Reblogged: Mesi & Brad = Love

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Here’s a beautiful interview with Mesi about our relationship and photos taken by our talented friend Grazina. We are lucky to have many friends who happen to be awesome photographers!

Mesi describes a bit about how we got together and some of the challenges we faced doing long distance. She has a way of talking about our life and experiences in a way that is much more insightful and meaningful than I could ever be.

What would be your advice for long distance couples?

We started figuring out stuff in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. It was a month long retreat where we studied the teachings of the Buddha, learned meditation techniques and stayed away from the outside word and touching each other for the whole time. It has totally rocked our world, like our common path together was blessed through that process. And our brains transformed. That was 6 months before we moved together permanently in Budapest.

So my advice would be instead of going on holidays together (what we did for a while) where you most likely are going to stay in your comfort zone, wear your best dresses, eat well, drink even better and most likely never really get to know each other’s deeper aspects, I recommend something more profound where there is a space to cut through the layers of superficiality and you have the opportunity to shift the bond to a deeper level to see if it’s the idea of the other/relationship that you so want or you actually appreciate who the other is and feel that not continuing together is not even an option anymore.

Read the rest of the interview and see some (slightly cheesy) photos on Grazina’s blog here.

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We got married in a Bondi cafe, between starter and entree

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We don’t usually blog much about food, but two weeks ago we had a great lunch at Sean’s Panorama – a North Bondi institution that’s been serving residents of Sydney’s most famous suburb delightful dishes for more than twenty years. Against a backdrop of sand and waves, we supped fantastic wine, munched fresh sourdough, enjoyed a delicious beetroot and goat cheese salad followed by creamy pasta and rounded it all out with nougat for dessert.

And somewhere between the bread and the salad, we got married.

It was remarkably low-key, spontaneous and tonnes of fun. Despite hardly any planning, it ended up being special in its own Brad and Mesi way. Or maybe that was because there was hardly any planning.

The ‘ceremony’ – if you can really call it that – was held at the table by the lovely Tami, who managed to tune perfectly into our flowing, relaxed vibe. Noticing the chardonnay already on the table, she improvised a short wine ceremony – getting us to drink from the same cup while mentioning the symbolism of the gesture. She even prepared a Hungarian saying that roughly translates to: “Life is good when things are flowing”, which describes our relationship quite aptly.

We were smiling and laughing all the way through – even when the waitress interrupted to take our order. I’m pretty sure it was the first time that the waitress had been told ‘I’m sorry we’re not quite ready, can you come back after these two finish getting married?’.

Thanks to the patrons of Sean’s Panorama for giving us a round of applause when the whole thing was finished – it was one of those silly but cute movie moments that would’ve fit well into a Richard Curtis film.

And we also couldn’t have done it without our two good friends and witnesses Silvia and Bridget. Thanks for being there and for being flexible enough to show up with two days’ notice.

– Brad and Mesi, now husband and wife, according to the law in Australia.

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P.S. We are planning a larger, proper do in Ubud in the summer with our friends and family from around the world. However, in planning for this wedding we discovered that to get married legally in Bali the couple not only needs to nominate one of the four major religions (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim) they have to nominate the SAME religion. We have no interest in being a part of this.

We toyed with the idea of getting married in Bali, spiritually and energetically, but without the formal recognition of the law. But at some point we accepted we needed to get ‘officially’ married, mainly because things are just so much easier when you have a piece of paper that makes you legally married. Sean’s Panorama felt like as good as a place as any to have it done.

Monsoon adventures in Ubud

View from Ketut's gallery

Monsoon view from Ketut’s gallery

The monsoon in Bali is a great re-creator. Water falls in buckets from the sky, filling up rivers, irrigation systems, springs and rice fields. What were once yellowing, drooping vegetation – suffering after months of heat – rise again, vibrant with green. And for people, especially busy ones with lots of things to do, the monsoon is the great re-creator… of plans and expectations.

I’ve learnt more than once during the monsoon that it pays to be patient, and fully embrace, as the Italians like to put it ‘Dolce far niente’ – the art of doing nothing. The rains come, and wherever you happen to find yourself is wherever you stay, for hours.

Yesterday I was on my way with Kriszta, Adam and Zsuzsi – all Hungarians – to the bamboo villages of Belega and Bona. The plan was to check out the handicrafts, and perhaps, find a teacher who could educate me in bamboo materials and construction.

Kriszta and Zsuzsi chat in the gallery while the monsoon rains continue outside

Kriszta and Zsuzsi chat in the gallery while the monsoon rains continue outside

Halfway through the rains started, and we pulled into Amaly Gallery – an antique store on the road to Mas – to wait out the shower. It soon became clear that the rains weren’t going to stop. It poured and poured and poured till the road flashed with brown water, and it seemed more appropriate to use motorboats instead of motorbikes on the tributary outside. There was no going to the villages – I’d have to find my bamboo master another day.

