Little kicks

So last night I couldn't sleep. My little one kept moving without stop. I mean, literally without stop. He kicked my ribs, he punched my lower abdomen, he pushed his butt, and he tickled me too with his little fingers and feet! This little guy really knows how to get his mom's attention. Actually I was kind of worried if it was a sign of labor, but I am relieved it wasn't.

As he grows in my womb, my love for him also grows. I can stare at my belly, seeing his movements, for like an hour every single day. His kicks make me laugh. And sometimes it makes me cry too. I know pregnancy really affects your hormon and you become this emotional. But it's not about those kicks that make me cry. I sometimes still cannot believe that God gives me this child, a child that I had been praying for so long. And that He enables me to experience all this feeling.

Now, as I am writing this post, my child doesn't stop tickling me. Before, he was calm and quiet. I think he was sleeping after spending the wholeee night keeping his mom awake. Sometimes I wonder how he manages to stay awake all the time and sleeps just a little.

This child and my husband have given me reason to live. That I am, at least, still useful. I want to take care of them and teach them how to not make the kitchen dirty while I am away :P

Inequality in our everyday lives

Lately I have been rearranging our small apartment to welcome our child. Oh yes thank God I am pregnant! :) After all this time worrying whether I could have children or not and kept praying for my future children, God finally answered my prayers. I got pregnant exactly one year after I got married. How good is that! One year of honeymoon! :D

So let's go back to the topic I wanted to tell. It's about… well, I would call it "humanity".

Last Christmas, the church I am attending, arranged a Christmas Shoebox for the refugee kids. And a few weeks ago a member of the church announced that the refugees still need some basic things (eg. clothes, computer to connect with families, etc). I was not planning to give my clothes away while hearing this until I saw a photo from National Geographic Instagram last week. This is the photo I am talking about…

The Yazidi.

This is not an artistic photo. But in journalism or in some events in our lives, aesthetic in a photo is not important. It's the story behind the photo. So here is the caption of this one…

We agree to be photographed only to confirm our survival. We hide our faces because they won’t help you understand. On this side, my daughter. On the other, the wife of my son. Both were captured, each was forced to marry an ISIS fighter. Later they escaped, and you may say they are fortunate, though some days it is not so easy to agree. Everything is changed. Our families receive us differently. Men receive us differently. Perhaps for them it was worse, in a way. In some towns the bodies of men and boys are only now uncovered, their bones pierced and broken, bullets buried in ribcages and skulls. There, at least, is a record. An investigation. Little plastic bags for the evidence. No judge can measure suffering but sometimes I think the dead are louder than the living. We are not a Muslim people, and so we are puzzled by this war and also we recognize it. Women know there is always another army coming. Each time a new god leads. Long ago this was a Christian landscape. Sometimes priests still go flapping past, like crows, and their monasteries still cling to the hillsides, though they are empty now. Then, the Muslims arrived and rolled the Christians away, their songs spilling from the minarets, their mosques raised over the old tombs. Now there is ISIS, whose men build nothing and worship death. Before all, we lived here. Our temples bright with candles, our prayers shaking the holy mountain. The peacock and the flame are our symbols. Water is our way to purification. Maybe you never heard of us but now you will remember: We are Yazidi. Those people without faces. Those women who came back from the dead.

Never had I read something so powerful from the first person. When I was a teenager I read Elie Wiesel's book "Night", and while reading, it made me cry. But this photo caption somehow shocked me to my core.

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So while I was rearranging our apartment I decided to just pack the clothes we never or rarely wore to give them away. In the end I managed to collect jackets, blazers, t-shirts, shirts, shoes, a backpack, and a pillow. The total weight was 26 kg! And I was lucky because Germany has this organisation, Deutsche Kleiderstiftung, which cooperates with DHL so I could send my parcel without any cost other than carrying that big box there. It was so heavy even when my husband helped me out. Pregnant women's problem. :D

While I was collecting the clothes from our wardrobe, I realised how selfish I was. We had so many clothes we did not need and those clothes just sat there without us noticing while there are people out there still feel cold. We hoarded things impulsively without thinking its future use for us. We were so consumptive. I felt guilty.  

Now there are still a lot of clothes in our wardrobe. We only have one wardrobe for two persons. And I consider it small. But still, we still have many clothes in there which we rarely wear and I am planning to give some away next time. And our shoe rack, now only few shoes left. The rack is also small but at least it looks it can breathe now. Now I have only two winter jackets. This winter I only use one. Yes! I use that one jacket for the whole winter! While the other one still sitting there in the corner. Isn't that silly having so many jackets but you just wear one? So why not giving them away? And boots. Now I only have one pair of boots and two pairs of sneakers. I feel light. I feel free. And I feel so mobile.

