Hard times

Utilitarian economists,  Skeletons of schoolmasters,  Commissioners of Fact,  genteel and used-up infidels, gabblers of many little dog’s-eared creeds,  the poor you will have always with you. Cultivate in them, while there is yet time,  the utmost graces of the fancies and affections to adorn their lives so much in need of ornament; or, in the day of your triumph, when romance is utterly driven out of their Souls,  and they and a bare existence stand face to face, Reality will take a wolfish turn,  and make an end of you. 

Excerpt from Hard Times by Charles Dickens. Original punctuation and emphasis. Struck a resonant chord. 

Nothing is nothing for long

A dear friend recently asked me:

What is love? Is there such thing?

And why do we have to grow up? rusty and weary and slowly dying inside before the skin even wrinkles? 

Why do we have feelings? and empathy? and mercy? and compassion?

Why do we need all that? do we even need all that?

But what is love?

I did not know what to say for a long time, until some recent inspiration. And this is what I responded:

Love is nothing.
The best things in life are not the hardest to get to, they are the hardest to hold-onto. 
Fleeting, fickle, momentary, superfluous, fragile, effervescent. 
They appear, surprise us, enlighten us, delight us, disappear, re-appear, vanish.
 
Life is not a linear journey. We do not grow up with time, constantly, minute by minute, incrementally.
We grow up in bursts, sprints, leaps, bounds, quarks, anti-quarks, via transportation and displacement. 
We grow up with every scintillating, halting, experience of love, happiness, joy, empathy, understanding, appreciation, compassion, of humanity.
 
Love is everything.
The best things in life come from nothing, without them we are nothing. 
Naive. Thoughtless. Unloved. Inexperienced. Unfeeling. Robotic. Inhuman.
With them we have everything, we are grown up, high, on cloud 9, in heaven. 
 
Thanks in no small part to Julia for the inspiration, and Austin for the quantum confirmation.
 
 

Memories of home, from Lesotho

The peach harvest has come quite late in Lesotho, in my mind, but it is here now, and I’m leaving again! Never mind, there was time in the weekend to harvest, wash, pickle and eat!

Reminded me of Peaches & Cream festival back home in cobram, which according to Wikipedia is Australias oldest festival! Shame that the only other decent reference to it dates back to 1997 on Silverchairs website!

2013 Review

Another eventful year has ended, and more memories piled atop old. I’m struggling these days even more to hold them all in my head, and find that some leak out as others enter. I hope this post immortalises some of them, capturing an hint of them to serve as a future prompt, a link to a sight, a story, a smell that still lingers in my brain. Before all that though, here is a little clip of how we ushered in 2014 in Germany!

Pictures and videos for some of these memories to come soon! All links below are to existing blog posts on the topics.

January (Japan)

  • Snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends at Nozawa Onsen on multiple weekends
  • The green shoes with pink laces finally paid off when I met Julia

February (Japan)

  • Completed my first marathon, the Tokyo Marathon in 4 hrs 12 minutes and achieved my goal of running the whole 42kms.
  • A big month for work, with the INPEX, IFC and both JICA BoP projects all  being wrapped up at the same time
  • Off-piste snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends.

March (Japan and Thailand)

  • A weekend trip to the Boso peninsular and the fire festival at Takao-San with Julia
  • 10 day return bike trip to Osaka and surrounds and return via Route 19 with Julia, including a catch-up with Lloyd-san.

April (Thailand)

May (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda)

June (Africa, Holland and USA)

  • Cederburg bike and hike weekend
  • Amsterdam stop-over and catch-up with Julia
  • New York visit for training
  • Presentation of South African PoC site selection model to NHLS PoC forum in Pretoria

July (Africa, Munich, Austria, Slovakia and Italy)

  • Ethiopian food and cultural night with the team
  • Catch-up with Samir and Julia in Munich
  • Train trip From Munich to Bratislava via Vienna
  • Best man for Bryans wedding in Bratislava
  • Family holiday in Sardinia, Italy
  • Rome weekend with Julia

August (South Africa)

  • Supporting the SA DAT team transition
  • NeighbourGoods and ArtonMain markets
  • Apartheid museum

September (South Africa, Lesotho, Ethiopia)

  • Hiking Cathkin peak and the Cathederal, Drakensburg mountains with Antoinette
  • Raspberry day trip with John and Sameera
  • Lesotho Wine tasting festival

October (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland)

  • Cape Town to Lesotho via the Garden Route bike journey
  • Cube 10 course degustation dinner for my 30th birthday with Julia, drinks with John, Hanna, Antoinette and Vibhutti.
  • Kruger, Swaziland, Drakensburgs, and outback Lesotho bike tour with Julia

November (Lesotho, South Africa)

  • DAT Access Summit in Pretoria
  • Golf with Nick in Pretoria
  • Hiking Ketane Falls in Lesotho with Emma, Bhavya, Jenna and friends.

December ( South Africa, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Munich)

  • SA team strategy week and Regimen Optimisation workshops
  • Weekend wine tasting in the Stellenbosch with Maria, Micah and Bhavya
  • LST strategy meeting in Camps Bay and SA POC modelling team workshop
  • Ethiopia GeneXpert Workshop and presentation in Adama
  • Julia and friends traditional Christmas eve ‘Werewolf’ game
  • Christmas in Bavaria with Julias’ family
  • Snow shoe hiking in the Alps
  • NYE celebration in Munich

Cape Town Open Street festival and neighborhood markets

Cape Town is a beautiful, vibrant city with a large and growing activist community. There is always a buzz about people and places that are trying to make themselves better. I was lucky enough to pop into the Open Street festival in Cape Town at the end of May when all my gear arrived. I was doubly lucky to have the energetic Cecile to show me around and introduce me to many of the exciting and interesting people that are improving the social equality in and around Cape Town.

For more information on the open streets project you should visit: http://openstreets.co.za/

For more information on the Old Mill Neighborhood markets you should visit: http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/

Enjoy the pics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food from home

The food in Japan is renowned for its quality. What people may not realise, is that it is not just the food in the restaurants that is good – it is the food in the markets and the supermarkets and the basement floors of the department stores.

For me the food in Japan represents two of the virtues most synonymous with the Japanese –  value and quality. Lucky for me, I think that flowed through to my cooking!