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Sensible globetrotting

The 29th of September was a fantastic Saturday. It was sunny, which was ideal for outdoor activities, and peaceful. My friends and I opted for a 10-km walk that brought us to scenic, quiet places in three borders (France, Germany and Luxembourg).

We left our dwellings at 1:30 PM for the French village of Contz-les-Bains where we joined the 60 men, women and children eager to do the bush hike. The weather was conducive, the company was great, and the organisation was flawless. Above all, I felt close to nature, especially with the absence of “western” toilet.

Considering that there were some steep and sloping areas, we did fairly well. We got to our destination and came back in one piece feeling proud and wanting to do a similar undertaking soon.

What impressed me most was the Saint-Jean-Baptiste chapel, which was built in the first half of the 15th century and whose choir is classified as a historical monument. We passed by Stromberg, which used to be a place of exploitation of gypsum and dolomitic stones. We also stepped on grounds that lead to a village known for the Schengen Agreements which got rid of borders in most of Europe.

After the walk, I had the opportunity to talk with the organiser, who gracefully explained the principle and modus operandi of "Just Boarded". I liked what I heard. They organise small adventures that respect the environment and give fair remuneration to everyone involved, particularly the local hosts and guides. In short, for me, it’s a sensible tourism in which you are a responsible traveller and not an insensitive tourist.

Luxembourg: Flambée des prix du logement

Cela fait peur, surtout quand le Professeur Saskia Sassen parle de ce problème.

Je suis préoccupée par le fait que les prix du logement au Luxembourg se sont envolés au cours des cinq dernières années. Un appartement décent (100m2) coûte 1 million d’euros dans notre quartier (près de la gare), ce qui est inabordable pour beaucoup de gens.

C'est une situation préoccupante puisque nous n'avons pas le droit de voter ici, car « le Grand-Duché compte la plus grande part d'adultes privés de droits de vote dans "l'une des démocraties développées" en raison de sa forte proportion de résidents étrangers à qui il est interdit de voter. »

Cela nous concerne particulièrement dans ce monde pro-business à la façon Trump / Macron qui, de plus en plus, évolue sans s'embarrasser de consultation publique ouverte et éclairée.

(Pour lire la suite...)

Luxembourg: Skyrocketing Housing Prices

This is scary, especially when Saskia Sassen talks about the problem like this.

It concerns me that the housing prices in Luxembourg have sharply increased over the last five years. One decent apartment (100m2) costs €1 million in our neighborhood (near the station), which is unaffordable for many people.

This is a worrying situation since we do not have the right to vote here, as “the Grand Duchy has the largest share of disenfranchised adults of ‘any of the developed democracies’ due to its high proportion of foreign residents who are barred from voting.”

This concerns us in the pro-business Trump/Macron era, without open and informed scrutiny.

(Continue to read...)

頭脳流出をふせぐ代物

Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen in Hannover

皆さん、いかがお過ごしでしたか?(8月26日に書きました)この夏、私のまわりでは、(日欧・台湾)8人の方が亡くなり、5人の赤ちゃんが生まれ、1組のカップルが結婚式を挙げました。その間に、友人の誕生日パーティーもいくつかありました。

週末になると、スーツケースを抱えベルギー・フランス・ドイツ・ルクセンブルグのあちこちを移動してました。8月初旬は、友人の誕生祝いにドイツのハノーファー(ハノーヴァー)に行ってました。

飛行機の窓から見下ろすと、町は意外にも青々としていて、この緑化に友人はひと役買っているのだなあと思いながら着きました。友人トーマスはマネージャーとして王宮庭園で働いている人で、歩いて仕事場を案内してもらいました (ドイツやフランスにお住まいの方は、人に慕われる彼をテレビ・インタビューで見かけたことがあるかもしれません)。現地に行くまでは、名だたる名所とは知らず、敷地の広さも木の数も想像以上に大きなものでした(フランスのエッフェル塔、スペインのサグラダファミリア、イギリスのビックベン、ベルギーの小便小僧に並ぶ観光スポットで、EUの記念紙幣裏面のデザインに使われたことがあるそうです)。

