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The Freedom to Travel the World

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AmericanFlagSunrise


Photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinsworld/382281375/


 


One of the freedoms we Americans forget about is our freedom to travel just about anywhere in the world. All we need is our American passport and a ticket, and we’re off. 


 


In contrast, much of the world has to get permission every time they want to enter another country. Here’s what my husband, a Sri Lankan passport holder, has to do just to TRANSIT for ONE NIGHT in Japan, though he’s gotten the same visa twice a year for the past 3 years (by the way– pretty much every embassy has the same procedure). And remember, this is the “easy” process, since he’s already been given the visa before.


 

  • Get a letter from his company stating that he is indeed employed and does have vacation time coming to him, along with his company ID. (So they know he’ll come back from their country and won’t migrate illegally.)

 

  • In addition to the form, he needs to attach a letter asking for one day processing, because as an airline pilot, he kinda needs his passport every day and can’t let them have it for a week.

 

  • He has to bring his tickets and confirmation from a hotel to prove to them exactly what he’ll be doing and when. The magic of this is that if they refuse the visa, the tickets have to be cancelled and may not be refundable.

 

  • His current and previous passports.

 

  • Stand in line in front of the Japanese embassy from 7am, because they only let a certain number of people in each day at 9am, and they don’t care if you only have one day off to take care of this (or if you’ve traveled from out of town, as many do). If you don’t get in, you’ll have to come another day.

 

  • When his number is called, he presents all of his documents to a Sri Lankan who has been employed to keep out the riff-raff and is on a major power trip. (Because these people are so evil, they are hidden behind reflective glass so no one recognizes them and takes out their aggressions on them after they get off work).

 

  • This person ignores all the evidence and demands paperwork that he doesn’t have with him and that are not asked for in any documentation from their embassy—a faxed confirmation from the hotel, a copy of his work schedule, his bank details, his birth certificate.

 

  • Then he has to argue with them, reason with them, and demand that they look at the stuff he’s brought that proves he’s done this many times before and they have always given it to him.

 

  • Then they usually say okay, come back in one week and he has to argue with them to pick it up later in the day or the next day.

 


For many people who are not airline captains and have not done this before, they need to show proof of all of their assets to prove they’ll come back. A divorced friend was a concern to the US embassy because they feared he had no reason to return and would lose himself in the underground. (Read “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai to get a sense of what the underground life is like. It’s not very appealing.)





And all I have to do is arrive in Japan and show my U.S. passport. That’s freedom!


God bless America!


Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly in Colombo – CFW 2012

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CFW2012
By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

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Shop, Sup, and Spa Stylishly in Colombo

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CFW2012

By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

Stylish Shopping Musts:

THE DUTCH HOSPITALFacing the World Trade Center just next to the Hilton, is the newly renovated former Dutch Hospital. The beautiful old buildings are alive again with shopping, food and nightlife! You'll find that many of our CFW sponsors and partners are represented here, too.

ODEL – Near Town Hall, it’s a lovely and lively place for fashion, fun gifts and food. Their departments include a bookshop (my novel is available there!), home décor, jewelry, and makeup and perfume, and now you can even get a massage at Footrub before heading to their outdoor food court. They also feature a section with locally-made items to take the feel of Sri Lanka with you wherever you go.

PARADISE ROAD has locations all around Colombo (and the island), each with it’s own distinct feel.

  • PARADISE ROAD PROMENADE, near Town Hall is in a large, lovely, converted colonial house and offers a great selection of stylish souvenirs and gifts, as well as home décor. You’ll want to linger and explore every corner.
  • PARADISE ROAD STUDIO on Alfred House Gardens, off of Duplication Road – is a place where I’ve often thought of hiding until all the employees to go home, so I could live there for the night. Beautiful music and luxury surround you as you search for just the right addition to your home.
  • PARADISE ROAD GALLERIES – Just around the corner from Studio, you’ll find the Gallery and Gallery Café. This complex was once the office of internationally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, and is therefore a work of art in itself, with a variety of artists whose work adorns the space. Combined with beautifully delicious food, drinks and decadent desserts, you will want to keep coming back for more sensory delights.
  • BAREFOOTwhere colorful handloom cloth is the main attraction. The fact that their products promote the work of local craftspeople makes them even more fabulous as souvenirs and fashion statements. Spend some time perusing books, works of art, and then sit a while at their outdoor café.
  • CRESCAT BOULEVARD is a shopping mall located next to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on the Galle Road where three levels of shops, services and restaurants are all in one upscale location. Books, videos, music, perfume, jewelry, accessories, shoes, clothing, massages, and food. What more could you want?

Stylish Supping:

Dutch HospitalHarpo's, The Ministry of Crab and the Brewery by O can be found here, as well as a restaurant from Sri Lankan Airlines catering! 

Paradise Road – To leave Colombo without eating at either of Paradise Road’s restaurant locations would be a crime. Their delectable fare features fusion food and a twist on Sri Lankan favorites. The atmosphere adds to the feast of the senses, topped of by the best desserts on the island, bar none. Both offer a bit of Sri Lankan history too, so be sure to ask, and indulge your mind as well as your senses.

