There is nothing more beautiful than starting the year with a good book. Even though the adjective does not do it justice, I insist to keep it for I am always asked to recommend a good book.
I have heard before of Elif Shafak, but I have kept myself away (like I always do when a writer is too much promoted and I somehow wait for her/ his fame to set in in order to be able to rejoice in her/ his book rather than in her/ his reputation).
'10 Minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World' is a manifest for tolerance. There are in this book so many references towards religion, sex, society, way of living, education, nationality, ethnicity, color of the skin, and all of them have different valences. Enough to open the minds, even just a little bit, upon them. If I may I will paraphrase the sacred teachings: those who have their minds prepared will understand.
In a nutshell, the book recounts the last 10 minutes and 38 seconds of Leila's cerebral activity, after her assassination. Tastes and odors apparently accidentally chosen by the brain, take us through important moments of Leila's life.
Each memory is like a link in a chain, bonded by friendship. People say that we cannot choose our family, but we can choose our friends. And, sometimes, it turns out that friends are even more loyal than the members of a family. Five, in Leila's case. Five loyal friends who are there for her even after her death.
Sexual violence against minors is, in fact, a stand-alone thread in the woven of the story. The framework in which it appears, humans' attitude towards it, and also the impact it has on its victims and the society, are minutely described, without drawn conclusions or recommendations. Actually, in this lies the beauty of the book. There are no conclusions or recommendations. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions, if they such wish, and teachings.
And speaking of freedom, Martin Luther King. Jr.'s speech acquires extraordinary meanings in this book, playing the role of a gardian-angel to the main character. Leila had seen the speech as a kid, and at the moment of her own liberation, the circle closes with the uplifting words:
'Free at Last!'
Saturday, 4 January 2020
Saturday, 21 December 2019
It’s not that this is secret information. It’s just that some of you do not really know me that well in order to be aware of the fact that I absolutely adore terracotta fireplaces.
It all began when I was small, and visited my grandparents’ house. And maybe I fancy terracotta fireplaces that much because they remind me of a time when I had no cares in the world, I ate popcorn and fruits from the trees, and a dog was barking in the background.
I remember a talk I had once with a former colleague about the weird things we would put in our homes. Mine was a terracotta fireplace. His was a bathtub in the living-room.
Throughout the years, I have proudly stated my interest in terracotta fireplaces, and still continue to dream about them. Every time we go to a place that has one, I am absolutely spellbound.
Living in an apartment that has its own heating system it seems absolutely ridiculous to have a terracotta fireplace. But I must add that I would be completely happy if I just had one in (even though that means not being able to use it). It would be a veritable eye-candy.
A couple of weeks ago, another former work-colleague sent me this link. These people from Medias terracotta factory are doing such wonderful work! It is absolutely inspiring!
It saddens me to know that this is the only factory that manufactures terracotta fireplaces in all Romania. And I am really wishing for it to have a long journey.
And if you’re admirers of true handcraft and beautiful things, you should visit this site.
For me, this is the most beautiful of them all. Ah, the wonder!
(property of teracota.ro)
Friday, 22 November 2019
Surely, you know your thing when it comes to colors. Especially, if you are a woman. You’ve learned it by playing with them ever since you were little, and you’ve seen that game taking different turns watching your mom, her friends, your incredible aunt or any other role model you’ve encounter on your way.
Now, I do not have any prejudice against colors. All is possible and all can be mixed. Though, I have seasons. Yeah, I got that right. Colors take control over my wardrobe, and sometimes are even interchangeable. I’ve been having a long affair with emerald green and yellow, and even red and orange, but the greatest of them all is the one I still encourage, my love affair with the color blue.
Let me put this in perspective. When I was a toddler, I was blonde. I was a cute, curly little girl (modesty is overrated) brimming with smile. After a while, the color of my hair changed notes, and it became brown, but my father always included me on the fair-haired ladies list. And he still does.
I vividly remember him telling me, while we were shopping for clothes and were confronted with the color-dilemma, that blondes should wear blue. It fits them better. Back then, I was in high school and the issue of colors was rather an unimportant one. But still, that saying stuck with me.
Years and years after that, I colored my hair blonde. It was something I had dreamed about ever since I was a sophomore college and Shakira was in style. I just did not have the guts. Somehow, the fear of ruining one’s hair diminished and the fact that hair products continued to develop gave me a nudge.
So, here I am, again, a blonde. I wear my favorite colors, but still surprise myself with buying blue items of clothing. And the latest was a jacket, a royal-blue, as they say.
