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Reverb 10: Travel

December 22 – Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Buenos Aires December 18-638/365 Buenos Aires - Recoleta

This one is fitting.
I am writing it from El Calafate, Argentina. In Patagonia.

This is the third trip I've taken this year on a plane. I usually am a solo traveller, but this year I made an effort to travel with other people.

I went to NYC with a new friend over Easter weekend.

NewYork2010- Brooklyn Bridge

I went to Iceland in May with a friend and my cousin

Iceland Day 3-1

I am currently in Patagonia with a friend I have not really known very long in person.

I travel a lot. I am generally an efficient, experienced traveller. I tend to have my shit together. I look for travel partners with those same qualities. But the people I travel with are never as experienced when it comes down to the details of making a trip "happen". They depend on me a lot... Look to me to make decisions..

And that can sometimes piss me off.

I sometimes feel like a tour guide on these trips when I just want to be a passenger.

I know I sometimes have high expectations for other peoples behaviour. But they are no higher than the standards I set for my own behaviour. They are almost always much lower.

And.. Perhaps I pay attention to, and care about things that other people do not.

So I need to change things. While I like to experience things with other people and like to have more than self portraits of myself in places - I need to set the bar higher for my travel companions. If I want to keep travelling with people.

NewYork2010-2Recoleta December 18-8-2

Maybe I should make up a questionnaire...

Are you a light packer and will you carry all your own stuff?

Are you decisive?

Are you on time for things?

Do you take care of, and pay attention to the details that are needed to be taken care of to make this trip happen? ( checking in and out of places, arranging stuff on the go)

Are you remotely mechanically inclined and have a bit of a problem solving personality?

How do you react to stress?

Can you be alone? Can you spend a whole day on your own in an unfamiliar city/country?

Are you able to give me alone time and space on a regular basis?

Can you drive, if needed? If you are even remotely afraid to drive, please say so.

Will you totally take care of yourself, within reason? (if you need my help, you need to ask)

If the shower rod falls down, what will you do?

Will you watch my back as much as you think i will watch yours?

Can you calculate a tip on a bill?

Can you be quiet and still, and not talk?

Can you read a map?

How do you cope in a place where you do not speak or understand the language?


Or maybe I should just keep traveling alone and give up.

As for the future- next year I am going to Montreal alone, and perhaps southern and eastern europe next summer.

I've barely spoken to any of the people I travelled with this year, after we got back..


Buenos Aires December 18-6-2Torres Del Paine - December 24

Reverb10 - avoidance

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)


El Chalten December 20

I am writing this from Patagonia after a day of hiking in torrential downpours and gale force winds.

I had a lot of time to think during the 6 hour hike.

About the things I wanted, and needed and what I was going to do about it all

The answer to this question is easy. I know exactly what it is. I know that I've avoided it because I've always thought I needed another person in my life to do it. At least the way I want to do it.

It is hard.

One of the hardest and most rewarding things most people say they have wet done.

And the thought of doing it alone scares me. Like, a lot. Which is why I've been trying to set my life up as ideal as possible before I do it, if I'm going to do it alone.

But my life will never be perfect or ideal.

This will always be scary.

But I still don't know if I can do it ... Alone.


El Chalten December 21-3

Reverb10 Friendship

I wrote this on the first leg of my flight.

Prompt: How has a friend changed your perspective on the world?


I have gone on a lot of dates. More than most people. But I've never really talked to someone I was not on a date with, or dating... About dating.

I think most of us think that the way we view the world must be similar to the way other rational people do. But The more people I meet the more I realise how different perspectives and expectations can be.

I've been talking to one friend about dating (not each other, just the process). What we look for, what matters, what does not.

Admittedly this friend has been on far fewer dates than I have.. But the basics of what we are looking for are similar on many levels .. With a few glaring exceptions.

They have a very firm stance on the physical attractiveness of anyone they will even consider going on a date with.

As in... The other person has to be hot. Not average. But hot. hot.

Sure, we all have 'types', whether we will admit it or not, but I honestly thought that after a certain age most people let that hotness stuff go. That other qualities become more important. That attraction is based on more than looks and we realise how attractive ;and Hot) a brilliant personality can be..

But wow. I was so wrong.

And I could write far more about the possible reasons for making something so superficial so important.

But I won't :)

We are friends... And we get along great. But I don't think we will see eye to eye on this point fir a long time.



Reverb10 #14 - 5 Minutes

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010


Whoa. If I did this honestly this would likely end up being a very personal post that I would not want to share with the world.

