Compassion to those who say hard things is possibility of a good lesson for the path

There is no day that Mr. Colly does not send messages to me. I met him in Vietnam last year in October. Andre was looking at something and I saw this older man saying hard things to no one. Saying critical words to Vietnam. Being me, I went to speak to him. I felt and still do that he is very sad.

He is from England and he loves China. He worked in China and found a girl that will be this year his wife, and as I spoke to him, I felt sad. I however thought it was cruel to abandon him, so Andre and I invited him to eat together. He chose an Indian place because it was close. He is so full of information. He speaks nonstop.

He was so critical to Vietnam and had huge admiration of the power of China. When I told him I love HH Dalai Lala he told me in china most people want him killed.

Mr. Colly is from Oxford, he is intelligent but so unhappy. I even gave him my WhatsApp number, he sends messages every day to me. They are articles, photos, and china anthem. I make him speak to Andre. He talks to him sometimes and I do it because I know what it is loneliness and sadness. He never accepts my perception.

His perception is the power of China which is the reality. For his reality UK broke but he also has a passport of the US and is getting married with a Chinese woman “That is powerful”.

Mr. Colly attacks the president of Brasil, Bolsonaro. Talks about the huge violence there is in Brasil. The murders etc. nothing really makes me feel too bad because I know it is true.

He sais “China is growing fast, The UK is broke, there is too much difference of classes in Brasil.”

I dislike the president, I am for the Indigenous in Brasil but I don’t read so many articles but when he talks and sends photos of Tibetans being hurt I suffered very much.

Many years ago, I went for the first time to India with Haiko. He had been there before, but I had not even thought of going. I arrived and I was shocked. Those who have been to India and are not from a tradition of there know it is hard.

India makes us wake up. India should never been seen for weeks. You have to learn to deal with the hard and then you start to love India. There is no middle way. Either you love or you hate.

I hated India when I arrived but as I stayed so I love so much. And I went back and always miss India. When I went the first time I arrived and went to Mc Leod Ganj. Haiko and I were atheist, agnostics and when we arrived there, we saw that HH Dalai Lama was giving a free course of Buddhism.

We went there and as I sat close to two women. They spoke Portuguese of the style of Brasil, so I said Hello and they were surprised I was from Brasil. I spoke to them and we became friends when HH Dalai Lama arrived.

I could tell a million things of what I have and am learning of Tibetan Buddhism. Denise made me meet HH Karmapa and I was shocked. I thought it would be like seeing Dalai Lama with many people around.

Dalai Lama when he saw monks of different clothes of Tibet, he returned to put them close to him. I was amazed. Dalai Lama amazed me he did not ask anyone to be Buddhist, did not consider different style of Buddhism was bad. So, when I was invited to see Karmapa I accepted without knowing what it meant.

I took my computer to find out since we had done a deal with Denise who invited us. I found out he was considered the Tibetan monk who had reincarnated 17 times, most for compassion. He had done more than HH Dalai Lama.

I was amazed but I went imagining it would be like seeing Dalai Lama full of foreigners to hear a class. I was right. There were many people there to see him, but there were many Tibetans who came to see him. I was amazed by it.

Denise then explained me when the course finished we had a private meeting with HH Karmapa because she had organized a long time before, I was shocked. I was not using specific clothes to see him. When I ask how to buy one. A monk gave me a scarf as a gift. I have it til today.

My private meeting was amazing. HH Karmapa knew about my brain and I was shocked. Me the non-believer was very moved. I will not tell more about this.

I want to tell that because the amazing gift Denise asked me to give, a favor which was to bring clothes to London. That was even a most amazing gift. The clothes were for Lama Lobsang who taught Buddhism in England and Europe. He used to come to my house. I used to go to his house and this way I learned so much about Buddhism.

I became very close to Tibetans and when I met Lingtrul Rinpoche it became even more clear that those tears that came suddenly, he explained it is because we know each other for many lives.

That also happened in Peru when I met Isabel who lives in Peru but is from Chile. I met her through Tibetan Buddhism. She is very close to Tibetans.

Yesterday I read a little about Mr. Colly I told him we would never be the same. “I would always love Dalai Lama and you would always think like a Chinese.” He told me only by Tibetans via China and that all younger Tibetans are getting money from China. They are learning Mandarin and that HH does nothing. I kept saying it is the same style of those who want to change the indigenous in Brasil. They do not accept different traditions.

I wonder why the world is so divided like that? The truth is that Mr. Colly thinks that the Tibetans will be happier with money and forgetting ideas of traditions. I do not understand how could it be that material things are the important thing in life. It is hard to relate to those people who give value to material things.

The most interesting is that I did Vipassana before and was vegetarian for a long time. I had never realized why. Mr. Colly in January he was eating a dog. I was so sad. But the truth I never liked eating an animal thinking they have thoughts.

Mr. Colly makes me return and understand that my friend Machiek, who has done Vipassana for a very long time, reminds me it is there that I started to not eat animals. I ate again when I forgot.

Vipassana is present in many countries and teaches to be present and meditate without talking, reading, phones.

I don’t say you have to do it. I say try if you are in a case of “I am here and need every second a film, a book, a work. If you need peace. Try to do Vipassana.

China wants Tibet different for economic reasons. No money will solve our internal problems. Mr. Colly would never do Vipassana. I speak to him as much as I can. I realized that sometimes even with his hard words, makes me go back to be vegetarian and to find how the path was.

With our falls, always should be seen as a positive to go back to the path that we had as a child, or the place we were better with the hopes of you and the others.

Equality, Respect and Responsibility


I come from a very different world. I am from Brazil. I have been to both middle east and India. And I love both places. I travelled by myself every time and to be quite honest I was  never afraid of people.

Today someone sent me these photos asking for feminism in India. They are beautiful. All of them. But as I watched, and read I kept thinking we should not substitute  male chauvinism for feminism. We should walk the path of equality of rights, justice, and respect to all.



I stayed in the houses of people I met along the way. And because of that I have an unabated faith on humanity in general.  So much so that even now, after almost dying last year, I bought another ticket to travel on my own to the northeast and north of Brazil. It is true, that as a woman all men in busses would stare at me… But I would speak to them. They would get quite shocked in India, but eventually those who initially had been agressive protected me from something I never really knew what it was. I was never mistreated anywhere, nor have I stopped  going somewhere alone.



When it was Ramadan and I was in Kashmir I followed it, in Morocco no one asked me to do it and I followed it… in fact no one ever asked me to follow Ramadan because I am not a muslim. I did it anyway…or almost did it because in Morocco I drank water. Out of respect to the place where I was in I drank without anyone seeing. I veiled in mosques, and outside in the streets of Hebron, in Palestine also not because they asked me, simply because the women put it in my head and they thought i looked beautiful in a hijab.

Brazil, is another world. We walk half naked, we go in very small bikinis to the beach… and it is also not exactly a choice…. We are taught to do it. So many beautiful women go under non necessary plastic surgery for no other reason but to satisfy a society that values the body of a model.  Educated women fully believe they they choose to do that. But choice is such and intriguing thing…. How much do we actually consciously choose?

Do the indigenous who always walk naked dress now because they choose? Do they even keep these clothes on once non indigenous leave? Do they have higher rate of rape because people are naked?

How do we know what is choice? Do we like choice? The burden that comes with it?

Nowadays, I stop and I think… will a person be separated from society? Will they not get a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a wife/husband  a friend if they have not behaved in the way they believe they are choosing ( and is also the same way most people in that society is behaving). What happens then? Are they marginalised?  Are the answers to all of my questions about their social engagement is immediately NO?  Then we should know this is not a choice, It is a social practice, some way we were taught to behave  in that society, it is not really a choice. There is not really anything wrong to follow society. But we should know it is not a non-influenced choice.

