Junipers in June – 3


Random Acts of Unusual Films


For Junipers in June 1 click  here, and for Junipers in June 2here.

This post is part of my various “random acts” videos (Random Acts of Sunshine, Random Acts of Planet Earth, Random Acts of Montreal Memories, Random Acts of Starry Nights.) It is the last of my June series.

New York, June 20, 2011. A clip today from an exceptionally unusual film which somehow manages to combine early 20th century Jazz, bicycles, the Tour de France, dogs, trains, ships, the mafia, elderly women, a quirky unpredictable storyline, but most of all a fantastic style of  animation which shows the cities of Paris and New York like never before.





The production design and animation graphics of the film were made by the madly talented Russia-born Montreal artist Evgeni Tomov. Check out his site for more of his work. He has various other styles of animation and interpretation. In the meantime – Random Acts from a very unusual film…..


best viewed in full-screen with the speakers turned up :)


The quote in French I placed at the start of the video? Translation:

“Men,” said the little prince, “set out on their way in express trains, but they do not know what they are looking for. Then they rush about, and get excited, and turn round and round…”

And he added:

“It is not worth the trouble…”

(Chapter XXV,”Le Petit Prince”, Antoine de St-Exupery.)


Other unusual independent films/documentaries featured on this blog with their online versions (there are many more that are embedded in this blog, but for now):

The Red Balloon (In post-war Paris a little boy and a red balloon fall in love.) -click here             

Little Deiter Needs to Fly (one of Werner Herzog’s best documentaries – the remarkable true story of a man – Deiter Dengler, a war pilot – who survives against every possible odd.) – click here           

 Human All Too Human (a documentary on philosopher Nietzsche’s solitude.) – click here

The Wall (A link to Pink Floyd’s timeless existential film based on Jean Paul Sartre’s book of the same name – but in context of the rock world; and with snatches of Roger Waters’ own childhood memories and Syd Barrett’s descent into madness.)  – click here.

Junipers in June – 2


Mad scars o’ Madagascar

For Junipers in June – 1 click  here.

This blog has mostly been my escape from work, but since last month, I’ve decided to place certain stories from times related to travels due to it. Through my years both as an architect and landscape architect & planner in the last decade, I have been lucky to work in over 80 projects spread across over a dozen countries in five continents. I thank my lucky stars for the exposure it provided me to so many different countries and cultures, landscapes and urban realities, the textures of myriad earths, the scents of many-splendoured forests and the colours and chaos and calm of lands distant and warm, as well as close-by and pristine. There are so many stories, too many tales, so many tears and smiles…, despite its ups and downs, has been full, for various reasons and in myriad ways.

As I mentioned earlier, June is my birthday month, so I get to write more as an indulgence. No-holds bar ricocheting pen-prose for pleasure. So – yet another.

One of the most educative and adventurous projects I worked on (albeit the one in Kabul, Afghanistan takes the cake) was building a school for children in the African island of Madagascar, in 2002, in its capital city of Antananarivo, funded by the Aga Khan Development Network. Madagascar has a very unique one-of-a-kind flora and fauna system. An excerpt of its unique disposition in the natural world (from wiki):

The prehistoric breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass from the Africa-South America landmass around 135 million years ago. Madagascar later split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in complete isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot in which over 80% of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on Earth. These are dispersed across a variety of ecoregions, broadly divided into eastern and south-central rain forest, western dry forests, southern desert and spiny forest. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are severely threatened by human settlement and traditional slash-and-burn practices (tavy) which have denuded Madagascar of 95% of its original forest cover. Under the administration of former President Marc Ravalomanana, the government of Madagascar partnered with the international community to implement large-scale conservation measures tied to ecotourism as part of the national development strategy. However, under Rajoelina’s caretaker government there has been a dramatic increase in illegal logging of precious woods and the poaching and sale of threatened species such as lemurs in Madagascar’s many national parks, several of which are classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Below a few images from the conceptual design stage of the school….

