Memories … pressed between the pages of my passport

The first thing that struck me when I pulled out my passports last week to complete a visa application, was how careless I have been with this document which is -literally and figuratively – a passport to the world.

My passport history was shocking.  I have had my passports stolen from my home when in Jamaica, and returnd by the police; stolen from my car in Sri Lanka and dumped in a nearby playground. Another time, my sister had  taken my passport to her office and I had to apply for a new one to travel as we could not find it in time.  Yet another passport had to be cancelled because ink had spilt on it.  And  …  the most heinous of all – I had lost my current passport,with all attached passports, in a place unknown.  Workmen found it many months later when digging the road outside my home.  My parents diligently tried to salvage what they could of the rain soaked passports by placing tissue paper amongst the wet pages for Visas are  – or should I say ‘were’ – a very precious commodity during the height of the civil war.  And I had numerous visas stamped between those pages.

Flipping through them last week, squinting at the faded print, tying to read a defaced page and figure out the country seal, brought back so many memories.  These were not just visas. This was in many ways the story of my life pressed between the pages of my passport.

The most number of “permitted to land” stamps were obviously from Sri-Lanka and Jamaica – my first and second homes.  Running close was the US for you cannot travel to and from Jamaica without going through either US or UK.  US was my preferred option.  It was the back yard – or should I be politically correct and say front yard of Jamaica – and the closest holiday and shopping destination.

And then there were the ‘stamps’  that reminded me of the crazy trips I did – like the time I had the brilliant idea of landing in Patmos, driving through the country and departing from Lanarca the next  day.  Unfortunately I had failed to do my homework. All hotels closed early.  The airport actually closed behind me!!  I managed to hail the last passing taxi and persuade him to drive me cross country to Larnaca.  Tensed during the whole drive in dense darkness, I lost all further interest in exploring, and spent the rest of the time at the airport.  So much for my desire to see Cyprus 🙂

That same trip was actually filled with adventure.  I had applied for my Israeli visa whilst in Spain as the Embassy in Jamaica could not handle my documents. (Since most travel to Sri Lanka touches Arab countries, the Israel passport is issued on a separate sheet of paper. Such is politics !!!)

I was grilled right royally before boarding the flight to Tel Aviv as to why a Sri Lankan, living in Jamaica, had travelled to Spain to get a visa for Israel and was returning through Cyprus.  To make matters worse, I had no hotel booking, no contact address, nothing. They made my plans of adventure and taking each day as it comes sound very sinister indeed.  Unknown to me, there was meeting scheduled between the Israeli and Palestine leaders so security was extra tight, and my circumstances, including travelling alone, were considered strange and highly suspect. A Sri Lankan girl, travelling alone, under these circumstances … we have to check this out.

They sent me to a waiting room where I soon realised (from the clothes on the ground in the half-screen changing room type chambers) that they were intent on doing a full body search!  I went cold.  Using all my female intuition and expediency … I burst into tears. They sent for an immigration officer who I remember knelt by my side to inquire why I was crying.  (Who wouldn’t?)  At least he was kind and concerned.  I told him I was not prepared to go through a body search and would just book an onward flight, forgetting about my pilgrimage as I had no desire to enter the Holy Land with such restrictions.

He “cleared”‘ me.

It was almost dawn when I arrived and went to the hotel referred to me at the airport. For the first time in all my travels, I stayed in my room the entire day, nervous to venture out.  Finally in the evening I went to the reception and they informed me it was safe to go out, that the tight security is relaxed once you enter the country.  So I went out.  The ‘normalcy’ of everything around me – except the helicopters and soldiers patrolling the beach which I had not realised was at the hotel doorstep – wash like a splash of ice cold sea water.  I relaxed and prepared to explore Israel and the Holy City.

Memories rush to mind as I write.  How I found myself in a bus full of soldiers in the high security zone in the Gaza strip.  Seated in the last row, blocked by the high seats and absorbed in the scenery,  I had not noticed that the bus had emptied itself of civilians and had filled with soldiers. I was ‘discovered’ when someone ventured to the back, and was brought to the present moment by my awareness of a sudden ‘deafening’ silence:  a stillness and the feeling that people were staring at me.  They were!  A bus full of soldiers was staring at the alien invading their space.

A buzz of conversation followed when I looked up. The soldiers soon unraveled that the driver had forgotten to put me off at the stop I had indicated to him. So the driver had to had to turn back to drop me off at the nearest civilian point.  Again, at least they were kind and concerned  – or maybe the driver was more nervous  of his slip up.  Either way, I got off the firing line.

So many memories, pressed between the pages of my passport.  I am glad I saw the Daily Post prompt in the post Passport to Eternity today.   … and now I am going back to my memories.

P.S.  I went back to Israel again on a pilgrimage with a travel agent No drama like before.   But my first trip made an indelible stamp on ME … not just on my passport.

Advertisements

The regrets of love not expressed

Is there any sorrow greater than the sorrow of not having expressed your love?