I saw all pictures from this community called “The Logical Indian”. It is beautiful. But more importantly as I started in the beginning of this post  we should not exchange male chauvinism to feminism. We should fight for justice, respect and equal rights. So that people can evaluate really what it is that they are choosing.And finally, this is a path that should be walked not only in India but in the whole world.


But that in fact asks from all of us total responsibility….and I am not sure everybody  really wants that.


My First Interview- Mosaic the Path In Between

Dear friends as I keep getting questions about people who cant get my book. And I def want that all of you who want to are able to read it.. Here it goes:

1. It is only available online now…
2. You can buy it in any amazon in any country you are!!!!.
The link i put was the one local to the UK but you can find it in any amazon inthe world 🙂
3. You do not need to have a kindle to read it.
You can download the application of kindle for ipads, smart phones, computers for free
Here for downloading kindke app
The book is called
Mosaic the Path in Between
You can get it in any amazon!
This is the link to the UK one,
 if uou are not in the UK go to the site of amazon in your country and search for the book with the title
Mosaic, the path in betweev
If you have any problem let me kbow!  🙂 and if you are reading .. Please let ne know about it!!
Love Jules in Rome in ny way back to Asia 🙂


by Eduardo Simantob, (Journalist, Zurich – Switzerland)

1. You have been to a few hotspots in the world (Kashmir, Palestine). How is it to travel in places like this, being a woman?

JF – People ask me this quite often, but I had to pass by a certain psychological “preparation”. I used to fear going to a place as charged as Palestine, but there was a situation I lived once in Paris, in a very dodgy neighborhood, where I was faced with a very hostile encounter with a young Algerian in the street at night. But eventually we had a very interesting exchange, and the estrangement and hostility turned into empathy and understanding. Suddenly I felt I was ready. That night I felt I could go anywhere. Palestine, Kashmir, slums in Brazil, any conflict zone.

In all of these places I was welcomed. Not because I was parading as a savior, simply because I was just plain human. People know it, they can feel it. When you try to be respectful people act accordingly. More often than not my Palestinian and Kashmiri friends were intrigued by what they called “my goodness”. They usually took me in, and often told me I had to be very careful in the next village. Once I left them I should pay more attention, not all people are as nice as they were, they would say. I guess this deep fear of the unknown is a common thing everywhere. And though I know most of my friends shiver just to think of me talking openly to strangers…. I can’t avoid it. I find the risk of dying or being hurt really less scary than the reality of not knowing the other.

2. How does the fact of being a Brazilian woman affect the access to the people, and to the stories you tell?

JF – Being a woman makes it harder and easier at the same time, though I don’t know how it is to be a man. But being a woman makes it possible to be anywhere in a more gentle way. All people I met had mothers; some had sisters, and daughters. Whenever people were aggressive I usually asked about their family. I never felt scared for being a woman anywhere. Fortunately it has been so long that I do not feel harassed that I barely know how I react to this. I usually talk back to people. And they get puzzled, and eventually start telling me their stories. Or else, when they could not talk to me, they would offer sweets in a bus, or a smile… I really cannot think of a time when I felt really scared.

Being Brazilian also makes a huge difference. I did not notice it immediately… but soon enough I realized that by the fact that Brazil is mainly known for football and carnival, it made people relate to me very differently. Not having a history of being a colonial power, or an imperial power (although in Latin America this perception is a bit different) often allowed me to ask whatever I wanted. Having been born in Brazil also prepared me to the idea of syncretism and to accept difference, in spite of all economic problems arising from the enormous inequality that exists there. We usually boast how we are used to difference, but it took me a long time to feel at home in Brazil again. And if there is one thing I do admire from where I come from is the usual acceptance people have towards difference. And of course, the proverbial optimism and joy. Being Brazilian allowed me to always laugh and to be emotional at things. Seeing difference was the norm in my life rather than the exception. So people often ask me about football players or Carnival, which are happy events. It makes my journeys significantly easier.

3. You avoided taking sides when describing the conflict zones you travel through, and keep the politics in the back. But how could you describe yourself, politically?

JF – My book came out of a series of emails I sent to people to explain the place I was in. I was, and still am, more interested in people than in the political reality of a place. I studied international politics and social sciences, so I was not unaware of the political facts on the ground. But I felt misinformed by it. I find it very important to know the history of a place, yet what always moves me are personal stories. And the more I wrote about them the more I realized how similar we are in the world.

As an anthropologist I always defended the plurality of the world. I wanted to cherish the languages, the cultural manifestations, and as a student of psychology I also always felt we were exactly the same everywhere. It did not matter even whether I spoke the language of the place, soon enough I could grasp what was going on.

The reason I never write that much about politics in my e- mails is because politics permeate the world where we live, but if we focus too much on it we are taken by ideas and lose touch with the human aspect.

I don’t even classify myself politically anymore. I am interested in people, but without ever losing the notion that we are the same in diversity. It is tricky when you think of borders, that on one hand they should  preserve differences, and yet, on the other we should  not allow them to fully separate us  from the other.

4. And spiritually?

JF – Brazil is a very syncretic country. I was born in a Catholic family who is not practicing and that doesn’t attend church. As a child I believed in nothing, and had no affiliation to any specific religion. As soon as I could define myself as something, I would say I was an agnostic. Later, following the trends of the time I became a fundamentalist atheist. Until I met a friend who is deeply involved into religious studies, and asked him whether he was a “believer”.

He said, “I guess I am a believer trapped in the body of an atheist”. To what I replied, “I guess I am an atheist in the body of a believer.” We became very good friends ever since. I believe both of us relieved our atheist parts somewhere along the path. I have always felt both.  Sometimes a believer trapped in an atheist body, sometimes an atheist trapped in a believer body. Never were the two in the same place at the same time. Till the day I stopped trying to be that coherent. Nowadays I am very interested in religious beliefs, but my biggest religious practice has to do with compassion. A value I learned to understand better with Dostoyevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov”, and that I see in almost all religious manifestations in the world.

5. What is the meaning of the “path in between”?

JF – I wanted to call my book ‘In-betweeners’ because I always felt we were trapped in between worlds, ideas etc. But something that happened in Brazil made me realize that we do not have to choose all the time. We do not have to be perfect. We have to make a Mosaic. Mosaic is a celebration of art. It is a celebration of what is made by hand, the art of the possible. Taking things that were broken and making something better with them. Something beautiful. And celebrating what is most human: living the symbolic.

Art is for me the best manifestation of humanity. And a mosaic is a form of art that leaves the idea of perfection (in disruption) aside. A mosaic is beautiful because it is made of pieces. We are all made of pieces.

What matters is the journey, not where we come from or where we end. This movement to go back is a search for belonging and we belong both to the All and to a specific thing. We must go back to realize that we are inheritors of all the joy and pain that exists.

The middle path is a Taoist idea, a Chinese concept. But it is something beyond that I wanted to bring, because it has nothing to do with being in the middle as being “right”, “correct”, but of being really in between things, conflicts, ideas. It contains the idea of the middle from Buddhism. But not a perfect middle.Just in between, in what humans are; in this human experience we can make a mosaic.

But this is just one narrative. There are others and they should all be heard. Because it is only in hearing the other that we find our own voice. And I have finally found mine.

6. What was your plan when you started to write your blog, and how did it change in the course of your travels?

JF – My book is in fact a series of emails I started to write to my friends when I first went to volunteer in Asia.

As soon as I started asking people whether what I wrote about them was ok, they told me they wanted to be part of my list to know about the other people I met. Soon many of the people I had met were reading my stories somewhere else. This has fundamentally changed the way I wrote because all that I saw I wanted to share with people I had left on the journey. So my emails were always an attempt to share with others what I saw.

