Ganesha, Mandala and The Flower of Life: My tattoo

As an artist, I do love tattoos. Especially when they are well-designed creations painted with skill.

However, this isn’t quite how I would describe my initial four small tattoos which were impulse purchases between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. Absolutely no thought went into them whatsoever. I literally would just rock up the nearest tattooist and with a few quid in my pocket, pick out something from the book of designs and go for it!

Fast forward 30 years and things have changed dramatically in the UK.  For a start, it is illegal to tattoo any minor under the age of eighteen and conditions of the studios are subject to stringent health and safety regulations. A far cry from when, at age fifteen, I popped my boob out of my bra in front of a waiting room full of people and told the old tattooist to paint a rose on it!

I want to be a painted lady. I love tattoos

Last November, in Goa, I decided it was time again to make that mark on my skin . This time, however, it was going to be different. This time, I wanted my skin to be permanently painted with a design which meant something dear to me. A design which demonstrated who I was. A reflection of my inner mind, of what makes me tick.

Lord Ganesha.

The child of Shiva and Shakti, The Remover of Obstacles. The elephant headed God.

Understanding the metaphor of Shiva and Shakti is an understanding of great spiritual wealth. Adam and Eve,  Yin and Yang. Parusha and Prakruti. The Divine Feminine and Masculine energies from whenceforth we have all been created are Universal Truth and I wished to have this truth etched on my skin whilst I am alive and living in this 4D reality we call life.

I browsed various tattoo studios in North Goa but they were all shit. Less of a studio and more of a back ( or front ) street hovel. Side by side, these tattoo parlours line the tourist drag with nothing new or authentic to offer. The shop fronts all display the same photoshopped images of models with incredible tattoos which the artists can only dream of creating. One guy in a shop was so fucking stoned he couldn’t even make eye contact. I wasn’t going to let him loose on my arm!

And then I found Mandala Tattoo in Arambol. I noticed the painted sign hanging from up high so I climbed the stairs and entered into a proper art studio. Painted designs of manadals adorned the walls and I knew I had come to the right place.

I talked with Suraj, the beautiful Nepalese guy and the creator of the designs. He spoke with such creativity and with such passion for his work. I was hooked. I was in. This was the guy for me! We discussed the initial Ganesh design but what followed flowed from Suraj’s own beautiful and creative mind. He is a true artist.

My initial sittings were of Lord Ganesha. I slept. I actually SLEPT whilst being tattooed. I felt sooo relaxed! I knew I was supposed to be feeling pain but I didn’t. The sound of the gun and the pulling sensation on my arm was hypnotic.

During the mandala sitting I experienced a higher state of consciousness. Suraj tattooed my mandala with dot work.

I layed on the bed and felt the pain of that needle making minute dots into my skin. I knew I could overcome this pain, Instead of fearing this pain I knew I could make peace with it. And at the moment I decided to do that, at the moment I released my egoic mind, at the moment I decided to be completely present with this pain energy and to view it as my friend, I overcame it. I became one with the pain. I realised the pain as pure energy. And in the moment I did that, the energy of pain ceased to exist. The pain became an entity which I knew I had control over. And with this realisation, wonders happened.

Suraj and I became surrounded by pure light. It was Divine. My senses became extremely heightened. I could hear people talking on the balcony of the studio. And then I could see them even though a wall divided us. White light burst forth from my hands and fingertips.

And then I felt nothing, No pain. I could feel the tugging on my skin but the pain was completely numb.

 

Mandalas are very powerful energy forces. When we think about them, draw them, create them, we are, energetically, allowing ourselves to tap into a Universal truth. The Universe wants us to experience these truths. The Universe wants us to align with it’s forces because those forces are OUR forces because we ARE the Universe. Every single cell in our body is a mandala, is a Universal Truth. We are the microcosm of the macrocosm.

Please enjoy the photo’s of the unfolding of my tattoo.

