Another Spin Around the Sun

Pink Flower

June 9, 2019.

Another spin round the sun….here’s to getting older and ever-wiser but also more openly curmudgeon-ish in other ways..?

Truly, sometimes I wonder how/when did this shy optimistic “Amelie”-girl turn into a caustic “Dr House”?… I mean with my verbal comebacks in person…

At least this formerly relentlessly-bullied oddball introverted girl learned a while back to fight back with lethal zingers…so I take that as a good sign. 

At least the preference for the company of animals to 90% of humans, the utter love for solitude.. and the pessimism about the planet’s environmental future and the aghastness at ubridled population-growth/lack of human-population-control hasn’t changed since age 5 (yeah, wasn’t I a cheery kid? 😉 )………. nor the love for sunflowers and any-flowers (on trees and bushes, NOT fresh-cut-plucked-away-from-life-in-bouquets-in-store-aisles), bees and butterflies, solitary hikes through hills and mountains and meadows or city streets, good poetry and prose and good books and comics, tea and jazz, Bach and Beatles (and too many others to name), the smell of first-rain’d-upon-earth, the wonder at our Universe, the love for shows by Carl Sagan and David Attenborough, the marveling at the serrations and beauty of geological stone, at the sinuous curves of trees..their fractal branches and leaves, for Spock and Sherlock, silly walks and ni!! ni!…and so many, many other petits plaisirs de la vie….those pleasures still remain….more are added or reduced as the years go by, yet the fundamentals resonate.

It’s good to be alive….as opposed to dead, I guess…🙄 even though I too am a part of this unbridled-population growth on the planet…(at least my parents produced just two and not a bunny brood, albeit humans are so much more annoying than bunnies, generally speaking…)…and so here’s to another spin around the sun, alive and kicking; amiable yet kvetching; happy to be loved deeply and to love deeply; getting deeply dippy and dopey and deliriously dendrite….as I go on a-rambling on a random rattle…voicing words into some vortex of cyberspace just because sometimes the act of writing takes off on its own, a frenzied galloping along and against the breeze, that can’t be bridled back…. 🐎🐎🐎

….neigh, neigh, ni, ni, ekki-ekki-ekki-p’tang-zoom-boing…z’nourrwringmm….



June Noon

And just like that, it’s June.

Brooklyn, New York. June 1, 2019. Just a smattering of the numerous colorful blooms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, photo by Maddy SJ

Flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, photo by Maddy SJ

Flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, photo by Maddy SJ

Flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, photo by Maddy SJ

The flowers in the photos above are Spanish bluebells, California poppies, Aubrieta and Primula Rosea (Himalayan primrose) respectively. Btw, “June Noon” is the name of a trichosereus hybrid flower that blooms in the cacti genus echinopsis.








Bonjour from Montreal

#tbt  I had written the post linked under this introduction a year after my dad’s death.

Today, 7 years since his passing, instead of Paris, it is Bonjour from Montreal – where today’s snowfall covers the ground, trees and car-hoods….Yes, my New York friends – enjoy those soft pink cherry blossoms, those joyous tulips, daffodils and bluebells and that lovely Spring weather you have down there – there is still snow in Canada! 😅

The strange aspect about the gap, la distance des années from a loved one’s death is that the years make their absence sting more in some weird way.
They say time heals – and indeed, time certainly heals the initial shock and pain of loss….but time also simply seems to increase the chasm from the moments you last heard their voice, saw them in person, hugged them or held them….and that distance of their tangible, tactile existence just keeps growing more with each passing year….in this case objects in the rear view mirror keep appearing further away.

Everyone loses their parents at some point – it is but an inevitable cycle of life, and it’s extra painful for those who lost a parent when they were only a child. So the death of a parent is such an inevitable part of all humans and animals, that in some ways it is even silly to mourn the fact itself, because it is what it is. I mean it is normal to feel sad and miss, but death of someone older is a definite given as aging occurs….and while my dad died in his 70s, for those who pass away in their 90s – that’s a good run worth celebrating.

But the most poignant part perhaps that sends a pang much more is that we don’t really tell our parents (especially if they are/were good parents) how much they mean/meant to us when they were/are alive….I certainly hadn’t. I always presumed, foolishly – partly because he was SO full of life – that he would make it past 80…perhaps it is much harder to imagine the death of extremely animated people…the stillness and finality of death seems almost contrary to their natural state of existence.

Go on and do it, i.e. tell them what they mean to you….or like me someday, you will wish you had told them more that you loved them and how grateful you were/are to them for having given you the gift of life itself and for having raised you.

Do it before you wax poetic or rather wax nostalgic on a blog….instead blab away on the phone/skype or better still in person and let them know how much you love and appreciate them.