Once I started going back to places, my writing changed again. I remember a class I attended at the LSE where Professor Fuller explained how his experience with the people he researched made him much more accurate.

“When you write about people in Tuvalu and they do not read you, you can say anything. Now when you talk about Indian Brahmins and they will read you and be in your audience, you have to be more careful”.

I often thought of those words when I wrote about Palestinians and Israelis. I always knew they would read it. I needed to be as accurate as I could. That is why, when I published my book and I asked people whether I could write about them, they said yes. Not only they knew me, but they had read me. They knew what I wrote was what they had told me.

7. Did you change much of your writings when transcribing your blog to the book? Is the voice you found in the book the same as the one in the blog?

JF – Most of my writing is exactly as it was. The only corrections were made by my editors for most of these emails were typed from my I-Phone or I-Pad, and I simply never edit anything. I don’t know how to, and was always on the go.

8. Do you think that your experience as an anthropologist is more an advantage or a hindrance to your sensibility?

JF – I actually am not sure. I believe I was born an anthropologist because of my interest in the other. In the beginning I used social theories, political theory, cognitive theory to attempt to understand life. Then this was all thrashed. I guess I took from anthropology the admiration for a plural world, and from cognition an interest in the things that connect people. From my Professors Rita Astuti and Maurice Bloch I learned that what people say and what people think can be fundamentally different. Maybe from my whole time in academic life this is the most important lesson I have learned. What people say usually has to do with society, now what people feel and think…. that is way harder to tap into scientifically.

9. You studied music and have composed quite a few songs. Is your music some kind of link to Brazil, or do you feel it more in tune with your international experience?

JF – Well, I started to compose when I was a child. I used to feel that Brazilian music touched my soul while other music travelled to other places in my body. Nowadays I do not feel that anymore. I remember hearing Klezmer in Brazil and feeling I was a nomad. Music connects me to my body, and that is where home is to me.

10. Do you still feel like writing songs?

JF – I am not sure. Since it is quite hard for me to sing now, because of a health issue, it is difficult to say. I love playing with a French musician called GaspardDeloison, a very talented boy I met in Asia. Gaspard has the ability to transform what he hears in something more beautiful. He is so humble that he can’t see it. If I ever were to record a cd it would have to be with him. Yet I prefer nowadays to just play the piano (which I can’t actually play).

“Mosaic, The Path in Between” can be purchased for kindle. You do not need to have a Kindle to read it.  If you do not have kindle you may download a kindle app for free on your phone, Ipads, or computers.

For Kindle here:



“Mosaic” is the journey of a woman who always

felt lost, but who never feared the Other, and went after It. It is the journey of a woman coming of age while trying to understand boundaries as well as her roots

in search of a sense of home. It is a human journey through her body and with a soul open to

record the so many voices that helped her finally find her own. The voices of Thais, Palestinians, Israelis, Tibetans, Europeans

and so many others, calling for a gentler world, a world in which all of us feel less alone.

The book does not follow a strict chronological order. Instead, it delves on an inner path. Mosaic starts with an old self of the author, still naïve but at the same time quite skeptical of faiths, dogmas and deep-rooted beliefs, leaving a precocious and short- lived marriage to do voluntary work in a school in Thailand. It is a seemingly harmless world, and her travels then also follow no plan or any specific curiosity, until she decides to focus her PhD in a research about how Israelis and Palestinians perceive and act upon the very idea of peace. Suddenly the individual stories and the humanity of the people she meets become much more interesting than any academic work. The PhD will eventually be dropped, but the trip will rage on up to the limits of physical endurance, as she is faced with odd health issues, the proximity of death and a reassessment of spirituality. She starts to realize that “home” transcends geography; it is made by people, by love, by managing to conciliate her roots with the antennae that connect her to the wider world.

The book also includes original illustrations done by artists Thomaz Bondioli (São Paulo/Amsterdam),Valérie Ciriadès (São Paulo/Belgium), Sandra Naxara(São Paulo) and Mounia Dadi (Marrakesh). Original graphic design made by Gustavo Soares (Rio de Janeiro).

“Mosaic, The Path in Between” can be purchased for kindle. You do not need to have a Kindle to read it.  If you do not have kindle you may download a kindle app for free on your phone, Ipads, or computers.

For Kindle here:

Mosaic, The Path in Between


Julieta Falavina (1981) was born in São Paulo, Brazil, but attended French schools in order to follow a constant curriculum while following her parents’ errands. At the age of 19 she won a Fulbright scholarship and graduated in Music and Anthropology at Hofstra University (New York), later continuing her studies at University of Amsterdam (Social Sciences & Conflict Resolution) and finally settling at the London School of Economics, where she completed her Masters in Cognitive Anthropology

and started the PhD program. She was also teaching assistant at Birkbeck College and University of East London in Political Approaches to Social Conflict (2011).

Julieta’s nomadic life started at a tender age, having lived in Buenos Aires and in South Australia still in her teens. While pursuing her academic career in Europe, she traveled extensively in South America, Southeast Asia, India, North Africa and the Middle East. In 2009, while volunteering in Thailand, she began to narrate her stories via e-mail to about 20 friends. The characters in her stories started to become readers, too, firstly to know what was being told about them, but then to also follow the world through the eyes of someone they knew so well. Soon the mailing list had more than 500 names, many of them replicating the stories to their own friends. In parallel, Julieta kept two blogs, one in English and another in Portuguese (with different contents), where newcomers could read what she had written before. As a prolific songwriter, Julieta has also dozens of songs composed in several languages, and many of them can be seen in her own YouTube channel. She is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian and French.

Links: (blog English) (blog Portuguese) (YouTube Channel)

“Mosaic, The Path in Between” can be purchased for kindle. You do not need to have a Kindle to read it.  If you do not have kindle you may download a kindle app for free on your phone, Ipads, or computers.

For Kindle here:

Mosaic, The Path in Between

Posted on May 4, 2013


Dear friends as I keep getting questions about people who cant get my book. And I def want that all of you who want to are able to read it.. Here it goes:

1. It is only available online now…
2. You can buy it in any amazon in any country you are!!!!.
The link i put was the one local to the UK but you can find it in any amazon inthe world 🙂
3. You do not need to have a kindle to read it.
You can download the application of kindle for ipads, smart phones, computers for free
Here for downloading kindke app
The book is called
Mosaic the Path in Between
You can get it in any amazon!
This is the link to the UK one,
 if uou are not in the UK go to the site of amazon in your country and search for the book with the title
Mosaic, the path in betweev
If you have any problem let me kbow!  🙂 and if you are reading .. Please let ne know about it!!
Love Jules in Rome in ny way back to Asia 🙂

“ It is not because I do not know my way. It is because I love you. And when we part we should know that. we should make it as a ritual. So that I know that  a piece of me is going. And i kneed to know that.”


Dear friends,


I know I owe an email to you. I started this email on the plane. And I will finish today as I am about to fly tomorrow to London.

Bear with me, I still make the same mistakes as usual.


So it starts…

Here I am again, on a plane. The first 4 hours I slept non stop. I was exhausted. For those of you who do not know I am flying to Switzerland to show my book in a sort of literary Salon.


Yes, that’s the news… I finally published a book!

Last year I started to write for a Magazine called Varal do Brasil, and while I was in Colombia they sent me an email inviting to join them in this literature salon in Geneva (May 1st-5th 2013)


I thought it was cool although I did not have any book to show. Once I came home I told my father and he said it was preposterous… especially because it was already the end of January, there was simply no time to write, edit and publish anything. “Think about next year”, he said.


My friend Claudia Alcantara, however, took the initiative and enrolled me in the Salon.


