Blades of Societal Norms and Judgements

The people in Bario Asal accepted me for who I am.  For example, as a vegetarian, I could watch and admire Tepuq Sina Rang’s skills of cutting up wold boar and appreciate the effort Tama Wesley put in to have BBQ night under a sky full of stars without feeling compelled to consume meat.  And there were other situations which reassured me that my heart was safe from blades of societal norms and judgements.
So, sharing a piece (some parts were edited) that was written half a year ago when a choice was made to not wear social norms as a uniform.

“Imagine a father stabbing his own child over and over again. And this happens daily.” 

My friend, Sean painted this scene with his words. The vividly grotesque image floated into my mind – tears flooding the naïve child’s pink cheeks as he screamed for the man to stop, and the cold look in the father’s eyes. This was completely unacceptable. 

It was at a wedding that I met Sean, a German exchange student who supported his arguments with heart-wrenching analogies. He continued his analogy, “Now, Imagine the same dad doing the same act only once in a while.” He stressed on the last five words. “That’s better, right?” “No Way!” The words escaped my mouth before he finished his question. Logical thinking dictated that this was violence no matter how often the stabbing was repeated. No sane person would agree with the notion that this was morally right. 

Our conversation started with both of us finding common ground. We discussed the culture and history before finally settling on vegetables. Cabbage, carrot, broccoli, cucumber, spinach – we did not contemplate the natural beauty of the green leafy vegetables. Instead, we agreed on the uniqueness of their creation in this vast universe as a species that specialises in food production through photosynthesis. They’re created with a purpose to feed other species.

As the discussion went on to vegetarianism as an alternative to consuming meat and heavy fast food which is detrimental to health, I proudly declared myself an ‘optional’ vegan, my reason being not wanting to burden anyone to prepare special food for me. When I came to think of it, there were times when I used this as an excuse to give in to my own temptation to eat meat as I reassured myself that the occasional meat eating was okay. This was when Sean, as a pure vegan put forward his analogy to express that doing the same act less frequently doesn’t change the fact that I’m a hypocritical sinner.

This analogy made me rethink my belief systems. The child being stabbed by the “father” representing rigid social norms was my inner secret self – a small, fragile girl with low self-esteem who was always in a dilemma whether to follow the popular opinion or go with her guts. However, on the outside I tried to be an advocate for causes that felt close to my heart, For years, I found myself admiring the work of Emerson’s principles of Transcendentalism and Individualism. My two sides often conflicted; the war of cruelty between child and dad raged on inside. However, I often let the inner self’s fear of being ostracized take over my decisions, sometimes resulting in negative outcomes for others as I unconsciously believed that “stabbing once in a while doesn’t hurt”.   

Sean’s analogy sparked a decision to let the inner child to muster the courage to stand up against the cruelty; to learn from and consequently merge with my outer self to form a healthy whole. It will take time and patience to fight constantly with the demons in my head that I have grown accustomed to, but I think it is worth it as standing up for a cause while feeling doubtful inside doesn’t make any difference in the world as it doesn’t convince others. 

I will try my best not to allow my heart to be stabbed again by the blades of societal norms and judgements. 



