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.
Always.

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….

.

.

Marooned

……And the time came when even words could not give shape to her grief, and she had to think in pictures again….an infinite sense of unfathomable loss…….of love, of life, of hopes and dreams. As though sorrow had laid her waste and barren akin to the aftermath of a nuclear leak. A Chernobyl-ed landscape. That’s how she’d become. Portraits in rich color and textures – of laughter, ardor, music, voyages – in all their gorgeousness – now lay shattered; anger and hurt hurled around as weapons which now left a deserted battlefield strewn with the debris of her heart, her guts; soaked in her tears; her fears floating around like ghosts among the ruins; and her sadness came to roost like squatters amidst the wreckage.

She had laughed unabashedly in her carefree childhood; she’d always felt she was the child of Joy and Light – no matter the darkness she had seen or faced. She’d always fought against the darkness…..but this time, this time the mobs were too dense; their fetid fingernails, their rancid ribaldry and cold-eyed fakeness mocking her genuineness of spirit, her hopeful earnestness in her belief in love. Mocking her loyalty, her naiveté, her outspoken frankness in pointing out injustices, her abhorrence for shallow masks. Like screaming banshees they wouldn’t let her go until her skin had been gnawed and shred and she lay there broken and bleeding.

She closed her eyes. “This is how it ends then,” she thought. “Take me Death. I have no more strength. No more dreams. No more life to give.”

But long after the crowds had moved away leaving her alone to die, taking with them the friend she loved and trusted and had poured her goodwill and energy into – the friend who had unwittingly betrayed her because he had trusted the duplicitous wenches in the crowd and joined in their cruelty believing the seductive promises they’d dangled before him incessantly for years – there still remained the echo of a laugh. Through her tattered ears and limbs she could hear a little girl laughing far away.

And that’s when she realized: the laughter she heard was coming from within her. From some secret chamber buried deep inside – a place which only belonged to her and to her alone; faint at first but soon with an increased richness: half-mirth, half-rebellion.

Then she understood. A part of her soul was still intact. They hadn’t been able to touch it, nor reach it. That part that wouldn’t give up. And like the tiniest ember within the ashes of a stamped-upon, doused-out fire – if she could only blow at it the right way – that laugh, that ember could become a spark that could light up the fire again. All she had to do was to generate fuel or dry wood from a near-empty coffer to help it glow brighter.

And in its warmth and its golden light, she would come back to life.

Because, she remembered, it’s the broken and dried up branches that make the strongest of fires. It is rock metamorphosed through intense, unbearable heat and pressure over time which creates the most potent of fuel that can set ablaze with even the smallest of sparks.  And after the strongest of fires have engulfed the forest, from the ashes when it’s all over, the tiniest of saplings rise up. Slowly but surely they expand – gulping in the sunlight for very survival itself. And life finds a way to bloom again in all its splendor. Only stronger. Lusher. But most of all, at least for her, wiser.


 

In Memory of my Dad’s Birthday

New York, December 15, 2013. My father passed away last year on 9th April. He was born on the 15th of December. Though trained as a Geologist/Geophysicist who later switched to management, his first passion was photography – black and white in particular. He even had his own darkroom in our house. I remember growing up surrounded by photography books of incredible artistry, old Time-Life books, National Geographic magazines and several different types of Art magazines on various techniques and styles of taking photographs.

In his days he had won quite a few awards for his work, but playing it “safe,” had never pursued photography as a full-time profession. A pity, (though in retrospect I can see why) as he had chosen to be a family man, and had not pursued his inner Dionysian adventurous traveling spirit that had taken him around to photograph parts of the world. He’d even been asked in his early days to join a film crew as its still photographer/cinematographer. Afraid of taking a financial risk, since the director himself – a family friend – was hard-pressed on budgets, he did not. The director would later go on to become one of the most celebrated independent art film makers of all time, widely regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of world cinema – especially his black and white films – and go on to receive a lifetime achievement Oscar before his death (Satyajit Ray).

Yes, Art does not pay much, or at least – unless there is early luck – it is a long journey before recognition and wealth comes by. So Art has to be pursued for Art’s sake alone.

I noticed on his camera which I went through after his funeral that, just days before his death, he had tried to take some more pictures re-capturing his early days, but it was an automatic digital color camera, and the textures, subtleties, shadow and light of black and white photographs he loved taking and hand-processing in the old-fashioned chemical way was a dying and near-dead craft, alas.

For his birthday, I am placing just a few pictures that he’d taken, since he had taken thousands – architecture, landscapes, people, still life – which now remain neatly filed in boxes or hang framed upon the walls of the home he lived in with my mother. Some day I hope to scan and archive his entire collection.

