And now for new year resolutions! ahoy there 2011

I decided to make this list before the revelry of the 31st made me lose my judgment. After a few margaritas and some loud music one tends to make all kinds of resolutions that seem foolish the next morning. And then the guilt sets in. So this year I am starting early. In 2011 I resolve to:

1. Spend less time Twittering (I know I know – it is Tweeting) and more time reading. My stack of books is growing at an alarming rate and has been ignored for too long.
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The best, the worst and the in-betweens! Adieu 2010

The year is racing to a finish, and it is time to look back at what went by, or rather whizzed by. I wish I could have read more, seen more films, traveled more places – and eaten less 😀

Films: There were some really good ones and there were some really bad ones, and then there was mostly a lot of stuff in between. After a hiatus from Bollywood I went back to watching a lot of BW films (mostly what released in theaters here), while picking my HW films with care and caution! Here is a HW list:

1. Inception – loved the film, the mind-bender that kept us thinking and discussing for days on end. Leo DiCaprio did not disappoint and Marion Cotillard was luminous.
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This is not potty humor! From the Minoans to the Caliphate (part 2 of 3)

My travels in Turkey and Greece reminded me that I had NOT continued my series on toilets and bathrooms around the world!  So I paid special attention to these attractions this time around.  Surprisingly sophisticated facilities were found wherever I went, be it the Sultan’s harem at the Topkapi palace or the ruins of Ephesus.

At the entrance to Ephesus one is greeted by piles upon piles of clay pipes, a testimonial to the advanced drainage system the Greeks and Romans had.

Clay pipes at Ephesus

Walking down the royal highway past many monuments including the statue of Nike, the symbol of Caduceus, Hadrian’s temple, one rounds the bend and comes upon the most significant monument of Ephesus – the towering library of Celsus!

The Library of Celsus

One can imagine the noblemen riding their horses towards this imposing structure and past it to the gigantic coliseum. But these noblemen made a couple of stops along the way.

Ephesus latrines!

The first is a spectacle the like of which I have never seen anywhere. It dates from the 2nd century AD and is part of a big hamam complex.

Ephesus latrines II

We are told the slaves sat on the marble seats to warm them up before the masters used them. So many seats in such proximity suggests that many a serious matter was discussed in this “forum”!!

Ephesus Latrines III

The waste drainage area suggests running water below and there was a large open central area. We are also told a sojourn at the hamams was followed by a visit to the brothel street which was just down the road! Then came the library of Celsus. Only the facade of this monument is restored, but it is enough to suggest the magnificence of the whole!

The Library of Celsus

Finally they made their way to the gigantic coliseum the size and grandeur of which is best appreciated from afar!

The Coliseum at Ephesus

Chihuly in the garden!

Dale Chihuly, glass artist extraordinaire, and the Shaw gardens, otherwise known as the Missouri Botanical Gardens – amazing confluence of sinuous movement in glass and nature in all her glory!  Even before one enters the Ridgeway Visitor Center, a huge centerpiece of writhing glass, that resolves into almost calla lily like shapes at the top, can be seen from the outside.

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This is not Potty humor! From the Minoans to the Caliphate (one of two parts)

My travels in Turkey and Greece reminded me that I had NOT continued my series on toilets and bathrooms around the world!  So I paid special attention to these attractions this time around.  Surprisingly sophisticated facilities were found wherever I went.  The earliest (historically speaking) site was the “palace” of Knossos, in Heraklion, Crete.  The palace dates back to about 1700 BC and was inhabited by King Minos – of the minotaur fame.  When Minos refused to sacrifice the white bull given to him by Poseidon, Aphrodite punished him by making his wife fall in love and mate with a bull, resulting in a half bull half human offspring, the Minotaur!  This ferocious being was kept in a labyrinth built under the palace at Knossos by Daedalus.  The excavations are massive, the renovations and reconstructions mercifully limited.

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That’s the spirit for me!

I was in Dundee, Scotland and seized the opportunity to taste some fine single malts.  Continue reading

The road to Nyaka!

It was early 2005, and I was trying to claw my way out of a personal abyss.  The time of disbelief had somehow run smack into the time to play catchup with everything that had been sitting around waiting.  Work was wonderful as a way to keep demons at bay, and total immersion let me pretend that nothing was really wrong.  I was functioning, wasn’t I?  It was around then that a good friend called me and asked if I would be willing to come to Kenya, and after work perhaps there would be a little time to play.  We would go to Uganda from Kenya, and after a stay at Queen Elizabeth Park, we would go on to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and if we got really really lucky maybe we would see some gorillas!  After Bwindi we would drive to the little village of Nyaka, and spend the night there, visiting with the parents of Jackson Kaguri (who was married to Beronda, someone we had known for about 5 years).  Jackson had started a little school in his village for children who were AIDS orphans.

QE Park

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