Showing posts from March, 2010

Flowers speak louder to the expat Dutch wannabe...but why?

I ask my students if they are planning on going to the Keukenhof, the world's largest flower garden spectacle. They justifiably don't understand my pronunciation until a kindly soul who has mastered the deciphering of my butchered Dutch words rephrases the question for the class. "Thats only for old people and tourists," remarks one, followed by unanimous nods from across the room. I inform them that I just bought my tickets. In this masterful, single-handed stroke, I have just underlined in their minds how old I actually am! I take this further. I ask my Dutch colleagues if they are going to the Keukenhof. They ask why would they? They ruthlessly disrupt my definition of this event as an "older Dutch sport" as absolutely lacking evidence and foundation. Not ONE 'older' Dutch colleague has been to it nor plans to go. It's not like people here don't like flowers. On the contrary. This is a flower-loving nation. Its inherently unfair

Stranger in a strange land is not so alone after all!

How sentimental we can get of the good old days where you could ring the bell of your neighbor for a cup of sugar or stop the policeman to ask how his family is doing. Actually, this is the marketed nostalgia many of us have grown up with; a world of yesteryear where what is now seen as impossible was once, possible and for all probably reasons, true and genuine. We yearn for a packaged past that has been sold to us. Today, we crave community and desperately glorify city youth intermingling and dependencies as a new “ urban tribe ” behavior– a reassembling of family affiliations and sentiments into a more channeled and contemporary neo-familial relationship based on raw and selfish need. Social networking sites resemble an online tribal dance. But the underling premise here is that these “old” community patterns have been reinvented on cyberspace. Yet, if you stop and think, perhaps you may struggle like myself to remember the warm sentiments and comfort of the strangers of the pas

Computers are people too!

Bloggers beware. You thought you were writing for a bunch of info addicts or a grannie with ten cats but alas, you may actually be writing for a far different audience. Be it your instruction manual on how to make a good burrito or your pontifications on the latest video of Lady Gaga and Beyonce, your musings are becoming more and more deeply relevant to your new audience…the computer. You, my dear blogger have given computers a new lease to life! “…the web could be mined to track information about emerging trends and behaviours, covering everything from drug use or racial tension to interest in films or new products. The nature of blogging means that people are quick to comment on events in their daily lives. Mining this sort of information might therefore also reveal information about exactly how ideas are spread and trends are set.” – The Economist, March 11th 2010 Isn’t it nice to be heard in bi

Manufacturing ourselves: What's wrong with that?

A picture speaks a thousand words…yeah I know, what a cliché. Do videos speak more I wonder? So are we experiencing a textual silence or reserve perhaps in this new media age? Hardly. And what happens with all this contemporary chattering? Who is listening? Who cares enough to listen? Apparently not many according to media consumer analysts. People are too busy speaking about themselves, their day, their fleeting thoughts on toilet paper, baby nappies and strawberry yogurt often through the wonderful and humble medium of the picture. As I partake in this tradition by manufacturing my typical day and social life on Facebook as posed moments at happening events, I wonder what’s all the fuss about. After all, we are supposed to be our own best PR agent. If you don’t manufacture yourself, few people will care to do so on your behalf or worse yet, construct you through a montage that is not true to your desired manufactured self. Of course, self PR needs constant work. Me-branding arti

Annual Museum Night in Rotterdam- Art becomes life!

What a wonderful idea isn't it? To make " high " culture a popular event is a challenge that the Netherlands seems to have met and even superseded expectations. Here's a glimpse of the program of the night: All 45 museums and galleries participating in the ninth edition of the Rotterdam Museum Night have announced their programmes, inspired by the theme XS/XL. The spectacular opening at 20.00 hours outside the Laurenskerk will kick off with a musical highlight of XS singing tones, XL music and 999 eyes that will be let off to wander through the night by the minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk. The programme of the Museum Night is varied and consists of pure highlights. The Witte de Withstraat and the Museumpark is the booming centre of the night. Let yourself be surprised by the eccentric circus at Alliance Française or relive your puberty in the National Museum of Education (Nationaal Onderwijsmuseum). Make your own inventions in the Kunsthal, create your own

Gawk and Learn?

Theme parks of the most unique kind are springing up everywhere! Leisure is taking a new turn. Recently Kunming, an area of 13,000 acres in southern China’s Yunnan Province is being converted into a Disney land of the little people. Tourists can come by to immerse in the spectacle of dwarfs performing and living at the same time; it’s a veritable live reality show. Are these frozen realities that we choose not to see? Will we wake up and feel more inclined to think about disability more deeply or have we made disability exotic here? And even if it has been made exotic, can we argue that perhaps it is still better to be visible than invisible? Or take for instance the efforts of harnessing the ready-made reality of slums in Mumbai, India, as a tourist attraction to educate and entertain. Packaged tours of poverty sold for the common good? Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum covers an area of 530 acres and sweeps you with exper