Day 63- waking up thirsty, hug meditations and the ring of fire

Padang is hot. Like two showers a day hot. The kind of heat that makes you wilt like a flower. I fell asleep early last night after writing out every single word in Indonesian that I know. When I wake up my tongue is bone dry from sleeping in the air conditioning with my mouth wide open. It’s 4am and I am awake. I take the opportunity to try the brainsync delta deep sleep track. It sounds quite deep and low and I feel tired but it isn’t putting me to sleep. I use Halo Headphones so they are comfortable to leave on even in bed.

I roll over and cuddle up to Andrew. Tonight he goes out on charter so it’s our last morning together for a few months. Early morning cuddles are my favourite. Before talk, before we open our eyes, before we check phones and emails. I am still listening to the delta brain wave music as we curl up together. He has been asking me for ages when we are going to do a cuddle meditation and this is it. It feels great. It has been reported (BBC.com) that hugs stimulate oxytocin, the hormone which aids bonding in relationships; reduce cortisol, the stress hormone; and can reduce risk of heart disease.

After about an hour we finally come out of our meditation and both reach for our laptops. I’m a slave to that thing, I know! I’m changing around subjects in my degree and considering changing majors.

When we finally get out and about in Padang, it is already bright and hot. We go to our usual grocery store and Bu Jin remembers my name even though I haven’t been here for six months. I stock up on fruit for my week of smoothies. I’m detoxing all the quesadillas out! Andrew jokes that we should just drink a litre of tap water. A lot of people say Mexico, Bali, India has the worst tap water but I think they are all equally as bad, just different bad. The Mexican microbes are definitely loco^ gangsters but the Indonesian microbes are gila* and corrupt in a whole other way!

I don’t like to wonder around Padang so much when Andrew isn’t with me. It’s not that it’s dangerous (although we do see the same crazy man with no pants in the area today. Yes, naked from the waist down), it’s just that I never have too much to do except maybe head to the market and buy some deep fried corn fritters and have a look at the multi-coloured baby chickens. After a short time, the heat and noise all gets to me. It is, after all, a heavily patriarchal society and for someone who has grown up in the complete opposite of that, I have to say that as a woman I do notice an underlying sensation of oppression.

When we are finally getting ready to say goodbye, we are down at the Muara river from where the boat will leave at high tide. Andrew hangs up the phone and starts running to the motorbike, yelling at me to hurry up. I run up behind him asking what is wrong and he tells me the house is on fire so we need to get all our valuables out now!

I’m panicking realising I have spread myself out throughout our room and none of my valuables are in the one spot. We race back through the traffic and growing mass of disaster tourists and fire trucks. The street has a thin layer of smoke hovering over it and the crowd is getting denser as we drive in closer to home. As we get to the back gate, Sooly is standing out the back, looking at the house behind us. He tells us not to worry, the firemen got it under control. He said he had been watching the flames lick up around the sheets of corrugated iron lining the neighbouring house only minutes before so it never reached our place. His friend Kent, who is also staying at the house, has gallantly saved my handbag which I left on the lounge. He asks if he got the right thing but I only laugh and show him the random contents- wallet, hand cream, liquid oxygen and lip balm. No passport, laptop or phone! This makes me decide that in this permanent ring of fire where earthquakes are common, I should have an emergency pack to run out of the house with.

We all go straight to dinner because we are dropping Andrew off at the boat and he jumps out of the car with a quick, “See ya later, darlin’!” Maybe it is because of his casual manner that I don’t feel immediately sad. I always want to feel it like a shock when we separate but it never actually hits me until later that night or the next day. We drive away and go have dinner at Djoni Kun’s seafood. It is a wooden shack by the river that sometimes has Kipas (bugs) but tonight they are out so we just order coral trout baked with a Santan coconut milk curry sauce, baked prawns and cumi-cumi (squid). This is some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. It is my favourite place to eat in Padang. It isn’t the ritziest or even the cleanest and the odd offensive muffler goes by often enough to make me believe the guy is just doing happy laps to annoy me, but the seafood is cooked perfectly. Sooly is doing the Dukan diet so today is a vegetable day and he eats a few slices of cucumber, green beans and kangkung (swamp spinach) along with the steamed prawns and ikan bakar (baked fish).

I quietly pray for the safety of our home as I prepare my backpack in the dark. The power is still out so I have a small torch in my mouth as I get together my laptop, charger, a singlet, two pairs of underwear and my passport. I don’t know if it is enough but I briefly remember my friend, Matt George, who would always carry around a backpack with a flashlight in it for any occasional black outs. That bag was like a go-go- gadget accessory! I don’t have a mag light but i look at the chocolate. Necessity? This is an important piece of emergency equipment. What would you pack?

^ loco (Spanish) = crazy
* gila (Spanish) = crazy

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Day 62- brain sync meditation for jet lag

At 3.30am I am wide awake. I listen out for the holy chants that I know will start blaring from the distant mosque at around 4am. I have anxiety over the amount of uni work to do. I am so overwhelmed by my brain activity that I almost hyperventilate, until I eventually get up to make a cup of tea. I am missing a textbook from uni so I have decided to drop the subject and do it next year, rather than struggle through it. This decision has instantly calmed me down so that by the time I get up, I just start studying. I am starving by mid-morning so we go to see the boat. The Budyadahri┬áhas been re-painted and repaired and is looking very shiny and scrubbed up next to the shaky wharf. I don’t dare walk over the shifting planks of wood that hang precariously over the green-brown opaque water of the Muara river. I like Padang in the mornings. Before it is too hot, before there are too many people around and too many smells in the air.

We ride the motorbike through the market to pick up some bananas and pineapple for breakfast and vegetables for lunch. When we get back to the house, we make oatmeal and I eat slowly. Exhaustion and jet lag has just hit me smack in the face and it is only 9am. I have a whole day of this to get through. I have downloaded a Jet Lag Meditation┬átrack from Brain Sync which has three different tracks. It sounds like just music, but what is happening underneath the music is the important part. It works with binaural beats that target specific brain wave patterns. The four main brain waves are Beta, the awake state in which we are most alert and aware; Alpha, the meditative state where intuition lies; Theta, the deep sleep or deep meditation state and Delta, the unconscious. There are many sources on the internet which offer quick and easy meditation using this technology so I am curious to see how it works. This particular album has three tracks. One called the Delta sleep, the Theta relaxation and the Beta refresher. Since it is the morning I decide to do the Beta refresher. I lie down on the bed because I am too tired to bother with the yoga mat and there are still remnants of unpacking on our little lounge. I know this is probably not the best position to be in for a ‘refresher’ meditation but I am too tired to argue with myself. I close my eyes and put the headphones on. The track starts off slow, sounding like gentle Spa music. It has no rhythm and I can’t hear the binaural beats. I can feel myself drifting off to sleep and start to see the strange dream like thoughts dancing around in my head. I know that this is my brain trying to sleep. Eventually I force myself to open my eyes and sit up. I am thinking, “man, this stupid beta crap sucks” but when I reach for my computer and start to type I realise how much more alert I am than before. Since I only listened to about thirteen minutes of the half hour track, I leave the headphones in while I type and appreciate the background music. It really is helping me focus. I think if I tried this meditation again sitting up, I wouldn’t fall asleep. In fact, I am going to try it again right now.

Yep, it definitely works better NOT lying in bed…