Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chahārshanbe-Sūri

Standard

This week I have been participating in Persian new year celebrations! Last week was the Chahārshanbe-Sūri or “Wednesday Feast” which takes place on the last Tuesday night of the year. There were fires set up and we danced around them and also jumped over them. It was explained to me that we jump over fires to try to catch the red of the fire for wellness, and to give the yellow back to the fire. It was one of the most fun experiences I have had in a long time. Here are some photos:

We finished the night off sitting around a big fire and smoking traditional ḡalyān (hookah, shisha, whatever) and listened to some people sing songs. Here is also a video someone grabbed!:

Tonight is the actual new year celebration called Nowrūz but I don’t think we will actually have such a big feast since it is just at the university organized by some students.

It really saddens me when I hear about all the troubles the United States has with Iran, especially coming from people who have likely never met an Iranian. We all have stereotypes which is natural and sometimes the only way we can make judgments about people we do not know. Unfortunately Iranians get a negative stereotype coming from America because our governments are so mad at each other. I have met many Iranians here in Sweden and also in Germany and I am so happy to say that I connect with them sometimes more than people from my own country. Getting to know each one reminds me that a person is a person is a person. We all have different personalities and cultures, but in the end we laugh at the same jokes and help our friends and hurt when we are treated poorly. I have found the Iranians to be some of the most peaceful, friendly, outgoing, and understanding people I have met in my life. It makes me sick to think of the idea if our countries went to war and these awesome normal people suddenly become refugees. I am so blessed to have learned this great lesson about the world, and the difference between a government and its people.

“Coordination Failure”

Standard

Today I have attended an inspiring lecture that was given by an experienced man who has worked for SIDA, the UNDP, and the IMF. I am very honored to have been able to attend some of his lectures and today’s particularly sparked my brain. Although he didn’t explicitly use the term coordination failure, I have been reading a bit about that concept insofar as aid givers and I thought that it applied to this discussion quite nicely.

There are some things we are aware of. -let’s disregard epistemological problems with my statements for a moment-

  1. We know that human actions affect the environment (people disagree over whether these actions are a negative thing, and to what extent the environment is affected, but logically, we know that we can plant a tree and it will grow, and we can put a chemical into a lake and kill the fish).
  2. We know that diseases cross borders (also that diseases are becoming less and less resistant to antibiotics).
  3. I think we can also agree on some human rights abuses are not culturally relative (for instance it would be difficult to find a person who advocates genocide that isn’t mentally deranged or power-corrupt).
  4. There is another problem that is still considered just a theory: “peak oil,” meaning that the world’s current lifestyle is not sustainable given our availability of the natural resources required to maintain it.

There is a great consensus that these points are true, in a general sense. These are all global problems that cannot be solved by one nation. If Sweden decides to enforce very strict environmental policies, it will do nearly nothing compared to the amount of environment in the rest of the world. Surely there are also disease-carrying animals crossing the very closed borders between North and South Korea. What will it take for everyone to work together for the benefit of the world? We have tried to set up global governance such as the United Nations, but the problem is that they have no real authority, and the superpowers are too busy fighting over political power to actually accomplish things. And let’s not forget what happened when the UN failed to act in Rwanda twenty years ago.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the superpower-politics and East-West divide is preventing the world from transcending. We claim to have democracies yet the huge common problems we face as humans on Earth are washed over by short-term economic crises and questions about reproductive rights that politicians constantly distract us with. How can the United States be an informed society when they have two almost identical political parties claiming all the media attention by talking about stupid things and creating problems instead of looking at the existential problems we face. And that this government is one of the five permanent Security Council members making decisions for the whole world. How is it possible for us to have a one-world viewpoint when the people teaching us how to behave are driven by economic profits that exploit faceless people?

There is something seriously wrong with the powers of the world today, and I am not trying to offer any solutions. I don’t know it all, just like everyone else who doesn’t know it all. But I think if more people start to ask these questions, the world will begin to change. How can we get more people to ask questions?  We are already seeing revolutions happening, and I am so excited to see where it will lead. I feel so lucky to live in a lifetime of extreme world change, which I think is happening. I know I don’t have much experience in the world, I am still young and have only traveled to a few places, but if we look at history, the past few hundred years have been a constant rollercoaster, and I don’t expect these next hundred years to be any different.

