Monday, December 12, 2011

                                 Remembering technological 
                     visionary Steve Jobs


Like so many people all around the world, I have found myself moved by the recent loss of Steve Jobs on October 5, and also by the passing of computer scientist Dennis Ritchie so soon after, on October 12; two colleagues who changed the world, two minds of great genius, passing away one week apart.

When I compare the world I came into to today's world, the difference is huge. And so much of that differences comes from the innovations of Steve Jobs. I use my apple computer everyday, and I send emails from my iphone while I am outside. I’m almost always able to find out anything I want to know in a few minutes  by using one of these gadgets, even if I’m not sure where to begin looking. It’s remarkable, and just the beginning. I can only imagine how the technology will evolve into the future.

Today, the new biography of Steve Jobs, written by Walter Isaacson, was released, and by all accounts it promises to be very honest, including the unflattering sides of this very smart man, and the not very smart choices he made about his own health. He might have lived much longer if he had listened to the doctors and had an operation immediately. Apparently, he was not always an easy person to get along with, but his contributions have made so many things much easier for so many people. The difficult parts of his personality will probably only add to his mystique when he is read about in the future. When I sit in the car and send an email to another city, I’m not thinking about Steve Jobs, but when I think of Steve Jobs, I cannot think of all the ways that his ideas have simplified my life and improved it, right down to this blog post.

Steve Jobs featured in Time Magazine's cover.
image courtesy: Time Magazine
If you would like to see the interview with Walter Isaacson from 60 Minutes last night,
Look here:

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Ford Family Plot at Brookhaven, Mississippi

Grandparents of Charles and Ruth
Father of Charles and Ruth

Mother of Charles and Ruth
Charles Henri Ford

Ruth Elizabeth Ford

Early August, with my wife and daughters, Juneli and Zina we drove from New York to Mississippi.  In the car with us we also had Ruth and Charles, at least their ashes, which we were taking to bury in the cemetery in Brookhaven, Mississippi, close to their parents, Charles Lloyd (September 2, 1871-April 9, 1949) and Gertrude Cato Ford (Sept 27, 1886-January 28, 1956), as well as their grandparents, Charles Wesley Ford and his wife, Nancy Elizabeth. The headstones for Charles and Ruth had been ordered by Karin Gustafson, who flew down to meet us for the burial on August 9th.

Charles’s stone reads: ‘Here lies Charles Henri Ford, Sleeping Through His Reward, Feb 10, 1908-Sept 27, 2002, Author – Artist’. Ruth’s stone reads: ‘Ruth Elizabeth Ford, Beloved wife of Zachary Scott, July 7, 1911-August 12, 2009, Actress—Muse’. People are often puzzled by the actual ages of Ruth and Charles, including journalists, because both Ruth and Charles took a few liberties with their birthdates during their lifetimes. But their true birth dates are reflected on their tombstones.

We buried their ashes, all of Ruth’s and half of Charles’s, while Karin read some verses of Walt Whitman. I was too teary to read anything. According to Charles’s wish the other half of his ashes will be placed next to Pavel Tchelitchew in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, a trip I will make sometime in the not too distant future.
We stayed in a hotel in Jackson where we visited a longtime friend, the artist and professor of photography, Allen Frame. Most of the time he lives in New York, but he was born in Mississippi and happened to be in Jackson visiting his mother when we were there. Allen and Charles met in New York, and he was a very big part of Charles’s house, visiting him almost every day. Although Allen is much younger than Charles, they had Mississippi in common, both of them were born there. Allen’s mother enjoyed showing us around the property where she lives which was full of trees. While we were there, Allen took us to the town of Natchez, Mississippi, and we had a tour of one of the old Southern mansions there. On the day of the burial, we all drove to Brookhaven, about an hour away from Jackson, and Allen made a video of the day.

I often heard Charles and Ruth mention Mississippi, but I had never been there before. I don’t think either of them made many trips back after they’d left, either.  As far as I can remember, Charles only made one trip back to Mississippi to bury one of his parents. In Ruth’s New York Times obituary, an interview she did with After Dark Magazine in 1974 was referenced, in which Ruth talked about first coming to New York to visit Charles. “My brother had all these strange, wonderful people around him,” she said. “And once I had seen them, once I had seen New York, well, what the hell was I going to do in Mississippi? Marry a shoe salesman?”

