9 January 2012

I need your help

I have been back in Australia for 1.5 years now. It has been 18 months of stationary travel: although I have been geographically immobile, the journey has been continuing within me.

For many years I have searched for a 'home' but I have recently learned that this is no more than an idea. Home is a state of mind. It doesn't matter where you are physically in the world: once you close your eyes you will always recognise the familiar voice and soul within you, which has travelled everywhere and nowhere. Home is within.

I travelled for a very long time trying to experience as much life as possible so that at the conclusion of my journey I would find inner peace - no matter where I went, what I did or who I was with. Needless to say it completely shook my world when, once upon returning to Australia, after countless travels and adventures, and epiphanies and enlightenment, my soul and spirit was in more turmoil than it had ever been in my life.

And I think I know the reason for this: I searched the world for an enlightenment that was never any-WHERE to be found. It was always within. And once I turned my energy and journey inward, only then did I realise that the true journey of enlightenment was taking place before I ever even took a step.

One may argue that it required the hundreds of thousands of miles of world travel to arrive at this conclusion - and I may be inclined to agree - but when I think that the next 'journey' I take can commence with the closing of my eyes... this makes me smile.

Onto my next adventure...

I have been a writer ever since I mastered my opposable thumbs. I distinctly remember writing letters to an imaginary army at the age of five. "Dear Men," I would begin. Not yet in possession of a journal or diary, I would write in a little, blue bank-book - where one would ordinarily records his or her deposits and withdrawals. Clearly this was a time well before computers would fit inside a house.

Since that time, I have been constantly ushered closer and closer to the same conclusion: that I wish to write a book - something that has also been encouraged by many of you. Well, the time of reckoning is approaching and when I close my eyes I see the end result.

But first I would like to undertake a year of formal education to groom and nurture what skill and ability I possess, to better tell the stories that so far only live within me. And in order to study - and to relieve the financial strain which three years of volunteer work creates - I am applying for a wonderful, writing scholarship.

It is a fantastic opportunity, and I fulfill most of the requirements but one: references. Usually the references should be from teachers, professors, mentors, etc, but because I have no formal training in writing, the administrators of the scholarship have requested that I compile and submit to them a collection of comments about my writing - whether it is my blog or anything else.

And so I ask you, my readers, if you have enjoyed my writing over the years, please leave a comment on this post: a few lines about my writing that I may forward with my application on the 12th January.

I greatly and humbly thank you all for your time and following regardless. I have thoroughly enjoyed relaying my thoughts and adventures to you over the years, and I hope to continue doing so for years to come. Thank you for your companionship on my journey.

Much peace, love and light to you all,


  1. Anonymous23:48

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog over the years. You truly have a talent for writing and an amazing, unique way of describing things that make one feel like they are living the experience. Keep up the good work.

    :) Diana

  2. Manu09:21

    Reading Ara's blog gave me that strenght I was looking for to pack my bag and leave. I am so glad I did... while I was travelling in SA I kept on reading Ara's adventures on the other side of the globe, and then we switched!! I came back to Europe, and Ara went to SA.. so my trip carried on throuhg his eyes. I have visited all those places I wanted to - but ran out of time - by reading his "travelling diary" and through his amazing pictures.
    I do hope his journey will carry on, and his thoughts will help find that path that will are all looking for....and that maybe he has already found.Your writing is a mission to your reader that cannot stop. Not now, not yet!

  3. You don’t need to read a million books to know when you have stumbled upon a special writer. Talent is probably not the right word to use here, because after reading Ara’s pieces I realised there was not just a great mind at work, but a great heart. One full of so many experiences and so much depth, that you find yourself submerged in a piece of art. I have been able to read a few of Ara’s stories, and each one takes me to a different place. It’s because it’s unlike anything else out there, with passion and wit and suffering and love, he captures you. It’s as if he has befriended the words before he strings them into a sentence, making it apparent that he has a love for language and knack for expressing himself. I always said I look forward to the day when I get to sit down with Ara’s published book in my lap. He has great things to offer.

