BootsnAll Travel Network

I’m back and beyond

May 23rd, 2012

The last post came from an enchanted elephant encounter in Bangalore. From there I headed into the mountains and my first Indian hill station of Ooty. The bus ride into the mountains was thrilling, the change of climate the hanging mists. Hills are home to me, with their forests, their fresh forests and expanse of sky-land. I landed in the bus station and went straight to the YWCA – and then realised what the W stands for in that acronym – but luckily they let me in. Happy to be in cooler climate I set out into the town and had a brief encounter with hand-made road-side chocolate… 4 hours later the familiar yet dread-filled rumble started down below and I spent most of the night running back and forth from my dorm, up the hill to the toilet block, with a fair few flower bed pit stops on the way – but several weeks later it’s always surprising how much merriment these experiences bring when recounting to friends…
Unfortunately the 2 days spent in bed in Ooty meant no more pachyderm pursuits in Mudumalai National Reserve. It will be another time and place for walking with giants. I headed back to Bangalore via Mysore, and finally back to Mumbai in alternating foul and awe-struck moods. It was a time to reflect on the trip. I swing between the stand points of never-again-India and India-mother-of-miracles. In India – you can see it all – it’s all right in front of your eyes, ears, nose, fingertips and tongue. That’s why I get so overwhelmed there. The insanely frustrating omnipresent rubbish, the oppressive heat, boundless beauty, the infinite colour palette, the purity and filth, the vehicle horn cacophony and sublime music of bewitching voice and alien instruments, the fragrance and stink, the smiles and tears, the perversion, glory, cruelty and grace. No windows curtained or occurrence veiled. There are infinitely more ways of living in India that we can ever imagine. So at the end of the day I am left with my ideas and judgements which are pretty much limited and exclusive – there can never be rights and wrongs or good and bads – one of India’s largest lessons is this. Heart-opening is the recommended cure to Indian adventures and to embrace, change and flow in the rivers of the streets and lives of this unbelievable place.

This is a gallery of a few photos from various different places.

I have just put together a little video from my stay at Animal Aid here. I hope the soundtrack isn’t too cheesy for you. It brings so much back to me. Deep thanks to the animals, staff and the Abrams family for that precious gift and steadfast foundation for future kinship encounters.
This is a noble cause, so if you would like to make a donation or help in various ways, here are the details:

To sponsor an animal:

To contribute to the centre’s wishlist:

Or to volunteer as I did:

It’s almost 3 weeks since I returned from India. It goes so fast. I was so relieved to come back to a climate that didn’t turn me into a zombie for most of the day. And so green and fresh the spring is here. I was back in the UK for a week and then went to Dublin for the first part of a super community project with Protein Dance. Dublin is a great city – beautiful – and we were there for the Dublin Dance Festival so there was a buzz in the air. I’d love to spend a bit more time in Ireland at some point.
So… from trans-species brokering back to dance… how do they fit together? Well – I guess their meeting place is somewhere inside me. I loved this week of dance – I felt gratitude and blessings – to move, dance, meet, laugh and be in intimate contact with communities and friends. Perhaps there’s more connections than at first glance. And it feels like one fuels the other. After this past week dancing in the streets, climbing lampposts, making funny moves and gathering people together, I am now thinking about my next trans-species adventure.
I had lunch yesterday with my good friend Charlotte in the blissful greenery of May in Greenwich. There were a blackbird couple hopping about in the undergrowth. The male had a broken lower beak, not that it bothered him at all, and the female and I held shared stare for a moment or two. My heart kind of swelled and chirped as I remembered my kinship with all life. I am changed. And that feeling is not dissimilar to how I feel when I am part of people coming together to move and dance, how I feel when I am sharing my moving self with the world.
The road is so so varied, and miraculously rich. I must not get carried away by what the destination might be, in order to appreciate each wonderful step. I am so lucky – that’s all I can say. Thanks to teachers, friends, family and the innumerable living beings that support my path.

Look out for the final gallery in the next post.

Thanks for reading ūüôā

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April 28th, 2012

O ancient one

of moving rock,

What distance have you come to me?

Surely we can offer you more than this.

Gracious always –

mountain patience,

I will come to you

in service one day.

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Moving on…

April 24th, 2012

Today is Tuesday, I am heading out of Udaipur this afternoon by bus, down to Bangalore via Mumbai where I take the train and maybe a Bhangra class too! I am on an elephant pilgrimage.

Yesterday was my last day at Animal Aid. They threw a samosa party with plenty of Mirinda (the most delicious neon orange liquid you’ll ever drink) to go round. There were embarrassing speeches and an even more embarrassing request for a spontaneous dance which thankfully I managed to squeeze my way out of. My time here was very special and felt like the first step on a wonderful new path. That doesn’t mean that I will leave everything else behind – in fact it just enriches what is already been walked. A very big thanks to the wonderful staff, to the founding family – Erika, Jim and Claire , and extra thanks to the beautiful animals I had the great fortune of being with. I hope to write some more reflections over the next few weeks, with photos of course.

