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Review of ‘Travels in Zanskar’

12 Apr

by Rhea H. Boyden

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‘Can I recommend a great book?’ I said excitedly to one of my colleagues at the language school last week. ‘My dad wrote it and it really is good!’ I exclaimed. My colleague looked at me with a teasing smile and said ‘This can hardly be an unbiased recommendation coming from you!’ I countered this by saying that I was arguably in a good position to give a fair judgement of the book PRECISELY because the author is my father. Given the very fact that I could cringe at something he had written, or read a joke in the book that he had already told a dozen times at the dinner table.

‘Nima gyalyung tokpo chunmo duk’ is a saying in Tibeten that I heard my dad repeat many a time when I was a kid, but I will confess that I actually never asked him what it meant. I guess it is normal when you are growing up to not show an interest in your parents’ creative pursuits. Now that I am writer myself I read my dad’s book with great awe and interest last weekend and I have now learned that ‘Nima gyalyung tokpo chunmo duk’ means ‘When the sun shines the streams come flowing’ and that this is a common greeting in the Kingdom of Zanskar in Tibet. And as I read I realise that my dad’s book really is pure poetry and there is not a word in it that makes me cringe at all. I praise it to the heavens.

My dad Mark Boyden and his friend Paddy O’ Hara hiked through Zanskar and Ladakh between April and August 1981 accompanied by a white horse which they named ‘Himself’. My dad stiched saddle bags for the horse to carry their supplies and they went off on an incredible adventure being welcomed at Buddhist Lamasaries, learning about local agriculture, customs, and acquiring an increasingly impressive command of the language which they had already swotted up on in West Cork, Ireland before embarking on the trip.

The horse becomes their companion and friend for the journey but not before it learns that it belongs to them and not to escape and wander off. My dad writes in chapter 5: ‘After four days, the morning came when, opening the tent flap, I was greeted by an abondoned tether. Paddy headed back down, and I up the valley, but when we met at noon neither of us had had any luck. Then something caught Paddy’s eye and he gestured to a tiny white speck high on the mountainside. Careful study revealed that it was in fact moving about, though by the time we gained his station and convinced Himself to rejoin us the day was done, and any progress would have to wait until another day.’

On another day my dad describes spotting a herd of yaks in the distance and he realises that this is a golden opportunity to restock their diminished supply of yak butter. My dad leaves Paddy to hike ahead and set up camp and he sets off in pursuit of the owners of the yaks. Upon reaching them, a deal cannot be struck before drinking endless cups of butter tea with them. The Zanskaris drink a tea with yak butter and salt in it which is a kind of bouillon that they drink by the bucket load to counteract the harsh and potentially dangerously dehydrating climate. My dad scores a deal and secures some yak curd to boot and after finding Paddy at the camp, proceeds to make some delicious hors d’oeuvres of apricot kernels and carrigeen moss fried in yak butter accompanied by Paddy’s delicious flat breads. I know what a fabulous gourmet cook my dad is and how he always seems to be able to whip up a delicious meal at home in Ireland seemingly out of nothing, even after I have been complaining to him that the cupboard is bare and we need to go shopping.It is clear that some of his early experimental cooking and eating was done on this trip in 1981 when he was 29 years old.

I have been writing very seriously for nearly 3 years now but because I live in Berlin I have had little opportunity to focus on descriptions of nature in my writing. Last year when I was in Santa Cruz, California I decided very consciously to become aware of my natural surroundings and try and bring these descriptions into my writing. I wrote about the crescent moon rising over the redwood grove and the chorusing Pacific tree frogs, the flowering dogwoods and azaleas, and the creature that fascinated me the most- the banana slug-which is the biggest landslug in North America. I wrote to my dad about this slug at the time and I asked him if he had ever heard of or seen this disgusting creature. Of course he had, he told me, reminding me that he had grown up in the Santa Cruz mountains.

So with my interest heightened in descriptions of nature, plants, trees, flowers, the heavens and the planets in order to improve my own writing I slowly savoured my dad’s descriptions in his book. Chapter 6 opens thus: ‘We slept through the clear, cold night and awoke to the sound of a distant avalanche. As the myriad mountains worked through a palette of dawn blushes we broke camp and headed off into the ice.’ On their travels they were constantly in search of a place to camp that held some grasses for the horse to munch and that had clean, clear water. They happen upon a willow coppice and set up camp there. Before crossing a river my dad writes that ‘there was an inviting coppice on a sun-drenched sandy shore. Forty dwarf willows had rooted and, with the season, had laid a lush carpet of down. The summer wind had strewn petals of rare briar about the down.’ This place was so beautiful that they sought it out on their return hike too and my dad writes of pulling out his watercolours to capture its beauty whilst Paddy practices his calligraphy.