  4. It is now almost a year since I first read Ara's travel blog. This simply started with a mutual interest in that both of us had found dead bodies. The difference was that mine stayed well and truly dead, while Ara had brought his back to life and then paid for the taxi trip back home. Besides the generosity of spirit, I was struck by a spare, almost dry, style which captured both the tension and the ordinariness. This had also been my own feelings at the time, although until reading the blog I had somehow not quite felt aware of this.

    Browsing further, I began to enjoy Ara's concise travel writing. This gives a sense of place and color and has the spaces to let the reader's imagination conjure up its own images. I find it very appealing.

  5. Ara’s travel blogs not only describe a journey but tell a tale of his experiences in all parts of the world. Far too often I have come across people who have, for example, “done Europe” or other places. I may not have visited Europe (although plan to this year) but I believe that having read Ara’s blogs I have probably experienced it more than those who just “done” it.

    Ara has been able to capture beyond just the descriptive of his travels, his writing is profound and in reading his blogs I am there with him, sharing the emotion, the sights, sounds and smells.

    A truly great writer will inspire, motivate, captivate and even impart knowledge. Ara's blogs have done just that - keep up the great work!

  6. Julia Beyer19:09

    Myself more of a writer than a reader, I have always been amazed by the feeling it is to read through Ara’s work.

    The ease and treat it is to wander through his narration certainly stems from this melting of imagination and realism, which has rarely been seen.

    And the joy of life, shining through all lines, makes his prose poetic, yet allowing all freedom of mind.

    It’s only once his too short creations come to an end, that you realise the virtue of it and wish for him to gather conditions to bless us with more.

  7. Anonymous19:47

    My testimonial in respect of Ara maybe somewhat different to others you have received or from what you were expecting but I really wanted to give you an insight into the man behind the writing rather than the writing itself.

    On occasion, during the course of my lifetime, I have been fortunate enough to meet individuals who I describe as pivotal people and this is how I consider Ara. By way of context, I met Ara three years ago for the grand total of two hours and I am hoping when you have read my account of that encounter you will have an appreciation of some of the qualities which have earned him that accolade.

    I had not long turned 40 and donned a back pack for the first time in 15 years when I arrived in Brazil. The weather was wet and grey and I was sharing a dormitory with people half my age. What had I done?!

    A French girl told me that there was an Australian guy giving out ‘free hugs’ in the square the next morning and perhaps I’d be interested in going. I really had no idea what that entailed but decided to go along. The next morning we arrived at the square and to be honest we were not even sure if we were in the right place. On one side I noticed a solitary man sporting a cardboard sign ‘Abracos Gratis’ above his head. I took the liberty of standing back, watching the scene before me. I will not attempt to replicate it as Ara has already articulated this, much better than I can, on his Life Less Travelled blog. At first I shrank back, almost not wishing to be associated with this act then I began to notice a shift as Ara’s luminosity and presence shone through. He demonstrated boundaries which others dared not to dream about and invited them to explore their own inhibitions and limitations. Tentatively one local embraced Ara and then another. Those who deviated their route to avoid direct contact were equally interested by the whole spectacle. The mood was infectious and before I knew it I was writing on my own piece of cardboard participating in this magical experience.

    I suppose for me what really captures Ara’s essence is what happened afterwards. Still high from the events of the morning we all decided to share lunch. During conversation we learned that Ara was a chiropractor by profession and his parting gift to us was an alignment. He lined us up and one by one he cracked our spines on a stone bench in the middle of Lapa. It was quite a comical scene as you can imagine and attracted a crowd of locals gathered around in awe & speculation at this mystical avatar. This for me exemplifies Ara’s spontaneity, adaptability, practicality and generosity.

    Ara opens people up to the infinite possibilities in life. He also has the ability to get a message across without the receiver even knowing they were being given one! He is a very understated soul with a simplistic approach to life which is reflected in his writing. He has a gift of seeing beauty where there is none and emanates happiness through his joy and humour. It would however, be erroneous to mistake his kindness for weakness – he is one of the strongest people I know. He is a person whose presence fills a greater space than that which his physical structure occupies. He leaves you feeling a better person having met him and my life has been enhanced by knowing him.

    I have never seen or spoken Ara since that day but fondly follow his adventures, and somewhat vicariously live my life, through his blog.


  8. A story teller must have stories to tell. Ara has millions of them.

    A writer must have abilities with words, passion about what he's writing about and magic to touch the reader. The comments posted above testify how all of those characteristics are shown in Ara's blog.

