Blog Archives

John Zada

John Zada is freelance writer and photographer based in Toronto who covers travel, culture and the Middle East. In addition to authoring "The Planisphere", he is also co-author of "Al-Bab", a cultural blog about the Middle East.

Adnan Khan on the Rickshaw Circus

March 3, 2014
Adnan Khan on the Rickshaw Circus

Canadian journalist, and friend, Adnan Khan, has been covering South Asia and Middle East for over a decade. When not traipsing around Turkey, his home turf, the Maclean’s correspondent can usually be found in Pakistan or Afghanistan working on his next feature story. In 2012, Khan took a much needed break from his reporting duties and embarked […]

Auld on Circumskiing Mount Logan

September 7, 2013
Auld on the Mount Logan Circumski

Last spring I spent a week with a group of mountaineers at a remote glacier camp in Yukon’s St. Elias Range near the base of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. Sometimes referred to as “Canada’s Himalayas”, the St. Elias Mountains (the highest in North America) sit within the largest glaciated region outside of Greenland and the […]

In Search of the Elusive Apeman of the Great Bear Rainforest

July 4, 2013
In Search of the Elusive Apeman of the Great Bear Rainforest

ONE’S FIRST bird’s-eye-view of the Great Bear Rainforest, a  rugged landscape of mossy green foliage and ocean, often comes during those rarified days of summer in which the world’s most impenetrable wilderness is laid fleetingly bare. For me, that moment came during a break in a week-long chorus of rain. I was on a de […]

Review: ‘Scorpion Soup’

April 15, 2013
Scorpion Soup

  Fast on the heels of his eerily timed epic, Timbuctoo, travel writer Tahir Shah delivers a fantastical new work of fiction drawn from the deepest wellsprings of human imagination. Scorpion Soup is a collection of stories-within-stories inspired by the Arabic masterpiece One Thousand and One Nights. The book employs a literary device known as […]

Adelard of Bath

March 15, 2013
Adelard of Bath

While he was a young man studying at the famed French cathedral school of Tours, Adelard of Bath, an 12th century Englishman of noble lineage, underwent a life changing experience. Following a lesson about star constellations given by a wise man at the academy, Adelard, smitten by what had become a huge love of learning, […]

Griffin and Tyrrell on Meaning, Mysticism and Mental Health

January 22, 2013
Triple Spiral

While in England recently I had the opportunity to meet with psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell – the originators of the Human Givens school of psychotherapy. At the core of their approach is the idea that humans, like all organic beings, come into this world with a set of needs. If those needs are met in balance, it […]

Hallak on ‘Beit Beirut’

December 8, 2012
Hallak on Beit Beirut

One of the few remaining structures bearing the scars of Lebanon’s fifteen year civil-war (1975-1990) is Beirut’s Barakat Building. This once stately and aristocratic edifice straddles a key intersection near the centre of the city. The four-story avant-garde building was designed by two architects in the 1920s and 30s and fused Art Deco elements with […]

The Native American Deadfall

December 2, 2012

On a recent trip to Yukon, I visited Kwaday Dan Kenji (“Long Ago People’s Place”), a First Nations cultural interpretive centre on the old Alaska Highway near the village of Champagne. Harold Johnson and his wife Meta Williams of the northwest Champagne-Aishihik First Nation live on the wooded lot, an ancestral site, where they’re sharing the […]

Egypt’s Terra Incognita

November 26, 2012
Egypt's Terra Incognita

We tend to associate foreign lands that are unfamiliar to us with their most enduring, and sometimes cliché, symbols. No region is more prone to this conundrum of perception than the Middle East – and few countries in that region more susceptible than Egypt. Recurring media images like political protests in Cairo, or archaeologists chasing […]

Review: ‘Timbuctoo’

September 11, 2012

TAHIR SHAH’S TIMBUCTOO has arrived with eerie, serendipitous, timing. In the months leading up to its publication, a coup d’etat and ensuing power vacuum in the West African nation of Mali has resulted in extremists taking over the country’s north (where Timbuktu is located). Islamic militants, said to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, and who have piggy-backed on […]