Life is short, and it is important to tell our parents we love them. He died before I could see him one last time – it was a sudden very unexpected painless death – good for him but a sudden shock for us – I’d seen him last 15 months before he died as I kept procrastinating my trip across the pond, and the last I’d spoken to him was a month before his death. I so wish I’d spoken more, called more……..

More reason to tell our parents more often, while they are with us, how we appreciate them for having taken care of us – from the time we came as helpless blobs into this planet till we could fly on our own.

Out of respect and copyright, please DO NOT copy or save any of these images.

You may click on any image to start a slideshow.

Goodbye, dad. Rest in peace.


*

From a November Far Far Away


You weren’t satisfied with just wounding me.
You had to stab me over and over again……..
Through the misty moors and rugged lands
Where I ran to, for my solace.
You followed me to my sacred sands
Defiling even the peace I’d earned.
You mocked me,
Dissatisfied
That I was still unbroken.
Unscarred.

Are you not happy to have robbed a part of me?
My innocence, my sweet belief in love?
You throw your twisted liaison at my face
At the very spot that’d brought serenity to my mind?
How cruel can you be? How much more monstrous,
Beneath those cold blue cynical eyes?
Do only women who are manipulative, spent and broken 
Win your labor, your effort and hand?
But those who hold on to innocence,
Who’re unconquered, unbroken, unspent
You douse them with your poison
After, first, enmeshing them in your net
Your web of verbose vanity
Intoxicating like sweet summer wine
Your Victorian words and phantasies
Set like a bait for unsuspecting hearts
And then you strike, with your lethal weapon
Of anger, sarcasm, wrath,
Cruel dismissiveness mood-dependent
To bury your victims in earth.

And when it did not work on this one
You struck by taking my dreams
My secret places and reveries
And gave them to a murky stream.
I know now what discrimination is –
“Intellectual racism” is the word that best fits
Because I looked exotic, not freckled and pale;
So you presumed I was not worth the depth
But just worth a “fuck” which, thank goodness,
I denied you
Only to face more rage.
But at the end of the day, you know you didn’t win
‘cause I held my modesty within my grasp.
And you, who have given your best to past witches,
Could neither conquer my body nor soul.

Perhaps like Heathcliff you’ll always wander
Like a dead man walking in the mist of your past
But I’ll know in my heart, I loved Heathcliff
But never surrendered to him, ‘xcept opened my heart.
For as much as my fire burnt in his coldness,
I’d rather save my best for genuine warmth.
And the love of my Viking and my dark Angel Minstrel
Took me away from your rancid swamp.

And today I stand midst the spires of this great City
While your mayor makes a fool of himself
Karma for all those years of mocking
That your residents would do to the rest.
’cause that’s who you choose, a Fat Flatulent Fool
After all that great big vaporous talk
But We, we who know the strength of Value,
Live in Reality and meaningful Love.
We value quality
And achievement
Not enshrined mediocrity like your town,
We value strength and genuine hard work
Not a piggish, pretentious clown.

And despite your stealing my confidence
And giving my gifts to shriveled thorns,
I know in the end, you won’t succeed
Nay, you did not succeed at all,
In breaking my spirit, no matter
How hard you tried as a game.
My spirit, for it will still haunt you
In your darkness to which you’re a knave.
Thank you, for letting me realize
How strong I really am,
That despite your repeated stabbings,
You could not kill my calm.

And as I write this,
I softly realized,
Those glens – they are still my own
You can steal my dreams, but not the dreamer
And whence they came from, there is more.
Yes, once I thought ’twas you who’d take me
To a magic theater and lucent lands
But I know I didn’t need you to,
Cause I found my way on my own.

And for he who truly loves me,
With openness, and without games,
To him today belongs my body,
My heart, my love, my name.
You can fester in your own complications
And your lies behind even more backs
But I chose honesty, and sanctity
And I’m free of you at last.

– ©November 2013. Maddy. The Gipsy Geek

(Notes for clarity: The person in this poem is a very narcissistic and snooty Torontonian, who used to make fun of all other cities (like most Toronto residents,) and took some sadistic pleasure in putting others down and was incredibly cruel to me, practicing what I now term as “intellectual racism” – i.e. having a completely false belief that women who look exotic are good only for sex (and I mean casual erotic sex, without even putting the effort to wine and dine), but not for intellectual discussion and friendship, while those with Anglo-Saxon heritage must naturally be all literate and intellectual (even though this too is more than often not true depending on one’s education and upbringing.)

