Tết Nguyên Đán 2019 – My Vietnamese New Year

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of being invited by my colleagues from school to a sort of pre-celebration for the upcoming Tết. For those of you who don’t know, Tết, or Tết Nguyên Đán, is Vietnam’s New Year based on the Lunar calendar. It takes place on the same day as the Chinese New Year.
As is it is common with such important events, there was a big gathering of families, acquaintances, and colleagues from work. In total, there were around 40 people; young and old; male and female; Vietnamese and… German/Austrian/English. But regardless of nationality, gender or age, we were all equally excited for the upcoming feast. And a feast it was!

Continue reading “Tết Nguyên Đán 2019 – My Vietnamese New Year”

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– Concerning Homesickness – Quote of The Day by Captain James King (1779)

Today’s quote comes from Captain King, who continues the narrative of the book ‘The Voyages of Captain Cook‘ with his journal entries, after the titular Captains demise in 1779. The style of writing is very much a product of its time, meaning it sounds outdated, sometimes even incomprehensible, to us.

However, what Captain King is about to describe is simply an example of homesickness. It should come to no surprise that after four years of discovering the vast Pacific Ocean in a single voyage the entire crew’s heart yearns for their beloved homeland. And sometimes all it takes to conjure up feelings of excitement, anticipation, and heartache, is a simple spoon. Continue reading “– Concerning Homesickness – Quote of The Day by Captain James King (1779)”

Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?

What is it about this place that makes me return again and again and again? One could easily explain my decision by stating the usual reasons such as beaches, mountains, jungles, a fascinating culture and history, a delicious cuisine and so forth. Those are the things that appear on every “must-see” and “to-do” list. However to me, that merely covers the reasons why one should come here, but it doesn’t answer the question of why one should stay here. Thailand is not the only country that ticks off all the items on this list; there are plenty of others with perhaps even more pristine beaches or higher mountains. So, what is it then? Continue reading “Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?”

My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration

I had the most profound revelation during a long train ride from Goa up to Mumbai. It was late in the evening and all six berths in our section – three on each side – were already folded out and occupied by tired passengers. I, however, could not sleep as I was lying in the bottom bunk with my flashlight still on and the pages of Charles Allen’s book ‘A Mountain in Tibet’ still open. It’s a book that chronicles the exploration of the revered Mount Kailas and the discovery of the sources of the four great rivers – the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Sutlej. Every person depicted in this book had their own reasons for venturing into these uncharted and dangerous areas. It was either for the sake of spiritual enlightenment, geographical exploration, and discovery or for more selfish reasons such as fame, admiration, and recognition. Whatever it was, in the end, they all had one thing in common: they possessed the heart of an explorer. And on that fateful train ride to Mumbai, I realized that I, too, was in possession of it. Clear as day, then and there it dawned on me just as sudden, that I now had a purpose. Continue reading “My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration”

Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance

Prayer flags, much like humans, are not meant to remain still. They need to fly and flutter freely through the air and space spreading peace, compassion, and goodwill as the wind lets them dance in every direction and the colors – red, white, green, blue, yellow – fade in the sunlight. From pole to pole, house to house, the ground to the top of a stupa, I would go so far as to say that no other country is more closely associated with flags than Nepal. Continue reading “Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance”

Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa

At last, the monsoon season was upon us as thick layers of grey clouds covered the sky and rain began to pour down relentlessly. It started of imperceptible with small showers during the evening, but it culminated in a thunderous storm, that left the entire town without electricity for the greater part of the night and the next day. It was the official announcement that “the times they are a-changin’”. Continue reading “Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa”

Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis

Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the big question of what art is. Was there a universal answer to this question? Was there one undeniable truth? Some say that art is not about truth, it’s about expression and beauty. To others, it’s a “source of calm in a chaotic world“. There is no shortage of elaborate opinion pieces written by highly educated people. However, many seem to come to the same conclusion that art should evoke an emotional response.  Continue reading “Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis”