Month: January 2013

Doing what I can: Revisiting the Hummingbird

Stumbling onto the animated  version of Flight of the Hummingbird, by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. While writing my essay on The Flight of the Hummingbird several months ago, I had asked my partner to read over the piece and give her thoughts. She liked my interpretation that the ultimate outcome depends on the motivations of the hummingbird. She went further to provide another perspective: Is Dukdukdiya really doing all she can?

Reflections of Nepal: The Tharu of the Terai

We felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety after learning the finalized details of our volunteer placement: We were to work with and learn from the Tharu people, an indigenous group who inhabited the Terai region of Nepal. Arriving after an eleven-hour bus ride to the small town of Lamahi in Dang District, we were once again reminded of the country’s spectacular geographic diversity. This land of red dust and flat farmlands, far removed from any tourist attractions, was to be home for the following three weeks. It could not be more different than the mountain vistas of the Himalayas or the congested and bustling streets of Kathmandu.Knowing next to nothing about the land and its people, we tried to be receptive and perceptive to our surroundings and our hosts. In turn, we were rewarded with a wealth of information regarding Tharu history, culture, and worldviews and how their intimate bond with place and land has profoundly shaped their past and present relationships with nature, culture, and self.

Shifting Themes

With the popularity of browsing from tablets and mobile devices nowadays, I’ve decided to switch to a new theme.  I recently got the chance to play around with an ipad and was dismayed to find how poorly formatted the site was. It was borderline unreadable. I like Quintus, but to be honest, it was always a bit finicky to deal with. So I’m going with a more minimalistic theme called Runo Lite. Some changes – I’ve removed the sidebar to provide a better overall reading experience; I think a full-page setup is better for essays.  Topics, links, and popular entries will be at the bottom of the page in the footers. Hopefully everything will be easier to navigate, quicker to load, and more intuitive. Comments and feedback, as always, are greatly appreciated. Let me know how you find the new layout of the site in terms of aesthetics and accessibility, especially if you’re a tablet user. Personally, I’m wondering if I should spend the 30 dollars a year to get the WordPress customization package and …

The Beauty of Water Droplets, by Andrew Osokin

The Beauty of Water Droplets, by Andrew Osokin I recently came across the macro photography of Andrew Osokin in the environment section of the Guardian. I was captivated by the images taken around his home city of Moscow, but more intrigued by the photographer’s motivations: “I am greatly interested in photographing the natural world and wanted to show the beauty of nature at a scale that we do not ordinarily appreciate.” (Andrew Osokin) His comment speaks of the beauty that is all around us, even if we do not readily observe it. Osokin’s photographs reminds me of an Ekostory I wrote on the Pikmin videogames: What if dandelions were the height of telephone poles? What if rusty cans were the size of houses? What if puddles were as deep as great lakes? By presenting familiar outdoor settings from an unfamiliar perspective, the Pikmin games allow the player to identify with their diminutive avatars and the creatures they encounters in this alien but recognizable world. The player is asked, in subtle fashion, to consider the secret …

Reflections of Nepal: Romanticizing Reality

As visitors to a foreign land and culture, we were swept away by what Nepal had to offer: Sweeping vistas, delicious fresh food, welcoming people, fascinating traditions. But once in a while, we encountered events that compel us to examine the experience presented to us not merely as temporary tourists, but as global citizens. They allowed us the opportunity to set aside our romantic notions of travel and contemplate our personal impacts on the local land and people. These moments occasionally left us feeling conflicted, but we ultimately welcomed them, for exploring the beautiful and the terrible provided a richer and more rounded representation of our time in Nepal. Our journey reminded us about the importance of being open and appreciative towards a different way and pace of life, but it also taught us that we must also exercise critical thinking and honest self-reflection while examining these experiences.

Millet_fields_in_Annapurna

Reflections of Nepal: Landscape Impressions

Update: With the recent earthquake in Nepal, I’m very sad to realize many of the wonderful people and places I encountered are lost forever. In memoriam. We came across many beautiful landscapes in Nepal, some shaped by natural processes, others conceived and constructed by human minds and hands. We sought to describe their beauty and the impressions they left on us.