The sadness that grips you when you find it is “too late.”

Too late to do the things you wanted to do …                                                                            Too late to visit now … she is not there any more.                                                                   Too late to allot time for her … You kept it too late. 

All the things that were so important to you, you had to do them “today”                             …. whilst visiting Aunty Marie could wait till tomorrow.

You can now do them for the rest of your life … no need to stop what you are doing.           …your Aunt does not need you any more.

The bag of groceries you were going to buy her …                                                             The day you were going to spend with her                                                                                           The love you were going to express …                                                                                                    … You kept it too late.

You did not even stop to think                                                                                                … a postcard will help if you cannot visit today.                                                                      …. A telephone call will be better … you can talk to her NOW.                                            TODAY ….BEFORE it is too late.

She took time and care to write to you … Did you reciprocate ..?                                You wanted to … with all your heart you want to …                                                                 but you kept it too late.    

Can you learn even now, Learn before it is too late.                                                         Get your priorities straight.                                                                                               The house, the garden, the work, the chores                                                                 All these can wait … There can always be another time for this.                                                Delays won’t cause regrets.

What causes the biggest pain and hurt                                                                      Because there will not be another time for this – EVER –                                                      Is the regret, the  pain and the sadness                                                                    of love not expressed. 

With pain in your heart you whisper and hope she can hear you.                            Aunty Marie I’m sorry.  I love you so much.  Thank you for writing to me.  Thank you for caring. Please forgive me  – my selfishness – and please know that I love you.

Your loving god daughter                                                                                       Rosanne                                                                                                                          14th July, 1999.

(True story – shared as a reminder to express your love, and do the things that really matter – before it is too late.)

Awareness

wp-awareness-2016-04-08-006

The most difficult thing is the world is to look, to see. We don’t want to look because if we do, we may change. If you look, you lose control of the life you are precariously holding onto. In order to wake up the one thing that you need the most….. is the readiness to learn something new.

The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away.

How much are you ready to take?  How much of everything you have held dear are you ready to have shattered without running away?  How ready are you to think of something unfamiliar?

The first reaction is one of fear.  It’s not that we fear the unknown.  You cannot fear something that you do not know.  Nobody is afraid of the unknown.  What you really fear is the loss of the known.  That’s what you fear.

Extract :  Awareness – The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.  by Anthony De Mello

Choosing happiness …

If you had to choose between happiness and something or someone that you desperately want,  what would you choose?

It seems such an inane question  … but think about it a moment.  Aren’t there things in life, decisions we make every day that we know will not bring us happiness  – and yet we make them?

As Anthony Mello de Mello puts it in his reflections on Awareness:

“…. we don’t  want to be happy.  We want other things. Or let’s put it more accurately:  We don’t want to be unconditionally happy. I’m ready to be happy provided I have this, that and the other thing. But this is really to say to our friend, or to our God or to anyone, ‘You are my happiness.  If I don’t get you, I refuse to be happy.’

It’s so important to understand that.  We cannot imagine being happy without those conditions.  That’s pretty accurate.  We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We’ve been taught to place our happiness in them.”   

So when you have to choose between happiness and something or someone that you want, what will you choose ?   Honestly …..

Should ‘auld’ acquaintance be forgot …

Already nine days into the New Year !!

I have been on ‘sabbatical'(how else to describe the inactivity on my site??) for some time,  but cannot let the dawn of a New Year pass without greeting ye ‘auld acquaintances’ and fellow bloggers.   I hope the year ahead will bring you your hearts desires if they be good for your soul.  May Peace, Love, Joy and Contentment be yours in abundance.

… lets have a cup of kindness yet for ‘auld lang syne’.     (and spare a few minutes to join in this awesome rendition.  You won’t be disappointed.)

Monkey Business

I could not believe my eyes when I saw  a monkey hanging on for a dear life on the back of the vehicle ahead of me ..  (see right corner of the green ‘tri-shaw)hanging-on-for-a-dear-life-wp-cropped

I stepped on the accelerator for a closer look and had to smile at the monkey business. 🙂

hanging-on-for-a-dear-life-2-wp

Monkey business 🙂

Kudos to the driver whose action must bring smiles to many. Simple acts of joyous living to dispel gloom, stress and road rage.

(Returning after a long absence to share this with the MMC community hosted by Trablogger.) 

 

Building that wall …

I am astounded at the unravelling of the forthcoming US presidential elections … and I am alarmed.  Like it or not, the US is a cultural lodestar for numerous other countries, particularly in the west, A.K.A  the ‘developed’ world.

Quite frankly, I am confused  as to how the likes of Donald Trump can even be considered seriously by US voters as a potential candidate.  I am not referring here to his policies – (and should clarify at the outset that I am an objective bystander with no interest in either candidate).

