Friday, 25 October 2013

The Week Around The World in Photos (Vol. 7)

My ever reliable commute companion came up with a 'window display' theme for this week where readers sent in window shop and market stall shots they chanced upon their travels or maybe commute to work. 

Here are the very few that came through:

photo by Elizabeth Allen
I have an appetite for luxury fashion, but certainly not big enough to interpret this Louis Vuitton window display in Marina Bay, Singapore. My monthly subscription to Vogue didn't prepare me for the scholarly decipherment of whatever fashion code is hidden behind the tentacles. Any ideas?

photo by Kev Ball
 No, thanks.

photo by Gillian Parker
I expect this in a charity shop where window dressing and visual merchandising are a jumbled puzzle. Spotted at Apollo Bay in Australia.

photo by J Foley
 Yes, Asians like having their family members working for the family business, they even employ the house cat. Cat selling fruit and veg in Hong Kong.

photo by Steve Quinn
Cheap and chic perhaps? Even the one who put up the ad couldn't make up its mind. What could they be selling in Egypt?

photo by Kev Ball
This is more a mural in Huddersfield.

On a transatlantic note,

Banksy's over in New York and Mayor Bloomberg is not happy that he's defacing his city, the NYPD is out to get him. Banksy overlooked that Mr Bloomberg doesn't share the same humour as Mayor Boris Johnson's.

Here are some of Banksy's New York artworks:

How Banksy does it unbeknownst to everyone around him is an art in itself. To see the rest of his works, click HERE.

Not related to any of the above, but I'll include this anyway as anything OTT catches my radar for one reason: it's ridiculous.

£500,000 for a vaping stick? Why not, if you're a Russian billionaire. This device, similar to an e-cigarette, is diamond-studded and comes with a £46,000 sparkler. The oil tycoon bought this for his girlfriend to encourage her to stop smoking. That's a high price to pay for good health.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Are You Keeping A Secret?

"All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret."
- Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Gabriel García Márquez: a Life

I froze. I heard the boys' names mockingly mentioned by one of the girls who belonged to the 'It' group of my sophomore class. I was mortified. I thought my school uniform and I were simultaneously stapled on my seat.

How did they know the names of my secret crushes in our village? I never told anyone but my five-year-old sister. I didn't think she would betray me. 

Unless my diary did. My diary! My diary which I mistakenly left on my armchair on a quick trip to the lavatory. I took a furtive glance and saw that my teenage diary was fortunately still inside my school bag, but the secrets it held were unfortunately not.   

I was 13. The embarrassment of knowing that someone else has read the things I wouldn't tell another soul just because I wouldn't, broke my attachment to diary-keeping. All the other diaries I  kept after that were functional and practical when-was-my-last-period-and-what-about-the-next-exam kind of record-keeping. 

photo credit:

But then, habits don't just abandon you. So at 19, I started a diary again. Not just one, for I have a notebook fetish. I judge one by its cover. I don't write as often as I used to as my life then isn't as tangled as it is now, but when I do, I write like a madwoman. 

 My three diaries. From L to R: green hardbound is from 1996 (has witnessed just a year short of half of my entire life that my Facebook timeline can't rival); brown in the middle with embroidered circles is from 2007; and the hardbound black Moleskine is from my 2012 birthday.

I keep one (green) for my deepest, innermost, unedited, and most secret thoughts and feelings that I know and am sure I will be harshly judged for, if not misunderstood, if I tell anyone. Another one (brown) is for constructive thoughts and ideas that make up my future life plans.  The third one (black) is for random musings on topics and plots to write about. I must say though that some of the best thoughts are those that come in passing where I find myself smiling
photo credit:
 A soldier's diary entry from the trenches, written on my birthday.

Lost Art
In the same respect as letter-writing, diary-keeping is a dying art, if not a hobby from the past whose embers are nervously flickering from eventually getting snuffed. 

photo credit: metro

An article (amongst so many other articles) was published a couple of weeks ago prior to the release of the book 'Mad About The Boy' which is Helen Fielding's third book on one famous fictional diarist, Bridget Jones, whose calorific and alcohol-unit-doused diary pages and resolve to stay away from megalomaniacs and emotional f***wits directly spoke to lots of thirty-something women in the late 90s and early 2000s, they were convinced Ms. Fielding was writing about their own loveable dippy selves, before the same horde followed the 'shoesteps' of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. 

photo credit:

Bridget Jones' diary has come into the consciousness of mainstream moviegoers, even straight men have seen the film adaptations. The writer questions whether the musings we scribble on our diaries and journals are more worthy (in his words) than our posts on social media platforms. 

Are they really?

