Saturday, August 05, 2006

 



To My Friend Sri who has passed away from Acute Malaria.


"If you want to be a leader, when they tell you what's true, you don't believe them. You find out for yourself." Sri Sridharan

I'm angry. I'm hurt. I don't believe it when I get the call. "Sri passed away last night at 9:30pm" Kute tells me on the other line. I'm sitting in my livingroom on my orange couch. The white curtains are parted to show the ocean a mile away. There are three white orchids on my coffee table. I still haven't gotten over Africa. I was just with Sri and Blythe traveling around Ghana after the main group left. He couldn't be dead. We were just taking pictures in a village and we're supposed to go back. He's supposed to bring Dwarkoji and the eye clinic to Ghana. What happened. What is he talking about. How could this be. "I don't believe it. Shut up." I say. "It's for real. He died of acute Malaria. Nobody thought it was this bad. The doctors thought it was the flu and he was misdiagnosed for four days." Kute says. Light from the window is bright on the bamboo floor then casts a dark shadow near the sofa. A half glass of EmergenC is on the table next to the crystal plate with red bursting flowers painted on it. This is too much. It's morning around ten a.m. I haven't picked up my voicemail for a couple of days. I'm silent on the phone.

Inline with my brother, Sri is the happiest person I know. He walks fearlessly and full of love up to any person. One day we're at Mole National Park in Ghana. There's a group of school kids there on tour. In the morning the kids are rambunctious, laughing, loud, and alive. Several girls come up to Blythe and I and ask for our address. After we come back from walking Safari two hours later the kids are subdued sitting on the lawn quiet. Sri says to us, "The teachers have stifled them. Their spirits are being crushed." Blythe and I sit down for breakfast several feet away from the group. Sri walks up to the steps infront of the kids. He looks out and yells, "Who's a leader here?" There are about forty African kids in blue uniforms sitting in an L-shape group. They're probably seventh or eighth grade. Sri yells again, "Who's a leader here?' I turn around and look at them. He makes eye contact with a boy and nods his head, "Are you a leader?" the boy nods his head. Sri looks around at several kids, back at the boy and says louder "Do you want to be a leader? If you want to be a leader, then when they say sit down-You STAND UP!" The young boy stands up. I feel a gasp in my chest. Sri and the boy hold eye contact. The teachers are sitting across from me at table looking at Sri. The waitress stands near the door. Down the massive cliff behind the kids reaches an endless green Savanna full of wildlife. All the kids eyes are on Sri and the boy. "Do you want to be a leader?" Sri dipped his head looking over his glasses at the young man. "Yes." the boy said. "If you want to Be a Leader, then when they tell you what's true- You don't believe it. You Go Find Out for Yourself!"

Sri has pepper hair and is wearing a green tank top over khaki shorts. He's twice my senior. At my age he turned down a job at MIT to do research at Stanford. He's received a Humboldt Fellowship and founded the Pitman/Morgan-Kaufmann series of monographs in Artificial Intelligence. He's retired from Intel and has started a company called TrustNet. Now he's in Africa with me influencing the next generation of genius. He loves photography. Many of his photos will be in this documentary. I met him in L.A. two years ago with Dwarkoji, a Gandhi devotee who brings free eye camps to over 30k people to small villages in India. Sri is passionate about helping underprivileged cultures. His jolly belly sticks out his shirt. The west african morning breeze is still cool. The young man looking at him is taller than most of the other kids. His eyes are wide and white around his deep brown pupils. They are my hero's. I've never done anything like that in my life. Nothing like what Sri is doing. Sri looks to the other end of the group and yells, "Are you a leader?" Several kids stand up. Like proud dominos the kids stand up. All of them. I can't believe what I'm seeing. Their main teacher wearing a khaki hat looks over at me. I think he's more shocked about Sri then the kids. This is magic. This is Sri.













Sri was misdiagnosed for four days in Phoenix, Arizona as having the flu. After being diagnosed with Malaria and treated in ICU he died on August 3rd at 9:30. He is forever in my heart. I'm so thankful for the intimate time we shared together in Ghana, Africa. He impacted everyone he interacted with. He impacted me. When he returned to the states he told his one daughter Radhika about Ghana "I found home."

Sri's website and blog is www.infinisri.com

There are so many stories I can tell about him, and one by one I will.

I love you Sri.

Amber

Sunday, July 23, 2006

 
"Akwaaba!" means Welcome Home.

Wow, I'm back from Africa now. It's been quite an amazing journey. I cried every day. Being in Ghana it was so challenging to get anything done with the internet. It was naive of me to think I would write a blog there. Even now it's difficult to try to put representational words on a journey that was so so so.. everything. Words fail from the beginning to represent the spectrum of events and internal re-workings that took place. Everyone involved was re-worked. I'm grateful we had a camera. What it captured is so beautiful.