And it must be added that both of my parents have always had a huge interest in astronomy. I remember my mother and my father pointing out Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn to my brother and me as children, so it comes as no surprise that my dad mentions the location of the planets and the moon throughout the book. In chapter 13 he writes: ‘Saddling up, we left Lamayuru as we found it, with a dusky Venus hanging there to the southwest to remind us we were on Earth.’ Elsewhere in the book he writes that ‘the quarter moon had cleared a lofty saddle to the south and now illuminated the barley.’

As I read the final word of the final chapter, a feeling of pride washed over me at what a beautiful book my dad has created. Its poetic vignettes are marvelous and I am in awe. And it gives me hope and inspires me for my own future as a writer. 33 years after going on this wonderful (and sometimes quite dangerous and challenging) adventure, his story has been published in a beautiful book. Sometimes good things take a long time to come into being and with writing you need time and patience with yourself. Patience my dad has proven he has in producing this gem of a book.

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher, The Liffey Press: http://www.theliffeypress.com/travels-in-zanskar-a-journey-to-a-closed-kingdom.html

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Link to Brecht-Weigel House article in Slow Travel Berlin

5 Feb

Link to Brecht-Weigel House article in Slow Travel Berlin

http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/the-brecht-weigel-haus/

Photo by Lienhard Schulz

Tour of New York Times Building

4 Jan

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last Monday morning I met my New York cousins Hilary and Kiera at the iconic New York gourmet bakery Dean and Deluca at 42nd street. ‘You have to try their delicious blackout chocolate donut’ my cousin Hilary said, ordering me one before I could refuse. We enjoyed our coffee and donuts and then came the highlight: right next door to this branch of Dean and Deluca is the New York Times building. Their cousin on the other side of the family, Lawrence Downes, is a New York Times journalist and a member of the editorial board. He had agreed to take time out of his busy workday and meet us to give a tour of the newsroom. As a budding writer and journalist myself, this was naturally a huge treat for me.

We met Lawrence in the lobby of the building next to the atrium in the middle which is open to the skies. Within this atrium grows shiny birch trees and lush green grasses. I remarked on how nice it looked and Lawrence told me that the grass that now grows there replaces the moss that had been originally planted. ‘It had turned really brown and died and was starting to look really bad’, he informed us. ‘The large glass-paneled windows are a symbol of media transparency’ he said with a smile, ‘and a view of browning and dead moss would be the wrong message to send regarding media transparency, wouldn’t it?’ he joked. ‘Let’s head to the cafeteria first, I want to invite you guys to lunch.’ He led us into the wonderful lunchroom and I decided that I would hit the salad bar to counteract my decadent breakfast of a gourmet chocolate donut eaten only twenty minutes earlier.

After lunch Lawrence took us into the newsroom. As we rounded the corner, a woman walked passed us and told Lawrence that his current article was now on the most read list and how great it was. He had just returned from taking a road trip with award- winning singer Linda Ronstadt and had  written a moving account of his time with her. The woman was his photo editor, he told us, and really great to work with. We peered down onto the main newsroom and Lawrence explained who the people were; the top editors who are in charge of what goes on the front page. They are in a fancy open-plan office and not in single room offices. The need to communicate fast with your colleagues is important here, obviously. ‘It’s pretty quiet right now’, he said ‘A lot of people are out to lunch or in meetings, but you should see it in here when a big news story breaks or when there is a disaster.’

We walked on through the open-plan offices of the arts and culture section and I smiled as I saw the piles of books these journalists had practically falling off the edges of their desks. We eventually reached the editorial boardroom where Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, John Kerry and other top politicians come in for their briefings. Right next to the boardroom is the office of Andrew Rosenthal, who is in charge of the opinion pages both in the newsroom and online. He came out and shook our hands and told us a few more anecdotes and some of the history of the New York Times.

We then looped around the rest of the op ed section and Lawrence showed us where the elevator was and informed us that he wished he had more time for us but he had a deadline to write an article and had to get back to work. I shook his hand and thanked him for lunch and for taking the time to give us a tour and how inspiring it had been for me. We then took the elevator down and went back out onto noisy and bustling 42nd street to continue our Manhattan wanderings.

