Author Archives: Matsuda Mashimaru

About Matsuda Mashimaru

Be yourself - everyone else is already taken! - Oscar Wilde

Ramadhan 1440 H/ 2019 M

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25th Ramadhan 1440

We are in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Out of the 30 days of a blessing month of Ramadan, the last 10 days is the most blessed and anticipated nights. Believers take extra effort to increase their prayers and devotions toward the Almighty during these nights.

A month of self-restraint against food, drinks, wrongful desires, bad habits, negative temptations etc.

Fasting for 30 days in Ramadan month is one of the 5 of Islamic pillars. Fasting is just 1% of the effort while the other 99% is the extra effort that believers need to perform to strengthen their bond with the Al-Mighty.

Fasting is very hard for me with this Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that I had for almost 20 years.

With my health condition, to be able to fast during this month is a blessing.

I don’t want to miss my train. It’s my personal journey and I hope to fulfill my duty through my own pace. With a strict diet and the right amount of medications, I manage to fast without me ended up injuring myself.

Understanding that every deed of the son of Adam is for themselves except fasting; fasting is solely for Allah. Allah will reward it according to him.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed your Lord said: ‘Every good deed is rewarded with ten of the same up to seven hundred times over, except for fasting.’

I was assigned to write about Ramadan for my photography article in the News Straits Times this time around. Ideas on what to capture with your camera during this holy month.

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having dates of odd numbers during iftar. It is a sunnah food

Ramadan Bazaar is the most visited place in Malaysia, you could find it at every corner of the town. Operating between 4pm to 7:30pm. Food heaven where you could get food for iftar in one place. Because of my strict food diet, I don’t frequent Ramadan Bazaar that much anymore.

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a food stall selling murtabak, a famous dish for iftar

I decided to skip the food part of Ramadan and focus on how to capture the spirit of Ramadan through close-up photos. A close-up photo adds intimacy or relatable feeling onto your images. Sharing my article here for reading pleasure.

60456304_1098852406967468_2524450161610981376_n How do I spend my Ramadan month this year?

I tried to discipline myself to be closer to the community of the mosque.

Tried my best to have my iftar with my family and friends at the mosque every day, sharing food in one big tray, eat together, perform our Maghrib-Isyak-Tarawih prayers together, read certain surah from the Quran together.

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sharing food during iftar

As I sit quietly at my corner observing my surrounding, I saw one big group of orphan of different ages occupying another corner of the mosque while some corners are filled with believers of different races, different level of lives, poor or rich sat together sharing whatever food served during that day.

I feel humbled. Being broken, I have this unrealistic pride I tried so hard to overcome. That feeling of pride that I should rely on my own, that I am the sole provider for my own needs. Accepting others gratitude is not something I am used too. I am trained to give but not to accept.

Accepting food from others is something that I am not comfortable with. Here I learned to let down my pride and tone down my expectation. Feeling grateful with whatever food served in front of me and not complaining.

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sharing food during iftar

Praying together as one big ummah create strong bonding between us. I personally need the motivation boost to excel during the last 10 days of Ramadan. The late-night prayers, the almsgiving aka sedaqah, trying to read as many surahs from the Quran as possible and rushing for suhoor.

Doing all these spiritual activities together within a group make it achievable. I could not do that alone, am a dreamer that would drift into my own cave if I am left alone … cruising in my own world.

The divine journey to get closer to the Al-Mighty is the essence of Ramadan. It is not easy to achieve but it sure is joyful, spiritually joyful.

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Arissa reading her Quran

A few more days before the month would end. Still feeling that I am not putting my best effort, yet the clock still continuously ticking.

Will I be able to experience another Ramadan again next year?

In Sha Allah, if Allah permits.

Cheers

MM

 

 

 

 

 


Daydreaming

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While editing this photo and listening aka daydreaming to Fynn Jamal’s song aka poem, it struck me … her song is always a sad story.  It makes me sad listening to this song of her titled “Suatu Pernah”.