Claudia used to have a very normal job, and she disliked the curls in her hair, which is something very common in Brazil, some old traces of racism hard to die. She also disliked the way hairdressers worked the issue. So she decided to find out how the process was done. She ended up writing a manual to straighten hair and it started selling all over Brazil.


Hairdressers were impressed and started to ask her whether she also had some related products to sell? She didn’t. After a few emails with the same request, she decided to say yes.


She went around, studied some chemistry and invented a product based in the stuff that already existed, and she mixed chocolate into it.


Nowadays Claudia is the owner of a cosmetics brand called Cadiveu, and she sells her products for over 50 countries. Cadiveu has a brilliant website and you can read more about it here


Claudia is someone who always believed in good ideas. She sold a product before it existed because she believed it could exist. She enrolled me in a literary salon to show a book in Geneva before I had a book.


And now I am in a plane with two suitcases filled with books.


It is called “Mosaic, the Path in Between”.


Mosaic, is the art of what is possible. Nowadays I even think of it as the art of the impossible.


This book is a call for a more human world. It contains many of the emails I wrote throughout these last years…. It contains 4 mains ideas… Al Naqbah ( the great disaster when Palestinians lost their homes, but here I expand it to the huge disaster that most of us do not know where wer come from), borders ( what are they for?), Inbetweeners ( the feeling of always being trapped between worlds), and a search for home.


It contains the voices that many that I encountered Thais, Moroccans,  Israelis, Palestinians, Tibetans, Colombians, Braizlians and soo many others… to eventually reach the voices of my own family.


It is a treaty of love,…. that could not have been made in 2 months if people all over the world had not helped it take shape/


I owe special thanks to Andrey my Russian friend in Sweden for reading it, commenting it, and even helping edit it when we were all running out of time. Haiko Ballieux, my ex husband, my great friend from Holland who edited from the UK and the US,  Eduardo Simantob who is Arabic and Jewish and Brazilian and who edited from Switzerland in all of his spare time, Andrew Tope, who is British who edited on a plane between the US and UK. Then I have to thank the people of the Design Gustavo Soares, who I know since my Uni time, who designed this book in Rio while we still edited. He did the design in his spare time, while worki full time  and taking care of his 1 year old daughter,  Thomaz Bondioli  who is Brazlian/Portuguese and lives in Holland for making all maps and Illustrations. And Victor Mendes  in Sao Paulo for making the files online so that we could be doing this all over the world.


The Maps are hand made. They represent my experience.  Middle East map was particularly difficult for us to make. But once I was approved by a Palestinian and an Israeli I cried.


Then I must say that, the time was running so short that we had to ask  other people from other fields to help us.  Sabrina Rabelllo, brilliant  composer, and  who did  Phd in physics  at Kings College and Post Doc in Harward!, Henrique Sa Earp who did PhD mathematics in Imperial College and now is teacher at the univrersity of Campinas in Brasil. Marcello Sorrentino who did his Phd  in anthropology at the LSE where I left mine :)   Marcelo Fortaleza Flores who is an anthropologist and filmaker who lived in the AMazon for 6 years and had studied with Krishna Murti, taught me in the US, then at the Sorboonne. And Elizabeth Ings who is British  and is a writer and whom I met meditating in Vipassana. Finally Marisa Silveira who is in the US, and is from RIo and did her Phd in Linguistics at UCL also edited parts of this book.


Then came the art…. Thomaz decided to make some amazing illustration to represent the tougher chapter. He asked me to tell him. I sent him a song I had composed  and he made the illustrations of the chapter called Amit.Image

Then came Sandra….


Ok, Sandra came before. Sandra makes amazing Mosaic. And I asked her why she made Mosaic. And she told me she did them because she like doing art but was clumsy. She broke things. So she made a Mosaic. I told her that day, in the beach… that is beautiful. Mosaic is the art of what is possible. A celebration of that has been shattered but we make something beautiful with. That is how may book went from being in Betweeners to Mosaic…… Because it was a celebration of these in between things… the art of what is possible.


And so  I asked Sandra whether she could send me a picture of a Mosaic. She did. We had one day. The resolution was wrong. And she told me she collected the pieces to that mosaic by the thames… pieces she imagined that had floated…. had a journey. We managed to get the resolution by Sunday ok. We had to delivered by Monday morning.



Actually I managed to convince Jacqueline the lady responsible for Varal to Brazil and for me being there now to allow me to bring the books with me so that we could get 2 extra days. Now we needed till monday morning.


Then my childhood friend whom I had not seen in decades came to visit and now as the very famous fashion designer Valerie Ciriades came for a visit. I asked her. Can you do me one drawing. She told me she no longer drew. She only did clothes. For when Jules? Tomorrow… And so I told her. Seat when you have time and read the part of the book mosaic of voices…about my family… which she knows well…. and if it comes you send it to me. It came… and to me it is how she sees me. It makes me happy because it is how I like to see myself today.. feminine, delicate and like music.


And  then Monday we were all ready to send… and Gustavo had a doctors appointment….. and  then Mounia wrote me to Congratulate me….Mounia Dadi in Morocco. The brilliant painter, and my dear friend


It was in her house that I first had my  first ever epileptic attack. It was after seeing her art. Her whole following collection she  later told me was inspired on what had happened to me. So as I was about to print the book on monday… It felt now.. it is ready it has  to have Mounia’s painting


I asked her and she immediately said yes. and sent what she felt it represented me searching others. I sent an sms to Gustavo… Gu Don’t kill me… we need to put one more image. Can we please….??


Resolutions wrong, electricity down… all working magically for her painting finishing my book.


I knew it was then right!


It was over.


We sent at 4 monday to Fabio my Grpahic Producer, and also a great friend of my father…. and he told me He was uncertain we could have them before monday.. when I flew.

I suddenly wanted Sunday because I wanted to release my book, our book in Brasil… and it was all ready at 9 am saturday.

We released at the casa do Nucleo with Benjamim Taubking palying piano ( though he had to travel soon), and me telling the story ot the book.  I won’t tell the story now. I am tired, I think I have said it all now.

I am on plane. I fly to finally deliver the book to Geneva. Just like Claudia believed one day it would happen.


The release was beautiful we made a mosaic…. a mosaic that features pieces put by my 88 year old grandmother and my 5 year old cousins of second degree. My dear dear dear friends were there. And now I fly. They all hugged me very strongly telling me staying 6 months away was too much.


It is true…. as I fly here..  I agree… I ll miss them too much. That is thought when you have finally made home inside. Then you can realise all the homes you had all over. All the love you have to all and you feel this uncontrollable desire to go there… and give one more hug, an now, our book…. which all of them feature,


So that I wrote on the plane. Here I met Edu my main editor. Who told me, we need to edit proper now, and then we would release online on amazon. I cried. I felt my book was not good. I still went to the fair. edu explain to me over and over the book was good. But it had to be edited by one person thoroughly. He read my my whole book. And we are doing that.

He drove to fair. And I met amazing people. There was so much. So many people I felt so tired. ALl the tlack of sleep suddenly appeared. And I made a new friend. Nairubia and indigenous gril from a tribe called Iny in the island of Bananal. She put her hands in my lip. Closed them. She touched my face. She was there as the artist of the illustrations of the book. She was so special that I walk out.


She look into my eyes. Adns she said. He knew of your pain, dont ever let the light go away. Darkeness is just absence of light. She touched my face. Caressed my temples. She sang. And she said


“ I have nothing to teach you. You know. but one thing. dont get out of the litght anymore”


And then she gave me a profound gift. She told me people like me make her want to live. It imediatelly came to me the conversation I had with an anthropologist who told me the indigenous were different. I looked into her eyes. And I knew what I preached in my whole book was truly real. That day I felt… I don’t know indigenous people. As Nairubia touched my faced. Released the tension from my eyes. I knew compassion exactly the same anywhere is always [present. I cried.