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Slow Travel Berlin Guidebook Launch Party

13 Nov

Slow Travel Berlin Guidebook Launch Party

This is the lovely Berlin guidebook  I  co-authored with Slow Travel Berlin. It is available for purchase on the Slow Travel Berlin website at  http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/100-favourite-places/

Link

http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/2013/09/24/on-the-kopenhagener-strasse/

24 Sep

Kopenhagenerstrasse

http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/2013/09/24/on-the-kopenhagener-strasse/

A stroll down my street-Kopenhagener Strasse. Published in Slow Travel Berlin

Link

100 Favourite Places Berlin Guidebook

1 Jun

Book Launch Flyer

100 Favourite Places Berlin Guidebook

Here is the lovely new Berlin guidebook that I co-authored. To reserve copies follow the link.

Hike up to Twin Peaks San Francisco

28 Apr

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By Rhea H. Boyden

A couple of years ago, after a trip to San Francisco, my younger sister tagged me in a photo. I was standing on the Golden Gate Bridge and she labeled the photo ‘Twin Peaks’.  ‘Hey, that is the bridge not the hill!’ I protested. ‘I was referring to you and your nickname’ my sister joked. I laughed. What else could I do? I was not exactly flat chested at school, earning me the lovely nickname. A couple weeks ago, I was in San Francisco and the sky was beautifully clear, being it slightly before the foggy season. I had the afternoon to myself and I thought a hike up to my namesake would be wonderful as the view of the Bay Area afforded from the top is stunning on a clear day.

I was standing on Valencia Street in the Mission district, having just had a snack in the fabulous ‘Rhea’s Deli’ which has award winning sandwiches. I always smile to see that the deli bearing my real name is still there over the years. I got on the bus number 33 that wends its way up the hill and dumps you at the foot of Twin Peaks before carrying on to Haight-Ashbury. One of the wonderfully comforting things about San Francisco for me, is that an incredible number of its streets bear the first or last names of close friends and family members of mine. It always makes me smile. As I hiked up the windy road to Twin Peaks past big wild rosemary bushes, lilies, bright yellow California poppies, which are the state flower of California, the street names took on a more rural feeling.  They now bore names such as ‘Raccoon’, ‘Mountain Spring’ and even ‘Beaver’. As I continued to climb under sycamore and eucalyptus trees I eventually reached the last stretch of the bare mountain road winding  to the top.

Rhea Deli

The view was stunning and well worth the hike. It was so clear you could see off into the Berkeley Hills past the Oakland Bay Bridge and well into Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I could see a Gay Pride flag flying in the Castro District below me and look straight down the wide Market Street which leads to the Port of San Francisco. I sat at the top for about half an hour and then headed slowly back down the mountain. Some of San Francisco’s most affluent have houses on Twin Peaks whose front wall is pure glass. More than a few houses had binoculars and telescopes seemingly permanently set up on a tripod to admire the multi-million dollar view. I walked back to the bus and took it back down the hill past all the streets bearing the names of my friends and family in time to meet an old family friend for dinner in one of the many fabulous restaurants on Valencia Street. The street at the heart of the Mission District is a hopping place to spend a day shopping in its funky shops followed by a night out on the town.  A perfect afternoon and evening in San Francisco.

Lunch at Saturn Cafe-Santa Cruz

21 Apr

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By Rhea H. Boyden

 ‘Before we sit down for lunch I need to use the restroom,’ I told my dad’s old high school friend who was toting his guitar into the restaurant with him. ‘They are right there’ he pointed towards two doors. ‘Um, which one is for the ladies?’ I asked him with a smile. One door said aliens on it and the other said robots. ‘You can use either one’ he said, ‘They are unisex. Twenty years ago the toilet doors were even more confusing as to which gender they were designated for’, he laughed. ‘Back then, one door said enlightened morons on it and the other said fanatic realists.’  

When I joined my family and old friends back at our table in the café 5 minutes later they were already playing guitar and singing an old Beach Boys song. The rest of the customers and the wait staff were singing along and smiling too. ‘This is so California’ I thought to myself. When I opened the menu the first item my eyes fell on was ‘spacadillas’ which of course is a play on the word quesadilla.  Saturn Café, in downtown Santa Cruz, has a Jetsons like space décor and round lamps with rings around them to resemble Saturn. It is truly a delightful space to dine in. Funky artwork adorns the walls, the building is round with American style diner booths artfully crafted to fit the building’s shape.

