Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy roses - a fashion that will last for how long

I have to say that I was amazed by these colorful roses at first sight. Some people call them rainbow roses, which easily let people connecting with something else also famous in this country. The company who developed this call it happy rose, because its unique cheerful color will immediately cheer you up. Has this picture cheered you up?

I came across this first from an online forum. And then I found there were quite a few blog have mentioned about it. There are people in US already successfully bought it (see here): The Roses are created in Amsterdam and then purchased on the flower auction…they are shipped via FedEX to Milwaukee and then Fedex to the Florist.

The Happy Roses are substantially more than a regular rose as the process used to create these magical roses is very labor intensive… however We all agree that the roses are worth every penny. The Average Retail Price of a Rainbow Rose is about $10 a stem.

These roses are truly not natural grown. First, the nicest and finest rose branches of selected rose varieties are purchased and used to make Happy Roses. They are placed in special water. Different substances are dissolved in this water. The rose branch absorbs this water as part of a natural process. This is what changes the color of the petals. What makes Happy Roses unique is that the inventor has managed to color a few petals, for example, yellow, whilst at the same time other petals color differently, for example, blue, orange or lilac.

I don't know why, these roses bring me the feeling of only surprise at the first sight, and nothing more like that. It looks like a bloody show-off fashion that might go away very soon. First I have to admit that i am not a trendy person and don't like to follow trends. We always joke on this that if the whole world population is like us, the world economy will never boom... However, for roses, I have another reason to like or dislike. If it is nature, I like the original nature. It is like a pretty young gilr covered with layers of make-up, not my taste. Roses have been used to express very sincere emotional feelings. People have given different color roses different meanings attaching to them. How can they mix up different feelings? I just can't connect this rainbow roses with happiness, a feeling that you don't find any categories to go with. Nothing more than surprise at the beginning, and slowly hatred.

There was a following comments in J's blog that some people asking how much it would cost if using these roses to decorate a wedding... I really don't want to imagine how the wedding will look like. The world is so different, and I am so different.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Studio Laurens van Wieringen capet design

The Carpet is constructed from many little 'foam-bars' in different colours and heights.
Together these 'foam-bars' show an image of a landscape in color and a relief in height.

Studio Laurens van Wieringen has presented this carpet that used polyurethane foam, using different color and height of cubes to present a landscape. Since it was meant for a carpet, the unevenness of the surface has nothing to do with the color or the real landscape altitude. For me, it might make more sense to treat it as a wall painting, rather than stepping underneath your feet.

What amazed me the most is the designer's thank note to his friends: "Special thanks to all 29 friends for helping with realizing this crazy production." This is totally a design work that out of someone's passion, with his friends' help. It is the worthless friendship.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why Dutch Design is so Good

Dutch are famous for its achievement in the design field. It's hard to say that the Dutch are modest about their design sensibilities with a book title like "Why Dutch Design Is So Good" but Aaron Betsky and Adam Eeuwens.

Before coming to this place, many people have shown me their appreciation of the dutch design. It is also true that Dutch is quite often connected with: creative, artistic, innovative... After coming here, there was another big finding, Designers in Amsterdam are the best. A little funny? A colleague's husband is an architect, and she has to take an hour train ride to the office every morning. The reason that her husband won't want to move here is because, only architects in Amsterdam are respected as good ones. ho ho...

Thus I am going to start a new theme about Dutch design, things I find, heard, or see in my orange journey. Here comes the first one: a carpet with feeling of falling leaves.

Tord Boontje is an industrial designer who was commissioned by Nani Marquina to create his Little Field of Flowers Rug (2006). Similar to Marquina's Roses Rug, this design uses die-cutting to create the shapes of flowers and leaves. There are six distinct shapes of flower combinations, in three different tonalities, which creates an intriguing composition that's all about movement, texture and color.

A witty approach to a floor covering, Boontje brings the experience of walking through a meadow into an interior space. The rug is hand-loomed using a manually actuated loom, and features both looped and cut pile. Boontje's many awards include 2005 Dutch Designer of the Year, and the 2006 IF Product Design Award. Together with the nonprofit Care & Fair, Nani Marquina is fighting against illegal child labor in the manufacturing of carpets.

6000 dollars for this piece, do you want to order one? I have been wondering the cleaning of this carpet, will vacuum cleaner suck some of the leaves away?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Durga Puja in Kolkata

In Bengali there is a saying that there are thirteen festivals in twelve months. Durga puja is definitely the star one of them. We consider Goddess Durga comes down from the heavenly abode to our dear earth at this time of the year as if a daughter visits her parent's house for four days. Perhaps our city Kolkata displays more frenzy at her approach.

