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Imagine ……

Imagine just for a while a world without money. Lets replace the value of money with curiosity and benevolence to the planet.

What a world would it be without the competition, without the unequal distribution of wealth? A world where we are all the same, no border, no banks, no politicians would tell us what to do. Things would be done because of the inherent curiosity and goodness in humanity. Today crime is at its peak and mostly because of money or the need to divide us into races and religions. Take away money and religion (make it philosophical instead) and there would be much less crime.

Imagine a man who loves gardening and a man who loves to create cars. The man with the garden, needs a car to bring his goods to the people. So he goes to the man who builds cars and explains his needs. The man with the cars tells him, just look around, take one, its there. The gardener happily drives his car to the people and tells them; hey if you’re hungry, take, its there. You can spin this thought to everything in life and realise, yes it can be done. There is enough curiosity to create technology that is beneficial to the planet and all its inhabitants. There is enough land to grow food for everyone. There is enough of everything if we take away the principle of what we are built on right now.

The monetary system we are bound to has too many flaws. It favours a few, divides people, countries and cultures and worst of it all it is based on a lie. It has never given the equality it promised, has not stopped hunger and exploitation as politicians, economists and bankers told us it would. In fact it is and has been the catalyst of all the evils of today. Its basic principle works like with an endangered species. Lets take Elephants, Ivory today is double the price of gold and the fewer there are, the more are killed, because in our system rarity promises higher gain. The same rule can be applied to everything in life.

So lets just sit back and fathom a planet without money …..

Traveller’s seek…….. a forgone conclusion

There is only one species that is going to change the consciousness of the planet – the seeker and the cross cultural traveller!

Some 30 years back the planet opened up. Countries that were closed because of internal policies, wars and turmoil became peaceful and opened their door to visitors. People left borders behind and took travel as a human right. They went out exploring, learning and connecting to other cultures, continents and places. Of course it was not all sunshine out there. Many western people realised the power of their money and brought suffering in forms of prostitution, drugs and other human abuse to many places and unfortunately to some extend continue to do so.

Yet, travel became the means to connect and getting to know each other. Because of this keen seeking to keenness to understand the world enjoys today a variety of wonderful manifestations.

We enjoy fusion music, world cuisine, student exchange programs, international researches in almost all fields, and so many more. Without the curious seeker, on whats beyond the boundaries of his home land much of this would never have happened.

If I look at todays world, it seem that travel is often no longer a human right, but slowly turning into a privilege. Right wing politics, racism, religion and “the so called war on terror” are closing down ever more borders and from the look of it, travel will even get more restrictive in the years to come.

Even the knowledge that it is just a few big conglomerates that benefit from the present war mongering is not going to change the situation as it stands.

However we can live without Avocados from Chili that turn vast landscapes into desert.

We can live without mangoes and beef from the amazon, who’s production destroys thousands of hectares of land each year. We can exist without changing the car every two years and we certainly can live without the handbags and shoes from high end fashion brands, because we know that they produce them at minimum wages in horrible conditions in Bangladesh and Vietnam.

What we should not live without, is travelling the globe. Experiencing new cultures, learning new ways of live and fill our memories with un-deletable pictures from what we experienced. Even the carbon print produced by travelling is offset by a long shot if we live a little bit more local at home.

Tourism is the only industry, not dominated by the very few big and dominant corporations. Its core drivers are local hoteliers, local money and local employment. Tourism weaves a string between cultures and is by all means forged by human spirit. If you choose well, you will always find the local spirit in where ever you go.

Easter is symbolically the resurrection of the spirit and if we travel, we will continue to use the experiences we make to transform our inside. Even Emperors like Akbar realised it in his vision of “Din-i Ilahi”; which says that if you merge all your knowledge and experiences of all cultures and religions, your wisdom and tolerance will be without limit.

The story of a masterpiece

Recently my daughter gave me two shawls she was given by her mom after our divorce. She thought that I might like them since she had no use for them. I could not believe my eyes, she handed me  the very two shawls I had bought from a small cooperative shop in Leh, in Ladakh in the early 90ties. The cooperative was an initiative of two elderly Ladakhi, to assist their people to get a decent price for their pure pashmina wool. They told me that most of the wool was bought over by merchants from Kashmir and the local people were given a very small amount of money for their precious products and then sold with huge margins in the cities.

