Sunday, August 31, 2008

Encounter with the woman who sits in that spot

I took this photo when Greenlight Network had our REvolution along the Eastern Main Road (Tunapuna - Curepe) in June 2006. Other photos of that day here.
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The old woman in the above photo has been sitting in that same spot for years. I have never spoken to her and she has never spoken to me, even though I have passed her many times on my way to the market. I have never seen her asking anyone for anything or extending her hand for money. So she has never struck me as 'a beggar'. She is a mute, silent, constant presence, quite like a human landmark. She strikes me as an unseen observer, sitting there for the sole purpose of viewing and assessing the world and everyone who passes by through her large, dark glasses.

This morning was different. As I walked to the market, she held out her hand, just as I neared her. I stopped and stooped to the level of her face. She didn't ask for money, but as I started to pull a bill from my pocket, she said:

"God will direct you. You will be guided in what you buy because he loves you. You are God's child."

I said thank you and gave her the bill. One might think that that's a generic message which she says to everyone, but (a) I've only ever seen her talking to one person, so it's not like she tells that to everybody who passes (b) she has never stopped me or spoken to me before, but she did today. Why?

Whether or not she has said it to others (and if she did it would be true for them too), as she was saying it, I felt as though she was delivering the message just for me in that moment. I also felt it was referring to a lot more than just 'buying' things in the market. It was about guidance for what I am led to and what I choose ('buy') in life.

I asked her: "Do you come here every day?"
Old Woman: No. Only Saturday and Sunday.
Me: Where do you live?
Her: (she mentions a place beginning with C that I can't recall the name of right now)
Me: Do you walk here?
Her: No. I does come with the girl.

It turns out that I did have a very successful 'buying' experience in the market. I went with only $73 and thought I would hardly get anything. But a god (typo, but I'll leave it. How apt, given the subject of her message!) ... I was going to say: But a god ... there's that typo again! What I'm trying to say is that I got a good amount of vegetables and fruits ... in addition to two large bundles of poi bhagee which I look for every time I go to the market and have never seen any to buy until today! And I left with change to spare.

On the way back I stopped by her.

Me: Would you like a banana?
Her: I can't eat bananas. (She points to her upper right lip which is sloping downward). I get an injection there and I could only drink tea. Or bread soak in tea.

At this point a man stopped to give her newspapers, fishing in his pocket (for money?) and started telling her about what was in the market. I walked away, thinking that maybe the next time, if she's there, I would find out her name and speak to her some more.

What would you want to ask if you met her?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Air-conditioned comment

Water churned up behind the ferry as it heads for Tobago
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While seated in the air-conditioned waiting area prior to boarding the ferry in Port-of-Spain, I overheard the loud comment of a little English girl behind me. She was whining to her mother:

"Mummy, mummy, Trinidad is the coldest place I've ever been to in the whooole world!! Can I borrow your jumper?"

I guess she must have been spending a lot of time indoors. Unless you're outside, which is sweltering hot, you're inside, which is freezing cold.

To Tobago and Back

Got back from Tobago last night. Below are some pics of the journey to and fro.
The ferry pulls off from the Port of Spain harbour at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday
The sun + the spray from the boat allowed this rainbow to follow the boat as we approached Tobago
Approaching Tobago
After a great (approx) three days, heading back on Thursday afternoon from the Tobago port
Seeing Trinidad from the sea is a whole different experience (as opposed to seeing it from a plane). Amazing how many peaks there are.
Sunset behind us as we approach the port in Trinidad

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Journey of the leatherback hatchlings (video)



To protect them from predators along the beach (mainly vultures and dogs), the Leatherback turtle hatchlings are gathered in buckets by committed volunteers who comb the beach during the day looking for signs of the babies emerging from the deep nests in the sand, where they've been buried (eggs) for weeks. Once gathered, they are kept safely in a cordoned off area on the beach (like a little nursery) and released in the late afternoon at Grand Riviere, Trinidad.

Seeing these hatchlings heading for the ocean makes me think og 'heading straight for one's destiny'.

By the way, this is one of the scheduled posts as I am leaving for Tobago
(26 August) on the first ferry (6:00 a.m.). Will resume blogging on Friday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A bit about the workshop

View of the beach just in front of the hotel and the little room where the students were immersed in environmental sessions and lectures in the 3 days before the drama and film workshops began.
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I got back on Saturday night from a great workshop in Grande Riviere. It was an environmental/Northern Range youth camp organised by the EMA for 5th and 6th form students. There were 18 students - male and female, 3 EMA staff, 3 facilitators - 2 for drama and 1 for film (me). There was a lot of merging and bonding and, as some of the students put it, it was 'a life-changing experience'.