  • The Gallery CaféWith its eclectic musical selections and artwork you might forget you’ve just entered a café, restaurant and bar. In fact, it was rated one of Asia’s Top 10 Lounge Bars in 2007. So it shouldn’t be surprising that you are joining the ranks of Sting, Kenzo, and Donna Karan, among many others, as you walk through the gates to be immersed in tantalizing beauty for all of your senses.
  • Tintagel is a unique private hotel, and like King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall for which it is named, it instantly offers a royal welcome. It even offers a connection to some of Sri Lanka’s most illustrious names– the Bandaranaike family—who made it their home, are best known for having produced three of the country's leaders. Now this home-turned-private-hotel can be yours for the span of a meal…or for several days. No matter how much time you spend there, you can be certain you’ll leave feeling thoroughly enchanted.

The Mango Tree – Where Flower Road and Dharmapala Mawatha meet is a hidden oasis of delectable Indian cuisine. Be adventurous and try everything. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll leave feeling full…and satisfied!

Raja Bojun – For authentic Sri Lankan food with an unobstructed view of the sea while in air-conditioned comfort, Raja Bojun on the Galle Road is the place. Decorated in local style with coconut monkeys peering at you from palm trees and thatched roofs covering the buffet, you can enjoy the best of the traditional and the modern. Don’t forget to pat the pachyderm on the way out!

Cricket Club Café – When you’re in the mood for something more Westernized, or a beer and some tasty pub food, Cricket Club Café is the place. Decorated with cricket memorabilia from around the world with matches playing perpetually on the TV screens, its menu also pays homage to the sport’s best known and loved players. But even if you know nothing about Cricket, (like me) the colonial atmosphere and food are worth the visit.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – Yes, the international chain is here in Sri Lanka! This is one of the nicest I've seen–lion head fountains and coi ponds direct you to the entrance, where you order your beverage of choice. Snacks and meals are also available to be enjoyed out on the patio, in the main room, or in a big comfy leather chair or couch upstairs.

A Stylish Spa Treamtent …or quick massage:

Angsana Spa – Next to Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Crescat Shopping Center you’ll find a day spa to wash away the stresses of sightseeing, shopping and the demands of fashion.

Waters Edge Spa – to enjoy a sense of space, take a drive out to where the new Parliament Building sits in the middle of a lake and then to The Waters Edge resort. Their spa overlooks the golf-course-turned-garden and offers a lovely atmosphere and wonderful treatments.

Footrub – With locations all around Colombo, where some of the most tired of feet are to be found, (Crescat, Odel, the Airport) take a few minutes to re-fluff those flattened soles and perhaps also rejuvenate your soul. Despite the name, they also offer head, neck, shoulder and back massages, and Scholl products to make your next steps more comfortable.

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Using My Voice to Share My Worldview – Written

I shifted my creative focus to the written word after moving to Sri Lanka in 2000.  The magical and exotic land of my ancestors inspired me to begin my first novel, Echoes Across Time.

Echoes-cover

I also took the opportunity to work at Young Asia Television, writing and producing scripts for a magazine-format show about women’s issues in the developing world.

My first freelance writing was published by Adoh! Magazine in Sri Lanka, which helped me get hired to write for the Daily OM.com, and then other magazines and websites followed.You can get a sampling from my website at malaynadawn.com/articles.

I’ve since worked as a blogger-for-hire for the organization Garments Without Guilt in Sri Lanka and for a U.S.-based web services company, writing on just about everything you could imagine. 

You can read some of my Garments Without Guilt posts on my Yahoo Shine page.  The rest are corporate secrets, but the general info I can share: Topics included mind-body-spirit approaches to health, subcultures, internet culture, inspiration for recovery from substance abuse, natural health, orchids, funeral customs, collaborative divorce, restaurant trends, and sensory research, among others.

1FINAL-swtLogo-9-25-11 copyWith a friend and partner, I began writing for a travel blog called Women on World Excursions. It inspired me to travel more and share the journey.

Then we created the website Spiral Whirled Travels.com. The ideal way for me to share my mulfi-faceted worldview through the written word, as well as the spoken word, at times.  Like in this radio interview with Sophie on L.A. Talk Radio:

 

So there you have it… for now!

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

The Mind Behind the Haunted Carnival

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BOY0073800What is it about Tim Burton’s creative vision that resonates with so many of us? In a time when fairy tales have been cleansed of anything scary, violent or even hinting at death, Burton revives the darkness that has been removed, but for the delight of grown-ups, and without removing the magic.

Look back to the original versions of fairy tales—at the least the earliest written ones we can find recorded, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and you’ll see that they were indeed grim. There was violence and horror mingled with the enchantment. Endings weren’t always happy, but they served a social function…several, actually. Beyond scaring kids into behaving, they also fulfilled the purposes of mythology: to offer a metaphorical guide through the journey of life (which, let’s face it, can be messy). It’s a path we all travel, though at different times—from infancy to independence, puberty to procreation, adulthood to aging and finally, death.

