Family / Community

The private sphere also finds its share in social-issues

Le Salon Jaune de Bruxelles

  • Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the. same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)
  • Dog posing (an original design by Yuri-san)

Ce sac en coton biologique (30 x 40 cm) a été conçu par Yuri, une des filles de mon amie Ako. Yuri est prometteuse. Ako est une artiste, une amie des animaux et une coiffeuse à Bruxelles. Ako est une femme d'action, avec une attitude “on peut le faire!”. Ce sac est né de l'amour familial. Si vous passez à Bruxelles, n'hésitez pas à vous arrêter au salon de coiffure pour une coupe de cheveux ou une discussion !

Jaune
Viaductstraat 33
1050 Ixelles, Belgium

0475 40 59 46

The Salon Jaune in Brussels

  • Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the. same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)
  • Dog posing (an original design by Yuri-san)

This organic cotton bag (30 x 40 cm) is designed by Yuri, a daughter of my friend Ako. Yuri shows promise. Ako is an artist, animal lover, and hairdresser in Brussels. Ako is an action woman, with a can-do attitude. This bag was born out of family love. If you happen to be in Brussels, please stop by the salon for a haircut or for a chat!

Jaune
Viaductstraat 33
1050 Ixelles, Belgium

0475 40 59 46

ゆめのバッグ

Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)

ベルリン、パリ、ニューヨーク、シカゴ、東京、バーリ、プラハ、ルクセンブルク。

髪を切ってもらうのも、旅の楽しみのひとつだ。ウインドウから覗いて、ここは良さそうだと思うと、3回くらいぐるぐると美容院のまわりを回って確かめる。そのような直感は、まず外れることはない。

イタリアのバーリでは、居合わせたお客さんたちがわざわざ通訳してくれた。「あなたは本当に幸運ね。ここのオーナーはマエストロなのよ」と言われた。窓越しに見えるマダムもなじみ客らしい。満足気に髪をさわりながら、仕事中の彼に「人生の歓を尽くす」感のあいさつを送って行った。気に入った髪型って、それくらい心を波打たせるものですね。

この頃、私はもっぱらブリュッセルの Akoさんに髪を切ってもらっている。マラケッシュで詐欺もどきに会ったことを、アコさんに話したら「お金って、そんなことしてもらうものじゃない」ときっぱりとおっしゃった。彼女の明快さ。プロフェッショナリズム。3匹の犬と安らぎ。交遊。そういうアコさんが好きで、折々通っている。

。。。下につづく

What’s behind a name?

I facilitate an English roundtable in Luxembourg every Friday, and we discuss professional, social and personal-interest topics. Last month, it was about names; one of the participants mentioned a girl initially called Nutella, a popular hazelnut chocolate spread. I checked it out and came across a Guardian’s article about a couple from Valenciennes in northern France who registered their daughter Nutella (source seen on 04/052021). The registrar alerted the local prosecutor, who referred the case to a family court judge. The court ruled that Nutella is a commercial brand and such a name was against the girl’s interests as it would cause “mockery or disobliging remarks”. The couple had to rename her Ella, which means a pleasant young woman.

According to Ms Catharine Smith (source seen 04/05/21), an Egyptian father, Jamal Ibrahim, named his daughter “Facebook” to honour the social media site’s role in Egypt’s revolution. Ms Smith quoted this from TechCrunch newspaper: “A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook”.

In Marcio’s Italian family, all the children’s names start with the letter M. According to Marie-Pierre, her name’s male version is Pierre-Marie. The Arabic name Shadi means happiness. Do names reflect an individual’s personality? There are studies that show names make a difference in professional, social and financial standing.