Liddle on Kluane National Park

July 25, 2012
Liddle on Kluane National Park

BRENT LIDDLE, a wilderness guide from Haines Junction, Yukon has spent over three decades exploring one of the most remote corners of North America. Between 1975 and 2002 he served as an interpretive guide at Kluane National Park: a 22,000 square kilometer wilderness area in the Yukon straddling the southernmost limit of the Arctic. Kluane […]

Review: ‘Humanity on a Tightrope’

June 28, 2012
Humanity on a Tightrope

“The ‘great secret’ at the heart of all genuine esoteric organizations is this: that all humanity and all creation are one and every single thing is part of the whole. This immense potential knowledge resides in all humanity waiting to be awakened and used.” – Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, in Godhead: The Brain’s Big […]

Bello on Climate Disruption

June 23, 2012
Bello on Climate Disruption

For those of us not tapped into the research of environmental non-profits, nearly all of our information on climate change tends to come by way of the mainstream media. Because of news filtering it’s hard to find any meaningful coverage on this topic beyond what appears fleetingly in the headlines. And we rarely, if ever, […]

Nahas on Alternative Medicine

June 5, 2012
Nahas on Alternative Medicine

I recently caught up with my old friend, Richard Nahas, an M.D. practicing alternative and integrative medicine in Ottawa. Since embarking on his career in 1994 Richard has accrued a panoply of fascinating work-related experiences and travels: from challenging tenures treating the downtrodden in Cairo and Johannesburg, to being a frontline physician during the SARS […]

By Train to the Tundra

April 23, 2012
By Train to the Tundra

Not long ago I had the opportunity to travel across much of the length of Manitoba during an assignment that took me to the far north of the Canadian province. The two-day, 1700 kilometre journey was made aboard “The Hudson Bay” – the train linking Manitoba’s capital of Winnipeg with the idiosyncratic and distant northern […]

Review: ‘Godhead: The Brain’s Big Bang’

April 9, 2012
Godhead: The Brain's Big Bang

Three questions sum up the fundamental quandary for scientists working in biology and cosmology today. Where did the information that made matter possible come from? How did life arise out of inanimate matter? And what is consciousness? These profound puzzles about the nature of our universe are the major stumbling blocks holding up progress in […]

Open Air Books and Maps

March 15, 2012
Open Air Books and Maps

For decades a small indie bookstore has been operating, virtually in secret, beneath the corporate hustle of Toronto’s downtown core. “Open Air Books and Maps” is a quirky and clandestine establishment located in a basement-level nook at the corner of Adelaide and Toronto streets. Since 1976, this cramped and largely unannounced subterranean haunt has been […]

Designing the Way Forward

March 8, 2012

“You can analyze the past but you need to design the future. That is the difference between suffering the future and enjoying it.” – Edward De Bono Psychologist and physician, Dr. Edward De Bono, has devoted much of his life to teaching and promoting the skills of creative thinking. He believes the greatest threat facing […]

The Life and Times of Piri Re’is

March 4, 2012
Piri Re'is

Ahmed Muhiddin Piri Re’is (1475-1544) was an Ottoman mariner and mapmaker whose rise to prominence paralleled the ascending fortunes of the empire he served. In addition to becoming an admiral in the Ottoman navy, Re’is also founded Suleiman the Magnificent’s school of mapmaking. He had a huge talent for drawing charts and he created both […]

Muhammed al-Idrisi

February 19, 2012
A 15th century reproduction of al-Idrisi’s “Tabula Rogeriana"

Muhammed “al-Sharif” al-Idrisi (c. 1100-1165) was a major Muslim scholar, geographer and mapmaker of the medieval Islamic period. He was born in the town of Ceuta, in Morocco, and was descended from a line of nobleman who traced their lineage to the Prophet Mohammed. Al-Idrisi took an interest in foreign lands and travel early in […]

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