Saturday, October 14, 2006

Racism and "otherness"

Yesterday, after finishing a company visit our class took the bus back to school. We were more than 20, and in the bus we were of course speaking English, as it is our only lingua franca. You can imagine our surprise when some kids (the oldest one was probably 15) started shouting stuff at us from the back of the bus in English. After ignoring them for a while, they switched their verbal abuse to Dutch and French, at which point I got very annoyed as it was mostly directed towards the girls in the class. We continued to ignore them (and I have to admit that I had to restrain myself a couple of times) until we reached our destination, but it was around 40 minutes of intense bullying.

It was worthless to waste my time on those kids (who, by the way, also seemed to be from an Arab immigrant background), but I couldn't answer in their language properly, which is a handicap, and physical action is completely out of the question. I was also not very happy with the fact that this can happen here (I've heard it's a problem in France too)

Discussing this situation with the Chinese guys in our group, I was dismayed to hear that it is not uncommon for them to get that kind of treatment. I have had problems a couple of times (In Finland I was called "vitun turkkilainen" twice, had problems once with a bouncer in a bar since closed and once a 15-year-old try to spit on me while skating, whereas here I've been asked twice if I'm Maghrebi in a hostile voice) but it was rather uncommon. In Finland that behaviour in a city bus wouldn't happen as kids are educated differently, whereas in Mexico they would probably get their asses handed to them anyway.

I know it's a chicken and egg situation, in the sense that bad treatment from one side will cause bad treatment from the other, but I can't help to feel pissed off by this behaviour. I don't expect everyone to live "happily ever after", but that is just not acceptable, regardless of who does it.

Pitching Lucas

Selling your ideas takes a new meaning in this video.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Butterfly Effect

I saw this movie some time ago in Finland, and couldn't help but think about those little events that changed the course of my (so far not very long) life. I think the largest one was me picking up a magazine around 1997 at my parents' business. Had it not been for an article there, my dad wouldn't have reestablished contact with an old friend of his, who was the one who suggested me to go to study to Finland. The rest, as they say, is history.

What about you?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Geography of the Americas for the uninitiated

I've stumbled with this issue so many times that I decided to post about it.


*America doesn't necessarily mean the United States (even though in English it usually does).
*Mexico is not part of South nor Central America but North America. It is, however, part of Latin America. Latin America is a cultural subdivision rather than purely geographical.
*Mesoamerica and Central America are not the same thing.
*The continent (or continents) is very, very big. Even "smaller" countries such as Colombia or Ecuador are larger than most European countries. Flying from Mexico City to Sao Paulo is like flying from Mexico City to Frankfurt.

Aunque estés en el extranjero, compra mexicano

Si puedes, claro. Estas toronjas me las encontre en mi supermercado local aca en Bruselas, y aunque casi no como toronja me compre una.

Si tan solo tuvieran Negra Modelo...

Terremoto del 85

Si, ya se que es casi un mes del vigesimoprimer aniversario del terremoto de 1985, pero apenas acabo de escuchar un podcast al respecto y la verdad es que me acorde de lo que vivi entonces.

Yo tenia apenas 4 años y me disponia a ir a la escuela. Mi mama me estaba amarrando las agujetas (yo todavia no sabia) cuando empezo a temblar. La casa donde viviamos estaba al norte del Estado de Mexico, en el area de Atizapan, asi que el suelo era duro tepetate, no lodo como en el centro del D.F., pero aun asi las lamparas se movieron muchisimo, aunque no paso nada. Mi hermana salio asustada de su cuarto, pero aun asi nos fuimos a la escuela.

En la escuela escuchamos que se necesitaba ayuda para la gente que estaba ayudando a remover los escombros y tratar de sacar a la gente, y mi mama hizo creo que tortas para los rescatistas, las cuales fueron llevadas junto con el resto de la ayuda por personal de la escuela.

