Posted in Culture, Uncategorized



Singapore is the least emotional country in the world.  The Philippines top the list.  Emotions galore there!  All this according to a survey by the Gallup polling firm. You can read all about it in this Washington Post article.

How do you measure emotion???  From reading the description of the survey, it seems to me they were measuring expression of emotion, rather than emotion as such.

What a cultural minefield!  In some countries/cultures, the expression of emotion is valued and encouraged.  In others, it’s all about not betraying any emotion.  Concerning Singapore, the article describes “a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.””

A few of these finding are particularly intriguing.

“Post-Soviet countries are consistently among the most stoic. (…) They are also the greatest consumers of cigarettes and alcohol.”  Stoic, maybe.  It’s fascinating to speculate why that is.  How much is the culture still shaped by the 70 years of oppression, and the fear of betraying anything that could cause trouble with the authorities?  Stoic, but definitely not without emotion!  In fact, lots of very deep emotion.  Just not expressed in the way it is in some other countries.

“Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences.”  Sad.

And Germany and Italy in the same bracket?  Really???

Would love to hear what you think!

Posted in Uncategorized

Right next door, yet worlds apart

UBahnWestUBahnOstTwo maps of public transport systems.  Two cities.  Yet one city.

Two maps, telling so many stories.  Stories of parting, of sadness, of denial.  Stories of a city cut in half.

At the top, West Berlin.  The East isn’t mentioned but you can see where the wall runs.  And you can see the lines that run through East Berlin.  The ghost stations, where trains didn’t stop.  Eerie.  Bringing home the reality of the world beyond the wall.

Then the East Berlin U Bahn map.  “Berlin (West)” reduced to a sliver, almost invisible.  It’s almost as if the nearly 2 million people living there didn’t exist.

Two maps, two cities.  Until 9 November 1989.

And now?  Now it looks something like this:

S_U-Bahnnetz_1024X768One city.  No indication of so many years of separation.  At least on the U Bahn map.

Posted in Culture

From Luanda to Maputo

ColonialAfricaFunny things happen when you catch up on old BBC podcasts.  Sometimes you make connections you might not have made otherwise.

That’s what happened to me this week.  First came a programme on the elections in Angola, and on the opening of the refurbished marginal in Luanda.  I’d never heard the word “marginal” (not pronounced the Portuguese way, anyway, and clearly relating to a geographic feature) before but quickly figured out that it was the waterfront, in this case now a rather posh one.

Then a couple of days later, my ears perked up when the word marginal came up again.  This time we were in Maputo/Mozambique. We’d gone from one side of the continent to the other.  From the Atlantic  to the Indian Ocean.  And yet the same Portuguese word was being used.

Here’s where the funny connection happened.  I remember being at Humboldt university in Berlin/Germany, talking with two students.  One from Angola, the other – you guessed it – from Mozambique.  And the language they were speaking to each other – Portuguese.  Because both countries used to be Portuguese colonies.  This was the mid 90s, and those students had come to what at the time they arrived was East Berlin.   Back then, all three countries had socialist governments, hence the partnerships between universities.

It struck me then and it struck me again now: the decisions people make, that governments make, affect us in so many ways, even years later!  Countries colonising other countries, and current political systems, led to an Angolan student and a student from Mozambique speaking to each other in Portuguese at a university in Germany!  Pretty crazy!