the way to or from somewhere else.

In the meantime, two of Japan’s most unrelated outputs (though halfway through this blog post I promise you a tenuous link) have shown up in my life recently.

Firstly (and I don’t want this to turn into a book review, but…), I have been caught in the avalanche of magnetising media surrounding The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, a recent, clutter-toppling phenomenon written by Marie Kondo and published nearly two years ago. Continue reading