Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Pope Francis is visiting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul right now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy thanksgiving

I saw this cute picture and just had to swipe it. Contrary to popular belief that French bread is the best, I choose to disagree. Sicilian bread is the best because of the durum wheat flour grown only in Sicily. I remember being in Catania and saw the bread makers putting freshly baked bread in the late afternoon and you know that the bread at dinner just came out of the oven. In any restaurant you'll find a selection of bread. I miss Sicily. Anyway have a wonderful thanksgiving tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Israel, a travel journal

In Israel, on the trail of the wild anemones, the journey

continues. I'm finishing the illustrations, the writing is done.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Petersham nurseries, England

The trip to Petersham nurseries in Richmond, England was in 2011 but it looked like so long ago. I looked so young then but it was only 3 years ago. Time flies and this year is almost over.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Matera, Italy

 I was here in 2006, imagine almost 10 years ago, after the release of the movie, 'the Passion of the Christ' which was filmed on location here. After seeing the movie, I just had to come here and visit. We stayed in a cave hotel, a very beautiful place. We wandered up and down the Sassi and was so enthralled by it. The thing we didn't get to do was visit the Ruprestrian churches, numerous rock cut churches with beautiful frescoes.
Recently a German friend reminded me of the numerous frescoed churches in Matera. I think its time to return to Matera.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Israel, my next project

I've already started my next project, a zine on my trip to Israel. My new work schedule has allowed me to do a lot more work on my private projects. Its a lot of work, I have a full time job and I have my zine projects and am thinking up more to do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Essaouira, Morocco

A restaurant without a menu, how great is that? Well, here we were a few years ago at just that restaurant in Essaouira, Morocco, a nondescript fishing village with more atmosphere than monuments. We took the local bus from Marrakesh, the grand taxis and the tours were just too expensive. The bus costs us a couple pf Dirhams but it took forever. We finally reached it, walked around a little bit and sat down for lunch. The only food available were platefuls of fried fish. You can order as many plates as you want and just eat with your fingers, dipped the fish in a chili sauce. It was the greatest experience. You don't even need to clean up, just wipe the bones down to the floor, the stray cats will help you clean up. We saw some fishermen come in with more fish. So you know these fish just came from the sea outside.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The tannery, Fez, Morocco

The souk or market in Fez, Morocco is about the oldest in continual use in the world. Nothing has changed, its still a maze of narrow lanes, only large enough for a donkey to pass through. That's how stuff are hauled in and out of it, by donkeys. Once in a while one has to make way for the donkeys to pass. The place is crowded and I became claustrophobic, I had to run out of it. That was a few years ago but its a memory I shouldn't soon forget. In it is also the age old tannery, dirty and smelly. One climbs up a viewing area to see the action where cow hides are being processed in vats containing  chemicals, pigeon shit and animal urine. The stench was so nauseating. Mint leaves are handed out to mitigate the foul smell. Its a wonder to see, a one of its kind still at work in todays' modern age.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A sky burial in Tibet

Here I was a few years ago in a Tibetan part of China, witnessing a sky burial. For years I've read about what happens during a sky burial and what it is. Upon arrival at a little dingy hotel in Litang, we were asked if we want to witness a sky burial, its now become a tourist attraction. My previous reading of it was more respectful. So some 17 of us were waiting the next morning at the reception desk in the hotel. We came from England, Holland, Israel, the USA, Hong Kong, Poland and China. we went in 2 mini vans to the site, a small hill where colorful prayer flags flap in the breeze. It was a clear and pristine morning, the air was so clean, at that altitude, unlike the air in the big cities of Chengdu where we originated from. We waited for 2 hours not knowing if there will be a sky burial. Then in the horizon a few mini vans appeared but towards the back of us a solo mini van also appeared. This was the van that carried the body. The Tibetan Buddhists believed that the soul if it has done enough good deeds on earth goes into nirvana and no longer inhabits the body. The body is now being used to feed another living thing, in this case, the vultures. The body breaker then comes over, slices the body and called on the vultures to feed. He then breaks the bones, mix it with tsampa and continues to feed the vultures until the whole corpse is consumed. Strewn all over that hill are pieces of human hair, fragments of skull and other bones, knives and scissors. The whole area where we were standing to witness the sky burial was an open cemetery. None of us could speak after what we saw. As I explained to some in our party, they felt better, asked if I was a believer. No, I am not, I'm not a very curious person. So what do you think?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Death and dying

 This is how much wood needed to burn an average size corpse.
Unless we travel we'll never experience these events. Here I was in Kathmandu 2 years ago and my first day to a famous temple had me seeing these images. I saw dead bodies being carried on the streets towards the temple. I saw bodies reposing by the river, to be cleansed before the burning.I saw corpses being burned. To us this might be strange and squeamish but to the believers this is the right and honorable thing to do. The Hindus believe in it. Here in Nepal, Hindus and Buddhists live and practice their religion alongside each other.