アキラ

eXtinction Rebellion Luxembourg

ボクの名前はアキラ。クロサワのアキラです。9ヶ月です。生まれはベルギー、種はアメリカン・アキタ、飼主はドイツ人です。ルクセンブルクに住んでいます。パパは「アキ」と呼びます。おとなしいので、ワンとも吠えませんが。ボクは元気玉です。

今日は友人宅に来ました。あまりの嬉しさに、横断歩道の真ん中でうんち(馬ほどの)をしてしまいました。が、パパがきれいにしてくれました。それから皆で森に行きました。やたらとヒトの匂いをかぐのは、失礼な田舎犬だと注意されました。秋田犬は寒いのが好きだと言って、大の大人が男二人で、ボクを噴水の中に入れようとしたのでムッとしましたが。サチエが止めてくれました。

このうちには植物がいっぱいあるので、体温調整ができて気持ちいいです。ちょうど目の高さに、お米をといだ水が陶器に入っていたので、(花にあげようととっといたのよ〜)それをいっぱい飲みました。真水より美味しいかったです。肉屋ワグナーのソーセージを食べて、チーズも舐めました。また遊びにこよう〜。(写真では見づらいですが。アキラのお腹の模様と色相は、墨絵のように美しい)

Masks Mia, Here We Go Again! - Worse Before Better

In March 2020, I thought the pandemic would be less threatening by August; it wasn’t so, and we had to cancel our summer holiday. In November, I was sure we could spend Christmas with our sons in England; it did not happen. In December, I thought 2021 would be pandemic-free due to the rolling out of vaccines in Europe and some countries; wrong! Then, came the British, South African and Brazilian variants. Here in France, the 6 PM – 6 AM curfew was not adequate to stop the infection figures from climbing; so, the Government decided to close its borders for non-EU travellers. It’s impossible for my Aussie friends to visit me, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be Down Under for my sister’s 60th birthday.

I used to associate relaxation with watching TV and movies, reading and browsing online. Currently, these are not enough to chill me out. With limited human interaction, I have incorporated routines that make me jump and sweat in front of my screen (either TV or computer) alone. These passive and active activities disconnect me from my teaching (which has shrunk significantly since March 2020) and house chores, which is known as psychological detachment.

Giving and Receiving

How was your holiday? Ours what unusual and unexpected. We planned to spend Christmas in London, where our first son lives. In mid-December, London was on tier/level 4 lockdown (residents were strictly housebound); therefore, we thought of taking the train or bus to Oxford where it was level 2 (restaurants and shops were opened). We would then meet up with our second son, who lives in Canley in the southwest of Coventry near Warwick University. It was a blessing in disguise that our flight was cancelled the night before our scheduled departure because the next day the British Government included Oxford on its tier 4 list. We would have been stuck in London quarantined in a low-budget hotel without the certainty of returning to France by the first week of January 2021. Instead, we had a virtual family Christmas party on the 25th with carols and quizzes.

We’re still in the period of giving and receiving gifts. So far, what have you given and/or received?

My husband is a football enthusiast and enjoys watching the English Premier and European League; a ticket to one of their matches would have been an easy choice. As sports were televised only due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was more realistic to accompany him in our attic and watch from our bedroom’s skylight the pigeons compete over grains and worms.

Sommes-nous vraiment prêts à retourner à notre routine ?

eXtinction Rebellion Luxembourg

Avant de retourner à la routine, des débats, discussions et autres examens publics sont nécessaires.

Il était près de 19h15. Nous nous promenions près du pont Adolphe, à mi-chemin entre la gare de Luxembourg et le centre-ville. Nous avons entendu les sirènes des véhicules d'urgence; au moins six camions de pompiers et ambulances se précipitaient vers la gare. Plus tard, nous apprenions qu'un incendie s'était déclaré dans notre voisinage. Toutes sortes d'équipes de professionnels ont agi rapidement pour stopper cet incendie à Luxembourg. Pendant ce temps, de nombreux incendies continuent à ravager l'Amazonie, au Brésil, au beau milieu de cette pandémie:

« la déforestation en Amazonie a atteint un niveau record depuis janvier. Cette déforestation est de 55% supérieure à celle de la même période de 2019. » (source: France Info)

La forêt pluviale amazonienne est populairement appelé le « poumon de la Terre ». Même si cette analogie est incorrecte, sa capacité d'absorption (entre 20 et 25% des émissions de dioxide de carbone planétaires) est loin d'être négligeable. Ironiquement, au même moment, nous subissons le coronavirus qui s'attaque principalement aux poumons. Peut-être, faut-il aussi y voir une métaphore ?

