Monday, June 21, 2010


Spent a lot of time in airports recently - a few thoughts:

There should really be an opportunity to donate all of your foreign change right at the gate to prevent that futile squandering on silly key chains or extremely overpriced chocolate (guilty). I would expect that every passenger has the equivalent of at least 50 cents in change - likely more in most cases - 747s accommodate roughly 500 passengers, so looking at a $250 minimum for just one flight. According to an "Aircraft Movements" statistics source, Heathrow, for example averages around 650 departures a day. Assume 75% are International and 50% are jumbo jets (thank you for humoring my guestimation here). So looking at $60K a day! I like my foreign change bowl at home, but really the sentimental value isn't worth it!

I used to scoff at all those anxious travelers that herd the gate to board as soon as possible, but today I realized, that because of their mentality, I can continue reading my book, wait until the crowd has subsided and board in a leisurely manner at the last possible instant - a strategy that wouldn't work if everyone chose it. So thank you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zen and the art of balloonıng

just a little gas and a massive piece of fabric
already getting our money's worth

I think I want to do this every day...

up, up and away!

fairytail morning; my flyer thought I had nice legs (yeah skorts! all gain, no pain), so he kept turning the balloon for my viewing pleasure, and much to the pleasure of the honeymoon couple situated beside me. :)

making use of every crevasse

love valley

Sunrise balloon ride over Cappadocia - absolutely stunning and the best way to feel the undulations of the fairy chimmneys as you drift to and fro. If you ever find yourself in these lands, do NOT cheap out! Go on the balloon ride, you'll get your money's worth within the first 2 mins.

Apparently Cappadocia is one of the best places to fly balloons in the world, attracting flyers from all over. My flyer was from Spain, a second generation balloon flyer. He's been flying since he was 8, and has flown all over the world taking photos ( - has some really cool shots of horse shadows from above). He told me that nothing makes him happier than 'swimming in the sky, so why do anything else?' Wise words. So, amid the spectacular sun, clouds and sky, with 30 other balloons, each with passengers expressing that rare, child-like glee, it really sunk in for me - doing something you love, wholeheartedly, without reservation, will pay off. Zen and the art of ballooning.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Current Favorite Song:

Beatles - 'Revolution 1.' A classic yes, but deserves re-discovering. Highly recommend listening to while people watching / sitting amidst a busy park /marketplace or even better, while on a road trip. The slightly offbeat tempo, array of instruments (esp. the tuba) and gently lethargic vocals definitely act like some sort of stimulant for the brain. Ipod, street corner / park bench, enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sailing the Aegean Sea, Wooden Boats and Fickle Sky

Sorry for the sea and sky photo overload - I couldn't get over the changing sky. Not sure why exactly, but the combination of wooden sail boats, never-ending coastal mountains, flirtatious sky and Turkish tea made me feel like I was traveling back in time while at sea. Perfect backdrop for the opening of a murder mystery novel.

East vs. West

Turkey is typically described as the junction where East meets West. Geographically, this is obviously true, bordering the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, religiously as well, with Christians, Muslims and 'non-believers' living in unison. But here's a list of more trivial East / West distinctions that I've observed thus far:

Chai Wallahs - Asia
Orderly line-ups - Europe
Muted, dark clothing - Europe
Incessant walk-by marriage proposals (to tourists) - Asia
Progressive environmental measures (high prevalence of compact fluorescent lamps, dual flush toilets and solar panels on roof tops even in the poorer villages) - Europe
And somewhat contradictory...garbage burning by the side of the highway - Asia
Male affection (non-sexual) - Asia
Wine and cheese culture - Europe
Direct eye-contact (socially acceptable starring) - Asia
Human labour deployed for every odd job around - Asia

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I love how people round up or round down to the nearest lira / euro here. Doesn't matter if it's in favour of the buyer or customer, convenience and sensibility always wins. Why can't we be so similarly rational in NA?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Santorini Sojourn

Hippie colony by the beach in a land far from Istanbul...
This doesn't do it justice.

best described as 'ahhhhhh' :)

White-washed churches everywhere you look.
Santorini from the air

(More reflections on Istanbul later).
Now on the flip-side in sunny, salty Santorini. Incredibly picturesque place - dramatic lava cliffs, meditteranean blue-green sea, black, white and red sand beaches, and of course, the quintessential blue and white-washed houses built into the moutainside. Overall impressions: too touristy (and... I'm talking the cruise ship breed), but bliss if you can manage to find a reclusive beach spot. Terrible wine (didn't Greeks invent wine?), wonderful people, incredible cheese. Albanian immigrants everywhere. 1:5 ratio of churches to houses, 30:1 (feels like) ratio of churches to schools, 40:1 (feels like) ratio of churches to libraries. Translation: if you're born here you're likely destined to serve the cruise-ship tourist. Actually kind of sad when you think about it! But no denying the beauty of this place. Absolutely stunning.

Why Religion?

(can't crop image on the road! but love the birds in this one)

Being amid a very conspicuously religious culture - call to prayer over loud speaker, men finding a solitary moment to run through their prayer beads in very public places (subway cars, spice markets, busy intersections), women staying true to their head-scarves while sporting channel shoes - all these prominent committments to religion have begged the question why religion? An overly ambitious question, and not one that I would attempt to answer, but I've always dismissed religion as a crutch people rely on when they can't find proper answers / comfort in the present, religion and the notion of an after-life as a security blanket for those unhappy with the limitations of existence. But, while I remain an 'atheist' (a very commonly used term here, btw) and obviously disagree with the bountiful political conflicts that have resulted from extreme religious views, I very much appreciate the pause for prayer that permeates Istanbul or more accurately, the daily routine of individual long as that prayer remains a choice and those who choose not to aren't chastised!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

World Cup!

Quantum stadium? LV trophy case? South Africa is stepping it up (if you consider an LV trophy case a move in the right direction...)

I'll be following my friend's coverage here:

Dundas Football Club

He managed to score a press-pass, so should be good.
Check it out!

I'm rooting for Brazil - I know the favorite - but can't NOT cheer for Kaka.

Diamond in the dust bunny rough

Literally found this behind my bed (amid a scary colony of dust bunnies!), while packing up my apartment. Couldn't be more apropo...

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies with us"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More on Spontaneous Beauty...

A follow-up to an earlier post - I love this poem by Frost on spontaneous beauty and the returns on paying attention:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.