Love Heidi xx

 

 

 

How to Deal With The Indian ‘STARES’

Stares. They’re going to happen. In my experience, whether you’re travelling with a guy or completely solo, men, women and children are going to stare at you. Obviously, where men are concerned, the stares happen less if you’re with a guy but still….what to do about it?

India . Incredible India  The land of stares.

Curious stares.

‘I’m gonna look away from you as soon as you look at me’ stares,

‘You’re so freaking different’ stares’.

‘Pleeeaaasssee be my girlfriend’ stares ( yup!)

I’ll tell you my take on it….

Smile!

Just smile!

We are all human, right?

At our very core, all we desire is a connection with one another. Connection with our fellow humans is what, ultimately, makes us tick.

We might choose to be a solo voyager on this trip we call life and yes, some may love their own company, sometimes for days on end, but when all is said and done, human contact, even if that’s brief human contact, is what we all need.

I travel alone. It suits me. I love my own company. People have asked me if I get lonely and my answer is…no….yes…..sometimes….no.

No. Because I enjoy the freedom of pleasing myself. I enjoy the freedom of not having to consider another’s preferences and trying to marry them with my own. I can go where I like when I like. My free-spirited self can drift and roam to my heart’s content. If I choose to browse in the market or talk to someone, I can stay with that for as long as I please. I can be selfish. I can choose my own accommodation,  whichever suits me. I can, alone, choose when to arrive and when to leave. I can choose to engage with conversation and I can choose to look away and give the message that I am happy to be by myself.

Yes. I do get lonely. Sometimes, I feel lonely. I sometimes feel lonely when I’m alone. When I’m sitting in a cafe or bar and I see friends engaging. When tables are full of friends sharing, laughing.

And Couples.

I feel lonely when I see close couples and I get to thinking, why am I alone? .And then those thought processes lead me back to my life and I start analysing why I push people away, why I’m a lone traveller, whether it’s because it’s my karma, my fate, my destiny or whether it’s just because I’m some seriously fucked up individual who has major issues with being so close to another someone else.

Sometimes. Basically, this is yes and no. But it’s not the above which I’ve written about. I waver. Meaning, ‘I can change my mind between the Yes and No 5000 times in one minute. Yes is yes and No is no but ‘sometimes’ basically means, I don’t fucking know. ‘Sometimes’ means I can’t decide whether being on my own is good or bad. Lonely or not lonely.

I ‘sometimes’ feel lonely when I’m in my room at night. I think about how lovely it would feel to have shared my day’s experiences with another human being. Someone to talk about it all with.

But when all is said and done, every single one of us human beings on this planet needs to connect. It is at the very core of us.

A mutual stare, a moment of eye contact can mean the world.

Whether the connection is made from a high society individual to a freaking ‘lower caste’ individual,,….from a slum dweller to….a higher, lower, or who gives a fucking shit caste individual………….a look, a touch, any engagement, on any level, connects us.

After many years of being in India, I have never felt threatened or unsafe. I have always smiled at my fellow human beings.

That’s not to say I haven’t been met with hostility on occasions. I have had my fair share of ridiculous ‘come on’ gestures: from licking of lips to blatant requests for sex. My responses range from flipping them the finger to laughing in their faces to VERY LOUDLY naming and shaming – they soon retreat back into their sad shells following naming and shaming. One time, on the bus back to Shogi from Shimla, some freaking perv touched my arse ( he was sitting down, I was standing ) and I FREAKED on him! The whole bus load of people became VERY AWARE of his crime. But I didn’t feel threatened by this. I freaked because it’s just NOT OKAY for some guy to think he can touch my arse, uninvited.

I guess how we choose to deal with these annoyances depends on how we choose to view them.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to deal with the stares lone, female travellers will encounter. Ultimately, your response is up to you! It would be ridiculous of me to attempt to write a post on ‘rules’ on this subject. It, of course, depends entirely on who you are as an individual and what your own personal boundaries are.

I’m a woman and I certainly do not mean to downplay stares or touches as just annoyances, no way!! No one female or male, should EVER have to be touched without their consent,  EVER!

