Archive for the Regions Category

Q&A with Ralph Talmont –Part I

Posted in Europe, Media with tags , on July 9, 2009 by mariayzk
Urban Symphony Project -Movement, Ralph Talmont

Urban Symphony Project - Movement, Ralph Talmont

“Photography has been my first love and long term mistress, though these days not my only wife, as I spend large amounts of time as a producer and entrepreneur. But I still drop everything to take a magic shot or two”

Ralph Talmont; CEO of Pixengo.com, photographer, entrepreneur, bookman and traveler is the spotlight of my profile feature. Born in 1963; Ralph originates from an Australian/Polish background and is currently residing in Auckland, New Zealand and Warsaw, Poland.

Ralph has a very unique multi-faceted approach towards his work; he’s not only the author/co-author of over twenty illustrated books, but is also a self-starter; co-founder of Pixengo.com, an online environment for travelers. His profile which ranges from covering subjects, like wine to world cities and yachting, highlights his passion for travel and photography, which in turn explains his baby project; Pixengo.com.

I chose to add his name to The Human Postcard, not to stand in line with global magazines, like National Geographic Traveler, GEO Saison and New Zealand Geographic, which have previously published his work, but rather to draw an inspiration for myself and other journalists, photographers and budding artists alike.

Work hard to find your passion and when you have found it work even harder to be the best at it; that is what I realized after concluding my Q&A with Ralph Talmont. I hope he is able to inspire each of you in your own unique path, such that together we are able to excel our passions and take them to the sky and beyond.

Here’s presenting Ralph Talmont; read, discover and grow:

lightstalkers.org, Ralph Talmont

Urban Symphony Project - Moment, Ralph Talmont

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Dalai Lama |July 6, 1935 – Present|

Posted in Asia, History with tags , , , on July 6, 2009 by mariayzk

2009_02_08_Dalai_Lama_enfant“Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.” Dalai Lama

“All People and things are interdependent. The world has become so small that no nation can solve its problems alone, in isolation from others. That is why I believe we must all cultivate a sense of responsibility based on love and compassion for each other.” Dalai Lama

As war, violence, crime and disasters flood across worldwide, now more than ever before we need to reflect upon the precious little things that bring us joy and happiness every day.  From the mysteries of the endless horizon spanning far beyond the deepest of the oceans to the miracle of a color filled rainbow; from the warm affection of a marble eyed cat to the soft and sweet memories of childhood; with so much beauty around us, there is no reason but to smile away one’s worries and preserve the beauty that lies both within us and outside.

pf01His Holiness Dalai Lama, the spiritual peace messenger turns 74 today. In honor of his life long journey towards promoting inner and outer world peace, I will dedicate my next few articles to our beautiful world.

With compassion we can progress our modern world towards a peaceful universal society, where no boundary; religion, culture, class or gender separates one from being sensitive to the other.

Floating on these thoughts; let me spread my wings and showcase some of my beautiful snapshots from across the world. Through these photos, I hope to inspire peace and serenity amongst all. Let us bring to surface our inner Dalai Lama; let peace, love and beauty raise every human spirit above all violence and pain.

 Exiled Tibetan children wait to perform a traditional tibetan dance during celebrations of the 74th birthday of the Dalai Lama at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India on Monday, July 6th

Exiled Tibetan children wait to perform a traditional Tibetan dance during celebrations of the 74th birthday of the Dalai Lama at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Monday, July 6, 2009. (AP PhotoAshwini Bhatia)

Waltz with Bashir

Posted in History, Lebanon, War with tags , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by mariayzk
Theatrical poster

Theatrical poster

Imagine watching an animated film that is crafted so brilliantly that you can feel every horrific nightmare and trauma associated with a war to the bone. Waltz with Bashir, is one such film that takes you deep inside the mind of a teenage Israeli soldier who had barely begun to shave. If you fancy animated features, take a break from the seven dwarfs and the little mermaid and tune in to learn history the animated way. Strap up, sit back and pretend you’re an Israeli soldier ready to take on the enemy, except you don’t know the why, how and when. The 1982 Lebanon War through the eyes of Ari Forman; an Israeli veteran, here’s presenting Waltz with Bashir.

Written and directed by Ari Folman, the film is Folman’s autobiography, where he narrates his journey back in time to recollect memories from the 1982 massacre by interviewing the soldiers who had served alongside him during the war. Waltz with Bashir frames war as a meaningless exercise that holds no real relevance to its perpetrators, including Folman. Folman’s amnesia shows an interesting depiction of how injustice and violence during wartime is so easily forgotten and accepted.

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Wake-up Call: “I never want to go to school again” Shanno Khan (1998-2009)

Posted in Asia, Children, Europe, India, United Kingdom with tags , , , , on June 30, 2009 by mariayzk

cutest-baby-ever“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

Mohandas Ghandi, political and spiritual leader in India

Violence; the 21st century first aid kit. Whether we are examining the reasoning behind the war waged on Afghanistan and Iraq, September 11th bombing or an aggressive domestic marital feud between a couple, like the recent beheading of a New York based women; 37 year old Aasiya Hassan who was allegedly murdered by her husband, one no longer stands shocked at these fanatical acts of violent behavior. The subject of this article is yet another act of brutality; the culprit is none other than a school teacher; an honorable profession, which has now become synonymous with pedophiles, killers and kidnappers.

