New Wanderings. Castles And Cathedrals. Strasbourg 3.


And a bit of Deutschland.

It is kind of weird I started to write this while on my trip to India in April because the obsessive compulsive kind of person that I am, it was necessary to finish stories and impressions from my trip to Strasbourg first. Then I was meant to talk about my India trip but by the time I’ve completed this post I have also been to Chile and Bolivia. Strasbourg is like, so last year. 🙂

Alsace is full of medieval castles and Gothic cathedrals. The Strasbourg cathedral is a case in point. The first time I saw it, bang in the middle of the town square, dark, imposing, intimidating, sharp angles and jutting bits, I was not impressed. I mean as a structure itself, it is quite an achievement. Must have taken a lot of labour and time to complete it. The fear of God perhaps being the biggest driver. Who wants to face the wrath of the Almighty, and then the monks/clergy/whatever the church dwelling types are called. But as a religious building it is unwelcoming. Of course I wandered through as did so many tourists. The stained glass windows are quite amazing, so is the imagery, tea lights and candles adding to the atmosphere.  I climbed to the top of the spires, got a super view of Strasbourg. But imposing does not mean invitational and inclusive. I don’t have a single photo of the cathedral. They disappeared from my memory card; some sort of conspiracy of the universe. I can’t prove what I said, this ugly cathedral that is the main attraction in town.

My friend S and her friend took me on the Route des Vin D’Alsace. Little villages, medieval castles, an interesting fairyland Christmas shop, vineyards, poppies growing wild, cherry orchards, liberty monuments, the French countryside in the summer.

My trip to Alsase was memorable. I loved Strasbourg, loved the Black Forest, loved Baden Baden. S and her parents were such lovely hosts. I will go again. To Strasbourg.

Check out my photos here

The French Approach to “Anti-Racism” — Pretty Words and Magical Thinking


This is just me procrastinating some more and avoiding completing my travel stories from my trip to Strasbourg last year (this time last year I was house-sitting, cat-sitting, cruising around through Alsace with the mad Alsatian.) I have been to India and back and that is another post but being the OCD person I am, I have to finish telling my stories according to the timeline. Non-linearity is for my fiction. So I came across this post which I had to reblog. Just this afternoon I had a discussion (more like me putting across my points vehemently) about increasing the refugee quota to New Zealand. My argument being that I am tired of white bleeding hearts who want to save lives but don’t have a plan to support refugees once they are here. Resettlement is not integration, where are the resources, what about the racism, health, jobs, education etc. All on Twitter. The ‘pretty words and magical thinking’ in this title made me want to read it and I was transported to France, the people of colour I saw, who were so visible yet not included in mainstream discourses…I have mentioned this before… Anyway, this is an interesting piece.

Aware of Awareness

I first came to France twelve years ago during my junior year abroad. I was the first person in my family to get a passport and I could barely contain my excitement. In the winter of 2003, two years before the riots that followed the untimely deaths of 15 year old Zyed Benna and 17 year old Bouna Traore, I landed in Paris bright-eyed and bushy tailed, armed with a very shaky grasp of French and a naive fascination with this beautiful country.

As an African-American, I was vaguely aware that France did not deal with issues of race the way we do in the United States. And when I happened to forget, French white people were keen to remind me. In one of the sociology classes I took at a university in the south of France, I hesitantly raised my hand to ask a question. The white French professor had…

View original post 2,572 more words

Detox your soul


Raga is one tough lady with a lot to teach the world. This post says it all. Just good physical health is not enough if issues if the mind and soul remain unaddressed. One does not need fancy techniques, visualisation, New Age guru bullshit or reading pseudoscience that makes it obtuse. Give yourself a moment or two every day, connect to the universe, stop to smell a flower and slowly the soul will start cleansing itself. Actually Raga says it better than I can.

Raga D'silva

I have often participated in ‘short term‘ solutions through my life.  If I had too much to eat, I would detox through abstinence from certain food for a period of time, popularly called ‘fasting‘. If I had too much to drink, then I would detox using liver cleansing methods.

I worried about my body, as most people do.  I buried my pain, my issues internally.  I looked for comfort through over-eating, drinking and dysfunctional company.

Through my current journey, I realised that much of the short-term solution is simply about short-term gain.  The cycle of gaining weight or being unwell periodically was simply a symptom of this.

When I looked deep within, I came to a very tough realisation. I had lost  contact with my inner-self.  I had to find me! When I finally started the dialogue with myself, I found many demons –  some born with me…

View original post 282 more words

Link


At the Protests for Trayvon Martin in New York City

By Us I mean the ‘other coloured folk’, middle class migrants chasing the American (replace with any other Western country) dream. What does the shooting of and subsequent acquittal of the shooter, George Zimmerman, mean to us? Do we think that something like this will not happen to us because we are:

a-not black

b-highly educated

c-employed

d-acquiesce with the dominant white folk

etc?

Just because we, the other coloureds, categorise ourselves more like the white but not those black/indigenous/dole bludgers blah and blah we continue to be an accessory to discrimination. Our rights did not happen automatically. Many Treyvons gave up their lives so we could be treated as ‘equals’ in this world. To forget that is to deny our skin colour and place on this earth. Because one day it might happen to us one day.

Many words have been written and said about the acquittal and many academic arguments had about race. This post encapsulates it perfectly.

One Month Into A New Life


A month and two days actually. I am now a Wellingtonian, ex Aucklander, loving my job so much it would need to be duplicated for me to move to any other place. Not so sure about Wellington the city though. This is a charming, quaint little place. Almost like a Himalayan hill station that the British might have replicated in the Antipodes by the Pacific Ocean. They even named one suburb Khandallah, like there used to be in the Western Ghats between Bombay and Poona, before the national highway made it a fragmented remnant of pre-globalised India. Then there is the architecture, almost colonial yet not grand enough. As if building such abodes and edifices was too offensive to the sensibilities of the retired servants of the Raj; as if one day they were going to return ‘home’ and so constructed half heartedly half way dwellings susceptible to the cold and wind. So you see the structures built on stilts, the grass growing underneath, winter seeping through the cracks in the flooring and along way above the road, most adverse to urban development. Some might say that is good. Why does Wellington need to be more urban than it is, reflecting the parochial mentality of its old Scottish inhabitants, if I may stereotype and generalise. This is the capital of Aotearoa New Zealand. The seat of government and associated bodies. Yet to get to the airport one has to drive through town rather than take a motorway that bypasses downtown traffic. Surely there is severe need of urban development like an electrical jolt?

In my last post, one week old in Wellington I sought Asian grocery stores and an eyebrow threader. I found both. In the concentrated pocket of refugee settlements, new migrants and cafe culture gentrification of Newtown there is Pari Beauty. Mostly frequented by other ethnics and Pakeha women who want threaded eyebrows for NZD7 a pop. Salons are a great place to gather information. There as I sat getting my nails done, another customer discussed Indian grocery stores and Hindu temples. I’d just done my Asian grocery shopping that afternoon around Jackson St in Petone, Lower Hutt. It had reminded me of Ponsonby Rd, Auckland, without the snooty air. I’d shopped at one Indian store and then discovered another and then I’d gone quite nuts in the Asian store Davis Trading Company. As if in a lolly shop I’d bought the Chinese sauces, the Thai curry pastes, dry shrimp, ginseng, bamboo and other delights like an apothecary concocting medicinally nutritious winter foods. So I’d done my shopping and this Indian customer waiting for her eyebrows to be done at the salon informs me that the other Indian grocery store was better because the one where I had shopped stored foods close to expiry date and does not have that much variety. Now I know. Also that there are no mithai shops in Wellington! Not that I indulge often but where there is a South Asian community there have to be sweetmeats ja? In spite of cardiovascular disease and diabetes?

In my last post I also complained about the lack of diversity. I take that back. Somewhat. Wellington may not be as densely diverse as Auckland but I have spotted young Indian families, Korean schoolboys, gorgeous Middle Eastern women, the sporadic funky Africans, lots of Paficic Islanders and many, many Maori. I guess it is only because they make an incomplete kaleidoscope in a largely white, lethargic city?