Plans for the puja start months ahead of the event. Family pujas are observed in the traditional way where as collective pujas ,we call it 'baro-jary' Pujas. It is derived from baro (twelve), and jary (friends). Actually such venture was first kicked off on the decision of twelve friends who thought such pujas may be organized. With the passage of time such pujas have gained more strength. To provide competitive atmosphere some business houses are offering prizes for best idol, best decoration, best theme of pandal etc. etc.

On the other side , this is the most important time for the business groups. They keep their shops open for all the seven days of the week for about a month ahead of the event. Starting from dresses, jeweleries to food grains to sweetmeat dealers make most during this time. Discounts of special nature are offered for different household items. This gives a great boost to other sectors also. The idol makers,the pandal decorators, the lighting experts are all having a busy business time.

No festival is complete without special foods. Hotels & Restaurants prepare special dishes for the festive periods. Many people do enjoy foods outside their houses when they are busy in pandal hopping. The city does not sleep during these days. The puja has gradually become an international event. With more & more Bengali migrating to different countries of the worlds, it is observed as a point of get-together or reunion.

This is the biggest Bengali festival in a year that I have been wanting to be present once later. Every year around this time, we were asked to buy some good clothes for ourselves for this festival. We should also greet family members 'shubho bijoya'. If we are there, we should also touch the elders' feet to show respect. Senior Awaara wrote another piece for this, and I still feel that there were more interesting part. You might want to read some more from this New York Times article: A 10-Armed Goddess Charms a Frenetic Megalopolis .

What I was fascinated the most is that, during this festival for three days, the place where Mr. and Mrs. Senior Awaara live, hired cooks to cook for the whole community, both breakfast and lunch. Of course everyone donate some money to make this happen. Moreover, it is also a great community participation with their passion and effort. Mrs. Senior Awaara couldn't find time to talk with us, since she was running busy all the time from early morning till evening for the work involved in this celebration. She and some other ladies in the neighborhood, once got up in the morning at 3:00am, to make prassad, a kind of sweet, to be given to the God and Goddess.

PS. The photo was taken by Mr. Awaara's sister in a Bombay.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why do Dutch fear?

This is a question we can't understand very well. In such an affluent country with very low crime rate, why do people fear?

Proofs of fear:

1. When we were about to buy a bike, we first thought about buying a good one, maybe around 600 euro. Everyone we talked to said no. Your bike will get stolen if it is so good. Never buy a good bike. Mr. Awaara's colleague spends one euro per night for bike parking in a secured garage, that is more than 300 euro per year, can buy a pretty good bike.

2. Our land lady couple went to Suriname for three weeks' vacation and asked a friend to come to check her apartment once in a while. Once we saw the light downstairs were on, so we went to turned it off. Later we found out, that was what that friend did. She turned the light on, and later came back to turned them off. It created the feeling that there were people living and they were at home.

3. We once lost one set of our home key, and we called the police in the meantime asking for suggestions on possible reasons. The police suggested that we should get our lock changed, since you never know whether some person were trying to be evil. This made us extremely cautious in the following week, fearing someone would follow us home and find out where we live. The end of that week when there was not much hope of getting the lost key back, we finally changed the lock.

4. Maybe because of all these fears rendered, I also got frustrated sometimes. Mr. Awaara had an office trip and told me that would end after dinner around 8:00pm. I started getting panic around 10:30pm after I couldn't connect to his cellphone. The call just ended after several rings, and a sentence of unknown dutch. (He was very wrong in not trying to call me, he agreed.) For the first time in my life, I called the police number 112. The police told me that I could go to the police station to file a missing person report if I like... ... Thank God, he came back after the midnight.

Counter proof:

1. The first day here when I was lost with the taxi driver in the town and Mr. Awaara was looking for me around the train station, he met a policeman on bike. He comforted him, if the driver couldn't find the place, he should come back here. It is a small town.

2. When we forgot our key and knocked our neighbor's door, asking whether they would let us get in from their balcony, they were very helpful.

Little evidence:

Most people have lost bikes experiences. Our housing rental agent said he lost five during the time he was here. He is around late 20s. I asked how. He explained that he sometimes forgot where he parked his bike, and when he remembered and went to look for, it was gone. ... well, not very much convincing evidence that worth fearing if you are a little more careful.

Maybe my proof were not that valid, but I really don't like people behave like that. Or maybe we should say, that was not fear, that was just pre-cautious. That makes me feel better.