The current state of schools is fear-provoking; Sunday school teacher in California charged with the murder and rape of an 8 year old girl who was her daughter’s playmate, killers and pedophiles in UK applying to become teachers and most recently the 11 year old asthmatic girl in New Delhi who died after being punished by her teacher to stand in the scorching sun for two hours. It leaves you wondering; is it even worth procreating in such a stigmatized environment? Continue reading

Walking Marriages 走婚 in the Land of Mosuo; a Woman’s Kingdom

Posted in Asia, China, History with tags , , on June 30, 2009 by mariayzk

katuduma-aya-78-years-old

There are so many knowledgeable people, but none can equal with my mother.

There are so many people skilled in song and dance, but none can compete with my mother.

There are so many skillful people, but none can compare with my mother.


This beautiful folk song is intrinsic to the Nari culture; an ethnic group based in southwestern China more formally known as the Mosuo, which is quite often referred to as a ‘Girl’s Kingdom’.

American writer, Joseph Rock has described the land as:

“The last peaceful place on the planet, the last place where war has never existed, where people live in harmony, is Lugu Lake. The lake is home to the Mosuo minority, one of China’s 56 ethnic groups, hidden in the shadows of the Xiaoliang Mountains.”

mosuodance1

In the Mosou tradition; a man and a woman never leave their mother’s home. When a woman reaches puberty, she is given a coming-of-age ceremony at which time she can begin engaging in ‘Axia’; a walking marriage. It starts of with both men and women interacting with each other through group songs and other activities and if there happens to be a love connection between a pair, the woman invites the man through some form of gesture, i.e. gift. The man returns to this woman after dusk, when night falls and leaves before dawn to return to his mother’s home. If the woman desires, he returns; otherwise they end the relationship and move onto someone new. A relationship goes public to the families once a man and a woman decide to have children, until then the lovers will pretend not to know each other in public. Continue reading

Post Mortem Report; The Migration-Displacement Nexus in Pakistan

Posted in Afghanistan, Asia, Children, Iran, Pakistan, Politics, Refugees & IDPs, War with tags , , , , on June 29, 2009 by mariayzk

swat_refugees_081A looming threat from Al Qaeda & the Taliban militia and an in-flux of Afghan refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) has left Pakistan in a worst refugee crisis since the partition in 1947. US led drone strikes and Pakistan military’s onslaught against the Talibans has crippled a great mass of Afghan and Pakistani civilians. Why do states always carry out post-mortem reports on innocent war causalities, instead of ensuring civilians’ security prior to the attacks?

afghn-101351In view of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s corrupt governments and the rising number of people uprooted by the growing conflict in north-west Pakistan, can we trust these governments enough to tackle the fragile situation or is it a case of another humanitarian disaster? Perhaps another Kashmir, another Palestine. The victims in the end are always the civilians, who end up losing their only prized possession; their identity.

May 5, 2009: Afghan officials say up to 120 non-combatants were killed when US warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in Bala Baluk, a Taliban-controlled district in the western province of Farah.

May 11, 2009: UN estimates, over 360,000 people have escaped from the three worst affected areas of Dir, Swat and Buner.

May 12, 2009:­­­ A total of 501,496 displaced people from the new influx had been formally registered by authorities, with UNHCR’s help, since May 2.

May 13, 2009: The number of people who have fled the fighting in northwest Pakistan this month and been registered or recorded by authorities reached 670,906 on Wednesday, up from just over half a million the day before.

May 15, 2009: Almost 1 million displaced people so far registered this month by authorities and UNHCR are in addition to another 550,000 uprooted people who fled fighting since last August. According to the latest figures, 987,140 people have been registered from the current influx, including 907,298 outside camps and 79,842 in camps.­­

swat_refugees_05What will be the outcome of Pakistan’s face-off with the Talibans? Will success be measured on the battlefield in the Swat Valley and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border or will it be measured by the number of civilian casualties? Continue reading

Alcohol or a Corporate Prostitute?

Posted in Africa, Europe, Prostitution with tags , , , , on June 28, 2009 by mariayzk

gab1The prostitution that was once confined exclusively to brothels has now permeated into every sphere of our life. The act; modern day prostitution is broadcasted at the workplace, educational institutes and every other place, where power imbalance has engendered social class distinctions within society. Do sex appeal and bottom power get the job done these days, brain cells notwithstanding?

The answer surrounds us like a haunting reality; a stigma that has been canvassed into a positive veil. It’s common observance to hear of young girls being trafficked from Eastern Europe and South Asian countries to work as sex slaves in brothels led by ravenous Madams. However, the spotlight in this article is on corporate prostitutes and scholarly pimps; prostitution where both genders are at play with equal will.

Sexual bargaining for material success has become a common means of achieving social promotion; at the workplace and in universities for academic advancement. Double Yoke; an African novel, depicts these sexual dynamics inside a Nigerian university. The story revolves around Nko, an undergraduate student who is caught between her desire for academic success to provide for her family and her love for her boyfriend, Ete Kamba. Eventually, she gives in to the deceitful professor. However, the story ends tragically, when Ete refuses to accept her and blames her for not being a virgin and the professor; Ikot abuses his authority to restrain her. This story is a reality for many; yet women continue to use bottom power over brain power to cash in short-lived success.

One might say; ‘who cares? It doesn’t affect me’, but it does affect every member of the society, gender notwithstanding. Women entangled within these sexual games often legitimize their acts as a means to achieving sexual liberation. Their attitudes have led to a breakdown and transformation of the social and moral norms of the society and paved the way towards corrupt administrations and flawed educational institutions. Continue reading