China's Mid-Autumn Festival - Millions of Poets Under the Moon Light

Posted by Mariya Otake • Thursday, September 8. 2011 • Category: People and Places

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Shahpur Jat - Knowledge Must's New Home in Delhi

Posted by Daniel Ratheiser • Monday, July 25. 2011 • Category: People and Places

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Discovering India for the First Time: The Feelings of a Franco-Egyptian Girl

Posted by Laura Mansour • Monday, July 25. 2011 • Category: People and Places
At first glance one could say that there is no point in comparing Egypt and India, but when I came here I noticed that there were quite some similarities between these two countries. When I first arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi I had this strange feeling of familiarity. Facing me there were hundreds of Indians staring at me but it didn’t disturb me, the same thing occurs in Egypt, so I am quite used to it. I only realized that I was in India on the way to my flat, when I tried to explain to my taxi driver who didn’t speak a word of English how to get there. From that moment I understood that in India things could quickly get more complicated and that I had to sweat it out. A challenging programme was waiting for me; will I be able to measure up to it?

The first days I decided to gather my courage and discover my neighbourhood. I made this leap to have a glimpse of India’s living conditions and culture and I quickly realized that I was not in an environment that was completely foreign to me. I was walking along the main market of Malviya Nagar when I had this strange feeling: it was a mixture of a dream and a flashback from my time in Egypt.

The panorama that stood in front of me, the city of Delhi with its crowded streets, noises and smells, reassured me somewhat. I found here the same hawkers shouting their slogans, the same sweltering atmosphere of the days of extreme heat and also the same frame of mind: bargaining. Nothing better than going to shop in a local market or to launch into the traffic jam to feel fully immersed. Crossing a busy intersection involved similar risks! However, it reminds me of how my cousins in Egypt who used to take my hand to help me cross the street – now I can proudly say “I can cross the street on my own!”

It is true that when when many people think about these two countries, one word comes first in their minds: poverty. Children, the unemployed and handicapped are the most affected by poverty and it is a fact that one often comes across beggars, touts and children who are trying to sell roses. Nevertheless, you have to go beyond that kind of stereotype if you really want to appreciate the splendour of these countries. Simple people, always welcoming, with a sense of mutual support, that is what I found here, not to mention the gorgeous sceneries which are classified among the Seven Wonders of the World.

Some scenes particularly struck me. Just look at these pictures and try to tell which country it is:

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Fasting in India - The Hindu Day Fasts

Posted by Rachayta Gupta • Tuesday, June 14. 2011 • Category: People and Places

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On the Streets of Quito: Working as a Volunteer in Ecuador

Posted by Clara Eckstein • Thursday, May 12. 2011 • Category: People and Places

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A Journey Crossing Two Continents: Riding the Trans-Sib

Posted by Anne Rhebergen • Tuesday, April 26. 2011 • Category: People and Places
From Moscow to Beijing via Ulan Bator in Mongolia. Crossing 7 time zones. If measured from start to end it accumulates to a vast total of 7622 km (4735 miles). You will have heard about it. It is the Trans Siberian Express. It is not just a train ride. It is one of the amazing experiences in the world! If you choose to not make any stops after departure from Moscow, the journey can be made in 6 days. However that’s not how I did it and I’m darn happy about that because otherwise I would have missed an amazing experience!

(c) by Anne Rhebergen

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Backpack Your Life

Posted by Teresa Kasel • Thursday, March 24. 2011 • Category: People and Places
Backpacking is a way of travelling that attracts increasing attention amongst young people. Travelling itself has always been popular. But backpacking is different. The major purpose of backpacking is by far not the intention of simply going to another place. It is so much more than that. It is about the idea itself: The idea of travelling. Being on the go. Exploring the world. The destination plays only a minor part in the game. It’s all about that feeling you have when fitting your life in a backpack, leaving behind everything you’ve known, everything you’ve loved and valued so far – to find out what else is out there – what kind of world, life, opportunity, culture and people.

(c) Teresa Kasel

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The Dutch Monarchy and the Day the Netherlands Turn Orange

Posted by Anne Rhebergen • Tuesday, March 8. 2011 • Category: People and Places
Interaction with people from different cultures is next to the obvious change in landscapes the most striking thing while going abroad. You talk about cultural issues that are different like eating habits or local traditions. So of course it was also one of the things I talked about a lot while being abroad and it was at this time that I discovered how odd foreign people find Queen’s Day, which is maybe the biggest Dutch-specific public holiday. People find this odd because how are people partying everywhere and dressed up like crazy in orange be related to the Queen of the Netherlands?

By Tosca Weiler

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Indian Spirituality – When Seers Turn Blind

Posted by Heiko Pfeiffer • Wednesday, December 29. 2010 • Category: People and Places
To many European and North American visitors to India, Indian spirituality is one of the most fascinating aspects of Indian culture and reason for many to come. Visiting the ancient spiritual temples that abound all over India with their magnificent display of Hindu mythology, pilgrims who make colourful flower and fruit offerings to their preferred deity, entire families standing in line for hours just to take a quick bath under the sprinkling waters of some ancient holy source, with the ever present odour of sweet incense filling the spiritually-laden air – all these are impressions that many visitors of India seek and that have vividly enriched the memories of many travellers to India before.