庭園づくりの構想にも驚きました。彼の説明では中世の宗教戦争(30年戦争)の後、政治に関与する能力のある人たちが南に移転するのを防ぐため、数十年かけて建造されたそうです。庭園は長年にわたり連綿と手入れされつづけ、毎年、様々な催しが行われるそうです。

。。。下につづく

Holiday, receipts and consumer rights

Do you always check your receipts? I don’t and this is because of my trusting nature. However, last summer I did; I checked the same receipt twice and hung on to it for a month.

According to Hassan, B. (see ''The reason you should always check your receipt after the supermarket checkout'', August 18, 2017), “those with adult kids (82%) are the most likely to check their receipt, followed by those with teen kids (78%) and those with young kids (76%). Women are marginally more diligent when it comes to reviewing their docket, with 78% checking over their receipt compared to 75% of men.”

Australian research revealed that 40% of supermarket customers were overcharged at the checkout last year; of these, the average Aussie received an incorrect bill thrice in 12 months and 5% over six times (Hassan, 2017).

The receipt that caught my attention wasn’t from something I bought but what I exchanged. Whilst on a trip to the UK last August, I exchanged currency in Oxford Street. I felt I was deceived as I didn’t get enough money back, and the information on the exchange rate and fees was either invisibly posted on the premises or I didn’t look at it attentively due to distraction from other customers.

I got £70.95 for 120 euros when the average exchange rate at that period was £78 for 100 euros (the amount I got at the P & O Ferries). I was charged 14.97% for the service and 3.00 compliance fees. If I had seen the exchange rate and fees, I would not have exchanged there. It’s not the small amount that bothered me for almost a month but the thought that I’d been ripped off.

「伝えられなかったヒロシマ・ナガサキ」

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial

先日、明治学院大学の国際平和研究所発行の小冊子(PDF)を、送付していただきました。ハノーファー(ドイツ)から戻リ、受信メールをチェックしていた時のことです。

ハノーファーが広島の姉妹都市とはつゆ知らず、期せずして友人(かの王宮庭園のマネージャー)の誕生日祝に行ったのですが。

原爆の日の前夜、友人一家に旧市街を案内してもらい、広島から贈られた平和の鐘にも触れることができました。教会の壁には、被爆者の方たちの写真も展示されていました。

20代の頃、別のドイツ人夫婦にホロコースト関連物の保管所に連れて行ってもらったことがあります。その場所も、そこで何を見たかも、ほとんど覚えていないのですが。その後、あまりのショックで小一時間、身体ががたがた震えて口が聞けなくなったのを覚えています。自国の歴史に向きあう経験則の違いにも、驚いたものです。

。。。下につづく

Summer 2018

Many of us cannot wait for the summer holiday to arrive as it means no school, no work, getting together with relatives and friends, and leisuring. Some individuals and families are fortunate to afford a relaxing, fantastic getaway somewhere sunny and vibrant. The 2018 summer, however, was not only a question of money. It was so hot that many English and French vacationers opted to stay home. French radio stations had 24-hour updates of traffic situations with their warning of orange “dense – bad” and red “very bad”.

Holidaymakers expected heat in the mid-30s in their favourite countries of Greece, Portugal and Spain, but it went up to 50°C; while the rest of Europe had above-average temperatures in July and August.

Some experts had said that the heatwave was due to warming in the tropical equatorial Pacific Ocean while others disclosed that it was because of the very dry, hot air from the African continent. Whatever the official reason was, our consumption habits and environmentally-unfriendly behaviours have contributed, and will continue to do so, to the erratic climatic conditions and heating up of planet Earth.

