Come hail or storm….

New York, October 31, 2012. Yes, indeed, it has been 10 full months since I have posted anything new on this blog. It has been an interesting year, professionally and personally. On April 9th of this year, I lost my father, suddenly, unexpectedly, to a massive heart attack. He was always a hyper-active man, with no prior heart issues, so it did come as a surprise. Thankfully for him, death was quick and he did not suffer. A sudden afternoon 3 second attack on a normal day. 

Today is Halloween, which comes after the largest hurricane to ever hit the Atlantic Ocean. While the area I live in, in New York, was safe and sound, devastation occurred in Lower Manhattan, parts of Queens, and many areas of New Jersey and upstate New York. Some of the most dramatic photographs can be found on this link:

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-after-landfall/100396/

The lights on the Brooklyn Bridge stand in contrast to the lower Manhattan skyline which has lost its electrical supply, early on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, after megastorm Sandy swept through New York. A record storm surge that was higher than predicted along with high winds damaged the electrical system and plunged millions of people into darkness. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A parking lot full of yellow cabs sits flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

A 168-foot water tanker, the John B. Caddell, sits on the shore Tuesday morning, October 30, 2012 where it ran aground on Front Street in the Stapleton neighborhood of New York’s Staten Island. (AP Photo/Sean Sweeney)

So, for Halloween and after the trauma of Sandy – one of the most brilliant, metaphoric and strangely traumatic short films I have seen in a while: ‘Keha Malu’ or ‘Body Memory’ or ‘La memoire du corps’ by young Estonian director Ulo Pikkov. This multiple award-winning experimental film, just 8 mins long, looks at the idea that our bodies remember more than just our individual experiences, but the pain and sorrow of those who came before us.

Please watch in full-screen mode with the HD high-def version. It’s worth it…..There can be many interpretations of the film – the trains going towards Aushwitz and death, our existential crises as we are pulled like puppets on a string by various ‘systems’ of society, or just the collective pain of mankind from impending endings. But either way, a rather poignant and dramatic impact on the viewer.

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Junipers in June – 2

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…..life, 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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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Love Earth, Torture Animals?

Because glossing over or turning away from Facts, does not take them away. 

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Love Earth, but Torture Animals? The irony of “celebrating” Earth Day & torturing for Easter on the same weekend

New York. ‘Good Friday’. 22 April, 2011. One of the strangest contradictions of life is when you have Earth Day and Easter on the same weekend. “Be green”, “Care for our Earth,” “20 ways of ‘eco-living’ to impress your friends,” “Save the polar bears,” “Save our animals from global warming, big bad corporations! – oops, wait a minute! Starbucks goes “green” – while the ‘save the earth’ meeting was being conducted there! Wal-mart goes “green”(my ass!)! While one was buying that made-in-China pot-roast deep dish!” Slogans, articles and cute animal-faced smiley cartoons and much cheesy marketing that goes on “Earth Day” – that’s today. And in the very next instance be bombarded with more slogans and tips and suggestions telling “20 ways to welcome spring by baking the best new-born lamb for Easter,” “Celebrate Easter weekend with baby lamb, roast chicken, suckling pig,” “The way to your man’s heart this Easter and to get a ring before the Royal Wedding and the cuddliest bunny soft toy is to cook the most delicious baby bunny rabbit in the world, ladies! after of course, you have impressed him with your Green Nature-conscious skills on Earth-Day! Yea!

Ah, the irony! No more words today. Just pictures. And a film I’d been planning to place for a while.  Not to induce guilt. Just to inject Truth. Unfortunate. Objective. Truth – ah sweet, sweet, bitter, brutal Truth. To me, ‘God’ is not in the skies. Truth is ‘God’. Love is ‘God.’ And Reality is Reality. Those soft-toys on the store shelf – bought for giggly-cosmo-obsessed-girlfriends and innocent kids……My words from a poem written years back as a kid : “Soft-toys are subjected to affection, while REAL animals face butcher’s knives.” 

You see, all those pretty smiley, emoticorny escapism, rationalizations, ‘religion’izations will not take away reality, the truth, the way, the unfathomable, cruel, unnecessary, savage, evil, psychopathic way those animals will be treated, will be tortured, will be killed, and areevery single day – all across the world – be they dogs and cats and so many other species in China and elsewhere, or lambs and calves and much more in the West – but tortured, skinned, killed, cut-up, shipped, cooked and then placed under the soft lights of a fancy meal – the ambiance and music ‘wishing away’ the reality of how their life really was led……while that toy filled with fuzz, or at times the furry toy made from the fur of some cat or rabbit skinned alive somewhere in China is handed over as the great gift of ‘love’ to that naive, innocent child – who, if he or she knew how cruel the world is, would perhaps never be able to eat lamb again. Or then be given enough ‘rationalizations’, and ‘desensitizations’ to do so. Or better – told those happy, smiley stories and fairy tales that say that after brutal, bleeding, tortuous death – they – like ‘Him’ – in all their original intact forms will ‘resurrect’ and live happily ever after in a cloudy, pearly Heaven.

Ah – the Truth is so hard to take – fables are made to heal the heart and self-soothe. But alas, Truth remains Truth. Reality – Real. And perhaps only Real, Truthful Love is what is needed more. So Empathy can overcome greed and gluttony. To remember the eyes of an innocent in its last breaths of life. To have enough Love for life to have the courage to say “No – I will not partake in the suffering of sentient beings with advanced nervous systems that feel pain, that feel excruciating physical pain just like you and me, who are tortured in this fashion in reality and then given the ‘glamour shot’ while they lie in cut up little pieces on my plate in that candle-lit table.”

I am not against humane death and a humane free life, but against such unnecessary, unfathomable inhumane cruelty when in our present day and age, and even before, we do have many, many other choices.

I am not against the taste of pleasure , but against this mind-blowing hypocrisy. And I have far greater respect for the person who truly lives off the grid and hunts for his own sustenance in the wild, using every part of his kill, than those who tout ‘go green’ cliches while sitting dandily eating the meat from a slaughterhouse.

I am not against the ‘tales’ and stories we say to protect children from harsh reality, but against those consistent ever-present countless immeasurable Lies we hear even adults preach to one another and pretend to believe for self-protection to hide the face of Truth. Or to deny the Truth of their own inner reality that allows and justifies cruelty like this to occur and look the other way with apathy and cowardice.