Since I had just spent times in the plains of Chang Thang and had taken shelter with the goat and Yak herders I knew about the effort to collect the wool and look after the goats that were grazing the plains around Tso Morari.

Sadly a lot of my pictures I had taken those days got lost during my travels and shifting of residences over the years.

Goat herding is a job mostly for the elderly men. They bring their animals to the grazing places during the day and return them in the evenings to the summers camps that were setup by the shore of the lake. Collecting wool is their job as well. They look out of the goats touch shrubs and leave some of their fluffy fur behind. Sometimes they take out their combs and brush them gently to get the fine and soft wool from their chest and below their chins. Herding goats is also a walking exercise, since goats are very picky eaters. While following their herds these men become artists and weave the wool into strands that could be used for weaving. Weaving was then mostly done by the women between their daily chores.

These days the wool we get is mostly from China and Mongolia, where thousands of goats are kept in corrals and sheared like sheep to extract the maximum amount of wool, which is then processed by machines. Fortunately the traditions of keeping goats in the Himlayas has not changed since ages. Till today you can see the grazing herds on the high altitude plains in summer.

What my daughter handed me back was an act of love. The respect and care of the herder to his animals. The caressing comb that the goats enjoyed and the wool that was all woven by hand and finally sold by two humorous and story telling grandpas that were looking out for the wellbeing of their people.

Thirty years later I still have this wonderful piece of workmanship.

One of the pictures I had taken from the website: http://nomadicwoollenmills.com

Please have a look at the site.

Men and the sea

Its a hard life for these men going out at sea almost every day of their working lives. All night they spend on a small boat out under the vast canopy of the endless sky, trying to bring home the catch that nourishes the family.

Hardship that shows on their faces and on their hands. The fishing they do is not dominated by huge winches, but solely relies on the camaraderie  to bring in the precious catch to ensure a decent life for their families.

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Braving the storm.

Indigenous people of North Kerala

I recently had the good fortune to visit some of the small villages of the indigenous communities in Wayanad, North Kerala. Together with our GM Subi from Wayanad Wild, our Chef and a social worker we climbed the hills in the forested areas of the Wayanad plateau. People here still live a lot from the forest, collecting roots, honey and herbs for their daily needs. The create amazing bamboo traps for fishing in the rivers and I was told that earlier they were great archers too. Today the law forbids them to hunt.

wayanad2Their way of live is rapidly changing. Forests have been turned into Plantation, devoid of the food they used to find. National parks have sprung up, restricting their movements to collect honey, herbs and bark for the food and indigenous forms of medicine.

wayanad6Lately their way of using plants and barks for curing has caught the attention of scientists now probing into their secrets of the forest. Unfortunately their lack of school book knowledge will eventually prevent them from benefitting of their old age tradition and art to cure.

wayanad7To me it was a touching encounter with people that live on the earth around them and me a traveller from across the oceans. Their smile and shy laughter turns as always into exercise of humility for me. Communication is nothing but a smile and the words of the social worker in her broken english.

Walking trough their simple village, Standing Rock comes to my mind, where even today the erstwhile owners of the land still have to fight to get their rights respected. And I wonder how much the situation differs from the land across the sea.

Nyatapola temple, still standing tall

The Nyatapola Temple was built in 1702 A.D. under the rule of King Bhupatindra Malla. This beautifully sculptured building is considered one of the tallest pagodas in the country and is a lovely example of the immense workmanship that went into buildings of this type. This five-storey temple stands over thirty meters high can be reached by walking up a flight of steps that leads to the top of the platform. As you walk up these stairs you will notice that there are statues on either side of you, on every step.

The temple is dedicated to Durga, the destroyer of all evil.

Note: The temple was unaffected by the Earthquake in April 2015

Himalayan Stories – Curiosity

In less than a month we will be in Nepal 🙂 I am curious how much has changed from the world I knew before the Quake. One thing I am sure already, the kind and loving spirit of the Himalayan Folks is still unbroken! Just yesterday my friend Bharat said to me on the phone; “you know we can look at it as a chance to improve and become better in so many ways, as humans and as a nation”.

For the rest, there is a saying, that sums it up every time you start a journey, a new job or a new found love; “Everything is always just a little bit different”.

There is just one challenge in life. To remain open to that “just a little bit different“. To be open to learn, respect and embrace the gifts life puts in our path. To open up till the silent awareness of harmony sets in and the soul feels free from the shakles of time and space.