Both Ruth and Charles were born in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, a little town very close to Brookhaven where their parents ran the Ford Hotel for some years. We went to look at site of the old Hotel at 132 West Green Street in downtown Hazelhurst where Ruth and Charles were born. The original building burned down after World War One, and the two-story brick building that replaced it was in complete disrepair with windows boarded up and “No Trespassing” signs. A photograph of the original hotel can be found online at “Elmo Howell’s Mississippi scenes: Notes on Literature and History.”

What I heard from Charles over the years is that his parents ran several hotels in several states including Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana. Charles said that he and Ruth were spoiled by moving around to different hotels when they were children, and they were more privileged than some of their peers in the freedom they were given. I often heard Charles repeat to interviewers that he was conceived in New Orleans while his parents were honeymooning there.  I don’t remember hearing Ruth say much about their childhood, but then again, I spent more time with Charles, and whenever someone came to interview him, which was often, I would hear him tell the stories about his childhood.

In 1929, at age of sixteen Charles famously dropped out of high school to start his first magazine, Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms, in which he published works by Gertrude Stein, Edouard Roditi, Erskine Caldwell, EE Cummings, Ezra Pound and others. That was the beginning of his long career of collaborating with others on all kinds of projects. He lived in Paris and New York during the 1930s and made it easy for Ruth when she came to New York by introducing her to everyone he knew. Ruth already had influential friends of her own, most notably William Faulkner, whom she had met at the University of Mississippi. Ruth and Charles always enjoyed an active social life, and they mixed work and social life together very easily. I was lucky to meet many interesting people through them.

On the way back to New York we stopped to visit Maude Schuyler Clay, a longtime friend of Ruth’s, in Sumner, Mississippi. She and William Eggleston are first cousins. Her mother and his mother were sisters who grew up in the very house in which she lives now with her husband and three children. The house was beautiful and full of beautiful furniture, the kind of furnishings that have stories attached to them, and interesting taxidermy. There was a white raccoon. Maude gave me a copy of her book of photographs, called Delta Land, published by University Press of Mississippi, which was full of very lovely pictures of the surrounding area. While Ruth was still alive, Maude had written many letters to her and was always a loyal friend, so I decided to call her while we were there, and I’m glad I did.

After visiting Maude, we drove as long as we could for the day and spent the night at a Ramada Inn in Jackson, Tennessee. The next day we made Athens, Georgia, where we visited a Nepalese friend who works as a researcher for bio-fuel made from corn. From there we drove to Maryland, where we stayed with family friends. Finally the next day, it was home to New York. We left on August 5th and got back on August 13th, nearly 3000 miles later.

Not long before I took the ashes down to Mississippi, Ruth’s apartment in the Dakota finally was sold. Ruth always had the walls covered with art, and some of the paintings were by Gertrude Cato Ford, mother of Charles and Ruth. She signed her work “Cato.” After the apartment was sold, I went around taking paintings down off the walls, and I kept a number of them by Gertrude Cato. They are good paintings, but she didn’t become famous for them. In a diary entry Charles made in February 1951, published by Turtle Point Press as Water From A Bucket, A Diary 1948-1957, he wrote:

In spite of Mother’s being a practicing artist and surrounded by artists—her ideal of success is a commercial success—she’s never developed beyond this idea—typically American. To posthumous glory, she’d choose present riches…”

In another entry from the same book, written in December 1951, Charles remembered their mother describing the night of Ruth’s birth:

Mother told me of the night Sister was born. She left the dinner table, where there were guests in the middle of a meal, went in the kitchen and told the cook to put more biscuits in the oven, 45 minutes later she had her baby girl, the doctor arriving only 20 minutes before delivery. The guests couldn’t believe it was true!”

Radhika and Zina had been bugging me about how I never take them anywhere, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to both take Charles and Ruth home, and offer some adventure to my wife and daughter at the same time. The car that I had for so many years would never have survived such a long trip, so I bought a new Honda Pilot Touring car. We made the trip with the GPS set by Zina. It was the first big voyage for the car and in fact for me too. I had never driven farther than DC or Boston before this trip.