So I will still stare without taking my eyes away at the 360-degree reality of Truth.

I will still walk that way which is often a road of solitude, but one I have taken many times before, and will never stop from taking again. And I will walk on that road, no matter how few or large its takers.

I will walk on it – if just for my own truth and empathy and nothing else.  No matter how much the ridicule, no matter all the economizations, intellectualizations, rationalizations, confabulations to mock another being.

And I will follow only for that Trinity which to me is real freedom: The simple trinity which needs no book, nor leaders, no tales, nor followers.  Just a long hard look at life, reality, knowledge and the choices we have and the choices we make.

The road, the trinity of:   Truth * Love * Integrity.

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Happy Earth Day! Happy Easter! Whatever those terms mean. I studied in a Catholic Convent – of course I know what those ‘terms’ mean. And yet, they are but words – because true integrity is not in words, but what lies within and is practiced consciously through our actions.  (Though I came from a family of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and more so – a dad who was a scientist and a mother a philosopher/mathematician, I am a non-believer of any God in the skies.)  

(p.s. I am a vegetarian, not a vegan. I eat eggs from freer-range free-running hens. With regards to milk – I don’t buy dairy milk after knowing how the dairy industry treats cows and their babies, so I buy almond milk. I only drink cow’s milk when in India, where you can actually meet the cow and they live with their calves. And if you get a chance, do watch ‘Fast Food Nation’.)

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And the truth of the process of how they end up in that last picture…here. This film. The sad fact of life is that turning your face away will not take truth and reality away, nor the pain of billions of mammals and birds who are treated this way or the heinous crimes and greed of the owners of slaughterhouses and users who support this system:

“Mercy for Animals” – a film. Narrated by James Cromwell. Now watching the truth – that  is having real kindness for our Earth. 

We do have a choice. Yes we do. We do not have to endorse cruelty.

All it needs to make that choice – like all other ethical choices in life is – Love. Truth. Determination. and above all, Integrity.

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Related posts:

1. This too shall pass.

2. Saltationism of Silliness

3. Red December – Part 3

4. Truth or Dare

5. UNFETTERED

 

Japan earthquake: The day the Earth’s rotation changed

JAPAN EARTHQUAKE 2011:

THE DAY THE EARTH’S ROTATION CHANGED


As most of our planet knows by now, on 11 March, 2011, a massive 9.0 magnitude megahurst earthquake hit the Pacific coastline of Japan. The epicenter was 130 kilometers (81 mi) off the east coast of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku near Sendai, with the hypocenter at a depth of 32 km (19.9 mi).

It is near-impossible to imagine the magnitude of a natural force SO destructive that a country like Japan, which has one of the finest infrastructures and engineering in the world, had parts of it demolished like a stack of cards or matchsticks against this unbelievable force. The tragedy was further followed by a massive tsunami and now radiation leakage due to the damaged nuclear power stations on the shorelines of the affected areas.

Anyone with a sense of human empathy can understand the indescribable tragedy that families affected by the quake must be suffering from, due to the loss of their loved ones and earthly possessions, and how frightened those who were caught in the devastation and could not escape must have felt in their final moments of life. Videos of the tsunami showed how people were literally running on foot and in vehicles to escape their deaths – scenes so horrific in their reality – that one thinks this is something they only see in disaster movies – and it seemed surreal that fellow humans were meeting their deaths under such tragic and horrific and REAL circumstances. (It is also alarming to realize that there are people in the world who even in the aftermath of such a massive catastrophe could not look beyond their own narcissistic little bubbles. This includes the mind-numbing idiotic youtube video poster against Asians by a certain UCLA girl, or those on sites like facebook who showed remarkable apathy and navel-gazing and continued to post about what they had eaten and drunk the very next days of the quake. Yes – for some people it seems even a change in the planet’s rotation cannot take them away from their self-centredness. Even more unbelievable is a certain Christian evangelist pastor who claimed, with some glee, that the quake was caused because the Japanese did not follow Jesus. I do not know whether such people are cretins or have some normal-empathy-connection missing in their brains.)

Anyway – to further understand the magnitude of this event – it is astounding to realize that the earth’s axis literally shifted on that day! My father was a geophysicist, before turning to management, and due to his talks since I was a little girl I’d developed an eager interest in geology and tectonic plates….but an earthquake so strong that even the earth’s rotation changed is hard to conceive! My heart goes out to what the people near Sendai must be going through right now. We, so far away, can only watch. Many architects who are members of Architecture for Humanity (an organization I’ve joined as well) are hoping to go out there and help rebuild whenever that starts. Architecture for Humanity (as well as Architects without Borders) have undertaken several projects in post-earthquake Haiti too, but the Japanese infrastructure and wealth of course is at much better shape than Haiti’s – though the devastation has caused a mind-boggling level of damage.

Geophysicist Kenneth Hudnut, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey, told CNN that the quake had moved part of Japan’s land mass by nearly 2.5 meters (roughly 8 feet). It also caused the earth’s axis to shift by 17 cm (6.5 inches), which will affect its rotation and shorten the days in the northern hemisphere, albeit minimally. As well, geophysicist Richard Gross at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that “By changing the distribution of the Earth’s mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused the Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds.” More refinements are possible as new information on the earthquake comes to light, he added.

This is not the first time that earthquakes have affected the earth’s rotation. The 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile in 2010 also sped up the planet’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds. The 9.1 Sumatra earthquake in 2004 shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds.

We only hope that though recovery is going to be an elephantine task, as time goes by, those affected in Japan are able to rebuild their lives in more ways than one.

For photographs of the quake-tsunami, a National Geographic collection here:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/pictures/110315-nuclear-reactor-japan-tsunami-earthquake-world-photos-meltdown/#/japan-earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-unforgettable-pictures-victim_33289_600x450.jpg

A Boston Globe photo collection here:  http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/03/massive_earthquake_hits_japan.html


Random Acts of Planet Earth

RANDOM ACTS OF PLANET EARTH

or

CHOPIN FOR EROS

(Earth Resources Observation and Science)

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Best viewed full screen with the volume up 

Today, March 1st, is widely believed to be the birthday of Frederic Chopin. According to Wikipedia:

“Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, in French Frédéric François Chopin[1] (22 February or 1 March 1810)[2] – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer, virtuoso pianist, and music teacher, of French–Polish parentage. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music.

Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his musical education there. Following the Russian suppression of the Polish November 1830 Uprising, he settled in Paris as part of the Polish Great Emigration. He supported himself as a composer and piano teacher, giving few public performances. From 1837 to 1847 he carried on a relationship with the French woman writer George Sand. For most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39.

All of Chopin’s works involve the piano. They are technically demanding but emphasize nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the musical form known as the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonatamazurkawaltznocturnepolonaiseétudeimpromptu and prélude.”

The images in this little video I made are all from the NASA & USGS Project ‘Earth as Art.’ Click here to find out the locations of these stunning images and the various countries these landscapes belong to. The link is worth it and my main reason for using these images is so people can check their informative, amazing websites, but if you’re too lazy to click there – here is the image key:

1.Aleutian Clouds: These cloud formations were seen over the western Aleutian Islands. Their color variations are probably due to differences in temperature and in the size of water droplets that make up the clouds.

2. Volcanoes: Steep-sided volcanic cones along the Chilean-Argentinean border add texture to this “study in blues.” Of approximately 1,800 volcanoes scattered across this region, 28 are active.

3. Gineau-Bissau: Guinea-Bissau is a small country in West Africa. Complex patterns can be seen in the shallow waters along its coastline, where silt carried by the Geba and other rivers washes out into the Atlantic Ocean.

4. Campeche: Named after the ancient Mayan Province of Kimpech, the state of Campeche comprises much of the western half of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Rivers in southern Campeche drain into the immense Terminos Lagoon, the entrance to which is protected by a long barrier island, Isla Del Carmen.

5. Jordan: Meandering wadis combine to form dense, branching networks across the stark, arid landscape of southeastern Jordan. The Arabic word “wadi” means a gulley or streambed that typically remains dry except after drenching, seasonal rains.

6. Desolation Canyon: Utah’s Green River flows south across the Tavaputs Plateau (top) before entering Desolation Canyon (center). The Canyon slices through the Roan and Book Cliff–two long, staircase-like escarpments. Nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon, Desolation Canyon is one of the largest unprotected wilderness areas in the American West.

7. Bogda: The Turpan Depression, nestled at the foot of China’s Bogda Mountains, is a strange mix of salt lakes and sand dunes, and is one of the few places in the world that lies below sea level.

8. Akpatok:  Akpatok Island lies in Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, Canada. Accessible only by air, Akpatok Island rises out of the water as sheer cliffs that soar 500 to 800 feet (150 to 243m) above the sea surface. The island is an important sanctuary for cliff-nesting seabirds. Numerous ice floes around the island attract walrus and whales, making Akpatok a traditional hunting ground for native Inuit people.

9. Namib desert: Namib-Naukluft National Park is an ecological preserve in Namibia’s vast Namib Desert. Coastal winds create the tallest sand dunes in the world here, with some dunes reaching 980 feet (300 meters) in height.

10. Andes: Vivid colors belie the arid landscape of northern Chile where the Atacama Desert, one of the world’s driest, meets the foothills of the Andes. Here salt pans and gorges choked with mineral-streaked sediments give way to white-capped volcanoes.

11. Sahara: The mountainous outcrops of Jebel Auenat rise 6000 feet above the barren, uninhabited plains of the Libyan Desert. The frontiers of Libya, Egypt and Sudan meet amidst the rugged granite of Jebel Auenat. The mountains are remnants of an ancient granitic dome. Rivers of sand meander around them, swept across the desert pavement by northeasterly winds.

12. Alluvial fan: A vast alluvial fan blossoms across the desolate landscape between the Kunlun and Altun mountain ranges that form the southern border of the Taklimakan Desert in China’s XinJiang Province.

13. Kamchatka: The eastern side of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean west of Alaska. In this winter image, a volcanic terrain is hidden under snow-covered peaks and valley glaciers feed blue ice into coastal waters.

For my post on satellite imagery and the process through which RGB composites are made from Landsat and Aster images, as well as my long-time love affair with the same, click here.

The composition of Chopin has been played here by the inimitable Arthur Rubinstein.

http://eros.usgs.gov/imagegallery/

https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/hello-world/

For the video ‘Random Acts of Sunshine’ click here

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Once in a lifetime

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”

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That it will never come again

Is what makes life so sweet.

Believing what you don’t believe

Does not exhilarate.

– Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

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New York. 20. 10. 2010. If you ever get a chance, please take the Amtrak train from Montreal to New York in mid-October. It is certainly one of the most picturesque and magical rides you will ever take in this lifetime (or $ 60 well spent) – it is literally like winding through a painting enriched by spectacular fall colours and the breath-taking beauty of Lake Champlain along the shoreline of which and the Adirondack mountains the tracks traverse by. A long ride, but one that leaves you fulfilled and overwhelmed by the gorgeousness of nature’s colours and serenity; and the fragile-but-oh-so-beautiful gift of human life. As I’ve oft-repeated, it is one of those journeys that is a reminder once again that “We all have the right to feel sad at times, but we do not have the right to feel ungrateful.” Because, compared to what luck could have handed us, we are so, so fortunate………

The sweetness of life comes from days lived well, with the decision to follow the best of  rational ethics and integrity one is possible of practicing; of acts of love and kindness to others without losing wisdom or the logic to analyse and create and to think independently and not fall prey to hypocrites; the sweetness of life comes from the knowledge that at the end of each day the only person you need to stand before and answer to is your own conscience; to look back at a life led without hypocrisy, where you adhere to integrity if only for your own sake; and to know before you fall asleep each night that you have never knowingly hurt anyone for it takes very little to be kind, to think before you speak; to know that we are so lucky in comparison to far larger problems, injustices and sadness in the world and therefore to complain a little less and at times, a lot less; to know the truth of global realities and the reality of our own  strengths and weaknesses; to give a thank-you to the inventors and minds which made our infrastructures and taken-for-granted comforts possible; to thank the hearts of the gentle souls amongst us who are capable of healthy love; and to always remember that because life comes, but only once, to make the most of it.

Trust me on this one, for I’m on my fifth life now through four brushes with death in my past, and every day lived reminds me of life’s sweetness. We go through trials and troubles, fight back or climb out of abysses, but at the end it is only those who love the gift of Life and the responsibility of integrity and authenticity that gift entails, who know the pleasure of the sweetest of slumbers: the true exhilaration of a clear conscience and a life led without regrets. And with the strength to take full responsibility for every action you have committed or will commit once you have left the realm of childhood. The peace of mind for staying on-track on that one single choice? Priceless.

