November 30, 2015

A brilliant sunrise in Vancouver

The recent cold weather in Vancouver has produced some amazingly beautiful sunrises.

Early morning cloud on November 22nd gave way, ever so slowly, to a wonderful vivid sky.

Temperatures have been below freezing most mornings and this day was no exception, but as the sun rose, the air warmed and all was right with the world.

All these photos were taken from Queen Elizabeth Park, looking east towards Mount Baker.

Photos were cropped but otherwise unedited.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

November 17, 2015


Last Saturday night we went to the final Vancouver presentation of Nirbhaya at the York Theatre. The play, by the South African playwright and director, Yaël Farber, is extraordinary.

Nirbhaya weaves the story of the Delhi bus rape that shocked the world, with the personal stories of the five women on the stage, all survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

On the night of December 16, 2012, a young woman and her male friend were returning home after seeing the film, Life of Pi. They boarded an off-duty charter bus. There were only six men on the bus, including the driver. Soon after boarding, the male friend was beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious. The woman, was beaten with an iron rod, tortured and raped repeatedly by the six men.

According to the police, the young woman tried to fight off her assailants. After the rapes and beatings ended, the attackers threw both victims from the moving bus. Sixteen days later, Jyoti Singh Pandey died. She was 23 years old.

During the last days of her life, Jyoti was given the name Nirbhaya by the Indian media. Nirbhaya means fearless, and the five women who tell their stories in this play are also fearless. One of them, Pamela Mala Sinha, is a Canadian actress and writer, tells of how she was raped in Toronto twenty years ago by a stranger. Her story reminds us that this play is about women and not about India.

The men who raped and killed Jyoti Pandey were arrested, charged and convicted. As a result of her murder, and in the wake of mass demonstrations across the nation, the Indian government developed a policy of zero tolerance for violence against women. They promised to strengthen the justice system in cases involving crimes against women. However, all the men who raped and abused the women in the play remain at large.

Nirbhaya is not an easy play to watch. The stories are raw, harrowing and without happy endings. On this last night of the Vancouver run, the audience was often incredibly silent, save sniffs, sobs and tears.

Nirbhaya ends with each of the women standing up, saying her name and raising a hand in the air. They did not look like victims, instead strong, defiant and fearless.

The play forces us to look. We are called to bear witness. We cannot turn away. And silence is not an option.

Nirbhaya was presented in association with Amnesty International and its Action Network for Women's Human Rights.

Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

November 16, 2015

The Buzz Café & Espresso Bar

At the corner of Homer and Smithe in downtown Vancouver resides Harrison Galleries.  Established in 1958, the gallery remains family-owned and operated. It is spacious, relaxing and inviting, and a delight to wander any time, any day.

Harrison Galleries represents nationally and internationally recognized artists, including the amazing landscape photographer, Steven Friedman.


The gallery is also home to a unique café called The Buzz. Fine coffees from 49th Parallel are blended with the ambience of outstanding Canadian art. Panini, wraps, bakery items, soup and several gluten-free and vegan items. are available for lunch.

Seating is available in the café itself, but the gallery beckons and provides a simple pleasure unavailable in other coffee shops.

This place is wonderful.

Photos by Jeem
(except photo above by Marc Smith). 
Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

The Buzz Cafe & Espresso Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

November 14, 2015

Je suis parisien

The terrorists did not target symbols of the French state, nor of the republic's military might. They did not even target tourist spots.

The terrorists attacked places where ordinary people, mainly young and anti-racist, come together to enjoy themselves, to laugh, drink and eat.

The terrorists also targeted the Stade de France, the amazing football stadium in the north of Paris. The Stade is home to the national team, Les Bleus, and the team's noir, blanc et beur players are a reflection and proud symbol of modern French multiculturalism.

Charles, Jeem, Anne-Kim. Leila et Sherry on our last night.

When I heard the news of yesterday's attacks in Paris, I thought of our month-long sojourn in Paris earlier this year, and especially of our friends at Le Brio, the café at the end of our street. Almost every morning for a month, I started my day with un café et un pastis s'il vous plaît

At night we often stopped there for a digestif before heading home. In a sense, as best can happen when one spends a month in a neighbourhood, we came to know the regulars of Le Brio. The owners, Fabian and Leila rarely took a day off; Fabian worked the days and Leila worked the evenings. The teen-aged bartender, Charles, always greeted us with a smile. We talked of things Canadian with Anne-Kim, the young student from Quebec, who worked at Le Brio while continuing her studies in Paris. In the mornings we were greeted with café, often without asking, by Camille or Aurélie.

When I think of what happened yesterday in Paris, I think of Le Brio, and how the attacks could have happened just as easily there, in the 18e arrondisement, or anywhere else in the city. These were not attacks with political designs, but of terror as an end in itself. These were despicable attacks against the values of pluralism, diversity and communauté.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis parisien.

Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.