It was the first time in my life that I realized, to my shock, that I had been judged by my looks alone, and that all my education, accomplishments and intellect had meant nothing. Because I did not give in to his demands (of cheap sex) and refused to believe that someone could be so callous and shallow since he was good with words and writing, thinking he may just be misunderstood, I was subjected to even more rage and wrath.

Today I see this person in his full light and have understood just what a genuine jerk he was and how incredibly damaged he was, and no longer have sympathies for these sort of men or the dysfunctional, issue-filled women they choose to romance who eventually leave them even more troubled.

I, of course, live in New York “this great City” with a wonderful, brilliant, kind and multi-talented man who loves and values me a lot, but at the time I had met this Toronto snoot, I resided in Montreal. 

The “mayor” mentioned here is a reference to Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

The landscape is a reference to the rugged one of coastal UK, where many of my stories that I had naively narrated to him featured, and a naivete that came to bite me on my fanny as every  act of kindness and civility was misinterpreted by this deeply damaged man and met with baffling unicivility. Even when I was duped into accepting an apology in person, the “apology” was given in the form of insulting rage. Well, now I am done. Free. And thanks to the idiotic antics of Toronto’s first citizen Rob Ford, I can have the last laugh – since it’s karma after all those years when Torontonians behaved as though they were the center of the Universe. You are not. You are just a big “wannabe” city with a small-town mentality hiding behind banal, boring, trying-too-hard facades. And, most importantly, Toronto is NOT New York. And never will be. Period.)

*

Carl Sagan. Always….

Essential viewing…..For those times, when the inexplicable injustices of the world grip you (such as several recent miscarriages of justice in Florida’s legal system), for those tumultuous political/social times when a form of hateful discord grips people of different communities, colors and religions – and you understand the futility of such group-think, for the times you need answers or just peace or closure – helpless at your inability to reconcile with justified anger at certain man-made systems, for the times you wonder about your “place” in the world, for the times you need to get out of the abyss of excessive navel-gazing myopic views and understand the fallacies of our anthropocentric world; and for the times when the sheer scale of the Universe and imagining its immensity becomes akin to a spiritual experience……… For the times when perspectives of a wise and ethical astrophysicist, ecologist, anthropologist or scientist-philosopher, and based on proven facts, makes much more sense than any subjective opinions blindly followed……..For the times when knowledge sets one free, while ignorance merely buries.

carl-saganI feel very lucky to have been exposed to the work, shows and writings of Carl Sagan at an early age. What an incredibly wise man he was! Wish there were more objective scientist-philosophers like him. Wish he hadn’t passed away so soon.  When I met the “father” of landscape ecology research Richard T. T. Forman at Harvard in 2008, I gushed like a teenager. But wish I could have met Sagan, at least once, before he died. He was also one of those few great men, whose private conduct had integrity and ethics, and did not differ from his public image – a disparity oftentimes sadly seen in many creative or public figures who may seem very alluring from the outside, but have hypocrisies within. Carl Sagan even transcended that – by all accounts he was good, wise, humble and ethical, both publicly and privately. Yes, he truly was a great man.

Here are two well-made videos by a fan, with Sagan’s narration. There are many more videos of him out there, of course, and his must-have series “Cosmos” which is a testimony to the good that great and intelligent television shows can do, as opposed to the murk it more often churns out.

On my blogroll section is a link to “Carl Sagan quotes.” And a chapter from his last book can be found here: * Billions of stars * Billions of sports fans

Wishing you wisdom………and billions of warm wishes from the ravenous July heat of New York City.

The Unbearable Heat of July…

.…in New York. Well, things could have always been worse. One could’ve been on the fated Boeing 777 which crash-landed in San Francisco airport yesterday, killing two teenagers, injuring several, but still miraculously leaving all the rest of its passengers alive.

Or, one could’ve been in a more dangerous part of the world, where governments try their best to oppress its citizens, as the latter fight for freedom.

So relatively, we are far luckier – if an insanely hot week in July with temperatures soaring over 100 degree Fahrenheit in New York is all we have to worry of. It is true that my migraines, combined with a heat stroke, have kept me indoors in bed, with the AC yanked up, the whole weekend. Migraines are incredibly annoying and at least mine are extremely painful. Suddenly – anything from bright lights, the smell of oil or perfume, or the noise of traffic can trigger it off. After that, much like a dog’s senses, every single smell gets amplified and identifiable; every sound, however soft, resonates like a bombshell; and even a bedroom side table lamp feels like the floodlight of a stadium. I have tried different medications, but alas, none have been effective. Like the common cold – I have to “wear it off.” Hours and sometimes an entire day spent in a dark room, keeping the temperature as cool as possible, sometimes an ice pack on my forehead, and subsisting on nothing but fruit, ice cream, and perhaps a bowl of edamame. And hoping that this feeling – of a head as heavy as lead, throbbing with pulsating pain – would just, just fade away. Not the unbearable lightness of being, I’m ‘fraid, but more like the unbearable heaviness of tête.