Ruth and Charles were always close, and it felt right to be taking them home to be buried. I never imagined when I first came here that one day I would be taking their ashes all the way back down to where they were born. They came out into the world, lived long lives full of adventures, art and life, and then when they died they returned to the place of their birth to rest. I felt that taking them there was my last duty in looking after them. Now that they are safe in Mississippi, where their journey started, I will do my best to enjoy the rest of whatever life has in store for me, always surrounded by the many memories and influences of Charles and Ruth.

                       September 18, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Tribute to Bishwa Lama (Glan)

In memory of Bishwa Lama
21 November 1978 -15 July 2011

It is with great sadness that I write this tribute to my friend Bishwa Lama, who was found dead in his apartment in Queens on Tuesday, July 19th. He was last seen by his new roommate on the evening of Friday the 15th. When he was not heard from over the weekend or on Monday, the police were called to investigate on the afternoon of Tuesday the 19th, and he was found in his bedroom.

Many friends from the Tamang community came to his apartment, worried about his well-being, and waited outside on the street in front of the building. There seemed to be an endless procession of investigators and medics, none of whom were helpful with sharing any information with any of us. I'm sure that they were all doing their jobs, but by the same token, it seemed to me that they were remarkably discourteous. Many of us from the community were there for four or five hours, and none of us were given any answers, even when we asked to be told where his body would be taken or what they were going to do. All we were told was that his body would be taken to a medical examiner's office but not to which one. It was not until the following day, from Bharat Lama, President of Tamang Society of America, that we learned Bishwa Lama's body was in the coroner's office in Jamaica Queens.

The preliminary coroner’s report suggests that the cause of death was a heart attack. Our guess is that it likely occurred sometime early in the morning on Saturday July 16th.  It came as a terrible shock, especially since he always seemed to be in perfect health. According to his death certificate, he was born November 21st, 1978. He was born in Rasuwa, in Nepal, and he had been living in New York for approximately four years.

Bishwa Lama was well known in our community, where he was respected and well liked by all who knew him. He was a very kind, gentle and generous person. During my tenure as President of the Tamang Society of America, Bishwa Lama hosted the Society’s web site free of charge, and after my presidency was over, he stayed on designing and updating my personal web site.

The last time I saw him was at my home, where he came on the evening of July 6th to post for me the announcement I had prepared for Ruth Ford’s 100th birthday. He stayed past midnight so it would appear on her proper birthday, which was July 7th, and as he worked he showed my daughter Zina each step of updating my web site. He said, "You're going to become a web designer," and he told her he would come back another time and teach her more. I drove him home and it was about one o’clock in the morning when we said goodbye, and he seemed perfectly fine.

Bishwa Lama had an interesting life, and having worked as a waiter on a luxury liner, he got to see a lot of the world prior to coming to New York and enrolling in college classes. He was on the board of the US-Nepal Sports & Cultural Development, Inc, and as a sportsman, he was an excellent bowler. He worked tending bar in an uptown Manhattan bowling alley to help pay his expenses. He also worked as a web site designer, designing and maintaining web sites for a variety of people in our community, and he operated his own web site as well.

I know that he struggled and worried about not having enough money to get by, but he was a hard worker, and had a positive outlook on life.  Recently he had expressed his desire to meet someone and settle down, and it is very sad to me that his death occurred at such a vital time of his life, leaving so many of his wishes unfulfilled. I feel fortunate to have known him, and I know that he will be missed. My wife Radhika has been lighting a candle in his honor every day on our prayer altar. For my part, I wish that his soul finds comfort and solace in a beautiful resting place where there will be happiness and peace. 

25 July 2011

To see Bishwa Lama's web site, follow this link:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wishing you a Happy 100th Birthday "Ruth Ford"

Today marks the 100th birthday of Ruth Ford. She was born July 7th, 1911 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and she died in August 2009, at the age of 98. She lived a long and full life, much of it spent right here in the New York where she was an important figure, not just as an actress, but also as a muse to other artists and as a salonnière. Ruth made things happen for other people, people were introduced to others in her famous salons, and those meetings were often fruitful.

Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents met in Ruth’s living room one night and went on to collaborate with Leonard Bernstein on the movie West Side Story. Edward Albee, Isak Dineson, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and William Faulkner were all good friends of Ruth’s and spent many evenings in her living room. Allen Ginsberg supposedly washed his feet in Ruth’s sink. William Faulkner wrote his one and only play, Requiem for a Nun, specifically for her.