Ps. The painting on the top right is by Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch 'the screaming', a famous painting about fear.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bikers in the Netherlands II

Bikers vary sometimes because of the bikes they use. Look at this unique wooden box in front of the bike. Dutch people are good engineers. They are good at making things for their own needs.

You understand what is their own needs? This big basket is for their daughter. There is even a seat inside. However, graffiti didn't miss this tiny surface.

This is a much more bigger and comfortable one. It is lower and looks safer. Two kids can stay inside. They even have a transparent plastic rain shelter.

A family of four in their weekend trip.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bikes in the Netherlands II

The bike are mostly with higher handles, which make the biking more comfortable. This one is quite strong. Mr. Awaara's office has bought this kind of bikes for office use, which they can sometimes check out. You might find out, there is no hand break for this bike, it is pedal break, the only inconvenience that you might take a while to get used to.

This is a foldable bike which you can fold it and take it to your train journey. For other kind of bikes if you want to take on the train, you have to buy a ticket for the traveling. It is 6 euro a day's unlimited travel.

These two are from a bike rental company. They most of the time make their bikes in brightest color, and strong.

Bikes can be personalized in many ways.

This is also a flower decorated bike, but with two seats for kids at the back!

Here is an inbuilt front seat for a kid in the front.

A much comfortable seat for kids, sometimes can hold as many as four kids in the front.

This is a newer model of the previous one. Shelter for the kids' seats is always necessary when parking since the rain comes any time.

These are a family of three, on adult with two kids. The kid sitting behind must always dream someday he/she would own his/her own bike.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

October 2 - Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday

October second is Gandhi's birthday, a day in India that has been celebrated as a national holiday. Every year on this day, Mr. Awaara remembers that the film Gandhi which has won nine Oscar award in 1982, is shown on TV.

Around a month ago a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela has been unveiled in the Parliament Square in London. After that, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has said he would like to see a statue of Gandhi in the Square. In his words, "You get millions of people from all over the world who come to see Big Ben and see the statue of Churchill and so on, and here's someone they would understand. In a thousand years they'll still know who Mahatma Gandhi was, whereas if you wander round Trafalgar Square, the two generals there, you have to go and check the history books.

Mr. Awaara Senior was asked to write a little about Gandhi, and here is what he wrote:

I was born in the year 1946, India got independence in 1947 and Gandhi was assassinated in 1948.
So, I could not feel the presence of this great man during his lifetime. What I have experienced in the subsequent years is his sacrifice & influence of the power of non-violence that was practiced & preached by him throughout his life. Gandhiji* was great as a politician,as a leader of men ,as a reformer. He was greater than all these as a man.
Gandhiji is an icon to all classes of people in India. He is remembered ,referred & quoted for all purposes.
His B`days come & go every year ,celebrated with much fanfare & new statues of all shapes & sizes are unveiled by eminent peoples at different corners of the country as well as abroad. Still his principle of non-violence is being practiced whether in South Africa or Myanmer. His life has been a lesson for all ages to come.

* Gandhiji is a respected way of calling Gandhi. Adding ji after any name is showing your respect in Indian language.

Gandhi has his talisman to share with people. Talisman is
something that produce apparently magical or miraculous effects. I think it is also meaningful to share with everyone here who happen to read this post. If you understand it and practice it, it is magic.

I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bikers in the Netherlands

Bikes are part of daily life, so you see all sorts of ideas about bikes, some you might not have imagined.

This is a normal one, biking with a backpack.

Let the bike take the load of bikes - this is the typical way of carrying load. We also use this as our grocery shopping car. Some bikes have it hanging on one side, some on both sides. I always wonder the one sided bag might distort the balance of biking.

Even the front wheel can hold something. Of course these front baskets are much lighter, and more for decorating purpose. Imaging going to the Saturday market and come back with flowers in your front. Sounds like a happy ride?

Have you seen kids' bike seat on bikes? It has so many varieties, and I will try to show them all to you.

Taking kid home from school.

I always wonder at what age here kids start biking. All the time I got amazed. Look at this little girl going to the book store with her daddy. She is locking her bike before entering. There are no supporting small wheels for this bike!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bikes in the Netherlands

Bikes are the major commuting vehicle here in this country who are famous for its innovative designers. Let's start from two fascinating bikes. I took these pictures from a shop window on a street in Rotterdam on a Sunday. Since the store was closed, the picture had some window reflections. You get the idea?

Choose the seat that fits you the best!

Choose the handle that fits your height!
(People do not like the mountain bikes when bikes become a daily commute tool. We have one mountain bike and it really needs something like this one to attach to. The handles are low so you have to bend a lot to bike. We are not exercising on designated trails, sitting straight and watch the street signs are more important. )