A typical view from the Montreal-New York train in Autumn. (photo by Kevin Ebi. livingwildnreness.com)

The Montreal to New York Amtrak route

Bicycle Alert: On the topic of land travel, check out the tales of an interesting and friendly young Franco-Swiss adventurer I met in Old Montreal who has been traveling along various continents of the world since the age of 32 on his bicycle for the last several years. He had just finished a tour across Central and South Asia and was setting off across America. Marco Ausderau : http://acrosscontinents.ch/Navigation/histoire-d-un-reve?set_language=fr&cl=fr

One of  the quotes that inspired him to embark on this long journey is Antoine de St. Exupery’s words: “Fait de ta vie un rêve et de ton rêve une réalité.”

Saltationism of Silliness

September. Sepian. Septimenal.  Saccadic. Sapphism. Salinger. Sequela. Saccular. Secular. Secund. Sideral. Sidewalks. Silenus. Silly.

I’d read somewhere a while back, a thought that often crosses my mind on the virtues of silliness, but more eloquently written by this lady: “Too often we give up our wonderful childhood dreams and silliness that is an inherent aspect of the true self because we believe that it serves little purpose or is at odds with the role modeling and indoctrination we experienced as we matured. We might play, yet we fail to lose ourselves in the process. Our imaginations no longer has free reign because we regard the product of carefree creativity as being of no value.” Dr. Neddermeyer goes on to add : “Unabashed silliness is nourishment to our vitality and youthfulness. We take in this nourishment by giving ourselves permission to lighten up and embrace silliness for silliness’ sake. Silliness constitutes a vital aspect of human existence on a myriad of levels. Ethereal bliss is often a consequence of our willingness to dabble in what some might deem outrageous, nonsensical, or absurd.” So true….er, I’d simply summarise it as ‘ Silliness is  Sublime.’

Do you remember the time when we’d skip and carouse or pirouette on a sidewalk for no apparant reason?  Don’t know about you – I certainly did. Even as a grown-up along with two of my best girl friends from architecture school when for no reason all three of us would break out into a silly jig and shuffle  sideways on a snowy sidewalk ‘stead of walking straight and proper; or swing from a tree for no other reason than the fact that it exists. and therefore must be climbed; or whistle a silly ditty in a midst of a dead-serious meeting; or randomly let out barnyard animal noises – a bleat or a quack – in the midst of a rabid crowd….(ok – I confess, I have done all this and then some. And still do.  Silly, silly stuff, but oh-so-liberating!)

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved the genius of Monty Python so much. Or The Little Prince. Or comedians and artists who dare to be ridiculously silly on the surface yet are  so profoundly clever and insightful underneath.

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(CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE) The FACT behind FUR somewhere in China which lands on the glamorous catwalk in that fur coat in NYC. "One by land & two by sea" -indeed - as the trapper would say. http://www.furkills.org/

(CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE) The FACT behind FUR somewhere in China which lands on the glamorous catwalk in that fur coat in NYC. “One by land & two by sea” -indeed – as the trapper would say. http://www.furkills.org/

As I trot along the sidewalks of this sultry, ‘sexy’ city, the saliferous air of September’s Fashion Week that has turned parts of the city’s sidewalks into an ultra-chic-conscious catwalk, as Vogue magazine’s senescent Anna Wintour gushes about why her cause of Fashion’s Night Out should be supported, as she hosts her dinner at ‘the most happening romantic resto of town’ named One if by land, two if by sea an event for which, I end up getting a facebook invite and choose not to attend (mostly out of laziness, my quasi-schizoid-crowd-free-joys and the fact that classic-narc Wintour  supports and glamorizes fur in fashion indirectly means endorsing the skinning alive of mammals), as a stream of stanchion and super-gorgeous superlicious supermodels with  steely uber-serious stoic Zoolandress expressions catwalk around the city (the poor girls are told how to pose, mind you, it’s not their choosing and often times they are too young to oppose the anti-smile look) – all I can think of, for the silliest of reasons, is the giraffe-legged John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Why bother for exorbitantly priced outfits where fur is seen as ‘fun’ in the name of some sinister ‘sexy’ silliness when I have me good ‘ol legs to entertain in silly joy?

Masters of the stream-of-consciousness style narratives, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_of_consciousness_writing) Monty Python is timeless. This is the second MP sketch I’ve placed on this blog. The first is The Architect Sketch– with John Cleese once more. Some claimed to see in this sketch a satire of government projects. But in the book The Pythons, members of the troupe indicated that they considered the whole scene nothing more than pure silliness. There is a certain type of people who get the genius of Python. Mostly these are the ones who barely watched the series Friends and found it rather witless, but enjoy Seinfield and Curb your enthusiasm.  And I must admit too that I’m in that second group. My cup of tea has always been Pythonesque.

The only complete version of this sketch available on youtube is with Spanish subtitles….hopefully that’s not too distracting.

Sidetracked Alert: Hey, did you know there is actually a word –squatterarchy? It means : ‘government by squatters; squattocracy.’ Sounds more like the beauracracy joke to me. I am also suddenly gripped by the alarming thought that perhaps my reluctance to party comes from the following condition:  ‘ scopophobia‘ or ‘scoptophobia‘ = a fear of being looked at.

Not to be confused with scopophilia which means ‘obtaining sexual pleasure from seeing’  ;-)

(Go ahead, ogle below. I’m not judging you….I’m rather for those who can appreciate the sensuousness of a genuinely real  gorgeous woman in all her beauty than those who think that wearing fur of animals skinned alive is a source of pleasure or status. *shudder*)

