Episode 17 – Seth the Globetrotting Painter

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Recently came across Julien “Seth” Malland’s art work. Within a split second I was drawn into a world of wondrous fascination.

Feel free to convince yourself. And don’t forget to check out his webpage! 

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Episode 16 – The Beauty in The Tragedy, Part II

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Part I had two words, Part II has one word: Attraction

As much as I was fascinated by Kseniya Simonova in a previous post, I’m blown away by  the shadow theatre group Attraction from Hungary who showcased their talent and beauty on Britain’s Got Talent.

Their first performance was this one:

The first one, that was kindly suggested to me by youtube was, however, this masterpiece.

Episode 15 – The Beauty Inside

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Just came across a little gem called The Beauty Inside. So if you can spare 40 minutes out of your busy life and watch its six webisodes, I promise you will not be disappointed.

So click and watch!

U P D A T E

And in other news relating to my previous post, here’s a different kind of gem, nonetheless equally beautiful but with a hint of humour.

Maurice Williamson on marriage equality.

Episode 12 – Humane Humans

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Because someone has been indulging in some academic writing in the past 48 hours – mainly focussing on human trafficking – I thought I’d share some of the great human beings of our world with you. Please read up on them at your own leisure.

Kru Nam

Kru Nam is a thriving artist and modern-day abolitionist from Northern Thailand who has rescued and prevented over 125 children from slavery in the sex industry.

I first came across her while reading David Batstone’s “Not For Sale“, she’s truly inspirational. As a little intro I recommend reading this little piece on her.

Every day as she walked the streets of Chiang Mai on the way to her studio, she saw kids living on the riverbanks. […]  “Most of us are not from Thailand,” they explained. “We come from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and as far away as China.” They went on to explain that some had been kidnapped, others sold by their parents, and still others were told that they could attend school if they crossed the border into Thailand. All of them ended up in the child-sex brothels of Chiang Mai. […] Kru Nam did not exactly have a plan when she marched into the city that evening. Only her mission was clear: Rescue as many of the young kids as she could find. Upon entering the first karaoke bar, she did not even seek to negotiate with the owner; she knew it would be a waste of her time. But to her disappointment, only three kids sat at tables entertaining the male customers; the others were out on “dates” with johns. She approached the table where the kids were sitting and calmly said, “Let’s go. I’m taking you out of here.” Within minutes, she was leading two girls and a boy out the door and to a safe destination in Chiang Mai.

Edward Said

I loved him before I knew him. When I got to know him, the boundaries between my own ideas and his ideas got rather blurry. One of my professors didn’t appreciate him as much as I did and tried to convince me not to use him as a reference in a paper on “The Strategic Impact of the Demise of the Soviet Union upon the Middle East”. I thought about it, decided to go against his ‘advise’. I was rather nervous and scared during the presentation the closer I got to my Said-ian argument – because my professor liked to challenge people, in a very intimidating fashion. Long story short: he loved it, said I used  Edward Said very wisely, which even convinced him of liking Edward Said a bit more.

When you study anthropology and politics the ultimate book you will have to read is “Orientalism“. If you dig a bit further you might want to read “Covering Islam“, “Culture and Imperialism” and “The Question of Palestine“. There’s also a very great list of articles written by him.

Though I have to admit, I don’t always agree with him, but it would be rather boring if I did.

Kathy Griffin

She said (read: wrote) what?! Yes, I’m talking about that extremely loud, at times extremely obnoxious, red-haired comedienne who loves making fun of everyone who gets a little bit of media attention and who is apparently not the biggest fan of organised religion (though I think she just talks about Christianity).

People who know me, might have noticed that I’m a devout LGBTQ rights defender. And that’s where Miss Griffin comes into the picture. Because it is actually through her media presence that I became fully aware of discriminations against the LGBTQ community. Honestly, I was rather shocked because you have to understand that I grew up in a rather small rural community and my cousin and his partner of 10 years used to live in a former church building in a village with a population of around 250. And no-one ever seemed to make a fuss out of it, neither of two men being in love nor two men being in love living in what used to be a church.