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (3)

Hyowon Chi - musicien professionnel vient jouer sur son balcon

6) Concerts aux balcons

Un jour mon compagnon m’a dit : « Peux-tu entendre de la musique ? Une flûte ». Je n’entendais rien. Mais il a insisté. Alors, je l’ai entendue faiblement et j’ai donc ouvert une fenêtre. Nous avons alors vu quelqu’un jouer de la flûte traversière sur le balcon d’un immeuble tout proche. C'était un voisin qui rétrospectivement s’est avéré être coréen. Par la suite, nous avons constaté que ce petit intermède musical arrivait tous les midis comme une pause dans notre longue journée de confinés en l’égayant d’un moment de réconfort et d’oubli du virus. « Notre » musicien se nomme Hyowon Chi et il est flûtiste professionnel.

Selon Hyowon, au début de l’initiative, il était prévu de jouer en duo avec son amie Hélène (flûtiste à l'OPL) qui habite un autre immeuble juste à côté du nôtre. Tous les jours, de leur balcon respectif, ils auraient joué ensemble mais il s’est avéré impossible d'être synchronisés à cause de la distance. Nous aurions bien eu besoin d’un « petit » Seiji Ozawa dans notre voisinage. Alors, ils ont décidé de jouer tous les jours à midi à tour de rôle. C'est ainsi que leurs concerts de balcon ont commencé depuis le 19 mars quand il faisait encore assez froid.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (2)

Résident permanent

2) DIY : Réparer et recycler les choses

Cet objet non identifié a été sauvé par mon compagnon des poubelles de notre immeuble d’où il essayait de s’échapper... je parle bien du petit alien et pas de mon compagnon… :-) Après une bonne séance de nettoyage pour les deux (douche et lavage à la main… je vous laisse deviner qui a pris l’option douche), le nouveau venu est resté assis dans le salon pendant quelques mois en attendant les pièces pour le réparer.

Dans l’intervalle, mon bricoleur a fini de recoudre son sac-à-dos (que le cordonnier refusait de réparer), en utilisant des outils qu’il n’avait encore jamais vus (achetés sur Internet à un prix très modeste : 25 euros) et en apprenant les techniques de couture du cuir grâce à des vidéos trouvées en-ligne. Le sac est à présent plus solide qu’il ne l’a jamais été.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Dancing at home!

This is so cool! soooo Luxembourgish! This nice little song reminds us that we are not “separate islands,” but a part of the larger society! Solidarity!

「コロナウイルスは今やここに」「外に出ないで、家で踊りましょう」「2メール距離をおいて、手洗い励行」「病人、虚弱な人、お年寄り、そして彼らをケアする人たちのことを私は想ってますよ」という手作り感のある連帯のビデオです。ルクセンブルク社会が、一瞥できると思います。

Danzt doheem

Si soten : « O mei, de Virus ass elo hei
a Schutzmoossname gëtt et eng ganz Rei.
Beim Schwätze respektéiert zwee Meter Distanz
a wäsch deng Fanger sou oft s de kanns. »

Mediation and negotiation

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate".
- John F. Kennedy (35th US President)

Our current society is competitive, demanding and complex that conflict has become a part of modern day living. There are squabbles or disagreements among colleagues, neighbours, friends, family members, and even strangers. The common causes of office disaccord are work style differences, personality clashes, and sense of unfairness. Many complaints made to the Police concern noises, fences, trees, rubbish and stray pets that turn neighbours into foes.

