Monthly Archives: May 2010

OMG moments !!!

I have said many times that “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take…but the number of moments that take our breath away”. An OMG-moment is one of those moments. When a variety of things align in a way that produces the inner-WOW in our brain. When our eyes capture images that the brain finds hard to believe. My little village & this island in general, has a habit of giving me these OMG-moments. It kind of feels like it walks up behind you, when you least expect it and taps you on the shoulder saying “hey you… you think you’ve seen it all huh? well have a look at this….” !

And then… the very next morning I woke up, made a coffee… walked out to the veranda and saw this:

The ship entering the caldera is the Westerdam… a frequent visitor to our island and a beautiful ship to watch as it glides past (believe it or not there is a huge difference watching the various large cruisers as they sail past the house… not just in noise levels but also sheer presence on the water). The Westerdam is a “very” elegant lady and almost totally silent. On this particular morning the water was like glass… as this magnificent ship entered what must be the best natural port for large ships anywhere in the world (certainly the most spectacular views offered to passengers). The view sailing past Oia at sunrise…for those passengers smart enough to be awake for it… must be magical. I could clearly see flashes going off just I was taking photos of the ship… so at least a number of them were awake to witness this amazing visual feast.

It was an incredibly privileged experience to be a witness to these different…but equally mesmerising moments in time on the island that seems to make a habit of offering these OMG moments to me.

Hope you enjoyed the images as much as I enjoyed capturing them ~

PS: On both occasions I had to use the iPhone to capture the images…just imagine what they would look like with my normal cam… but alas, my trusted Pentax is broken (if you know of a Pentax executive out there… or a marketing exec from another quality camera brand… let me just say that this is a good cross-promotional opportunity for them ).  Nuff said ;-)

The little book of pleasure…

It’s 6pm local time on a Friday… after an 80+ hour working week I board my flight home and take my seat by the window. The hostess comes over with the usual “Good evening Mr E… how was your week?” – “Fine thank you”… smiling at her as she hands me my glass of ice water and I hand her my jacket. This is a well rehearsed routine for both of us. With a few exceptions for holidays we have both done this particular flight every week for a very long time. Almost four years in fact. Within a minute or so she is back… excusing herself as she hands me two pillows. I reach down into my trusted old carry-on bag and pull out my favourite travelling companion… place my two small pillows against the plane window and rest my head slowly against them. As the side of my face sinks into the soft pillows I randomly open a page and read the quote on it: ”  Put your lips to an Italian” – Savour a delicious gelato as you melt in the sun… and imagine yourself on Italy’s Amalfi coast on a Sunday !

I put my tiny book away…close my eyes and allow my mind to experience the delightful pleasure of dreaming about lemon gelato whilst on the beach in Positano… at sunset. A smile comes across my face as I gently drift into my own mental bliss.

This is not a scene from a movie or something I dreamed about. This happened for years… and years. The flight I mentioned was one of a few each week… but it was the one I enjoyed the most because it was the last flight home each week. A three hour flight which would’ve been unbearable without my well rehearsed zen routine.

The point here is not to put you off flying… although I would advise you to avoid it like the plague unless it’s taking you on holidays. My point is that although to many it may seem somehow glamorous to be flying a great deal…or simply travelling a lot, I can assure you it’s not fun. Every frequent flyer has his or her own way of coping and trying to make it as bearable and/or comfortable as possible. Some drink (make that a “lot” of them drink), some watch movies, do puzzles, talk to anyone that wants to listen, listen to music, read or pull out some work and try to catch up. On most of my weekly flights “work” was the preference for me… but not on Friday nights. That was my “pleasure flight”… the going home flight – although I have always done the same thing on my way to any situation where I knew there would be confrontation of any kind… be it meetings, negotiations or just ugly scenes for whatever reason. This routine was my way of escaping into my own world… my own mind-scape. No need for expensive gadgets…no need for hoping for a good movie… no need for alcohol or big heavy books. Just my little book of pleasure and my mind.

The point is…it doesn’t take much. There is no need for elaborate rituals, expensive toys or copious amounts of alcohol. All you need to escape into another world of pleasurable thought… is, funny enough, your mind… and a stimulus. For me the stimulus was a ridiculously small book called “the little book of pleasure”… by Paul Wilson. It is about the size of two business cards… small enough to carry anywhere, at any time. In it are about 80 tiny pages with a single thought/quote on each. I have always just randomly opened it and read whatever I landed on… occasionally repeating the process until I landed on something that brought a smile to my face. Then I was off in my own little world.

Let me read you some other quotes from it…

“Give thanks to worms” – wear good quality silk next to your skin and every movement becomes an act of pleasure !

or

“Have your wine salted” – Unwind with a glass of fine wine in a bath of mineral salts… sip the wine as you close your eyes and lose yourself in the bath!