The day before yesterday, Kirsty-Anne passed away. It was within a few hours of us deciding that it was only fair to give her a sedation. She had been lying down for about 10 days which is a very, very long time as far as cattle go, due to their complicated digestive systems. It was the right time to go. I had been caring for her from when I arrived, for an hour or 2 each day, and we found the best way to get water down (an empty beer bottle works so well) and how to get down a little grain, cucumber and tomatoes – her favourite.

This was a very special experience for me. I had to listen, to return to myself in order to be present, to keep on asking questions even if I didn’t understand the answers, and to relax into what is there without anxiety. I don’t think I can say what this relationship was, but it gave me confidence. There was a complicity and she knew that I was with her, and I with her – and that is so much already. My gratitude goes on with her continuation.

Again thank you Animal Aid. I hope to be back one day.


Hey Chapati-bum-bum

April 21st, 2012

I am getting a ghee-gut I think. So many chapatis!!

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Afternoon walking: me and Jimmy Superfly

April 19th, 2012

I head down to the dogs’ handicapped area. Jimmy is lying down, head up and bright-eyed. He has good teeth, a full-fluffed red-gold coat and a good coloured tongue. I step over the fences and bend down to pick him up. We have a little wrestle-dance to work out how we are going to proceed. We find it and lift-off – with a squeek¬† and a squirt of pee no doubt –¬† into cradle-pose to step out of the enclosure. I put Jimmy down and I get the scarf under his tummy just in the right place – out the way of plenty of marking opportunities to follow. We get balance on our front feet. The back ones are wobbly and don’t really catch the weight so well, so I lift the back from the scarf – we are set.

The are a multitude of different styles employed here. Each dog has their way: a drag, a lumber, a crawl, a lollop and the rest. On first sight, it’s so touching, and funny and sad and wondrous all at once. Each and every one is unique, but the most important thing is each and every one goes for it with all they’ve got and with all they are. They are themselves and no-one else and this demands the highest respect, beyond degree of ability, they are agents in the world, faultless and so beautiful.

We head out, a drunkard pair – awkwardly stop-starting in a chaos of rhythm. No-one knows who is steering this ship, not even us, and we couldn’t care less.¬† Let’s head to the shade of the tree and the bushes.

Arriving here, 30,000 times more possibilities of scent are available for us to share. He sniffs and I am with him. Jimmy bites off half a leaf from the bush, then again, and then some more. This beautiful fragrance comes to me – a kind of sage-mint. I had no idea – I wouldn’t eat it myself but he loves it. Thanks for opening that scent door for me Jimmy.

We go on. He attends to the undergrowth and I enjoy a welcome breeze to counter this desert air. I watch the ants pass back and forth along a branch, he goes for the donkey dropping.

And when we need to leave our own scent mark, we find the position, I re-arrange the scarf and he lets loose. I don’t know if accuracy is important for dogs when leaving scent. Ours won’t be very concentrated but it will definitely be original. No doubt who’s that is, they’ll say.

His feathered tail sways and my face smiles, our hearts free. We head back. We stutter and stumble, but the most amazing thing about all of this – is that we do it together – me and Jimmy Superfly.

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Love Unlimited

April 15th, 2012

14th April  2012

After my first Udaipur  shimmering lakeside breakfast of rotis and chai with fellow travelers РI headed off to Badi Village by autorickshaw to find Animal Aid Unlimited.  I was shown around by Trudy who takes most of the emergency calls to the centre.

What a place… there is space for love here. I have to say there aren’t many places in the world where there is space and time for love, but this is one of them. I was touched to the heart several times today, walking round and getting to know the place and its ‘fallen angels’.

There is a handicapped area- it’s for the dogs who have lost the use of their back leg/s through accident or injury. I was invited just to get to know them as my first activity. Spending time and brushing in a bonding process that is just amazing. Most of these dogs have lost the use of their tail – the way they say they are happy. Somehow that wagging energy has moved up to their heart and I swear some of these dogs can smile! They brim with joy and love – having seen it there is no way you could justify putting an animal down for losing the use of a limb or two. There are even cows that have broken legs here and can’t stand. It is against the law to put down a cow in India, but that has made space for them to live and breath and be. This place will change my mind and thought and perceptions.

All the animals have a number tag around their neck that corresponds to their individual medical and history file. I was spending time with cow 31 today who I re-named Kirsty-Anne (the closest to 31 I could think of). She is having paleative care. This is also a hospice too where the old and sick come to spend their last days in peace. She is a magnificent old white-grey lady. I was chatting with her, being present with¬†my touch¬†and giving water by syringe. It is truly amazing what care and attention can do – it gives life and an easier flow to things. Two of Thich Nhat Hanh’s mantras for True Love came to me and I whispered them is Kirsty-Anne’s torn old ear: ” Dear one, I am here for you. I know you are there and I am very happy.” I left her lying peacefully in her stall. I am not sure if she will still be there tomorrow, but I am reminded of the continuation of energy and matter through transformation. If she is – I may take her photo for you to meet her.