Because the end of Ruth’s life is so recent to me, right now the most vivid memories I have of her are from the last years of her life in the apartment at the Dakota. The parties had been over for a long time by then, and life was quiet and simple. But I also remember her very well from the day in 1974 when I first met her, when I was introduced to her in her living room by her brother, Charles Henri Ford.

At that time, I was 21 years old and I’d only seen my first movie the year before, so the fact that this lady I was meeting was a famous actress was meaningless to me. Her late husband Zachary Scott, who played the villain opposite Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, was equally meaningless, and I had no idea who Joan Crawford was either. I had no notion of the art world, or the theater world, or the world of literature. Needless to say, Ruth and Charles introduced me to a universe I could never have imagined, and they opened my eyes to art of all kinds, which has enriched my life immeasurably.

I will always remember my first impression of Ruth. I could see that she was strong and full of life. She was still a wild lady, beautiful and very glamorous. She had a much younger boyfriend, a writer who also lived in the Dakota then, named Dotson Rader. The age difference didn’t bother Ruth at all. She talked very openly about it in a story People Magazine did about the two of them in 1975. Ruth was a free spirit. I remember Dotson Rader well from that time, and funny enough, one of my most vivid memories is of him showing me how to operate the laundry machine down in the basement of the Dakota, which had slots for dimes and quarters.

By the time I came on the scene in the 70s, Ruth was no longer throwing her big famous parties, although she still hosted smaller gatherings there in her living room. She was still very outgoing and social, and she attended a lot of parties given by other people. Sometimes she would invite me to accompany her to one and I would go. I remember a birthday party for Anthony Perkins where they gave out little disposable cameras, and I took a snapshot of Richard Avedon that night.

There were many years of exciting and interesting things that I was fortunate to experience thanks to Ruth and to Charles, and then there were the many years after Charles passed away when Ruth was quietly at home, and I spent countless hours with her, just the two of us.

By that time, I was married and living in Queens, and driving to the Dakota every day was a familiar routine. So was the job of looking after Ruth. She liked to read the New York Times in the morning with her tea, starting with the weather report, and she would set aside articles she thought I might enjoy—anything about Nepal for example. And having outlived so many of her friends, she always scanned the obituaries, a habit that I got into myself and keep to this day.

In the evening, after cooking dinner for her and sitting with her in the kitchen while she ate, I would help her back into her bedroom. There was always the photograph of Zachary Scott on the bedside table, and a framed poster for a gallery show in Paris signed to her from Man Ray hanging on the wall. She’d settle in and I would make sure she had everything she needed for the night. There always had to be chocolate within reach since Ruth had a midnight sweet tooth. And each evening when I said, “If there’s nothing else, I’ll be going now,” she would say, “Goodnight, Indra Darling, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

There was a part of me that thought Ruth would live forever, but of course no one does. Today I will stand in the room where I met her 37 years ago and wish her a very happy 100th birthday and let her know I’m thinking of her.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charimaya Tamang

Charimaya Tamang

Like many people, I was moved by the image of Charimaya Tamang 
being embraced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week after being selected TIP hero of the year 2011 from Nepal. She was given this honor for her brave work against human trafficking, which has been a terrible phenomenon in poor parts of Nepal. I don’t know Charimaya Tamang personally, but she is nevertheless a familiar, and her courage and achievement are to be very much admired. She was born into a poor family, and after her father died, trafficked to India at 16 years old. 

She spent almost two years enslaved in a brothel until the Indian government rescued her along with 148 other Nepali girls and women in 1996. When she came back to Nepal, she found herself an outcast from her own community. In the face of shame and loneliness she found the courage and strength to stand up to the traffickers by filing a case with the police. The District Court convicted eight people involved in trafficking because of her efforts. In 2000, along with 15 other trafficking survivors, she founded the group Shakti Samuha, an NGO set up to fight against human trafficking.

In 2007 she was given a national honor for this, and she sits on theNational Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, led by the Nepalese government that was founded in 2009.