    A professional writer must be constant with his work. It's been over three years since I was introduced to Ara's work about his journeys, and he has hardly ever stopped posting. I do agree it's time to publish. And maybe all what is missing is just a little push, a small boost of confidence, a certified feedback. It has already begun.

    His stories mostly flow deep from his heart, enriched by an acute sense of observation, a critical way of perceiving the world and a wit sense of humor. Ara can entangle historical facts with personal experiences at the same time he describes a natural landscape or an urban scene, bringing the reader right to the spot where all of this seemed to happen. Colors, textures, scents, temperatures come to the reader's mind, and all this exhuberance is crowned with a balance between an hilarious anecdote, a deep reflection and a simple observation, sometimes so natural and evident for the reader it makes it hard to realize we weren't there, it's just that it seems so familiar, so close.

    Ara the writer has the power to transport the reader to the world he describes, maybe the world he creates, in such a way that it's turned into our own world. And there's no surprise about it, is the same power of Ara the human being to deeply connect with almost any person with just a few words, in just a few minutes.

  9. when i first met ara, back in switzerland, i just met a cool and peaceful man, among others. the second time i met him was when i started reading his blog about travel experiences, some months later. that's when i met the writer. once started, i couldn't miss any new article and when he stopped travelling and his article came only every now and then, i was really missing his peculiar way of seeing what's around him, and particular way of describing it.

    i'm french and not too good at writing english, but reading it is a pleasure, and while reading ara, i was constantly amused by his humour, one sense of humour i,ve never seen similar in somebody else's writing. the one that catch you, and make you want more.

    the third time i met ara, i could finally enjoy the writer's presence, and our conversations were then of the most iinteresting i had in my travels. this enlightment is part of him, and part of his pencil at the same time!

    i hope to read you again soon ara.
    xavier pince

    sorry i am writing with a crappy keyboard in an indian internet cafe...

  10. Congratulations ARA and I am looking forward to read your 'coming soon Book'. Your writing inspire the imagination, the inner strength, remind us that joy, happiness, exploration, community, sharing and living is our birth right.

    As you have shared with us all your experiences through all this years, we as readers were able to travel with you and embrace within the lives of so many around the globe.

    Your imagination, your gift with words and your love for life is contagious and a 'present' to humanity.

    love to you and to your upcoming endeavors!

    ps: eager to read from you soon again :)

  11. The man has stuff to tell. Give em the scholarship.

  12. Anonymous15:20

    Bogota Colombia 01/09/12

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing this recommendation for Ara in the capability as the extraordinary writing communications skills he express trough his blog “The Life Less Traveled”.
    Every time I read his blog is easy to feel transported to the place or time he describes encouraging me to go there and look for a similar experience around the world.

    As a foreigner I started reading “ The Life Less Traveled” in Australia. When I found he had written about places I had been before, it was amazing to be identified with Ara’s words in similar travel adventures I though I had forgotten.
    Reading about my country really surprises me in the way that easy is to visualize some of the sceneries I grew up from the point of view of a traveler.
    As a designer I would like to say his stories are very well complemented by a fantastic photographic collection of images.
    His writing encourages me to go and visit all these venues, and meet the characters he found on his way.

    Ara is one of the most authentic people I ever met. He is an ambassador of Couch Surfing in Melbourne. For me this mean he is a very open minded friend who always receives you in warm, sincere an honest way.

    I strongly recommend Ara to be awarded with this scholarship to improve his skills and inspires more people to start an adventure such as “the Life Less Traveled”.
    If you have any other question feel free to contact me at ivang.ayarza@gmail.com


    Ivan Garcia

  13. Anonymous07:24

    As a fellow travel lover, I look to Ara's blog for advice, guidance, an motivation. His blog gives a taste I the life that is possible if we constantly strive to seek the best from ourselves, and it is an outlook on life that is contagious and expressed with the utmost sincerity through his writing. I find that Ara's style as an author evokes a sense of his strong level of engagement in the world around him, which is represented in his vivid descriptions of the people and places he has interacted with. He has a keen ability to reflect introspectively on his experiences and to connect them to other realms of life, which as a reader truly inspires me to do the same and to hold myself to an elevated level of knowledge seeking.