See what I mean? I have been known to be asleep reading that last quote before the plane even takes off. Head on pillows… two second read… eyes close and dreaming begins. That simple !

Needless to say that you don’t need to be flying to do this. You can do it anywhere, anytime. It takes a little discipline to get into the habit of believing that something that simple can work for you… but trust me, your mind is the best gadget ever invented. All it needs is some instructions and the time to produce the most incredibly revitalising thoughts for you. You don’t even need a little book… just the self discipline to be able to think of something that would give you pleasure… and let your mind do the rest. It is the simplest… yet most rewarding skill you can ever develop. Don’t wait for travel… get into the habit of doing it daily at home or even work during your brake. It gives you the freedom to be anyone, feel anything or be anywhere… including Oia ;-)

PS: “The little book of pleasure” is probably out of print now… but I am sure there are thousands of sites on line that would provide the same kind of thing. I’m sure there would be hundreds of little books that have also been published since then. It’s getting into this simple habit that’s the important thing… the things to think about are limitless ;-)

Dream restored… as it should be !

It’s later than 10pm… the car is cruising along the narrow cliff-top road to Oia, while every muscle seems to be screaming with pain…. or maybe it’s extreme soreness. After a loooong hard day I’m looking forward to a hot shower and a long sleep. The high-beam is washing across the cliff face as I drive along the familiar road to the little village I call home. It’s a winding road which during the day  is as spectacular as any on this planet… if not more so. But darkness is a great equaliser… all you can see is what your headlights light up and the Santorini rock formations at night can make you feel like you are on another planet.

Suddenly there is a silhouette… a young Japanese guy walking along the side of the road… hood over his head and a look of frightened despair on his face. Every local knows what this image means… this is a tourist who has either run out of petrol or his hire car has broken down. The brain takes a second or two to process the image when a couple of hundred metres further along another… even more disturbing image appears. A young Japanese girl standing in front of a small car… arms folded and looking very distressed. The car was in front of the “wall of love” – the wall of black volcanic pumice on which young lovers stop and write their names with white pebbles. The look on her face said it all… she was scared and concerned about her companion. As my car took the wide corner in front of her she literally looked  like a rabbit caught in the head lights.

I stopped the car and started to reverse… keeping an eye in front of me as I was now on the wrong side of the road. When I was finally in front of her I asked if she was ok… and if the guy I saw on the road was with her? She nodded nervously and  in very poor English said that the car was “stuck”. Without really thinking I suggested that she come in the car so we can go and get her companion… immediately realising how ridiculous that must have sounded to her. Its pitch dark… some guy pulls up and asks you into his car… absurd.

I suggested that she wait in her car while I go back and pick up her companion. Her eyes wide open… she nodded as I took off to find the hooded young samurai. I didn’t have to look for long as instinct or the realisation that he was a very long way from help had made him turn back towards his car and his girlfriend/new wife. I picked him up and we were soon discussing how their car happened to be stuck in very soft pumice stone. Putting my headlights on their car we realised just how hopelessly stuck they were.

An interesting discussion followed… how we can best dislodge this car from the black pumice that had claimed the front right wheel. Soon we were both under the car trying to remove as much pumice from either side of the wheel… following which I suggested we tie a rope to their car and mine…as I tried to reverse them out of the hole. The young samurai was quickly under both cars tying the rope and giving me hand signals that everything was ready. He got in his car as I started to rev up mine and slowly trying to reverse. My head lights happened to catch the profile of the Japanese girl… hands together in Buddhist prayer… finger tips under her chin. The wheels spun as the rope stretched… the young girls eyes wide open as she watched their car starting to move. After what seemed like an eternity… through a cloud of dust, their car moved back and out of the foot-deep hole it had dug itself into.

Japanese girl claps… jumps up and down and says something to the young samurai, who gets out of the car, signals two thumbs up and proceeds to untie the rope at both ends. He hands me the rope through the window and I proceed to move my car out of the way. I got out and looked at the hole their tyre was in… realising these young people would’ve spend the night here if they hadn’t got help. I got back in my car and turned around… my headlights catching the young couple looking a little confused that their helper was seemingly running away. I leaned out of my window and wished them a “safe” holiday as I drove off… the last image my head lights caught was a beautiful pair of young Japanese people bowing in unison as I drove off. The trip to Santorini was probably a life-long dream for one or both of them… yet an innocent stop at the wall of love had probably created a scary couple of hours for them. Now they were on their way back to their hotel…their holiday/honeymoon dream restored. As it should be !

PS: I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while… the new Aegean Designs shop has been keeping me very busy for the past three weeks. It’s small but very cute… and I’ve had a fantastic time creating all the hand-made fittings in it. More soon ;-)