The food is exquisite. It is all vegetarian using locally sourced organic produce. The owners are dedicated to sustainability and serving happy people healthy soul food.  They have kept apace with the growing demand for a healthy twist on American comfort food. Their vegetarian burger is a big hit and they cook their fries in trans-fat free oil that then gets turned into bio fuel. They have won numerous awards for their excellent food which includes organic soups, healthy scrumptious salads, vegan milkshakes and delicious breakfast burritos.  I dined on the most fantastic fresh tomato soup with dill, perfectly ripe avocadoes and freshly squeezed lemonade. And one refreshingly pleasing aspect was that the portions were not enormous, which is the case in so many American restaurants. If you are dedicated to sustainability in American dining, the first easy step you can take as a restaurant owner is to half the portion size!! (I don’t usually use exclamation points in my writing as I know it is bad style, but I think a couple are necessary here).

Perfectly sated and happy, We headed to the sunny beach with the guitar to digest our delicious meal in the warm breeze and while watching the waves crash the coast we all sang along to old Beatles songs. A perfect Santa Cruz afternoon, and a happy reunion of friends and family.

A Walk in the Woods

10 Apr

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by Rhea H. Boyden

I have been spending the past couple weeks at my mother’s lovely house in the Santa Cruz mountains, which is a fabulous predominantly second growth redwood rolling mountain range. We are nestled at the top of a canyon about 10 miles uphill from the beach and the city of Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz mountains are a fabulous rural range that are easily accessible from the densely populated San Francisco Bay area, so we are very blessed here to have such backwoods beauty so close to a metropolitan area.

My mother, stepdad, sister and a friend and I set off on a 5 mile hike through the woods and down the canyon. The ecological diversity encountered along the way was a special treat especially for a city dweller like myself. Most of the redwood forest around here are 100 year old second growth redwood or sequoia trees, as they are also known, as large tracts of the 1 to 2,000 year old redwoods were initially clear cut to build the city of San Francisco when gold was first discovered in 1848 and the gold rush began, exploding population and economic growth. The redwoods were known as ‘red gold’ and there was clear cutting across the mountains. Many more were cut to rebuild large parts of San Francisco after destruction by fire following the 1906 earthquake.

Landscape

San Francisco Earthquake 1906 Photo by George Haley

We took a trail into the woods and apart from the redwoods there are some other deciduous trees, live oaks and a red barked tree known as a madrone. I wore long jogging pants tucked into my socks as I know very well how allergic I am to poison oak which grows here everywhere. If you get the oils of the oak on your skin you can break out in a horrible itchy, pusy rash that you are not allowed to scratch even though it itches like crazy and causes extreme discomfort. When I was 17 visiting my grandparents here in California I got a horrible dose of poison oak all over my face and it swelled up and my eyes swelled shut. I spent Christmas day at the emergency room getting treated for it. It is truly horrible and I fear poison oak more than the Pacific rattlesnake who rarely shows his face here.

Because the climate is so mild here year round there is not the changing climate to support great bug and insect growth which is of course nice for us humans so that we are not eaten alive, but it also means that there are not many birds in these parts as they need insects to survive. We saw the occasional hawk circling overhead and heard the caw of a raven, but this is not a place for bird watching enthusiasts. Other parts of the U.S. are far more ideal for that. One strange creature that lives in these woods is the huge banana slug which I have not had the pleasure of seeing. It is the largest land slug in North America and is the mascot of UC Santa Cruz which I find very amusing.

Banana slug

Photo of Banana Slug by Jim Whitehead

The Santa Cruz Mountains are the perfect habitat for bears as they do not need to hibernate here, but there are very few bears in these parts. There is a scant population of black bears who keep themselves well hidden. It is presumed, interestingly that the bear population will increase here in future. Grizzly bears roamed the virgin forests here over a hundred years ago. Huge terrifying bears wandering between 1,000 year old trees, one can only imagine how different it was. The last grizzly bear was sighted in the Santa Cruz mountains in 1885. The bear made the mistake of stealing a 300 pound hog that a local rancher was fattening to sell at the fair so the rancher shot him. The bear weighed 642 pounds. One animal that does thrive in the mountains is the mountain lion. It loves the mild climate and does well here.