My Diary and Me: We Go Back A Long Way
I've kept a diary since I was 12 for several reasons: I was ready to give up my slambook; I didn't think that scented stationeries glued  together would make me a sophisticated diarist; I've always loved the written words and thought that I might as well put my own thoughts into writing in an organised bound notebook rather than on old scraps of ledger books I used to manage to get my hands on; and I was inspired by Anne Frank whose world I saw came crashing down through her diary (which also ignited my very strong fascination with World War II events, I'm surprised I didn't major in History. But that's another story). 

photo credit:
 The Diary of a Young Girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, written in Dutch and has been published in 60 different languages.

If you've ever read Archie's Digest, the highschool kids (Betty, Veronica, Big Moose, Jughead, et al.) thought of burying a time capsule that would contain their batch's memorabilia (apologies to my UK readers as this is very American as Archie, highschool yearbooks, and my cultural influences, that you probably won't get it) that they will one day unearth during homecoming (proms have reached the UK, so this one's next). 

I think every person is sentimental and introspective at varying degrees and expressions, and whilst a time capsule wasn't up my street, keeping a diary certainly appealed to my occasional bouts of retrospection.

People who've never even kept a diary before have social media accounts where they rant (albeit still edited for grammar and profanity--well, at least for some), type in a 1,000-character status update on how their day went or comment on someone else's 1,000-character status update, or just spew unfiltered random thoughts (justifies talking to ourselves).

In other words, social media have turned the world into online 'diarists' albeit with a major deviation from traditional diary-writing in keeping with the hallmark of modern self-expression: the need for an audience. 

In that sense, traditional diaries and social media aren't even equivalent. The purpose may be similar but the experience is not the same. 

Interaction V Seclusion
Famous diarists such as Samuel Pepys, Lewis Carroll, Anne Frank, and Virginia Woolf have shed insights about their personalities and thought processes in response to their environment, the past, and have helped historians document the events around their time. With the exception of Anaïs Nin whose unexpurgated diary versions have credited her as one of the first women authors of female erotica, all the other historical diarists I mentioned didn't deliberately write for publication. 

photo credit:
   Virginia Woolf in her younger days

I very highly doubt that my own diaries will be published one day, and even if it gets to that point, I have to be long gone or else I'll drop dead from the second wave of embarrassment from having my personal diary being read by not just a few highschool girls but by a wider group of audience who I can imagine would be more cynical.  

Keeping a diary is my way of taking time to see myself as an observer of my own thoughts and feelings. When I read back entries from months or even years ago, I find that either  I shock myself or I turn into a prude, red-faced from reading my own writings.
photo credit:

 Anaïs Nin

Diary-writing is reaching out to my inner core. Writing my thoughts allows me to have a proper conversation with myself. Silently. Sometimes it's best to work things out on our own as others can only listen so much to our lamentations. People will run out of patience listening to us; our diaries will only run out of pages and our pens of ink. I love that it is uncensored, unedited, not meant for anyone's approval or dislike (unless of course it gets to the hands of the unscrupulous and nosy), and that it's cathartic and purgative. It rids me of baggages that I can throw around when there's no opportunity to offload. A diary is a depository of thoughts--thoughts that I withdraw when I need enrichment of my life through learning from my past.  

The Great Diary Project
Our generation has learned a thing or two from these well-known diarists, from the poignant to the explicit. What will the future generation make out of ours one day?

This has driven Dr. Irving Finkel, curator in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum, to amass ordinary people's diaries for long-term preservation via the Great Diary Project. Diaries of any kind or date are rescued to be eventually permanently housed at Bishopsgate Institute in London.  

photo credit:

Dr. Finkel has collected over 2,000 diaries to date and is looking into extending that to as much as what can possibly be sourced. I've come across a piece from 2001 (I'm sorry I couldn't find it again!) when he initially planned to bury all the diaries in an empty tube station for future Londoners to stumble onto a 'gold dust' of social history.

One diary in the collection was written over a stretch of 70 years, another was from 200 years ago, and still another set in affluent Richmond, south west London during the war, but seemed to deliberately not mention the war in the pages. 

My diaries might just find their way to Bishopsgate Institute upon their retirement, but in the meantime they still have to do a lot of putting up with my musings and rants.

Scribble or Type?
Going back to the question posed by the writer: are the musings we scribble on our diaries and journals [are] more worthy than our posts on social media platforms?

It's not necessarily about being more worthy, but about being more intimate. We totally own the thoughts we write on a diary as they aren't shared, not liked, not retweeted, and not discussed on a thread or commented on. It's not exposed to be validated by others but only by yourself--if not now, then in the future when you want to look back and reflect on how you felt at certain important stages in your life and see how far you've gone. 

To each his own, really, but I love keeping a secret life.





Friday, 11 October 2013

The Week Around The World In Photos (Vol. 6)

(Hilarious) Signs of the Times

Every week, Metro (I'm not endorsing them by the way, I just happen to pick it up on my daily commute to work as it's free,  browsing it gives me shareable finds, and it prevents me from staring at whoever's sat opposite me on the tube) hosts a themed challenge for their readers, and last week it was called 'It's A Sign.'