-Srinithya aka Uding Aran-

A Short Getaway

A Short Getaway

We live in
a time where technology plays a big role in our lives, and I am not afraid to admit I often find myself wasting my time unconsciously peeking at other people’s life on social media instead
of managing my own. Hands up if you agree social media is the number 1 reason you’re procrastinating *raises my hand quietly*. I am guilty as charged!
Before we
departed for Bario, we were already told that we would have no access to Internet. And
just like that, we were completely cut off from the outside world for three weeks (we still got to call our family and friends, don’t worry). My friend even joked that
if Peninsular Malaysia disappeared overnight we wouldn’t even know because there
are no newspapers! Sure, three weeks without Internet connection was a pain when we
needed to Google something. But come to think of it, we might have been too dependent on the Internet all this while because we did survive using only our knowledge and teamwork to figure things out on our own. And for the first
time in ages, I felt like I was actually living.
Tepuq Ulo’s paddy field.
It felt like we had more time in Bario because we woke up early and used our
time wisely. With little distractions (by technology), we got to talk and interact more with the people we built relationships with, took strolls and admired the beautiful scenery during our free time, breathed in the fresh Bario air, and took proper breaks when we were tired. I even learned how to fish! 
It’s
a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to experience a farmer’s life.
Being city kids, most of us are not physically strong enough for hours of hard
labour. But did we enjoy the process? Definitely!  
After working in the paddy field. Muddy but happy.
Working in
the muddy paddy field was tough, but it made us stronger.  I enjoy drying the paddy the most because
who doesn’t like chasing chickens away? But when the paddy was almost done drying (it usually takes four hours) and it started to rain, I could feel my heart breaking because Tepuq Ulo’s hard
work had gone down the drain. 
Drying the paddy. Photo taken shortly before it started raining. 
One time, K Rou and I followed our tepuqs to remove the weeds underneath
the pastor’s house. We had to squat beneath the house and pull out the weeds
and we couldn’t stand as the space was too small. Seeing how tired out we were, our
tepuqs made us weed in the open space. Tepuq Ulo and Tepuq Ribed would
say: ‘Kasihan cucu-cucu kita, perlu ikut kita kerana kita kuat kerja.’ (Our
poor grandchildren, pity them as they have to follow us to do our hard work.) We
didn’t even do much compared to them!
Food
doesn’t come around easy in Bario. There are no grocery stores. I remembered when
Wai Leong and K Rou were looking for tomatoes and we had to search the village to
find out who planted them. If we wanted vegetables we had to pick them from the
jungle. Picking jungle vegetables with my tepuq, all sorts of insects managed to crawl inside my pants, from leeches to big red ants. I might have screamed a
few times. But now the city kid can finally say that she has seen it all (not really)! Yes,
I brought back legs full of insect bite scars but EVERY BIT WAS WORTH IT.
K Rou (left) and I all dressed up by our tepuqs to pick jungle vegetables.
Take note ladies, it’s the latest kampung fashion!
As
participants, it’s not fun and games all the time. We came to Bario carrying responsibilities
and a mission. There will definitely be challenges but once you manage to
overcome it, I assure that you will grow and come back with a completely different
mindset. If you’re reading this, and thinking about joining Project WHEE!, I
encourage you to take this big step. You won’t regret it!
-Pei Chi-
The Story Behind Tapioca

The Story Behind Tapioca

Tapioca. You might have tasted it before, but have you seen a tapioca plant before? Do you know that tapioca doesn’t grow like most fruits or vegetables? Instead, it is grown from the roots of a tapioca plant.
I was so glad to have the opportunity to follow my assigned lady, Tepuq Bulan, to visit her tapioca farm. To be honest, I had never before seen a tapioca plant until visiting Tepuq Bulan’s farm.
Tapioca farm
Tapioca is best harvested when the plant is about 9-12 months grown. Because of this, it is planted annually.
We can identify the maturity of a tapioca plant by looking at its branches. If there are fruits on the tapioca plant, it means the tapioca is ready to be harvested. 
Tepuq Bulan harvesting tapioca using a hoe
Harvesting tapioca is a backbreaking job, especially for a 6-foot tall guy like me. I had to bend down, continuously digging until I caught a glimpse of the tapioca. It was very challenging as you can’t dig too fast or exert too much strength when digging as you might damage the tapioca. Tepuq must have been watching with cold sweats while I was harvesting the tapioca as she was worried I might destroy her hard work. Luckily, there was only a small cut on one of the tapioca roots.
“Be gentle” ”Do it softly” These were the words of advice Tepuq gave me before she left to collect tapioca leaves. By the time she finished collecting one bag of tapioca leaves, I was still struggling to pull out tapioca from the same spot.
After harvesting, the stem cutting method was applied to plant a new tapioca plant, where the end of a stem is sharpened before inserted into the soil with a depth not exceeding 4-6cm. The stem was cut to about 15cm long for it to grow.
Fried tapioca cake
“It’s just an ordinary fried tapioca cake, nothing special about it” was my first impression of the dish pictured above. But after I experienced the process of harvesting and planting tapioca, I started to appreciate it as I realised so much blood, sweat and tears was involved in getting the tapioca that we take for granted. There are a lot of things we do not understand until we experience it. During my time in primary school, my teachers always reminded us not to waste rice as every grain of rice came from the hard work of a farmer. Now, I clearly understand that we should feel grateful and appreciate everything that we have even if it’s just a cup of water because we are living lives far more fortunate than many others.  
Authentic Hospitality