An excellent exercise.

I think that I will do this and write this - for myself and not publish it here.


Reverb10 #14 - Appreciate

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

(part of the reverb10 series)

I don't like this prompt. I think it's poorly worded :)

Bloor Street Camera Phone- Brandi Carlile's Bus - October 6/2010

Walmart Sunset-3 - September 30/2010


I have no idea how to narrow this down to just one thing.

I'm trying to separate appreciation from gratitude - which might help me pick just one thing - because I'm grateful for lots. And lots.

I think this prompt is meant to confuse. Well, it's confusing me :) Maybe I should not be thinking about and writing about stuff like this right before I go to bed.

Maybe my mindset is too much in a literal legal mindspace right now because of the overly legal type of day I just had.

But I'll try.

If it's just something that I've learned to appreciate I could say something like classical music, or ballet, or sunrises, or wearing big headphones instead of ear buds. Because I'm assuming it's something new, that I didn't think I appreciated before this year.

And it's hard to discern how I've specifically expressed gratitude for those things.

But I'm thankful for all of them.

Next :)


Reverb10 #13 - Action

"Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?"

30/365 - Hooded

I am all about action. I've never been one who was big on words, at least in person. Actions speak louder than words - but living that saying is a serious matter. Usually when something is stressing me out - it is due to inaction. Either on my part or someone else's. And I can usually reduce that stress by taking some kind of directed action. Facing it head on.

But we're talking about aspirations here. Not ideas.

My aspirations are all over the place. I want to be a better photographer. I want to be a better person. I want to surround myself with good people. I want to acquire various things in my life - not material things.

Just ... things.

Seth Godin wrote a great blog about ideas and where they come from. I won't rehash it here - but every point is great.

This article at Psychology Today about knowing when you've "arrived" also impacted me deeply.

I have not arrived. I am not even at the city where the arrival terminal is, yet.

But I'm so much closer than I was a few years ago. And I think I might even know how to get there from where I am.

So, what steps am I taking to get there?

With photography - I've been doing a lot more pro bono work lately. I've also been trying to teach as much as I can. I've taught a photography workshop for the past 2 summers and have never refused to answer a question someone had about photography or their camera. I've also bought and given a lot of photo equipment and gadgets away to people who especially matter to me, for various reasons.

I've never felt that showing/teaching someone else how to do something was a threat to my own photographic skill or talent. To believe that is just plain insecurity. (that's what the Psych Today blog is about)

And I want to do it more. Seeing someone else make a photograph they are happy with gives me just as much joy as making one myself. Often, it gives me more joy.

My other action-based ideas are about the things I want to accomplish in the next few years. I want more stability.

Settle down, but not settle.

I probably won't get it through my employment, but I think I can get it in other ways. Those other ways are the things that I am working on putting into place. They are mostly to do with the people in my life.

Speaking of action - I put a post on Facebook (and Twitter) today asking if anyone would be available to come with me to my dentist tonight for moral support. I have not been happy with him and he has breached a few ethical rules and legal laws. If one of my friends was to ask me for that, I'd be there if I could. Even for a stranger I barely knew.

I think a lot of people know that about me.

A friend volunteered within 30minutes of me posting it. 3 other kick-ass friends in other cities said they would if they were nearby. And I truly believe they would.

You can send all the Christmas and birthday cards and emails in the world - but your actions will always speak louder than anything you could write in those cards.


Reverb10 #10: Wisdom (wants and needs in a sometimes isolating city)

December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out. (part of Reverb10)

This topic is hard to write about right now because I am very stressed. It is hard to think about something wise I may have done in the past 49 weeks when this week feels full of stupidity and bad decisions. I am hoping the decisions I make over the next week will be the wisdom legacy I leave for this year.

But they may not. They could lead to a very stressful beginning to 2011.

So in case everything does indeed go to hell, the wisest decision I have already made so far this year, I think... had to do with the people I have let into my life, and let go of...

(continued after the photos)





This year I have reconnected with a lot of people who left my life for various reasons over the past 2 - 16 years. The circumstances and connections have been sometimes simply absurd.

People I never really knew 16 years ago are suddenly back in my life. We would not have had much in common back then - but we do now.

Other people who I cut out of my life for various reasons 2 years ago, are now back in my life. I've also ended relationships with a lot of people this year.

People change. Not always in compatible ways.

I also decided to meet a person I've known on Twitter for several years - in real life. I told them that we know far too much about each other for two people who have never met. So we met.