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Perhaps, SHOWING SKIN IS BETTER THAN WEARING SKIN. One does not need clothes made of animal products, and especially fur, to feel sexy or secure or even silly. One doesn’t need fur to appreciate the stunning beauty of a woman. Support cruelty-free clothing as fall and winter approaches. Boycott stores and brand names that sell fur and boycott cruel unempathetic women and men who wear fur or think it’s sexy. Endorsement of farmed-fur-for-fashion is akin to endorsing murder in the most brutal way. We live in the 21st century for goodness’ sake and there are tons of options available for winter clothes!! We do not need to endorse these barbarian practices! Support REAL beauty and the beautiful beasts of the wild not the bestiality of humans who skin innocents alive for wearing their skins in voguish vanity. Don’t endorse cruelty. Don’t endorse psychopaths be they male or female. There is NO excuse; no rationalization for these heinous acts of torture.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of  weakness or despair but manifestations of strength and resolution.” Kahlil Gibran

or in my words: “I’d rather be ridiculously silly and kind, than remarkably ‘happening’ and cruel. And I’d rather strut around in a metallic home-made bikini than flaunt ‘fall-fashion fur.” [Okay – I may not look like Yamila Diaz-Rahi (who also studied Economics – and is no dumb beauty but a smart, classy woman in real life), featured above in her metal straps, but a metallic bikini sure fulfills my inner geek Star Wars Princess Leia fantasy ;-) ]

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P.S. A dose of Blunt Truth: I think that shit-brown and yellow huge Louis Vuitton logo handbag that I see many women tout because it was so in vogue is absolutely hideous. I’ve never bought one, even when I made a six figure salary and I will never buy one. I’m a designer myself, who had her own firm in my very early 20s and then as a consultant with the man who recently won the Order of Canada (among 50 other awards) for his artistic sensibilities and architecture – so I do know what I’m talking of, should you question my aesthetics. I also designed an entire 16 sq. mile eco-city a few years back in West Palm Beach and many other design works, so I do have some wisdom of the world to say the following, sensitivities be damned : That LV/ YSL bag is awfully ugly – there I said it – had to get that out of my call-a-spade-a-spade truth-serum system. The ONLY reason women spend hundreds and thousands to buy it blindly is because those who endorse the skinning alive of animals endorse it and like herds it is bought without questioning because ‘everyone has it!’. It’s ordinary. Ugly. Extremely inelegant. Frumpy. HUGE. Same for those leather and skin Gucci bags. UGLY. There I said it! (And what a relief after years of politically correct silence.)  Yes – that bag emperor has no clothes – only blood and the skin of deer, crocs, foxes, rabbits, dogs, cats and many other inncocent animals. And marketed to insecure women to make them feel ‘special’ like clueless accomplices to murder.

Give me Cleese’s silly walk any day. I’ll take that over that bag any day. I’d rather laugh than carry that massive elephantine bag and look as though I’m a depressive in an anti-smile mode. (Actually the price and the weight of that bag is bound to lead to depression – so it figures.)

Not murder? Check this out (warning – not for the squeamish…disturbing reality) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rhFj2NfBsI

The 2010 Gucci bag. Disguised murder.

2010 new YSL bag. More murder.

Fur from an animal skinned alive is ‘sexy’, no? The pinnacle of monstrosity disguised as ‘chic’.

I have no idea why or how this shit-coloured monstrosity of a Louis Vuitton bag and its variations became so popular and ubiquitous. Were they testing to see how a brand name could be used to market this visual and ethical garbage? There I’ve said it – as a say-it-as-it-is-emperor-has-no-clothes pointer can. This by far is the most popular yet the ugliest bag. ever. I’d prefer buying a lifetime supply of toilet paper than buy this piece of overblown kitsch. If you want to feel ‘French’ bellas, don’t buy this shit-brown bag; learn about Rene Magritte or read Rene Descartes. Or even Blaise Pascal if you know some math

Is there an alernative? Yes. Buy purses and handbags made by your LOCAL artists, small business owners, that kind girl in the farmers’ market who makes her own handicrafts – purses made of man-made materials, tie-and-dye fabrics. Or even those spectacularly beautiful handbags of spangles and ethnic cloth that are self-sustaining, women-empowering handicrafts made by resident women in the villages of Kutch and Rajasthan – a centuries-old tradition which was revived in the past century after the colonists had crushed the trade to sell their factory-mill-made cloth. Now supporting, buying and endorsing those products is really cool. And truly beautful. And above all, far more ethical. Or else, buy from the discount store, a smart no-nonsense man-made-material purse. But DO NOT endorse this skin-and-fur cruelty.

It’s a simple equation : Not succumbing to intoxicating glossy adverstising + No demand = No supply = No slaughtering. Show kindness and love to the REAL furry animals instead of gushing over fake soft toys, often made out of the fur of the real ones skinned alive.

Beauty is found in many things – in the sunset, in flowers, the magnificence of a forest, an act of kindness, genuine love, moving music, a baby’s smile, a puppy’s eyes, the blowing seeds of a dandelion in the wind, the pleasure of eating delicious fruit, the endorphins generated from a good run……why do you need a handbag made of a tortured, abused animal’s skin and fur to feel ‘beautiful’? That’s not beauty – that’s cruelty and ugliness, no? The sad eyes of the fox and raccoon that is skinned alive is not much different than the eyes of your own dog or cat. It’s so logical, so obvious – why is it so hard to see? The halogen lamp above a glass shelf on which that bag rests in a chic boutique on 5th Avenue is just an illusion to hide the gut-wrenching truth of its making. Does omission of facts take away reality? No it doesn’t. Truth remains truth. Objective. Hard. Real.

Do you know what carrying a $900 – 3500+( goes up to ridiculous prices of $10,000 ++) hideous oversized brand name handbag really tells about you? It says – “Look at me! I’m an insecure girl/woman whose sense of self-worth is derived not by who I am but by the stamp of approval needed by what some brand name gives me! Even if I may become a ‘celebrity’ or just another party girl, I am a nobody without endorsing what is considered ‘cool’ by the Hiltons and Lohans of the world! I am so crazy about looking ‘cool’ and ‘hot’ before my friends and strangers that I don’t care if I’m carrying the skin and fur of animals cuter and gentler than my teeny lap dog! No, boys and girls, all I care for is your approval, your validation because on my own I am nothing without my brand name items. And I’m willing to let millions of animals die for me. So that impressed by my status symbol my girlfriends will adore me and some equally clueless guys will fuck me!”  That’s what it reads as before objective Truth. And the truth is more than 32 million mammals are killed for fur alone each year.

Go ahead – watch Stella McCartney give the inside story of where or rather how that fur trimming that you hold in your hands comes from :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rhFj2NfBsI Or this: http://www.freewebs.com/shawtyxli/furisdead.htm.  Really. Do your life this favour.