Esa misma noche, recuerdo haber visto aquel reporte de Jacobo Zabludovsky sobre como estaba el Centro Historico, y recuerdo la entrevista que se le hizo a Placido Domingo en lo que quedaba de los edificios de Tlatelolco.

Despues me entere de los bebes que salvaron en el Centro Medico, y la verdad es que no lo entendia. Muchas de las cosas que vi y oi entonces no pude entender hasta que creci.

¿Tu como viviste el 19 de septiembre de 1985?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Continuing with my series of posts on Spanish-language rock, here's something about Molotov.

Molotov is a band originating from Mexico City, that mixes rock with hip hop and English with Spanish, with very strong (sometimes offensive) lyrics and a amusing, deeper message. They have raised a lot of controversy and at the beginning of their carreer were censored from the radio, but became very popular in most of the Spanish-speaking world and some other countries nevertheless (I've heard their songs in the U.S., but bought one of their CDs in Russia). The band members are 3 Mexicans and an American.

They are not for the conservative, and even though sometimes I don't agree with their views either, I quite like their music. You have been warned.

Some of their videos below.

Here comes the mayo (Y tu mamá también soundtrack, 2001)

Puto (¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, 1997)
Gimme the Power (¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, 1997)
Que no te haga bobo Jacobo (¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, 1997)
Voto Latino (¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, 1997)
Rap Soda y Bohemia (Live, Tribute to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
Carnal de las Estrellas (Molomix, 1998)
El Mundo (Apocalypshit, 1999)
Rastamandita this video was censored. Not difficult to see why.(Apocalypshit, 1999)
Frijolero (Dance and Dense Denso, 2003)
Here we Kum (Dance and Dense Denso, 2003)
Hit Me (Gimme the Power 2) (Dance and Dense Denso, 2003)
DADADA Pepsi ad for the World Cup 2006 (Con todo respeto, 2004)
Marciano (Con todo respeto, 2004)

More information from Wikipedia or their official site.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mickey Mouse steaks

Mickey Mouse steaks
Originally uploaded by Chiva Congelado.
They didn't have these when I was growing up!

Things that I've learned/discovered in Finland

  • Silence is fun.
  • Sauna is fun.
  • Skiing cross-country for 20 kilometres is fun.
  • Going on a Sunday ice-skating in the frozen sea to have a picnic in an island at -20 °C is a lot of fun.
  • Not being able to sleep in summer is fun... and Juhannus (midsummer) is a lot of fun, regardless of whether you spend it with family or friends.
  • Salmiakki (salty licorice) rules!
  • Piimä (sour milk) is evil.
  • I understand why Finnish has no future tense and no gender differentiation, but it has lots of words for sauna, for snow and for weird things like kaamos. Your reality determines your language, and vice versa.
  • To walk in the snow and the icy sidewalks... and only fell twice! One included such a nice ukemi that I didn't break anything, heh.
  • You can have good friends without talking with them about anything.
  • You can go local without knowing it.
  • November is not fun, but pikkujoulut are.

Podcasts I'm listening to

"Las Flores" por Café Tacuba

Ven y dime todas esas cosas,
invítame a sentarme junto a ti.
Escucharé todos tus sueños
en mi oido.

Y déjame estrechar tus manos,
y regalarte unas pocas de ilusiones.
Ay, ven y cuéntame una historia
que me haga sentir bien.

Yo te escucharé
con todo el silencio del planeta,
y miraré tus ojos
como si fueran los últimos de este país.

Déjame ver cómo es que floreces
con cinco pétalos te absorberé,
cinco sentidos que te roban
sólo un poco de tu ser.

Y seis veces para vivirte
debajo de una misma luna,
y otras nueve pasarán
para sentir que nuevas flores nacerán.

Y que cada estrella
fuese una flor,
y así regalarte
todo un racimo de estrellas.

No dejes que amanezca,
no dejes que la noche caiga,
no dejes que el sol salga,
sólo dejame estar junto a tí.