I met this person at a point in my life where I was feeling as if I was not connecting with anyone. Conversations were lacking interest and depth.. and I was getting frustrated with many people in my life. As I was waiting for them in a coffee shop I wrote in my journal something to the effect that I was hoping they were not going to be another lame person in my life.

And they have not been (yet :)

This person, unbeknownst to them (until, if.. They read this) restored my faith that there are people who I feel I can connect with on a similar level in this often isolating city. (that's what the photos of Toronto in this post are supposed to try to convey)

And at that time, I really needed that.

I met them right at the start of when I was making connections with people who had left my life 16 years ago. I've since formed "deeper than superficial" friendships with all of these people.

All these connections happened quickly and fairly close together.

So what does all of this rambling have to do with wisdom?

The older I get - the more I feel I am able to figure out and define what I want and what I need in my life. And the more I figure this stuff out - the more I realize how different those things are.

And I'm slowly, but surely - learning that I need to go after what I know I need. I am learning to want what I need.

I don't really *want* much in a material sense. But the things I do want do not make me happy for more than fleeting moments.

The things I need are not superficial. They are not easy. But they are worth the effort - and when my life is full of the things I need - I am closer to happiness than I have ever been.

Same goes with people - the people I (think I) want in my life, I seem to want most of them for all the wrong reasons. The people I need - they are not all easy people to have in my life for various reasons - but they have qualities that provide me with things that fill me up for more than fleeting moments.


Reverb10 #8 - Party

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

This one is easy.

It was the weekend of October 1-3, 2010.

I have a large group of friends who I have known for over half my life. Most of us met in the fall of 1989 and have remained friends ever since. I realize how rare it is to have such a group of people one has known for so long. We are all fortunate.

We rented a few chalets at Blue Mountain - we invited people. We brought musical instruments, food, drink - and no kids. 25 people showed up - most of whom married someone else from within the group.

Incestuous group. Yes, indeed :)

(...continued after the photos)







8 guitars, a bass, 2 mandolins, a didgeridoo, a ukulele, a banjo, a drum set, 10 harmonicas, hand drums, amps, effects boxes and many willing (and initially unwilling) players. One friend printed off tab music books for each instrument.

It was the first time some of the couples had ever been away from their kids for a whole weekend.

The weekend was filled with laughter, great food (we cooked and ate most meals together), much alcohol, tears, music, fantastic conversations and chemistry you can only have with people you have such a long history with.

No one was checking their email or on their Blackberries. The TV never got switched on (it was actually unplugged immediately to free up outlets to plug in instruments). We were just there to spend time with each other.

Strangers from other chalets down the street were coming by late at night to check out the music. We had an agreement with the adjoining chalet that before we called the cops on each other - we could just talk to each other about the noise. We never had to have that conversation.

It was fantastic. Easily the best weekend in the last few years of my life.

We're going to try to do it every other year from now on - because - stuff like this is important. (yes, this post is related to my previous community post and me wanting to move where I already have community as opposed to trying to create it here)


The original post is here

Here is a video from the first night when we were all trying to learn the same songs. The music is horrible :) Ignore the "shoe shot" at the end.

Reverb 10 #8 - Beautifully Different

Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Part of Reverb10)

Winter sunset on the DVP 25/365

This is hard to write about in the first person. I'm sure my friends would be much better at writing this than I would - than I am.

I can easily comment on the things that make me different. I have a much harder time assessing and commenting on the things that make me beautiful.

The older I get the less I care about what other people think. Long time friends have said that I was 40 when I was 21. Mostly in good ways, I think. I hope.

I've always admired people who could do that - live their lives by the standards they set out for themselves and to hell with everyone else. As long as they tried to meet their own standards and reach their own goals for themselves - they were doing a good job.

Usually their standards were higher than anyone else would set for them.

That's what I've tried to do. A long time ago I set some pretty high standards for myself as far as the way I want to live my life and the person I want to be. What i would and would not do. How I would try to behave and conduct myself.

And it has not been easy.

The older I get (again) the more I realize how rare that is. A lot of people try really damn hard to live up to other people's expectations of them.

November20-Four Seasons Centre

Another long time friend recently commented about people falling into holes throughout their lives. Hole = pitfall. A life lesson type of dealio.

You usually don't fall into the same hole twice. And if you do - you know better how to get yourself out. Some people need to fall into all the holes themselves firsthand. Some people can just watch the people around them all fall into same holes and realize that's not for them.