All sign spotters were encouraged to send in their snapshots of funny, hilarious, quirky, unusual, and malapropism-guilty road signs they've seen, walked past or driven by, that prompted them to stop to take photos. The staff's picks were featured in their section called Your World and the best one won 40 quid worth of Amazon vouchers.

Here are my favourites :)

photo by Lone Konradsen
The timer starts NOW. Seen at Aalborg airport in Denmark. No cheating.

photo by Gill Williams
Lunch hasn't been launched yet in a cafe at Coral Beach, Cyprus.

photo by Zillah Garde
The problem when a noun can also be used as a verb.

photo by Gosia Cudniewicz
Somewhere between LA and the Grand Canyon. Stuck with the XYZs of things. Raise your hand if you've been there, or better yet, if you live there.

photo by Fiona Henderson
The photographer and a friend found this road sign while traveling in Scotland. Where does LOST lead you?

photo by Kev Ball
A farmer has had enough of motorists getting stuck by following their sat navs.

photo by Steve Lovell
Short for 'We apologise for any inconvenience", as seen in Doha. Qatar.

photo by Tony Marsh
 Now, why would you put your pet bird on top of this sign? Sign spotter Mr Marsh says it could only be a warning to those birds who can read.

photo by Sarah Hurwitz
 Hahahahaha. That's all. Found in Australia.

photo by Magdalena Suchora
 Miss Suchora and her partner went on a trip to Antwerp to buy an engagement ring. This must've led them to the jewellery shop.

photo by Marcus Starling
The funkiest NO ENTRY sign in all of Saffron Hill.

photo by Mark Himsworth
 Spotted somewhere in Austria. Will Jason be there?

photo by Maria Toes
Choose carefully. Just a heads-up: RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT. Found in Boulder City, Nevada.

photo by Dave Slater
 Shall we reverse the roles? Spotted in Southampton.

photo by Vince Pol
 Seen in rural New Zealand. The point of no return. You've been warned.

photo by Ben Smith
At London Bridge station, you have to squeeze yourself in just a little bit to get out. Don't forget to queue!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Week Around The World In Photos (Vol. 5)

Natural beauty is always mesmerising. If we need recouping of energy and inspiration, we're often advised to retreat to the mountains or the sea, or even just sit in a park and look at the trees and smell the grass. I can hear you drawing a deep breath just thinking of that.

This week, I gathered some pictures which most would be delighted to see or experience at the end of a stressful work week perhaps, or upon a wishful-thinking-wild-card windfall that allows you to drop whatever you're doing, jump in the car, or book a hotel close to these beauties or some place similar.

PA for Metro

Off the coast of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, England are a man and a woman looking out into the sea. The Couple, as they are known, are bronze statues created by British sculptor Sean Henry who's known for fusing ceramics with sculptures for a polychromatic art.

Mr. Henry's other best known works include Lying Man (at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Scupture Park, Michigan); Standing Man (at Stockholm, Sweden); Walking Woman (at Ekeberg Sculpture Park, Oslo, Norway); and Man with Potential Selves (at Le Meridien Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, London).

 For all other Sean Henry sculptures, click here.

AP for Metro
An ice wonder or waste of water? 

At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, 4million gallons of water were fused together to create a 20ft (6m) Ice Castle. It was closed on 9 March 2013 due to heavy downpours in Minnesota, and will re-open in January 2014. On the last opening day, the organisers gave away complimentary hot chocolate and freshly baked mini donuts for each guest. 

For more info and updates, check out the attraction's Facebook page here.

AP for Metro

Aaahh...what a spectacular sight of the Northern Lights in Talkeetna, Alaska. Apparently the aurora borealis is the only reason that could drag Alaskans out in the dead of winter without a coat.

AP for Metro

What is it with sunsets by the sea that automatically turns on anybody's reflective mode? The cinematic effect draws us to close our eyes, raise our head and breathe in the sea. This sunset at the coast of Acadia National Park in Maine is so picturesque it could pass for a mural as opposed to being lifelike. 

I went on the official website of the park to find out more about it, but due to the US Federal government shutdown, this was what I got.

I'm sure you've come across it--that quintessential yoga pose of a woman stretching out in a Virabhadrasana III pose or Natarajasana with the sun setting in the background. I have tried al fresco Body Balance and these yoga standing positions brought out a slightly more spiritual sense because of the commune with nature.

Reuters for Metro

Along the shores of the English Bay in Vancouver, British Columbia, a woman does the Vrksasana or tree pose with more outstretched arms.

This last photo reminds me of a scene in the movie 'The Gladiator' where Maximus, played by Russel Crowe, was walking through a wheat field in his dreams, signifying his homecoming.

Reuters for Metro

Fields of gold. A man brushes his hand against wheat in El-Menoufia, Egypt.

And so photos have got me going places again while lounging in my sofa. I even managed to do yoga. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Have a good week everyone!

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