Suddenly looking at this photo of a young girl modelled for us at City of Taal, Manila, Philipines recently when I was in Manila, makes me sad. Her dad was at one corner watching over her beloved daughter posing for us, the photographers.

Her pure innocent heart … looking forward at the world, expecting the world to treat her equally and fairly. Probably one day she’ll fall in love and expect to be treated maybe not as a princess but as humane as possible.

And … guess what, life is not one bed of roses.

The video clip … so sad, tiba-tiba jiwang katak … sure sebab mental belum toughen lagi. Once in awhile, buang tebiat.

Suatu Pernah

Habis sudah madah
Tak ada satu pun yang tertinggal
Setiapnya telah kau ambil dan terus engkau jual
Seolah tak pernah memakna apa
Seolah tak pernah kau inginkannya
Seolah tak pernah
Dikutipku bila sudi
Di bila tidak dibiar mati
Dan lebih menyakitkan
Ku tetap tunggu di tepi jalan
Seperti tak pernah ku ada harga
Seperti tak pernah kita bersama
Seperti tak pernah kau mahu aku
Tak pernah rindu
Tak pernah rayu
Dulu
Terlebur hancur kebal rusukku
Berkecai sepai terpecah belah
Terima kasih atas ajarmu
Cinta tak wujud
Ah tak pernah
Dan dengarkan jeritku
Jujur tak terfitnah
Kau hanya bagiku
Suatu yang pernah
Takkan ada apa
Yang mampu untuk buat kau pulang
Bila sudah tiada rasa
Bikinlah apa tetap kau terbang
Takkanku pujuk kau jangan pergi
Takkan ku minta kau fikir lagi
Takkan ku

~ Fynn Jamal

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Cheers

MM


The Quietness of the moment

I just got back from Pedu Lake, Kedah, Malaysia.

Located up on the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia approximately 5km away from the Malaysia-Thailand border, the lake is easily accessible via well-maintained road.

The 12km-long lake is part of the dense rainforest of Gunung Fakir Terbang, 6 1/2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur via North-South highway (exit Gurun straight on to Sik then approx 7 km away, turn right to Gulam then left to Durian Burung and proceed to Seri Mahawangsa Pedu Lake jetty).

Surrounded by clean water and serene forest, this is a good place to retreat your soul from the noisy and super busy city life.

I am recommending this place to those who need a short break from the city life.

The only place to stay here in the middle of the lake is at Seri Mahawangsa boathouse, yes on a boathouse parked next to a small island about 15-20 minutes from the jetty.

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Seri Mahawangsa boathouse of Tasik Pedu

So, you can choose to sleep on the boathouse or on a treehouse or on a hut or just on a hammock or in a tent, an eco-resort type of stay.

Whatever your choice is the hammock is my best personal choice.

I fancy quietness and this place is easily accessible and quiet.

Tips to enjoy the luxury of lazing around in Tasik Pedu

If you plan to spend your time just lazing around then I want to share a few tips on how to enjoy “the luxury of just lazing around” in Tasik Pedu.

Firstly, listening to the Cicadas orchestra

This group of Cicadas or riang-riang (in Malay) would sing together at some odd times, a few times a day. Their buzzing sound that echoes throughout tree branches in this tiny island in Tasik Pedu (Amir called it the Survival Island) is phenomenal.

Stay quiet.

And you will notice their orchestra performance played as a background song in the island. Their music sounds louder than normal maybe because of the echoes.

Secondly, swimming with the Lampam fish around the boathouse.

Swimming during a hot day is heavenly.

Swimming in a pool or at a river or at a beach is different from swimming in a lake. There is abundant of fresh clear water around you. Yes, swimming in a deep lake feels different.

During a hot day, the water inside the lake feels colder and warmer at the same time. Very therapeutic.

But please be caution on your safety. I put on my life jacket all the time when I am in the water.

And I was in the water for hours. Canoeing and swimming … just enjoying the sun and the water at the same time.