The following video shows Unfathomable cruelty (actually showing a skinned animal alive with his eyes looking on in pain and trying to lick his blood, and how the animals are hit on the head to knock them out before the skinning). This video has been removed from youtube and many other places due to extreme pressure from very high authorities of the design world. They do not want you to see this. I’ve managed to track one of the very few places that still has a copy, though it might be soon removed. 

Here is the video, and a link to an article containing it https://features.peta.org/ChineseFurFarms/

 

Any men reading this post, next time you think buying a fur coat/hat/bag for your wife or girlfriend is a sign of ‘love’ please show this video to her first. Good luck and good night.

Excuse me, for I have to go for a silly walk now. To clear my head from the remarkable ridiculousness of the world we live in. To find solace in unabashed silliness. Where a ministry of silly walks makes far more sense than the mega-mall-endorsed senseless slaughter of innocents.

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If you want to see what ten years of unbridled shallowness does to you, look no further. Here’s the end result of a decade of purse-crazy ‘fabulousness’: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/sweatshops-for-your-sex-the-city-too/

Next.

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Mountain Madness


MOUNTAIN MADNESS

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Much Madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense-the starkest Madness-
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent- and you are sane-
Demur- you’re straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain-

– Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886)

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My road trip to the West, with hopes to traverse through Montana this month was interrupted a few weeks back by a really bad car crash that completely ‘killed’ the car. Hit by a speeding angry 4 x 4 Dodge Truck. In Racine, Wisconsin on lake Michigan north of Chicago.

Saved by 1 foot of metal buffer – a complete T-collision and I’d have been dead smoked meat now. The hit was so bad that the car’s chassis broke in 2 parts. It really came out of nowhere. A deafening crash, Boom and I’m looking into an overpowering White Bright Light and smoke before my eyes which 2 seconds later I realize is my face in my white bright air bag and burning rubber. I’ve had brushes with death before but I’ve been thanking the safety engineers of Toyota and the inventor of the air bag and seat belt ever since this particular brush. The impact was so strong, the seat belt casing got ripped apart. No injuries, thankfully, though the mechanic thinks it’s a miracle given the impact and the fact that the front half of my car is gone. Had bought a new Toyota in 2006. R.I.P. mon voiture.

The truck driver was safe and sound, arrogant, strutting around, unapologetic despite speeding 30 miles over the speed limit and even to the policeman’s shock not once, that’s right, not once came over to ask how I was doing. Kind friendly mid-westerners from the residential neighbourhood where it occurred poured out. So in August, I’ve decided to celebrate life again and place only pictures…..a breather from the lengthy posts. Perhaps I was writing those long posts in July as ‘therapeutic’ writing after the crash. I’ll make a little video as some more self-invented therapy to recover further from the horror of death-so-close and as a little goodbye to the silver car that had served me so well and traveled thousands of miles from the Florida Keys whence I viewed tropical fishes in the South to the very North of Quebec close to Lac St.Jean national park areas, the fjords of Saguenay and the Taddoussac region where the giant whales live, and from Cape Cod in the east to Chicago……alas, its death occurred in Racine (‘Root’ in French) Wisconsin, but its metal and safety features saved my life.

Drive safe everyone! And watch out for crazy speeding drivers. And thank the unnamed, unseen automobile engineers who design cars so well these days, that if one gets lucky, one can still walk out of high-impact crashes without a scratch. And thank the ephemeral gift of life. So precious. So short.

So since I couldn’t take pictures of Montana, I decided to celebrate here instead memories from earlier trips to mountain worlds. Among my six ethnic mixes covering both Northern and Southern European lands and the Mediterranean Waters and Dead Sea, I also have the presence of the mountain worlds of the northern Himalayas in my mix…..the call of the mountains is very strong in my blood, and a passion for mountaineering and ice-climbing. So strong was the call to dwell in the mountains, I’d ended up being a Buddhist monk for 3 months in my early 20s up in the mountains – not so much for any religious reasons but because I figured the best way for free boarding and lodging in the most breathtaking views of the Himalayas was to be a monk instead of the restricted weeks of shivering treks and flimsy tents that as mountaineers we have to brave. These are pictures from some of my favourite climbing ranges through the years – the Kumaon range of the Himalayas, India (bordering Tibet), the Kanchenjunga range (in Sikkim bordering Nepal which has the third highest mountain peak of the world), Bhutan, Ladakh and closer home, the ranges in Canada.

I usually don’t take too many photographs as I like recording pictures like movies in my mind instead (an anomaly which is both a blessing and a curse – especially when it comes to being unable to forget.) But these trips have always overwhelmed me with the sheer beauty and scale of the magnitude of the landscapes – pictures in my mind which I hope never to forget and hold with possessive passion. Mountain worlds dotted with terraced hills, tall trees, monasteries, enchanted forests, mountain lakes and days and nights in hard core mountaineering. There’s no other way to put it – I madly love mountain lands and some day, I will go to Montana, though this trip got interrupted.

Upwards & Onward! (as one brave lady on my blogroll always says.) No matter how dampening the downers in life may be…And mountains are a reminder that it’s possible to walk in the clouds. And climb every cliff. With your own sweat and determination (and, er…piolets and crampons.) After every storm in life. And breathe again the fresh air of freedom…….and thank one’s luck each time one does so. To be born on this planet. For the gift of human life. And the responsibilities it entails.

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Ladakh – the highest plateau of the world

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Ladakh

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A monastery in Ladakh at night

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A gorge in the Kumaon range

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The Kumaon range of the Himalayas – on the way to the Kafni & Pindhari Glaciers

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Approaching the peak – the 16 day uphill climb gets closer to the final leg up the summit

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Celebrating my b’day in June with a Himalayan trek. 1997. (My lucky climbing sweater – I’ve had it for more than a decade. And wear it in the last leg of every climb through the years.)

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Terraced valley in Sikkim

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The breathtaking Kanchengyao around lake Gurudongmar in northern Sikkim.  The Kanchenjunga is one of my favourite ranges for mountaineering, apart from the Kumaon range. Its highest peak has a 28,169 ft elevation. The 2.75 sq. mile state of Sikkim is home to the red panda.

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Kanchenjunga range viewed near Darjeeling…a call of the wild I cannot deny.

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minus 25 degree celsius – the walk before the ice climb. 2008.