I asked her whether she wanted me to take her back to the place where authors were and she said yes.


“ It is not because I do not know my way. It because I love you. And when we part we should know that. we should make it as a ritual. as if a piece of me is going. And i kneed to know that.”


I knew fully what she meant. I walked with her. we toasted with juice. We hugged. and I felt in place.



Then I cam home. The house of the travelling family you will read about. I met them on the road. Seing them again was like a part of me was being made put back. They cooked for me, they hugged me. We remembered all that once was. I am happy.Image


Edu took care of me for all the time he could. They take care of me now, and tomorrow I fly to London.



It is all good in this side of the world. And it will always be good wherever I am because I am in place.



from Switzerland

On the Path to Dance

I still climb. My hands are harder and harder. I confess it is almost like the closest I´ve ever been to a pure meditative state. I have finally really rock climbed for the first time these days… and as I stood there in the rock with a rope holding me, and my brain sending signals, which did not mime my internal desire, I had dissonant thoughts. Though I believed with certainty I was safe, my whole body ignored my thoughts, the adrenalin was released in my body, and I shivered.


It all stood further, and further, the people, the stories, the preoccupation. It all became more and more distant. It almost did no longer belong to you, and you seemed to just not to belong to the world at all. Sometimes, I am back, and I feel both the complete certainty that climbing does not belong to this body,  with the certainty that in no other way could I now exist.


I thank the rock. I thank the beautiful Spanish girl who gently tells me the secrets into climbing. She who looks exactly like many of the travelers I have met around the world. She is the embodiment of movement and kindness. She does not get how much it means that she is there. Her gentle words. I think about that. How rarely do we actually know how our words do affect the world around.

And as I climb I am suddenly back to every single mountain I had once been before. What is it about mountains I have often wondered?


I remember the hardest and most difficult mountain I had once climbed. I was then in Ladakh. In the north of India. I had taken every single form of transportation, and all kinds of permits to arrive in a little village, which had been closed to tourists till some months before.


It was a terrifying journey, driving through roads that were always too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time. It always felt like magic when we crossed trucks horning and not having any of us fall down the abyss. It was a ride seeing the dryness of the Himalayas, and the Buddhism represented by monks, stupas ( Buddhist religious constructions),  and flags present all over. It was the beginning of this internal journey that I have started when I left my life in the UK.


I knew nothing of mountains before. They stood there.  They were part unthinkable world to me. They just existed and were never among within my thoughts.

I think the first time I thanked a mountain was from a plane. I was coming from the wetness of Delhi to Leh in Ladakh. I needed that absence of water. I needed their imposition, I remember getting out of the plane feeling a bit scared of it … and then seeing the chilly air hitting my skin, and the familiar well known Tibetan, Nepalese and Ladakhi faces. My immediate relief when seeing their soothing rosey cheeks with eyes that always smile.


I remember how I took one step at the time (like a meditation in a vipassana retreat) when I climbed the first stupa in Leh. How we all felt some kind of respect towards it. The mountains, the height, the stupas. We, who had just met there, coming from different worlds. I remember clearly walking out and seating in the edge of the mountain and feeling but thankfulness.

I remember seeing the stupas made by people. Stone over stone… representing them being there, and also the interconnection between it all. An opening of path. I remember the beautiful German boy who travelled with me incorporating daily more squatting meditations and building stupas, everytime we were some place more distant.


We arrived to that remote village together. He took me together with a rock climber to climb some mountain almost in Pakistan. We knew nothing of the mountain. Nor did we know the language to be able to understand the local people.


Being in such a distant place, the locals were surprisingly mixed. Some looked Afghanis, others looked like Mongolians, some looked more south Indian… and most of them had never left that small village. It was  a clear sign of war, rape, love… all that happens when humans from different groups encounter.

The place looked like true paradise on earth.


It seemed to have been painted  by an artist.  It was a little oasis in a little plateau between the middle of dry grandiose Himalayan Mountains. To get it there after driving thought the most amazing scenery, we had to climb the last part. There were no roads there.


In fact, they were totally living under a subsistence scheme since probably immemorial times. That village had been, since the partition of India, disputed between the two countries. It had sometimes belonged to  Pakistan and other times it belonged to  India. The people seemed did not particularly care about it. They were Muslims, and dressed very colourfully.


My friends decided to climb one of the mountains around the village. I offered I had no practice on climbing anything but they thought we could go till I could not go further. We climbed…. and climbed, and climbed while the mountain became meter more meter more corrosive. It started to eventually dismantle in our hands.


We passed an animal cemetery and using my anthropological thinking I thought that was probably the further they did go. My friends, did not care about this piece info, we looked at the carcasses and we kept going.


We had not ropes; we did not belay anyone, nor did we have proper shoes. We had to support each other at times not to fall using my flexibility and their muscles. And those who have been reading these since then must have remembered that that day I had sworn I d never go beyond my limits.


There seeing the village small below us I felt I could be thankful I had lived the life I had lived. I was thankful for it. Yet, I remember thinking that if my life were to finish there I would feel thankful for the life I lived, but if I could make it safe back down I would pay more attention to my own movements and limits.


I don’t know if I have. My soul has screamed many times since then and rather than gently taken care of it…I ran, I moved, I rarely respected the gentleness of existence. That day in the mountain I had decided I would not be convinced by anyone again to go beyond my limits…. I haven´t, but I had maybe not even dared to notice my lack of desire to live any further then, how complacent I was towards death. It was something I should have put more attention to.


It was not an isolated instance. How many times didn’t I put myself in slightly dangerous situations? Those of you who read me probably know it better than me.

There was one lady in the border of the Mekong who saw it all. And I have written about her. Carley, the lady who at 40 left her life and went to Kashmir living the Kashmiri war for 18 years next to the man she loved. Among the many gifts I had in my life she was one. She was that angel I needed the most.  She, saw my soul, and yet when I smiled she told me it was time for me to come home. As she put it she recognized her pain in me.


I felt naked. How could she see I was bleeding from inside though I smiled?  She repeated it to me several times. And I explained to her I was fine and I had no home to go to. And then I broke my foot. And she wrote me telling me she was happy it would make me stay still. Finally, once, still.


One of the people I most love in this world, my friend Maciek, who is a Polish yogi wrote me an email today. He talked of dance. He knew how much I loved dancing. And he after years and years being a yogi has started to discover ballroom dance.


He started his email telling me dance was now for him like climbing it was for me.


I had, for coincidence, gone dancing yesterday. I used to love dancing. And I wanted to tell him that dancing should not feel like climbing.


I danced and I danced and I danced last night. And though I loved it, it was in a sense for me like climbing… I was just connecting me with myself. I changed partners every song. I learned new movements; I modified myself but only temporarily till the next song. Then I was free to adapt myself to someone else.


Then there was one man who danced with me. He really danced with me. Though we did not talk about it, we knew fairly well we were dancing.

That is when I decided to go home. Because, I am only open yet for climbing. I am, though, I do not like admitting so closed…. I climb because I can trust people to be there supporting me from afar… if they drop me I ll die. And somehow I have no problem with death.


What I still need the most is to find this internal home. The one Carley told me I needed to process here were I came from.  And while I climb I start again to encounter who is that person who needs a home. As the people become further and further down the rock, I start to reencounter my breath,  my movement, my mind is more still, I trust them not to drop me down.   Once I do encounter the gentleness necessary, with the time it might take, then maybe I could start dancing again….