Authentic Hospitality

I was facing trouble narrowing down my university choices recently and though I had already made my decision before going to Bario, my mind still wandered back to the time when someone asked me “What are you looking for in a university experience?”
My answer came without hesitation–like instinct–and I felt more sure about it than any decisions I had made regarding university in the past couple of months; “A sense of community.”
Now I’m wishing for a university in Bario.
View of Bario from atop Arur Dalan’s Prayer Mountain.
Everyone in Bario felt like family. Everyone knew everyone and even if they didn’t know someone, they knew someone who knew that someone. In the long house and on the streets, people waved and smiled at each other. There is just no walking past anyone without some kind of acknowledgment from either party. My three weeks in Bario, I found myself waving and smiling at people I didn’t know and feeling the warmth in their reciprocating smiles.

The sense of community in Bario is so strong. During my time there, I saw the ladies preparing for functions and receiving important guests. I saw how everyone would pitch in cooking and even share their eating utensils from home for the guests to use!

Countless moments in Bario I felt the hospitality of the community and saw how generosity was so effortless and second nature to them.
One hot afternoon, my friends and I were roasting in the heat for some time before one of us (thank you Nithya!) was shameless enough to flag down a truck for a ride which they gladly gave.
Panoramic view during our hot afternoon walk.
On the right is tortoise Rui Ci walking towards us while we waited under trees with minimal shade.
There was also another time when my tepuq and I were walking from Bario Asal to Arur Dalan (kampung to kampung). A truck stopped next to us and the driver greeted us before offering us a ride without us even asking.
I once walked from Arur Dalan to Bario Asal alone and was offered a ride on a motorcycle by a guy who I had never met but had only waved to minutes before!
Rainbow shot while walking between Arur Dalan and Bario Asal.
I know that what I’ve listed are limited to free rides but their hospitality extends to so much more than that. Even Turo, Bario Asal’s resident hornbill is hospitable! It followed me and Nithya all the way from Bario Asal to Arur Dalan on the day before our flight! On many occasions we were offered drinks, fish, chicken, wild boar, BBQ etc… the list is unending!
Turu comes into the long house once in a while hunting for food.
I saw it eat a cotton bud once :O
I love the sincerity that comes with their generosity; that they are under no obligation and yet they expect nothing in return. In Bario, I felt accepted; I felt a sense of belonging.

It wasn’t until I got home that I TRULY appreciated how beautiful the people and the atmosphere was in Bario and what a stark contrast it is to the city environment. As I walked through KL Sentral, hauling my heavy bag exploding with the weight of Bario’s generosity, I caught myself smiling and waving to strangers who didn’t wave back.

Coming back from Bario after three weeks felt like returning to the cold unsmiling reality from a fantasy world far far away.

The locals there like to joke that Bario has it’s own air conditioning system without a switch because it gets really chilly at night. But walking through KL Sentral, the air inside Malaysia’s concrete jungle felt colder than the air of warmth and hospitality surrounding Bario; which now feels like it’s own idyllic country tucked away behind towering hills and the magnificent rain forests of Borneo.

Officially, my task in Bario was to teach the local Kelabit women English but really, in my short three weeks there, I have learnt so much more than any knowledge I could have imparted.