But stares? It’s gonna happen. As a  Western female, getting on the bus, walking in the street, hailing that rickshaw, ordering food in a back street, non- tourist, locals restaurant,  is gonna attract stares.

Just smile. Offer that basic human gesture. Smile and look away if that suits.

When a woman, or a whole group of women cant take their beautiful big brown eyes off me, I stare back and smile at them. Woman to woman, sister to sister, eye to eye. Sometimes this causes whispering between them ( clearly I’m the subject) but still I smile. Mostly, I receive a smile back. Often times, if the circumstances allow, this basic of human connection will result in a conversation about their children, questions of where I’m travelling to or my complimenting them on their beautiful sari’s. Sometimes, from that initial stare, facebook ‘friendships’ are made!

I also want to stare at the women, if I’m honest! I’ve never been a big fan of my pasty white skin and brown hair. I’m certainly not body shaming, no way, but I do slightly envy their beautiful brown skin, their jet black, long, thick hair and deep dark eyes. Usually, my hair is stuck to my face with sweat and yet they all manage to look so…so…fresh?!

I personally love the stares from beggars. I totally stare back and then engage. I often sit with gypsies and the ‘untouchables’.  I love to talk with those who mostly only experience life with people only passing by and ignoring them like they’re dirt. To me, they’re not dirt. They are humans with a soul. They’re no different to the guy or girl with all the financial wealth.

Obviously, it’s a little different with guys. I still smile because I’m a polite person. Human to human and all that. But I don’t prolong eye contact and I also don’t agree that all men think you want to bed them because you’ve smiled at them!  I’ve had some fantastic conversations with guys which all started with that initial stare and they clearly have no agenda, whatsoever!

If the stares are just too intense and too prolonged and are actually making me feel a little uncomfortable, I will stare HARD back at them and raise my eyebrows in a questioning, ‘What the fuck are you looking at?’ way! This usually does the trick but for the most part, I’ve never felt threatened or uncomfortable and like I said, I’m often just as curious as them!

But for the most part, I feel it’s totally worth remembering, before we moan about it all,  that We have CHOSEN to go travelling in the land of stares so we can hardly bloody moan about it. If you don’t like it, leave and take you and your backpack somewhere else!

Love Heidi xx

Daily Gratitude

Today, I’m thankful for my life.

For the fact that I’m here. Living. Breathing. Experiencing. Loving. Working.

Last week, someone I knew eighteen years ago, died. It hit me surprisingly hard. He was a good man and a very dear friend to me. More like a surrogate father really.

We drifted apart and, now he’s gone, there will never be the chance to connect again. He leaves a loving and devoted wife, a son, two daughters and many grandchildren.

Christmas this year will be a sore time indeed and I shall be praying for them with my love on that day.

Today, I am thankful for my family.

My sweet adult children who have grown into the most wonderful adults. My beautiful granddaughter whom I adore so much, words simply can not express. I’m am blessed indeed.

My twins, with my granddaughter. ❤️

Today, I am thankful for where I live.

I am blessed to have miles of countryside around my home. Just one house separates my us from the fields, which we walk the dogs through regularly.

On Saturday, I was returning from dropping my daughter at work just as the sun was rising. The sky was clear and the fog was rising above the fields. It was a beautiful sight so instead of going straight indoors when I got home, I felt compelled to go and stand in the fields and breathe in the fresh, crisp autumnal morning air. It was incredibly life affirming.

What are you grateful for?

Love

Heidi 😘

Solo Female Train Travel in India: My 40 Hour Journey From Goa to Delhi #1

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Belapur. One of the stations on the Goa to Delhi route

I needed to get to Delhi from Goa for my onward trip further North to Rishidwar for my stay in Aurovalley Ashram and I decided to take the train to get there! Yeah, I could’ve caught a flight, but where’s the fun in that?