18.The Inbetweeners, Rajastan

.Natalia my dear friend from the Phd created a blog for us to keep in contact while doing fieldwork. She called it the “Inbetweeners”. Although I quit my PhD and I am not doing field work I can really relate to ” being in between”. There are many of us who usually feel this way nowadays, travelling you are bound to encounter these people all the time. I have written about this before this feeling that crossing borders seems to cause to me. In one side it becomes very evident the humanity that connects us all, on the other it also makes very evident the arbitrariness of systems, beliefs, languages, customs, rituals, practices.

If we were to be trees I imagine the “inbetweeners” to be like mangrove trees. Every now and then the roots become more exposed. You see them so well, and you see other’s and yet they still somehow tie you. They are no longer under the earth, you see the absurdity of some but what can you do? If you cut them all you get somehow lost. But you cant burry them either, soemtimes the mud covers it for a while but you know eventually the water goes away and they are again exposed.

I sat yesterday in a cafe in Pushkar, Rajastan. I was with the sweet 22 year old Michal. One of the Israelis I talked about when I wrote the last mail. Her friend had recommend this cafe to her. This place was one of those that catered for Israelis. So i sat once again watching young boys and girls in large groups smoke hash, eat a lot of  arab/israeli food, speak in Hebrew while listening to Israeli music. The young Indian waiter spoke Hebrew too so they did not even have to change language to order their Hummus.

I usually watch them from afar intrigued. What makes them come all the way here and travel like this? There could def be whole anthropological studies on this. My friend and I were staying somewhere else for her this kind of travelling does not do. When the whole group finally left the waiter who turned out to be the owner came to seat with us.

Khalu is 26 and he is a Brahmin. His father is a very religious man who hates tourists for destroying the traditional way of living. ” He is happy, he does not know. I am trapped in between”. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had seen my Indian friends who work with tourists in Mc Leod suffer the same fate. Khalu had had an Israeli girlfriend, had gone to Israel for a month to see if he could live there. ” I realised quite soon I dont want that kind of life. You in the west stress too much, want too much, complain too much. Here our life is more difficult but is more shanti. So I am trapped I cant just marry someone i barely know now like traditions tells me to. I have seen it differently, but I cant have it. I am in between worlds and there is no solution for me”.

Khalu was an exceptionally interesting boy. He had opinions about everything. He hated the fact that Israelis invited him for dinner but then asked him 3 questions in English and then spoke Hebrew the rest of the time. It is a common thing in groups i told him and wondered why did he serve them. ” Good business. You do one good dish they tell all of their friends, they seat smoke and eat all day. Europeans eat little and go. Not good for business.” He turns to my friend and says “Michal I am sorry to tell you the truth but most of us don’t like Israelis. When you come we of course don’t say this but we dont like how Israelis behave. there are sellers here who do not even sell to Israelis anymore. They think it is not worth the hassle.  I know you are not like these groups… But this is what they do…. Do you know what we hate the most here in Pushkar? the Bet Habad House!”

Bet Habad Houses are Jewish houses where something like  “missionary Jews” set to help Jews abroad. The are very controversial most of my Israeli friends don’t like them either as they tend to be very segregationist, and as some of my secular friends say ” they benefit from the fact that these boys and girls are so vulnerable after the army to preach religion.

Indians don’t like them for another reason, mainly because they intervene in their business, and are rude to the locals. In Mc Leod Michal was told by some locals that the religious came to a tattoo artist to tell him not to do tattoos to Jews, they also went to a Muslim restaurant owner to enquire why he sold food to Jewish people.

Khalu hated them ” I went for Shabat with an Israeli friend of mine and they did not let me in! Can you possibly imagine what would happen if I went to Israel made an Indian House and did not allow Israelis in? They would kill me!  I organise Shabbat dinners every week here and it is much more popular than theirs. A couple years ago someone wanted to bomb that house. The people in the village beg the gov to make them go away. We never had problem with bombs and now we do bc of the Bet Habad, I am sorry Michal to say this to you my friend.”

As Michal agreed with it all she just repeated ” I feel ashamed of this. I really do”.  I gues like me, like Khalu she is also in between…

At night I met two religious Jewish boys. We talked a lot. They explained to me the feeling of being minority. Most of my friends are secular and one way or the other hate religious intervention and the amount of the taxes they have to pay for the religious. One of these boys was absolutely fascinating. As we had a long conversation I felt i could ask him why he felt like he had to observe so many laws, why did he think God ( if it exists) cared about this particular ones.

” well you are talking about two different things. One is belief in existence of god. The other is whether there is any divinity and connection from this divine being and the laws.” it takes two leaps of faith. There are even many religious people who are atheists. They follow the laws because they believe this laws make life better. “

I was astonished with the clarity of explanation. “So are you very religious?”

” I was raised religious, but I am still deciding”

There was some kind of beauty to it. He was a bright gentle boy. Talking to him and Khalu brought me back to the little village in the border of Pakistan where children and young people where dazzled by what we advertise when we parade in western clothes, taking pictures. It made me remember the look of the old ladies unconvinced, unimpressed who seem to be able to foretell that their way of living was about to be extinct. These boys seemed less concerned about the divinity of the laws than whether it simply led to a better life. Wether our modern, individualist way is if at all healthy.

I ask Khalu whether he thinks his father was right. ” Is traditional life better?” He pauses, thinks about it ” He is happier because he does not know. I guess he is right,  I guess it is better but for me is too late now, I am in between”.

17- Rishikesh and the Hummus Trail

.Rishiskesh lies in the foothills of the Himalayas. Thousand of Pilgrims and tourists come here every year. I had been here a few years ago and it is always so strange to re step ones steps years later. It is like images and places that you never though about seem to be reencountered in your brain. When I crossed the bridge when I arrived looked down at the Ganga river, saw the sun shining the monkeys sliding through the metal bars in the bridge I was brought back. I was arriving from a 20 hours trip with an accident but somehow seeing the Ganga and the monkeys made me feel home.
Everyday I seat by the bridge and see the festival of colours pass by. Women wearing saris in all shades, Babas, Sadus, painted faces, cows, monkeys, tourists who come looking for enlightenment blessings yoga meditation. I seat there and watch the people wash clothes in the Ganga which now also features tourists rafting. Such a strange combination. Green lush mountains surround us. It looks like Brasil in the nature, but another planet in the constructions and in the people you see.

I remember I used to feel overwhelmed when I first came here in another life time. This time I find it all so gentle, so mild. I wonder is it me, or Rishiskesh? We all know it takes time to really arrive in India. Once you do it is all so somehow…”is”. That is what it is kind of feeling. A resignation which is not a feeling of loss. It is more like a feeling of “dasein”. Cant put it into words really. So I watch the people, they always ask to take pictures with me. And I must feature in hundreds of pictures around the country now. Some children when they are 3 are scared… their parents want soooo much this picture to be taken. 6 years old like to be next to a total stranger who smiles and says hello. Women hug me in the pictures… me so boringly dressed next to their colourful and never repeated saris. Men probably bring it home to show their friends. I always say yes. I actually enjoy this little encounters and I also find it that it brings some kind of balance to the amount of pictures I take of them.

Rishikesh is also part of  the “Hummus trail”, so 80% of the  tourists I meet are Israelis. Some of the people who read this tell me “wow how is it that you always end up with Israelis?”. It is truly hard not to. There are so many around. I wrote about them so many times before. Those of you who have been in this list long enough might have read of them in South East Asia and in the middle East. Something strange happened to me here in India. When I left the Middle East I felt somehow defeated, I felt I was privileged to see it all, but that I had no real right to cry in front of the wall as I did. Now I believe I do. That wall belongs to all of us as human beings.

I have been encountering here the most amazing Israelis. I am usually now in the situation where they ask me to tell them about the Palestinians. I have met Israelis who boycott their own state, who have been to Budrus, who knew Juliano Mer. Juliano Mer the Israeli Palestinian who created the Freedom theater in Jenin hoping through art to bring peace. When I encounter these people, who question their own cultural narratives to wonder about the other I always love them. I always cry as I know how hard it is. They want to hear the stories, they cry when I tell about the ordinary encounters I had in Palestine.