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swimming during mid-day

Thirdly, lazing in your hammock during the mid-day after lunch

Yay! we have a full-time chef at the boathouse. He cooks all the time. Yes! he is a he.

I was well fed all the time. After having my rice with masak lemak ikan baung (fresh water fish in coconut milk) I feel … d r o w s y.

Not much thing to do as it is super hot during mid-day.

Lazing around in my hammock under the tree with all the leaves hanging out is a perfect thing to do. Sleeping … to be precise ☺️.

Embracing the lazy moment without guilt. Wahhh … I am happy.

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my quiet moment

Fourthly, watching the movement of the light and the clouds from the boathouse.

After a few boat trips circling the lake and enjoying the vast natural landscape surrounding Pedu Lake, a quiet time while watching the sunset is my next lazing thing to do.

Sitting with your loved one while watching the change of colour on the horizon is romantic. Hmm feeling lazy together with your loved one is classically romantic.

It makes me thinking of the Creator that creates all of these beautiful things around us. A moment to just be connected to the Creator and appreciating His greatness.

Feeling blissful to be able to just sensing His existence through the beauty around us is an amazing feeling. Alhamdullilah.

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an article I wrote about capturing ambience light in Tasik Pedu

Fifth, hanging out at one of the treehouses at night

There are a few treehouses that you can choose from. And hanging out in my hammock with my favourite book while listening to the sound of the forest at night is cool and peaceful.

Just me and my own world. I would never get tired of this.

Conclusion: All of us need to have a quiet moment with ourselves. To feel comfortable and peaceful being with ourselves. To feel at peace with ourselves.

He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the world ~ Marcus Aurelius

Although I don’t mind being on my own but having a person or two that have the same quiet mind as I am, hanging out with me is always welcome.

How do you prefer to spend your quiet moment?

Share with me and leave your comment below.

 

Cheers

MM

 


Flying to the mystery island

04.05.2017: They fly and explore various places around Malaysia with their engine powered wings during weekends, public holidays or special events. Being an adventurous spirit, I frequently join them for cross-country (XC) flying trip around Malaysia. Exploring and gliding through the airspace and seeing Malaysian’s landscape from a different perspective.

My alarm went off at 5 am that Sunday morning.

Earlier than usual as I needed to rush to the pre-planned take-off site of my next flying adventure. I had my quick shower, grabbed my camera bag and my flying equipment then drove for an hour to Antara Gapi, Serendah, Hulu Selangor.

Our take-off site was a public area. An open area up on top of a small hill in the middle of Antara Gapi’s town.

Heart of the eagle

A small group this morning, 6 paramotor pilots and me as a tandem passenger to one of them. They seemed to have something in common with me, an explorer spirit and I labelled them as my explorer PPG friends. They glided gracefully through the airspace exploring our Malaysian tropical landscape with their motors neatly tucked behind their back and their wings on top of their heads.

Riding on a paramotor tandem trike is different from riding pillion on a motorbike or on an aeroplane, as the passenger sits in front while the pilot sits at the back as he needs to control the glider and the throttle. So, passengers have a first class view of whatever in front of the trike.

We were heading to Sungai Tinggi Dam, Hulu Selangor, 33 km away from our take-off site. It would take approximately 45 minutes of flying hours to reach the place and another 45 minutes to fly back. As usual, I would be riding tandem with PPG pilot Tazza. I tagged along with them whenever they need a photographer to help capture their flying adventure.

Tazza would check on his pre-flight checklist while I would get into my seat; reorganized my cameras and my radio; set my prayers and wait for the clearance to takeoff.

A flock of bird

The clock was pointing at 7:30 am and morning lights started to rise from the horizon, pilots would take their turn to spread their wings, fire their motors and take-off safely from the ground. The air tends to be calmer early in the morning and as the light hiked up higher on the horizon, thermal heat could rock their gliders. So, they need to be fast because the air could be unpredictable.

