Friday, June 30, 2006

A gift from the nuns and Mother Teresa :.

I finished as much of the project as humanely possible and decided to visit the Mother House and hand off the rest of my files and say "See you later" to the Sisters.

This is an insanely big project and it has been a blessing to get the trust of the sisters to set it up and I am very excited that over 10,000 volunteers a year are going to be using the work and hopefully it will get expanded by other volunteers.

So I gave the Sister in charge my files and I told her if she needed anything to email me [ oh I would love to get one]

She really thanked me for the work that I did and said it was a "blessing" to have me here in Calcutta - apparently word got around about how much I sacrificed for the project in terms of time and money. it was a sad moment and then she ran off to get this gift.

I opened the gift/envelope to find an assortment of cards and then I noticed one with a piece of cloth in the corner. The sister smiled and told me that is was a piece of Mother Teresa's sari! - I couldn't be that she gave this to me...a wave of emotions came over me and it couldn't be held back...
After 4 years of continuos work in Calcutta this was a very touching moment.

I really didn't know what to say - so the sister just bowed and simply said "See ya next year" and went back to washing her clothes.

I stood there stunned by the generosity of it all. How many people get this gift from the sisters?
Wow did I ever feel blessed from it all.

Peace and Blessings

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

on the topic of food :. .:this is not normal or is it?

Food and Peace :.

I have been learning alot about food and material possessions in the past month [I jsut got an email from sarcastic telling me to eat] but at the same time removing myself from these unecessary things + the world have made me INCREDIBLE happy. Yeah so my digital camera broke [after 4 years], I sold my Nokia phone for food money and - yes my left ventrical caved when my ipod finally stopped working 4 days ago....

But these things are sooo minor in the scale of life...

Abut 1hr ago I meet a nun that recognized me from the coming and goings for the past 4 years in Kolkata - she acutally thought that I was a homeless/ill person that came for food. She kept staring and me and saying that I lost so much weight. I explained the past month but also the fact that I have found peace and she agreed that I look totally different and I have this new "air" about me.

So through meditation and travelling - materialism + food don't mean much to me and I have very lucky to have some friends in Kolkata that are taking care of me for the past week until I meet my best mate in 3 days [which will be culture shock for me for sure].

Peace and Blessings

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back in Calcutta and weightless

So after a 36 hr door to door, train and rickshaw ride I am back in Calcutta. Yesterday I started working with the nuns again and it's fun! I felt that I never left.

Everyone is coming straight up to me and saying that I lost ALOT of weight since I left. It's kinda of embarrassing but fun at the same time. I have lost weight because I didn't have enough money to eat and well meditation always does the extra things to you....
The internet cafe owner "Raj" told me that my face got realy small and if I shaved and took over my glasses - I could take a couple years off - my finnish friend commented that all I needed is an extreme makeover :>

Okay enough self talk - I am off to meet the nuns now and finish up this "never ending project"

Peace from the "Black Hole of Calcutta"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

120 + eletters!

I have spent the last couple hrs on email and I have barely scratch the surface...
It was weird to be on the internet for sooo long it's tiring above all and yesterday I recieved 2 emails that made me think and scratch my head "Why does email exist again?"
I apologize sincerely for the delay in the responses and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Peace and Blessings


Thursday, June 15, 2006

:. India - yeha I am alive :.

Using the net to check out world cup action! and email some family. It's weird to be on it again for soooo long. It feels bizarre [ so much information flowing at once] but like an old friend it's nice. I haven't read all my emails - I think there is over 150 on my gmail count but I look forward to it when I fully immerse myself in the world next week.
Trinidad vs England football...oh! sooo excited!
Well here's my story: The Christian monastery was full and the Budhhist monastery was under construction so after living for a week in small village, life came to a turn. So I spent 40 hrs travelling to the other side of the country [it was basically like travelling the distance from one side of Nepal to the other] I am now living in an ashram in Rishekshi and discovering my Indian heritage roots. It's good living with all these yogi, spiritual foreigners, pilgrims, sadhu's and some very very important spiritual gurus of India. I spend my day attending lecture and philosphy, doing yoga, and talking with spiritual gurus and other guests about life.  My life has changed from this experience for the better.
There is nothing like meditating on the ganges during sunset and thinking about it all....
But I gave all my money into this project for mother teresa's so I am really broke - I have been eating one meal a day and living off fruits for the rest - I have lost about 10kgs and I am feeling hungry all the time.... but at the same time I have never been this happy about my life in quite a long time. It's really nice and extremely simple.
Peace + Blessings to all