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Steampunk and Clockwork Couture

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CC-WindowGirl 
 
If it weren’t for the brightly shining sun on the leafy green trees and modern cars out the window, you might think you were in Victorian England – where the fog would obscure the cobblestone streets and gas lamps, so you could only hear the hoof beats of horse-drawn carriages and the hoot of the steam train in the distance.   But this lovely little room is in the sunny Southern California suburb of Burbank! 

Clockwork Couture has more than Victoriana, it offers the opportunity to become a Steampunk!  To be a steampunk, you need to imagine that you’re living at the turn of the last century, when science is making huge strides and the British Empire stretches across the globe. The Queen’s subjects bring tales of steamship adventures and souvenirs from exotic lands. America lures many with the promise of freedom and danger in the wild West, and grand Colonial plantations in the South are creating Civil War, while on the East Coast, a new-world version of Victorian refinement can be found.

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Art and Fashion Enchant an English Palace

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Enchanted_palace_kensington Before embarking upon my recent trip to London with one of my best girlfriends, she told me she really wanted to visit a palace. Though Buckingham Palace does offer tours, it’s only during certain months, and it wasn’t available to us during our 3 days there, so I checked out what Kensington Palace had to offer.  I was so excited with what I found!

Not only do they offer tours through the State Apartments, but a theatre group called Wildworks  has been brought in to bring the rooms to life, not as it was, but an enchante d version that lets you get a *feel* for the lives of the seven princesses that once lived there. The Enchanted Palace is what Kensington Palace has become, through the fashion and art installation that tells their stories. 

(Image from http://ireallylikedaisies.blogspot.com/2010/10/enchanted-palace-seven-princesses-in.html)

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We started our visit with afternoon tea on the terrace of The Orangery, an 18th century building commissioned by Queen Anne (reign: 1702-14)  with French floor to ceiling windows overlooking a manicured garden.  “The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.” 

The only hints toward the Enchanted Nature of what awaited were: 1) the design printed atop a chocolate tea cake and 2) the whimsical archway at the garden entrance.

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Being a Shaman – for self and others

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Devil-dancers-sri-lanka-435x279 
Image from Lankapura.com

The word “shaman” may bring to your mind images of medicine men in colorful outfits, dancing around a fire to the beat of tribal drums, much like the image of Sri Lankan devil mask dancers, above.  And you’d be right, though you’d be getting only part of the picture.

The REASON they do all of that is to get past our attachment to the “real” world and connect to our inner workings–to help us travel the landscape of our hearts and souls and make us whole in mind, body and spirit

Now for you and me, their performance probably would not work. This is because they’re not speaking our cultural or symbolic language.  To do that, they’d have to tap into our religious and spiritual beliefs, our cultural upbringing and the images we see in our dreams. 

Wikipedia describes shaman as “intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds… Shamans are said to treat illness by mending the soul…[which] restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness.” They also said “Cultural anthropology approaches shamanism as an integral part of the study of culture, belief, and practice.”

So who are the shaman of our modern Western culture?  Who guides us through the realm of dreams, symbols, metaphor and stories to help us make choices in our lives?  Joseph Campbell said it’s the artists—painters, poets, singers, dancers, actors, directors, comedians, etc.  They take inspiration, which is a message from the spirit world, and communicate it in a language we understand.  And when they really get it right, it not only entertains, but touches our hearts and inspires us.  (Of course, that’s not always their goal.)

 Joseph-campbellHeroes-CmyssArchetypes

Joseph Campbell and Caroline Myss both have said that in today’s world, it is up to us to find our own way through our spiritual landscape.  We have to be responsible for the well-being of our own souls. In other words, we need to become our own shaman.

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Carried in my Heart – Not Heavy at All

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Feb 20, 2011
Heart-shaped-croatian-islan

Recently, I tried to comfort one of my god-daughters after the loss of a family pet by posting this to her Facebook page:

“When they're in your heart, they're always with you. I know because I carry a whole menagerie around with me in my heart…and some humans too. They're not heavy at all.”

I come from a pet-friendly family, well known for rescuing all kinds of animals, and as much as it hurts to lose them, it never stops us from investing our love into another animal friend.  As one little ditty goes, “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.” Loving and being loved, even from a pet, is so good for us. It expands our light; and our hearts will expand to accommodate it all.

See the image? That's the landscape of my heart — plenty of room!

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Chatting with Former White House Chef Walter Scheib

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I’m gonna start with the moral of the story:

Do what you love to do and share it,

and maybe someone will ask you to do it again.

(Feel free to quote me on that!) 

I’m referring to both how I got my most recent gig, and the guy I worked with on said gig. I was acting as the Mistress of Ceremonies for a “State Dinner” with the former White House Chef, Walter Scheib. He loves to cook, I love to communicate, so ….


 Malayna with Walter-md 
 

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