Thursday, September 27, 2012

10 years gone by

 10 years gone by

Cover photo for "The Young and Evil"
 Studio Piaz Paris, 1933

 On this day, September 27th, in 2002, Charles Henri Ford passed away in New York. By the time he died, he was ripe age of 94 years old, but even in the hospital and so near to the end of his life, Charles was still vital. He was still making collages, and life held interest for him up until his last moment. That a whole decade has passed since that day is hard to believe, but it has, making this the tenth anniversary of his passing. Charles used to say that ten was his lucky number. He was born on the tenth day of February in 1908, and the day that he died also happened to be the day on which his mother, Gertrude Cato, was born in 1886. 

Since his passing, interest in Charles and his work has only grown. The Young and Evil, the notorious novel he wrote with Parker Tyler (first published in Paris in 1933 and complimented by Gertrude Stein), reprinted a number of times in his lifetime, was re-published again by Metronome Press a few years after he died, giving the book a second life and a whole new audience. His poetry is written about and re-printed regularly, and people come from galleries and museums to look at photographs and collages made by Charles that I still have in his archives at the Dakota. Every so often I get a book or a dissertation in the mail, full of new perspectives about Charles. It’s a privilege to be the steward of his literary and artistic works, and as much as I miss his earthly being, the presence of Charles Henri Ford is always there.

In the ten years between his passing and now, quite a few people close to Charles have also passed, including his sister, Ruth, in 2009. Charles and Ruth were both tremendously influential during their lives, and their contributions are eternal. 

Keep resting, Charles. You’re remembered every day and the admirers just keep coming.

Charles Henri Ford.

 Pictures of young Charles with mother, Gertrude Cato, and sister, Ruth Ford        
"I am the sixth one from the left - Holding the penant" - Charles
photo by W B Jones (Jonnie

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A short Family Vacation to Canada

A Short Family Vacation to Canada
CN Tower.  Toronto, Canada.

August 11th, at night, we left our home at 9PM after having dinner with my cousin Shanta and his family,I drove to Maryland with my mother, my wife Rhadhika and daughter Zina to my friends, Sumitra and Keshab’s house. We arrived there at 1:00AM. 

We slept there, and in the morning, leaving my mother behind at Sumitra’s house with Sumitra’s mother, Sumitra, Keshab, Radhika, Zina and I set off for Canada, with no real plan, but with the idea of going to Toronto or Montreal. We took off North at about 11:00 AM in the morning, and headed for Niagara Falls. Having been there just two years ago, we didn’t visit the actual falls this time, but we spent the night on the New York side at Quality Inn (NY181) 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. Niagara Falls,NY 14304.  The next morning, August 13th, we crossed the border into Canada, and the guards at the checkpoint questioned us how long we plan to stay. We said we would spend three or four days in Canada, for a little vacation, and we went to Toronto. We booked into a Motel Six in the afternoon, and went to look at the view of the city from the CN Tower. The brochure for it says, “Dare to look 342 m straight down from the world famous Glass Floor.” Radhika didn’t want to step onto the glass part, so she skipped it.  The elevator to the top was like a rocket. 

Giraffes at African Lion Safari.  Toronto, Canada
Later on, we met up with my nephew Ram Kaji Moktan, who lives in Brampton, and he welcomed and treated us to dinner in a newly opened Nepalese-Chinese eatery there, near his house. After dinner he went home and we went back to our motel. He had suggested an African Lion Safari for the next day where you can drive through and look at all kinds of big wild animals roaming free. Unfortunately it was raining, so I didn’t get many pictures, but we saw lions and giraffes, and there were ostriches who came to peck on the windows. When we bought the ticket to get in we were warned that we were going in at our own risk and that monkeys would sometimes come and break the windshield wipers. They advised us  not to open our windows. Thankfully the rain kept the monkeys subdued, they sat on top of poles looking down, and they didn’t bother us.  We saw a little group of about half a dozen giraffes watching us, but the rain made it a disappointment for pictures.

Then we went to Ram Kaji’s house and they feted us with a barbecue, choila, wine and beer, all prepared by him and his wife, Gita.  The barbecue was on the deck behind their house, which was a nice house in a little neighborhood full of maple trees. Then they took us on a nature walk up the stream near where they live, to empty our stomachs for more dinner.
At Ram Kaji Moktan's House. Toronto, Canada.

While we were walking, he took a photo of me holding my big camera and posted it to his Facebook page from his cellphone, so suddenly the world knew I was in Canada. We had more food, and spent that night in their house with them.  The next morning Ram Kaji left early for work, before we awoke. We had said our goodbyes before going to bed. He works for the post office, and his job starts very early in the morning. His wife prepared a nice breakfast for us when we got up. We had wonderful visit with them. We left close to noon and drove to Montreal, which took a few hours driving through a flat landscape. I have thought Canada would have more hills, but the route we took, at least, didn’t have them. 

