Thursday, January 1, 2009


Sharp cold, bright sun, fresh snow: a beautiful welcome to 2009 here in Toronto.  I check the news and there's death in Gaza and the Congo, sexual slavery in Cambodia and elsewhere, anxieties world-wide because of the economic crisis, as well as individual stories of suffering and grief.  

But life goes on, we take our distance from the sufferings out there so that we don't go crazy, and then what?  Well I try to be mindful of now, of who is with me or what is around me, and of the larger picture too.  I assume most people do this: travel in and out, from the immediate to the larger world and back.  But appreciating the moment is a vital part of finding a balance.  We can luxuriate in the beauty of the day or of a painting, or kick up our heels at a party, even as we know that the dark and painful is always happening too, in places far and near...

Being present to strangers, for example to the guy begging in the market, or to the old man who collects bottles - skinny and hard-working, hauling his cart behind him down the sidewalk - having conversation with them and seeing each as a person rather than a cog in the landscape, is the place to start, for me.   So the effort for me is to slow down and take notice, real notice.  

This reminds of a couple named Adrienne and Rick, from Nanaimo.  They have been working at the micro level for nine years, always helping children: taking money to an orphanage in Cambodia; and to Karen and Burmese refugee children on the Thai border; and to other people in need in other parts of Cambodia.  They look to see what's needed, flip-flops for kids, or notebooks, or help with building a clinic or a school, and after consultation they give money and time and labour directly to those who need it.  They are the best example I know of people making a difference by giving targeted mindful help and respect to others. 

This is also the time of year when those of us in the colder parts of the northern hemisphere need to assert our confidence that the sun will come back and life will spring anew.  For us a big part of that assertion comes through dancing.  The other night we had our winter dancing party.  The music was DJ'd by two young friends, Emily and Ian, who each did two sets.  There was music solidly from eight until 1.30 in the morning, and it was wonderful.  Lots of young people, as well as forty-somethings and up, all dancing, engaging, caught up in the moment: what better way to affirm life in the often gloomy prognostications of the coldest darkest time of the year? 


vijay said...

I've left this same response on Jeffery's Blog, but don't know if its read frequently by him so here it is again!

Hi Jeffery and Naomi...

When I came across your book I instantly became a fan of it for 3 reasons....

1) Being a photographer myself I was taken by the awesome candid shots of the locals you had and of your dishes, the use of DOF shows your expertise in this feild.

2) The little stories you had to tell with each dish or alteast a background, which I think really adds the garnishing to each. One can imagine themeselves in the same Nepal Hut or street stand while savouring your recipe, or even while having their own home made meal while reading your book.

3) Myself being an avid cook, story lover, and photographer this book is 3 in 1 for me....oh plus you being from Toronto (where I live currently) and me being from India makes it 4 in 1 !!

I spent half my child hood in India and the other half in Canada hense I'm comfortable in grabbing an Egg Kheema or Bhel Puri on the streets of India just as grabbing a Spicy Italian Sausage & Poutine in front Toronto City Hall, some of the best foods are the street foods in any country!

Going back to your book I havn't finished it all, I'd like to take my precious time and savour it cause I know this combination may never happen again.

To that, I would love to have a beer with both of you some time and talk about photography and food cause some of the pics you have in the book are really beautiful specially the "Bokeh" I can see you are using a very wide aperture 2.8 or lower. On the food curcuit we can talk about some of our very own Indian restaurants here in Toronto, there are some hidden gems specially in the suburbs that really don't get reviewed like the downtown ones do, I can let you in on those hidden caves and perhaps we can calaborate on some sort of book like that goes into depth about hidden Indian-Dhaba style places in Toronto!

In the mean time take a look at my website and fling me an email, I would love to have you sign your book...and hear from you.





Miles said...

Can't tell you how delighted I am to find that you are doing this. Your books have been a major influence and by far the best food and travel writing I have ever seen published. This will keep me going until the next one!
Best wishes to you and your family for 2009.
Kind regards