Mountain lions are rarely spotted by humans, but their tracks are to be seen frequently. We hiked down to a stunning waterfall which is surrounded by lychen covered rocks. I swim in the cold pool at my mom’s house and I like cold water, but the waterfall is at least 12 degrees colder so I preferred to just look at it. My sister and friend took the plunge and jumped in screaming at the cold as they did. From our vantage point they looked like two beautiful water nymphs in a classical painting. They reminded me of the William Bourgereau painting ‘Satyr and the Nymphs’ from which I got the inspiration for one of my poems. I felt it was my poem coming to life.

coyote

Coyote by Christopher Bruno

We then hiked out of the canyon and woods, which sadly still bear the scars of clear cutting if you look closely, and we entered a prairie which was dotted with live oaks, California poppies the colour of the sunset, (the State flower of California) and lovely purple lupins. We did not encounter any other animals on our day time hike, but I saw a bobcat lurking across the field the other evening and I was enchanted by it. And in the early morning mist when you hear the wild turkeys gobbling, you can run outside and catch a glimpse of the flock of six strutting across the field. They make me smile. I haven’t heard any coyotes here yet, but I have been told that they howl like banshees and I am not sure whether I really want to hear them late at night from my bed in the violin workshop where I am sleeping or if it is a pleasure I can do without.

fog SC mountains

Fog in the Santa Cruz Mountains by Elin Ruby

There used to be a lot of foxes in these mountains, but the coyotes have either scared them away or eaten them. Coyotes are not herbivores. Deer, of course, are everywhere here. And you see them frequently. I hear them walking around outside at night, but I just try and ignore them as they are pretty harmless, even though it is a little spooky hearing footsteps outside your door at night. We eventually walked back into the woods off the prairie and walked the last mile or so back to the house which is such a nice place to return too. The pond at the my mom’s is filled with koi and goldfish, and the Pacific tree frogs make an awful racket at night, but they are somewhat amusing too. We see lizards scurrying around the place and the garden has dogwood, azalea, crab apple, wisteria, lilies, sycamore and lots of other lovely plants. It is a truly lovely place to spend a few weeks out of the city.

