“Little leaders. Visionary women around the world” by Vashti Harrison

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I do not know if I bought the book for my kid or for myself. Never mind, we both loved it.

The stories of little leaders are well documented. The bios of are filled with factual information in an easily accessible language. A glossary helps understanding some concepts, which could be new for young readers.

We learned a lot about women and girls who had the courage to go beyond and above what was considered “normal” for the times and societies they lived in. Like the story of Fatima Al-Fihri who funded and created in year 859 in Morocco the first degree granting institution in the world, as a precursor for universities. Or Peggy Guggenheim, the art collector who saved modern art pieces, which would have been otherwise destroyed by the nazi regime. Or the work of Sister Corita Kent who used serigraphs to spread bold messages of love and peace.

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Thought of the week

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“History shows us we need labels to help define our place. For hundreds of years, people have categorized others as less so they could feel like more. Color, gender, class, religion, physical handicaps, sexual orientation, and pedigree are just a few ways in which one group is divided from another. For every person who stands superior, another must be inferior. But what does it say of us as a human race when we push others down for our own needs? Does it accomplish the intended goal or simply give rise to a pattern of behavior that can never be broken? What if we all stood equal in one another’s eyes and felt pride at our reflection?” from “The Storyteller’s Secret” by Sejal Badani.

Thought of the week

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The best advice from a teacher in ” The storyteller’s secret” by Sejal Badani:

“I will also advise that when they travel in their stories, they respect the people they meet and the values they hold. Their way of life is not for us to judge but our opportunity to learn. And to never forget that when you offer a hand of respect, you will in turn be welcomed.”

“The storyteller’s secret” by Sejal Badani

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Sejal Badani is a Goodreads Fiction Award finalist for her “Trail of Broken Wings”.

“The storyteller’s secret” novel takes you to India. The novel has two story lines. One is around 1940s-50s and the other one – 30 years forward, each with their own main character: a grand-mother and a grand-daughter.

Jaya – the grand-daughter – came to India from the USA to heal her pain after three miscarriages and the separation from her husband. There, she learns the story of her grandmother from an untouchable, who worked in his grand parents’ house as a faithful servant. Jaya learns of her true heritage when her grand-mother’s secret is revealed by her by that faithful servant. She learns her mother is a fruit of the passion between her grand-mother and a British officer she loved. In healing her own pain, she re-lives her grand-mother’s tough choices of staying in the marriage her parents arranged for her; staying with other other three sons when asked by the man she loved to leave with him and their daughter; stopping to do what she loved – teach and write stories – when family duties called.

In the story, the grand-mother dies young in very tragic circumstances. The author portraits the grand-daughter as a living testament to the materialisation of aspirations of a generation who although oppressed kept her dignity and left a legacy.

The story has a happy end of healing found by those who sought it. Although it gave the book a predictable end, it was just fine, after the intensity if the two parallel life stories of the grand mother and grand-daughter, who “found” each other 30 years after through storytelling.

While some reviews find the book not very exciting, it matched my reading needs at this stage. Even it it is fiction, stories of vulnerable deserve to be told in any form and cherished by those who live to harness the sacrifices made by generations before.

Thank you Bucharest

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Thank you Bucharest

for the funniest pilot on my flights so far: “Ladies and gentlemen, in a few moments we will land in Bucharest. The weather is not as nice as in Frankfurt. Yet, as they say “A nice drink a day, keeps the bad weather away”. Ask my co-pilot for tips on bars in Bucharest. He knows quite a few”. Laughter erupted.

for the glimpse of sun on a cloudy day from my hotel room window. Just make sure you’ll deliver on the promise I made to the lady visiting from Los Angeles. She longed to still meet the sunny you.

for new and renewed partnerships with committed professionals

for your urban garden and very nice time spent in a gorgeous company

your lively street art, which cohabitates with formal art places

an ephemeral ode to bearded men

Lido Hotel’s eclectic deco

the politest and fastest waiter at 5 in the morning in an airport cafe

and last but not least, for my third excellent lady taxi driver, after similar experiences in Paris and Vilnius. “So, there are ladies driving taxis in other countries as well” she was curious to know. She shared in return her experience with a passenger who dared to touch her shoulder and knee. “I was 5 seconds close to test my electroshock device on him and dump him in the forest. In 5 years I am driving, nothing of this sort happened to me. And he seemed a respectable foreigner and interested to know if I am married and have kids!”

That was appalling. I asked her if she can notify the dispatching centers when things like this happen. She should not deal alone with such a situation. “Yes, I can.” she confirmed. Would the passenger have done it if the driver was a male? Highly unlikely.

Upon arrival at the destination, it was gratifying to see her face lit up with unfettered enthusiasm and passion for her work.

Merci Hoerdt

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Merci Hoerdt

for your Celebration of Asparagus

150 years ago a priest had the idea of celebrating the plant.

Since then, each year farmers open their farm gates to visitors in May in the Alsatian village of Hoerdt, north of Strasbourg.

Local cafes and restaurants offer all sorts of dishes inspired by asparagus. We tried asparagus velouté, quiche and salads at Cafe Creme, a family- run and family-welcoming business.

The celebration culminated with a procession headed by Miss and Mister Asparagus, the villagers elect the night before.

Hoerdt is a charming village to spend an afternoon, when touring Alsace and the region.