We stayed at the open and friendly Mt. Plaisir, which is practically on the beach. Most people, local and foreign, who go to that beach have come at night to witness the nesting of the giant leatherback turtles (hundreds per night). A fascinating experience. Karen (aka Chookooloonks) gives an informative personal overview of a nesting experience here. I will share some more about that (with a short video) in another post.

Even though we were housed in such a rustic and relaxing location, we managed to get all of our work done within the six fleeting days. Five of the eighteen youths were allocated as my film group. We had three of the six days in which to workshop 'film'. Given the short time frame I decided to focus initially on concept and conceptualising and, from that point, the students conceptualised and created short environmentally conscious pieces inspired by their Northern range experience, their information gathered and their feelings felt. A few days of fun, focus, feelings and filming ... and for me, my second lengthy stay on the north eastern coast doing creative workshops (one as participant, one as facilitator) within a one month period.

See a few more photos from the 6 day stretch here. Click on each photo to see the caption below it, explaining what it is.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Peace and Perfect Love

Very eye-catching messages on this old bus at side of road ... on the way to/from Grande Riviere where we spent the last six days in an intense environmental/film/drama workshop for youths.

Got back last night. The experience was great, enjoyed immensely by all. Not feeling very wordy today though ... I suppose because putting experiences like this into words isn't always easy. But I will fill you in soon through some photos with captions ... and a short video.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reflecting on Scheduling Days

Reflection of neighbour's banana tree in driveway after rain


This is a scheduled post. It will automatically be posted while I'm away.

As I write this post it is actually the morning of Friday August 15th 2008. I have not left yet for the workshop on the coast. I am still to pack and organise many things before I go. It will be a busy day.

Yet, as you read this, it is actually the last day of the workshop and I am returning.

Today (15 August) I have no idea now how the workshop will go, but today (23 August), when this post is published, I will know how it all went.

What if we could 'schedule posts' for our lives as we do in Blogger and know that what we 'write' now will feature in the future.

We can.

NOW is then too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spark

Playing with torchlight and camera on beach at night (Balandra)

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One day
A spark
Lit up our Universe
Simply
To enlighten us

To
Infinity,
Where distance does not exist

Eternity
Where time does not exist

No such thing as too far
No such thing as too soon

Close enough,
We embrace across oceans
And touch deep within

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This is a scheduled post. It will automatically be posted while I'm away.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fill in the 3 blanks as only you can

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1. _____________
2. _____________
3. _____________
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This is a scheduled post. It will automatically be posted while I'm away.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Honouring Desire


We have to train ourselves to honour our desire body. Our desire body is the faculty of our emotional body that desires, craves, hungers and yearns after. Our desire body is our idea generator and attraction mechanism. It cannot work for us if it is suppressed, condemned or judged. In fact, it works against us when we have a negative attitude towards it. Desire is a basic instinct that propels us to find everything from food to God. Hunger and the longing to belong are both desires. From hunger we are motivated to get fed. From longing to belong we learn how to experience and align with the Infinite. When we are attuned to the Infinite, we are really set up to get our needs met. We not only get our survival and physical needs met, we get our emotional and spiritual needs satisfied too. What greater satisfaction than to be at peace and relaxed, feel loved, and to know that the struggle is over.

Extract from NMBeing #64: Taurus: From Sabotage to Satisfaction
http://www.yogatech.com/nmb/

COPYRIGHT
The New Millennium Being is copyright 1999 - 2004 Gururattan Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D.
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This is a scheduled post. It will automatically be posted while I'm away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yes

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All night I could not sleep
Because of the moonlight on my bed
I kept on hearing a voice calling:
Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered "yes."



- Zi Ye, translated by Arthur Waley, *A Hundred and Seventy Chinese
Poems*


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This is a scheduled post. It will automatically be posted while I'm away.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Away from today

A quick reminder that I will be off on a project and will not be here from today until Saturday 23rd August. It's another one of those nowhere-near-internet excursions, so I won't be blogging.

However, there will still be daily blog posts. As I explained a few days ago: while I'm gone, the Blogger scheduled post function will be publishing posts I wrote ahead of time.

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful, enjoyable, productive week.