Nail Polish Experiment

Standard

I have tried to make my own nail polish, as instructed by a fellow blogger here. I am never good at following directions and this time proved I should have. Okay there was not some catastrophe, but at least I learned. My first mistake was that I did not get the powder out of the case with a fine makeup brush, but flicked it out into small chunks instead, making the eventual polish really clumpy. And instead of going out to buy clear nail polish I decided instead just to use my cheap bottle of top coat to mix with the powder. So I put on a base coat, then mixed the solution and brushed it on in a frantic after reading hers dried up quickly and ended up with a transparent clumpy mess. It didn’t dry as quickly in the silicone container as I had anticipated so I was able to put another clumpy coat on top to even out the color a bit. Then I tried to “pop” the powder bubbles and put about three coats of clear top coat over to try to hide all the clumps and dips. When I finally got it to look okay, I went to class and noticed my pinky nail color already had a huge chunk peeled off of it. Out of frustration I peeled off the rest. Before I destroyed it I got an image though. I was eating some dried apricots and noticed the color matched almost identically:

I also tried on my toes with a different color after learning from a few mistakes. This time I used  make up brush to get a fine powder, and did not rush the application. I still used the cheap-o top coat though so I don’t know how long this will last!

Rice Burgers

Standard

After Luca complained that we weren’t being creative enough with our meals, and that everything “tasted American” because of all the butter I use, we decided to try making rice burgers. We didn’t use any recipes, we completely thought this one up on our own, so I thought it could be good to write it down (if I remember what we did).

I started by cooking the rice in some vegetable stock and added some curry powder to the mix. In the meantime I chopped some yellow onions quite finely and tossed them in some oil (not butter this time) with a handful of bean sprouts. I didn’t want to cook them too much because I like to retain the flavor and I didn’t want the sprouts to get soggy. When the rice was done I added it to the bowl of onions and sprouts and grated some cheese in there as well so everything would stick together (that’s what Luca thought it was for, but I just really like cheese). I used Gouda but I guess any kind that will melt would work. We decided its best to let the mixture cool a bit before we try to make patties so it sat there for five to ten minutes as we were preparing the rest of the process. We ended up with four stations. First Luca would form the patty, then give it to me where I dipped both sides in lightly-beaten egg and then put it in a bowl with bread crumbs (we made the crumbs by smashing up skorpor and added salt, pepper, and sesame seeds) and then transferring to the original pan with some more oil in it. We had no expectations, but when they were finished I thought it was one of the best meals we have ever prepared! Extremely delicious, I can’t want to make them again!

Making clothes (for real)

Standard

I guess the title is a bit misleading. This isn’t a tutorial. I stumbled across these women a while ago who were making their own thread. I caught them in a the middle of the process but they showed me how to begin. They said that first they shave the animal or collect the plant that produces fibers and wash them. Then they put it on a brush to tangle it a bit I suppose.

Then they spin it on this contraption to make thread. Or you can twist it by hand. This is when a man on stilts came by to try:

After that you put the thread onto a loom and make fabric! The woman on the left in the first picture said she made the linen dress she was wearing, and I assume the shawl as well. I was really turned on to this idea of knowing exactly what goes into your clothes and creating something from scratch. No chemicals or exploitation. I asked how much a spinning wheel costs and she said “Not much, only like 3000 kronor.” Ummm… I don’t have that kind of money to invest right now. She also said they have a group where they meet and do this once a month. I was really intrigued but too many excuses have stopped me. Maybe in my future when I have a farm and more free time I can do this! Here is another picture of a stilt-walker:

Ohh you should take a picture of that!

Standard

It’s what Luca said when he saw my Spinach-Artichoke hot dish. I actually adapted this from a vegan recipe and added real cheese, and also some eggs to make it quiche-like. Actually the only thing I got from the recipe I think was adding breadcrumbs on top. Good idea, that part was delicious! I’m not very good at following recipes!