I'm more of the latter. Not to say that I don't fall into my fair share of holes - they're just usually different ones than most people I know. I intentionally put myself into situations that I know will make me uncomfortable.

Don't drink. Don't smoke.. what do you do....

Dundas_McCaul-5-2 - Feb26/2010

Another thing that other people say makes me 'different' is my career choice. The fact that I don't have a single linear career path. I took a flying leap off the corporate ladder 9 years ago and have not looked back. I work engineering contracts and take every few years "off" to do more creative things and travel. I don't think I could do one without the other. I don't need or want the security and stability in that part of my life.

But I definitely want it in other parts.

The last part of the question was about the things you do that light people up. That's easy. There are several things. I can get anyone to talk about themselves for hours - make them feel comfortable enough to want to share their life story with me.(have yet to meet anyone who can do that with me). I am told that I ask good questions.

And... I can make beautiful photos of people. Photos that other people look at and tell the subject how good they look. Photos that let people, who normally would not - see themselves as beautiful.

That's one of the main reasons I switched from landscape to people photography many years ago

- instant gratification.


Reverb 10 #7 - Community

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
Part of Reverb10


This is a big, important word for me. I know I am lacking in community where I currently am. I've lived in Toronto for over 10 years and have yet to really find, make or connect with community here. There have been flashes of it, but nothing meaningful or permanent.

I try to not get too involved in online communities - I know I need real life and leave online exchanges feeling somewhat empty.

I know a lot of people in this city. People I meet are always surprised by how many people I know - but I don't really have many deep meaningful friendships. I have piles of acquaintances. A lot of people know (of) me. I know a lot of people on a deeper than superficial level - mostly because I pay attention and ask a lot of questions.

Not many people know me.

So I'm trying to figure out ways to improve that part of my life. I'm guessing that instead of continuing to try to build it here - perhaps I need to move to where I already have it.

I don't think those who have or have always had community realize what a big deal it is.

Those of us who do not have it - we definitely know what a big deal it is.

Community can be a life saver.


Reverb 10 #6 - Make

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
Part of Reverb10

Ha. The last thing I made was yesterday. With the help of some crafty friends I made my first ever gingerbread house. It was a "chalet style" house decorated with almonds, smarties, and icing - as well as the prize inside a random Kinder Surprise egg.

Unfortunately, on the way home my house suffered a tragic mishap that resulted in the removal of a purely decorative chimney-like-structure.

But the house remained structurally sound and still, hysterically festive.

It will be enjoyed by others this weekend.

As far as something I want to make - I want to make time. I am feeling rushed right now in my life - too much to accomplish before my trip. Too much I want to do.

I suppose I need to make time to slow down, as well.


Reverb 10 #5 - Let Go

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Part of Reverb10

Toronto Sunrise 18/365

That's easy. I let go of anger from last year because it destroys you if you hold onto it.


Reverb 10 #4 - Wonder

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Part of Reverb10

This one is hard.


I think about things a lot. Introspection to the extreme.

But I think two of the biggest sources of wonder in my life this year were my niece and nephew.

There is no need to cultivate wonder when around little kids. You are surrounded by it.

Reverb 10 #3 - Moment

I am a little late to the Reverb party this year. But I'll start with #3 and try to catch up.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

I usually feel alive - but there were several moments in Iceland where I felt a heightened feeling of being "alive".

Iceland Day 3-8 Myvatn

Iceland is a powerful place. Everywhere you look there is an example of something that could potentially kill you.

One such moment was hear Myvatn. We drove up to the Geothermal power plant in a thick fog. The air was crisp and there was more snow on the ground the higher we climbed up the mountain/hill. There were no trees - the ground not covered with snow was muddy. Just a lone line of asphalt to the top.

When we got near the top we could hear a loud, LOUD noise. It sounded like a jet engine. But the fog was so dense that we could not tell where the noise was coming from - just that it was loud, and close. Iceland isn't big on warning signs, either. Was it coming from the ground? The Air? A machine? No idea. We just knew it was heartstoppingly close.

A rough video I shot at the top is here

Let's Go To the Ballet

November20- First intermission insanity

November20-Four Seasons CentreNovember20-Four Seasons Centre

November20-1-Four Seasons CentreNovember20-Four Seasons Centre

November20-Four Seasons Centre

November20-Four Seasons Centre

November20- Four Seasons CentreNovember20 Four Seasons Centre 10/365

I have a subscription to the Ballet. My seat is in the 5.1 ring at the end of row D. I wait for everyone to get to their seats at the start of the ballet and at the end of each intermission because there are no aisles - everyone enters the long long rows from the ends.