Elspeth

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brief baby macaw update

The baby macaw a few months ago, just after being rescued from animal trade horrors.
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For those who are interested in an update on this baby blue and gold macaw which was a victim of the local animal trade ... I asked Detta, wildlife rehabilitator about its progress in a recent e-mail. The following is her response:

It's doing well....climbing up and down everything, and making one awful racket. Some of the swelling on the knees has resolved but the legs are still stiff and it cannot lift its foot to its mouth which is how most parrots feed themselves. It will never be able to fly. Otherwise it is in good health and spirits and has most of its feathers now including a long tail.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday's Yoga

Since I won't be here this Sunday, my friend Rosanna will teach my class for me. I will resume on Sunday 24 August. Those interested in joining the class, please e-mail me so that I can put your name on the mailing list - to receive information and updates. Then simply turn up to the class! Necessary details are listed on the flyer above.

From this Sunday, 17 August, to Saturday 23 August, I will be away on a video project on the north east coast, further up from where I had been on the writers' retreat a few weeks ago. I will be the facilitator of the video/film segment of a summer environmental workshop for youths.

Instead of leaving the blog dormant during that time, I will use the Blogger feature known as scheduled posts. This means that I can write posts ahead of time, set them for specific dates and times, then publish them so that they automatically appear on the specified days/times. Quite a handy feature.

I have a lot to do before leaving, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have to write these scheduled posts ... but I would ultimately like to leave one for every day that I'm gone.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Raw Lunch with Friends

I haven't featured any of my raw dishes lately, perhaps because I haven't been making that many 'elaborate' ones and haven't been taking photos of any. But here are some shots from when I invited two friends (two of my new friends/'raw converts' from the writers' retreat) to lunch a few weeks ago.
First course: a delicious avocado mélange.
Have to come up with a name for it.
Raw mushroom and tahini/coconut combo which I intended to be something more solid, like a purée ... but it ended up being a great tasting sauce instead.
Frozen banana/carob dessert
Half of Barbara (r) and June (l) prior to diving in
Main course

Monday, August 11, 2008

I thank you because you gave me your soul

My friend Rose in London, with whom I've worked on participatory video projects with school youths (both here and there), sent me a link to a video project she had worked on with some people in Madagascar. The participants, who shot the videos themselves, had never used cameras ... and did an amazing job. To me the resulting camera work is simple, photographic, beautiful. No bells and whistles and fancy camera angles and fast editing. Just simple truth from the people who are living it.

In particular I love the end of the video clip entitled Chickens are my Security. The woman being interviewed is talking about the importance of her chickens in her life. Such a simple and, some may think, 'mundane' topic ... yet at the end, the interviewer, expressing her gratitude for the session, says: "I thank you because you gave me your soul."

Such simple words. Such vast meaning.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Candle for Tibet

Below are a few photographs from last night's local Candle for Tibet event, organised by Babita Dubay of Meady's Musings. It was very well organised and flowed smoothly. Those in attendance lit the flames with respect and good intentions, conscious of the fact that, though we were small in number, we were part of a larger positive global mass. We lit flames symbolic of not only Tibetan freedom, but also our own. I had gone with a friend of mine and what we found amazing, once the candles were all lit, was that not a single one blew out. They all stood strong and steady, eventually burning down to nothing.

There were many candles and deyas to be lit
Tibetan prayer flags draped along the stage as part of the backdrop
Reflection
Solidarity
Strength in numbers
Enter the light
Peace to all

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Meditating and musing on their/your/my Freedom

Local (Trinidad) gathering hosted by Candle for Tibet and Meadymusings.
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Recently I was contacted by Babita Dubay, founder of Meady's Musings and organiser of the local Candle for Tibet gathering to be held tomorrow in synch with the global initiative of the same name. (Read more below at: All About CANDLE FOR TIBET). Babita has invited me to do a short meditation on FREEDOM at the function, which will take place from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. on the Grounds in front of the MP for Couva South's Office (opposite Couva Health Facility), Main Road, Couva. All are invited.

Candles and deyas will be lit as we unite with more than 100,000,000 people in the greatest light protest on earth ... standing in sacred solidarity with the people of Tibet, in the name of FREEDOM.

FREEDOM ... so simple and yet so complex. Some take it for granted ... some struggle all their lives and meet their deaths in efforts to claim it.

Interesting that Babita's company is called Meady's Musings, because this whole initiative has me musing on the issue of FREEDOM in my own life. How free am I/you to fully experience and enjoy all that can make our time on this earth meaningful and truly worth living? How free am I/you to be fully who I am/you are ... within my/your society, within my/your home, within my/your relationships, within my/your self? What simple daily freedoms do I/you take for granted? And when freedom is denied me/you in any area of our lives, who or what does the denying? Is it always others? Is it sometimes ourselves?