My work keeps my busy and I love my doctor’s job. In my other avatar I delight in the arts and world cinema this city offers but my global self is afraid of being blunted. Wellington is like living in a bubble that seems immune to the world’s pace of change or how this existence might be affected. The entrepreneurial spirit, so essential for growth, is missing. I am assuming that when an outsider, a migrant or a refugee comes here they lower their expectations and live like the locals. The only Oporto store that opened in Wellington last month created ripples! While I am not a supporter of fast food chains their presence is an indication of the local economy. Or maybe someone will discover hidden JRR Tolkein novels for Peter Jackson to make into movies and keep this city afloat? Perhaps I’ll start something, shit stirrer that I am…

New Beginnings.


One of my aims every year is to write regularly on this blog. Anything from serious political issues to flippant, fashion-y things. Books, movies, gardening, tramps and travels. Food. Sharing other interesting blogs I follow. And all that. For me it is always self indulgence and the need to improve my writing; to be analytical and a touch self-deprecatory. It never ceases to amaze me that people read this blog, some even follow it. I am touched and very grateful.

These last two years, especially the last few months have been an exercise in maintaining my self-belief and carrying on with life, pushing and willing to get things done, things over which I had not control but could question the methodology of how others did it. I can reiterate that all the above and a lot of visualisation of what you want (with the right motives) does work and the power of the human mind, the potential of it just blows me away.

Which is how I am going to re-don a past avatar, that of a doctor, in Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital‘ in the world. Not that I wished to go there, no, that was the Universe. The rest of it is of my making.  So I start work as a GP next week, in Porirua, a city/suburb of Wellington after eleven years of being away from it. It is the kind of doctoring I know I would like. Low socio-economic area, many refugee, Maori and Pacific Island patients and several challenges. That apart, living in Wellington, after eleven years in Auckland, should be exciting. It means new friends, new networks, new things to do and a new house to live in. It also means very cold winters, damp homes and sharp winds blowing from the Antarctic. 

I know I’ll have lots to write about and I hope to (a) be very regular, perhaps fortnightly and (b) evolve myself as a writer. So wish me luck. 🙂

Winding Roads


Liveonimpulse

They stand facing us

Different paths

And roads

Winding along

Asking us to break

Our mental shackles

Urging us to cross

Different obstacles

Enticing us

Into walking along

But the fear

Of change

And all things

Novel and strange

Holds us back

And we wind

Up on the

Often tread

And much beaten

Way

View original post


The movie buff that I am, here are some African films that seem super interesting but might never get to see in New Zealand.

Africa is a Country (Old Site)

‘Grand comme le Baobab’ (“Tall as the baobab tree”) is a film told through the voice of Coumba (in Pular language), who tries to avoid her 11-year-old sister from being sold into marriage to settle a family debt in rural Senegal; shot mostly with a local cast.

 

View original post 257 more words

Getting Back Into Workmode.


This is a real short post, written quick and fast, considering my usual pondering procrastinations that I eventually publish. Every year I tell myself the goal should be to blog about something kickass; that elusive post which will elevate me to the realms of the ‘read and eagerly waiting for more’ category. I could potentially write about what I eat for lunch, my sex/love life, fashion, the Kardashians @_@. Nah. That would mean not taking myself seriously, which I do 🙂
Since I have an opinion on everything and everyone it should be easy to just bang away at the keyboard and produce something. Yeah? Nah. I’m not that cool. (Check this Wiki out.)
Yet there is lots to write about. My favourite topics being of course feminism, rather representation of ethnic women and diasporic Indians. Plus all else in-between. So there are blogs-in-the-making and there are those on hold. Because work comes first and then to find time for my personal life.
For me 2012 has begun on a positive note with many projects happening at the same time. Before all that though, a road trip through the East Coast of New Zealand reminded me once again about my place in the world, about human solidarity, about the importance of land and nature as a common treasure and why I should be grateful for my life. Hence the optimism.
Hopefully whoever reads this understands what I am saying.
Happy new year, Gung Hai Fat Choy. Peace, prosperity and love. Here is to more blogs, well thought out and pertinent. 🙂

Hello world!


Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!