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Monkeying around with Zsuzsi and Adam

Monkey selfie

Monkey selfie

When we were searching for a house, we consciously sought out a place with at least two bedrooms so that we could have guests come share the magic of Bali with us. We’re very pleased to say that we have our first overseas guests: Zsuzsi and Adam who came all the way from Hungary! Mesi met them in India a few years ago, and back then they connected immediately and we’ve kept in touch since.

They only spent a couple of days here before heading off down to Canggu for a wedding. But we still had plenty of time to catch up, share stories and explore new areas of Ubud. We even went on an excursion to check up on their friends’ pet monkey – Kiki, while the owners were away (getting married). Mesi and I have quite a strong fear of monkeys, and it’s not completely unfounded. We’ve both been ‘mugged’ by them in India and more recently in Ulawatu in Bali. We’ve been in Ubud for almost a month and we haven’t even thought about going to the Monkey Forest.

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Gusti: the Guide of Tirta Gangaa

Our guide Gusti

Our guide Gusti

Tirtaa Gangaa

Tirtaa Gangaa

“G’day mate. Bloooody awwwwesoome”. Gusti, our local guide during our tour of Tirta Gangaa bursts out in perfect Australia drawl. This would be a little gimmicky, cringe-worthy even on anyone else, but for some reason it’s just plain endearing on this guy. Maybe because it’s the way he looks – his appearance is comic, in a good way. His body and head are tiny, with over-sized ears and a toothy grin that almost never leaves his face – he’s like a real-life caricature. The cheesy faux accents seem to fit naturally into his entire persona.

We met him as soon as we got to the Temple entrance: “Do you need a guide?” I’m not sure. In our experience, it is very hit and miss with local guides. When they’re knowledgeable and can tell you things about the site you would never have discovered yourself, I find they’re worth every penny / rupee / rupiah. But more often than not, especially in India, they regurgitate some obvious facts from wikipedia, rush through the tour and you finish in one of their mates souvenir stores.

I don’t know why, but something about Gusti made me take a chance on him. To be fair, he wasn’t the best guide in terms of knowledge, but he made up for it in terms of comedy. Every sentence starts with “Well Brad and Mesi…” The first time it’s normal. By the fifth time it’s annoying. But by the twentieth time it’s so ridiculous it’s funny again, and more so as ‘Brad and Mesi’ slowly becomes ‘Brad and Menshi’.

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Tuesday morning at Seniman’s Cafe

Best Coffee in Ubud at Senimans

Best Coffee in Ubud at Senimans

Seniman's Cafe

Seniman’s Cafe

“Look I can do it, I can do it!”

A girl, no older than seven, spins a glass top on the communal table. She’s trying to outdo her dad, John a middle aged Englishman – sporting relaxed grey singlet, and relaxed grey goatee. They’re competing for the important title of being the best spinner of the glass tops. The girl, Mabel, is adorably competitive. The way John interacts with her is inspiring. They laugh and flip through magazines, talk, play at the communal coffee table. A father-daughter excursion to the best coffee in Ubud. Mabel moves back and forth in the specially designed rocking chairs that dot the cafe.

One of John’s friend, Tegan, comes into the cafe. She’s in her early 40s, by herself, Australian, friendly. They exchange greetings. It’s soon clear they are both part of the expat scene here in Ubud.

“I was speaking to Diego last night and he’s joined some transcendental club”.

I’m not sure what a transcendental club is, but it seems exclusive.

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Papa Nyoman, the reflexologist

Papa Nyoman works his reflexology magic

Papa Nyoman works his reflexology magic on Mesi

When you first see Papa Nyoman, he doesn’t strike you as an extraordinary healer. In fact, he looks very ‘ordinary’ – he’s diminutive, thin and sports a pair of unremarkable glasses. Cigarette poking under his 80s-era moustache, with loose blue singlet and long fisherman pants, he could be an accountant on vacation.

The only thing that gives him away is the line of people waiting to have his treatment. People from all around Bali, indeed the world, come to Papa Nyoman for his reflexology, a craft he has practiced for 20 years. In the two days Mesi visits him, he treats a Russian couple, a young Chilean, a woman from Botswana, a slightly unadjusted Singaporean and me, while she is there.

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Sehbatu: A visit to the waterfall temple

A Balinese man cleanses at the Sehbatu waterfall

A Balinese man cleanses at the Sehbatu waterfall

Robert, a Californian who leads tours around Bali, took us to Sehbatu – a small but enchanting waterfall temple situated just a few kilometres outside of Ubud.

