Posts Tagged 'Yoo-Mi Lee'

Dawn in Bhitarkanika

Dawn in Bittarkanika

We slept in the heart of Bhitarkanika National Park and Wildlife Refuge in Orissa, at a government guest house; but we are up well before dawn and back on our boat before first light. The night had been clear but moonless; and in the early hour, the eerie landscape reveals itself with equal measures of reluctance and mystery.

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Flames of Hope

Woman carrying firewood in North Darfur Fuel Efficient Cookstove, Darfur Prototype

What a nice surprise to see that the current issue of Newsweek magazine (July 16, 2007 issue) carries a very nice story on the Ashok Gadgil’s Berkeley National Laboratory Darfur Cookstove Project, entitled “Flames of Hope.”

Yoo-Mi and I had the privilege to work in Darfur, Sudan in November and December of 2005 as part of Ashok’s four-person team doing the initial field research which would enable us to design a fuel efficient cookstove for Darfurians living in the refugee camps. Ashok and LBNL scientist Christie Galitsky conducted the research in the camps of South Darfur; Yoo-Mi and I did the same in the North Darfur camps.

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Getting in Touch with My Feminine Side

scrapes

I’m glad to have grown up the lone male in a house of amazing women – my mother, sister and, for a short-but-significant while, two sister-like close friends. As a consequence, I am able to easily reject traditional notions of gender and have developed a strong sense of myself without leaning too heavily on the easy crutch of normative male privilege. More importantly, I am one of the few men who reflexively returns the toilet seat to the down position. No one has ever accused me of failing to “get in touch with my feminine side.”

Until last week, that is.
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Fame

Lisa D'Costa
“Is she a model?” Lisa D’Costa with a fan.

All the world has a prurient, voyeuristic fascination with celebrity. In America, the process is so well-advanced that fame is self-reflexive and self-fulfilling. People like Paris Hilton, though lacking any talent or meaningful social value, are considered “famous for being famous.”

But India far outstrips even the American love of the famous. Americans thrill when chance allows them to brush-up against celebrities; Indians crave such opportunities. No event in India should take place without the “felicities” of a celebrity. And if the famous can’t make an appearance, the demi-famous will have to do.

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Finding Teachers Along the Way

Each of us bears the imprint
of a friend met along the way.
In each the trace of each.
- Primo Levi

In fact, we bear the imprint of every life that intersects with ours – whether or not the people we touch are friends or perfect strangers, whether the interpersonal contact occurred in dramatic fashion or was barely noticeable. But some people teach us lesson that are so profound that we cannot help but think of them as mentors. Here are a few of mine.

Ashish Mehta has taught me the ineffable value of constant awareness. It is the channel through which compassion and thoughtfulness flows. I consider this the most important ethical insight I have ever been shown – and the most difficult to live up to.

David Cavanero taught me to respect the earth and showed me the interconnection of all living things.

Guri Mehta and John Silliphant have shown me the beauty of modesty. Here are two of the finest minds I know – one of profound wisdom, the other of boundless creativity. To some, it might seem that their brilliance hides behind their profound warmth, quietude, and humility. In fact, these qualities have nurtured their intellectual gifts.

My father, if by negative example, showed me that a sharp intellect is valuable, but empty without compassion and kindness. Eric Zakim reminds me of the astonishing potential of intellect wedded to decency, common sense, and groundedness.

My mother taught me that a person who is full of joy and unfettered by self-doubt can do just about anything, and do it far better than they have a right to expect. She and Trishna Shah have demonstrated that, while moderation and striking “balance” in life is all well-and-fine, self-confident people can almost literally do-it-all, which is even better.

Nipun Mehta and Jayesh Patel taught me that the opportunity to serve is not only found in doing of grand, dramatic philanthropy, or even in the doing of Mother Teresa’s “small things with great love.” It exists in every human interaction.

Roger Sleight showed me that, despite the common wisdom, one could reach the top of the legal profession, representing soulless corporate clients, while growing in humanity and exercising ethical leadership.

Viral Mehta is my paragon of generosity and friendship.

Manoj Pavithran serves as a exemplary reminder that if one surrenders to the magical interconnectedness of the universe, it is impossible to ignore the joy and beauty in every moment.

Rubin Macaya and Phillipe Mollard taught me the joy of fearlessness. This has, perhaps, been the most formative lesson of my life.

Yoo-Mi Lee and my sister Betsy reveal the very limits of human perfection. Every day.

There are two common threads in this admittedly incomplete list. First, the people who have mentored me have done so by example, not in a didactic way. Second, either I know way too many people named Mehta or way too few.


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the Miami Dolphins NFL bullying episode brings the evergreen topic of the idiocy of manliness back into focus.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the re-election of President Barak Obama has done nothing to turn America away from its recent ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprinted in frustration that a dumbass nonevent brought down David Petraeus, the most brilliant, influential, deeply flawed military strategist since Harry Potter.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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