Monday, November 29, 2010

A Garden in Shigar from Mahera Omar on Vimeo.
(2010) Nusrat, Khezran, Zakia, Asiya and Sajida are five young women from the scenic Shigar Valley in the mountainous northern areas of Pakistan. As interns with the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), their project is to landscape the Abruzzi secondary school’s garden in the village of Sainkhor, Shigar, Baltistan. Tahereh, their guide and mentor, has come all the way from Los Angeles, California, to teach the women the principles of design and landscaping. In learning these skills to transform a rubble strewn field into a one-of-a-kind teaching garden, these women sow the seeds for their own transformation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

the sessions have been intense
packed with information
classes running two or three hours straight
sometimes i am wide awake through the whole session, sometimes its hard not to snooze.
the mornings begin early, around 6am.
i play shujaat husain or villayat khan or bismillah khan... while Alexa and sometimes a few others who trickle in, do their yoga, drink their teas and connect on their laptops. they enjoy this music:-) and find it the best way to wake up every morning. all these new people.... all of them in the realm of my own reality. the world that i like to inhabit and haven't all these years. meeting like minded people - to whom all my ways are not strange or different but easily understood. and conversely their 'alternative' life styles are no surprise.
Alexa is 8 weeks pregnant and not only glows with love on her face but does her yoga as if her body is made of rubber bending and turning into all shapes and forms.
 at 7.30 am - a tasty breakfast of organic eggs - several cereal options, sometimes pancakes or blueberry muffins freshly baked and a few varieties of whole wheat breads, muffins and bagels. a few jams. organic butter. several organic yoghurt's and the thickest creamiest organic milk that comes in an old fashioned glass bottle that if you're the first to pour you get a dollop of malaai as well.

adeebeh packed me a bag of barbari and some paneer and walnuts. i toast my babari and spread the butter, feta, mint, cilantro and walnut, make a roll and eat it with my own cardamom flavoured 'sadaf' chai:-) sweet. they love that as well. who ever comes to sit next to me gets a bite.
by 9 am we're in our morning imagined a lot of outdoor work, but so far most of it has been indoor sessions. we've only had one bed prepping session and have a swale and berm building lesson for this week.
all the rest is class room instruction. classroom is a long narrow meeting room with a wood burning fireplace to one end. my spot is a two seater sofa right by the instructors nose..others sit on the floor or on chairs. all very casual and comfortable. we listen mostly, some take copious notes, others already know alot of this but are getting some reinforcement, some new ideas, but mostly a chance to discuss and refresh all these ideas of sustainability in the garden and in our personal life choices. when were outside, i draw the scene as best i can. when were back in i color it all in. it keeps me focused and not falling asleep. since my camera lens doesn't open i figured this will be the old fashioned way of recording place and time:-)

the whether is cool and very spring and lovely. sometimes the coastal fog stays in for a few hours in the morning, when it clears the day becomes a perfect combination of green blue white and wet!
old pear in full bloom
pear blossom

meal gong - sebastian
time to go -breakfast calls

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 19 2010 - 2pm

its spring
nourooz infact
I'm in Occidental California
first day at school of arts and ecology.
hoping to learn to garden perma culture way....
plum and pear trees awash in white blooms, daffodils springing out from different places, willow trees a light green fuzz, mustard plants yellow and fresh. the drive up from Santa Rosa through somewhat rough back country roads is half an hour of green rolling hills wine country. winery after winery all neatly stacked rows of short grape vines.. not a bud in sight yet.

Emily and Milt dropped me off, gingerly left me in this hill billy looking place...'call us if you change your mind, we'll come get you'. they were going to walk the grounds and see the 'gardens' one look and milt decided he'd rather be playing poker with his retirement home buddies...retired executives, doctors, engineers..than take a tour of this garden like nature meant it to be. she relented and went right back home..though i suspect she wasn't too happy. made me think how unfortunate that you have to tow the line even at 88.....

my camera lens wont open...who knows why - so no pictures for now. my descriptions will have to do.
the course mates..they're all trickling in. in fact are in. from el Salvador, France, all of northern California, Virginia, Connecticut, Vermont and ofcourse some of us form southern California. the youngest is 18 - with a guitar. wants to grow everything on his property and be self sufficient and not have to buy anything ..starting real young. mom dropped him off.
from Virginia - Dona - only eats raw food. extremely helpful..carried all my stuff down to the camp ground while sarah and i schlepped my roll on suitcase. lady from San Jose suburbia - came with blow dried hair and red lipstick. Sebastian from France is here with his chinese american fiance.
the guys - three or four all decided to camp in the back country..i took the campsite closer to the showers and bathroom ..don't want to brush my teeth in the pond!
theres a guy with long hair tied up in a bun on top..Sikh style, no turban..small goatee.

pond can be swum in
bathing suits optional
wood fired sauna takes an hour or so to heat up...
clothing also optional

you get the picture:-)

from raggedy hippies to upscale suburbans, from South America to Pakistan to west and east coasters of this country - were all here!

Monday, February 8, 2010