Our adventure started when every pilot has successfully airborne, as they would glide out of Antara Gapi in one group. We were heading to Selangor river, approximately 6.3km northwest of Antara Gapi, and we would trail along the river.

We flew above small towns, some housing areas and lingered around hundreds of fishponds along the river bank. Hundreds or maybe thousands of birds loitered around the ponds probably looking for early breakfast and as the pilots glide through the area the birds ran berserk fearing the sound of their engines. It felt so good flying side by side with the birds, you could almost feel that you were part of the flock.

We were cruising along the Selangor river until we reached the North-South Highway and we then headed up to the North, flying parallel along the highway for about 10km. Once we reached near Bukit Tagar, we then crossed over the highway heading northwest to Sungai Tinggi Dam.

The view was way beyond words. I have travelled and witnessed countless beautiful landscape around the world but I have never expected to experience such rich and mesmerizing views from a place just 1-hour drive from my home.

Such peace and serenity filled the air and the landscape right beneath was such an amazing sight. I could see layers by layers of hills with a sign of thick mist in between the gaps.

Immersed in nature

Hulu Selangor area has a very diversified landscape. The area is relatively unspoiled, surrounded by mountains and secondary tropical forest. Flying with paramotor over the area is another option for the adventurous explorer who wishes to experience a variety of landscapes in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

When you are flying above at a certain height, your brain may get a bit lost on trying to figure out the right direction. It was a free highway up there hanging on the air,  as there were no physical road and signboard to guide the way. It is critical to be 100% sure on the direction as ppg pilots could not refuel gas while they were on air.  Getting lost was not an option.

So, it is crucial for them to depend heavily on GPS, altimeter and whatever mobile app that could track their flying routes and location.

The mystery island

As the pilots glided forward, I noticed a change in the atmosphere around me, the air felt much colder and windier. And, as I turned my head to my right I saw the mesmerising view of Sungai Tinggi dam. Dramatically, at that time the morning light was super golden.

The place felt mysterious. I understand now why the pilots called this place the “Mystery Island”. I had the urged to scream, not that hysterical scream but a delightful scream.

“What is this place? What is all this?” I screamed through the radio and my pilot friends were screaming and cheering at the same time too. What a beautiful moment. Honestly, the view from high above has yet to disappoint me, amazing experience.

Each cross-country flight that I tagged along was always a unique experience and it never felt the same to me. I blamed it on the character of the air, the moment of the light and the altitude of our location. We spent another five minutes hovering around the dam before the leader decided that it was time to turn back to Antara Gapi.

Time to hit the ground

We followed a different and shorter route on our way back, as we needed to save on our fuel.

The flight back was as smooth as I could remember like a breeze. We were all in a joyful mood as we have once again achieved our target for the day. Once we reached Antara Gapi safely, we flew a few rounds above Antara Gapi’s town and successfully landed back on the take-off site. To be able to experience flying especially via paramotor is a true blessing, a privilege and addictive too.

Flying cross-country requires detail planning on both the route and the safety of the journey. Of course, they have to comply with certain rules and regulation before they could start their trips. Proper NOTAM needs to be requested from the authority and if the rules stipulated that they could not fly exceeding a certain height, then they need to adhere to the rules.

For those who yearn to experience a different way to explore the surrounding of Hulu Selangor, Malaysia you can always try a tandem flight via paramotor from this group of explorer PPG pilots. They can be contacted at https://www.facebook.com/janjifly.janjifly.

Thank you for spending your time reading my experience and journey. Till we meet again.

Cheers

MM


Learning about Shadow

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#morningshadow

There is so much drama in shadow.

Appear during the absence of light. Shadows drag along a sense of mystery in any art composition including photography. The element of shadow and light in Chiaroscuro and Rembrandt lighting technique are some of the tricks that I, as a photographer has to master. I am currently learning to appreciate shadows. Trying to understand how to be more artistic with shadows.

In reality, I hate shadow.

Hate is a very strong word.

