Culture


215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

THEAUDIENCE585x363If you get a chance to see The Audience with Helen Mirren – go!!!  It is phenomal!  I saw the live broadcast from London at a cinema in Berlin and was blown away!

Here is a short synopsis (from their website):”For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace – a meeting like no other in British public life – it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.

The Audience breaks this contract of silence – and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional – sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive.

From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.”

The play does not follow chronological order, meaning Mirren in one scene plays a 30 year old Queen and in the next scene a 70 year old.  The costume changes mostly happen on stage (and I have no idea how they do it) but even more impressive is how Helen Mirren adapts the way she moves and stands according the Quenn’s age.  Amazing!

Speaking of this wonderful actress, the BBC just had an interesting programme, charting her career: The Many Faces of … Dame Helen Mirren.

Things to read

6a00d8341d299153ef0168eba1b07a970c-800wiEssentially a fascinating and very well written (Greek) family saga.  Eugenides traces one family from what is now Turkey, through terrible persecution and on to the US.  In places, the writing is exceptional – his description of the monotony of working on a production line is phenomenal!  I also very much appreciated the way he develops the characters and particularly the relationships.  He is very compassionate and seems to like his characters, while also describing so well the subtle and undramatic changes in relationships that step by step lead to them being completely transformed.

 

Krka National Park, Croatia

Krka National Park, Croatia

Flowing water at its best – beautiful waterfall!

Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

And at its worst: River Elbe having broken its banks during recent flooding.

Alhambra (Granada), Spain

Alhambra (Granada), Spain

Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Eastside Gallery (Berlin), Germany

Eastside Gallery (Berlin), Germany

The flow of people when the Berlin Wall finally fell.

These peaceful scenes were all captured last summer in Croatia.  I thought it was particularly poignant to choose photos taken there, considering that not too long ago, the country was anything but peaceful…

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/06/07/travel-theme-peaceful/

This sort of thing is so fascinating to me!  So many things are second nature, we “know” them without remembering ever having learned them.  Which works great, until we encounter someone for whom our “second nature knowledge” makes no sense at all.  Things can get very confusing and messy when we are trying to communicate one thing, but because of maybe symbols we use, what’s understood is totally different.  Here’s a great example of that:

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Reposted from: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/read-our-blog/colours-and-cultural-differences.html

Have you ever considered that something as simple and natural as colours can be perceived differently across cultural lines? Isabelle Fontaine looks at some cultural differences.

We are surrounded by many colours – often, we are not aware of certain values that we associate with them. If we compare the meaning of a colour in our culture to its meaning somewhere else, we can find some surprising facts. For marketing, this means that depending on your target market, the colours should be carefully chosen and checked, but unfortunately, things have gone wrong quite a few times in the past, when a product has been introduced to a new market – wrong colour choices can have catastrophic consequences…  You would not want to advertise a fresh, new product with a colour that symbolises mourning in that specific culture, would you? Here are some examples of colours and their meanings in different cultures.

Blue
The colour of the sky and the ocean, blue is generally seen as being soothing. In Christianity, it is connected to Christ.  It symbolises immortality in China, whereas it is the colour of mourning in Iran.

Green
In Europe, green is the traditional colour of nature, spring and new life. Also in politics, environmental protection is often associated with the green party. In Ireland, it is the colour of Catholics. In the US, however, it is linked to money (with “greenback” being a colloquial expression for a dollar bill), whereas in the Islamic World, it symbolises hope, since the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad was green.

Orange
Generally related to autumn and harvest in Europe and, more specifically, to Halloween in the US, this colour is often associated with Protestants in Ireland, and in international sports events, it often represents the Netherlands because of their royal family (House of Orange).

Red 
In Europe, the colour red is used for signs to draw attention to something, e.g. danger (speed limits or stop signs) and it is also well-known to every shopping lover – in sale signs. In China, however, red is the lucky colour which symbolises joy and happiness as well as vitality.

White
In Europe, white is the traditional colour of bridal dresses, whereas in Japan and China it is the colour of grief.

Yellow
In Europe, this colour is used for both hazards and happiness, but in Egypt it is connected to mourning. Whereas it symbolises courage in Japan, it can be connected to cowardice in Europe and the US.

10424_138710536444_6061043_nSpotted in a small mountain village on Crete/Greece.  Somewhat amusing in both language but good on them for trying!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/weekly-photo-challenge-the-sign-says/

487670_10151024179021445_1459286628_nCelebrating 4th of July in Berlin/Germany.

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/05/31/travel-theme-costume/

What a wonderful idea!  Going to lots of different countries and asking grandmothers to make a dish they would normally prepare for their families.

I am intrigued by the food, but even more so by the ladies!  I would love to sit down with each one them and hear their stories.  How amazing would that be?!

And the kitchens, they are all so different!  I wonder about the lives that have been (and that are being) lived in those homes – the fun, the laughter, the tears..

And now: enjoy your culinary trip around the world!

(Sadly the pictures don’t seem to display correctly…  sorry about that!)

