Tag Archives: Kyrgyzstan

Skull Decoration

Cleaning and arranging are not my most favorite past-time activities but I have to admit they bring benefits… like rediscovering things that you forgot existed and coming up with new decoration ideas with these newly-found objects!

We bought these four marble skulls in Varanasi, from the same man who sold us the Nandi (Home Sweet Home). Yesterday while cleaning I placed the skulls on this bowl (that I think comes from Zanzibar) because they were on my way, but once I took a second look I realized they actually look quite stylish. Especially with those red communist farmers in the background (an old Communist propaganda poster from Kyrgyzstan). skull decorationSkulls are very fashionable these days. My husband is dreaming of a tiny golden skull necklace. Skulls have a lot of symbolic values and not only among different religious groups. A skull is actually beautiful –even that black, burnt skull I saw at the burning ghat in Varanasi. Skulls fascinate and scare us.

What do you think? Would you have them at home as a decoration item? What do they symbolize to you?


Are your parents farmers?

Do you still remember our friend from the Red Fort in Delhi? The charming character in the Religion Talks at Lal Qila post? The fine young man from Jharkhand region. at the Red Fort DelhiWell, I have to admit that I have been thinking about him. Not because of our religious exchange but because I am a tiny bit ashamed of myself. This may be hard to explain but I will try.

At one point during the visit to the Red Fort our friend stopped walking and looked at my parents who were a few steps behind us. He looked at them and asked me “are you parents farmers?”. For few seconds I didn’t say anything but then I cracked up laughing. Soon I was laughing so hard that I was crying. I translated the question to my parents whose reaction was pure astonishment. They looked at me for an explanation and the situation grew awkward. They asked me if they look like farmers and if their clothes made them look poor or something (indeed they were wearing some worn, old clothes…).

I found the situation –the question of our friend and the idea that my parents own for example cows– funny. I continued laughing but at this point my friend was overwhelmed with shame. He looked very uncomfortable and started apologizing millions of times. I am sure he would have disappeared if he could have.

Eventually I had to stop laughing and told our friend that there is no need to apologize. He kept saying “I am so very sorry” but calmed down when my parents started laughing too. In the end we were all laughing and for the rest of the journey I jokingly asked my parents about their (imaginary) cows.The Red Fort DelhiHowever, ever since this funny incident I have been feeling a bit guilty. Why did I crack up laughing? Why did I find it funny that my parents could be farmers? Why did my parents feel the same way? Were they influenced by my reaction? Why did we all feel as if being a farmer were an insult? Why do we perceive that farming is something old fashion and therefore inferior to how we “should” make our living?

Furthermore, how much of our initial reaction can be explained by our background: that Finland was an agrarian country until very recently, and that agriculture is often associated with the period before modernity (i.e. associated with the period where no one wants to return)?

Lastly, was our friend biased, too, because he comes from one of the poorest regions in India where farmers probably belong to a lower social class?

Whatever the answer, I feel bad because I behaved against my beliefs. I truly believe that agriculture is an integral, vital sector of the economy, everywhere in the world, and should be treated with respect. And respect is not what I showed when I cracked up laughing.

What is your take on this?


Some background: I am a principal author of a policy-handbook publication (http://www.oecd.org/investment/psd/ImprovingSkills%20(3).pdf) that aims at improving the agribusiness sector in the Kyrgyz Republic by different means, and one of the means is to market agribusiness as an attractive career option.
Marketing something begins with small steps, and one of them is to show respect and admiration to something.
Again, shame on me.

Finnish carpet tradition


After my last blog writing, my husband asked me if I am ever going to write about anything else but food… So, here you go, I will write about Finland and carpets, inspired by today’s snow fall IMG_2338which still continues in Paris.

In Finland we have a tradition with carpets in winter. Maybe people in other countries do it too, but since I am originally from Finland, I talk about Finland now. When temperature falls, we take carpets to the balcony because the cold weather cleans them, kills the bacteria. My parents actually throw carpets outside and leave them rest on the snow. I can still remember that particular fresh, cold odor of carpets when they were brought inside. (ok, you may find this weird, but please continue reading)

So, every winter in Paris I eagerly wait for the cold that allows me to practice this tradition I learned in Finland. Over my years in PIMG_2341aris, I have also learned not to say it aloud because the city is not equipped for the snow and cold weather and wishing for cold weather is considered almost comparable to wishing for bad luck… But I keep observing the weather forecast, hoping the temperature to drop below zero at least once a year… It is my little secret.

This said, it is happening today! I woke up and learned that it may drop even to minus 6 during the early hours of IMG_2346Wednesday. So this morning, after learning about the opportunity, I took every single carpet to the balcony. They are still there, getting a special snow and cold treatment. Everyone is happy.

PS For those interested to know, the first carpet comes from Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world. The second fragment comes Kyrgyzstan and we use it currently on the sofa. The third carpet comes from Istanbul, too. The last one is also a fragment and I purchased it in Baku, Azerbaijan (another fascinating city!).