Jan 23, 2012

Sing it, Nina!

A guaranteed cure for the blues. To be listened to until symptoms disappear.

Jan 21, 2012


It's been two long weeks...I think my brain has entered "Cyprus Mode" for good now, which means I need to stop and take a breath. And remember the deep forests and the waterfalls of the world.

At least I have recalled what Friday afternoons mean. I never thought the smell of the lazy Friday afternoons of my primary-school years would come back. But it hit me as soon as I got into the car to drive home yesterday- it was sunny and there were two kids riding their skateboards in my neighbourhood. And I had nothing to do for the rest of the day.

I went birdwatching today...I actually enjoyed it. Even though birds are kind of nervous creatures, time rolled by more slowly than usual.

Lately I've been running the notion that one suffers from a lack of perspectives in Cyprus. It's not like Edinburgh, where you have the different layers and levels in the city, which offer plenty of perspectives and continuous fresh points of view both literally and metaphorically. There's always a view of the city you haven't seen in the soft light of dawn or a corner whose shadows you haven't pondered upon at dusk. 
There's always room in your soul left for the wonders of possibility; that excitement that drives us on to live, love and create. Don't the cherry-blossomed Meadows look so much different on a sunny spring day than the frozen-over sparkling Meadows of a windy winter's day? Play around with the days of the week, the times of day, and the vantage point, and what you get is a whole load of thinking, and a generation of scientists and artists being born right there, in that little patch of grass, in that little part of the world.

Yeah, and for some reason, Cyprus always seemed so dry, even before I went to Edinburgh. Back then, though, I didn't know what was wrong with me, and felt like my brain was slowly being pickled in its stale juices, but afterwards I realised that I had a case of 'Perspective Deficiency'.

Afterall, there isn't such a big variety of creative people with different points of view to create such perspectives here. Most people tend to follow some mainstream trends, and if someone wants to express an opinion they do it by imposing themselves violently on the landscape, like the bullshit flag on the mountain with the tacky flashing lights that I am forced to look at every day from my window or on my way back from work or the annoying spray tags on walls everywhere in Lefkosia that self proclaimed "graffiti artists" call Art.

There's just too much visual and noise pollution that the people who are actually offering a true invitation for thought are drowned out by the bullcrap.

Anyway, as I have decided to adopt an optimistic outlook on life despite my genetic predispositions, I am determined to constantly keep searching for these people and those perspectives that will enable me to keep living a sane life here in Cyprus.

I think what I'm trying to say is I enjoyed birdwatching so much today cause it offered me some unexpected new and beautiful perspectives. I never realised Cypriot nature could be so wild. Driving down the road with the sea stretching out from almost under the wheels, a kestrel in the sky, flapping its wings crazily, hovering over a marsh. Such a beautiful image. And meanwhile, all around us traffic, houses, villas, development, planes taking off loudly, an airport.

That kestrel could just be my flag of hope.

Jan 3, 2012

Indonesia: The Tower

Diary entry from Sunday 17th July 11:

Woke up at 04:20 to go to the tower with Cynthia and Eric. My headtorch was very faint so I was really unsure of my steps in the forest- fell off the railway planks once: acquired a new bruise. Squelched in the mud for a bit to get to the tower- Cynthia was in front of me and fell into all these holes so I didn't have to.

Eric climbed the tower first, then Cynthia and I was last. In a moment, my heart started  beating very fast and I felt my arms and legs weak and wobbly. From the sudden adrenaline rush I realised I must be scared of heights and how high I had to climb on that slippery red ladder. 

The tower is 45 meters tall and there are several different levels with a small platform so I could take a breath at each level before climbing to the next one. Climbing was a bit tiring for the arms and as I was clenching my muscles out of fear on the way up they were very tense and painful by the time I got to the top. I had to sit on the top for a while, my trousers wet and muddy, my hands muddy from holding onto where the others had stepped before me. I took a breath and stood up: the forest stretching under my feet.

It was still dark and foggy and the tops of the trees were floating over a sea of mist.I don't think I can describe the view well enough with words. It was just so still and peaceful and calming and it was as if time had stopped and there we where in suspended animation, stuck between prehistory and the future, on this tower full of atmospheric carbon monitoring equipment looking at our distant past- staring into our dreams- the ones we had when we were 5 where we were flying above the treetops and we knew everything and then somehow woke up to be 20 and forgot all about them but still had a vague and strange feeling that our real life maybe hasn't started or that we had another life altogether and now we were someone else. 

The sun started to rise making the mist look more dense and impenetrable before dissolving, and the sounds started changing. 

We spotted two kelasi sitting on a tree far away: kings of the lost world.

Some malcoas flew by and sat on a tree, feeding.

The sound of a distant hornbill screeching.

Cynthia and I talked a lot, climbed down two levels to a different perspective and talked a bit more. I took pictures of the spider webs overlooking the forest and I kind of wished I was a spider or a spider's web on that tower overlooking the forest and jeweled with dew and riding the breeze till the end of my days.

Went down a level and sat with Eric for a while. We were now at canopy height and i felt truly immersed in the whole experience. I thought this might be what it feels like to be an orangutan looking out over the canopy from within the branches and foliage of a tree. Looking at the world not from above but from within helped my thoughts settle down to a less abstract form. Moving from the top to the middle of the tower marked a shift in conversation from an ideological and slightly spiritual one to a more pragmatic one about conservation and the current unsustainable economic system. 

We saw some birds, which I have to remember to ask Nick about. Headed home as it was getting late. 

Jan 2, 2012

Indonesia: Sweet Chicken with Pineapple

One of my closest friends in Indonesia was Lis. He is the camp cook and one of the nicest individuals I have ever met. We made a video with one of our favourite dishes by Lis. It's easy and delicious...Enjoy :)