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored" par Kiyoko Horiba

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored by Kiyoko Horiba

Au Japon, les misères de la guerre, les raids aériens et les bombes atomiques ont souvent été évoqués alors que d'autres aspects, en particulier la mémoire des crimes de guerre, ont été quasiment passés sous silence au cours des dernières années.

Parmi les jeunes Japonais, nombreux sont ceux qui peuvent avoir entendu parler du daihonéi happyou ou "bourrage de crânes" de la propagande militaire mais ne presque rien savoir du système de censure imposé par les forces d'occupation après la guerre ou même ignorer que le Japon ne se classe que 67ème sur 180 au World Press Freedom Index 2018 (72ème l'an dernier).

C'est pourquoi j'aimerais attirer l'attention des gens sur notre histoire. Voici un lien vers le magnifique ouvrage de la poétesse Kiyoko Horiba intitulé Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored qui a été publié cette année par Meiji Gakuin University (International Peace Research Institute).

N'hésitez pas à partager ce document avec autant de personnes que possible. Merci d'avance.

Lire la suite...

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored" by Kiyoko Horiba

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored by Kiyoko Horiba

In Japan the miseries of war, the air raids, and the atomic bombs are often told, while other aspects, particularly the memory of war crimes, has been far less discussed.

Many Japanese people may know about the daihonéi happyou or force-feeding military propaganda. But, what little known is about the censorship system by the occupation forces after the war or even the fact that Japan ranked 67 out of 180 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index (72nd last year).

That’s why I would like to draw people’s attention to our history. Here is Hiroshima and Nagasaki Censored, wonderful work by Kiyoko Horiba, poet, which was published by Meiji Gakuin University (International Peace Research Institute) this year. Please share this work with as many people as possible.

Read more...

Who are you? Where are you from?

I am writing this while on a short holiday in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, before heading to Spain and England. It is summer here in Europe and because we travel a lot during this period, we often get asked “Where are you from?” Depending on my mood, my answer ranges from my birthplace to current city or country of residence. Often, I give information on my nationality/citizenship, and I will tell you why later. In some cases, the enquirer really just wants to know the main language I speak and my religion.

During the World Cup, when I wore my gold and green outfit, some strangers smiled and commented, “You’re from Brazil” thinking that I had something blue invisible to the naked eye. Whereas, friends and acquaintances teased me “Socceroos, go, go...” My gold and yellow dress, green sandal and green bag said it all. They did not question my citizenship (Are you Australian?), appearance (but you look Asian), etc. On other occasions, however, I have to answer a follow-up question “Yes, but where do you really come from, your family?”

A fortnight ago, a close friend invited me to her barbecue dinner party. Her house is 15 minutes on foot from where we live, and since it was a sunny day, I decided to walk. France had just won the 2018 World Cup and knowing that there would be jubilant crowd, I put on my blue, white and red apparel. The time it took me to her place doubled as I had to stop and shake hands, take photos for others and kiss strangers. Everybody was so happy, friendly, and courteous. How I wished it was like that every day. No one asked me “where are you from”? Instead, many nodded and shouted amicably “On a gagné” (We won). They ignored my physical attributes and my non-French accent. They made me feel like I was one of them, which wasn’t my intention. I am a lover and partaker of peaceful and jovial celebrations, festivals, and traditional gatherings.

他国の知恵

他国の知恵

ルクセンブルグの名家でパーティがあった。「プチ・スイス」といわれる森の中のお城のような邸宅に、リサーチなどを生業とする人たちが25人ほど集まった。主にルクセンブルグ人とベルギー人の集まりで(いつものごとく私はマイノリティ)、外国人らしきカップルが皆よりやや離れぎみだったので、話の席に加わった。実は女性は邸の令嬢で、11年の英国生活から引き上げてきたばかりだという。男性は彼女のボーイフレンドでルーマニア人である。