Excursion to Mies Van der Rohe House

6 Feb

                                                                                                    By Rhea H. Boyden

Last Sunday afternoon, after having willingly spent the weekend in complete solitude reading, I set off on a guidebook writing assignment to the Mies Van der Rohe House which is in the former East Berlin district of Weissensee. As I walked down my street, feeling rather lonely and despondent on this cold, grey February day, the first thing I noticed was that yet another building on my street had been recently renovated to its core. A large sign was advertising swank new apartments for sale. A not unfamiliar surge of fear welled up within me. How much longer am I going to be able to afford to live in this gentrified neighbourhood on my relatively meager freelance income? I wondered to myself. As I rode the tram through the greyer, drabber areas of East Berlin, ever further away from the neighbourhood I call home, the fear of having to move out here made me feel even more lonely. If I had to leave my current environment that I am so comfortable in, would it affect my work and my well-being? Very likely, I concluded. I very definitely thrive in my crazy, colourful, centrally located bohemian flat, and I really could not see myself living in a highrise flat in Weissensee. Am I being a snob? I don’t think so. I am already living in a foreign country which brings hardships and homesickness enough with it, but I am at least still in the neighbourhood that my mother and sisters lived in from 1990-2001 which has subsequently become my home away from home. This is very comforting. When I finally arrived at the Van der Rohe House and entered the front door, my spirits lifted instantly. Suddenly, I was in a motivated and inspired work mode again. The atmosphere of the house was an excellent environment for research, reading and contemplation. I sat at the one table in the gallery and started reading about Van der Rohe’s philosophy on architecture. This simple L-shaped house on the shore of the Obersee was Van der Rohe’s last project in Germany before he reluctantly emigrated to the United States in 1937. He was the last director of the Bauhaus school which the Nazis deemed as ‘ungerman’ and it was forced to close down in 1933. His quest was one of simplicity and truth in architecture. Indeed, the house demonstrates his genius in using a minimum of materials to produce maximum quality in order to satisfy the needs of modern living. His intention was the eradication of the superficial and unnecessary in architecture. Sound choice of materials and structure, rather than the superficial application of a classical façade were ideas that shaped his philosophy.  The house was built in 1932 for Karl and Martha Lemke who owned a graphic arts firm and printing company. After much protest from the neighbours, who did not like the design, the simple, one-storied, flat-roofed building with its brick facade was constructed. It has huge plate glass windows that overlook a terrace and a well-landscaped lawn and garden. The terrace is at exactly the same level as the indoor rooms and so appears to be an extension of the house itself. This is very deliberate, as Van der Rohe strove to harmonise nature and architecture. The terrace and the garden serve as a wonderful extension of and  transition between the house, lake and the park beyond the garden’s boundaries. The Lemke’s lived in the house until the Red Army forced them to vacate it in 1945. The Red Army and, subsequently the Stasi, all thumbed their noses at any notion that the building was aesthetically pleasing or should be respected. Between 1945 and 1977 it was used as a garage, storage room, canteen and laundry room and it fell quite into disrepair. Eventually in 1977 it was listed as an historic building and between 2000 and 2002 it was finally renovated and refurbished to its former beauty.  It is now empty of furniture and used to display works of modern art. The works which are exhibited in the house must match Mies Van der Rohe’s dictum of ‘less is more’ and must also strive to express truth, beauty, serenity and harmony of nature, architecture and art. One of the artists who has exhibited her work in the house, is an American woman from Kansas named Max Cole. As soon as I started reading about her I was amazed at the coincidences that were made apparent to me. She says that her artwork is very influenced by her environment. The flat  and vast horizons of the Kansas plains lead to the horizontal bands and stripes in her artwork. She says that a simple dash or a stripe can signify the individual in his or her world. I  again thought about how my environment affects my work and my writing,  and I thought of my loneliness and solitude in the world. Writing is a lonely pursuit in many ways, but it is also one that has saved me after a decadent decade of alcohol and parties in Berlin. In my writing, I also search for truth, beauty, serenity and a way of connecting to the world. Is this not the goal of any art form, be it music, art, writing, poetry or architecture? These all provide a medium for connecting and expressing truth and beauty to our fellow human beings.  The buildings we live and work in, and the nature we roam and grow up in clearly all have a profound effect on our well-being and our work. I have only begun to realize as I mature, how the building that houses an artwork is as important as the artwork itself. Both must be in harmony, that is clear. I have come to hold art curators in high regard for their all-encompassing vision when planning an exhibition. I have recently been reading a lot about and by the American author and social critic David Foster Wallace. As well as being a brilliant writer who wrote the crystal clear and unapologetic truth about how he viewed society, he was also an excellent tennis player and mathematician, and he especially excelled at geometry. He, like Max Cole, lived in a very horizontal America and he was influenced by the sharp right angles of the flat streets of his Illinois hometown. In his novel ‘The Pale King’ David Foster Wallace describes life inside a huge IRS Tax building. The building is described as being ‘battleship grey’ and the lamps on the examiners desks are annoyingly placed right there where a right-handed person would need to place his elbow to take notes. The heavily made up secretary who sits there all day with hollow eyes is described aptly as looking like ‘an embalmed clown’. The people in this building must have about the most boring and life- sapping job in the United States and there is no mention of any artwork adorning the walls. Their job is to look at tax returns and decide whether an audit is necessary, no more than that. The building they are in is designed precisely for this purpose, and they are not encouraged to think outside this box or be creative in any way. There is, then, naturally absolutely no need to make this building aesthetically pleasing. Any attempt at beauty would indeed, likely be counterproductive. Sitting back in my colourful, cluttered living room, I am spending a lot of time thinking about the Van der Rohe Haus and especially some of Max Cole’s quotes. ‘The goal is clarity’ she said. Or: ‘Art is exploring universal questions’. ‘You cannot possibly speak the truth’ she claims ‘unless you have made some attempt to understand what the truth is and without being honest you just have decoration’. Indeed, the whole exhibition program in the Van der Rohe House uses architecture as its starting point and the works exhibited therein rely on reduced and concentrated forms of expression. They must be minimal. Less is more. Many of van der Rohe’s ideas ring especially clear as a good metaphor and building block for my own life at present. I have successfully shed negative influences in my life the past year using writing as a tool in my search for the truth. Just as Van der Rohe shed superficial facades from his buildings, I have shed the superficial façade that was heavy drinking. I have also shed superficial relationships and am becoming better at being alone and not feeling lonely. I just recently put all my effort into finally getting to the core of truthful issues with a man I had had a somewhat superficial chat with online for many months. I had hoped for more from him, but he was unable to reciprocate it. I am happy with how the whole issue was resolved, however, as I cut to the core and spoke the necessary truth and he responded in kind. It has proven to be absolutely liberating for me.  My research at the Van der Rohe Haus has affirmed my beliefs,  and I will continue to search for truth, beauty and core ideas in my writing, and I intend to encompass and include the surrounding architecture, art, ideas and conversations that lead to new adventures and stories daily. It is all a magical adventure and I never know where it leads.

Image is the Bauhaus Signet courtesy of Bauhaus Archive