Elephant Festival in Jaipur
As an elephant lover, this colorful fête caught my eye. Holi known as the Festival of Colors is a spring gala celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the month. It is primarily observed in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and can last up to sixteen days.
The significance of the festival is based in Vaishnava Theology. It is said Krishna’s mother applied color to
Radha’s face. The celebrations officially usher in spring which is the celebrated “season of love”. As a non-Hindu, I won’t try to explain the interesting history of the event. This link will take you to Wikipedia for the full significance.
While the individual traditions vary across the different countries, the main day of Holi is celebrated by all people joyously throwing colored power and colored water at each other. It is a time for families and neighbors to come together and have fun. Everyone from young to old, male and female are laughing and running around in the vibrant crowds. Words cannot adequately illustrate the fun; I encourage you to watch this clip from the BBC to get the full effect. Sanjeev Bhaskar shares his humorous first Holi experience.
I couldn't resist this image
In Jaipur, Rajasthan, India they also incorporate an elephant festival where theses amazing creatures are adorned and march around in all their regal splendor. (Photos: TourismFreaks, Taby Ru, Herwijnen)
Mr. Squeakers is Tsunami Ready
At 5am the moon was full and beautiful, and my cat Mr. Squeakers was acting stranger than usual. As I turned on the news it was clear this tsunami was serious. By 5:30am I was leaving the gas station and heading over to the Safeway grocery on Kapahulu Ave. Even at that early hour the store was packed and there were no carts. The lines were snaking through the aisles as sleepy people clad in pajamas were purchasing bottled water, batteries and beer. The first tsunami warning siren went off at 6am while I was in the store. It has been going off every hour since.
I thought to myself, for a potential disaster, everyone is well behaved. People in the store are smiling, helping one another and catching up with old friends. In fact, as I waited in aisle six for over an hour to check out, I met some nice people and I read the latest US Weekly. Did you know that Brangelina are in Italy? So far, tsunami readiness isn’t too bad!
Whale Mom & Calf
I stopped by the Diamond Head and I could make out splashes in the distance. Standing among a group of enthusiastic tourists, I also found myself enjoying the whales. I love sharing that experience with tourists, it makes me feel so blessed to live in Hawaii. It got me wondering about our gentle winter residents and why us humans find them so fascinating.
Approximately 10,000 Humpback whales visit Hawaii each year between the months of November – May with February being the peak month. According to a recent article in the Honolulu Advertiser, their numbers are increasing. The annual migration begins early fall from the Gulf of Alaska. The whales select one of three “winter whale vacation hot spots” the coast of Baja in Mexico, islands off the south east coast of Japan and the largest group (nearly 60%) coming to cruise Hawaii. The whales travel nearly 3,500 miles from their feeding grounds in Alaska, taking about 4-8 weeks round trip. While the majority of the whales end up in the waters off Maui, they can be seen from many of the Hawaiian Islands – including Oahu. In fact one thirty-foot whale was off Kailua Beach cruising and encountered a few canoe paddlers. Not sure who got too close to who – but with one slap of a tale – a one-man canoe was snapped in half. Talk about a whale of a tale! Click here for full story.
So why do these whales come winter in Hawaii? For the same reasons as the other tourists – great weather (warm waters create a suitable environment for newborn calves), beautiful ocean (protective shallower waters within the deep Pacific), lack of stress (no deadly Orca whales here in Hawaii), and to drink a tasty Mai Tai! (Photos: Cornforth)
SpongeBob Helps President Obama
President Obama is under a lot of pressure. He needs a sidekick to help him keep things in perspective and support him at all times. A Laverne to his Shirley, a Spock to his Captain Kirk, a Richie to his Fonzie. In fact this week an article in the Honolulu Advertiser stated the Hawaii Department of Health still gets up to 50 requests a month for President Obama’s birth certificate. Really, is this still an issue more than a year after the election?
With all these naysayers and critical voices President Obama needs a positive influence. An amigo or staffer that can inject some zest in the face of two wars, a dismal economic outlook and global calamities. A fresh face that can reach across the aisle and bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats. An unjaded DC insider full of enthusiasm that could charm even the most sour mouthed politicos. There is one name that comes to mind – SpongeBob Square Pants!
SpongeBob could start by co-hosting a Tupperware party with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for the Tea Party Movement. Grab a mani-pedi with Rep. Michelle Bachman and Ann Coulter. Invite Senators Orrin Hatch and Saxby Chambliss to yoga and a fruit smoothie. Perhaps even help White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel clean up his infamous potty mouth?