Let me rephrase my word … I don’t really favor shadow in life. I try to avoid people with shadows too. I adore transparency … simple and easy, no hidden agenda, no secret plotting. I want to live my life as simple, less shadow and as minimal as possible.

I associate shadows with hidings and secrets. It was a thrill at first trying to figure out the mystery behind the shadow. But once I figured out the game and the implication, it becomes tiring.

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#slowshuttershadow

I fall in love with his shadow … knowing that the shadow is just feeding me fairy tales all along, I choose to play his game.

A shadow doesn’t commit to anything … always hiding and trying to avoid any form of commitment. Never willing to own up anything because the shadow is never real. After a while … when lights come the shadow fades away, completely out of sight. Leaving me alone again facing the reality of life.

That is how I see shadows … untouchable, unreachable, irresponsible, commitment freak and unpredictable. Chasing shadow is tiring. It feels like you are riding on a merry-go-round, round and round with no end. Happiness never works in hiding … happiness needs transparency, sincerity and commitment.

I want to let the shadow just be the shadow. Not wanting the shadow to be my savior anymore. I could be my own savior. After all, that is what shadows do best… it stays hiding.

I would look at the shadow only from my camera viewfinder from now on. Focusing on hunting for its shape whenever light appears and figure out on how to embed its artistic shape into the canvas of my composition.

I am living my moment and always in need of good sleep. Time for a quick snooze.

Bye for now

Cheers

Matsuda Mashimaru

 


another visit to Northern Vietnam

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End of season. Meo Vac. Ha Giang. Northern Vietnam. September 2018

My second visit here at Northern Vietnam and my first was five years ago.

This time around we covered Sapa, Y Ty, Ha Giang, Dong Van and the Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang. We drove along the road close to the border of Vietnam and China starting and ending at Hanoi.

Acres and acres of dreamy layers of paddy field.

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Mysterious. Dong Van. Northern Vietnam. September 2018

The road is narrow, long, rough and winding but the view is worth the pain.

Due to its small road,  I think the best way to enjoy the landscape view here is with a motorbike. Riding slowly along the narrow path in between the layers and layers of paddy field and explore the life of Vietnamese ethnic minority here.

For the Muslim, halal food is difficult to find along the way. So, be prepared with your own food arrangement. I turned into a vegetarian whenever I travel, but it seemed like being a vegetarian here at Northern Vietnam is also very tough. Since I am aware of what I want to explore here … a little struggle on food has not dampened my spirit.

Just be a little flexible and creative on my diet choice then I would definitely survive.

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Me. Sapa valley. Northern Vietnam. September 2019

Our local guide during this trip is uniquely interesting.

An adventurous girl, she claimed that she is always lucky with the weather. During the week … yes indeed! the weather forecast predicted that we would have a strong storm for the whole week throughout our visit but the weather decided to treat us fairly with at least 50% sunlight, 30% foggy moody grumpy weather and 20% light rain. She is indeed our weather lucky charm.

I accepted the gloomy weather during this trip ‘as is’, not complaining.

Plan B. The best time to capture clouds movement. Slow shutter landscape shoot and time-lapse video. So at each location, rain or shine, I make it a point to capture time-lapse moments. Each recording takes up to at least an hour for a 5-second interval of at least 7 seconds time-lapse video using my GoPro.

Sharing my time-lapse video here at my youtube channel.

Gorgeous beautiful world that we stayed in, Masya Allah. And … I am grateful that I have the eyes to see and a heart to feel. I want to see more, I want to feel more.

Bye

 

Cheers

MM

24.01.2019

 

 


Am I lucky?

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Sweet little girl. Dong Van. Northern Vietnam. September 2018

How not to get bored of traveling?

My way? Planning for each travel trip is very important to me. If I plan to be at a place for say 14 days, I would plan on my everyday itinerary together with my backup plan if anything doesn’t go according to my plan.

Flexibility help reduces my anxiety.