For projects like these, I like to take inspiration from the land itself, its colors, smells, history, stories, unique constraints and opportunities, the dreams of the local people, their reality. And the contours, the climate and the specificities of the site itself. While I worked on both the architecture and landscape architecture, the following images are from the latter. The panels on the colors and patterns were made from images of the island’s unique endemic and often endangered species. The intention behind finding connections between shapes and patterns placed in the entry courts was to make the school into a literal ‘learning ground’ for the island’s future generation so they could appreciate the ecologic heritage they had inherited and stop the present slash-and-burn techniques of destruction. Each courtyard and school subset had its own theme – inspired by the island’s flora and fauna and its local handicrafts, woodwork and art, as well as the sentiments expressed in local folk poems. The connections seen in the various natural and man-made motifs of the island were incorporated into the design.

Click to enlarge, to read the text, and soak in the colors of this unique endangered island.   .

Colors and Patterns of Madagascar


Landscape plan for the school, plant species selected and the reasons behind the selections. (Click to enlarge and read.)


Sketches depicting the internal larger courtyards of the school (click to enlarge) In tropical / equatorial climates courtyards act not only as thermal insulators but as convenient linkages of connected safe open spaces between buildings.


Entry court concept for the Nursery School (click to enlarge)


Entry court concept for the Primary School (click to enlarge)


Entry court concept for the Secondary School (click to enlarge)


Principal court concept between the Administrative block, recreational facilities and the High School (click to enlarge)


Les 96 of 6 – 9

June 9 is a special date for me personally for many years….and a quick little temporary post.

Because google made a doodle today so quirky and innovative – it’s worth shouting about. (Update – so great was this doodle that the big G decided to give it a permanent home which I’ve now placed on the link.)

Google’s doodle is in honor of the late great guitarist, innovator and inventor Les Paul, as an honor to his 96th birthday. The google ‘guitar’ can also be played and you can record it by clicking on the rectangular record button, playing a tune and clicking on the playback. Pretty cool!

Junipers in June – 1


Starry Starry Nights 

June is my birthday month. So I get to indulge myself in my favourite treats on this blog – and that includes a hobby since childhood – Stargazing.

(A) Starry Nights for Astronomy buffs (like me)

The following time-lapse video is a breathtaking labour of love by its makers – using the camera-work of Colin Legg. These sidereal motion shots of the Milky Way were taken over the Australian Outback with Fisheye and Flat lenses in late 2010, and was Grant Wakefield’s entry for the Bradford International Film Festival 2011. According to his Vimeo page, the name “Walu Ngalindi” is “from the Aboriginal Yolngu langauge meaning ‘Sun Woman – Moon man’.” The HD version of the video is worth watching, albeit a slower load. Unless you have a super high-speed internet connection, it is perhaps better to let the videos load first and then view them. In full screen of course – that goes without saying, and preferably with the lights turned off.

The second video is the trailer of an absolutely stunning piece of work by 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year – Tom Lowe, shot on Canon and Red MX cameras. You can order a DVD of his new film on his webiste :  This film was shot in the American Southwest with astounding shots of both the earth and the skies. The two galaxies in the clip are the Andromeda and our Milky Way. Astronomy buffs have long known of  Tom Lowe’s work, though many people will probably be more exposed to his name after the release of the astronomy shots in the Cannes Palme d’Or winning movie “The Tree of Life” directed by Terence Malick. Prepare to be literally raptured by the insurmountable beauty of our planet and universe, of life and luminosity, the mundane and the extraordinary – captured in the following audio-visual poetry by the exceptional talent of the cameramen who made ‘Timescapes’. (Turn up the speakers for those ravishing drum beats!)



(B) Starry nights for romantics who love Van Gogh

Not satisfied with the existing versions they had on youtube, I made a quick video of Don Mclean’s dreamy yet very darkly deep song – his ode inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night and other works and the painter’s turmoiled eccentric life – placed here solely for its lovely lyrics and melody – ici  (don’t forget to full-screen it):

You can see a close-up of the original painting of The Starry Night I took at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) here :  Thinking in Pictures  (I have used it in the above video.)


Related posts:

1. “I told you so,” Einstein would have said.

2. Billions of Stars * Billions of sports fans

3. Jazz Trek

4. Random Acts of Planet Earth : Chopin for EROS

5. “Hello World!”

6. 6 -9