While meandering home from the Canadian Maritimes some time ago, we stopped at the suggestion of family by the College of New Jersey in Trenton to view an art exhibit about the beauty and travail of Afghanistan. There we stumbled on the video of an extraordinary scene composed by Lida Abdul, who, exile that she … More Pebble on the Tongue: Can Filigree Strings Yet Carry Us Aloft?
To say that travels will move you, is a tautology, self-evident on the face. But Kate Daniels, lyricist of the gritty, personal truths of the American South has penned a line that captures the traveler’s rarest take-away, the most powerful gift of a ‘traipse’: If you’re lucky ….It will bring you to your knees. Kate … More Pebble on the Tongue: “If You’re Lucky …”
Say ‘fireworks’ to most any soul on the planet – child or adult – and there will follow a fountain, a vivid geyser, of story. The pyrotechnics celebrated in lore and poetry are rooted after all in spiritual struggle: their boom and flash created to drive away shades of misery and misfortune. But they end … More Pyrotechnics: There Are Fireworks, and Then There Are Fireworks
Some years ago, I was dinner guest in the home of an Ethiopian woman in Winnipeg, Canada. We sat on haunches in her kitchen as she made coffee in the ceremonial way, roasting beans over open coals. The strong aroma suffused her life story. Years before, she had married for love a Muslim man back … More Pebble on the Tongue: ‘Luckiest Woman Alive!’
Given the loss and suffering that marks these days, here is the sense of a moment recounted by Sadako Kurihara, poet of Hiroshima: In Hiroshima, in a basement, mid stench and death, a young woman goes into labor. A woman, herself moaning with pain, steps forward. “I can help with the baby. I am a … More Pebble on the Tongue: From the Basement of Suffering
Somewhere between the jet set and the purist pilgrims who shamble along the Camino de Santiago are those who ride the ‘bus’, a shortened form of the more picturesque 19th cent. French term, ‘omnibus’. It’s that ‘omni’ part that gives pause – omni being Latin for ‘all’. Which explains a great deal about bus travel … More Omnibus: It Doesn’t Quite Mean ‘All’
On the southern fringes of the Kalahari across the interior of southern Africa stretch ranches and dryland farming in all directions. Here and there outcrops and hills break the monotony of the plain often overlooking seasonal streams and rivers. Near such a ridge, in 1924 the unlikely settlement of Taung (‘lion’s den’) was the epicenter … More Lion’s Den Discovery: Pushback on a Eurocentric World View
Not only the road to Mandalay, but city streets the length and breadth of Myanmar stream today with protestors flashing the three-fingered salute, with flotillas of motorcycles and scooters, monks in maroon robes, even the occasional elephant. Unseen are the armies of government workers, railway staff, nurses and doctors, power plant personnel and bank tellers … More Myanmar: The Road Beyond Mandalay
Few cities in Europe can match Barcelona for its storehouse of cultural riches. The tourist industry knows it only too well, sending 30 million visitors coursing its way every year. Very nearly all of them were surrounding the famous Sagrada Familia basilica the day we arrived by train from Valencia. We’d been foresighted enough to … More Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia: Beware the #30 Tram
During the harrowing years of the AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, a saying was frequently heard at memorial gatherings. It went something like this: a In this sea of sorrow, we must not be strangers.