Thursday, September 25, 2008

ORBS: In the lens or in the sky?

Here’s something interesting for all of us to mull over. I was going over some old pix the other night, taken with my old digital camera and stored on my computer. Started looking through pix I took in Burma in March 2006.
On one of them I noticed a tiny, but quite bright, circle. Look to the right of the stupa (the LEFT half of the PICTURE as you face it). If you look closely, you can just about make out two larger, but much fainter circles further left on the picture. If you can't spot them yet, never mind, you’ll see strange and interesting circles soon enough!

With idle curiousity, I blew up the small circle to see what it was. This is what I saw:

I was really rather psyched. I had recently been reading with renewed interest about orbs – circles of light that show up unexpectedly on people’s pictures. And this definitely looked like an orb! So I went back to the full picture and made it brighter – just to make the sky lighter so I would be able to pick out anything that may be hidden by the darkness. Wow! The whole sky was full of these circles!
If this had been a print, I would have thought it was mould or something odd on the paper. But this is just a digital photo on the computer! Next, I wondered if the electric light that lights the stupa at night was doing this – but look at the full picture (the first one) – how would this be possible!

Here’s a brightened and cropped picture focusing on the sky:

Now, what do you make of that, hey?!

Here’s another cropped and brightened section of the sky:

And one more, which includes that first small but bright orb in the bottom right-hand corner:

Well, what do you all think? I'm keeping an open mind to all possibilities. Have bought a book on orbs and am talking to a friend who has been photographing them for years. It's all rather new and amazing to me though, so I welcome your comments -- affirming ones or skeptical ones. Just so long as we preserve the decencies of debate, of course.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vinita Karim's wonderful paintings

One of my favourite painters is based right here in Manila -- Vinita Karim. I have two of her paintings and I can tell you they have added much joy to my life. One of them hangs in my Reiki room to inspire me as I heal!
Check out her work:

Vinita does exhibit in India and other countries as well, I think, so even if you're not based in Manila, you might want to get in touch with her if you like the samples you see on her website.

To ask for more info, drop her an email:

Quick Book Review -- In the Name of Honour

In the Name of Honour – by Mukhtar Mai, with Marie-Thérèse Cuny (translated into English by Linda Coverdale)
This is the tremendously inspiring story of Mukhtar Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, a peasant woman in a remote village in Pakistan who in 2002 was “sentenced” to being gang-raped by her village tribal council. Mukhtar Mai does not dwell on the despair she undoubtedly felt after the “sentence” was carried out, focusing instead on her fight for justice and human dignity.

Depite all the translation the book required, it speaks simply and forcefully of a woman with an immense strength of character and spirit. Overcoming an initial urge to commit suicide, Mukhtar Mai chose instead to stand up for her rights and the rights of all women in her country.

Against all odds, fighting corrupt local police and high-level government pressure, she told the world her story and pushed her case through to the Supreme Court. Along the way, she became a symbol of women’s rights and an advocate for education, especially for girls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Summer

How’s your summer going? Mine’s pretty good so far (what, is it over already?!)

I resigned from a 9-5 (more like 8-8 actually) job in May and that started off the summer just right. Now I work from home, at my own pace, doing the things I love to do (Reiki healing, counselling, writing). Not that much money coming in so far, but luckily that’s not an imperative right now. And hopefully it’s just a matter of time before it starts flowing in... (C’mon, one can always hope.)

Apart from the freedom from the 9-5, one of the highlights of my summer has been a brief trip to Europe. I managed to do a bit of quite a few fun things. Visited some old haunts (mainly in Austria) and went to new towns (in Italy). Met up with a dear friend I hadn’t met in 10 years and with cousins I don’t see very often (we’re a bit of a scattered family). Attended an Italian-Indian wedding (hence the family reunion) in Verona, where I also took in some fabulous opera at the Arena, a huge old amphitheatre open to the skies.

Not only was the opera really good, it was a visual feast on a vast scale (much bigger than most opera houses, obviously). In fact Aida was so much of a visual feast that I couldn’t focus too well on the music and the singing! By contrast, Nabbuco had a somewhat minimalist set, but the music and singing were divine. And Carmen was just so much fun (despite the sad end).

Verona itself is a beautiful old town, somewhat overshadowed by the splendour of other Italian cities with their art treasures (Florence) and huge historical wonders (Pompeii). Verona can’t compete with those, it’s true, but it’s really quite a charming town. Just like Bergamo, known mainly for providing Milan’s “second airport.” (Many flights from within Europe seem to land here.) But it is stunningly beautiful, surrounded by hills, and steeped in history. Truly Italy is spoilt for riches. Oh, and one additional factor in favour of such towns: far, far fewer tourists.

This hit us (my husband and I) when we moved straight from Verona to Venice. Fabulous city, of course, and quite unique – but absolutely crawling with tourists! Well, yes, we were tourists too…
Travelling further, we took the train from Venice to Vienna, Austria. A friend who’s done this same journey described it so: at some point I noticed everything was neater, in straighter lines – the fields, the bales of hay… A bit exaggerated, but kind of true. Decades ago, when I lived in Vienna, travelling to Italy always felt like travelling half-way home to Asia. You get the picture.

Our most fun day in Austria was when we took the boat from Krems to Melk, in the Wachau valley. Green hills, often covered in vineyards, along the banks of the Danube, little villages with beautiful churches, and a ruined old castle on every hilltop (well, almost). And at the end of it all Stift Melk – a beautiful, yellow-exterior Baroque abbey on top of a hill overlooking the river. Lovely. Inside, the abbey is perhaps a bit too Baroque. The church that you come to at the end of your wanderings around the abbey is jaw-droppingly gold-covered. Not exactly elegant, and certainly nothing understated or subtle about it -- it stops you dead in your tracks as you enter. The church includes relics of unknown saints, something that’s always puzzled me. How do you figure someone’s a saint if you don’t know who they are? I’m sure there’s an explanation, but I didn’t know who to ask. Besides, I was busy hitching up my jaw again.

And now to sort through my 1,200 photos!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008