In my life I never live for more than six years in a city so I really appreciate living with only few things. But since I got married I feel that we keep hoarding things and many of them are things that we don't really need. Mostly clothing. We don't even have a sofa. The most expensive chair we have only costed us €20 and we just bought it last Tuesday. So in our frugality I still feel that I am selfish and stupid. I don't think I can bear greater feeling than this if later I own more things. I just hope that I will still appreciate the word "enough" and be grateful for that. And I hope my children will appreciate that word too.

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Lately I have been reading a book from an economist, Tony Atkinson "Inequality: What Can Be Done". I bought the Kindle edition last year and have not finished reading it yet. LOL. The book is kind of tough. It's like I am reading a research paper. But there are a lot of interesting points that I never imagined before. Anyway I almost finish it and I found a data from that book which relates to what I am talking about now. The data is about the development aid expenditures by donor countries. So here is the graph.

Development aid expenditures. DAC is a forum of major aid donors in the OECD.

This graph says a lot about us, about humanity. It's not that I come from a developing country but now live in a developed country so I can freely criticise about it. It's that it's so disturbing that many of the news agencies reporting news about how the developed societies prefer to care more about their own societies instead of helping these developing countries. And each time we read news how we have been so kind by accepting refugees and spent money overseas, we did not really know how much actually the money we spent. And boom! It's not that much! But we are so kind with BIG corporations that they can pay much much less taxes (in some cases they don't even pay taxes at all!) and get bailouts. But when it's about those countries which majority are Muslim or if they just have different skin colour, we tend to close our eyes. It often does not come to our thoughts that this aid, when deployed well, can improve the political stability and thus reduce the pressure to migrate to developed countries. Morevoer, isn't it really disturbing seeing that each time we visit developing countries, we can spend money without worries, while the locals still live in poverty? Why not lifting their economies up too so we all can stand on equal grounds. I believe that a good economic condition and a fair society will lead to less inequality, less racism, less sexism, and it's possible that it can wipe out all the other forms of inequality.

We often forget this verse…

Luke 6:32-36New International Version (NIV) 
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now I sound like a pastor :D

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So since I have arrived at this biblical verse, I want also to continue on this one.

It's been a dilemma for me about giving tithe to church. In the New Testatement, tithe is no longer about that 10 percent but about how much we are willing to give. The dilemma is if the church we are attending reports the amount of money it has in savings and where the money goes. If the church likes "austerity" mode, I am not sure if I want to be so generous as preached. Austerity has never been the solution for economic crisis. So if this institution (well, let's call it "institution" here though church is actually about its people) runs itself as an institution, then it should be managed according to the teaching it holds, that is to give. Unless it's "planned" to be run as a profitable company...

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So I think now I better go back to Atkinson's book. It's so exciting that I am finally reaching the last parts! :)

Little thing about art

A month ago I was googling german craft fairs and found Stijl Design Markt. I think this is the biggest craft fair in Germany. This fair is held throughout Germany at different times. I was just curious how it was since I also wanted to sell my art. So I came by on May 31st when it was happening in Mainz.

The fair was quite big, indeed. It was crowded too. There were artists selling their prints and greeting cards just like what I expected. But they were outnumbered by the sellers who sold clothes and jewelleries. And people seem to buy more and more clothes and jewelleries rather than prints or decor related things. I can understand them. It is more economic to buy things which have higher utility. But at the same time I felt discouraged too because I consider myself as an artist and I want to make a living from it.

I didn't see any fine art sellers in that market. I thought it made sense. I saw a seller was selling art prints on large size but it seemed that he didn't sell much of it. I even wondered how could he earn enough profit out of it when the price he set was quite low for such piece of art. Most people just came to his booth and went away. The same with an art shop in the city center. It almost has no visitor even though it sells beautiful prints. If for such prints people wouldn't buy, no wonder why I didn't see any fine art sellers. 

There was actually another thing I would consider why art products didn't sell much. Around 90 percent of this craft fair visitors were young people. What would you expect from them? Young people, like students, mostly don't have much money unless they are born rich. So of course they prefer to buy things that have utility such as clothes or jewelleries. 