Well, one has to listen to one’s father, don’t they?!
Blondes should wear blue. Well, definitely!
Friday, 1 November 2019
Aren’t you tired of constantly hearing people talking about the supreme purpose?! Aren’t you tired of hearing that the supreme purpose is either one or the other, and you feel pushed up against the wall?!
The other day, I was reading a metro station banner that said that the supreme purpose in life is achieving happiness. Sure, it sounds wonderful. Just like it always sounds wonderful to hear the advice of certain, auto declared or not, experts in mindfulness.
It’s just that it is a little difficult to put them in practice, especially for those of us who wake up every morning at the same hour, have 9 hours work schedule, to which the time that we spend in traffic to/ from office adds.
I reckon is easy when you have enough money that you can buy time (meaning you have people helping you with organizing stuff: do the shopping, cleaning and repairing the home, having a personalized plan for the health and care of your body, cleaning and ironing clothes etc.).
This is the reason why I cannot buy visuals coming from various influencers/ stars that seem to have the key to how you can better organize your life, how to reduce stress and lead a healthier life. All this, while in the backend everything looks like in the pictures from a magazine.
Life is not, as a matter of fact, like in the pictures from a magazine. I know. We follow various people on social media and their lives seem like it. But it is not! Everything has its back side.
You constantly see pictures from your friends or contacts showing perfect homes, perfect vacations, perfect clothes… Everything must be perfect. Otherwise, we are not satisfied.
I am far from being in the position to give advice. I am no expert in mindfulness, and my life is surely far from being perfect. And I do not wish for it to become, either. But I do have an issue with the pressure that we keep putting on ourselves or the pressure that others put on us.
No supreme purpose exists. We, instead, exist. Even though only temporarily. And we are not at all perfect and nor our existence is.
Not everything has to have a purposeful finality. The important thing is to have, as much as we can or as much as our resources let us, take good care of us, of our needs and of those of the people we care for. And we have to do that by prioritizing. We cannot do everything.
And, sometimes, we have to make something happen for our souls; something that could bring us inner happiness and joy.
So that, in the morning, when the alarm clock rings, we could find meaning in who we are and in the efforts that we make every day.
(you will understand once you've seen the movie Seventeen)
Sunday, 27 October 2019
It's been quite a long time since I last saw a movie telling such a tender story of family relationships, especially those between brothers.
Seventeen (Diecisiete, original title) is about a 17 years old boy that lives in juvenile detention. A smart teenager, who does not care for the use of irony, Hector befriends a dog from the dog-shelter. But the moment he finds out that the dog was adopted and he can no longer see it, Hector decides to escape and find it.
Aside from the fact that this is such a great comedy, you will also be touched by the story. I dearly recommend this movie. I think it's a must see.
(you will crack the code once you've seen the movie)
Sunday, 13 October 2019
I admit. I have been feverishly waiting for this book to be translated and published. I hit refresh so many times on the website of the Polirom publishing house that I thought I would break it, but still the message for this novel continued to be 'To be published' and not 'In stock'.
Yet, the awaited moment came and here was I with the book in my hands.
Usually, after buying a book, I let it rest for a while. But, somehow, I could not be so strong this time. So I went on and started reading it.
Presented as a crime novel, with mystical savour, social analyses, and a tint of humor, reading it did not disappoint me.
We meet Mrs. Duszejko, the main character, in the middle of the night, rushed by her neigbour Oddball, who informs her that their neighbour Big Foot is dead.
Of course, Oddball and Big Foot are nicknames, and so do have the characters in this novel. Mrs. Duszejko considers that names and surnames do not do justice to the personality or appearance of beings (she hates her name).
The chain of dead people (or crimes) continues from this throughout the novel, and gradually the belief that animals have started an act of revenge against hunters is growing in the reader's mind.
Mrs. Duszejko's monologues (because people do not seem to listen to her, nor show interest in participating to the conversation) convinces the reader of her love for animals, for social justice, for the need of freedom and expression, but also of her sensibility towards the value of life, in general.
Maybe you will not fully resonate with the sayings of this cherisher of Blake's poetry, but you will ponder upon some of them.
When I started reading this novel, the announcement of the Nobel Prize winners for Literature was not yet made, but I was thrilled now to find out that the one related to the year of 2018 was awarded to Olga Tokarczuk. What a joy!
Considering the social analysis within this novel, I wish that this novel could reach people from all around the world. When you read the novel, you will understand why.