The Dead Sea Captain

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  1. The Dead Sea Captain
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The bill sometimes was referred to as the Waxman-Markey Bill, after its authors. Their initials, of course, are…. Permalink November 1st, I am a social science researcher focused on political ecology and critical development in India. I'm also a dive geek who is semi-militant about bike riding and tree planting. In and , I spent 13 months on a Fulbright-Nehru fellowship assigned to an Indian government institute, where I conducted research, formulated methodology and designed a very large-n household survey.

Following my Fulbright fellowship, I consulted for environmental and research NGOs — mostly focused on study of rural coastal and marine spaces — until beginning my PhD in August I previously earned a master's from American University in global environmental policy and a bachelor's from the University of Illinois in journalism.

I have worked as a political and international journalist in the US and abroad. I've also spent significant time teaching, volunteering, bumming, diving and globetrotting. This blog is a journal of professional observations, bits of work, personal anecdotes, random missives, photos, slice-of-life moments, kitchen experiments, underwater encounters, and tales of travel.

I posted most regularly from late to early These days it runs in fits and starts. Reading List Newspapers, magazines, journals: If only they had a real dartboard! What a month it has been!

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It started on my Birthday when I received the best gift possible from the Universe: Every day was 22 degrees give or take a degree or two. After the long dark winter, it was like a deserved holiday. I would busk and gig to get enough geld and just meander around the city that was coming to life in the sun. I would walk and if a light turned green — I would cross. I would go wherever my feet wanted to take me. I would find an U-bahn and jump off when I felt it.

Sitting in the parks and streets with beautiful people having random conversations about all sorts, seeing music on the streets and in the bars, practising my palm reading; I was shining and smiling like the sun. There are signs and omens everywhere telling you what your instinct already knows. You just have to tune in to them and go with it; trust that gut instinct and put your life in the hands of a greater power. It is like having faith in the random button on your playlist.

The Dead Sea Captain

Sometimes the songs that come on are so perfectly timed and just what you wanted to hear. Press the random button on yourself and see where it takes you! Drift with the flow and the motion. The studio is taking shape so nicely now, and I am so proud and happy to have my little creative space here in Berlin. Here, I can be a full-time busy artist. Every day I am listening to music, busking, writing, drawing, playing piano, playing guitar, mooching the second hand shops, finding music in the streets and bars and bettering and learning about myself as a person.

It was quite hard to busk in the U-bahns where there is no night or day, just a dusty wind and yellow light. Everyone would pass in their summer clothes carrying crates of beer and I would make a little hatful and get out and join them. I also neglected the studio work, as the last place I wanted to be on a sunny day is the studio with headphones on and curtains closed.

I know I said I would release and finish the album by the 5th of May; which is an importantly symmetrical date to me, but, naaaah. I am going to take another month or another year if I need to.


I have the songs, and it is a nice capture of where I am, but I will take some more time and not rush it out for the sake of finishing it. But it will be done within Spring, maybe, as will the documentary. But for now I am just enjoying going with the rhythm of the city and enjoying myself after the Winter.

But mostly playing piano and singing my heart and guts out. I practise vocalising for about an hour each day and it starts to feel like a drug. You get a bit high from the oxygen exhaling in the notes and the piano. I have got a good 40 minute set of songs I am playing nicely on the piano with good dynamics, might even take it busking one day soon.

But I am back in a good busking rhythm now after that little holiday and saving some geld and getting back to being productive again. But, I almost miss Winter in a way. When it is sunny out, I am like a dog staring out the window, itching to get out. And also, In Winter the Ubahns are more inviting than being outside. The other day was a lovely rainy day, so I just stayed in the studio writing. I am becoming more and more detached from the digi world. I think the internet has a great way of connecting us, but so does the universe and the rhythm of life. I keep a toe in the digi world, but mostly live in real time with real conversations.

