When You Build in Solitude That Which Will Outlast You
No man is an island, wrote John Donne, in what’s now a big, fat cliché. Yet, there’s David Glasheen, living alone on a island for 23 years. And Jadav Payeng, who planted a whole forest on his own. Or Justo Gallego, who built a cathedral by hand. Then, there’s a man who’s surely envious of the solitude all three find comfort on. Accused of bilking people of their money, his victims found a way of placing his face all over the world, as a casualty of various acts of terrorism, even as he wasn’t near any of them.
Undue exposure as an act of revenge is certainly a modern phenomenon, with social media, and news report manipulation, replacing the shame of standing naked in the public square of Donne‘s times. But each man plays an unwitting, and extreme, role in contemporary society’s drama.
While Glasheen has just about enough of all of us, Payeng has dedicated his life to leaving us a legacy. As Gallego was erecting his monument to devotion, others devised a devilish prank as the only alternative to denounce and get something back out of a con man. TO WALK OUT OF IT ALL
Not that many would’ve noticed, or cared about it, but when the stock market crashed, on October of 1987, the world lost a few millionaires. Most got quickly back in the saddle, as financiers are won to do. Australian businessman Glasheen took the hint to drop out, and instead, moved to a desert island.
But his is no epic tale, all heart-warming quotes of inspiration and non-conformism. For starters, like most hermits, he’s not very fond of the likes of us. Which is a feeling that comes in handy if (more) _______ Read Also: * Off the Grid * Hot Water * Going Under Continue reading →
10 Years Ago Today, Recovery From the Monster Tsunami Got Under Way
The day after Christmas, 2004, a giant wave came crashing on the beaches of 14 Asian countries, taking a quarter of a million lives with it, and leaving indelibly tragic memories on its wake. But the day after, survivors and volunteers from all over the world fought back. Nothing will replace those gone with the receding waters, or their earthly possessions lost to the flooding. But tsunamis and tragedies do happen all the time. What not always survives is the courage to move on. And that was exactly what took place at those places and time.
There were worldwide ceremonies marking the first decade since the equivalent of a small city got wiped out of the face of the Earth. Neither those who perished will be forgotten, nor those left behind will ever get used to their absence. But they will light candles and carry on.
It helps that much of what was destroyed has since been rebuilt. Emotional wounds take long to turn into scars, but just like in Japan, reconstruction is truly remarkable. No one’s wasting time waiting for the next wave. And when it does come, they’ll beat it all over again.
And now for something completely different: need to cry a lot at your wedding? Check. Thought about giving the bones of your deceased relatives a brush? Check. What about dropping your baby off a balcony? Check that too. Aren’t we dizzy yet? Wait, the best is always last. Ever thought of introducing your lover to your former partners? There’s a whole fair for that. Not to worry, though; each of these rituals is confined to a different culture; few partake of more than one of them. Besides, most of the population, of course, simply skip them all.
It’s not that we’re about to go all NatGeo on you, after the week we all just had. But this being Friday, reading about what people do around the world to give their lives meaning may feel just like putting out our own skin to dry: we have no choice but to be ‘us’ most of the time, but no one says we can’t get out of ourselves and enjoy the pasture.
Or something, we’re not sure. The only thing that may be undeniable about all these, though, is that none of this community rites you’re about to read below are harmful to those who enjoy participating in them. On the contrary, they’re are important cultural signposts that bring everyone together, and boy, don’t we need more examples like that?
So let’s get to it without bias, shall we? After all, heaven knows we all have our share of strange and mostly hardly logical rites and little Continue reading →
There comes a time for every blog when it’s necessary to adopt a certain gravitas and post a long, well-researched, insightful article about some of the transcendental issues of our age. Where did we come from? What goes through the mind of someone about to take his very last breath? Whatever happened to that pair of striped socks? In other words, what writer Douglas Adams called, life, the universe and everything. This post won’t be about any of that, though. Instead, let’s talk about bananas. That’s because there’s some breaking news to report: a new asthma medicine made from the its peel, and a genetically altered hybrid, rich in iron.
What? Since when the fruit, any fruit, is less, er, profound than our own, often ill advised food for thought, however ancient wise men may have agonized over it? OK, so maybe. Still, bananas are quickly becoming the world’s most consumed fruit. Or is it a berry? How about that for reach and scope? We bet you thought Socrates didn’t really think much about bananas, didn’t you? Well, you were right about that one.