I was full of mixed emotions when I made the decision to leave Goa. I was very reluctant to leave the secure and friendly comfort of my beloved friends who have, over the past thirteen years, become my family. The familiarity of my community, Monica’s cooking, playing with the kids, cosying up in my ‘room in the trees’ and just chilling and gossiping with my ‘sisters’ was going to be hard to pull myself away from. You can read all about why I love Goa so much HERE.

But at the same time though, I was super excited to get going, to move forward into my adventure. I knew it was time to leave.

Indian train travel is something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time and after the first disastrous attempt, many years ago, with all my children and when I was so naive and knew zilch about travelling in India, I have been dreaming of the day I could get going with it again.

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A fantastic read and highly recommended!

I had recently read a book by Monisha Rajesh titled Around India in 80 Trains. It’s a humorous and informative account of her travels for three months across the length and breadth of India with her friend, by train only! 80 of them! The book inspired me no end. You can check it out HERE.

So, after some big hugs and a few tears, I said farewell to my lovely Goan family and me and my backpack went on our way to Madgaon Station, the main station for Goa situated in Margao, South Goa. I’d already booked my 2AC ticket about a week before so I was all set and I knew as soon as I arrived at the station that I was in for an adventure. I was very excited! And hungry.

Madgaon Station.

It’s clean, well organised and when I was there, not too busy.  There are plenty of places to grab some snacks and a large restaurant where I had time to eat.

A bottle of water, chickpea curry and two parathas cost me 80 rupees. That’s around £1 UK.

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Very spicy & completely delicious station food!

The train stations in India can get exceptionally crowded as in, ‘no room to move an inch’,  and the trains can also be extremely long! ( The longest one I ever counted whilst waiting on my scooter at Margao train crossing some years back now, had no less than forty-four carriages!) That’s crazy right! But, I guess they travel vast distances transporting thousands of people on each route, so they have to be large! Anyway, they have a great system running which organises things brilliantly.  A new post about how to navigate your way around finding and boarding your Indian train will be written soon! In the meantime, check THIS POST out from Trip Savvy to help you on your way. 🙂

My carriage was due to stop fairly far away from the main area of the station and it was raining pretty hard so I had to make a dash for it to the undercover bench area where I received lots of stares from, well, everyone! Whats new??!! Check out my post about how I deal with those Indian stares!

Bye Bye Goa!

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Finding my seat was super easy because every seat is numbered. I shared my carriage with a woman on the lower bunk opposite me and her husband on the lower bunk by the other window. They were both asleep, the large man snoring heavily but the woman woke up as I took care to chain my pack to the underside of the bunk. She just couldn’t take her eyes away from every move I made! I smiled and she gave me a shy smile in return, never once taking her eyes from me.

As I made myself comfortable on my bunk, I took care to keep my ‘essentials’ bag tucked closely behind my pillow. There are some items I’m not prepared to risk loosing.

The sleeping man awoke briefly and turned to engage in a short discussion with his beautiful wife on the seat opposite me before turning back around and resuming his snoring. She sat up and stared at the back of her husband. She stared long and hard, and not with affection. I watched her whilst she watched him. I think she hated him. Her face told a story of such idignation and bitterness.

As I settled down beneath my blanket and leaned back against my pillow with my book, I wondered what her life was like……..what her story was….

……soon, the rhythmic rocking of the train had sent me to sleep…..

To Be Continued….

Its HALLOWEEN!!!

Halloween is, hands down, my favourite holiday of the year, barr NONE!

Check out my Halloween 2018 adult face painting offerings! I’ve been having so much fun with these sessions.

Design # 1    Zombie/ Minnie-Mouse/ clown/ design

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My face and body painting adventure is called Passion Mama as orginially I started off by painting pregnant mum’s bellies! I just love body art in whatever form or design though 🙂

You can check out my Passion Mama facebook page by clicking right HERE. And Instagram, HERE. Thanks guys!

If you live local to me, ( Horsham, West Sussex, UK ) and you are planning on attending a Halloween event this year, please drop me a line. I love face painting!

 

Love Heidi