What I am astounded at is the character of the man.  Or should I say the lack of character. He was OK, even a celebrity, admired for his business acumen from afar. But once he entered the race and got up close and personal,  I have lost any respect I had for him.  I doubt even the staunchest Trump fan would deny his records of discrimination, injustice, bigotry and racial prejudice which makes people of the 21st century squirm in disbelief.   And the fact that he blatantly boasts about his ability to avoid taxes!!   I cannot understand how America can seriously consider such a man for the highest office in the land.  What do you think … that he will make a difference when he is the President?  That if he had no patriotic fervour for his country, sent some of his businesses offshore, and felt no compunction or conscience to pay his dues as a billionaire,  that he will now provide windfall benefits to all?   His audacity and the acceptance of it by a sizeable populace boggles my imagination.

Please forgive me if I am treading on the toes of any one who sees Donald Trump as a saviour of the nation.

I accept there are circumstances that could make him appear as an  economic saviour to persons who have lost their jobs, whose companies have been threatened by advancing technology of the East, by those who want to live in a promised ‘safe America’ without fear of attack  by terrorists, (although it is questionable whether the hatred he incites will actually prevent or invite attacks from the ‘enemy’,  or even police/locals gone amok with hate)   … and to realise the American dream.

The American dream  – to which you have every right.

But what I am questioning here … is what gives Mr. Trump … or indeed any other leader or any race or group of people – the right to take over a piece of land, call it their land and then prevent anyone else from entering.

We are so used to having ‘nations’ and ‘borders’ that it is almost impossible to imagine a world with freedom for everyone to move to a nation of choice, live by the rules and call it ‘home’.

This is a radical view but one that has been on my mind since I heard Trump talk about ‘building a wall to keep them out’. 

Two decades ago, my father suggested that national flags, school flags, church and temple flags only promote segregation and differentiation of people.  It was a radical view and I did not then see the wisdom of his statement.

My father also suggested that if we can get every soldier in every country to sign that he would not go to war under any circumstances, then we would have peace.

We laughed at him.  It seemed an impossible dream.

But when I hear about people like Donald Trump  – a candidate for the highest post in the world talking of building walls to keep people out,  then I realise my father was truly a visionary.   And a Christian of the highest order  (albeit one who hardly went to church) !

And it saddens me to think that it is the Christians mostly – conservative, evangelical, bible belt and bible-loving Christians – who are thinking of casting their vote for this very un-Christian view point viz . to keep out the marginalised, the desperate, the poor and those seeking refuge,  and to deport others based on nationality and religion.

This is the policy loudly proclaimed from the platform of Trump  – inciting people to religious and racial intolerance and financial selfishness,  and dangling the God of mammon and prosperity before you.

The other candidate inter-alia promotes free choice, and whilst as a Christian there are some choices that I wish people would not make,  I also do not think that you can bring about moral values in a nation by regulations and legal restrictions. The choice of right and wrong should come from deep within you, not from legislation.  It is still hard to accept that we should give each one the freedom to make choices we disagree with, and to accept that we are not called to act as arbitrators and judges.  And so

America .. you are truly between the devil and the deep blue sea.  And I feel for your plight. Your choice is tough.

But if I were you, I would run from the fear mongering devil, jump into the “deep blue and cast my cares on the Lord.

Blessings and prayers … and peace to all men of goodwill.

Aside

In the face of terror …

Pope Francis and Youth Day in Poland“Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family. ..”

Indeed a powerful response to the terror we face and a wise message to all youth:”Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer. ”   Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Poland 

FRAMED !!

Back in the MMC Challenge after quite a break and notice that Jithin has officially added a new twist.  Oh  larks … it is now confirmed that it is no longer only about :

mundane pictures of beautiful objects  but also 

beautiful pictures of mundane objects. 

The first was easy for me as my subject was  interesting enough  (for me at least 🙂 so photo ‘credits’  did not matter.   The second – framing things and getting it right  – now that is something else   😦  But I guess I can do with some photography lessons so here goes :

MMC Challenge FRAMED !!

FRAMED BY MMC CHALLENGE !!

A tongue in cheek FRAMED self portrait!!   I was actually trying to frame this soothing little corner in a hotel corridor but could not do it without getting in the picture myself.  And could not seem to get the full mirror in either 😦    using only a phone camera!

Any ideas on how to take such a picture without getting in the mirror  ??  short of being a ghost LOL 🙂

As the deer panteth …

Touching words extracted from a post Touching the Stars by Michelle Franckl-Donnay

We describe prayer as talking to God or listening to God. Yet both these images of prayer let me keep a bit of distance between God and me. I sit on the sofa, God next to me. I look up to the altar or to the heavens, God before me, God above me. But I’m starting to wonder if to pray is in reality to touch and be touched by God. To move toward God, reaching out, and at the same time, to be still, allowing God’s hand to rest upon me. To let go of my boundaries, to be uncertain where I end and God takes up. To be willing to risk letting God within me.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis urges us to get our hands into the mystery that is God and let it get into us: “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” We are called not just to walk with Christ but to be clothed in Christ, to wrap ourselves up in God.

…    And what do I desire, if not the infinite, invincible, ineffable God, come to dwell within my very ordinary life?

As the deer panteth