CULTURE SHOCK

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

Exoticism of Culture

Whether you are white, black, brown, a person of color, mixed race, or any other classification of race, you’ve most likely experienced the exoticism of a culture. The thing is, you most likely took it in as a compliment. The truth to the matter is, when one is “exotifying” a culture, they are actually placing a barrier against two races. Living in 21st century America, this is something that should not be accepted, and as time goes on, we are visibly experiencing the riots caused by such actions.

For example, I recently read on another blog of how a woman was called “exotic” because of her skin tone and hair. After she was asked where she was from, the “compliment” was taken a step further; calling “her people” exotic and mystifying as well.

Read this here: http://atriptothemorg.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/post-the-sixty-ninth/

This type of misconception, exoticism, and racism can be accounted for in today’s media as well. For example, last year, when Selena Gomez’s Come & Get It music video came out, a lot of controversy was sparked. Although it was not her intent, she sexualized an important concept of Indian culture; the third eye. For Hindu’s this is an extremely religious concept, leading back to Lord Shiva and his “power”.

^That’s a modern kimono styled cardigan.

Another example of this is the up and coming fashion of Kimonos. Although now H&M, Forever 21 and almost any major department store carries a wide variety of them, it is belittling to the Japanese culture and the ceremonies and events they are made for. A black kimono (mofuku), was once known to be for funerals as a sign of respect towards the diseased. Now, you see people wearing the “stylish” versions of them as everyday wear.

 

^That’s an actual kimono.

Whilst it is not anyone’s “fault” that along with the assimilation of cultures come a mixing (sometimes an offensive type) of two cultures, it is important to keep in mind the background behind the clothing we wear, the music we listen to, and the words we speak.

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!

Henna

I’m sure that the majority of you guys reading this are wonder, “What is so special about henna that it deserves a whole post on this blog?”

Well, ever since I was little, the concept of henna as a traditional making has been engraved into my brain. Navratri? You put henna designs on your hands as a supplement to the extravagant outfit you are dressed in to go to Garba (an Indian dance).  Weddings? There is an entire night of celebration dedicated just to having the bride and the females of the family getting their hands and feet tattooed. And in my household, there was always a cone or two left around for my sister and I to do trial experimental designs with.

Henna Art

I remember waking up the next day with crusted mehndi to rub off. My favorite part was seeing the beautiful designs that had been placed onto my hand in a vibrant red or orange color. As a kid, I had even gotten in trouble with my second grade teacher once for “drawing on my hands with marker”. Henna tattoos have been a part of my childhood, and it is a part of my culture and who I am.

It is used in much of Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East for similar reasons as to what my family uses it for. Any celebration is a cause for henna tattoos.

Henna is made out of a plant, which binds to the keratin protein in our skin- which is why it leaves a color. You may be familiar with people putting henna in their hair as well, because it is the safer alternative to hair dying, and actually serves as a conditioner for your hair as well.

Along with being used for aesthetics, henna actually has many medicinal purposes as well. It serves as method to prevent hair loss, and heals open wounds and burns, headaches, and fevers. Some farmers put it on animals as a natural sunblock as well.

I think this plant is one of the most amazing, with so many uses and extravagance. And to think, if it weren’t this blog I may have never known all about the wonderful things it does other than please a bridezilla hoping for a perfect Indian wedding.

So next time you get a henna tattoo at a fair, remember, it is actually good for you! 🙂

 

The Met!

A couple weeks ago, I woke up at 7 a.m with the goal to explore the Met. Of course, my reason for this was a school project, just nevertheless, I was motivated to divulge myself into the works of art from different countries. After a long 2 hour commute and a 5 minute cab ride, I was at the doors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With a list of exhibits and statues to visit in one hand, and a camera that made me look like a tourist in the other, I walked up the stairs. It was unbelievably cold, so I was ambitious to be one of the first in line to get inside the museum. After paying my donation/ fee, I was on my way to a cultural experience I am bound never to forget. I walked up the stairs and go to the second floor, and am thrown into a room surrounding me of marble. My philosophy class has been talking of Socrates since the first week of school, and seeing a bust of his head made me laugh a bit. All semester long, I’d been hearing about how he was “ugly” and therefore no very much liked by many people. I didn’t think he was ugly at all.

