Culture

India’s Tourism Minister Tells Tourists Not To Wear Skirts To Avoid Rape

“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts.”

August 29, 2016

Overt Racism Is Socially Unacceptable, So Why Do We Embrace Subtle Racism?

We like it when we don’t actually have to change anything about ourselves.

August 17, 2016

This Is What It’s Like To Get Paid To Travel

Sometimes all I want is to be back in my own bed with a cup of tea.

June 14, 2016

How Netflix Is Destroying The Art Of Theatre And Community

Is it time we put down the remote and picked up some tickets?

January 14, 2016

The 10 Principals Of Burning Man Festival In Images

The 29th annual Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada has just concluded in spectacular fashion. This year there were an estimated 70,000 participants from across the globe, each wanting to experience this once-in-a-lifetime combination of culture and art.

RELATED: The Top 10 Most Popular Travel Destinations Revealed

In 2004, Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey proposed the ethos of the Burning Man festival. To achieve this, Harvey compiled the following 10 main principals which I’ve depicted via imagery. This possibly explains a rationale as to why the Burning Man festival continues to grow each year.

Radical Inclusion
“Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”

The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Gifting
“Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.”

 Gifting, The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Decommodification
“In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.”

 Decommodification at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Radical self-reliance
“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”

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Radical self-expression
“Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.”

 radical self-expression at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Communal Effort
“Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.”

Communal Effort at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Civic Responsibility
“We value civil society. Community members who organise events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.”

Civic Responsibility at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Leaving No Trace
“Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.”

leave no trace  at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

Participation
“Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.”

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Immediacy
“Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

immedicacy at the burning man festival , The Burning Man festival 2015, burning man, festivals, Events

For outsiders who have only seen imagery of amazing artwork and the happy faces of the temporary residents of Black Rock, who knew such a deep philosophy was at the heart of the festivities? I sure didn’t, but I can see the attraction. Obviously next year’s 30th annual Burning Man festival will certainly be something to keep an eye out for.

Images via businessinsider.com, allnewshd.tk, theatlantic.com, ignitechannel.com, eventerprise.com, alexinwanderland.com.

September 10, 2015

The Era Of The Booty: Bootylicious Rising

I have what is commonly called a ‘ghetto booty’. It gets comments wherever I go. Co-workers have literally lined up to give it a cheeky pinch – at my invitation, of course. People are astounded by its firm feel and perky look. I call it, “The Girls” and joke that everything that was supposed to go to my boobs went to my behind. What’s unique about my body is the proportions. My top half is a size 8-10. My bottom half is a 14. My figure is like something out of the Victorian era and I own it.

RELATED: How To Develop A Better Body Image

However, it’s only over the last two years that I have developed body confidence. I used to do everything to disguise my rear. Long skirts, A-line dresses; I didn’t own a pair of jeans. I constantly lamented the fact that my bottom was not proportionate to my top. This is because, for much of the 2000s, it was the height of fashion to have a flat butt. Australia has a beach culture, so go figure.

At the end of 2012, something happened that changed my life. By some wonderfully bizarre twist of fate, I started working on a film in the USA. I arrived a few days before filming, and around the hotel I wore tights and circle skirts. However, being on location required something more practical, so I took a deep breath and did something I hadn’t done for years…donned a pair of jeans.

Nobody noticed what I was wearing, until, walking past the hair and makeup trailer, I heard: “Dayumm, girl, what’ve you been hiding underneath those dresses?!” It was the head hair stylist, an African American gentleman, and one of my favourite people in the film crew. He was looking at me with a combination of awe and wonder.

“What do you mean?!” I asked.

“Girl!” he repeated, throwing up his hands, “I did not recognise you! I thought, ‘Who is that girl built like a brick wall?!’” By now, some of the other makeup artists had emerged and were nodding enthusiastically.

“Yeah! Why you been hiding that?!” one of the girls asked.

“Hiding what?” I replied.

“That BOOTY!” another continued. What followed was a storm of praise, because in America, especially in African American culture, having a ghetto booty is the most desirable thing a girl can possess. They told me that I had literally been sitting on my greatest asset (pun fully intended). And I had NO IDEA. I went back to Australia with a spring in my step. A world of self-esteem had opened up – although I still disguised my posterior during 2013.

But then… 2014 happened.

All of a sudden, booties were everywhere. Nicky Minaj was grinding up a storm. Kimmy K broke the internet with her gleaming derriere. Twerking was the new Macarena – and I took full advantage of it. I tossed my long skirts and worked the short dresses. I lived in jeans and high heels. I will now wear anything to make my butt look more prominent and when somebody stares at ‘The Girls’ with that bewildered, trance-like expression, I stick it out and swagger.

