Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Dear Jakarta

Like a rebellious teenager you cover your body in the snake-like tattoo of traffic, reek of smoke and pollution, and pierce the sky with your tall buildings. Shutting the world out with your hardcore exterior, you make it hard for us to approach you. To understand you. To like you.

Are you scared of letting people too close? Abandonment maybe?

You show us only your busy roads, bustling bodies and plethora of standardised concrete buildings. Guilty as charged you accept the accusations of 'another big city'. You lock yourself in the confines of your room angry at the world for not taking the time to get to know you. For leaving you.

Despite your attempts to thwart my efforts I stuck around. I saw your hidden gems. Pleading ignorant to your almost mechanical deamnour, I found your veins oozing with generosity in Cibubur, hospitality in Bintaro and your beating heart in Jaksa. I discovered the beauty in your lights, the acceptance of your differences. I caught the colours in your Batik and the sweetness of your language.

It was all there: in your loving locals and embracing 'bule' (foreigners) who come and go. And stay.

Inspire Me

If travels are not enough to spark a flurry of prose what then will get my pen to paper?

It's not lack of subject matter: for there are always wanderings and ponderings, always oddities, characters and beauties- yet no words spring to mind.

Lazy? Perhaps. Inadequate? More so. My words are trapped in the darkness of my mind, the starkness of the paper. Like cheap airfares ideas are snapped up in exciting prospects only to lose their sparkle as the additional charges rack up. What starts as a beautfiul clean page soon becomes an ugly blotch of scribbles and scratches, not worth a second glance nevermind copying.

Still, I continue these incessant scribbles in the hope that someone may find joy in my words. That I might find joy in them.

Kuta Beach- Bali Sept '11

Thursday, 11 August 2011


One of the sweetest and possibly most emotional conversations I've ever had and one that still rings in my ears today:

It's 7:30am the day I leave to Indonesia. I have just walked through the door after spending the previous night with friends. I walk into the TV room where Tom is watching TV.

Me: Morning Tom-Tom.

Tom: Morning Rashika (pause, then whispers) it's your last day today...

Me: Yes, I know Tom-Tom, I'm really sad.

Tom: (quietly) I'm sad too.

Me: I don't want to leave Tom Tom (I meant this)

Tom: I don't want you to leave...

Writing this still has me choking back the tears. I have never heard such sweetness in one tiny voice before.

Well, I never...

Three things:

1. I was really and truly sad to leave London.
2. I cried my heart out on that plane.
3. It's been three weeks and I still miss home.

There I said it. The 'H' word.

How I came to love a place I used to loathe is beyond me.

But, here I am, in Mc Donalds (damn you capitalism) in the centre of Jakarta, having seen some breathtaking (sorry no pics due to my camera being stolen- but that's another post) islands of Bali and Gili Trawangan, seeing shooting stars in their numbers,  learning how to use Asian toilets and meeting wonderful, hospitable and friendly Indonesians: and I miss home!

In a way it's nice, it means I'm not a robot. I'm not as averted to attachment as I think. And I've carved a life for myself that was all me. And maybe in the greater scheme of things it doesn't really matter, but for me the last seven months in London was the home I created for myself, by myself and that's a nice feeling!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Kids love me.

"You're the best nanny ever!" Tom whooped when I told him the news: Nando's for dinner.

Ordinarily I would never take the kids to any fast-food place; I believe in balanced home-cooked meals- like any good nanny worth their job.

Of course Tom would think this after my announcement. I mean, what else do I do with a 10-year old dressed in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, sitting outside in the rain, at dinner time because I've locked the keys in the house? And of course, the four spare keys I cut this morning are on the kitchen counter because I hadn't handed them to the neighbours as I was meant to.

And let's not forget that I'm babysitting tonight…

Yip. I'm the best nanny. Ever.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


For those checking in on my blog, however infrequent, you may have noticed a slight lapse in my ramblings. Apologies for the long absence, two months I believe. I have been far too busy actually living and my blog has had to take the back seat; I trust I have your understanding in this regard!

Hope to update you all within the next week, otherwise you'll be hearing from me from another continent- exciting times ahead!

Much love and all that xxx

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mull Over This

In true gap-year style I'm discovering new things about myself and the world around me. As much as my framework has shifted it has also stayed much the same, both intentionally and unintentionally. At the core things have remained the same but just become clearer and it's often without realisation that I catch myself saying and doing things that prove (more to myself) what  I'm about. 

So with this I have claimed my own philosophy: "for the experience" is always a good reason to do anything. 