The waterfall is fed by cool groundwater rushing up from deep within the Earth, where it has waited decades, perhaps centuries, to see the light of day. The Balinese, who believe that the water at this site has powerful purifying properties, have set up a modest temple next to the falls, and the entire complex – temple, waterfall and pool – is surrounded by jungle. It is a beautiful mix of the natural and the sacred.

It is not surprising to me that much of Balinese spirituality revolves around water. In many ways it is simply a reflection of how important the element is to life on Bali. The island’s hilly interior and rainy season mean that rivers abound – providing a drinking supply and irrigating the water-intensive rice fields. Water, literally and spiritually, nourishes the island.

To receive the purification powers of the waterfall, one enters the waist-deep pool at the base of the falls. An offering is made before thrusting one’s head straight under the falling stream. The waterfall is small, less than a few metres, but its power is unmistakeable. Straight away you feel the chilly bite of the ground water. On several levels, it shocks you awake. You can’t hear anything except the white noise of the crashing water and the rest of the world disappears. Breathing is possible but not easy and you have to concentrate not to panic as your lungs and senses are stressed.

The Sehbatu temple

The Sehbatu temple

But once you settle in the process can be strangely calming. It’s not unlike meditation. To keep your head under the falls you have to quieten the nerves, concentrate on the breath, and remain in the moment (you actually have no choice on that last one). Robert suggested we consciously think of something we wanted to let ago of, something that didn’t serve us anymore. On an adjacent waterfall, you can do the opposite, lie your back up against the rock, chest to the sky, water flowing right over you and open up to something new. Our small group took in turns to do this and all found it a moving experience.

While we were there Balinese locals came to the waterfall, and performed similar purifications. One of these women came to us while we were seated at the temple to provide a traditional cleansing with the altar water, guiding us through the steps of ritual, before smiling and going on her way. She wasn’t a priestess, just an ordinary Balinese woman.

The Natural Beauty of Hong Kong

View of Stanley on the descent from the 1000 Steps

View of Stanley on the descent from the 1000 Steps

We decided to go for a hike in Hong Kong.

When I was younger, I spent quite a lot of time in the island city visiting my Por Por (grandma). During these previous visits, the closest thing we came to a strenuous hike was carrying full shopping bags up mall escalators when the lifts were full. So it was nice this time round to see the ‘other side’ of this Asian metropolis.

We met up with Stephen – a travelling yogi, Mesi met in Hungary (by the way, he writes a great blog on www.myfiveacres.com) – and his friend Theresa, who suggested we accompany them on the ‘1000 steps walk’. The trail starts in the middle of the island and goes all the way to the south near Repulse Bay in Stanley. It was beautiful, and utterly surprising. Only 20 min away from the hustle and bustle of the harbour – the malls, the traffic, the concrete jungle – you find yourself in the middle of a REAL jungle. Green for miles around, I couldn’t believe this was the same Hong Kong I grew up with.

Halfway through the walk, we met a French man who had lived in HK for 14 years. He summed it up well – you can’t find this anywhere in the world: an international, world class city with stunning, natural scenery separated from each other by less than half-an-hour.

Concrete jungle and actual jungle

Concrete jungle vs actual jungle

A small, small portion of the 1000 steps - are we there yet?

A small, small portion of the 1000 steps

Later in the week, on the suggestion of my Budapest buddy Jeremy, we headed up to Sai Kung – an area dotted with limestone islands that you can traverse by boat. We hired a junk captained by a quaint, ageing Chinese lady and over a few hours, visited a islands, villages and a beach. Wouldn’t say it was as spectacular as other island chains in Asia, but again, it was fascinating to see a side of the country that I didn’t even know existed before this trip.

It was good reminder for me that you can always explore, even in places you think you know well.

O Captain, My Captain.

O Captain, My Captain.

Our junk in Sai Kung

Our junk in Sai Kung

Sai Kung islands

Sai Kung islands

Junk life

Junk life

Sai Kung dreaming

Sai Kung dreaming

Mesi’s Guest Teaching gig at Aravind Yoga Studio KL, Malaysia 2 Aug 2014

Shameless plug! As we’re flowing through South East Asia, we are lining up some guest teaching spots for Mesi. I’m happy to announce the first in a series: Mesi will teaching a guest class at Aravind Yoga studio in Damas Plaza, KL, Malaysia on Saturday 2nd August. I’ve already met the owners Chris and Philippe – both are super nice and the yoga space they have created is beautiful.

KL yogis, see you on the mat!

http://www.aravindyoga.com/upcoming-workshops.html

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