While I’ve decided to write at least one post a month, the past several months have been busy with various work pressures, a new (and exciting) development on the professional front, and many contingencies to be planned out and sorted. Also, for reasons of privacy and security, I had toyed with the idea of making this blog private, but have been touched and surprised that within just a few days of changing its privacy settings, so many readers wrote to me directly asking why, and hoping they could continue to read my writings. It is a humbling experience. More so, because although most of those readers never left comments, I am surprised how many actually would stop by and read. And so, here it is, back again……

But to get back to the start of the post – there are times when my heart gets heavy and hope runs thin, knowing and understanding the realities of the world we live in – factions at war, corruption in governments, the plight of sweatshop workers while clueless consumers keep buying, the inhumane cruelty towards animals both in the food and fur industry, the torture of innocents by psychopaths; and the fact that none of us really choose to be born – yet we are – and we have this one life to live, and that none of us are that special (at least definitely not in some God’s-special-child-kind-of-way – the way in which they would like to brainwash you,) but just that none of us are extra-special for having been born. What we do have control over or what can make a special difference lies simply in the actions we choose to perform that leave the world a little better, a little kinder than how we found it. Yes – there are special people – who with their innate talent and creativity and brilliant inventions have given gifts that have changed the course of human lives, and to whom we owe so much…..but what I mean is that none of us are really that special, the way our consumerist first world culture seems to push that certain frivolities are absolutely necessary to possess just because “you’re worth it.” Because, despite all the frills and frivolities, parades and charades of life, all that really matters – or at least all that will really, really matter in the last 10 minutes on one’s deathbed – are the ones we love/loved and the ones who truly loved us. Everything else is a corollary.

But perhaps I should not talk of this….I have ranted enough about the inequalities in the world and the effects of narcissism-gone-wild or the corruption in various systems in my posts such as Sweatshops for your sex and the city, Truth or Dare, Saltationism of Silliness, This too shall pass and a few others…… And in others, have celebrated the simple joys of life – a great piece of music, the beauty of art or satellite images or the quiet contentment one feels in the silence of happy solitude.

Talking at times with my friend, author Frederic Tuten, I feel that I often relate better with men and women who are much older – who have lived life a lot more – and somehow come out of it without their spirits broken, despite all of life’s downers. How do they do it? Tuten today shared a wonderful article written by neurologist Oliver Sacks in the New York Times on the joy of turning 80 – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-old-age-no-kidding.html?_r=0  My much older friends say I am a very old soul. I know this….in some ways always knew this since I was 10 years old – a sensitive, serious kid who voraciously liked reading encyclopaedia and books, but with a capacity for great joy and extremely charged to fight against petty injustices; a quiet kid who loved solitude but who would not remain silent if she saw someone being cruel to another, be it human or animal. There was a time, some four years back, where I thought I must have lost that spirit, that chutzpah. But much to my joy I discovered it was still there, always there, never to be broken – perhaps dampened and dormant for a while due to my having been the recipient of certain acts of unfathomable callousness by another, but that core – it had never left me. And, in the past couple of years, it recuperated and roared back again. 

And every time I go for a visit to a wonderful person’s studio/lab – a friend full of incredible talent, integrity, brilliance and ethics who is changing the world and is a true genius of our time (who shall remain unnamed in this post, as some day I want to write an entire post about him and his work, but let me simply say he is someone who  is a senior TEDtalks fellow, someone who Rolling Stone magazine had named among “15 people the next President should listen to,” and who had once won Time magazine’s best invention of the year award) – I smile and think – “No, there is still hope for mankind. There is still so much to live for, to laugh about, and of course, to love…love….and love more.”

So on this hot July day, here’s a photograph from New York taken by another friend (Kent Lawless) – an architect who went into computer science, and is a very gifted photographer. Life is hard and often not rosy. But the trick lies in finding beauty in special moments, to stop and smell the roses, to share a laugh with an innocent child, to stop to pet every dog that nuzzles up to you with its loving eyes, to thank the luck and fortunes we have, to accept the reality of what we don’t have, to believe in little acts of kindness, to have the discernment to distinguish the genuine from the fake, to recognize what is objectively good and not make excuses for that which is evil, and to have the courage to leave our surroundings at least a bit better than how we found them……As one of my favorite writers Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Clouds in July above Empire State Building, New York City. (Photograph by (c) Kent Lawless)

Clouds in July above Empire State Building, New York City. (Photograph by  Kent Lawless)


*

*