1. Italy: Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with meat sauce

Italy: Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with meat sauce

Marisa Batini, 80 years old – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

This wonderful photography project comes from Gabriele Galimberte, who works with Riverboom, a Swiss publishing group of journalists and photographers. From the website’s introduction:

Gabriele Galimberti pays homage to all the grandmothers in the world and to their love for good cooking, starting from his own very Tuscan grandmother Marisa who, before the departure for his tour around the world by couchsurfing, took care to prepare her renowned “ravioli ripieni.” She was not so concerned about the possible risks or mishaps her grandson might face in his adventurous travelling worldwide, but her major concern was, “what will he eat”?

You can see the whole “Delicatessen with love” collection (including recipes and written portraits of each grandmother) on Galimberti’s website. H/t to PinkRobotBoogaloo for sharing.

2. Albania: Burekoep domate (layered egg custard pie)

Albania: Burekoep domate (layered egg custard pie)

Neriman Mitrolari, 52 years old – Albania

3. Algeria: Chicken and vegetable couscous

Algeria: Chicken and vegetable couscous

Lebgaa Fanana, 42 years old – Timimoun, Algeria

4. Argentina: Asado criollo (mixed meats barbecue)

Argentina: Asado criollo (mixed meats barbecue)

Isolina Perez De Vargas, 83 years old – Mendoza, Argentina

5. Armenia: Tolma (roll of beef and rice wrapped into grape leaves)

Armenia: Tolma (roll of beef and rice wrapped into grape leaves)

Jenya Shalikashuili, 58 years old – Alaverdi, Armenia

6. Bolivia: Queso humacha (vegetables and fresh cheese soup)

Bolivia: Queso humacha (vegetables and fresh cheese soup)

Julia Enaigua, 71 years old – La Paz, Bolivia

7. Brazil: Fejoada (pork and bean stew), light version

Brazil: Fejoada (pork and bean stew), light version

Ana Lucia Souza Pascoal, 53 years old – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8. Canada: Bison stew under the midnight sun

Canada: Bison stew under the midnight sun

Kathy O’€™Donovan, 64 years old – Whitehorse, Canada

9. Cayman Islands: Iguana with rice and beans

Cayman Islands: Iguana with rice and beans

Maria Luz Fedric, 53 years old – Cayman Islands

10. China: Hui guo rou (twice-cooked pork with vegetables)

China: Hui guo rou (twice-cooked pork with vegetables)

Pan Guang Mei, 62 years old – Chongqing, China

11. Egypt: Kuoshry (pasta, rice and bean pie)

Egypt: Kuoshry (pasta, rice and bean pie)

Fifi Makhmer, 62 years old – Cairo, Egypt

12. Ethiopia: Injera with curry and vegetables

Ethiopia: Injera with curry and vegetables

Bisrat Melake, 60 years old – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

13. Georgia: Khinkali (pork and beef dumplings)

Georgia: Khinkali (pork and beef dumplings)

Natalie Bakradze, 60 years old – Tblisi, Georgia

14. Haiti: Lambi (conch) in Creole sauce

Haiti: Lambi (conch) in Creole sauce

Serette Charles, 63 years old – Saint-Jean du Sud, Haiti

15. Iceland: Kjotsùpa (lamb and vegetable soup)

Iceland: Kjotsùpa (lamb and vegetable soup)

Valagerdur Olafsdòttir, 63 years old – Reykjavìk, Iceland

16. India: Chicken vindaloo

India: Chicken vindaloo

Grace Estibero, 82 years old – Mumbai, India

17. Indonesia: Soto Betawi (beef soup with coconut and vegetables)

Indonesia: Soto Betawi (beef soup with coconut and vegetables)

Eti Rumiati, 63 years old – Jakarta, Indonesia

18. Kenya: Mboga and orgali (white corn polenta with vegetables and goat meat)

Kenya: Mboga and orgali (white corn polenta with vegetables and goat meat)

Normita Sambu Arap, 65 years old – Oltepessi (masaai mara) Kenya

19. Latvia: Silke (herring with potatoes and cottage cheese)

Latvia: Silke (herring with potatoes and cottage cheese)

Inara Runtule, 68 years old – Kekava, Latvia

20. Lebanon: Mjadara (rice and lentils cream)

Lebanon: Mjadara (rice and lentils cream)

Wadad Achi, 66 years old – Beirut, Lebanon

21. Malawi: Finkubala (caterpillar in tomato sauce)

Malawi: Finkubala (caterpillar in tomato sauce)

Regina Lifumbo, 53 years old – Mchinji, Malawi

22. Malaysia: Nasi lemak (coconut rice with vegetables and fried dried anchovies)

Malaysia: Nasi lemak (coconut rice with vegetables and fried dried anchovies)

Thilaga Vadhi, 55 years old – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

23. Mexico: Vegetarian Tamales

Mexico: Vegetarian Tamales

Laura Ronz Herrera, 81 years old – Veracruz, Mexico

24. Morocco: Chicken tajine

Morocco: Chicken tajine

Eija Bankach, 62 years old – Massa, Morocco

25. Norway: Kjottsuppe (Icelandic beef and vegetable soup)

Norway: Kjottsuppe (Icelandic beef and vegetable soup)