Thursday, June 01, 2006

VIRUS ALERT + Another Top Ten List + Pics

Hey Everyone,
Well it's seems that even though I have taken a month of technology and decided to head away from it all, my Gmail account seems to have gotten a virus. 
I decided to cheat a bit and check up on the last episode of 24 only to find over 50 email responses to emails I never sent.
So I decided to send out a VIRUS ALERT and I figured it's been more than 6 months and some people are wondering "where in the world is that jam"  so I decided to send another "top ten" list. I hope you enjoy! and I need to hear reports on how you all are doing when I return back to civilization and email on June 20th.
1. Virus Alert
I have been away from the Internet for over a week and a bit - but the account automatically just keeps on sending attachments in the form .jpg's, pdfs and movies.

The virus name is:

I emailed my computer expert friend and Gmail.  They told me several things that I could do...I attempted them today.
Please don't DOWNLOAD the attachment.  If you did then hit this website for the anti- virus.

If you decide to block my email, please send me a quick email or you can write me @ - I like Gmail though it's alot quicker.

I am very sorry that this has happened and I hope that this issue clears up soon.

2. Blog or Vlog?:.
Michel - a Canadian/Pai resident and I made this video about our thoughts on the net.  It was an honour to meet the Canadian internet guru of this generation - I can't wait to collaborate on more stuff in the future!

3. Like a plot out of 24:.
Sitting on the porch of my friends house in Sri Lanka enjoying my last sunset and taking it all in.... It's a couple hours to the end of my 4 month stay in Sri Lanka and we really started to get really emotionally because it's the end of our working partnership.  Then suddenly out of the blue my friend says: "You know your work partner from Canada - she wanted to make sure that you never worked for CWY or in Manitoba again"   I was stunned, this was my friend - I worked with her for 10 months. So I asked for a couple examples and she responded.  Then all the pieces came together- timeoff, partner relationships etc....

Unbeknowst to her [and me] I was already digging my own grave in the final month of the contract, but thanks Ms. B for putting the final nails in the coffin.
Forgiveness came and a life lesson came [you can read my blog] and it's in the past but I am still quite shocked by the power and politics of big NGO's

Well played - Ms. B - I would have never guessed...

4. A tale of 2 New Years.
Sri Lanka - Dec 31st:
I saw a Buddha leaf mark on the road and knew this was my stop.  I told the driver to let me out near the tea factory and I started my climb.  There are two ways to Adams' Peak - 3 hr tourist route or the 11hr + Pilgrimage route.  I decided to attack the Pilgrimage route.  With my 40 lbs backpack on my back I started the climb, since few foreigners climb the route it was hard to find bottle water, so I made the journey on Chai and biscuits.  I got to the top of the hill before midnite - meditated to start the new year, slept outside on some hard rocks and woke up to see the amazing sunrise and the beauty that is Sri Lanka.
Chang Mai - April 16th:
My stomach started to make terrible noises and I stumbled out of the bamboo hut to start hurling on the dirt floor - I then rushed out to the toilet to complete the rest of my duties.  Their are 4 of us on this trek and since we are in the hills we decided to live a bit dangerously and take it all in... We ate ants, snake and for dinner we had buffalo with blood.  2 us were completely out for the nite.
In the morning while sick we walked 10 km to our pickup up point to take us to the Bamboo raft and Elephant ride, Since I have done those things before I decided  to sleep on a picnic bench and wait for the next ride.
3 hrs later a man came to pick me up, he stopped after 10 minutes to smoke up some opium and grab a drink.  I was a bit in shock that he would do this while driving!
We then picked up the rest of the crew at the elephant ride and made the route back to the city. Songkran is a major water festival and the Buddhist new year. As we passed by on the street people would throw coldwater, drain water and sometimes [hot water] into the back of the open truck. Everyone is smiling and it's happy part fo the new year.  The driver would occasionally stopped to refill his drink and the passengers. It was sooo much fun, terrifying and exhilarating and the trip lasted 2 hrs. When we got into Chang Mai the city turned into ONE water fight and everyone was on the street with water guns and dancing. Still feeling sick I climbed to the roof of the truck and started the sober roof party with buckets of water.  A different new years.

5. Top Blogs and other stuff:

This is the stuff that I read when I am travelling to keep me in tune with "the real world"
Blogs: Liz Lawson - The American Mystery was off the net for a while with insomnia? and now she's back - good shit liz!
Lisa the Knitter: Her blog is always a happy read...but really... how many cool chics do you know that Intern for Nasa, knits and enjoys Xmen? Damn. Damn. Damn.
My mate CDM: I am sure he has a ghost writer and makeup artist, that music and stuff on his face can't be his :>
Fat Man Walking: Glad to see that all went well and even more! I love Toronto. I have the Queen and Broadview buttons on my bag when I travel - it feels good to be connected to home!