I’m not saying that thin bodies aren’t desirable. If you’re blessed with lovely petite hips, that’s fabulous. Own it. But holy hell, am I glad the tide has turned. Let’s be honest; it’s not enough to just say: “Love your body no matter what.” The road to body-confidence is longer than that. If society, for whatever reason, is now (finally) celebrating varied body types, I’m rolling with it. So ladies; whether you’re a willowy waif, or you’ve got a booty like a Cadillac, work it with pride.

Image via Emaze.com

August 17, 2015

How New Year Traditions Evolved

I could safely say that most of us know why we celebrate Christmas Day and Easter, but what about New Years Eve? Why do so many cultures across the globe farewell the passing year and welcome in a new one with lavish celebrations, fireworks, kisses at midnight and that weird song, “Auld Lang Syne”? I wanted to find out what it’s all about and share what I’ve discovered.

The first New Year’s celebrations

According to history.com, the first celebration to mark the new year began about 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. It wasn’t celebrated on January 1st, like we do now. Their New Years Day was celebrated in late March with the arrival of the first new moon after the spring equinox (which was based on the movement of the sun).

They developed a religious festival call Akitu (Sumerian for barley) which lasted for 11 days. Behind the festivities was the belief that good powered over evil, which served a political interest when either a new king was crowned or current ruler’s mandate was renewed.

In other cultures, such as Egypt and China, the new year was marked by agricultural or astronomical events. For example, Egypt’s new year was when the Nile flooded, bringing new life to the province.

Celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1st

It wasn’t until 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar pronounced the Julian Calendar, which similar to the Gregorian calendar used today across many cultures, including our own. This was when January 1st initially became New Years Day. They celebrated by giving sacrificial offings to the God Janus (the Roman god of beginnings), exchanged gifts, placed laurel branches in their homes as decorations and had parties. The parties were quite an event where things apparently went a lot further than the humble smooch! Noise was encouraged to ward off evil spirits.

With the rise of Christianity in Medieval Europe, New Years day celebrations were replaced in lieu of Christian events such as Christmas Day. This is how it remained until 1582, when January 1st was reclaimed as New Years Day by Pope Gregory XIII.

New Year’s resolutions

The first of the traditions which were celebrated, date back to the instigators of New Years Day; the Babylonians. Their resolutions were in the form of promises to the Gods, like paying back their debts and returning borrowed farm equipment. To them, this was important stuff. Ultimately they wanted to get in the good books with the Gods for the upcoming year.

Consuming certain foods

In many countries foods plays an important role in celebrations, but not so much in our own culture. In Spain and Spanish speaking cultures, they consume a dozen grapes just prior to midnight to secure good fortune for upcoming months.

Legumes like lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States also symbolize good fortune because of their coin like appearance. Pork features prominently in places like Cuba and some European countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, feature in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and other places. The Swedes and Norwegians hide an almond inside rice pudding and whoever finds it should expect a fortunate upcoming year.

Fireworks

The Chinese are the traditional creators of fireworks and therefore most celebrations included them. Their loud noise is said to ward away evil spirits. These days we celebrate with fireworks because they are enjoyed by so many people and cities put on marvelous displays for the masses.

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne was a poem written by Scotsman, Robert Burns in 1788 and sung to the tune of a traditional folk song. In many English speaking countries, it’s sung at midnight on New Years Eve to farewell the old year and welcome in the new one. Many people know the tune, but by midnight the words often get a bit muddled!

Kissing at midnight

Giving and receiving a kiss at the strike of midnight New Years Eve began out of superstition. The ancient Romans were believed to have been the first to pucker up to ward off loneliness for the upcoming year. It’s also rumored that things went a wee bit further than kissing and there were possibly a few orgies going on in the prominent homes. Now, they really wanted to make sure they weren’t lonely!

The English and Germans elaborated on the superstition, believing that the quality of the kiss would indicate the quality of happiness experienced for the remainder of the year. This may be why the New Years Eve kiss is believed to be a special kiss, particularly for couples.

The Time Square ball drop

1904 was the first New Year to be welcomed in at Time Square. By 1907, Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times, commissioned Artkraft Strauss to design and construct an electrically lit ball which would drop at the stroke of midnight. He wanted something other than fireworks to wow the growing crowds.

Since then the ball has dropped each year, except 1942 and 1943 due to WW2 blackout restrictions. It has been reconstructed over the years and millions of people, world wide look forward to the famous Times Square New Years Eve ball drop.