How to be…Happy :)

How to be…Happy :)

Bario is my happy place. There were genuinely so many things
to be glad about in Bario. It just made me think, who needs the latest iPhone
model anyway? Here’s a list of things that made me (and maybe my friends too)
happy.
Happy people 🙂 No, they’re not twins. 
1.      
When there’s Vico/Milo to drink in the morning.
(It’s a luxury)
2.      
When my friend Nithya rolled down the small hill
behind SMK. It was hilarious!
Nithya lying on the grass before rolling down the hill.
3.      
When it’s a sunny day and all our laundry were dry!
4.      
When we managed to hitchhike back to the Bario
Asal longhouse. (Thanks Nithya!)
My batchmates getting a ride at the back of Tepuq Sinah Rnag’s 4WD.
5.      
When Uncle Julian decided to give us a ride to
or from the hydro dam.
6.     When my tepuq boiled hot water for me to shower with.
It was the only time I conditioned my hair in Bario.
7.      
When we managed to pick a big bag of vegetables
from the jungle.
8.      
When we conquered Prayer Mountain!
On top of Prayer Mountain.
9.      
When it’s the weekends and we could sit
and do nothing for the whole day.
10.  
When the SK and SMK teaching sessions go well.
11.  
When it didn’t rain while we’re drying the
paddy.
12.  
When the tepuqs told us inappropriate jokes.
13.  
When I managed to catch 20 fish for the first
time, on my own (my tepuq had to leave me alone to do some chores).
14.  
When I could finally differentiate between
vegetable species after a while.
15.  
When we danced in the middle of the road before
going to the airport.
16.  
Watching Wai Leong (Apoi) do the traditional Kelabit
dance. He’s gifted!
Wai Leong (Apoi) rocking his Kelabit headgear. (Third from the left)
17.  
When my friend Hooi Ju had a chance to go into the paddy
field and got muddy for the first time. That smile on her face was so priceless
it made me really happy.  
Tepuq Ulo teaching Hooi Ju to fish after she went into the paddy field.
18.  
Having fried chicken wingsss!
19.  
When the marshmallows were roasted perfectly. And
dipped with chocolate. Mmmm.
20.  
When we surprised Nithya with a Bario birthday cake on her birthday!
Bario birthday cake.
21.  
When our tepuqs learned a new word!
22.  
When we were told that we have beautiful voices after singing in church haha.
23.  
Coming up with dance steps to Jai-Ho with my
batchmates!
24.  
Seeing a rainbow <3
Rainbow! 
25.  
PINEAPPLES.

Pineapple ceremony.
(From the left) Nithya, Tepuq Ulo, Tepuq Ribed, K Rou and me
The list goes on. In my opinion, the secret to happiness is to be appreciative
and thankful of the little things.

And that is the biggest lesson I brought back
from Bario.