I am signing out and off to bed – Udaipur is very nice and I have met some great locals – I’ll tell you all about it soon.

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To India: Once more unto the breach

March 28th, 2012

I have been inspired recently by various writers, scientists and seekers who are questioning our relationship to the world, looking specifically at how we relate across species borders, and how, if we look a bit more deeply, how we can rediscover and mend our kinship with all life.

Holy Cow! I am going to India again. Back to the chaos, wonders, smells, insanity and opportunities! The main purpose of this trip is to volunteer in an animal shelter and hospital just outside of Udaipur in Rajasthan, to gain more experience with being with and learning from animals. The organisation I’ll be visiting¬† is called Animal Aid Unlimited – they describe what they do as “[serving]¬† fallen angels with tenderness, respect, and joy”, and work with ownerless street animals in a busy centre in Badi Village just outside Udaipur city.
The shelter is a charitable organisation that is always looking for more support, so if you feel like sending a donation, I’ll send more information on how to do that as I go on.
I hope you’ll follow me on this journey through my blog posts. And please, please feel free to comment on any of the posts. It’s always so supportive to know there are friends out there, following my movements in far-off places.
I leave on 10th April: 1st stop Mumbai!

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Boom Chetawan-wan…?

April 13th, 2007

A little better?

The full school title is Wat Po Chetawan Thai Traditional Massage School.

Abdominal massage class

Our main teacher is Chintana who is a lovely, quiet and gentle woman with the strongest thumbs in the the world. We have also been taught by Nok, who is lovely also. In the phot,o it goes from left to right –¬†Nok, Pauline and Chintana.

.Noh, Pauline and Chintana (from left to right)

Chintana learned Japanese from her students and from books, and so teaches all the Japanese students as well. She went to teach in Osaka last year.

The teachers and staff here work really hard. They are all in at about 8am up until about 6pm. They work 7 days a week (!) offering courses that start everyday. Only every 3 or so months do they have time off to visit their families in Bangkok. Luckily though it seems that they are moved around from centre to centre occasionally and with any luck back to Bangkok.

On our 3rd day was the celebration Wat Po has every year on the 6th of April to remember Jivako, the Father of Thai Traditional medicine and massage. He was personal doctor to Buddha. In the morning there was a beautiful feast laid out and we said some prayers and had a ceremony. Then at lunchtime we ate it all (although I didn’t have any of the pig’s head!). It was a lovely little event.

6th April CeremonyYum, yum

…Well we had our exam last Sunday¬†and passed! Went really well and we are now certified! I will go on to do the Massage therapy course while Pauline lives it up in the south. The practical part of the course, I will do here in Chiang Mai and then back down to Bangkok to do the theory.

Hopefully more photos and results to come.

Sunrise over Chiang Mai

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Magical Wat at Doi Suthep

April 6th, 2007

Golden Beauty

Well we had a bit of difficulty getting there as we went after school and it was too late to share a ‘songthaew’ (red pick-up truck taxi that takes about 8 passengers – you just stand by the side of the road and hail one down – if they are going the same way you just hop in the back – brilliant idea – bring it to London!¬†-maybe then we would be a lot friendlier to each other). We paid far too much to get there but we made it and it was definately worth it. The Wat up Doi Suthep mountain is amazing. It is a working temple and Monastery. We arrived just towards sunset and the atmosphere was very special. The gold and the quiet and the monks and novices chanting was super. Just a few photos although I forgot to take some to get the feel of the whole complex. Nevermind –

Novices and Monks performing the evening prayersTemple Bells

Pauline under bloom againPauline under evening bloom


Oh my good lord. Janet Kaylo, the most famous Certified Movement analyst in the WORLD.

April 5th, 2007

… On to World-Shaking-Small-World coincidence news….
We just came out of school yesterday afternoon, after a great first day and were just going to walk home, when you would never guess whose photo we saw on a Thai Pharma Centre delivery van!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Only¬†Janet Kaylo’s! (my¬†BA dissertation tutor who used to¬†teach at Laban!)¬†Bloody hell, we were shocked. Check out the photos below
How did her photo end up there??????
What a funny world! 
I wrote to her immediately and she was as shocked as us. We seem to have slipped into a world that makes all the lines of our lives criss-cross!

I don’t want to know the explanation, it’s too much of a good coincidence to spoil!

Pharma Choce pharmacy, for all you pharmaceutical needs while in ThailandPharma Choice delivery van, nothing out of the ordinary yet??... and now?Recognise anyone? Janet Kaylo -

Whatever next!