The web site for Shakti Samuha their purpose:

“Shakti Samuha is run by Nepali women who have been rescued from slavery including forced prostitution in India, and returned to Nepal. Having struggled to reclaim our own lives, we are reaching out to help other returning trafficking survivors, by providing shelter, legal aid, vocational training and counseling. We have also set up Adolescent Girls Groups based in the poorest communities in order to pass on the message about the dangers of trafficking. Now we are reaching out to rural districts where trafficking is prevalent, helping women make a united stand against the traffickers.”
As the father of three daughters, I commend these efforts of Charimaya Tamang to protect girls from having such a terrible thing happen to them and for the help she and her organization offer those who have already been trafficked and have returned home.

congratulate her recent international honor, so well deserved, and hope that the attention will help with her very noble cause.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Ira Cohen
(February 3, 1935-April 25, 2011)

   On Monday, April 25th, I received a call from Sky, an old friend who I have known for many years, letting me know that Ira Cohen had passed away moments before in St. Luke’s Hospital. She told me that I was someone Ira cared about, which is why she was calling, and I felt immediately very sad at hearing the news, and for having not seen more of him in recent years.

   Next to Charles Henri Ford, Ira Cohen was one of the people I knew the longest in my life, even though I sometimes felt that in spite of how long I knew him, I didn’t know him deeply. Then again, Ira was Ira. There was a kind of mystery about Ira, but he was also very matter of fact, and knowing him was knowing him. And I can’t imagine my life without having had Ira in it.

   I first met Sky in Crete in the 1970s, where she lived then. She was raising Ira’s son Raphael, who at that time was just a little boy riding around on a small bicycle. Like everyone I met in those years, I was introduced to Sky by Charles, and of course, Charles and Ira were good friends from before Charles ever went to Nepal.

   When I started working for Charles in Kathmandu in the 1970s, all kinds of doors I could not have imagined were opened to me, very often by Ira Cohen. And I remember him coming often with Angus MacLise to the tea salons that Charles would have in the house. Ira was always hosting “Happenings” around the city, and Charles would take me whenever he went to one of them. They were full of hippies and jetsetters from Europe and the United States, and there would be always local musicians playing traditional music with tablas and a sitar. The musicians would come and play for tips that would be collected in a hat. The music itself didn’t excite me much since I’d been hearing it all my life, but the Happenings were always interesting spectacles, with all kinds of people smoking whatever they were smoking, and listening to the music very happily. Sometimes I had the feeling that between the smoking and the music, some of those people seemed to think they had gone to paradise, right in the middle of Kathmandu. And Ira was at the center of that paradise in his flowing robes with his girlfriend Petra Vogt, also in flowing robes. Petra was a German actress with the Living Theater, and she and Ira stood out from the other Westerners I was getting used to seeing, even from the hippies. With Ira’s long black beard and his robes like a sadhu, Petra--with her long dark hair and robes like a nun--was his perfect feminine match.

   I remember trekking once, with Ira, Valery Oisteanu and a few others in the mountains of Crete. As we went through little villages, dogs would come tearing after Ira, dressed in his floppy, hanging things, and I’d think, “Why him and not me?” There was just something about Ira that made the dogs want to chase him, and the Greek villagers would stand and watch Ira pass by astonished. I think they had probably just never seen anything quite like Ira before.

   A couple of months after I started working for him, Charles told me that he was going to be away for an entire month and that Ira and Petra were going to stay in the house while he was gone. They loved to throw wild parties that lasted all night with poetry and Nepalese music and all kinds of smoking and drinking and all their friends sitting around listening.  I don’t know why Charles let them have his house because they had a house of their own, but they might have wanted to use it because it was bigger, in order to have bigger Happenings. Charles gave me the option to stay in the house with Ira and Petra or not to. Like Charles, I was not a smoker or drinker, and I thought I might not be comfortable living in the house without him being there.

   So after thinking it over, I decided to go spend the month in my own village rather than stay in the house with Ira. When Charles came back from his trip, he found the place a lot messier than when he left it. Ira and Petra were not the neatest people and Charles chided them for it, but he didn’t hold it against them. He liked Ira very much, and Ira is—was—someone I have always liked very much too.

   Ira traveled all over the world, to Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Afghanistan, Ethiopia—everywhere, but he loved Kathmandu especially. He stayed for a long time, and at some point he wrote about how he had fallen under the spell of the place; “Where it was not difficult to believe that, as long as we remained, we would stay young forever writing poems…” Ira made a real home in Kathmandu as if he was planning to stay forever. But eventually, he did finally leave, and after he did I don’t think he ever went back.