    -Kelly McMahon

  14. Anonymous21:06

    Dear Ara
    We have been following your travels through your blogs. We always appreciated your stories, that were very informative, interesting and amusing. You have special gift of observation, which you recorded in photographs and stories skillfully.

    we also thought, that you should collect all your experiences into a book before you even thought of writing one yourself. With your determination, and sense of humour,we trust you will one day.

    So, we wish you good luck in your attempt to turn your dreams into reality.

    A very happy new year to you,



  15. Anonymous03:14

    We met Ara in the high altitude of the Himalaya mountains, back in 2005. Although not travelling together, we hiked the same old ‘trading routes’ on which merchandise is carried in incredible heavy loads by local porters. We would meet at evening around shit-burning stoves trying to keep warm and talking about live.

    At the time, Ara was carrying a load of his own, looking for a destination in his life. At the same time it seemed to me that he was living his life to the max. Like an artist, if you ask me.

    Because he was always busy taking pictures of, as it appeared to me, strange things, details or obscurities, I told him one evening that, in my modest opinion, he should take up photographing and make a living out of it. Ara just smiled, said nothing and changed the subject to the quality of the burning Yak-shit.

    After we parted we kept in touch, by email of course, but most of all we followed his whereabouts by reading his blog on which he posted his pictures as well. Reading his blog was always something to look forward to. His writing improved with every new post he made, but his style of photographing never changed. So after a while I realised I had been wrong. He was not photographing like a photographer, with his pictures he was telling stories. Like a writer.

    So if you are considering to grant him a scholarship to become a writer, it’s useless. He is a writer. However, if you are considering a scholarship to make him a better writer, I couldn’t recommend him enough.


    Jeroen & Sam

  16. Anonymous12:51

    To whom it may concern,

    Over the last few years I have been addicted to reading the travel accounts of Ara’s blog 'The Life Less Travelled' and it been a wonderful source of entertainment and education whilst I have stayed mobile in my 9-5 everyday job.

    Through his 10+ years of life experience and travels which he eloquently crafts into words, Ara’s writing has had me intrigued, challenged, touched, moved, motivated and inspired to think outside the box and the world I live in, and also about my actions and how it affects others. I find his writing honest and personal, and often find myself laughing out loud on my way to work reading his stories which capture Ara’s wit and colourful personality. His creativity extends beyond words to his beautifully captured photographs, making his blog an engaging and effortless read for the user.

    In addition, I am blessed to have crossed paths with Ara and I can honestly say that Ara is a student of life; not only does he possess the maturity and life experience through his years of traveling the world, but his lively, warm and generous qualities will be an asset to your class, and his unique sense of humor and positive attitude to people and situations make him a standout candidate and student to teach in your class.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Ara will be a delight and a success in this course and in his future pursuits as an outstanding writer.

    Sincerely yours,
    Olivia Cheung

    Associate Producer
    Asia Pacific Vision (APV), Hong Kong

  17. Anonymous05:18


    I am so sorry, just noticed your request.

    You should tell them you are the best and they should believe you, like we believe to every single word you write.

    I look forward buying your books sometime soon or seeing your credits in Time, Economist or Independent?

    Best wishes,

    Hamlet Kamsar Mejloumian
    Creative Editor
    UNP Ltd
    England, UK

  18. Anonymous16:37

    Ara is one of the most interesting people I've ever known.this should be because of his amazing experiences during his long travels.I am definitely eager to read what he is writing as I like to know his stories
    Rahil K

  19. Anonymous11:57

    Who is this man we remember as an affectionate, imaginative little boy?

    His travel blog has been keeping us entertained for years now. Of course it might have all been quite dull & matter-of-fact, but fortunately Ara has a lively way of sharing his experiences and revelations. His writing is fluent, descriptive and interesting. His ideas are often provoking – compassionate too.

    He is a story teller, a thinker, a passionate liver of life. We hope to hear much more from him in the future. What about putting some of this into a book & publishing Ara?

    Hilary Rankin

  20. i like the way you think. I like your blog :)

  21. Thank you everyone for all your wonderful references!! I really appreciate all your support. =)

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