Love,
Pei Chi

Land of a Thousand Handshakes

Land of a Thousand Handshakes

One thing that never ceased to amaze me in Bario was the friendliness and kindness of the people. Even though I am an outsider, they greeted me with open arms. Welcome to Bario, a greeting which they addressed with full of sincerity.
Where are you from?
When did you arrive?
What are you doing here?
It was so warm to hear these three simple questions. 
On my first day in Bario, my batch came up with a “crazy” idea – a walk to the airport. As Pei Chi and Rui Ci arrived one day later, our initial plan was to walk to the airport after our church session in the morning to pick them up and go back with Uncle Julian, our Home-stay host’s son, in his car. This plan sounded very interesting and wonderful, but our “words spoke louder than actions”. 
At first, we did start walking after the church session. It was just a 5 minute walk, then we ended up sitting on the back of a 4WD (Four Wheel Drive) as we were offered a free ride by a kind driver. 
Yeah! People in Bario are that friendly. 
It showed how kind and friendly the locals were as they can easily offer you a ride without much hesitation. If this took place in KL, we would need to think twice or even thrice about their offer as we wouldn’t know if they had any malicious intents (KL is among the cities with high crime rates). Even sometimes when we are in need of help maybe due to an accident, some of the urbanites practice an egocentric philosophy where they just think of themselves. They would use their smartphones to take pictures to share on social media, rather than lending a helping hand. This is a very serious problem in the community nowadays, especially in the city.      
As it was still early, the kind driver dropped us at Gatuman, the only place in Bario with WIFI (City kids cannot survive without it XD). That was the only day we got access to the internet throughout our stay in Bario. We spent some time there and had a great chat with Uncle Lian, the owner of Gatuman-b@rio. The way he shared his intriguing stories and enriching experiences was so humble although he was a professional petroleum engineer in SHELL.
Gatuman, also known as e-Bario
We thought of continuing our plan to walk to the airport as we were nearer to it, but time didn’t allow us to do so (a very good pretext) as Pei Chi and Rui Ci had arrived at the airport. We were forced to rush to the airport in Uncle Julian’s 4WD to pick them up. At last, our “A walk to the airport” plan failed.
Rushing to the airport with windblown hair
If you are wondering about the truth of the friendly locals, pay a visit to Bario and you will be surprised. =)
My Volunteering Journey

My Volunteering Journey

Me and my assigned lady – Tepuq Ribed
A
lot of people threw me a question when I was back from Bario: “How does
Project WHEE! work? I thought you guys were teaching English over there, but why does it seem like you are all working in the paddy field?”
I
like the question. Before I decided to join Project WHEE!, I myself took some
time to figure out how this program worked. The main objective of Project WHEE!
is to empower Bario’s mountainous community generate an income
through eco-tourism. As such, we as participants are there to
teach the women English, so they are able to communicate with tourists more
effectively as community guides or home-stay hosts in the future. Besides, we
are there to facilitate the women’s development of eco-tourism activities for the
local community, guiding them to execute these activities, and helping them in preparation
of other sustainable projects.
Everything
sounds cool. Still, we are there to
teach the ladies English, so why do we work in the paddy field?
The main
reason is because Project WHEE! emphasises on teaching English by shadowing the
women. These women are not ordinary primary or secondary schools’ students.
They have their own schedule every day. It is hard for them to sit down for 6 –
7 hours in a classroom to learn English. For this reason, our classroom could be anywhere. In the morning, we would kick start our class in the lady’s house
over coffee and cookies. After that, we would have our lesson knee-deep in mud,
in the middle of the lady’s paddy field in the afternoon. It is quite exciting
and exhilarating when you think about it. Everywhere could be a live classroom
for them.
I
guess now most of you have a basic idea of how this program works and why most
of us are helping the ladies in the paddy field or in the farm. The idea of teaching
the women English by shadowing them sounds great. Nonetheless, everything has
pros and cons. There is a grey area of this project. A lot of people who don’t
have a basic idea how this project works tend to be bias. They perceived us,
the participants, are the budak bandar
(city kids) who travel there solely
to experience the lifestyle of the Kelabit’s people. I couldn’t say they were
wrong. We are there to teach the women English but the truth is we are there to
explore the way of life of the Kelabit too. This is when the participants play an
important role. As a participant, we have to prove to the locals we are not only
there to experience the lifestyle but we are there to teach as well. Besides
teaching English, we have to become the ambassadors of Project WHEE!, telling the
local folks and the tourists why we are there.
Anyway,
being a participant requires a lot of discipline and persistence, especially when we teach the
women English by shadowing them. We have
to keep reminding ourselves the reason we are there. I, myself faced a lot of
challenges when I was teaching English. The lady I was paired with is Tepuq Ribed. I was lucky, both of us clicked instantly when
we met. There weren’t a lot of awkward silences between us. She is very
passionate in learning. However, as she is illiterate, it took time for me to
build her confidence to open up and converse with others in English,
especially to the foreigners.
Other than that, she often couldn’t remember the things that she
had learnt. A lot of times, when I asked her: “What is this, tepuq?” She told me
she has forgotten the name of the item. I had to keep practising with her. It requires a lot of patience.  It was not as easy as I thought. There were plenty of times I felt my efforts put in seemed pointless. She just
couldn’t get it.
Whenever
I felt like giving up, I always reminded myself, do the best and God will do the
rest. Rui Ci and Jed, our coordinators always reminded us not to demand the
outcome and to not be discouraged if we are not able to see the outcome
instantly. I fully agree with them in this case. 3 weeks is just too short to
get everything done. It requires long-term efforts from a lot of parties to
achieve the goal of the project. I am glad she could finally remember some simple words that I taught her when I gave her a call after returning from Bario. 😀 😀
Anyway, it was an amazing 3 weeks journey in Bario. The experiences I have undergone
are among those I would treasure for the rest of my life.
I hope this post gives you a basic idea of ProjectWHEE! and perhaps inspire you as well. 