 

I continued on to see statues of what should have been considered the ideal body of men in Greece in that time. Everyone was expected to go to gym because it would help society when it was time to go to war. Hercules was portrayed as a tall, curly haired, buff man. He was strong in all angles, and even his statues were able to give off an aura of power and strength. There were several of these statues, depending on the age of Hercules in each. Even in the older ones, he was quite well built. To be realistic, even today, it would be very difficult to be able to have that type of body.

 

I will share about one more work of art that I saw that particularly amazed me. Eros, or Cupid as most of us know him, is thought to be a sweet innocent baby with some arrows stuck in his diaper. The first statue that I saw was similar to this description. Eros was laid down on a rock, innocently enjoying his nap, with peace in his aura. He was still a baby in this form, and was what we like to imagine him as. In the next work that I viewed that had Eros in it was portraying him completely differently. In his hand, he has a stick that showed power. He was fully grown in this idea of him, and was very well built. He no longer looked innocent, but rather powerful and scary to a certain extent.

The ways the different portraits and statues were portrayed gave me an inside look into the life of Greeks in the time of Socrates. Long ago, the way that women and men should be was placed in very tight boundaries. He bdjjeFor the experience I got, you should definitely visit the Met as well!

Born Confused :/

Hi everybody!

A couple of days ago I was at my local library searching through countless shelves for a copy of Metamorphoses by Ovid, when I came across a book that related to me so much that I figured it would be a shame not to share with all of you. It is called Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. Basically, while I don’t want to ruin the book for you, its about a girl named Dimple whose parents are from India, but have immigrated to America. While her upbringing involved going to school in a primarily Caucasian town, her parents are constantly trying to push her into Indian culture, which she ultimately refuses. Things were looking good until her parents brought a new boy into her life- a possible suitor? 

Read on to see what challenges out lovely Dimple faces- who knows? You might be surprised that your life is not really much different then hers!

 

 

 

Okay well, I do believe its time to switch back to Metamorphoses now.

BTW, Leave reviews in the comment box right down there!

Eighteen

Yesterday was my long awaited 18th birthday. Now that I am finally eighteen, there is still not much more I can do. Is it weird that I don’t feel eighteen at all? But at least this inspired me to write about what other cultures do for birthdays. Of course, here in America we all look forward to our birthdays. Some see it as an opportunity to party the night away, while others look at it as a sign (or at least publicized noting) of maturity.

One of the crazier birthday customs takes place in Ireland. The birthday boy or girl is flipped over and then bumped on their heads the amount of times as their age. This is one that I would not really be looking forward to, although it is said that this is for good luck.

In Vietnam, although everyone has their own birthday, celebrations are not typically arranged on that date. Actually everyone celebrates their birthdays on “Tet” or New Years Day. Although this type of celebration could be fun, as it would enhance the caliber of the celebration, I personally would rather have the day all to myself!

 

Celebrations in Israel are actually really  hyped up. The birthday person sits in the middle wearing a crown made up of leaves or flowers, and the family, friends, and guests of the birthday party lift up the person in a decorated chair as they sing to the person. Sounds a bit like being serenaded, except by many people. That’s something I’d definitely enjoy!

There are countries in which the families that are more religious believe that you should visit the place of worship on your birthday to ensure a safe, healthy, and happy year. In India, the child touches their parents feet as a sort of appreciation for bringing them up, and later on they visit the temple and eat a sweet called dudh pakh, which is a type of rice pudding. Similarly, in Mexico, the birthday boy or girl visits their church prior to celebrating.

Although the types of celebration vary around the world, birthdays are always something to look forward to. Only 364 days till my next one! 😀


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