By Niyam Bhushan
http://www.flickr.com/photos/niyam/4732556679/

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Worshipping Lord Bahubali - The Jain Pilgrimage Site at Shravanabelagola

Posted by Susanne Kuhn • Monday, November 15. 2010 • Category: People and Places
The ascent of the 660 rock-cut steps, all of them polished smooth by uncounted bare feet of humble worshippers seeking to perform Darshan (“the beholding of a deity”) at Shravanabelagola, one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage sites in the world, is truly worth each drop of sweat shed. The gigantic 18 meters tall and blindingly white gleaming statue of Lord Bahubali carved from a single piece of granite stone and located on the summit of the Indragiri Hill can be seen even from as much as 24 km afar and is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue. Each day thousands of Jain pilgrims as well as curious visitors make their way up, passing the numerous smaller shrines. Even elderly or handicapped people get the chance to take a closer glimpse at the towering statue on top, as there is a palanquin transport service available to avoid the strenuous hike.

By albany_tim
http://www.flickr.com/photos/albany_tim/2045160726

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Under a Northern Sky: Feeling “ich bin ein Berliner”

Posted by Gautam Chakrabarti • Thursday, August 5. 2010 • Category: People and Places
This is not an average travel narrative, replete with the wonders of a world that is truly wondrous: a jazzy world that, yet, has a large, welcoming heart. This is, perhaps, not an image run-of-the-mill Hollywood WW2/spy-flicks generate, immersed, as they seem to be, in anachronistic assumptions and the resultant antipathies. But, it is clear to this writer, Germany and Berlin define the new Gross European Cool, framed in terms of “Multi-Kulti” (multiculturalism, in colloquial German) and a Kalkbrennerian Zeitgeist.

A view of the city of Berlin by Henk de Boer
http://www.flickr.com/photos/powerfocus/4481438796/

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Gadhimai Mela - The Largest Sacrifice

Posted by Enrico Fabian • Friday, June 18. 2010 • Category: People and Places
In the last quarter of 2009, the famous actor and animal rights activist Brigit Bardot wrote a letter to the president of Nepal, urging him to intervene in the planning of an upcoming religious festival. Her request was received, but shunned by the president; the Gadhimai Mela, held every five years, would again go on as it had for centuries. It is considered the biggest single animal sacrifice on our planet. The festival’s name, Gadhimai, comes from a goddess whose temple is situated in a vast complex near a tiny village in Nepal not far from the Indian border.

© Enrico Fabian (www.enrico-fabian.com)

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Urs at Ajmer: Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti Rules

Posted by Daniel Ratheiser • Friday, June 11. 2010 • Category: People and Places
The Urs celebrations of the great Muslim Sufi saint Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti at Ajmer are famous all over the world - not only among Sufis or other Muslims. Sufism (also referred to as tasawwuf) is the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, which focuses on direct knowledge of God and the experience of mystical union or direct communication with ultimate reality. One can hardly overemphasise the importance of Sufi Islam as the key channel for Hindu-Muslim interaction in South Asia throughout the centuries, which resulted in an extremely fruitful cross-fertilisation of ideas, thoughts, sciences, and arts – and there is no place in South Asia where this is more evident than in Rajasthan’s Ajmer and even more so during the Urs festivities.

© Knowledge Must

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Bangladeshis Take Culture Seriously

Posted by Maher Sattar • Saturday, May 15. 2010 • Category: People and Places
My mother once showed me an old newspaper photo of a man with his face thoroughly beaten into an unrecognizable pulp. Giggling, she told me that the man was my father.

I looked over at the portly clean-cut man sitting across the breakfast table, wearing a starched white shirt and a navy-blue blazer. He averted his gaze, managing to look sheepish, amused, and defiant all at once.

The story of how my father fell victim to the infamous Bangladeshi Gonopituni (public beating), briefly, is this. In the springtime of his life, Shafat Sattar went to see a performance of his favorite singer, Mitali Mukherjee, at BUET, a famous engineering institute in Dhaka (“Porir moto gola – she had the voice of an angel”, he comments wistfully). He was disappointed. The music, the tune, the beats, it was all wrong. The next day, fuming, he marched up to the composer responsible for this disaster to demand an explanation, an apology, some sort of penance. He was not satisfied with the answer, and promptly did what still, today, strikes him as the only thing he could have done.

He slapped the composer, a student of BUET – in the middle of the BUET cafeteria. What followed is fairly predictable. A minor scuffle ensued, which swiftly turned into the entire BUET campus attempting to deconstruct young Shafat Sattar’s face. “The bugger,” he observes now with an objective air, “deserved it”.

* * *

Robindronath Thakoor (RabindranathTagore)

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Kumbh Mela - The Most Wonderful Sight in India?

Posted by Daniel Ratheiser • Wednesday, March 24. 2010 • Category: People and Places
“What is the most wonderful sight in India – the strangest thing to be seen in all this land, where so much is strange? For my part, I am inclined to doubt whether anything can be witnessed more impressive and picturesque, more pregnant, too, with meaning and significance, than the Kumbh Mela, or great Pilgrim Fair, which is held, once every twelve years, where the waters of the Ganges and Jumna meet, below the wall of Allahabad. Until you have look upon one of these tremendous gatherings of humanity many aspects of Indian life and character must be hidden from you.”
Sydney Low during the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to India (1906)

© Enrico Fabian (www.enrico-fabian.com) for "Die Zeit"

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