Cheers!

😀
Become a farmer? Yes? No?

Become a farmer? Yes? No?

What is your dream?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
To become a doctor?
A lawyer?
A teacher?
An engineer?
… …
How about a farmer?
“Farmers farm for the love of farming. They
love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the
presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe
even when it is making them miserable.” –
Wendell Berry.
The joy of a farmer – hard work paid off! 🙂
Tepuq Ribed with her harvested crops (tapioca)
Based on Wendell Berry’s quote, it might sound interesting to be a farmer but the reality might
disappoint you. Farmers do a lot of physical
labour every day.
In
Bario, many of the farmers are
elderly women. Throughout my three weeks’ stay in Bario, I barely saw any youngsters
helping these old ladies in the paddy field or in the farm.
I am
Gen-Y and I somehow understand why young people nowadays don’t like to work in the
paddy field. It is neither an easy job nor an effortless money-making venture.
It is tough and it involves a lot of accountability. To be a farmer, you have
to be exposed under the sun most of the time, you would have to handle materials and tools that could easily get you dirty or injure your fingers, or wounds in the blink of an eye.
It
is not as interesting as it sounds. And it doesn’t sound ‘cool’ when you
tell people you want to become a farmer when all your friends are very “ambitious”; that they want to become a doctor, an astronaut or an engineer. Can you imagine what would happen when none of the young generation wants to become farmers? What
if the existing farmers – the old ladies – pass away in the future??
Who
is going to take up the role/responsibility to grow paddy or be an ecotourism community guide, as we are now training them to be?
Buy imported rice?
Hire cheap foreign labour to solve the problem?
Can these foreign workers fully replace the locals?
I
guess all of us would have an answer deep down in our hearts.
I realised there’s something severely flawed in our society – in terms of ambitions and aspirations. Most of us are being told that we should become doctors, lawyers, and scientists instead of farmers or fishermen when we were kids. But…hey guys!! Each
and every job is equal. All jobs
deserve a decent pay and respect from people. There is no such thing that a
job is more superior to another job. Do you think the world is complete if everyone wants to become an engineer? Where should we get our food then? 
All of us are different. Diversity is what makes our world as interesting as it is today. How boring if everyone has the same ambition? If you want to become a farmer, there is nothing to be
ashamed of. Just aim to be the best farmer in the world! 
Remember, nothing in this world is easy. Likewise, nothing is hard. As long as you have the passion, farming could be interesting even if most people think it is tough. Just keep the passion going ! ^o^/~
Tepuq Ribed (the happy farmer) and me. 😀
Inevitability of Farewell Redefined

Inevitability of Farewell Redefined


I always dreamt of building a
world filled with people I crossed paths with. People who impacted me so deeply
that they would leave a crack in my heart that can never be filled by anyone
else. However, goodbyes are inevitable in this world. Every time the moment comes
to bid goodbye to a community, family or a group of friends that I grew close
to, my heart bleeds.