This past weekend a good friend of mine has a birthday party in Los Angeles right after I arrive. Besides being jet-lagged, the last two days of the trip in Ghana I got some sort of African cold that came home with me. This is a really great friend of mine so I decide to go to his birthday party anyways. I walk in from the back gate to around a hundred people scattered around the pool. I can see people I know throughout his museum house. I don't have a lot of my energy back. I see the birthday man in the back yard. I walk through people towards him but get stopped by one of my girlfriends. We hug. She pulls me back and looks at me. The obvious question pops out with enthusiasm, "How was Africa?" I see her dark opal eyes lit by the pool. A long pause in my heart. A deep inhale. Another. Thirty foot bamboo with perfect lighting reach up to the night sky. We gaze. I be with her. A well of emotion is emerging. I'm silent. I feel. I feel the children. I see her and yet through her to the elephants bathing each other in a green savannah that reaches to the ends of the earth and still keeps going. I see down a long African road and feel the rain falling on me. I hear laughter. I see the elders chanting in front of the Ashanti Chief in ceremony bringing in our ancestors and feel their final 'ho' reverberate through me. I feel the regal dignified walk of the women that instructs and humbles me, the hospitality as a self-expression that breaks my heart with so much generosity from people who are so rich with so little. I see happiness and civilization. I can't verbalize. My girlfriend's hand still grasps my shoulder and she doesn't flinch her gaze. I feel like she gets it even without me saying anything. I nod my head and look down. "Africa was..so much. It's a lot to take in. And I'm happy to be home." My night continues with more gazing and slow conversations. I remember I wasn't just in Africa, I was in Ghana. I can't wait to show the documentary to actually give a honor to the journey and people in Ghana.



"My mother used to tell me 'Look down at your watch, you can change the time.'" Sri

Thursday, June 15, 2006

 


The past few days have been extraordinary. Blythe came in town to test run all the equipment and get footage of Kute in Los Angeles before we depart on this unknown sumptuous journey through Ghana. It wasn't all easy. At one point a camera battery didn't charge. A nice gentleman at a gas station let us charge it there. For the next two hours we followed Kute on his regular Sunday run three miles uphill. Kute ran circles up and down the hill with Blythe and I just breaking in our running muscles. We were far behind him until he ran back to us. I was happy at certain panting breathes that we didn't have the camera backpack to run with. There were so many moments though on the Santa Monica trail that leaped forward and begged to be captured. Kute said he will be running every morning in Ghana so my aerobic capacity is going to skyrocket from this project. The battery finally charged and we set off behind, infront, all around Kute for the afternoon. I'll save details of the extraordinary insights and beauty that came through for you to see in the documentary film.



Towards the end day on Sunday we shot in downtown Los Angeles. My gacious photographer friend Noah showed up and these are some of the pictures he captured.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 
Current of Evolutionary Desire to Contribute

I've had several moments of being moved to tears during this project from witnessing people's generosity. It’s actually heartfully overwhelming at times to see how much people have dedicated of their lives, resources, and hearts (many people who are not living anymore) to a vision they may not see actualized in their lifetime. Researching grants I've gone through hundreds of organizations built by people who have a sole mission to enhance a certain spectrum of this world that they're inspired by. At this moment I just feel like a little wave in that massive current of universal human evolutionary desire to contribute beyond ourselves. I recently read a study that Altruism emits Dopamine and right now I'm it's blowing me away with gratitude.

Amber

Friday, May 19, 2006

 
My Mission Statement as a Filmmaker:

"The first thing I ask a filmmaker when I start working with them is What is your mission statement as a filmmaker?" says Morrie. He's an author of two books; consultant to conscious nonprofit oranizations.

"You've got to discover your values. Your values are the first rule of storytelling. They're the script you live your life by." Fernanda says, in the most delicious accent. She's consulted on over 100 documentaries.

In 24 hours I met Morrie Warshawski at the Independent Documentary Association panel and had a consultation with Fernanda Rossi.

Now I share with you...

The VALUE I live life by is: If you are a vehicle for Truth, Beauty, Peace; Higher Consciousness you will be awake to the truth of what is and an ecstatic aliveness.

My MISSION statement as a filmmaker is to influence the world population towards a new domain of truth, freedom, peace, tacit aliveness and higher consciousness through state of the art transformational films.

The IMPACT I plan on making is that the inner hero in people is inspired, they identify a new way to be fully self-expressed, self-responsible, free-thinking, happy and ecstaticly alive –heaven is on earth.

This is who I am as a filmmaker. This is what you can count on me for.

Amber Lupton

Director/Producer

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