Music: Since I have been on the road for the past 6 months - I have been digging really deep in my ipod. Anything with a beat is fantasy to me. I decided that if I do another long trip I will not take my Mac formatted ipod it's good for short trips but not long ones. Cd Players are the way to go.
Bollywood, Thai and Sri Lanka is on me right now and I am enjoying listening to the vibes and watching movies.

Crazy Backpacker Story - I freaky long story.
I really apologize for the length...but it all must be told...because I am still in shock...
After 30hrs I arrived in this very small town near the Bhutan border [see pic below] . It's not in any guide book and I am very excited about it This town had one street that was 300metres in length and the villagers looked super friendly. I went looking for a room and couldn't find anything in my budget. Nothing was available so I got some water and decided to walk the next 25 km - it would take about 5 hrs.
Then a old man calmly walked up the hill and told me that he had a room for me, I checked it out and found it was perfect.
I made this small village my home for a week and I never saw a foreign tourist in sight [Many Bengali tourist came here but it was off the foriegn radar].
The people were confused about my presence after two days...why do you like my village? Why do you want to stay here?
Over the next week I spent hrs walking the trails, reading, helping kids with their homework - by candlelight [because the power went out with the sun...weird...] having dinners and drinks with families, singing and going with the old man to the monastery for prayer time.
The old man and I connected really well during the week - he would come knock on my door and we would go for chai and for long walks in the misty forest. He spoke 5 languages and we would often communicate in broken English and Hindi. One day we were talking about marriage and he scolded me for not being married and told me it was important for a man to have children.  "Then what is the purpose of life" He then started to tell me many accomplishments of his children and his life, always leaving out his wife.  I finally enquired and he told me that she passed away 3 years ago. I told him I was sorry for his lost - he stopped me, smiled and said "But now I am free" I couldn't help but laugh.
After a week and I started to get invites for meals and I gladly excepted these offers.  Money is so tight right now that in the past two weeks I can only afford to eat one meal a day [it's usually curry- now strangely my fave] and I live off fruits, chai and biscuits. I am constantly hungry but its teaching me a good lesson about the value of food and life [I gave most of money to this project for Mother Teresa's so this is my life for the next month in India - Mother Teresa always said "To give until it" hurts].
One youth invited me to attend a funeral and there I meet some of the most beautiful women village women - was this a fashion show or funeral? I kinda sat there in awe until someone told me I can eat - I must have taken three plates of food.
Later on this guy took me to a house and said if I wanted to try a local alcoholic drink. I am always up for adventure and we drank a couple shots - then he asked if I wanted to sleep with him...
I pretended that I heard incorrectly.: I responded that I have a room already and I am feeling very sick. He asked me several times and I told him that this isn't my lifestyle. He got really mad was really persistent so I just got up and walked away. I was really tired and went to bed.
Later that nite I woke up with a sting in my throat from the drink. Then I head a sniffle outside my door - I wondered who could that be? I got up to listen and I realized someone was sleeping outside my door!
I was so scared that I didn't know what to do... I grabbed my shoulder bag and leatherman knife and tried to suppress my mountain cough. I laid down on the bed and moments later I heard someone trying to open my door - I just froze... and thanked the heavens for the double door lock.
It was raining hard and all I could think to do was open the window jump out and walk to the nearest town. I cursed myself for not keeping my essentials handy and for decorating my room with flowers, cloths and books.
I laid there for hours thinking of scenarios in my head.

Here I am alone in a small village with absolutely no communication with the outside world. No phone, no internet and no one to call for help. It was really really scarry for me.  The thought of partnership and the old's man words kept coming in my head.

I was starting to feel upset, I finally found a great town that I would a very long time living and now THIS had to happen.
I don't know what time but I manage to fall asleep. I woke up the next day, still holding my leatherman [how foolish - really] immediately packed my stuff and went for my one meal.
I started to say goodbye to everyone and people were starting to wondering - why I was leaving so early...wasn't I going to spend some more time talking and walking in the woods?
I saw the youth in the morning and he looked really tired and didn't say a word to me.
One family I went to say goodbye to told me that I should stay with them in the village, live in their house and work in there restaurant.  He wanted me to learn how to make chai and momo's for Bengali tourist. I sadly said "That I would come back later"
I was very upset. The dream came true and now this very BAD thing happened.
I finally went to say goodbye to the old man - he told me he heard noises outside my room last nite - Did I have a guest? I didn't respond.
Tears were forming in both of eyes and I told him I would be back with a friend. I now knew the importance of having a travel partner.