   He might not have stayed young forever, but the poems kept coming for decades after he left Kathmandu for the last time. One of the things that I always admired about Ira, something I’ve never seen anyone else do, I don’t think, was his way of being able to carry on a conversation with a number of people while writing poems at the same time, with his notebook in his lap. Poems just flowed out of him, a constant flow of poems like a river. He once wrote a poem and dedicated it to Charles and me, and I know it’s somewhere—it’s just a matter of finding it in all the piles of papers and books, and I know Ira would forgive me for that, because nobody had piles of papers and books like Ira did. He wrote the poem to us in Chania, Crete during one of the visits we shared there. We saw Ira in lots of places; in Kathmandu, in Crete, in Paris, and here in New York. He used to come up to the Dakota and visit us, always with his camera around his neck and his unmistakable caftan. Pen, notebook and camera—those were always his tools of the trade.

   I was always glad to see Ira, and he was always very friendly towards me. It’s hard to believe that his voice will not be heard anymore, that I won’t go to an art opening and see him holding forth, surrounded by interesting people from every corner of the world. 

   Last night I thought of a man who Ira knew in Kathmandu that I’d often see him with. I’d go to the post office or the market, and there would be Ira with this man, an older man who looked like a monk and always carried an umbrella. I never spoke to that man, but much later I heard that he was supposedly a member of the Royal Family of Nepal. How many times did I see him with Ira, the world class charmer? I can’t count. And last night, while I was sleeping, I wondered who I could ask about that monk-like, walking man with the umbrella, who would surely be dead by now, and I realized that the only person would have the answer would be Ira, and that there must be countless other questions about all kinds of things that only he would be able to answer. With him gone, a giant pair of shoes will remain unfilled forever.

In memory of Ira Cohen,
February 3, 1935- April 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japan Earthquake - 11 March, 2011

                MARCH 28TH,2011

The earthquake of 9.0 that struck Northern Japan on March 11, 2011, and the terrible tsunamis that followed is something I have been watching with horror along with everyone else, seeing that entire villages have washed away in some places, with unimaginable destruction all along the coast. As of this writing, 27,000 people are missing or dead, and now, with the man-made nuclear catastrophe unfolding at Fukushima where the situation seems to grow worse every day, it looks very possible that a huge region of the country could become uninhabitable. The sheer size of this disaster and the horror of it has brought home the fact that even a very wealthy country like Japan can be brought to its knees by a sudden act of nature, and I’m reminded that we are all temporary guests here at best.
Japan has been good to other nations in times of crisis or need. Having been born and raised in a poor country, Nepal, I am well aware of how much money Japan has given to Nepal. Japan has donated much money for the restoration of Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and many temples restored in Kathmandu would have crumbled if not for the generosity of Japan.
When the earthquake happened in Haiti last year, the Tamang community in Queens took up a collection to give to the Red Cross. It was a relatively small contribution, but one that we felt might make an impact in place already so poor. I think we probably felt a certain economic equality with that country, and before today, I don’t think anyone imagined seeing a time in Japan where people don’t have enough food or warm clothes, as we are seeing now on the news.
I know that after World War II Japan suffered terribly, two of its cities were wiped out by the atom bomb, there was radiation of top of destruction and there was hunger in that country. Japan had to rebuild completely. I think back to the 1970s, when I first became aware that any product made in Japan could be counted on for excellence. I can’t think of any country that works harder or has such high standards as Japan. Everyone looked to Japan as a role model for efficiency, and hard work well rewarded. And so, this great tragedy unfolding is humbling to see, and a frightening reminder of how very vulnerable we all are on this little planet that we share. The situation is being compared to the days just after World War II in Japan, with similar destruction and radiation to fear as well. We’re all affected whenever any place on earth suffers a calamity like this.
I have lived in the United States since 1974, and I’ve been privileged to visit other countries as well, and to meet many people. But over the years, I’ve often thought of a particular Japanese man who I met in the early 1970s in Kathmandu, when I worked at the Panorama Hotel. His name was Mr. Nakamura, and whenever his business brought him to Kathmandu, he would stay there and I would serve him breakfast in the hotel dining room. I didn’t speak much English then, and I think if I had I would have learned a lot more about Mr. Nakamura. He was a very kind person, always pleasant and warm towards me. He was missing an arm, although I don’t remember which one it was. One day he made me a gift of one of his very fine white shirts. It was a real luxury for me to have such a shirt, and I’ve remembered that many times as an example of Japanese kindness. If he’s still alive, Mr. Nakamura would be an old man now, but I’ve thought of him in these last weeks and hoped that he and his family are safe. I pray that the souls of all those many people lost in this will find peace, and that their survivors will find the courage to rebuild and keep on living, the way their countrymen did after the war. Japan is a resilient nation, but right now it also needs help from other nations, rich and poor alike.