I travel to do and see things I can’t at home. I hope to learn more about myself and being flexible allow me to be more open to a new self-experience.

My planning reflects my commitment to creating a unique different moment in each place that I visit. So that I could recall how does that place makes me FEEL years after years later.

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Sapa. Northern Vietnam. September 2018

I am glad that I am into photography. Morning light and afternoon light is always my favorite hours. So, I would be up very early in the morning and stayed until the last light, hunting and experiencing local festivals, market crowds, treks the hills to have a peek of the enchanting landscape, walking through a strangers village to have a look at how is life on this other side of the world and so on. The moment of learning and experiencing humanity is always a satisfying moment for me.

Wandering is a lot easier if you have a clear direction on where to go. Sharing some photos during my trip to Northern Vietnam last year. Will share more story during this trip on my next post. In Sha Allah

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Ban Gioc waterfall. Northern Vietnam. September 2018

And last question … am I lucky? Yes, I feel lucky therefore I am lucky. Have a good day dear reader. Bye.

 

Cheers

MM

10.01.2019

 

 

 

 


on how to photograph children

Sharing tips on how to capture my favourite subject … our little children in NST BOTS/ click!

On the street or in the studio, these 5 essential tips would definitely help create the cultivating ambience for our little subject for us to capture their growing up moment.

Sharing it here.

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Photographing the little ones. Monday 07.01.2019

It’s Friday. Enjoy your weekend.

Cheers

MM

11.01.2019

 

 

 

 

 


Bored with Traveling

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Sapa. Northern Vietnam. September. 2018

A friend asked me.

After so many places that I have been to, do I not feel bored?

After a while every place would look the same, she claimed. She travels a lot too. Covering common touristy places that normal tourist would go but yes, I think she has a good point there.

We tend to overdo things.

And when we overdo things, we’ll get numb and bored.

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A farmer.Dong Van. Northern Vietnam.September 2018

I call it the “touch and go” kind of traveling … get to your next stop, the Instagram famous spot,  then click here click there in 30 minutes run to the bus to the next stop, click here click there in 20 minutes back to the bus again and repeating that for 7 days while covering for 6 continents (I am exaggerating here yah).

After a few trips like this … places will look the same, there is not enough time to FEEL. The reason we travel is to experience the FEEL. Every place offered a different opportunity for us to FEEL but we need more than 30 minutes to explore the new surrounding and experiencing FEEL.

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Hmong people. Dong Van. Northern Vietnam. September 2019

How not to get bored while constantly traveling? Create a unique moment for each place that you visited. To do that … you need to do slow traveling.

Take more time at each place. Breath the air. Wander along the street. Explore local markets. Stay at the local’s home. Trek the mountain. Cycle around the town. Hangout at the local restaurant. Join the local festival.

Time for bed. It is 11:25pm on 03.01.2019. Will continue my rant on my next post. Goodnight.

Cheers

MM


Calmer 2019

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Dong Van. Northern Vietnam.September.2019

Another new year.

Feeling obnoxious. Adding up another year to my age. 2018 was not a very productive year and the mental exhaustion sometimes makes me want to quit from being the nicer me. Maybe this is maturity.

Overthinking. Fear that something might go wrong if I choose a different path. People of my age prefer to just choose the most comfortable path. But I always have that rebellious voice aka conscious voice that I want to listen to.

It seems like maturity took a heavy toll of my childish inner self. I am still not sure how to deal with it. Give it time … maybe Allah will show me the right path.

In the meantime … life goes on.

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Kashmir. India. October.2018

Happy new year to y’all who dropped by here reading my online journal.

Resolution? Naaahhh … no new resolution for me this year. I will always do what I always do … giving my best effort in everything that I do. I am not brave nor I am strong. If pushing myself to survive is this adventurous, damn …I would do this, again and again, for a million time.

Time for bed. It’s 12:04 AM now. A new year. A new day. A new challenge. Have faith.

Bye

MM

02.01.2019

 

 

 

 

 

 


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