CULTURE SHOCK

Life in Queens (the Most Diverse Borough of the Most Diverse City in the World)

Archive for April, 2014


Vegetarian Culture

People choose to be vegetarian for various reasons. Common misconceptions confuse people about the reasons behind the choice to be vegetarian or vegan, and therefore, I have decided to clear some of these confusions.

I have been a vegetarian for all my life and I choose to, not because of religious reasons, but because I don’t believe that harm should be done to innocent animals. I plan on one day converting to veganism as well, because the way dairy farms use animals is entirely inhumane. A couple of days ago, I was at a restaurant in the city. I asked for tomato basil soup, and when told that they were out of it, I asked if I could just buy the salad by itself. It was a combo meal and because of this, the man behind the counter kept pushing for me to try their chicken soup. I explained several times that I do not eat meat, and he continuously responded with, “Can’t you just eat meat for today?”

This is the biggest misconception people have about vegetarianism. Many people believe it can be an on and off thing, but there is no switch in my mind that can allow me to flip back and forth. Yes, it can be difficult finding meals at restaurants that aren’t completely vegan or vegetarian, but at the same time, I would not allow for that to be a reason to eat meat.

Most vegetarians eat fish and seafood. Personally, I never understood this, because they are still living breathing creatures, so why don’t they classify as meat? I don’t eat them because anything with a face should probably be called an animal.

Now, to speak about the religious views on vegetarianism. Many people assume that because I am Indian and a vegetarian, I am Hindu. Whilst it is true that I come from a Hindu family, not all Hindu’s are vegetarian. Actually, only 20-30% of them are. Hinduism does not say to be a vegetarian, but rather to respect animals (especially the cow- because it is sacred) and live a humane life. It is actually Jainism that says that all should be vegetarian. Most Jain’s are considered lacto-vegetarians or vegans, because they do not consumes eggs or any animal product other than milk. Both Hinduism and Jainism say that non-violence to animals is key to the religion.

Other religions, such as Sikhism and Judaism, have guidelines on the extent to which animals can be harmed for food. Each varies slightly, but in the end, the basic ideas remain the same: to have respect for these animals.

For some more information on vegetarianism and veganism, you can visit http://www.peta.org/living/food/vegetarian-101/.

Pre- Summer Travelling Guide

Now that it’s April and we only have a few more weeks of school ahead of us, many people have started planning their trips to places all around the work. So no matter whether you are visiting family in your birthplace or travelling in anticipation of a new cultural experience, a good Travel Guide is definitely necessary!

Packing

Pack light! I shouldn’t be the one saying this, considering I insist that I need to bring my entire closet along with me on every trip, but this small piece of advice can really help you out. In some European countries, 2 and 3 star hotels are not always accommodating with elevators. So, instead of having to lug three suitcases up four flights of stairs, it’s simply more convenient to pack light. Snacks, toiletries, and last minute supplies can always be purchased in the country you are visiting. Taking more clothing than you need will only make you spend more time deciding what to wear! So, this summer, I will definitely be listening to this advice.

Plan out Your Trip

While surprise adventures are always fun, you don’t want to waste too much time looking at travel guides and maps when you’re finally in the country you’re visiting. You want to make the most of your visit, so it’s better to plan out some key places you want to check out. If you have family or friends that have been there before, ask for advice on great eateries and sites. I assure you, these reviews will be more in-depth and truthful than anything you will find off of Yelp!

Enjoy the Experience

One of the things I regret of my trip to Greece last year is that I didn’t take enough pictures. Yes, I came home with >200 shots of my face next to some statue I don’t even remember the name of anymore. But what I missed out on is the dozens of fun moments spent with my friends; the late night trips to get gelato, and the games nights we created in our hotel rooms after a long day of travelling. Not just the sites are something to remember; the whole experience is. Don’t forget extra memory cards and chargers for your camera! The prices of these things are always hiked up near tourist sites, so to avoid the inconvenience, come prepared!

If you’re going somewhere this summer, comment below with the place and the expectations you have for your journey!

Easter Around the World

Now that we’ve said goodbye to the harsh winter and welcomed Spring with open arms, we can start all the Easter decorations, egg hunts, and filling our Easter egg baskets. Easter is a holiday celebrated by Christians commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. The 40 days leading up to Easter is known as Lent- during which observers give up something they enjoy as a symbol of their religious devotion. Americans celebrate Easter both for spiritual reasons and for the fun. Games are planned for the children such as the Easter egg roll or the egg hunt. The Easter bunny is a symbol for this holiday first brought by the settlers of German descent. Later on, Americans accepted the traditions as a main part of their Easter celebrations.

America is not the only country that celebrates Easter in a traditional way. Bermudians celebrate   Good Friday- two days before Easter- by making and flying home-made kites, and eating hot cross buns. In Norway, there is a tradition known as “Easter-Crime”. During Easter, people around Norway, read crime books or watch crime based television shows. No holiday tradition is complete in Norway without a big family meal. The meal table is covered with daffodils and other decorations. Another big Easter tradition for Norwegians is mountain trip and skiing. Norwegians head up to the mountains to celebrate this holiday while skiing, eating oranges and Kvikk Lunsj- a chocolate bar consisting of crunchy wafer and milk chocolate.

 

In Greece, the “pot throwing” ceremony takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday. Pots and pans are thrown across everywhere, being smashed on the streets. This unique custom is said to be derived from the Venetians. Some say that this custom welcomes Spring, and shows meaning for the new crops that are to be planted in the new pots. In France, on Easter Monday, a big omelet is served not the main square of the town. More than 4,500 eggs are used and can be fed up to 1,000 people.

 

While it is fascinating to see all these different cultures and customs, what’s important for any holiday is to be surrounded by family and friends.

 

 


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