Of course this is completely subjective but whoever you are, whatever you're like it's bound to get you out of your comfort zone! 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Pretty Pictures

Click the pics!
Midnight at Hyde Park

Autumn in Sicily



Peek-a-boo Simona

Look at their faces

Oh Susanna

Like the Elephant Graveyard from the Lion King

Picture through a telescope


Grapefruit Face

Toss the Bucket List!

The beautiful Turquoise Coast of Turkey
A collection of new things I've done- some exciting and some not so exciting. Remember you can click to enlarge the pics!

It is whatever you think it
* Be strip searched
* Become involved- or at least interested- in politics and human rights
* Hitch-hike
* Sit under a Baobab tree
* Attend a New Years Eve party (have never done this!)
Volunteering at Walk the Walk Moonwalk-
walking marathon that only started at midnight.
I was on crowd control! lol! 15 000 (women mostly
it was for breast cancer.)
* Live in a château
* Get a tattoo
* Do a mountain trail by myself
* Work as a pub cleaner

*Not freak out at seeing snakes (Europe's most poisonous at that and more than one)
* Make/be friends with unlikely people
* Sleep on the street
* Try to support local/up & coming artists/musicians/photographers as much as I can
* Cook meat (not my proudest but hey, not all lessons can be fun)
* Build a huge snowman
* Like wine
* Shop for chickens (er... to keep)
* Miss no one
* Pretend I'm Australian and have people believe it (until I answered Fosters when asked what beer I drink)
* Send a message in a bottle
* Pick olives
* Date a Pakistani ( very short lived! Oh and no offence to anyone)
* Volunteer/Charity work- it's addictive
* Cycle as a mode of transport (took me a while to pluck up the courage!)
* Swim in 9 degree water
* Write a Wikipedia article
* Book the first and cheapest bus to anywhere
* Climb a volcano
* Smoke weed with F.W De Klerk's niece (let's see who actually reads my blog...)
* Have no money
* Write an essay on WW1 (the joys of being an nanny...)
* Get involved in my community
* Dress up as a (three) Musketeer
* TEFL qualification
* Be involved in a mass protest
Caught right in the middle of the 'Black Bloc' anarchists was
pretty scary.
* Faint from being ill
* Sleep under the stars for two weeks
* Run for charity
* Have more money than ever in my life
* Jump from a 10m cliff into the sea (10m looks a lot different from a jagged cliff top!)
* Get free drinks... not just for me but for whoever is with me (guys & girls! seriously, it's quite a skill!)
* Be completely self-sufficient (see above!)
* Farm

Hyde Park March 26th Protests 

* Listen to my gut feel/inner voice (which isn't always the voice of reason!)
* Learn a language
* Ride on the back of a motorbike
* Been to (need I say it, illegal) underground party
* Love my country
* Au-pair

Middle one: Thomas 'Tom-Tom' Blackler
 my GPS where ever we go!

Trekking through Wadi Arugot

Bedouin Market Beer'sheva on the
hunt for chickens

Sweet Simona checking on our chicks

A swim before our dive in the sparkly waters of the
Turquoise Coast

And things that (hopefully) I'll be doing soon but take a bit more planning:

* Drive a 50 seater bus
* Squat
* Learn to dumpster dive (hopefully while I squat)

Mt Etna

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Still Retching at the 'R' Word

The royal bandwagon is about to collapse. No, wait, it already has by the looks of these ad's. 

Unfortunately the painfully obvious and nauseatingly obscure tarnish the few good ones. All of which appeared in the same morning paper the day before the wedding.

Apologies for the shoddy scanning job, I had to keep from gagging each time.

If you think ad can't get any worse
look up the definition for 'royale'.
Wait, I'll save you the trouble 
You have no idea how refreshing this was
after spending an hour on the
tube surrounded by
Royal Wedding this, that and the next

Just throw in the 'R' word and you're good to go.

Easyjet rescued my numbed senses with this
full-page orange number.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Hard earned wages for these babies, hopefully they'll see a lot
more races in the future!
Ask me to run a kilometre a month ago and that's about the response you would have received (along with an indignant wave of the hand). If I was feeling particularly perturbed by the question it would probably have just been 'Tsek!'.

And since I have an international readership, no wait, I don't. All three of my followers (thanks guys!) will know what I mean. But just in case there's a foreigner lurking around, 'voetsek' is a very impolite way of saying 'go away'–  I'm sure you know what I mean.

Okay, well here's why I won't make a very good writer: I get distracted too easily…

Anywaaaay, nearly 8 weeks of training and I'm able to run 9km–  haven't tested 10k yet–  in a reasonable time. Let's not mention the three asmathic incidents that have caught me off-gaurd whilst training. The third one had me in hospital this past weekend. 