From Montreal with love – m

The Gipsy Geek

montmartre steps

Paris. France. April 9, 2013. I have been travelling through various cities in Europe since mid-March, both for work and rest. This post is written from my current city – Paris;  sitting right next to the steps of Square Caulaincourt, Rue Lamarck, Montmartre. 

While in later posts, I shall post pictures from the travels, today marks the first death anniversary of my father, who passed away due to a sudden swift heart attack last year.  Youthful, hyper-active and conspicuously full of life – he remained that way right up till the very end – bursting with frank, undiplomatic outspoken chutzpah, never afraid to call a spade a spade, and  so vibrant that friends, neighbours and his loved ones still miss his vivacity and near-comical foot-in-mouth well-intended but bluntly-phrased verbal gaffes even today.

This morning I had a long talk with my mother – my parents had eloped and got married in their 20s and remained…

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Blue skies and Freedom

February 1, 2019. New York, New York.  Ah, that majestic southern Manhattan skyline towering over the frigid waters of the harbor, a sight that no photograph can do justice to, as the scale can be experienced only in person.

The first four photographs were taken from a ferry on a bitterly cold but sunny winter day.

As I was sailing past the Statue of Liberty, it was a poignant reminder of the hope it symbolized for the many who glimpsed it for the first time as they pulled into the New York harbor, after escaping war, death, persecution with nothing but their lives, holding on to nothing but their dreams. 

(Click on any pic to start the slideshow, descriptions are underneath each photo)

In the past two days, the city saw its first snowfall, with temperatures plummeting to -14 Celsius – the coldest it has been so far this year. While the polar vortex gripped Mid-West USA, many New Yorkers – who were not so badly hit, wrote and posted and complained a lot about the cold.

And yet, and yet…… you see – I DO think it was much ado about nothing.

Because of this:

I lived in Winnipeg, Canada for around two years and lived through three of its winters. Days with -30 c and -40 c were common with the windchill factor making it even lower. 
A friend who lives there posted the temperature yesterday: -40c BEFORE windchill…another friend who lives there said it was -53 Celsius (-63.4 °Fahrenheit) WITH the windchill. In Churchill where you can see polar bears, around 1000 km north of Winnipeg, – 60c (-76° Fahrenheit) used to be common. As you can see here, it says that currently Winnipeg is colder than the North Pole and as cold as Mars  and that in February, ’twill be -70 Celsius in certain cities  

I lived in Montreal, Canada, for many years…the cold was wetter, and though it wouldn’t quite go to -40c, days with WET -28 Celsius, were quite common, and in some ways more agonizing than the dry Canadian Prairie winters. Days when you’d see that the “high” was -19c and the low was a wet bone-chilling -33c  Luckily, most of the city is accessible through underground walkways.

In typical hardy Canadian fashion, no schools, universities or workplaces would be closed in either city. People would be going around playing ice hockey. Outside. No, really.

I am so, so grateful for my years in Canada (along with my love for high-altitude mountaineering, which I did aplenty in the Himalayas, Rockies and northern Canada, plus an innate high-resistance to cold)…because thanks to it, any blustery wintry day in NYC feels balmy  (And yes, I do share jokes with my Canadian friends on how temperatures that would be considered “highs” in Canada, fluster many Americans.) 

Admitted, the American Mid-West were Canadian-cold for a couple of days this week. And when I lived in the Boston area, those New England winters were much colder than the Big Apple’s.

But thank you dear (and friendly) Winnipeg for teaching me to never, ever complain about the cold in any other part of the world – and ESPECIALLY in balmy New York City  where ’twill be a “warm” -12 Celsius overnight. 

Most experiences in life are truly relative…..☃️❄️⛄️

Thank you Canada 🇨🇦 For your cold I shall always be grateful, among of course, several other gifts from you.

But thank you New York City for that unbridled sense of Freedom one feels within your fulcrum, that infectious energy emanating from the entire City – second to no other urban center of the world, and for that sense of awe your skyline always inspires and has, for generations, for all those who land on your shores and who sail by that Lady in the Harbor.


Year-end-year-ahead Conundrum

Gotham City Conundrum by the Gipsy GeekDecember 31, 2018. New York, New York. So here’s something to end the year with…and ring in the New Year. (I’ll spare explanations of why I’ve been tardy in posting regularly in this space….but in a nutshell – Life and Procrastination. And travel. Lots of it… Zurich, Bombay, Baroda, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Toulouse, Bordeaux in that order just in the past three months alone. And earlier in the year, time spent in New York, short stints near Chicago and briefly Montreal and Toronto.)

In early fall, before the mid-term elections, I was proud to give a speech for women’s rights and a call to political unity among liberals at Union Square, NYC, as the gathered throngs chanted in unison against the political and environmental degradation in this country, as we marched from Union Square to Times Square; And earlier in spring I joined many, many of my fellow women architects (including many older women architects I’ve long admired as inspiring icons) at the annual AIA meeting in New York to make the voices of women architects heard and to demand equity, visibility and due credit for our work in our very sexist profession. If anything at all, it is always cathartic to speak up…to speak up FACTS, that is.