It takes so much energy to send a text and emails. I have never owned a smartphone and probably never will. What a suction of your senses them things are. Sometimes I watch some vids on the tube and never feel satisfied or feel like I retain the information, but when I read I am transported to another place and my head is filled with wonderful words and stories. I have always loved to read, but being here in Berlin, like in many other aspects, it has excelled massively and I am devouring books like never before.

I love the classic novels mostly. I rarely read any modern books. I read a few Murakami books. Which, I enjoyed; even though there was no resolve in the ending. Every other sentence was what he was listening to and what he was drinking. I found it quite pathetic and irksome and tedious; he lost me after that one. I prefer the old stuff, in music, in clothes, in books, in art. I live in my own little bubble. I love to wear a suit and be a gentleman. Drink a decade old whiskey and smoke a fat cigar. I just love to be in this exhilarating city and feel a part of it.

I am so happy because I am so free. Wealth can destroy a soul, just as poverty can. I never let money rule my decisions and I just let it pass through me. I will just keep on keeping on, feeling truly alive and riding this wondrous and mysterious ride we call life. Thursday, 22 March Frank Zappa Strasse. It has been nine months since I got the keys to my very own creative space here in Berlin.

It was a bare room with just a drum kit and a smell of neglect when I got it. The moment I got the keys I went in there and sung praises at the very top of my voice promising to make it into a cosy beautiful place and sowing such good vibes of positivity and appreciation. That first night I slept there I just used my guitar case as a pillow and lay there feeling so thankful that after 5 years of travelling and living out a bag and suitcase I finally had a little space of my own.

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Bit by bit I would get things for the place. A little coffee table and some lamps and some rugs and then came one of the funniest experiences in getting a couch for the place. On the Free Your Stuff group this lovely lady was giving away all her furniture and I seen that the sofa bed she had posted could be the perfect addition for the studio. I asked my buddy Greg if he could help me move it and we showed up at the place to pick it up. It looked quite light on the photos and then when I tried to lift it I realised it was going to be a bit trickier than first expected.

It must have weighed over kilos, it had a solid wood and steel frame and was a huge task for even two people to lift it. By the time we had made it out the apartment and onto the street we were already dripping with sweat and tired. Greg lived not so far away, so the bag of lamps and rugs we had also picked up I told him to drop at his and pick up the trolley of mine I had left there. As we were struggling lifting and rolling it across the cobbled pavements and kerbs two Turkish guys from a removal shop nearby came and gave us a God-send of a gift which was two flat pieces of wood with strong wheels to float it on.

Whilst Greg went to get the trolley I headed for the Ubahn with the thing on the two wood carriers. I managed to make it about two hundred metres before Greg got back with the trolley. The U-bahn station was close and the trolley was not so much better as we had to lift it vertical and balance it slightly tilted. We took the train and it was two stations to the S-bahn, where, sadly, the elevator was out of use. We carried the thing up and made it to the platform going about 6 stations to Landsberger Allee. This is where we would need to take a tram about 6 kilometres but by this time it was 5pm and peak time on public transport.

There was only one option — to walk the 6 km to the studio. Greg had a smartphone so could navigate the way and I pushed and pulled and lifted and struggled and there were times when I thought it would end up in a ditch somewhere and I would give up, but I persisted proudly and kept believing. I had only eaten an egg the whole day and was shaking through fatigue and hunger. Somehow we had made it 4. We succeeded and caught a nice ride to the final furlong.

Just as we got about 2 hundred metres away from the studio the wheels of the trolley buckled and bent and then fell off. We had to use the wood wheels for the last part and as we got to the Getranke Hoffman I beseeched Greg to go and buy 2 Kindls, which he did and then we carried it to the studio where, as expected, the lift was out of service. Up the four flights of stairs I nearly collapsed and gave in, those final few steps took everything out of me, but I did it!

