Freitag, 25. November 2011

Huge Pomegranate

Huge pomegranates at a Turkish vegetables shop near Adenauerplatz. Impressive catch, isn't it?

Montag, 21. November 2011


More than three years ago, a smart friend introduced me to the world of TED and months after I watched fascinated the discussions about "ideas worth spreading". I learned a lot about how to make smart presentations and how to introduce your ideas in a challenging way and still learning how to do it properly.

A couple of days ago, I was offered the chance to participate at the TEDxBerlin, an independent event featuring local and international speakers. I was very happy and thinking that maybe I should set the target of being one of the speakers of a similar event myself (don't ask me what x edition, as I continue to be a proud and happy nomad).

This year, the common denominator of the talks was energy - an issue dear to the heart of Berliners and Germans in general. But, following the traditional way of putting things into perspective, the talks weren't exclusively technical and loaded with complicated equations about energy. Most part of them were projecting ideas about energy as a human and social resource, that we should learn to use it better and smartly, be it in business, daily life or creation. 

Early in the morning, from the U-Bahn station, we were delicately directed to the location: a classical place for organizing events in Berlin - The Station, former part of the Dresdner station at the end of the 19th century, reentered in the public use only a couple of years ago. Since I am in Berlin, I learned to go beyond the aesthetical - term that could easily be equivaleted to luxury and glamour - aspects of the place as most part of the exhibitions, conferences and performances spaces are former industrial areas. During the winter, the disadvantage might be the problematic heating. At TEDx, I felt the one digit temperature during the first session, but the energy of the electric heaters brought back the normality for the rest of the day.
Entering TEDx
The music tank, by Nik Nowak
The audience was predominantly young and nerdy: people checking assiduously their very smart cell phones, iPads and other sophisticated devices - but without talking on the phone during the event; conference speakers dressed nonconformistically. Answering the target, the food and the drinks were perfectly fit: vegetarian food for lunch, fresh bunches of mint for tea, various natural drinks and frozen yogurts for desert and cappuccino with bio milk. The only "serious" and "traditional" presence was Audi, who offered some leaflets, a car at the entrance and some packs with black notebooks and silver pens. 
Colourful chairs for nerds

The conclusion of the long day - I enjoyed every single discussion, felt brainstormed for more than 6 hours and will be happy to repeat this experience as soon as possible. Out of a long list, I will mention a couple of intervenients that captivated me: Thimon von Berlepsch (magician), Mischer'Traxler a creative duo making objects by sun-generated power, Benedikt Foit and Habib Lesevic suggesting a revolutionary way of considering business beyond the consumerism or Verena Delius who adviced about five small and smart stept for saving and improving your business. And promise to watch one more time the tips about How to Spot a Liar
Wish I have such a healthy brainstorming at least once the day!

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The shadows of autumn

Sonntag, 20. November 2011

The World of Muslims

I was extremely excited to go to the exhibition dedicated to the Muslim World or to the World of Muslims recently opened at the Ethnological Museum Dahlem. I agree that there are many unknown things about this world and a better understanding is more than necessary. On the other hand, the complexity of a world cannot be reduced to PR-istic and simplistic ways to introducing a culture to the wide world. For example, trying to find common elements where there isn't the case or avoiding some discrepancies through a complicate but nonsensical language - "The spatial separation of genders is consistent with an ethic that regulates the relations between the genders, attributing modesty to woman and pugnacity to man" - doesn't contribute at all to a fair understanding of the other culture. It may be a way to present complicate cultures to the world without reducing it to an ennumeration of positive but purposeless words. Honesty and balanced view could a better and fair choice, isn't it?

The exhibition is covering extensively Pakistan, Tadjikistan, Afghanistan but also Iran - two burqa - Jordan - one woman's dress - or Turkey. The focus is on objects from the daily life - many carpets, embroideries, musical instruments, rifle sheaths, hijabs - presented as "commitment to faith and expression of identity" - shtenders, prayer objects - stones, calendar or camel adornments. Many are originating from the private collections of Oskar von Niedermayer or Willi Rickmer Rickmers

I loved the colours and some of the cultural information I found there. Overall, I am trying to follow a quote I spotted during the exhibition: "If you cannot say anything good, don't say anything at all". Let's the image talk by themselves, then. 