Many of my stronger opinions and political views were shared with friends on my personal Facebook page (which is why, perhaps, I am guilty of not posting here), even as I continue to maintain another page on this link (this one is public and not related to my personal FB page) –  – can you believe it will be 9 years since I started it?!! It was the first of its kind on social media, before pages like that sprung up aplenty in 2017.  However, I can say with certainty that early-a**hole-personality-detection runs in my DNA. My maternal forefather – a leader in European politics – had written a book, a scathing critique against fascism –  years before the Holocaust foretelling that Hitler was a grave danger – at the time when people thought he was good for the economy.

End rant.

On to reflection.

As every year ends, as we grow another year older, and often another year sadder or wiser, or for some – especially for those whose neurotransmitters+receptors (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) are working in a balanced and healthy way – another year happier – we get into that time when we reflect on what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost, the past that cannot be changed and the future that is yet to unfold, the conundrum of the choices we’ve made or are to make, unsure at times if they are the right ones……..even as we try to keep Hope and Optimism alive as we always do when we step into something new – like a new year; in this case, the last of the teens of this century, before the start of a new decade (2020).

So to end this year, and ring it in with some New York jazz from New York – the city where I live and which is closest to my heart – here’re two videos that I edited for a very dear person and his jazz trio. If you like their music, give their official facebook page a “like” to keep up with their upcoming concert dates –

The name of the album is Conundrum. Regarding its name and content, says Skolnick:

“It represents the sense of confusion many of us are feeling in the midst of the strangest sociopolitical upheavals of our lifetimes….This album captures many styles in an effort to channel that angst into art and inspire others to do likewise.”

The album, released in September went on to No.2 on i-tunes jazz charts on the very week of its release, preceded by Miles Davis (Kind of Blue) at no. 1 and followed by John Coltrane (the Best of Coltrane) at no. 3.  Not bad company! ;-) Of course,  the greats who always are at the top 10 soon took over their original positions but the exhilaration to see its rise upon its release was nice. If you want to support independent artists, please buy their albums – don’t stream on youtube, unless it’s a promo video – such as these ones :-) (Links to purchase are found underneath the videos on youtube and on the fb page, but as a repeat here they are as shortlinks:  and )

Enjoy, expand to full screen and turn the volume up! The first is of the complete album excerpts; the second of possibly the liveliest tune of the album. (Videos edited, along with additional videography, photography, album design etc. by yours truly – Maddy, the Gipsy Geek.)

Here’s saying goodbye to 2018….and reflecting on the conundrum in the year that was and the year(s) to come…..and, in the process, using music as therapy.

The 2nd video is the full performance of a lively song “Culture Shock” which has received thousands of views and is one of the album’s favorites…the music combines eastern (you can hear the Oriental and Middle-eastern melody) and western (jazz and Americana) styles, along with a dash of southern bluegrass and blends them into a harmonious whole. The title of the track also loosely references Herbie Hancock’s “Future Shock.” The guitars used are a semi-hollowbody-acoustic & a vintage telecaster.



Méliès Magic meilleures tours de magie

Today’s Google Doodle is SO cool! A tribute to Georges Méliès’ 100th birth anniversary.

More details on this link here:

Excerpt from an article on the same in Billboard magazine:

For the first time ever, to celebrate the work of French visionary Georges Méliès, Google premiered a VR film for today’s Google Doodle (May 3.) The doodle — titled Back to the Moon, and inspired by Méliès’ iconic 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon — is a digital animation packed with multiple references to Méliès’ innovative characters and work.

“George Méliès transformed the world of cinema more than a century ago,” wrote the Doodle art director Helene Leroux. “Melies brought magic to filmmaking through dozens of tricks and illusions. What better way to pay homage to this then by using one of the most innovative and immersive tools we have for storytelling today? Virtual Reality!” 

“The magic of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg today could not have been possible without Méliès’ development of techniques across theatrical machinery,” said Laurent Manonni, Director of Heritage at The Cinémathèque Française.

Méliès passed away from cancer at the age of 76 in 1938. His last recorded words were “Laugh, my friends. Laugh with me, laugh for me, because I dream your dreams.”

Make sure to span/spin around on the 360 degree animated tribute doodle to Georges Méliès and also the fantastic “making of” video.(…and ok – I’ve watched Melies’ films and also Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” based on him, the latter thrice in fact – it contained one of the very, very few girl characters in film I could relate to, and brought back such wonderful memories of childhood.)

Here’s the VR 360 degree animated doodle where you need to span the skit as it moves along to see how the story develops. Just use the arrows to follow the two lead characters as they run across the “set.”


And equally engrossing is the “making of” or “behind the scenes” video: