Who would have thought?

by Yael Harris.

I am not a nostalgic person.

Uma weaving a crown of leaves, last summer. 2010

But somehow, just a few weeks ago, it was Amy Rafael who triggered this big flashback or realisation. It’s around ten years ago that we sat – Sam and I – back in England, around the kitchen table in Queens Park, feeling things weren’t quite right, wanting more out of life.

Sam was at the time doing weekly photo shoots and constantly busy and I was always tired mothering Uma, who was just a few months old and wanted constant stimulation.

Uma on route to the Andaman Islands. India 2003.

Could I imagine myself camping on a desert island in the middle of a storm (relaxed and laughing)? Or living in an Indian village doing the washing up squatting on the ground (with chickens pecking at the dishes)? Could I imagine having my second baby in a small village in India without electricity, facilities or a doctor on site? Could I imagine myself watering thousands of seedlings in a native tree nursery deep in the forest in Australia (with baby Yali in the back pack)? Could I imagine myself in ten years time living in a neighbourhood of trees and Kangaroos? With no television??? I surely couldn’t.

But I had the notion that things are possible. That everything is possible. During these long sessions around the kitchen table, talking, dreaming, we made a big decision. We wanted to spend more time together as a family. The little seed was planted. We are leaving. Where to? To travel for a long time. Where will we end up? Ideally in a warm place, with nature close by and a good community. This is as far as we got in our minds. And how are we going to do it? What about our careers??  What about our loved family and our precious friends?  We will have to find the way…

And indeed we did. It took us more than two years to fold our life, to make the many small steps towards actually leaving. Uma was almost three when we were on the way to the airport with one-way tickets to India and a very open mind.

The Dosa learning curve... Yael & Uma, Delhi 2003

So much has happened since… endless amount of adventures and learning curves. The further we travelled in time, the less we needed. How little we really need was the biggest lesson. When quality time is in abundance, when food is available locally and we have a simple roof over our heads, when we are together and we experience things first hand – we have all we need.

And Uma… she is almost 11 now… Looking back at the four birthdays she celebrated in India, the many friendships she has made along the way and all the experiences she soaked up – I am so pleased. I think that one of the biggest lessons for her in many ways was that changes are a part of life and there is nothing scary about them. Home is where the heart is. Full stop. And people… they are so different one from another and she accepts them for who they are. That’s enough nostalgia for one day… Do you ever sit around the kitchen table dreaming and scheming? I’m very interested to hear your reflections…

Uma by the swimming dam last summer. 2010.

To view a selection of photos from our journey please visit The Routineless Routine


2 thoughts on “Who would have thought?

  1. Sarah Matthews

    Wow you guys!!!
    …sounds like heaven!
    Paul gave me the link to your blog and well….. wow!!
    I don’t what to say after all these years but I think about you loads and am blown away by your lovely children and just wanted to send you lots of love. All is good with me and Nobby… happy in Brighton for 3 years now after moving down from London. Take care and may there be many more stories to tell!! Love Sarah XXXX

  2. Jack Leaf

    Fantastic reading – admire people who live their dreams. Hope to see you one day in Western Australia x


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