However, I think it is safe to say that without pushing too hard I can do a good time… 
There. I can run. Quite a distance. 
Erm… that's all I wanted to say… Oh, and I needed some new takkies coz I'd worn the old ones out with all my running.

You'd think after nearly 6 months of training I'd
be skinny... not a chance. Thought I'd have
my guns back by now...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Not So Accidental Hobo's

My time spent living in London does tend to make me feel very much unlike the adventurous globe trotter. On occasion I'm able to grab my rucksack, get a cheap bus ticket to anywhere and take it from there. (OK, in reality this has only happened once. But I'm hoping it'll stick.)

A couple of weeks ago on a rare long weekend from work, I booked coach ticket to Brighton and was ready to go off on a Friday morning without any money or accommodation and a 'let's see what happens' approach. The day before I was due to leave a fellow traveller, friend & sucker for the unknown, Ariane, decided she'd join in the adventure.

We arrived in Brighton greeted by rays of sunshine and people basking on the beach, revelling in those golden rays we so rarely see. Naturally, we ditched any sightseeing we should've done and headed for the beach. And there we stayed–  literally.

My original plan was that if I didn't find any accommodation, not that I'd looked at all, I'd sleep on the beach under the pier. Ariane, armed with £8 and a sleeping bag and myself armed with £20 and, well, that's all, met up with a Couchsurfer  on the beach where we shared baked beans and
bread. (Poundland special 2 tins for 99p!)

Craig the CSer & Ariane after Baked beans for dinner
The three of us hung out for a few hours and when he found out we had nowhere to go, offered us a place to sleep. We turned down the kind offer for a night on the beach, as one does. The sun set and things got cool, we headed for the nearest pub to see out the rest of the night until bed time.

At about 10pm we decided it was time to drink our own (budget) cider on the beach and turn in for the night. We shivered through the two litre bottle and some cereal from Poundland before deciding it was time to get some warmth and sleep.

Being a Friday night, the students of Brighton were out in their numbers and it was hard to find a decent spot to rest our weary heads–  we'd abandoned the 'under the pier' idea since the beach was too windy and cold.

The view of the alley from my bed
By this time the night was an icy 6 degrees and I
finally understood the concept of 'wind-chill factor'.

We scouted out a quiet alley next to a resturaunt and some flats. Ariane laid down her sleeping bag and I, um… I hadn't thought that far and just laid. I curled into a ball and soon the laughs and clip-clops of party-goers faded into a somewhat comfy sleep. This didn't last long, as I presume my being still for so long and the wind that had picked up caused me to feel terribly cold and I shivered awake. Soon I was waking up a reluctant Ariane for us to find a warmer spot.

Bed time- I get the top bunk!
Ironic that the restaurant we sleep
next to is called 'The House' ? 


Eventually we found somewhere I thought would shield us from the wind and we crouched behind some sort of extractor fan boxy things. The sounds of the streets were louder, the seagulls more annoying and the wind excruciatingly colder. I wrapped up tighter in my ill-prepared, summer attire and Ariane's beach towl and spent the rest of the night rocking back and forth like the autistic kid in Bruce Willis' Mercury Rising.

Slept behind those box things behind the railing
Cold, hungry and bored the night wore on slower than I've ever experienced. If I did doze off it wasn't long before drunk shouting in the streets or squawking seagulls woke me up.

Soon it  began getting light and at 5:45 we decided that we had to move before the town began to stir: the streets were already being cleaned and workers were arriving at work.
Smelling like hobo's we dusted ourselves off, gathered our rucksacks and jumped the railings onto the street. Where did we head? The only place that was open at that ridiculous hour. The beach.

We walked along the beach for a few hours, not feeling any warmer but able to laugh about the whole thing and recount the annoyances of the past night.

Wish we had the £1 barbecue the night before-
look at that flame!
After a while we found ourselves at Mc Donalds where we splurged on a coffee and our bits of cereal from Poundland. We spent another few hours there, freshened up in their bathrooms, wrote a message in a bottle, laughed at our antics and plotted our next adventure. With our precious pennies dwindling we went back to our 'beach house' to have breakfast of more baked beans (this time we had a barbecue courtesy of Poundland) before going to the park to catch up on some much needed sleep and warmth in the sun.

Breakfast on the beach. More Beans!

Unable to face another night in the cold I asked the very Couchsurfer who (obviously thought we were completely nuts) offered us his place the previous day if we could crash at his.

Our supplies from Poundland: Beans, cereal & cookies= £3
All I can say is that if I'm ever asked about the craziest thing I've ever done, I won't have to think twice about my answer. Oh, and that I never want to eat Baked Beans again...
Passed out after beans for lunch!