Image via http://up.arthuriusmaximus.com.br

January 1, 2015

7 Reasons To Visit Scotland

Scotland is a richly historical and unique destination, often overlooked by culture-seeking tourists who flock to Rome and Paris. Whether you’re after adventure, or city-living, Scotland has both. It’s capital, Edinburgh is an artistic hub and historical site, and is among the most uniquely beautiful cities in the world. But if it is the outdoors you crave, your wanderlust will be satisfied by a trip to the mystical Scottish highlands. If you’re unconvinced, consider my top reasons for visiting Scotland.

RELATED: Fly into a world of magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Castles
Who doesn’t love an opportunity to be transported into the lives of royalty? Scotland is full of such opportunities, with castles littering the country side and cityscapes. The nation’s most famous castle sits atop the city of Edinburgh and is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Perhaps the second most popular – and perhaps the most picturesque – is Eilean Donan,which is poised in the middle of a loch (lake), only connected to the mainland by footbridge. It was recently restored and frequently appears in films and television shows. Fun fact: much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed in Scotland, with castles Stalker and Doune featured in the film.

shutterstock_163030091                                                                                         Eilean Donan castle

History
You’ve all seen Braveheart, right? (Mind you, any Scot will tell you this tale of William Wallace is far from accurate) This film is just a glimpse at the complicated relationship between Scotland and England, and the nation’s great history of invasion, battle and conquest. Long before England took over, the Scots fought off the mighty Roman and Viking armies, the invaders unable to conquer the rugged and uninhabitable highland territory. However, if you’re short on time, you don’t even need to leave the nation’s capital for a dose of the past – Edinburgh’s old and new towns are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

shutterstock_112513559A beautiful view of Edinburgh

Mystery
Ever wondered if there really is a Loch Ness monster? Well, there is only one way to find out…

shutterstock_136877495Castle ruins overlooking Loch Ness

Highlands
The Scottish highlands – referring to the nation’s mountainous north-western region – are a dark, sometimes miserable, but strangely alluring place. Much of the nation’s traditional customs come from the distinctive highland culture, native to the clans that remain strong in the region. Which brings me to…

shutterstock_187732982“Old Man of Storr” in the Scottish Highlands

Culture
Scotland isn’t really a place one would consider rich in culture. Yet, Scots are highly protective and proud of their local treasures and traditions. Think: Scotch (better known to us as Whisky), bagpipes, kilts, haggis, Gaelic – all of these contribute to Scotland’s great sense of nationalism.

shutterstock_196966715A parade of Scottish clan culture

Harry Potter
Speaking of culture, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter from a little cafe in Edinburgh. Do a free walking tour in one of the most beautiful, medieval cities in the world and see where Rowling wrote the book, the cemetery and school from which she drew inspiration, and even some of the film’s shooting locations.

shutterstock_154644905All aboard the Hogwarts Express! The Glenfinnan viaduct.

Golf
Scotland is considered the home of golf as the modern game was developed in the country. The Royal and Ancient Club of St Andrews is the first golf club and is seen as a ruling body of the sport. Unlike others who perceive golf as elitist, St Andrews is actually a public golf course, run by the council and available to all.

shutterstock_95739565The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

September 21, 2014

Travel And Immerse Yourself In A New Culture As An Au Pair

Want to travel the world whilst living as a local in your chosen destinations? Want to explore the culture, restaurants and social scenes of the country you’re visiting and make money?  Well, working as an au pair might be the way to do just that. 

An au pair works as a live-in nanny in a foreign country, You basically get free accommodation, food and pocket money while looking after a family’s children. The most interesting thing is that you live with the family you work for, which means you become part of it and get to know their culture. Another good thing about being an au pair is that you make money during the week so you can travel and explore on the weekend.

Obviously, you need to do your homework first. Every country has its own rules regarding salary and hours of work but usually an au pair works no more than 30 hours per week and gets paid at least $400 per month. Normally Saturdays and Sundays are days off, which means you can explore the area or, better yet, the family might take you sightseeing. Being an au pair is not just about traveling but also about being immersed in a new culture and experiencing new things on a daily basis as a member of a family.

You can find a job as an au pair online. There are tons of websites where you can sign up for free and get into contact with families across the world. Once you sign up and complete your profile, you can begin to search for the perfect family. Remember: You are going to spend a lot of time with them and you need to be sure they are the perfect match for you.

Working as an au pair is a wonderful experience and a great way to travel on a budget. Decide where to go and immerse yourself in a new culture at the price of just one flight ticket.

By Erika Cucchiara

May 22, 2014