According to www.unifiedlawyers.com, the world's divorce rate has increased by 251.8% since 1960. Nowadays, nearly half of marriages end up in divorce with Luxembourg topping the list (87%) followed by Spain (65%), France (55%), Russia (51%) and the USA (46%). India (1%) and Chile (3%) have the lowest rates. The most common reason given for divorce is incompatibility, which is nearly thrice that of infidelity. When marriage breaks down, in the majority of cases, those concerned knock non-hesitantly on lawyers' doors and rush to tribunals or courts.

The legal system is long and costly, whereas mediation and arbitration involve much less time and money; but why do many people opt for the former? Why don't they resolve conflict by mediation and negotiation?

In mediation, a neutral person helps disputants to come to a consensus on their own. Mediators allow conflicting parties to vent their feelings and expose their grievances, but they don't impose their solution. It's the conflicting parties that decide on the outcome of the negotiation. The mediators can help them come up with a resolution that is sustainable and nonbinding.

Cheers to the year 2019

Cheers to the year 2019 as it gives us the opportunity to do better at home, work and play.

As in previous years, there were irreproachable and rough moments for me in 2018. The latter has been due to being in France at this time of constant grassroots demonstrations due to economic difficulties caused by political decisions and indecisions, such as regular increases in taxes. Meanwhile, France’s the 2018 World Cup (soccer/football) champion.

During the first two weeks in December I was coming home later than usual and walking a kilometre or so farther because bus drivers were instructed not to enter the city centre to avoid being hit by the demonstrators’ stones. These protesters adopted the name “yellow-vest movement” after a social-media campaign that urged people to go to the streets wearing the high-visibility “emergency” yellow jackets (In France, a yellow vest “gilet jaune” must be carried in every vehicle). Initially, they were against the rise in duties on diesel, which had long been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel. Their causes have since widened to include issues concerning education and employment. Do protests work? Well, the French government was forced to scrap the unpopular fuel tax rise. As well, it promised an extra €100 (£90; $114) a month for minimum wage earners. On the other hand, there were ten deaths and many people were injured and properties destroyed.

The reported sightings of drones caused havoc for about 200,000 passengers a fortnight ago at Gatwick airport (LGW) outside of London. A member of my family was impacted and had to travel the following day at a different destination that incurred additional expenses and longer travelling time.

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...)

Civility, respect and responsibility

It was a beautiful sunny morning; unlike the previous three months, it was neither raining nor snowing. At 7:30 in the morning, there were already more than 20 cross-border commuters lining up for the public transport. On the same street “Place de la liberté”, there was a local bus waiting for the traffic light to turn green. We watched in disgust as four teenage girls opened its window and threw empty cartons of orange juice that landed in front of the queueing passengers. I got out of the queue and picked these up then gave them a disappointing look wondering whether they realised that they had just exposed publicly their uncivility. When I returned from the nearest bin, their bus had left and mine had arrived, and no one uttered a word.

I didn’t think twice; picking up that litter was an instinctive reaction. I didn’t expect or want recognition from anyone; however, if I see you removing a piece of rubbish left lying in a public place, I’ll definitely give you some words of encouragement. Littering is hazardous for our health and environment.

During my first two years in France, while in parks and playgrounds with my toddler, I used to pick up wrappers of snacks and boxes of juice and put these in the bin while asking myself whether it was the kids or their parents who littered.

Whose responsibility is it when children litter: parents or society?

We, as parents, have an immense responsibility and opportunity in educating our children to be respectful of people, properties and our environment. Our words and actions help shape our children’s values and behaviours. If they deliberately litter, we must tell them why this is unacceptable. (When my son was 3 years old, he said, “Mummy’s bag is a fridge and a bin” because I had water, snacks and fruits every time we went out and kept all wrappers till we found a garbage bin). If the parents litter, their children are likely to do the same, and this is a societal problem.

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