I am a student too but somehow I don't like spending much on clothes or jewelleries. It's because I spend my life moving from city to city, country to country. So the more I have, the more difficult to move my belongings. And I don't like that. Moreover I'm not fashionable and I don't wear jewellerries. 

However, if I have a lot of money, I think I would buy a decent art work. Even when it costs thousand of euros. And even if I don't have much now, I still would buy one if it attracts my eyes. Of course the one that doesn't cost much. 

People tend to appreciate things that they understand. Every time I go to classical concert with M, it would be me who enjoy it more. If there is a violin virtuoso playing a piece with high skills, it's me who will notice it. If there is a politician expressing his political view related to Italy, it's M who can criticise better than me. So things that are easy to be understood are the things that are easy to sell.

Each time I visit art museum it always makes me think why the art nowadays is so much different from the past. Why the art in the past always contained so much details while today's art tends to be simpler. The same with buildings. We no longer build beautiful buildings like those old ones in Italy. We build plain buildings and call it modern. And when these modern buildings get older, they don't look as artistic as those old buildings.

Is our generation facing difficulties in understanding art? I don't know. But I know that our society values money more than hardwork. That's why cheap things from Asia sell much. Instant stuffs are cheaper and used to come from great exploitation. But somehow we tolerate it as long as we can gain more with just little money. So isn't it saying that we live a greedy life?

So, here are some pictures from the craft fair. Some of them did sell cute things.



This girl would make a comical drawing of you with just €7. So cute.

Almond Thins

Around a week ago I received an email from Amazon.co.uk about the books I was looking for before. It was Lisa Faulkner's recipe books. And they were discounted! The price was decreased to only five and seven pounds from twenty pounds! It were Tea & Cake with Lisa Faulkner and Recipes from My Mother for My Daughter. The first one is full of biscuits, cakes, cookies, tarts and pies, and even summer drinks recipes, while the second one is for lunch or dinner meals. 

I have tried two of the recipes from the Tea & Cake book and I would say that it's super easy to follow the recipes. For a person like me who likes to bake and cook but don't want to spend a long time to bake or cook something delicious, these two books are the right ones. 

Today I tried Almond Thins recipe and I felt so satisfied with the result. The biscuit was so crisp and tasted so good. But I tweaked the recipe a little bit. Instead of using 300 grams of sugar, I just used 250 grams since I and M don't really consume much sugar. However the result was perfect!

Almond Thins.
I ate these biscuits with Earl Grey Blue Lady Vanilla tea which I bought in Copenhagen last year. I like this tea so much that I think I will just order it from Denmark when it's finished. Besides, it smells so good and there's no way that people won't enjoy it. I also added a drop of milk into the tea. Habbit :D

Weary and wise

I live few metres away from the Rhein river but I can even count with my fingers how many times I walked by the river since last October, the month I moved in. I and M do like to walk along the Rhein but we chose the part which is close to the city center. Although we had to walk a little bit far but we still did. 

Few days ago we tried to explore the surroundings in the evening. We went to the riverside which is just three blocks away and I was so shocked to find out that the park was so beautiful! The city takes care the gardens by planting many varieties of flowers. Roses, peonies, lavender, etc. I was so glad to see the peonies. I always wondered what it looked like. I might have seen it before but I never really took care of the flower names until recently. 

The roses in the park were already withering. But there are more to bloom as well. I saw at least three different colors: red, purple, and orange. And somehow seeing the withering orange roses was a new experience to me even though it was not the first time. I guess it's because of the photo from a photographer I like which she posted on Instagram. She edited the photo in vintage style with film mood which made the roses look strangely beautiful.

The beauty of these withering roses somehow teaches me about life. As we get older we may feel exhausted. Our eyes may not show joy, nor happiness. We may walk as if we carry a big burden on our shoulders. Basically, there are times when we are just so tired of this life. Just like those withering roses. The sun is too much that it can no longer bear its heat. But some people who walk by can notice its beauty, either because the golden light in the afternoon adds the dramatic look or because it's just so poetic to see it. Beauty is in the eye of beholder, they say.

I know a person who always looked tired each time she came to the office. She almost never slept eight hour a day for some reason I cannot write here. But each time I talked to her, she always had wisdom in her words. And if I dared to complain about something, and if I remembered her at the same time, I would feel so ashamed of myself.

Today I chatted with my ex-neighbor. It was a long long chat. She asked a question which I actually didn't want to answer. But still I answered because I wanted her not to do the mistake I once made. She is younger than me so at least I should share some of my experiences. Experience is expensive. It would be good if others could learn for free from it. After the chat she thanked for the talk and told me how she liked it. Of course I was happy too.