Tibetan Bhuddist Music Video

All About CANDLE FOR TIBET

August 7th 2008 is the day before the opening ceremony of The Olympic Games in Beijing. On this day we aim to create the world's greatest LIGHT PROTEST, when at least 100 million people from all over the world will light a candle and say YES to freedom in Tibet!

All you are asked to do is to light a simple candle
on August 7th at 9 pm in your own time zone.

Light the Candle at your home, workplace or in a public place. Put the candle in your Window, or on your desk, or anywhere else where other people will see it and hopefully do the same.

Our light protest will be seen by billions on TV screens all over the world on the day the Beijing Olympics open. We are not against the Olymipcs or anything else for that matter, we stand for Freedom. Period.

Source of excerpt




Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Offering to the Vision

Last night Marissa (my new assistant for the set of videos I'll be working on shortly) came over and we were working on a Vision Board for the project. For ages now, things have been 'stuck' where the project is concerned, because we've been 'waiting' on others to do their part so that things can finally get moving. Rather than get frustrated any further about the lengthy delay(s) and rather than dwell any longer in the energy of 'waiting', I felt it would be good for us to do a Vision Board, project our intentions for the videos and get moving in ways that we could move (without having to 'depend' on others). Indeed, once we started sorting through the magazines, cutting and pasting, we felt the energy starting to shift and become 'unstuck'. New ideas came bursting forth. We were inspired and excited and motivated to move ahead, regardless of lags in other areas.While working on our Vision, Jasper jumped in with a little baby blue bird clamped in his jaws and ran over the Vision Board. I grabbed the fledgling from him and held it in my hands, giving it warmth in what I felt may well be its last living moments. While it didn't have any obvious external wounds, it was obviously in shock. Its heart was beating rapidly. Within five minutes its eyes closed, as if to sleep; its heart slowed. Then it started to writhe, stretch open its beak, twist its head around ... and then went completely still.

As usual, one can't be angry. Only thankful. That is the nature of a cat, to bring all kinds of living gifts. We acknowledged it as Jasper's symbolic contribution to the Vision Board, wrapped it in white tissue with a word of gratitude and buried it in the garden, placing a sunflower tile as its tombstone.

Rest in peace, winged messenger.

According to this source, the BIRD (as power animal) stands for "unity, freedom, community." The BLUE BIRD specifically stands for "modesty, unassuming, confidence and happiness." And assuming it was a BLUE JAY, that would be "proper use of power."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Invisible Dance

The above photo shows dancer Delores Alexander performing the dance, INVISIBLE, which, a few nights ago, placed first in the Dance Segment (Interpretative Dance Category) of the Best Village Competition. It moves on to the semi-finals at Queens Hall this Thursday, 7 August. Try and see it if you can.

The following blurb provided by choreographer Sonja Dumas, narrated for the audience and judges before the dance, explains more:

Invisible

People living with AIDS face daily challenges of survival. One such person is someone whom we shall call Veronica. She and her family have had to endure being kicked out of their home, forced out of school, and fired from jobs because of other people's fear and ignorance of the disease.

Veronica's story is the subject of a video called Invisible by multimedia artist Elspeth Duncan, which was the inspiration for the creation of this dance. The dance is dedicated to Veronica and all other people living not only with AIDS, but with AIDS discrimination, and whom society pretends are invisible.

Choreography: Sonja Dumas
Music: Sally Nyolo of Cameroun
Dancers: Stanis Wallace, Patrice, Heather, Roxanne, Roxanne, Carol.
Soloist: Delores Alexander

The dance is extremely moving. The first time I saw it (their first public performance of it, to which Sonja had invited a few people), my body erupted into goosebumps and remained like that for the entire thing. A piece of music named TamTam by Sally Nyolo (listen to it on her playlist here) is beautiful and moving. The dancers' movements and facial expressions are clearly enhanced by a deeper understanding of the issue at hand (HIV/AIDS). After viewing the DVD of the mini documentary (Invisible), Sonja and the dancers spent hours discussing Veronica and her family and the wider issues at hand. From these discussions, the dance was born.

Saturday gone was the day for digging the land for Veronica's House. 8 people volunteered (2 on my end, 6 on Habitat's end) and, considering that 27 were needed, we had to call off the exercise. This could have meant 'disappointment', in the sense that the building of the house would have been held back yet again. But ... as Life would have it, another, much easier and more immediate option (re the construction of the house) has presented itself.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Open Cup of Self

Today I am filled
With a Power beyond myself.

It comes
Through my Pores
Opening Doors

Placing me on sure foundations
Pointing me in true directions

I surrender
To It.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Universal Orchestrations

It pulls strings
Moves things
Gives us wings.

Clears space
Gives Grace
Draws our dream worlds into place.