Last night I ended up spending hours telling a couple about my Palestinian friends. The girl asked to see my photos. And while we sat by the Ganga this girl went through every single picture I had of the places and the people I ve seen in Palestine. She wanted to hear their stories. She wanted to know more. “it is crazy, they live 20 minutes from me and I have to come all the way to India to really hear about them.” There are of course those who repeat the same old lines ” They dont want peace. Israel is the only democracy in the middle east. The IDF is the most moral army in the world?” But now I seat with Israelis who reply and say ” What does it even mean moral army?”.

As I seat with these people I imagine in my head the encounters of those I met and love in Palestine and them. It would be challenging and beautiful but there are people out there who always in the face of  absurdity can just think of the human. Not so long ago I sat with a girl whose father was saved by a Polish blacksmith who taught him how to behave unjewish, who took care of him… so that he could survive the war. 50 years later this man went back to Poland and re-encountered the daughter of this blacksmith. He brought her to see Israel. I cry so much when I hear these stories. They fill me with hope… there will always be these people. People who in front of it all question the system, question their cultural memories, question the power structures to try to really see the other.

People always ask me “Why do I go to these places? Why do you go stay in the house of Kashmeres, or why do you put yourself in unnecessary risks?.” And I always say I never believe people can be too different. Maybe they are in the surface but we must scratch it. We must fight our brain tendency to essentialize and categorize and be empirical about things. All the stories I heard, all that I have lived allows me to now understand a bit more about the complexity of this all. My Israeli friends are born having to legitimize their existence.  As the pacifist that I am, I am convinced we are so similar. So I will never be able to accept the creation of a wall. Any wall. I look at these thousands of Israelis who pass my way negotiating their thought to support their military state with love. I know fully well that in the end no one can truly believe in this. With some pain I watch them. But now I watch them next to these brave boys and girls, men and women who as pessimistic as they are about their governments they are hopeful about people.

I know my Palestinian friends read this. I know they see the world though me. They have told me. So I write this post to let you know about this people I encounter here. People as gentle as you. People who take care of me to the same extent you did. By the Ganga next to the sweet Israeli who asks me questions about your lives and has her eyes in tears I am convinced walls will always fall. And reality can only be changed by these brave people who do not fight, rather they unite, they question, they take risks to love the unknown. When I was by the wall in Bethelehem my friend Jaafar consoled me. “It is just governments, we the people want peace. One day we will live together”. At the time his hope made me cry even more. Months later I was in Berlin and I saw the wall down. My mom showed me the wall in the map so arbitrarily built. So crazy that someone decides one day to build a wall and people actually agree to it. There was a time where cities where surrounded by walls, there was a time Germany was divided. There was a time apartheid separated people in South Africa. There was a time that slavery was institutionalized and accepted by the vast majority as normality. Now I seat by the Ganga with Germans and Israelis. Now I seat in a Tibetan in exile village with a white South African who gets upset at the white South Africans who complain of racism to them. ” They need to wake up these people. We oppressed 80% of population before. Now it is different and it must be. It is getting better. But the powerful never likes loosing power. It is getting better but it takes time” Now I seat with Chinese who defend the Tibetans. There will always be these people. They are minority in the beginning but eventually walls fall.

Bus to Rishikesh

.Stop the bus! Stop the bus! ” It is full moon. I have been in Mc Leod for more than a month. I really do not want to leave but it is time. I board the bus with many other people who are now friends. Buses have a narcotic effect on me. I always sleep. The roads no longer scare me. When the rough, hollow sound of a crash happened I did not fully comprehend. I just hear people screaming “Stop the bus! There was an accident”. It takes a while for all of us to comprehend. Someone crashed into us. Someone in the back is unconscious and bleeding. There is a turmoil, windows had exploded. Some young girls come shaking forward ” We need an ambulance”. Israelis move back, they start shouting orders. We need scissors, tissue etc. I also hear the gentle voice of a Canadian inviting the victim to stay, to come back. I cannot look, i do not move I do not want to move out or back. I am just quite amazed by how life is fragile, and how in any circumstance people unite to go beyond themselves to help. I remember my Indian friends telling us not to leave in a a full moon. The moon now shines brightly through the window when we still do not understand the dimensions of our accident.

The Tibetans in the seats next to me seem less impressed. I ponder whether life and death is more natural to them. My thoughts wonder back to Dorjee and Tashi, my Tibetan friends in Mc Leod. Tashi who was a monk for 15 years asks me before i leave to write a message to feature on the table of the restaurant he serves in. I do and lift the table to put under the glass. He follows me removes it and puts on another place. The place where he eats everyday. “I will miss you everyday you know!” I am moved I have tears in my eyes. My friendship with Dorjee is that of jokes in the breakfast. He is not that fluent in English and I understand through time his parents are sick and need his help. Dorjee, who I wrote about before, escaped Tibet as a political refugee. We could never really understand what happened under his smiley eyes. He told me the story of his escape, the two months walking in mountains, about the two children he found crying alone on the way and brought with him. He cant be that old and now he takes care of two children. When we climbed the mountain and he sang mountain up and down collecting the trash tourists left behind I developed this love for Dorjee. This kind of affectionate feeling you have for people who seem so good that they dont seem to feature in the fiction of reality. Couple days ago he was able to contact a friend in Tibet. This friend was able to reach his family. His family is illiterate, and so only now after 4 years did Dorjee hear his 4 sisters and one brother had gotten married. He was so happy, but a happiness that does not explode or modifies too much his natural smile. The following day he is able to talk to to his friend again. This time to find out his father had passed away two years ago. It is so incomprehensible to me the whole notion that I do not know what to say. Dorjee ‘s eyes change a bit, but he keeps that smile in his face. I wonder what is it that goes behind that smile. I wonder but do not want to intrude. I do not fully comprehend. We all love Dorjee,  his kindness is truly inspiring.

“Let me kiss you, open your mouth” The canadian voice brings me back to the bus. I look the Tibetans and know fully well that face expressions dont truly translate what people feel.  I hear the Canadian voice, of the girl of pink hair who to me right now embodies love. She is a typical new age person. She is there under a man she does not know trying to keep his mind with us. The Israelis use all they learn in the army. I who hate the army find that once in my life I actually was happy to have someone who was a combatant with us. It does not matter to them blood is everywhere, that there is a gash in the head of this till now unknown man. All it matters is that all of us now in the bus can hear he is choking in blood. We all want him to live. As the moon goes away the ambulance arrives. The man is carried out and the girl in pink hair goes with him to hospital. The rest of us stay in a mid nightmare, dream state. The day starts to rise. Outside a Canadian takes the guitar of the man who is now in hospital and starts to sing. We all seat by the road in silence. Somehow united by this tragic event. It could have been much worse is all I think about. The day is beautiful. It always puzzles me how life and death, beauty and tragedy just coexist. And as I seat on that road listening to the music I am able to understand a bit more the smile of Dorjee and Tashi. It is a smile of those who have truly embodied impermanence and compassion.  It is not that the feelings that makes most of us cry and shout don’t exist on them. It s more like this awareness that we must keep going and with a song and a smile in the face it is easier to give the next step.


We are in the middle of the clouds. Every step to be there was a bit harder. Every step we ached, complained and laughed a bit more. We cant really see any thing. We don’t know for how long it goes. And I cannot contain my joy. We made it to the top of the mountain. Carrying Djembes, guitar, trumpet, ukulele, flute and songs in Hindi, Tibetan and every other language. We are more than 15 people there. Tourists and locals I never thought when I started to organize the trip that all this people would come. Madi, at the time asked if he could join. Madi the owner of the tent I talked about last time. I smiled and said that obviously he could come. He sighs and says he also wanted to be part of the party, not be working but part. So that night the tent would close. I look around on the top of the mountain knowing these clouds would eventually disappear. Maybe at night, maybe in the morning.