I hear you; these crusty politicians will eat him alive. But SpongeBob is not immune to the cranky. For those who don’t watch the show, SpongeBob works at the Krusty Krab and his neighbor is Squidward who is a “whiny stick-in-the-mud; a self-centered snob who imagines himself to be sophisticated and talented, but he’s rather average and untalented.” Pack your bags SpongeBob, you are more than qualified for DC, the country needs you. (Photos: Nickelodeon)
Center of the Universe?
What does the term “American” really mean? I have heard of American Pie, American Express and American Airlines but really what is an American? At nineteen I went to school in the Caribbean and it was explained to me by a Panamanian and Venezuelan that geographically there is not one America – but three Americas. There is North America comprised of Canada, USA and Mexico. Central America starting with Guatemala and Belize on through Panama and South America which covers everything between Venezuela to Argentina.
It was illustrated to me that we need to consider there are other Americas.
I wonder if this related to the view that the United States as a peoples host an attitude that we are the center of the universe. Is this related to the fact that most US citizens don’t have a passport and will never explore outside their birth country? Is this related to the fact as a country, we do not emphasize becoming multi-lingual? Is this related to the fact that when Jay Leno does his “Jay Walking Skit” and stops people on the street, some cannot identify the United States on a map of the world?
I wonder if this is why, Canadians don’t seem to like the United States? Ever see Canadians travel? They have a Canadian flag on everything. When I was traveling with a British friend in Asia I asked him about it and he said, “Canadians don’t want anyone to think they are from the United States”!
So I ask you, while watching the current Olympic games, who are you cheering for Team USA or Team America? I will close with a little fun fact; the Olympic Rings logo created in 1912 represents the five continents of the world: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Henk B. Rogers
I had the pleasure to hear Henk B. Rogers speak at the November 2009 Annual Association of Fundraising Professionals Meeting. Among his accomplishments, Henk heads the Blue Planet Foundation which is dedicated to change our world’s energy culture. Their mission is to adopt programs to implement clean, efficient and renewable energies.
Henk was born in Holland and moved to the United States at six years of age. He told the audience that he learned English from watching Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Henk also lived and worked in Japan for many years and eventually introduced the video game Tetris to the world. He made his millions, sold his company and had a heart attack during a golf lesson at the Waialae Country Club. Henk shared that on the operating table; he asked himself “what have I actually done in my life?” By most accounts he was a huge success, but he realized that he was not ready to go. He re-dedicated his life to contribute to humankind. Henk discovered his new four missions in his renewed life: 1) Reduce Carbon Based Fuel 2) End War 3) Investigate Mars as a “back up” for Earth 4) Try to determine when the universe will end.
Henk added that the number 4 mission is the most important, because if the world ends Thursday all the other missions don’t matter and he will go to the beach and surf. In closing, Henk encouraged the audience to identify their own personal mission in life and to write two obituaries. One obit for how our life really is now if we were to die tomorrow. And one obit for how we would freely dream our life to be. (Photo: Blue Planet Foundation).
Driving in the bustle of downtown Honolulu traffic, it is hard to imagine over 100 years ago one of the best watermen on the planet lived on the busy city corner of King and Bishop streets. Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was born in 1890 at his family home. Duke was named after his father, who originally received the name “Duke” by a member of Hawaiian Royalty, after they received a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh.
Kahanamoku spent his youth growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki (where the Hilton Hawaiian Village now stands). It was at Waikiki Beach where he and his brothers developed their love of surfing and swimming. Unthinkable today, Duke surfed boards constructed in the style of the traditional ancient Hawaiians. These massive surfboards were made of wood, were sixteen feet long and weighed about 100 lbs. As if it wasn’t challenging enough, these huge heavy boards had no fins.
That's a Long Board
Duke’s athletic abilities were unmatched as he won countless amateur swim meets in Honolulu. He went on to become a member of the US Olympic team, winning 3 Gold and 2 Silver medals. Between Olympic competitions, Kahanamoku traveled to Australia and California to give swimming and surfing exhibitions. It was during this period that he dazzled spectators and popularized the sport. Thus becoming the “Father of Surfing”.
Sadly Duke passed away in 1968, but his rich legacy lives on. I encourage you to pay homage to his statue in Waikiki. It showcases Duke standing in front of his surfboard with his arms outstretched. Many honor him by placing leis on his statue. I would then suggest a stroll over to Duke’s Canoe Club & Barefoot Bar to enjoy the ocean view and historic surfing photos of Duke and his brothers. Raise a glass to the surfers in the same Waikiki waves the Duke himself made famous and toast this true Hawaiian waterman that “Surfer Magazine” hailed as the surfer of the century. (Images: Surfer and Wikipedia)