So I wait.

All of my tickets are for Saturday and Sunday matinée performances. I didn't choose these shows because I don't like to stay up late or because I don't like weeknight performances - I chose them because they are the ones that kids are most likely to attend. This weekend's performance was a brilliant hilarious interpretation of Cinderella.

And there were Lots of Kids.

Kids who get excited about dancing - and who gasp and ask questions during the performance. Kids who show up in mini ball gowns and costume. Kids who dance in the aisles during intermission.

Kids who race each other up the long staircases during the intermission - like those bottom two... while their parents caffinate.

I saw them gearing up to run and composed my photo - then waited for them to "run into the frame". I'm a superstar at waiting...

I spent all three intermissions people watching in the beautiful glass atrium. The building, itself - is fantastic. Serious engineering went into isolating the building structure from the surrounding subway and streetcar noise and vibrations. It is built on top of millions of rubber "hockey puck" like forms in order to dampen the TTC vibrations and noise - yet it is also physically attached to the subway. The original intention of the design was to make the acoustics so perfect so as to not need any amplification for the Opera... A la the Vienna Opera House.

There are a few notes attached to those photos on Flickr. There is a lot going on in each of them - if you look closely enough.

That bottom photo is during the third intermission. There were huge line ups for drinks during the first intermission (previous photos), less for the second.. almost none for the third.

Probably because people realized that $4 for a bottle of tap water was an absolute rip-off and they weren't that thirsty after all.


Three Six Five

I've always thought of doing a Project 365 Photography Challenge - one photo a day for a year. Goodness knows I shoot close to that without having a challenge tell me to do it.

I kept trying to think of an angle to make it a bit challenging and interesting for me. Force myself to work under some pre-determined constraint and in the process become a better photographer.

I thought of doing self portraits, or making every photo at F9.0 - something I rarely do. I usually shoot with my lens wide open.

And while I was doing all of this thinking... days were passing by.

Too Thinky.

So I decided to just get on with it.

The only constraints I placed on it were that I had to make every photo with my $120 discontinued Point and Shoot Camera and I had to try and make each photo tell a story of a day in the life of me.

Here are the first four. I'll tell you the stories for these few, but don't get used to it. I started this on November 11, 2010 - and I will end it on November 11, 2011 - 11/11/11.

No, it was totally unintentional.

Day 1/365
Remembrance_Humber- 1/365

I went for a long walk with another photographer friend along the waterfront on Remembrance Day. We wanted to catch the afternoon light - and the sunset did not disappoint. We ended the evening resting our feet and laughing our faces off over dinner on West Queen West.

Day 2/365
FogTO 2/365

It was a foggy, foggy day in Toronto on Friday. Like, crazy fog. I got on the subway in sunlight north of the city - when I got downtown it looked like late evening due to the fog. But way up in the sky I could see signs of the blue sky I saw before I came downtown.

Day 3/365
Butler's Pantry view of Roncy 3/365

I spent Saturday on Roncesvalles. Coffee, Brunch, Wandering. Roncy is a mess these days with the construction and many once-popular shops unable to survive with the drastically reduced pedestrian traffic. I had brunch at Butler's Pantry and took off my $30 prescription glasses from Pakistan. I've bought all my eye glasses from this place for the past 5 years. In Canada, my -6.0 astigmatized glasses cost around $250-$300. I can get 10 pairs for that from Goggles4U - and I don't feel so bad when I accidentally sit on a pair.

Day 4/365
The View From Here - 4/365

Today was my first lame day. I spent most of the day on the computer editing photos and staring out my huge window to relieve my eyes. I bought my place years ago because of the awesome view. I have huge windows that face south over the Humber River. I'm on the top floor of a 19 floor building, at the end of the hall. It's nice. I spend a lot of time looking out of of this window.

My computer screen and some of the artwork collected from my travels is reflected in the view.

A certain friend who is also doing a 365, but is much further along than I am, shoots photos of the contents of her purse when she gets "desperate".

I hope my window shot will not become my desperation shot.

Or maybe I'll have to buy a purse...


The whole set - as it builds and progresses.. is here. The slide show will automatically update:

Or you can view it full-screen here
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . click on any photo to view it on flickr

..all content and images copyright kanchan maharaj inHerEye photography. stealing is bad. very bad..