Not a day without oompah music

Not a single day. Not a day without oompah music. Trombones. Accordions. usually it’s sentimental norteñas in the taxi, if I take a taxi, or a band blasting away at some 16-hour-long party across the valley, or just walking past an open door. Tsh-tshtshtssh-tshtsh marks the start of a cumbia and soon the brass follows! Any set always…

Bad headscarf deal

Why is the dress code of Turkish Muslim women so bulky and provincial?

Topless professionals

I’ve just had my body double-scrubbed at a hamam – palace of sensual femininity, a temple of Oxun, the flirtatious orixa of fresh water. For a handful of lira you get entrance to the echoing, splashing, dome-roofed hamam with a tiled platform surrounded by benches and basins of water… For two euros you get scrubbed…

Around Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a very aesthetically pleasing town with lots of radical street art, investment in cultural centres and exhibition spaces, wide streets, handicrafts… and Mexico’s tastiest cuisine. You should visit!! And everyone should do a ceramics tour and buy some pottery at Colectivo 1050 Grados – they have a shop on the delightful Xolotl square,…

Weaving reflections

I’ve made friends with a couple of upscale women in textile handicrafts – they work on private sector ‘inclusive value chains’ i.e. getting better prices to artisans by encouraging them to make more market-friendly designs of their traditional weaving etc, and marketing that to rich folks. This is a fascinating area. I did an online…

Sexual freedom in a burqa

The BBC World Service tells me that the French government has banned face-covering veils for Muslim women in public places. Freedom through coercion? What’s going on here? I have pretty ambivalent feelings about the whole thing. I can totally relate to wanting to see the face of the person you’re conducting official business with. I…

Rage against the dogs

As for the scarf (called ulna) I have very strong opinions about it. It’s a totally pointless cumbersome garment and I’m convinced that it’s a conspiracy of the patriarchy. You (woman) are supposed to drape it over your bosom and over both shoulders, to cover the chest area and deflect the destructive attentions of men….

Chinese takeaway with extra helpings of eyeshadow

Soooooo last night my two film-making Quebecois neighbours invited me over for Chinese takeout dinner and to meet the subjects of their documentary: the godmother of Dhaka’s hijras and her favourite disciple. Hijras are transvestites who have a special place in South Asian society… as far as I’ve understood, they are some sort of beggars/witches/gypsies/fairy…

recycle? Just get someone to do it for you.

I bought five bananas last week. I eat one or two each morning with muesli. By day 3 the bunch was starting to look manky and I knew that ugly things would happen if I left the remaining two bananas out on the shelf. But it would also be bad if I put them in…

Mukava kokemus

Sukupuolten valisten suhteiden laatu on Bangladeshissa laajalti pohjalukemissa. Maa ei ole vanhoillis-islamilainen eika karsi vakivaltaisesta konflikteista, mutta suhteellisen vakaaseen tilanteeseen verrattuna naisten asema on selvasti alakynnessa. Naisten moraalista kayttaytymista seka haita ennen etta niiden jalkeen valvovat kymmenet naapurit, sukulaiset ja tuttavat laajan juoru-verkoston kautta. Naisia naitetaan nuorina avioliittoihin, vanhempien on maksettava kalliit myotajaiset, miniana muutetaan…

Inflamed beyond the limits of self-control

Today Z and I were invited to a meal with ladies who work, but also lunch. We’d been told that it’s informal – so we came wearing comfortable clothes, on the racy side for Bangladesh but relatively cool (e.g. just-below-calf length silk skirt, grey t-shirt, contemporary red perspex earrings and red wrap for me). Of…