また政治の話になり、私は「今の日本はドキュメンタリー映画で見た、チャウシェスク政権の末期のようです」と話した(広場に集まった市民が政府機関を占拠したとき、あらかじめチャウシェスクの名前が書かれた大量の投票用紙を窓から撒き散らして、皆の目にさらした映像をいつも思い出す)。ルーマニアは今も腐敗やスキャンダルは絶えないが、海外に暮らす愛国者たちが(正確な人数を失念したが、約500万人だったと思う)独立した調査報道の経済支援を続けているという。「自分の両親はまだルーマニアに住んでいるし。愚政がために、彼らがいかに苦しい人生をおくってきたかを知っている。だからリベンジのつもりで支援している」という。日本にはネットジャーナルや海外の「九条の会」などもあるけれど、似たたぐいの要請が、わが国でも高まっているのではないだろうか。

。。。下につづく

護身術とディフェンス

護身術とディフェンス

6月の週末。日本から武術の先生がベルギーのバストーニュにいらっしゃった。先生にとっては、3泊5日!?という強行日程セミナー。会場に着くまでは5〜6人の集まりかと思いきや。スイス、フランス、ルクセンブルグ、ベルギーそして日本(日本人は先生と私のみ)の5カ国から50人強の武道家が集い、さらにその家族がとり巻き見守るという盛会ぶりだった。

(海外に誇れる良きものが日本にはあるのですね。こういう指導力こそ、クール・ジャパン戦略にすればよろしいのでは)

予定は半年前に知らされていた。先生は「英語」を話されるので、技の説明は大丈夫だけれども、会食時などになかつぎが要るようだった。つまりは「要通訳」という無言のプレッシャーを感じた。とりあえず、ほうじ茶だけ淹れて早朝ベルギーへ向かった。

普段は「畳の上ででんぐり返りして、何が面白い」などと思っているが、いざ目撃してみると……。かなり興味深い。廻転にも洗練を感じる。

師範の友人(写真下・地方テレビ局にインタビューを受ける彼)は、畳の上にあがると水を得た魚のようだった。技を教える横顔にも、満面におさえきれない笑みがひろがる。畳をかかえて、広々とした体育館の中をひょいひょいと弾んで歩く後ろ姿は、まさに少年のようである。いつもは、やや神経質な人だと思ってたのですがね。しかも子どもたちに慕われる先生でもあるようだ。「彼の説明は本当にわかりやすい。痛くもなくってね」「へえ〜。そうなの。私、あの人の友だちなの」と自慢したくなった。

。。。下につづく

Foosball - fooball's/soccer's cousin

Rolade and a big foosball team

Table football (EU/UK) / table soccer (Australia/USA), which is also known as foosball, is a game for everyone (i.e. irrespective of age, gender and physical attributes). Playing foosball is a fun way to reunite with family, friends and colleagues. It brings out the competitive spirit in the players while making them mentally alert thinking of wise tactics to win the game. Therefore, if you want to be physically and mentally challenged, try foosball.

"Since this game involves the art and skill of coordinating your hands and eyes as well as keeping the body active, it is perfect to be done by all especially by people suffering from arthritis and brain injuries. In addition, foosball is a great rehabilitating sport for people with joint and bone problems. Aside from helping people in recovering from brain injuries as well as in joint and bone problems, foosball is not as tedious as other games and sports, thus, it does not cause too much pain on their part." (see ''Benefits and Reasons to Start Playing Foosball'', visited on 1/07/18).

Foosball is based on football/soccer, where 2 or 4 players try to hit a small ball into their opponent’s goal by turning rods with wooden figures then kick the ball downfield. Unlike football/soccer, there are no unified rules in foosball, i.e. there are different explicit regulations, styles of playing and table used in different countries. The Europeans generally use the Bonzini table (e.g. the Fédération Française de Football de Table in Rouen organised the World Series Bonzini in May 2018 -- photo above) and emphasise quickness and skill "finesse". The Americans have been using the Tornado brand for more than 30 years and focus on power and speed (I saw them play this way at Rouen last May).

(Continue to read...)

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