Exhausted and empty I screamed in victorious joy and set the couch down, which was by now coming apart at its hinges, we drunk a beer and rested. It had taken us 6 hours and I still had a desk and a chair to pick up from two different sides of town. I managed to pick up the chair and then the desk I got the next day, but by now the studio was starting to come to life. I put a lot of my pictures up on the wall and then procured a kettle and some other bits. I had found these old PC speakers at a flea market and rigged them up and they sounded quite nice, but I was dreaming of a stereo amplifier with some nice speakers.

Then, one night when I got to the studio what did I see lying in the hall but a Stereo Amplifier! I hooked it up and it sounded great.

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The next thing I needed was like a unit with drawers and shelves and stuff. One night I was leaving I went down the stairs and found one in the hall! It fitted like a glove and so I started to build my book collection to fill the shelves and also picking up more bits and pieces from flea markets and the free your stuff group. I share the room with a very lovely guy called Daniel who is a great drummer and he has been so kind and understanding with me filling the whole place and just leaving me be.

It has excelled my development as an artist in so many ways and is another reason why I love Berlin so much. It has brought out the best in me, I have given it my best and I am so happy and thankful to be here. I was going to write more about the life at Zappa Strasse but I think this constitutes a nice chapter in itself.

It has been a year and three days since I got back from the desert and started to rebuild myself in Berlin. Looking back it has been a beautiful year. I have truly fucking lived. Gone from my highs to my lows and savoured every single day and season. I suppose a year in reflection would start something like this When I got back - I was a mess. I had no self confidence and was missing my busking and travelling partner.

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  7. I was drinking so much and really trying to crack my voice — singing old Louis Armstrong songs at midnight in the U-bahns with some Kotti hash and a few pilseners for a few coins was my routine. I preferred it when there was no one there. When the U-bahns are quiet it is bliss. And then, when people approach from the departing trains you feel more conscious that you are playing for people.

    What I really needed was a place to practise and sing my heart out and that was to come, but before that were a few months of doubt, decadence, desperation and then deliverance. My friend Linda always hosts these wonderful Spring parties on her beautiful terrace in Prenzlauer Berg A very hip and lovely part of town where Mauer Park is. I think it was about May that I showed up slightly late as I had a slight diversion to Kottbusser Tor and when I arrived as usual was greeted and met by a beautiful and eclectic bunch of Berliners.

    I told stories and ate burgers roasted ravishingly under a Spring-time sky. I met a guy called Philip who plays the cajon and we ended up having a great jam with a guitarist that night. He tuned in to all the songs and really lifted them with passion. The guitarist who joined us was adding a great touch also, though slightly unable to keep up with the changes it was a great sound, and after playing for a few months on my own in the U-bahns, it felt so wonderful to jam with people again. Phil and I kept in touch and I said he should come and join me busking at the markets.

    His job is not only to play Cajon, but also to book and arrange gigs at Markets! We did a lovely busk at the market and not only was he great at playing the orange box, he had a great drive and momentum that I really appreciated. He would urge us to go further inside and play at certain spots, which we did and did great with. He believed in me and us and it was a great lift to my spirits.

    With his Market connections he arranged us a handful of well paid gigs at the road show he organizes. I felt if we could get a good guitarist, we could make a great show. I was only about to meet the best guitarist in the world. I posted an ad on Craigslist as you do saying I am forming an old Folkswingblues band am looking for a versatile guitarist who can join us for these approaching gigs.

    Louis Fernandez got in touch and we met for a beer at Boxhagenerplatz. Sometimes you feel you meet people that you have known your whole life but have never met before. We had a great chat and I told him to come and join us busking this Friday night. A fight broke out behind us by a couple of junkies so we watched the show and then parted ways. So the three of us busked that Friday for the first time and Louis astounded both of us. I think we made about 6 euroes each, but all three of us went away feeling like we had had a great jam.

    We had a great chemistry between us and Louis was playing such dirty solos that we really stood out and sounded fucking great together. I was cracking my voice so well and really expressing myself purely and happily. It was a great time.