Still, bananas have long extrapolated their ancient Southeast Asian habitats to enrich the cuisines and imagination of the European navigators of the 16th century, who spread them to the world. The irony is that soon enough bananas came to define the new exotic lands Continue reading →
Europe Push Against Gypsies May Set Dawn of New Diaspora
Em France,police forced some 160 of them out of a Marseille camp, in anticipation of the coming presidential elections. In the U.K., 80 families have been fighting eviction from the Basildon district’s Dale Farms for almost a year now.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Romanies, or Gypsies, or British Travelers remain vilified and marginalized as they have been since their origin, which can be traced back to the Indian diaspora in the tenth century.
There’s something about these “Egyptians” and their nomadic lifestyle that strikes deep-seated suspicions and fear at heart of the mainstream of the European society. Continue reading →
The Power of the Human Spit, Keys That Got Away & Watching Paint Dry
When a prison loses its keys, a steel bridge may collapse because too many people spit on it, and there’s a contest for watching paint dry, well, that can mean just one thing. What it is, we have no idea. But it may be something to do with the end of the year, or of an era, or hopefully, of people who make a living predicting the end of times.
Whether we’re all going bonkers or stuff like that happens all the time, though, here’s to the pleasures of being a fly on the wall and looking upside down at the world residing next door.
But before we go any further, let us acknowledge all the weird news sites that have helped Colltales to amass the almost thousand posts it has on file. We wouldn’t do it without you, guys, so thank you. Now, off to our Thursday Trio. A BRIDGE TOO FRAIL
For over 70 years, an average of 100,000 vehicles along with 150,000 pedestrians cross every day the Howrah Bridge, in India. Despite that, it’s expected to remain Continue reading →
———————— The Earth Shook & Burn But The World Only Moved Sideways ————————
A year of extremes but no breakthroughs. Records of the wrong kind (U.S.’s longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and worst environmental disaster ever, highest temperature indexes in several regions of the world, increased infection diseases mortality rates in the Caribbean and Africa, and staggering drug trafficking casualties in Latin America) plagued the world, with the additional bonus of a certified freak: a snowstorm in the middle of the Australian summer.
But there was no progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; no curbs on Iranian and North Korean authoritarian antics or scary nuclear ambitions; no meaningful proposals to solve political impasses in the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
Disturbing tactics did get deployed, though, by the world’s superpowers but with the only intention of curbing whistle blowers and freedom of information acts such as WikiLeaks. It gave civil rights activists of every stripe a chilling pause to see Continue reading →
If you’re not well acquainted with the agitprop world of graffiti expression or street art, or don’t live in one of the slums of South America, Asia and Africa, you may never have heard of J R, the secretive Parisian artist who just won the TED’s 2011 “Wishes Big Enough to Change the World” award.
But to scores of impoverished communities around the world, it’s Continue reading →
The Commonwealth Games, an olympics type international competition to start in New Delhi, India, next week, will have an unusual platoon guarding its grounds: langur monkeys. They’ll help keep other, smaller monkeys, snakes, even out of control cows from disrupting the proceedings, besides of course, adding er a local color to the games, which have already been plagued by countless problems to begin with.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago, a pedestrian traffic bridge supervision for safety. Then a team of inspectors found appalling conditions of hygiene in some of the athlete quarters that were supposed to be ready to host them. Organization officials had to step up a campaign to counter the bad publicity the mishaps generated and the growing wave of public criticism.
And then there’re the monkeys. Rhesus and other small species are known to wreak havoc all around this city of over 18 million. Wild in nature but closer to the definition of a feral existence, they can be aggressive, despite living in urban areas all year around, feeding off scraps and garbage dumps. In the city, their population remains unchecked because they lack predators and are not subject to any official control policy. Langur monkeys, which are widespread in India, can weight up to 40 pounds and also face the loss of their natural habitat. They’re not particularly hostile or being specifically trained to the job at hand, but the organization hopes their deployment will serve as a deterrent against smaller monkeys, straight dogs and pretty much every other animal expected to roam the grounds of the games. Except perhaps tigers and elephants, but for that, trained handlers and sharpshooters will also be on guard.
As it happens with such games, a huge global audience is expected to attend. And as with the recent World Cup held in South Africa, the locals will hardly notice them. The majority of New Delhians, living in sub-poverty conditions, will probably continue their begging in the streets and search for food in dumpsters, before and after the games. Some will most likely be right outside competition sites, disputing with smaller animals the attention of the world. And langurs won’t be able to contain them.