Of all the creatures, we are given intelligence, to think, to learn, to be wiser as we get older. Good for those who don't have to go through certain experiences to be wiser. But for those who get wiser because of their past, they have stories which they can share with others, instead of burying it and wasting its potential. Some people even don't need to share it because their lives are already a teaching for others. Their beauty is just so visible despite their weary faces. 

There's a verse in the Bible which I like and I try to remember during hard times.

Isaiah 40:31
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

These are some of the photos I took few days ago when I went to the riverside. It would be pretty cruel not to share something pretty.


I didn't know that peonies would make good black and white photos.

Peonies.


Withering roses.

Late spring

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I fell in love with this tree but I don't know its name. Help!

Spring is almost over and the leaves of trees have changed from light green to dark green. What I regret is that I didn't photograph the cherry blossoms well enough. And I've missed it. However I did take some spring plants photos. There are many which I like so much but I just can't reach them. Especially when I traveled by train, along the railway I could see different kinds of tree with different flowers.

About two weeks ago I and M walked by the river. After reaching home we counted the distance we walked via google map. And it was more than 20 kilometres! 

This is our favourite place by the river. That empty bench means so much to us.

Hi swan!


Wild flowers by the river.

What I like from walking is that I can watch people around me and how they behave. I would like to interact with them but it is not that easy here in Germany. It's not only because of my limited german but also because of the culture. Germans are shy. Period.

One of the gardens in the city centre, Mainz. You can take these plants (with the roots) at a certain date. The city always changes the flowers so people can get free flowers when it's "expired".

Walking in Germany is so much fun (despite that smile thingies). German towns always have green areas where we can just enjoy the walk without cars or motorbikes passing by with their loud horns. Ah ja. In Germany you will also never hear any horns on the street unless something really bad is happening (eg. you stay in the middle of the road). And everywhere you go, you will always find trees. The germans also like to spend money decorating their cities with flowers. I always think why my country don't do the same thing when it's always summer and plants are easy to grow. *sigh*

Köln today

It's been a while since I last wrote real post on my blog. I mean, my old blog. I feel that the older I get, the more difficult I write what I think and what I have seen. My thoughts which I wanted to share were just automatically saved into the most remote part of my brain. It's a pity since I like to bla bla bla.

So here I am. Let me start with what I did today. Yeah. Today.

Today I met my lecturer. I was nervous because I was not prepared to meet him. I didn't study enough. I just skimmed the papers which I should have read at least a week before. It is clear that I am a professional procrastinator. Hehehe.

I arrived at his office half an hour earlier because I took the early train (which took THREE hours). It wasn't bad waiting for that long since I had to do things like… read as much as I could so I wouldn't look that stupid.

My lecturer came to the waiting room around three minutes late but he looked so guilty. And that time I actually didn't notice that he was my lecturer until he shook my hand and said sorry.

So there was it, I tried to explain my outline (which I changed the night before) but my words were so messed up. I couldn't explain it well when he asked questions. My problem was I couldn't structure my ideas well until he helped me by giving me some clues about the theories I should use and so on and so on. In the end I just confirmed about the outline which I restructured that time. And phew… it was okay for him so it must be okay for me too. Then I went back home. But I had to transit in Köln for around two hours.

Köln is so familiar to me but I had my pocket camera with me. So let me be a tourist in Köln for a day. 

It was a bit cloudy and people seemed to enjoy the day. I saw many asians walking around the city. They were probably tourist. They liked to shop in branded stores like Louis Vuitton, Aigner, etc etc. Once I saw a woman trying to drag her spouse to a branded shop and the man looked so pity to me. He tried to reject but hey, don't underestimate the power of a women. Hehehe.

While waiting for my train I stopped by a turkish restaurant and ate dürum. It's doner's brother just so you know. I went there because it costed only €3.90. Hehehe. I am an economist-wanna-be so I have to be a little bit stingy. Oh no! I don't want to sound like that austrian guy! I mean Hayek.

It's almost midnight now and I want to close this posting by sharing some photos I took in Köln ;)

Köln Central Station.

It looks like everyone is aware that trains are coming late.

Germany likes doves. That's why it has many of them just everywhere.

The Dom. It's so extra huge that it couldn't fit in the view finder of my camera.

Inside the Dom. Without fresco but the stained glasses are beautiful.