Anyways, back to Miss Griffin, I do adore her for her activism in the LGBTQ community, and I believe she doesn’t simply do it for the press but that she actually uses the press for her cause. The best examples are probably a number of episodes of her show “My Life on the D-List”.

  • Season 5, Episode 6: “Norma Gay”, available on youtube here.
  • Season 6, Epsiode 5: “Kathy Goes to Washington”, available on youtube here.

Special Guest Stars: The Townsfolk of “Lars and the Real Girl”

I know, they are fictional. And a lot of people think that this movie is really weird. But I think it’s really … let’s just say special, because sweet is such a diminutive word in that context. It’s in a way a very literal representation of the word “humankind”, which means the townsfolk are both human and kind, in addition to being understanding, patient and accepting.

So, just ignore the description of the movie and just watch it with open eyes, hearts and minds.

Episode 11 – PS: It’s Genetic

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So, it’s my mum’s dream to one day own a public toilet – and she’s being serious.

And when we watched a little report on Bindeswhar Pathak and his fight against discrimination of the Untouchables in India, she (and I) wouldn’t stop talking about what an amazing project this is – and how amazing those toilets are.

Here is what Time Magazine wrote about it:

Heroes of the Environment: Bindeshwar Pathak

Feel free to google and youtube him and his organisation.

Episode 10 – I Have a Dream

A lot of people probably don’t know this about me – and those who know, probably think I’m joking (because my voice tends to have that natural sarcastic/ironic undertone to it) – but my dream consists of living a self-sustainable life in a farm-like setting.

And this is not like me saying that I want to win the Nobel Peace Prize for planting strawberries in Antarctica, which I claimed to be my life goal after learning about the Green Belt Movement and Wangari Maathai. And this is also not like me saying that I want to become Kofi Annana (the female Kofi Annan) once I’ve completed my tertiary education.

My honest dream is to own a piece of land, preferably with a little creek on it so the water mill (and yes, it must be a water mill, no wind mill) can “produce” energy. There has to be a huge garden section, not so much of an animal section. Though I admit, a couple of goats and alpacas, and a donkey would be nice, too. The goats for the dairy factor.

The second part of that dream includes providing a home for a number of people, particularly troubled teens, handicapable people and others who may need some sort of support system.

It does sound so simple: going back to the basics of humanity. But it’s probably not.

Today I was walking through the city and while crossing a bridge a saw a duck trying to swim against the river’s stream. I, “the superior” human being, honestly thought how boring its and the life of most animals must be, to spend all the long looking for food day in and day out, i.e. to find a way to survive for as long as possible. When I looked up again, a shiny silver Mercedes was passing by. And despite, or in spite of, it being a symbol of capitalism, I also realised that we “the superior” human beings are doing the exact same. We live to survive. We work for money to buy food. Some of us buy cars to be able to make money, some buy cars to be able to transport food, and others just have it as a status symbol.

What I’m trying to say is that we often forget to enjoy the simple things in life nowadays, or even worse that we never learnt what those things are and hence we don’t know anymore how to be happy with the basics instead of all the shiny, fancy upgrades and add-ons. Many of us have lost our sense of community, our sense of helping others without expecting something in return, the practice of reciprocity, our taste for nature and all that is natural.

And all the things I was just blabbering on about are what attracted me to this projects:

Ouaganet – Helping Hands and Hearts

And I know it has been done in a similar form hundreds of times. And yes, I’m also saying this because I love Oxfam Unwrapped (not so much the World Vision version of it due to the fact that they (used to) offer coffee plantations) – my family still looks at me half shocked/half amused every time they receive a gift certificate for “1.5 goats” or a “latrine”.

But honestly it’s amazing. And if I can’t fulfill my dream for myself just yet I will in the meantime do my best to help someone else fulfill their dream (of a better life).

Episode 8 – The Mayonnaise Jar Lesson

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar… and the coffee…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ” I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things-your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions-things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.  The sand is everything else-the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your partner out to dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.  “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”