Synnove Rasmussen, 77 years old – Bergen, Norway

26. Peru: Corvina ceviche

Peru: Corvina ceviche

Itala Revello Rosas, 77 years old – Lima, Peru

27. Philippines: Sinigang (tamarind soup with pork and vegetables)

Philippines: Sinigang (tamarind soup with pork and vegetables)

Fernanda De Guia, 71 years old – Manila, Philippines

28. Spain: Asadura de cordero lecca con arroz (milk-fed lamb offal with rice)

Spain: Asadura de cordero lecca con arroz (milk-fed lamb offal with rice)

Carmina Fernandez, 73 years old – Madrid, Spain

29. Sweden: Inkokt Lax (poached cold salmon and vegetables)

Sweden: Inkokt Lax (poached cold salmon and vegetables)

Brigitta Fransson, 70 years old – Stockholm, Sweden

30. Thailand: Kai Yat Sai (stuffed omelette)

Thailand: Kai Yat Sai (stuffed omelette)

Boonlom Thongpor, 69 years old – Bangkok, Thailand

31. Turkey: Karniyarik (stuffed eggplants with meat and vegetables)

Turkey: Karniyarik (stuffed eggplants with meat and vegetables)

Ayten Okgu , 76 years old -€“ Istanbul, Turkey

32. USA: Moose steak

USA: Moose steak

Susann Soresen, 81 years old – Homer, Alaska, USA

33. Zanzibar: Wali, mchuzina mbogamboga (rice, fish and vegetables in green mango sauce)

Zanzibar: Wali, mchuzina mbogamboga (rice, fish and vegetables in green mango sauce)

Miraji Mussa Kheir, 56 years old – Bububu, Zanzibar

34. Zimbabwe: Sadza (white maize flour) and pumpkin leaves cooked in peanut butter

Zimbabwe: Sadza (white maize flour) and pumpkin leaves cooked in peanut butter

Flatar Ncube, 52 years old – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I would really like to try the Latvian dish!  Not so sure about the Malawian one, though…

What about you – any favourites?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/dishes-foods-cooked-by-grandmothers-around-the-world

http://www.gabrielegalimberti.com/projects/delicatessen-with-love-2/#

bayta:

So true! Isn’t it just amazing how deeply ingrained some of these reactions are? Some things are “disgusting”, whereas others are “completely normal” (how about blowing your nose and then putting the tissue in your pocket?). So good to be confronted by someone else’s “normal” every once in a while!

Originally posted on Expat Lingo:

Comic on spitting and shoes

It is amusing how horrified we can be about the behaviors of others, while turning a blind eye to our own horrifying habits.

Spitting is an entrenched habit of many in Mainland China. Entering the elevator in my Chinese high-rise apartment, I was often greeted by a slick of opaque spit in the corner. Fortunately, in my present home of Hong Kong, a SARS-related aversion to germ-spreading has wiped out most public spitting.

A spitter has explained the logic behind the habit to me: essentially, since the air is so polluted and your phlegm captures this pollution, why would you dream of swallowing it? Far more healthy to eject this filth. I can understand the logic. (The logic, however, would still work if a tissue were employed between a person’s mouth and the ground.)

While I have yet to established my own ‘cleansing-through-spitting’ practice, my time in Asia has completely…

View original 85 more words

 

From one of my most favourite places, the Alhambra in Granada/Spain.  Heaven for a pattern lover like myself!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/weekly-photo-challenge-pattern/

40926_424398606444_1028455_n

One of the joys and stresses of an international move is all the de-cluttering that happens!  Knowing you pay for every box  does focus the mind and I gave/threw away so many things before moving back across the channel nearly 3 years ago.  And yet I still had so.much.stuff.

“What is your most valued possession?”

Out of all that, what would I have chosen had someone asked me that question?  Immediately, I think of items that hold sentimental value, things that remind me of people and times that are precious to me.  Practicality doesn’t come into it, probably because (thankfully) I have not had to experience life reduced to the bare minimum.

“What is your most valued possession?”

That is the question photographer Brian Sokol asked a number of Sudanese and Syrian refugees.  The result is a deeply moving series of portraits you can see here.

“What is your most valued possession?”

A jerrycan for water, a sword to defend the family with, a diploma to be able to continue her education, a ring her mother had given her, a mobile phone that lets him keep in touch with family.  From the very practical to the deeply personal and significant.

Possessions. 

Sometimes they seem so important.  And some of them are, because of the memories they hold, because they are irreplaceable.  And then they’re gone.  Because your home gets broken into and stuff stolen (as happened to my parents a few weeks ago).  Or because all your possessions are destroyed.  This is what happened to both my mum’s and my dad’s families 70 years ago, in the bombing raids on Hamburg.

While I am sad for the things that have been lost, these reminders have also made me more thankful for what I do have.  And, more than anything, that even with the tangible reminders gone, the memories are still there to be treasured.

THANK YOU to Marilyn at communicating.across.boundaries for the inspiration and challenge in her blog post “What would you take?“!

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