“Don’t be so old school
la. Now kan got technology. Got Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype etc etc. We can
always keep in touch.” These are often the remarks I get when I try to tell
others that things are never going to be the same once we are separated by
distance. Don’t you agree with me that your priorities change and you ‘keep in
touch’ by texting or calling but the emptiness is always felt?
So,
what’s the point of making new connections in the first place, if farewells are
inevitable at one point or another in life? I was dwelling upon this thought
when I first landed in Bario. I was ready to meet the community but not so
ready to open myself up to anyone. As we (Project WHEE! participants) first
arrived in the Bario Asal Longhouse, we were greeted by faces unknown to us
with genuine smiles and handshakes. I felt welcomed as if I was returning home after spending years away.
 

Excited faces after landing in Bario 🙂
        
On the back of 4WD on our way to Bario Asal Longhouse

  

My
question about the farewell was only answered during my second working day with
Sina Mayda (the lady I was assigned to in Arur Dalan). We went to the paddy
field earlier than usual to avoid working under the hot sun. The 15-minute walk
to her paddy field felt short due to our singing and her explaining about the
wide range of flora along the way.
The way to Sina Mayda’s paddy field
The view of the paddy field after harvesting season.

While we were collecting grass that had already been cut by a Penan
worker in her paddy field,

‘Uding Aran (my Kelabit name, first part was given by Tepuq Sina Rang
while the second part was by Sina Mayda), apa orang India buat masa orang
meninggal dunia (what do Indians do when someone passes away)?’,

Sina (mother in Kelabit) asked. She had been curious about our way of
life since the first day I met her. This was one of the many questions she
posed. As I explained about the Indian funeral rites, I also learnt about the
Kelabits’ methods of conducting funerals. She also related death to farewell
which led me not to look at farewells the same way ever again.

Her way of reasoning (which was in Malay) is as
follows:

‘Death is certain. We all know that, right? The same applies to
farewells. I am aware that farewell is inevitable even in our
relationship. So, if I cry when you leave, that doesn’t mean that I want you to
stay with me forever. It is just a momentary sadness. I would still be happy
because you’re leaving for good to continue your life in a direction that is
just different than mine. That thought of separation from each other’s life is
not going to stop me from embracing you and this relationship and be grateful
that our paths crossed.’ 

Those words struck a chord in me. So, there she was, standing in a paddy
field, her feet in mud, shedding light on another way to look at
farewells; and there I was, learning in the least expected place, that what
matters the most is the moments spent and the presence which should be
embraced.

After 22 days in
Bario, when the day of farewell finally came, it was a different farewell from
all the others I experienced. My heart didn’t bleed much; rather it
swelled with gratitude for the memories created, lessons learnt and connections
made in the Bario highlands.

“Farewell is said by the living, in life, every day. It is said with
love and friendship, with the affirmation that the memories are lasting if the
flesh is not.” – R.A Salvatore

-Srinithya aka Uding Aran-
When Silence Becomes A Language

When Silence Becomes A Language

This was inspired by the quietness of Bario
where the whisper of the breeze and the clucks of chickens are more audible
compared to the incessant beeping of phones and the chatter of humans. Also, I was really impressed by the work of the quiet but creative kids at the local primary and secondary school. They had
a different way of learning and expressing their creativity. Their virtual
worlds were filled with ideas about A.I. robots, mind-controlling gaming
devices, living on a rainbow and many more mind blowing things. I would like to
express my feelings of experiencing those quiet moments using the least words
possible. (after all it is about silence)


  When silence is no longer awkward,
  It becomes a moment to listen deeply to
another person’s heartbeat,

  A device to look close into another
soul’s perception,

  An instrument to harmonize with nature.


  When silence doesn’t drive you crazy
anymore,

  It becomes a tool to delve into your
imagination,

  A mirror to reflect your being,
  A way to reconsider the way you live.


 When silence becomes a language, that’s
where the beauty of life unfolds.




On top of Prayer Mountain 

Srinithya aka Uding Aran-