 I think many people who don’t have a lot of money feel embarrassed to give small amounts, especially in the face of a crisis this big, and so they give nothing.  But I can only encourage people to ignore that feeling and give anyway, because even as little as a dollar will add up to a lot when many people give, and help is help. I intend to make a small donation as a gesture of good will, and I have chosen to make mine through the Japan society. If anyone is unsure of how to give, I would suggest this as a good way. The Japan Society has created a disaster relief fund to aid victims of the recent catastrophe. 100% of contributions, which are tax-deductible, will go to organizations that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis. The Japan Society is investigating and vetting organizations that can make the maximum impact, both in terms of immediate relief needs as well as the longer-term recovery process.  If you would like to give a donation or learn more, please visit their web site:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor:

                                   March 26, 2011

Once in a while I feel inspired to pay tribute to a person who belongs to the world, and today I want to write a little something to honor Elizabeth Taylor, who has just passed away. Cleopatra, with her in the starring role, made a big impression on me, and from the moment I came to live in this country, I was always aware of Elizabeth Taylor. In my many years of living in the Dakota, I was fortunate to meet a great many actors and actresses, writers and artists, but I never had the privilege to meet her. I did, however, have many encounters with Tennessee Williams, and knew that she had starred in his Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. When I type her name into the computer to look at images, up come countless pictures of her. She was beautiful, and she was a very fine actress, one of the last of a certain type of star that there don’t seem to be too many of left. But more than for her beauty and her talent, I admire Elizabeth Taylor for the kind of life she lived and all that she gave of herself beyond movie making. As an activist and someone who truly seemed to love people, she did immeasurable good. I remember very well a period when so many people were getting sick with a mysterious illness, one that took the lives of a lot of artists and actors, and that many people were very afraid of it. Elizabeth Taylor did something monumental when she stood by Rock Hudson when he was ill and made AIDS her personal cause. She took away the stigma of that sickness and helped to fight it, perhaps more than anyone else. I admire her activism and her great devotion to her humanitarian efforts as much as I admire her long and wonderful career.
In memory of Elizabeth Taylor 
February 27, 1932 - March 23, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Charles

In memory of
Charles Henri Ford
(Father of Surrealism)

Hey, Charles, wherever you are, just a quick note to remind you that you are103 years young today.

Happy Birthday, Charles!!

The void you left behind is still not filled.

Many a time I have seen in books and publications that Charles’ date of birth has been indicated wrongly. His actual date of birth is 10 February 1908.  Also I have seen Ruth Ford’s birthday indicated wrongly time to time. The actual date is 7 July 1911.

Charles Henri Ford (10 February 1908 – 27 September 2002)
Ruth Ford (7 July 1911 – 12 August 2009)

Just trying to correct the right information for Charles Henri Ford historians.

Monday, January 17, 2011


 In a story in the UK Telegraph, Indra Tamang, who worked as a butler for many years at the Dakota and inherited a fortune from a couple of his past employers, tells an anecdote about John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the Dakota. "I remember John and Yoko bringing their son Sean to a party in the courtyard and they looked so relaxed and natural. And then he was shot and we started to get the crowds and tour buses outside. It was never the same," he told the paper. He described Yoko Ono, who he still sees in the building, as "always charming."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No Speak English or Simply Not Complying?

Father Demo Square, Bleecker St & 6th Ave, Manhattan, New York

Why would he/she do such thing? Didn't see the sign? Or couldn't read English? Or simply defying the sign. Is it who cares attitude or some urgent errand? Or simply nature calling at unexpectedly odd hour? Whatever it was, I took this opportunity to capture it in my camera. 

Another bout of snow, Another bout of pictures