We make a fire and we seat around it. Dorge the Tibetan political exiled traditional singer starts the cry of the Tibetans, Simona the beautiful german doll follows on the trumpet I sing in my own rhythm. HOw could I contain all that joy? We are all there? This is no longer tourists being served by Indians. They come not as guides, they come as friends who want to also be part of the music, of the party, of the celebration of humanity. Most of us have spent here almost a month. We know the secrets. The Israeli boy now knows much more bossa nova, and I can sing in Hebrew, and Hindi. The complexity of the relations become more and more wide open. They all come to me. What should they do about this or that? I watch the INdian boy who was forced to marry in a arranged marriage where he met his bride in the wedding fall in love with a foreign girl. I watch her try to rationalise as much as she can. I feel the pain, the pain of their impossible love. The secrets come my way. And the world of traditional societies are worlds of secrets.

I am at the top of the mountain and I cannot contain the joy. I love these people. Sooner or later we all have to leave, it is seeming to be sooner than later. But not that night that night we celebrate. We dance, we chant, we laugh. We wait for the stars, we wait for the sun. As the clouds go, we can see more imponent mountains behind. There are horses, and mules, and it looks like Scotland. The clouds go, but the sun does not dare to show itself. NOt yet. It takes time in India. All takes time. I seat in a rock in the edge of the mountain. The older Waldorf school teacher shows up with his ukulele. He teaches physics but now he sings “here comes the sun”. And the sun comes, and bathe us with its beauty. How can I contain so much stories?

Can I pour them down the mountain? Can I pour my feelings ? Instead I close my eyes and try to meditate. There is so much going on. SO many cultures, so many songs, so many stories. I try to empty myself after all I am in the land of Buddhism. I stay for as long as it takes to empty out a  bit more. But then I cant any longer. I hear the music and now I am less in the mood of mountains then I am of people. I come back to them. I come back to life and music and dance. I can empty out later.. now we still have the time to share cultures, to share this friendship built in a month. A month back home is nothing, a month in India travelling feels like a life time. Every feeling travels inside like an explorer. Everything goes deep under the skin. We all know that we will have to take the steps down. In aching legs, swollen feet, and blistered toes. Some jump and run down the mountains others stroll. Dorge sings the Tibetan cry, we imitate. The clouds come back, we stroll through them. They are mysterious they are precious, they used to be confusing.. now they are not. Now I know that behind them lies always the imponent mountain. I take every step with confidence that even when you do not see the path it still lies there. I take every step knowing that in the path we find the way.

Walking in a Different Rhythm, Mc Leod India

To me It feels like a Beduin tent. It is not. The walls a made of bamboo and the roof is in colourful yellow, orange, and red cloth. There is barely no light. We seat in cushions on the floor. We are at the top of my guesthouse. A guesthouse surrounded by many others in a very touristic village. Inside the tent it feels a world apart from the Tibetan in exile village I spend the days in. Three men from Rajastan who seemed to have jumped out of a picture of National Geographic with their long moustaches, their piercing eyes and their traditional instruments seat in the corner. The Israeli boy who studies classical composition in Jerusalem and plays like a Brazilian bossa nova tells me these musicians are amazing. I seat in silence. i look around and notice with some joy that I now know every single face, every Indian, Tibetan or tourist name. They know me too. I feel joy I am in place enough to be able to break the rules. The man who plays this string instrument i have never seen before starts to sing. He stands up and like a character in a fairy tale he sings from within. It sounds like that voice has hundreds of years, that before it comes out like a gypsy cry that it has travelled every corner of his body. The other two men squat next to their traditional drums. The cry is calling for them, so their fingers gently start to caress the leather of the instrument, they move faster and faster and eventually an explosion of music happens.

I feel it inside. I first watch it petrified, in total stillness as if suddenly I was transported to a tale but then the rhythm overtakes me, my body wants to follow that cry, that drum, that tale. I know the place enough, my body knows the faces, we have all laughed together foreigners and locals for enough nights for my body to know that I am allowed to do the unthinkable i stand up and i let it overtake me. i dance. Then comes my beautiful friend Rotem, and then as in a explosion, like in a Kusturica movie foreigners and Indians start a frantic dance that travels the night. You can see through the movements we all come from different countries. Some countries allow for rhythm to go to different parts of the body.

I watch little Ibrach, 6, the son of Madi the owner of the tent, the restaurant, the gentle kind man who everyday cooks whatever i ask him. First I asked from the cushions nowadays from inside the kitchen. That is what time does to you. You get accepted in the secret places. Ibrach is 6 and when i first tried to invite him to dance he shyly runs away. An foreign girl interrupted my gentle invitation. One that had been being built through days, through hiding faces behind veils, saying hellos from far away, eventually shaking hands. While I am there slowly taking the time of Ibrach she grabs him to dance. He runs. She laughs and asks me to help her scare him into dancing. I want to explain her that you cant scare people into music. You have to let the music come within. I know well enough that we just have to wait. I had seen little Ibrach dancing in the corner several times. He would eventually dance… at some point, when time and people would have made it acceptable for his fully formed brain to accept the burning desire to move inside his little body he would come. As more and more people surrended to the music I suddenly see Ibrach in the middle of the Indian men. His body moves like that of a little sahib. Opened arms as if he is already at 6 enclosing the world. I love seeing the people dancing. The indian men go crazy. All that captured tension, all that sexual frustration that rarely finds relief is released in this dance. I love this people i think. I look at Aze, the men who looks like atartuk. The magician of the tabla. He is too contained to jump around like the rest of us. he seats in the cushion moving his fingers to the table in the rhythm. I like Aze a lot he had moved me beyond belief a couple days earlier.

I who through the years had lost my connection with music reencountered in India. Every single night I played a bit more, I sang a little more. Aze, who is an amazing musician, tried to accompany me in the Indian drums. In the chaos of this jam sessions, I little by little tried to encounter the Indians in their time, and they tried to move in brazilian rhythm.

In the official organised jam session, Aze came to tell me he wanted to play with me. I was happy I had observed through the days he was the only person who really listened. he had this kind of relation with music of a life time companionship. I sat and took the guitar, and timidly started to play. Aze brought his tabla, this Israeli enchanting boy who moves in bossa nova rhythm asked me to join us. And so for the following hour we coming from 3 continents walked together. Where is it that we meet?, how is it that I move my internal rhythm a bit more to match theirs. India, middle east and south america. I tried deeper and deeper to walk internally in different steps. My voice sang in different parts of my body, and the whole world seemed to have stopped to exist we just played, we encountered each other in music. When something like this happens it is so hard to put in words. Aze who could be my father told me later he was a tabla professor in university but had not played in 5 years and he had brought his tabla that night to play with me. i was moved. i was shocked. i am not musician I explained. I know so little. ” But your music comes from within. Thank you.” I had tears in my eyes. This was an older men, a lifetime living in music. That night made me famous in this town. The brazilian girl who sings. So now in the tent I could dance. I had learned to play a different world, and dancing to it was just like one step further in this journey of cultural and human discovery. I looked around aze drumming, Ibrach dancing, Tibetans jumping and the beautiful Israeli boy listening like a real musician does in total stillness. i had no idea what that Rajastani man sang about. it seemed so immaterial. there in this tent I saw all cultures come together, with all the beautiful cultural shades they can come. But what overwhelmed me was to see once again that it takes not much more than watching and listening to encountering our overwhelming fundamental humanity.