A lot of the hotels we called in Montreal were booked up, but we finally found one Quality Inn & Suites P.E. Trudeau, Airport ( CN967) 1010ch.Herron Road,Montreal, QC H9S 1B3. It was about 15 miles outside the city. By the time we got there it was night, and we booked that same suite for the next day as well.  The double bed suite cost us $259.66 for two nights which included continental breakfast. The hotel staff told us that it would be better to take a bus into Montreal to sightsee because parking is almost impossible, and they suggested visiting Old Montreal. But we drove anyway, and found a lucky spot in front of a science museum in Old Montreal. We walked all over the old city, to the clock tower by the sea where we walked inside and up the spiral 192 steps to the top of the Big Ben of Montreal.  After that we wandered around the old loading docks at the harbor. There were lots of little narrow alleyways, and it reminded me of Paris and Kathmandu. There were lots of homeless people all over the park benches. I didn’t see any of the so-called New Montreal, but the old city seemed to have lots of homeless, sleeping on the grass as well as on the park benches. 

Street performers at Old Montreal
We saw a performance on a big plaza by a man beating drums and women doing a modern dance with a lot of empty coffee cups, with what looked like a well-rehearsed plan for where to place the coffee cups. It reminded me of the buskers who perform of the Pompidou museum in Paris.  We saw a giant chess game in progress. The chess pieces were probably two or three feet tall, and would be picked up and carried by the players.  I like watching chess, and this was probably the largest chess game I had ever seen. We stayed and watched it till the end.

One thing I liked the most was visiting the botanical gardens.There were all kinds of different gardens, such as the 250-year-old bonsai trees in the Japanese gardens.  The Chinese section has their own style landscaping with exotic plants and flowers. The greenhouses in the botanical gardens had thousands of different types of cacti and plants, even banana trees.  

"Menu Girl" at a Restaurant casting bait at costumers. 
We spent two days in Montreal exploring the old city. The alleyways were full of all kinds of shops, mostly tourist fare, tee shirts and hats. With group of five, it was hard not to get separated. There were lots of eateries in there too. Cars are not allowed in the alleyways, and every restaurant seemed to have a nice attractive girl in a short skirt holding a menu trying to lure in customers.  I wanted to take a photograph of one of the menu girls, but I wasn’t sure if it would be okay. I was at the opposite side of the street from where she was standing, so I gestured her with my camera, and she said, “Just me, or  you and me together ?”  I told her just her would be fine. I took a couple of photographs of her with her permission and it seemed to make her happy.  After couple of hours of walking, we saw the same girl in another area. I suppose she was finished working and on her way home. She smiled at us and my friend Keshab said, “That’s the same girl from before.”  We had to adjust a little from miles to kilometers and from English to French. I used just ‘Merci’ and ‘Bonjour’, left over from my long-ago French lessons in Paris.  

Botanical Garden.  Montreal, Canada.
We left Montreal on the August 17th, and drove towards Thousand Islands. Some of the islands are on the Canadian side and some on the American side. There are actually 1,855 islands to be exact. Some of them are very tiny. We took a boat ride among them, a two and one half hour ride, which seemed very long to me.  The boat had a pre-recorded tour of the islands, who owned which ones and so forth. The captain was a big man at the helm, and I asked him for a photograph. He accepted, and told me that more of the islands are American, but Larger ones are Canadian. 

Our Captain who sailed us around Thousand Islands.
We had no destination set after the boat ride, therefore we agreed on returning. We set the GPS towards Maryland and kept driving, it took us to the waterside highway and in short time we reached the border. It was still daylight, and the immigration officer was a slim Chinese man. I handed him all our passports and green cards, and he asked what we were doing in Canada. I said we were visiting friends and having a family vacation. He pointed at Keshab and Sumitra and asked how we were related and I said, “She’s my cousin and he’s my longtime friend.” He said, “Just before you said it was a family vacation.” He told that he was questioning our relations because he saw that they had different addresses. He wanted to know which part of Queens we were from, I answered Woodside, and he waved us through. 

We drove as long as we could. Many motels were booked solid as we passed Lake George, August being the pinnacle of tourist season. Finally we found one Ramada Hotel about 15 miles away from Lake George, in Queensbury, New York. By then it was after 9 PM. We spent our night there. The next morning we were supposed to be back in Maryland, but Radhika wanted to see Lake George. So we changed our plan of waking up early and heading back. Keshab, Zina, and I went to enjoy the indoor pool at the hotel before heading to Lake George. About 30 of our friends had spent July 4th weekend there and told us about its beauty, so Radhika was very curious. When we got there, we saw the steamboat and the sunbathers and a lot of parasailing.  Zina wanted to go parasailing, but we didn’t get out of the car. We just drove around the lake. It was a very beautiful and satisfying drive. 
We made it to Sumitra’s home via the Jersey Turnpike on August 18th. We spent the next day there. We visited Great Falls, which is in Virginia, on the Potomac River. Radhika had lived in Virginia for many years but she had never visited Great Falls, so it was a first visit for everyone. There were lots of kayakers and lots of warnings posted for them along that stretch of the river about how dangerous it is, especially when the water is low and the rocks are sticking out. 

On Monday the 20th of August, we said goodbye to our friends in Maryland, fetched my mother and drove back to Queens, to our home sweet home.

(from left to right) Zina, Radhika, Sumitra and Keshab
-Indra Tamang