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Ice, Ice! (this picture is in Canada not in the Himalayas)

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Raphael – our ‘lead’ climber

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My parka and three layers of clothing to keep the cold out, but the exercise still makes one sweat

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Fire on ice

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Guillaume reaches on

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2006. We’re envious of those who have shoes with inbuilt spikes ;)

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The rest of us use old-fashioned external crampons on our shoes….

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Banff…in the summer

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Bhutanese monastery in the Himalayas

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Perched on the rocks…

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at the edge of a cliff…location, location – that’s what helps monks with the meditation ;-)

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Mountain Magnolia

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Kumaon range. Near Nanda devi peak

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On and..

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on and on.

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The team on one of the climbs

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A little rest, at last.  Un petit plaisir de la vie avec du thé chaud sur la glace

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Uttarakhand Nanda Devi

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” It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

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A small update: By coincidence, Randall Munroe put up this cartoon 2 weeks after this post on his XKCD website. It just seemed to tie in so well with the ED quote and near-death-car-crash I’d started this with, thought I’d place his cartoon:

xkcd _ the carriage



UNFETTERED

“I have confronted my mortality on many occasions. And If I die tomorrow, at least I could say I’ve LIVED.” –  Independent film maker, animal rights activist & adventurer Tim Gorski.

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Cambridge, MA. June 16, 2010. No enormously drawling lengthy post today or for the rest of the week. Swamped with work and other commitments. (Though I’m looking forward to meeting Christopher Hitchens this evening as he gives a talk at the Harvard Book Store.) Instead a video today of a friend who in my opinion is one of the bravest men I’ve come across in life and one with a remarkable level of integrity.  As I write  this,  images of the massive oil spill in the Florida Gulf and the innocent wildlife victims who paid the price flash through……I had canoed in those waters during my stay there and it is so incredibly sad what the incompetence and lack of accountability of BP has brought about. It was in the state of Florida some years ago that I first met the animal activist who would become my friend.

Through my work  over the years I’ve often come across many environmentalists, most of whom are genuine. But I’ve also sadly come across quite a few who do it more for the publicity or funds and to get their name in the papers; or conversely there are animal rights activists who get rabid about protecting crocodiles and pythons and other wild creatures while being  active consumers of the usual meat industry through the local supermarket. (I’ve always found the second kind rather interesting and hypocritical in the sense how can you tolerate the cruelty of the slaughterhouses that remove newborn calves from their mothers and a list of many other brutal ways in which many other animals are raised, handled and killed, yet take a moral stand with placards about the lives of crocodiles in the wetlands? At least the latter are having free lives in the wild!)

But Timothy Gorski is a film maker and animal activist who walks the walk and talks the talk. There is absolutely not one shred of hypocrisy about him, neither in the products he uses, the food he eats, the life he leads or the causes he defends. And this is very rare to find and see put into practice in the real world. Very rare indeed. His first film ‘Lolita – Slave to Entertainment’ which he had written, directed and produced went on to garner 11 awards and was his campaign to highlight the conditions of whales in captivity. He has also done innumerable works and projects to aid, rescue and heal domestic, wild, captive, stray and abused animals through the years and had made videos to highlight the killing of dolphins years before the documentary ‘The Cove’ was released last year. One of the most down-to-earth and humble people I have known, a couple of years back I’d attended the premier of the documentary ‘At the Edge of the World‘ with him at the Toronto International Film Festival for which he was the cinematographer and had spent several months in Antarctica on board a ship with the crew of Sea Shepherd and Captain Paul Watson. The documentary would go on to win eight awards in various festivals including  the Haskell Wexler best cinematography award for Tim. At the TIFF screening when his name was called out he literally sank into his chair and gave a tiny wave, because he didn’t want to attract the audience’s attention as the applause broke out. Tim’s reward has always been in the eyes of the animals he could help and in the doing, not the human awards, though he knows the reality of marketing in this world if you wish to get the facts across. The man is an utter realist.

Anyone who has watched a video on how whales are slaughtered – literally slashed a piece at a time  and  killed-while-alive – will know why this cruelty is quite senseless and preventable. Yet it is not; and just this year, the US lifted the ban on whale hunts for Japan and Norway, as the ‘exchange’ of Japan’s forgiving some financial debts the US owed it. I have traveled up a few times to the north of Canada in the protected waters of the Tadoussac region to watch the magnificent whales from a zodiac and I still cannot fathom why these mammals are deliberately put through this torture  in other parts of the world when so many other options of food are available to people. During those northern trips, while the larger whales kept to themselves as you watched their gigantic backs and dipping tails from a safe distance, the white beluga whales were so friendly and naive, they would swim alongside you when you kayaked on the waters.

But the tale in Antarctica and the illegal whaling operations that go on there are quite another story….. The reason Paul Watson takes preventive action and had broken out from Greenpeace which he had co-founded, is because he felt that  many organizations would collect millions by showing slaughter footage but nothing was being done to actually save their lives. Only by being in the arena and in the mouth of the lion could slaughter truly be prevented or lives be saved. Something like those working for Doctors without Borders who actually go and do instead of simply talk or ‘pose’ for publicity. Here’s an interview of Tim on board the Farley Mowat in 2006 as part of the Sea Shepherd crew. At its end there are questions that speak very deeply to anyone who listens. It certainly did to me.

What I like most about Tim Gorski is his humility in person and his steely determination and zest for life. He has real life stories of adventures that he may quietly reveal over a glass of beer ranging from days lost in the Amazon (where he had to eat a rat at one point to ward off hunger); spending New Year’s eve amongst the Shan State Burmese rebels who oppose the Burmese Military Government, after he and his crew got lost in the jungles  and caves between Thailand and Burma; when he rushed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina but stories  there he doesn’t wish to talk about; getting swept away literally during the tsunami in Thailand and many more incidents. You know those explorers and film makers you see on some National Geographic show who are quite simply not afraid? And you wonder if they’re crazy to do the things they do or choose the places they go off to? And then when you meet them, you’re even more surprised for they seem to be the most humourous, humble and humane people you’ve come across? Well, Tim is one of them and I am proud to know him and those like him who are not afraid to defend rational ethics. There are many animals and birds big and small across the planet who I’m sure silently thank him. And I thank him personally for being who he is and as a living testament that men with unshakable and inspiring integrity still survive on this planet.

