Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner" - Nelson Mandela.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


In 2010 the documentary film Babies was released. You may have seen the trailer which depicts four babies from across the world being filmed from their birth up until they reach their first birthday.  If not here it is:
I had been meaning to watch this film for ages but only got around to watching it last week. Now, I've always actually liked babies and children, so if your one of those people who are not so fond of screaming and crying - it's still worth watching. Why?

Let me explain. When I was about 15 my friend gave me  Bertrand Russell's book - On Education. I was fascinated by this book which really explained how the first few years of the life of a baby can really shape his/her personality and how in fact the first three years are the most important years to teach  love, compassion, trust and empathy. (A book I truly recommend to current parents as well as soon-to-be parents as not only does it focus on the first few years of life of a human being but also explores the importance and different manners of education up until around puberty.)

There have been many studies and debates since Russell's book which was published in 1926 that validate the idea that, yes indeed, the first few years of a baby's life are extremely important in shaping personality and world-perception (Freud would be nodding his head). Even though it is clearly not just limited to these years); the brain is like plastic and continues to be shaped as we grow, with ever new neurological connections that can be formed till our dying day.

Anyway, this book actually got me thinking about the first three years of my life, which were in Nigeria. How much did my environment affect me? After all environment physically changes brain structure (obviously I am not forgetting the importance of gene structure but that is another issue). Not only does environment affect us, but our interaction with parents/people/culture on a day by day basis. How much have we all been affected by our early years? External stimulus affect the way we experience and perceive the world...And that's what this film allows you to question even more.

This film is fascinating just to see the differences in how babies are brought up in only four diverse cultures around the world but also shows how similar we are when it comes to our fundamental or natural desires and instincts.

Additionally, the cinematography is absolutely fantastic. Rotten tomatoes has given the film a 69% (which is pretty good for Rotten) and IMDB a 6.7. Some of the criticism Thomas Balmes, the director, has received, is for not having a 'purpose' to the film. I would aruge that this film does not need a purpose. It is just a beautiful documentary capturing very real moments in people's lives - and that in itself is a purpose.

This documentary really does make you realise how much of a journey we have all taken... We have all learnt to proudly crawl on all fours and finally conquer the first step; and as Laozi, the founder of Taoism, put it ever so eloquently - "a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Texts from Hilary Clinton

The other day I posted a blog post about Romney's "binders full of women" quote that came out during the second presidential election, when both candidates were asked about women equity in the workplace. I mentioned this to a couple of friends this weekend and shared some of the hilarious memes that had popped up all over the internet after his statement when viral. Upon this, my friend asked me if I had seen the website dedicated to photos - or memes - of Hilary Clinton texting. I said I hadn't and so quickly proceeded to search google and came across THIS website. I suggest you all take a look. It speaks for itself. And yes it is HILARYious (I had to...)

Quote of the Day

"A man who finds no satisfaction in himself will seek for it in vain elsewhere" - La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Nobody puts baby in a binder"

If any have you have ever watched Dirty Dancing, you'll know that one of the most famous quotes from the film is "Nobody puts baby in a corner" as Johnny, the male protagonist, picks Baby up from the corner seat she has been placed in and starts to walk away with her hand in hand. You'll also know that recently the second presidential debate for the USA elections took place between President Obama and Mitt Romney. 
Romney made a remarkable statement - which has gone viral instantly and deserves applause for all the people who have the time to come up with hilarious images and videos already mocking the following statement:

“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can't we—can't we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” (Voila - Now the photo makes sense!)

You should check out The Daily Beast's article - 
Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full of Women’ Comment Sets Internet Ablaze
The Huffington Post article - Romney 'Binders Full Of Women' Debate Remark Inspires Tumblr, Facebook Page And Twitter Account
The Twitter account for 'Romney's Binder'  which has already kept me laughing for the last 5 minutes. 
And finally the new Facebook page dedicated to this, which already has 238,324 likes.

Good job Romney! And to end with, here is another of my favourite photos that has come up -

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bench.

Photo - Ashique Mahmood 
The bench.

A place to sit, a place to lie, to read, to reflect. To be alone and watch the landscape, the cityscape, the people passing by. To sit with friends in a park, to share a sandwich, to meet someone new, to meet your next love, to share a few wise words...

The bench invites you to join it in quiet contemplation.
I came across a website with photographs of "20 Lonely benches around the world". Some are truly beautiful and some seem are melancholy ridden left alone to their solitude until another passer by amuses them for a short while. If benches had ears and eyes, they would have stories to tell...

Please take the time to write a single phrase or word of what a 'bench' means to you below in the comments. I'd love to see what people come up with.
For me a bench is 'A breath of fresh air...'

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kumpir - The Turkish Potato Snack

I was in Istanbul a few weeks back with some of my high school friends, which was great!

