The first time I went to Yum Cha was a revelation. It was a crowded barn of a restaurant in Sydney, and my small table were the only Caucasians in a sea of dark hair. They didn’t even have a menu in English. My friend Geoff, who speaks fluent Cantonese, took us there, and did all of the ordering for us. The place was bustling, and small children played happily amidst the tables, dodging the streaming trolleys of food as they creaked around the room.
Of course the food was fantastic. But it was more than that. In that chaotic asian soup of sounds, flavours and faces I felt as comfortable as if I’d been born to it. I sat back in the madhouse din, all smiles. My soul felt nurtured, satisfied, home.
Years later, my sister and I often ventured to Sunnybank in Brisbane for an evening meal in one of the small family-run restaurants in that predominantly Asian suburb. The place we favoured had the worst translation of a menu I’ve ever seen, laminated tables, a clacketty old electric fan that pushed heat-wave summer air around in slow circles, and cheap plastic decorations. It had the ambience of a hospital waiting room. The food was home-style but tasty and the owners got to know us so well that after a while they just brought us a soup, a main, some sort of dessert – whatever was going, without us having to order. We loved the place. It felt like family.
When my husband was working overseas and I was struggling with a farm in drought, miserable with fatigue and acute loneliness, I would allow myself a fortnightly treat of yum cha on my own. Sitting by myself at a small table, with the routine of trolley, crowds, noise and family chatter around me, I always left feeling calm, comforted and reassured. A standard cafe never had the same effect, no matter how kind the staff or how delicious the food.
Why? Why Yum Cha?
It didn’t make much sense to me until I explored China, and then Thailand. These foreign places felt as familiar to me as breathing. The food, the crowds, the smell of the air. The first time I saw a line of bald-headed buddhist monks in their saffron robes, I was brought inexplicably to tears.
I was welcomed into temples, strangers encouraged me to pray and leave offerings at their family or workplace altars, monks sought me out for conversation. I knew some of the chants and meditations, although they were not in my native tongue, and I had not been taught them. I felt as if I had come home.
I’m sure Yum Cha stirs past life memories in me. They must have been good lives, for I find much comfort there.
How about you? Have you ever felt a crazy kind of connection to an unfamiliar place? Or known the place on first visit without having ever been there before? It’s more common that people realise.
Even if you don’t believe in past lives, you can still find places that take you back to a different time in this life, and to interests, dreams and skills you might have forgotten.
Wishing for you a day of reconnection and positive memories. And maybe some Yum Cha. ♥ Nicole xx
11 thoughts on “Places that remind you of who you used to be…”
Your writing transports me to places and invites me to naturally envision things that are beautiful as much as they are uplifting… I totally resonate with your experience and have found myself landing in various places in my travels to feel like when I am there it’s like I am ‘at home’ within myself in a way that puts me in a trance-like state with the surroundings – whether that was Brazil, or parts of Uluru, or even in the arms of people I met for such a short time. It is an amazing gift having that kind of pneumonic recognition with places! As always, you so it so well, so beautifully and so lovingly – THANK YOU!
I think many people resonate with this sense of having ‘been here before’ or ‘known you before’. It IS an amazing gift to have that sort of recognition of that energy, and it makes me happy that so many people have stepped forward and said, yes, Nicole, me too. I had that happen to me too! ♥♥♥
Sounds indeed like past life nostalgia ♥ i’ve had countless of those experiences with places and people since i was little, mostly with India, France, Egypt and the UK where i currently live now though i am not from here. As for France, i have mixed memories (both good and traumatic) and have lived more than one lifetime there. It’s a place my soul seems to be keen of and got addicted to ehehe. I’d lived in the UK before too, at the time of the celtic tribes and roman invasion, i tend to say the UK owes me a heavy karmic debt and that is likely why i ended up back here ;). I have experienced something similar to yours with the East, only i was a sadhu in India and initiating what they called the “third” stage of silence (this came to me in a vision), though it was worded differently…it’s not a surprise to me that in this life i’ve always had an urge to be silent, alone and in a meditative state. Love and enjoy the beauty it brings to your soul ~
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. What a rich tapestry of experiences for you! Bless xx
One of mine would have to be Scotland, that was definitely a homecoming, also had the need to go to Glastonbury, now that place I walked around just knowing where to go and which lane to cut thru for example…as it turned out, was a place I had lived in religious orders and murdered on the Tor before I exposed shenanigans, I had an awesome experience on the way up, I wont go into the long winded details here, so yes! the UK is definitely a land I remembered well…was like going back to pick up pieces of a puzzle, a completion that has taken 2 visits this lifetime, to date…loved your sharing above, I love how visual your writing is, seems Buddhism is very strong with many people I know, that feeling of ‘home’ and ‘comfort’, Chenrezig here on the Coast is a place I love to pop in now and again,eat, pray and shop!…first time I heard the Gyoto monks, now that pushed me into a shift! ok will wind it up, I could go on and on! cheers from the drenched Sunshine Coast, and still it comes down
I love your sense of Scotland being a homecoming. Eat, pray shop? Made me laugh out loud, Vicki! I’d love to get to Scotland and teh standing stones. I have always felt a pull to that area, and lots of my long dead rellies come from there. One day… ♥ xx
How very interesting, and so beautifully described, I was fairly carried along on your journey there. There is something very beautiful about the Buddhist religion, and although I’m not a Buddhist myself I do find a great sense of peace and calm in it. Your story sounds like a good case for reincarnation. I had a similar experience, except perhaps not so strongly, when I first visited Norway. I felt some sort of tugging at my insides and I think I also cried because it all seemed so familiar and homely to me, and I did wonder if it had anything to do with Viking ancestry. Scotland and Norway are quite similar, but I’ve been to other Scandinavian countries and not had the same feeling.
I’d trust that Viking connection, Lorna. I’m not a Buddhist either, but so much of it is familiar and resonates deeply with me. And my own practices seem to mirror much of the Buddhist philosophy. Life – it’s so much more that this frayed edge we live at. ♥ xx
As always, very nicely put Nicole, I agree! xo
I adore your writing. You make me experience with all my senses. Thanks. xxx
Thanks Mani! ♥ xx