Here is a promo video of a documentary ‘How I became an Elephant’ currently in production and in search of financial help (since his company is a non-profit based on those who wish to help freely.) While horrendous facts of torture of Southeast Asia’s elephants are a reality, it is heartening to know that there is an elephant sanctuary in Thailand which tries to get the gentle mammals away from poachers and traffickers who put them through an unfathomable amount of torture to ‘break’ and capture them and either kill them for ivory or put them into hard relentless labour. Tim has been able to fund the rescuing of one of those elephants and help the sanctuary through one Hollywood donor, but much, much more work remains to be done, as acts of murder and brutality against these gentle giants still continue.  What is very grounded about Tim is that he understands the complex issues of poverty, trade and survival linked to animal exploitation and is not a clueless anarchist-type activist. But a look at the following video shows the risks he takes and the heart-wrenching torture the elephants are put through. When I watch this I truly wonder how some people can salivate over spending thousands on Blahniks and Fendis and Hummers and fur coats when there are so many more realities and ethics to be aware of. Or just simply know as facts that exist, if even out of a curiosity about the world and its many truths. And even more I wonder at grown-ups who fawn and squeal over fake soft toys on Valentine’s day and Easter and other occasions while real animals are tortured everyday both in the wild and in slaughterhouses. (Warning: contains disturbing footage although most has been edited out of this clip.)

Updated 2013, as the film has already been completed

A link to his company Rattle the Cage below. Feel free to pass this link, videos or this post on to those who genuinely care for the way animals are mistreated in this world and for those who would like to get involved in his film projects.

http://www.rattlethecage.org/

And here is a link to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the film that took him to Antarctica. (do check it out….absolutely worth it.)

http://www.attheedgeoftheworld.com/

Keep up the good work, my bro! You really are an inspiration of what it means to truly live in this world….

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

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At the edge of the world


Thinking in Pictures

Various Places – 2009.

[Travels from last year. Not quite as off-the-beaten-path as some other places I have been to. Last year was safer. No photos have been retouched, only three have been cropped and one has been desaturated. Click for zooms, should you fancy.]

The world's second longest town name. In Wales. (The longest name is in the Maori language, in New Zealand.) I took this photo while on a train and ferry ride from England to Ireland via Wales. For the pronunciation,go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cy-Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch_(Welsh_pronunciation,_recorded_17-05-2012).ogg

On a train and ferry ride from England to Ireland via Wales. The world’s second longest town name. (The longest name is in the Maori language, in New Zealand.) For the original Welsh pronunciation,go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cy-Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch_(Welsh_pronunciation,_recorded_17-05-2012).ogg

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The rugged 700 ft. high Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. Cliffs of the Ruin) more than 300 million years old, on a rainy foggy day. Western seacoast of Ireland.

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A structural detail from the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, Wisconsin, USA.

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Two separate art installations at the MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in the Berkshire Mountains, North Adams, USA

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Dublin, Ireland, an evening in July 2009, before a U2 concert (which I did not attend). Photo uploaded here exactly as I clicked it – no retouching. Really.

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Now THAT’s a first! A memorial in a prime location (under the London Eye) for its Technical Director & Senior Site Engineer Peter Koorevar. London, England. (Did you know that Clifford Milburn Holland died of overwork just days before the opening of the project for which he was the Chief Engineer – hence named the ‘Holland Tunnel’?)

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A billboard for the decades old annual Jazz Festival, Bombay (Mumbai), India. The recession in America has increased the number of western musicians and actors working in the Bombay music/film industry.

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Three time runaway bride Maria finally gets married. At a church in little Italy to the reception in a lake Ontario pavilion. August 2009,Toronto, Canada.  This is the youngest guest at the event – who knows that the best part of a big Italian wedding is the food, and not the protocols. The un-inhibition of innocence.

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I still like sitting on the upper deck right up front in London’s local buses. The best way to view the street. A used book store I long liked. No – it’s not the movie one. At Notting Hill, England. After a rain shower.

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The front view works for canoeing too. Calm waters in the everglades of the Florida keys, USA

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Kanchenjunga range of the Himalayas in Northern Sikkim, India. My favourite for mountaineering, apart from the Kumaon range. Its highest peak has a 28,169 ft elevation. The 2.75 sq. mile state of Sikkim has 11 official languages and is home to the red panda.

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Yep! THE original Starry Night of Van Gogh. Close up taken at MoMA, New York City

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Sculpture in front of the Salvador Dali Museum along the Thames river-walk. London, England.

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My father playing his Stradivarius. My first memories of him, perhaps even from the womb, are of him playing his violin. The Dad with the Strad. When I saw my parents in 2009 I made them tell me their entire story of love, courtship, elopement, marriage, trials, tribulations, togetherness. And it was beautiful how happy and excited they got as they narrated their tale full of plot twists and turns. He had wooed my mother by fiddling music for her when he first met her some fifty years ago. It was love at first sight, he said.

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After years of unnecessary bureaucratic squabbling, politics and red tape, the McGill Law Library (designed by architect Dan Hanganu) finally gets all its new renovations and design & structural revisions taken care of. 6 years of backlog politics solved in one year. It remains the only contemporary building in Montreal with red sandstone cladding. May 2009. Montreal, Canada.

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Marley the dog. Age 10 years; looking up from the floor of a cafe in Brooklyn, New York. Marley doesn’t do politics. She just eats, plays, sleeps. and loves. unconditionally.

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The Indo-Gothic spires on the building of the Baroda School of Architecture (the second oldest architecture school of that country), western India. November 2009.

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Elaborately decorated hand-crafted kiln-baked clay pots made on a potter’s wheel sold by a street vendor in a traditional art market in Gujarat, India. Pottery is the oldest export of the state, after textiles, for centuries. The pots are used for decorations in weddings and festivities. Each costs around 50 cents. In an upscale NYC boutique each would be priced anywhere from 50- 100$ upwards.

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Christmas decorations in front of the Apple Store on 5th Avenue, New York City.

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Sugar maple tree in early autumn, 2009, outside the MASS MoCA building, North Adams, Massachusetts, USA. The museum is the largest center for contemporary visual art and performing arts in the country and has 100,000 sq.ft of exhibition space.

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“The Magic Theatre. For madmen only.” A corner in my former apartment at the edge of the forest on the summit of Mount Royal, Montreal, Canada, early 2009.

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“To love. To be loved.   To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you.  To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair.  To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple.  To respect strength, never power.  Above all, to watch.  To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”

Arundhati Roy

More pictures: Thinking in Pictures – part deux : 1.1.11