Sonoran Desert

In today’s blast from the past…The Sonoran Desert!

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Sonoran Desert

SONORAN DESERT is a North American desert which covers a large part of the South – western United States in Arizona and California and of North-western Mexico in Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur.  It is the hottest desert in Mexico, with an area of 280,000sq.km.  The western portion of the United States passes through the Sonoran Desert.

In phytogeography, the Sonoran Desert is within the Sonoran Floristic Province of the MADREAN REGION in south-western North America, part of the HOLARCTIC KINGDOM of the northern Western Hemispheres.
The Sonoran Desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1,000 native bee species and more than 2,000 native plant species.  The Sonoran Desert area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the US.  The Colorado River Delta, was once an ecological…

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Kowloon walled city

In todays blast from the past, a look at the walled city in the heart of Hong Kong!

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What was life like inside the ‘densest place on earth’ ????  It was a colossal empire of little houses, stacked on top of each other, connected by staircases, snaking under dangling wires through corridors —– so dark —– even police were rumoured to be afraid of them.  There were 33,000 people within the space of 1 city block.  That was KOWLOON WALLED CITY, once considered the ‘densest settlement on earth.’
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Before it was demolished, photographer Greg Girard spent years with collaborator Ian Lambot documenting this unique Hong Kong ‘phenomenon’, and remembers being amazed when he first saw it.  After all, the WALLED CITY was a kind of ‘historical accident’.  A former Qing Dynasty fortress, it never fully came under the regulation of the British Colonial Government in Hong Kong.  As a result, its residents were free to build their dwellings as they wished, ignoring safety codes.
“Quite often, houses were…

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Devavani

In today’s blast from the past, a look at Sanskrit…the language that transcends all barriers…

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The Sanskrit language is called DEVAVANI (Divine Language).  The Upanishads are written in Sanskrit.  The very word “Sanskrit” means transformed, adorned, crowned, decorated, refined,  —— but remember the word “transformed”.  The language itself was transformed because so many people attained to the ultimate, and because they were using the language, something of their joy penetrated into it, something of their poetry entered into the very cells, the very fibre of the language.  Even the language became transformed, illuminated.  It was bound to happen.  Languages in the West are becoming more and more scientific, accurate, mathematical and precise.  Science is giving languages colour, shape and form.
Sanskrit hymnThe same happened with Sanskrit 5,000 years ago.  So many people became enlightened and they were all speaking Sanskrit, their enlightenment entered into it with all its music, poetry, with all its celebration.  Sanskrit became luminous; it is the most poetic and musical language.
A “poetic…

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How to celebrate Sankranti

Wish everyone who is celebrating, a very happy Makar Sankranti/Bihu/Pongal!

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The year’s first festival is fast approaching and the city is gearing up to celebrate it with excitement and vigour.  Makara Sankranti or Pongal is a harvest festival that is typically celebrated with a dish called pongal, sugarcane, dates, kites and a host of other things. 
Here’s a look at what defines the festival in Namma Karnataka and why :
612Sugar_cane(1) SUGARCANE —- Since sugarcane is predominantly grown in Karnataka, it is imperative to celebrate and mark the harvest festival with it.  Not only is sugarcane eaten in its raw form, by many, on the festival, it is also relished in the form of a refreshing juice. 
rangoli-design-sanskar(2) RANGOLI —- While most festivals are special for the various rangolis drawn by women, Sankranti is especially characterised by elaborate and colourful patterns that women draw as part of tradition. These rangolis, usually drawn outside homes, are supposed to signify sacred areas…

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Living root bridges

Blast from the past…a personal favourite!

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Living root bridge Meghalaya

Living Root Bridges are to be found in Cherrapunji, Laitkynsew and Nongriat in the present-day of Meghalaya State of North East India.

living root bridge Meghalaya

Root Bridges are made by an ingenious technique.  The tiny hair-thin hanging roots of a Banyan fig tree are intertwined with boughs and twigs and allowed to grow naturally.  After a few years, the intertwined roots and branches become strong enough for people to use it as a bridge across the stream.  The pliable tree roots are trained to grow through betel tree trunks which are placed across the gap, until the figs’ roots take root on the other side.  Sticks, stones and other inclusions are placed with the growing bridge.  This process can take up to 15yrs to complete.  There are specimens spanning over 100ft.  The useful lifespan, once complete, is thought to be 500-600yrs.  They are “naturally self-renewing” and “self-strengthening” as the component roots grow thicker.

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Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent Willem van Gogh (30/3/1853 —- 29/7/1890) was a Post Impressionist painter of Dutch origin, whose work —– notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold colours —– had a far-reaching influence on 20th Century Art.He began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist.  He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of is well-known works during the last years of his life.
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In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolours, drawings, sketches and prints.  His work included self-portraits, landscapes, still-life, portraits as well as paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.
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Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill-health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illness.  According to art critic, Robert Hughes, Van Gogh’s late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control, and “longing for concision and graces” — After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted, though the gun was never found.  His work was known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.  The most comprehensive primary source for the understanding of Van Gogh, as an artist, is the collection of letters between him and his younger brother, art dealer Theo van Gogh, exchanged between 1872 and 1890 :  more than 600 from Vincent to Theo and 40 from Theo to Vincent.
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Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde was inspired by the iconic painting, STARRY NIGHT, by Vincent van Gogh, to design a beautiful and innovative glowing bike path that, when illuminated by glowing pebbles and LEDs, looks similar to the famous painting.  The one kilometre-long path was built using both the glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LEDs.  This bike pathway is located in Brabant, the Dutch county where Van Gogh was born and raised.  According to Bored Panda, this pathway is also environment friendly.
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Van Gogh’s Quotes 
(1) There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke and continue on their way.
(2) Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
(3) I am still far from being what I want to be, but with God’s help, I will succeed.
(4) I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
(5) As we advance in life, it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
(6) Paintings have a life of their own, that derives from the painter’s soul.
(7) I see drawings and paint pictures in the poorest of huts and the dirtiest of corners.

Rue

RUE (botanical name : RUTA GRAVEOLENS) is a small, evergreen shrub with woody stems and bluish-grey-green leaves.  It is used as a flavouring agent in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.  The leaves have an astringent or bitter taste, especially when dried.  RUE can be used with sour, acidic foods, which help to tone down its bitterness such as tomato sauces and dishes with olives or capers.  RUE leaves and berries are an important part of the cuisine of Ethiopia.  Sometimes, RUE seeds are used to flavour porridge.  In Italy, the young branches of the plant are dipped in a batter, deep-fried and consumed with salt or sugar.

rue-plantRUE is one of the herbs mentioned in the New Testament.  In some countries, holy water is sprinkled from brushes  made of RUE at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday of High Mass, for which reason it is called the HERB OF REPENTENCE and the HERB OF GRACE.  RUE has a long history of use in both medicine and magic, and is considered a ‘protective herb’ in both disciplines.

The hardy evergreen shrub is mentioned by writers from Pliny to Shakespeare and beyond, as a ‘herb of remembrance’  of ‘warding’ and of ‘healing’.  RUE was once believed to improve eyesight and creativity, and no less personages than Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo regularly ate the small, trefoil leaves to increase their own levels of creativity.

Since olden days, RUE has been used to ward off contagion and prevent attacks of fleas and other noxious insects.  RUE juice is used to treat earache.  It is believed that RUE is helpful in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and allergic reactions.  Tea made from RUE leaves is used to treat nervous headache, griping stomach ache, dizziness, cough, vertigo, palpitation, anxiety problems and high blood pressure.

————— (Sacred Space)