I hoped on a local jeep and left. 

7. The Most Amazing doer's: - While I have time travelling and reflecting. The world has conspired to meet [and want to meet] some amazing people and read some good bio's. This people have been a REAL inspiration in my life.
Bono: Music, Lifestyle and his work for Third world Relief. His pet project: Project Red is simple amazing. When is the ipod coming? Is this in Canada?
Cindy D: I spent a day with her in Bangkok and she showed me a glimpse of her life. Her work and lifestyle with Fulan Gong is truly amazing, something I would never forget.
Steve Jobs: Impossible to describe and predict, this man is simple amazing. How does and orphan + personality type 2  + computer geek + India hippie + Pieces [anybody seeing a trend with me :>] = now own $3 billion in Disney + Pixar + CEO Music Store + Apple + Ipod + Have an annual Salary of $1 year?
True Incredible Desire.
Navin Chawla: While volunteering at Kalighat, I noticed this man talking to the nuns. He projected this strong aura that surrounded him that just couldn't be explained. So I chatted with him for a bit and then I realized this man who wrote Mother Teresa's bio - the book that inspired my work in India.
He handed me his card and told me to ignore everything on the front and wrote his personal email on the back. I couldn't believe I met him and that he wanted to hear my travel stories and my work at the Kalighat.
8. Best Email:
Chuck | May 25th 2006 
When I met you, I was this straight laced banker dude, and
you were this crazy, all over the place travellor.  I
don't know whether you eventually saw something in me,
or God prompted you to encourage me, but somehow you
had a large influence on the amazing experiences that
I've had in the last couple of years.  I will always
be thankful for the help that you have been in opening
up my world.  And realizing that this is part of who I
am now.  I don't know many people in my Canadian
social circle who can say they've spent a year in
Africa.  It's quite remarkable to me when I look up
and realize that this is life now.  This is my

Thanks again for your encouragement.  I hope things
are well with you, and be sure to keep me posted about
where your next adventure may take you.
Another true story, Chuck was a banker in tdot. He was a great last minute [1 week] addition to our team in India. After I hooked him up with a CIDA Internship in Africa and now he is a man on the move!  Its more his initiation and his willingness to grow that has really changed him and it has nothing to do with me...but after reading this email my heart went in warm fuzzies...this lifestyle is worth it!  Alot of people don't know what I do - so I take this as a full compliment. Especially when others can see the effect. Peace to you Chuck!

Little Lisa: My friend paint/type/write a letter - scan it and later e-lettered it to me [see pic below]. Wow! What creativity! I printed it out and carry with me in my tiny backpack.

9. Books:

I can't believe that I have read over 40 books in the past 6 month! I honestly don't know where I found the time...

Some fave books:
Sri Lankan: If the moon smiled... After reading this book I wanted to fly home and hug my's soo sad.

American: The traveller - Who is John Twelve Hawks - I think it's out good old friend George W. Bush, most of his life is off the grid. This new wireless passport skimmer thingy makes me nervous...

India: This country has some of the finest literature. A fine balance, The Impressionist and a Hungry Tide are good examples. I never run of books to read in India.

Travel Books: Seven years in Tibet, The Worst Jourey in the World, The Climb, The Faber Book of Exploration and Invisible Cities.

Crazy Books: The Sion Revelation, Filth and Are you experienced? - A funny travel book about India, I just laughed out loud...

10. Top Beer + Tea Moment:
Drinking a local beer called Bamboo in the mountains of Darjeeling. It comes in a bamboo mug has millet, rice and it's warm... I had three types and the villagers were impressed that I liked it.

The Kingfisher Beer was horrible but the company was perfect. It's not everyday you get to have a pint with your ex on a beach in Sri Lanka....[pic]

Cedar Inn in Darjeeling still has the best tea and ambience this hotel is super amazing!
Mother Teresa volunteer Chai is still the best two years running - I swear they bless the stuff!

Well I hoped that you enjoyed some of the moments. It must be a long time since I have been home or talked with anyone because I have written over 6 pages! I know they are personal but I feel that life is taking me in a direction that I can share these items. 
If you wanted to be taken off this list then please email me and all will be acknowledged.

Sorry again for the virus and I hope all is well. I shall be returning home in September and I am very excited about seeing everyone again and having some Eggs Benedict at "Joy" in the East End.

Peace and Blessings