What I always do when I head to Istanbul is go to Ortaköy, which is on the European side and get myself Kumpir. Örtakoy is a wonderful part of Istanbul that has many side streets, open air markets, lovely smells of all sorts of types of food, colours and most importantly a beautiful view of the Bosphorous!! I would recommend this place to anyone planning to visit Istanbul.

And I would also recommend Kumpir, which is basically a baked potato mixed with cheese and butter and topped with any ingredient of your choice. Usually the more the better! Lots of ketchup and then a good walk afterwards because you will be full!

In Örtaköy they have a line of stalls selling Kumpir or waffles. I have attached a few photos so you can get a general idea! Instead of getting them from the stalls I would recommend finding a place in the side streets that lead to terraces with great views of the sea! Divan for example is a good choice!

And all that is left to say is Bon Apetit! Or in Turkish, Afiyet Olsun! :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Sexy Inc. - Our Children Under the Influence"

Sexy Inc. - Our Children Under the Influence is an interesting documentary exploring the over-sexualisation of the media and advertisements, and its influence on children and their identities. A short, 30 minute piece that explores a few issues ranging from the influence of hyper-sexualisation on children as well as the reinforcing of gender stereotypes.

It is not a coincidence that marketing companies focus on selling to children, children's minds are like sponges and they will take in everything that is shown to them and they will start to become consumers at a very young age. (Remember the Baby-G phase?)

I don't know if your familiar with the very successful 'Bratz' brand, which is an alternative doll to Barbie; well, not only are they marketing 'sexy' dolls to Tweens (Preadolescence), they have started making little baby Bratz wearing make up and wearing belly showing tank tops. I'm pretty sure it's not just me thinking that things have gone too far.  I am not joking - check this out.

Of course adolescence is an even harder period where all you want to be is 'normal' or 'fit-in'. So, who do you look up to? Of course, celebrities and musicians, who bombard our TV on a daily basis. And yes, they do have a responsibility to realise that they are the role models for future children.

I remember as I was growing up these music videos had already started being the norm on MTV or any other music channel. Women dancing around in thongs, men showing off their little groupie gang of women. This is not unfortunately the norm. Turned on any music channel recently? If not I suggest you grab the remote and get a quick dose of reality. And actually it's not just music channels, it's reality programs, it's films, it's songs. It's everywhere.

I guess I was lucky to have found the 'grungy' group in my school, where we listened to rock'n'roll and were mostly listening to our parents CDs or whatever was 'alternative'. The message was : either you are sexy and beautiful or alternative and ugly. Girls getting a lot of hassle for not dressing 'girly' enough. I'm sorry - but WHO exactly decided that girls like pink and boys like blue? Oh what's that? A girl thinking for herself and standing up for an alternative? She must be ugly.  And again WHO decided girls like dolls and boys like superheroes? This little girl hits the nail on the head.

Anyway, this could be a topic we could discuss for hours and frankly write about for hours, but my point is, that having worked in a primary school this year (kids maximum 12 years old), I was actually shocked by several different things. One being a lack of being able to find a modern song without a sexual reference in it - this was for a video project we were working on.

With all this  bombardment of sexual imagery on a day to day basis of course children are going to aspire to be more sexual. Girls will think if they are not a size zero, not wearing make-up and tight-fitted clothing they are not beautiful and boys will try to be 'players' as its the cool thing to do. The responsibility obviously lies in the marketing companies - but more importantly, at home and at schools where it should be stressed to children that the media is manipulative and doesn't necessarily teach us the right values. We do have a responsibility.

Now without writing anymore, I'll just let you watch the documentary and let it speak for itself.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Peace is my Goal, Truth is my Ally, Love is my Weapon

I read a quote by Albert Einstein yesterday:
"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things."
So, I thought...
"Peace is my Goal.
Truth is my Ally.
Love is my Weapon."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Let he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone...

This is one the best songs of our generation. The lyrics, the message, the tune and Asa's voice is incredible.



I'm in chains you're in chains too
I wear uniforms and you wear uniforms too
I'm a prisoner,
You're a prisoner too Mr Jailer
I have fears you have fears too
I will die, you sef go die too
Life is beautiful
Don't you think so too Mr Jailer

I'm talking to you jailer
Stop calling me a prisoner
Let he who is without sin -
Be the first to cast the stone Mr Jailer, Mr Jailer Man
You suppress all my strategies
You oppress every part of me
What you don't know,
You're a victim too Mr Jailer
You don't care about my point of view
If I die another will work for you
So you treat me like a modern slave Mr Jailer

You see, if you're walking in a market place
Don't throw stones
Even if you do, you just might hit
One of your own
Life is not about your policies
All the time
So you better rearrange your
Philosophies and be good to your Fellow man