Costumes from the Pashtun area

Felt rugs of the Kyrgysz

Various models of shtenders

Iranian burqas

Two dervished hats from a tomb

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Markt der Kontinente

Time for multi-kulti celebration in Dahlem: this week-end supporters from all over the world - but mostly from Africa and Latin America - gathered for two days at the Ethnological Museum in Dahlem  presenting and selling colourful and original merchandise. Organized in the German tradition of the much-loved Christmas Fairs, the event gathered kids and parents, museum fans or simply shoppers. The price was of 6 Euro - the entrance price at the museum. Beyond the generous offer of products - not extremely cheap, but including many handmade products - there were also organized workshops for kids - cooking, playing "exotic" instruments -, concerts and movie projections. Today, on the last day, it was plenty of people, out of which almost half were window shopping. A good news probably for the many foundations and individuals raising funds for  various humanitarian causes, most part of them located in Africa.
The offer of food wasn't extraordinary: some fresh drinks and minimum dishes - as sweet potatoes; anyway, the place was extremely busy and not too many free places to stay quietly and eat. Let's say it was exclusively food for thought.
Leather and various jewelries

The colourful and tasty world of spices

The treasures from Senegal

Nice presents for the little ones

Huge kites for the Chinese New Year - and not only

A cozy corner with lots of precious stones

The simplity of nature

Difficult choice, isn't it?

The gentle African touch

Precious puppets

Elegant wools

The call of Africa

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Donnerstag, 17. November 2011

The S-Bahn at 4am

As I'm always finding impossible travel schedules - but, on the other hand, I am the only one qualified to do so around - we started our journey out of Berlin at 4am. We carefully checked the U-Bahn schedule two days before, but still we were late and jogged for five minutes for being sure that we will be on time at the airport. For a couple of hours they showed their love by silence and I understood very well that they weren't too happy with my choices. But, as I previously outlined, I am the one and only able to put  together impossible destinations with low budgets and demanding schedules. 

Because the infinite politeness of my gang, I had enough time to observe the people around. You may wonder how many people were around at 4am in a normal working day? The answer is: many of them. Tired already, taking a power nap, drinking their coffee or reading some newspapers, the Berlin's working class early in the morning is different of the people returning home at 7pm. The U-Bahn went from the West to the East (final destination: Rudow) with more and more people coming and going. For 40 minutes, I realized that despite the appearances it is a category working hard in this city - and not only spending money as eternal tourists - with 2-3 different jobs the day. In a way, I was thinking that beyond the daily chaos, it is a chance of a normal and better life for the average humans living here - not necessarily artists and creative all over the world. 

Since I'm back, the weather was so bad that I didn't dare to go too far away of my warm crib.
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Frozen Yogurt - Berlin style

Two Americans opened recently - on the occasion of the 125 anniversary of Ku'damm - a frozen yogurt boutique, very close to the Zoo and near Ku'damm: FroYoCake.

I am passing through the place every week at least twice, but didn't have enough curiosity to stop by and have a bit of something. Now, when I will have to wait for the summer for at least 5 months, I decided it's the right moment for some frozen food.

But, as soon as I found the muffins - elegant and homemade - I gave up the curiosity of tasting the Made in Berlin frozen yogurt and pick up a vanilla muffin. A good taste and nice appearance.

For the youngest member of our family, the choice was clear: frozen yogurt (as a diplomatic way to enjoy two icecreams the day). You are free to make your own combination and pick up the size fitting you (ours was "small"). Satisfaction guaranteed and at the end I made renewed promises to return in the near future (most probably today is the right time).

I apologize for the bad quality of the pictures (I am still making efforts to optimize the use of my smart phone) but you should believe me that the experience is worth. The place is small, quiet and cozy, with one lady giving advice about the best combinations (including in English). Frozen yogurt is the new entry in Berlin's menus, and I am sure many improvements will follow in the next months, but for the moment I am happy with the offer and promise to continue the research in other places as well.

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