October, the eight month of the old Roman Calendar.
The falling leaves, drift by the windows…
If you have followed our newsletter from the beginning, you would by now have known that there is a difference between the original Roman calendar which had only 10 months, and the modern-day Gregorian calendar which has 12 months following the addition of January and February. The tenth month in the modern-day calendar, October kept its original name from Latin (octo meaning “eight”).
This month, there are some interesting events across the world. We begin by celebrating Batik Day (the traditional cloth of Indonesia that has been recognised by UNESCO as world heritage) and the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi on the 2nd, which is also the International Day of Non-Violence. From the 10th – 14th, the world’s largest book fair takes place in Frankfurt (Germany). And of course, we end the month with the now commercially popular Halloween’s Day on the 31st. What do you plan to dress up as when you go trick-or-treating this year?
To start the Autumn season in the northern hemisphere, let’s have some fun with our photo contest:
Where in the world was the above picture taken ?
Result of September’s photo contest:
The photo was taken in Jodphur, the state of Rajasthan, India. From the top of Mehrangarth (Meran Fort), one can see the azure-painted “blue houses” of the town below.
Click the links below to find out more about Jodphur and the mysthique of Rajasthan:
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
Hello there! It’s MD here, and as introduced last month, I’ve just joined TCG’s Editorial Board. As I write this, there’s a crisp freshness in the air outside, and it certainly feels like summer has left the Northern hemisphere and once again the nights will grow longer. October, and together with it, autumn accompanied by lovely foliage and rich food, has arrived.
This month, I’d like to share with you a little bit of my own transcultural story. I’m originally from Singapore, an island state that is multi-racial and multi-lingual. With a high city-state population density and government policies which encouraged the mingling of the various ethnic groups, I had friends and neighbours from many different cultures when growing up. As kids, we were blind to the perceived differences between the various groups. The English language – through which all subjects at school were taught – was a great leveller and enabled us to get to know one another easily.
My first experience living away from home for an extended period of time was in Vietnam, just after my final year in university. It was my first time living away from under the protection of my parents’ roof, and I was truly on my own. I was lucky enough to make a few good local friends who led me through the norms of Vietnamese culture and what was acceptable socially and what was frowned upon. It is thanks to them that today, Vietnam is one of my most favourite countries in the world. And then, there is of course Vietnamese food (but that is a topic for another post)!
Following Vietnam, I returned to Singapore for a few years, and then headed to Europe – specifically, Belgium. Belgium is a particularly challenging country to understand for most foreigners, given the country’s long history of strife between the two major linguistic communities in the country – Dutch (Flemish) and French. In addition, there is a third official language in Belgium – German – that is spoken by a smaller community. However, despite political and linguistic differences, this is a country that for most of its near 200 years of existence, has had a healthy economy and is, in fact, one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world with the existence of several European Union institutions in the land. Any problems are usually sorted out using “a Belgian compromise” – an expression that deserves a longer explanation than I have space for here. One of the things I’ve learned in my many years here is that the Belgians love the good life, and this includes the arts, fashion, food, culture and nature. Most Belgians also have an opinion on where the best fries can be found – just don’t get them started on whether the potato sticks should be rightly referred to as “French fries” or “Belgian fries” – you might be there the whole night!
Incidentally, for the Chinese, the plants also represent different seasons of the year. therefore the paintings, as a set is quite popular for those who recognise these meanings.
I was so glad that my friend invited me to the floral show. The visit got me reminiscing about my childhood and the time spent in the garden with my father. It also retraced my journey searching for art pieces along the Liulijang Culture Street, before the influx of tourists in Beijing…
Thanks to my work, I’ve had the privilege to travel to many countries in the world, from Barbados in the Caribbean to Qatar in the Middle East, from Moscow in the north to The Philippines in the east. And one of the things that I’ve found as a recurring point on each of my trips is that the locals are always very pleased when we manage to say a few words – even a simple greeting or an acknowledgement of thanks – in their native language. Addressing a person in his or her own tongue is one way to show that we respect them and have put in the effort to try and learn an aspect of their culture. And this willingness to learn about The Other, to approach The Other with an open mind keen to seek out similarities is what living together harmoniously is about. It is certainly one of the key foundations to support our CQ (Cultural Intelligence) development.
On that note, I look forward to sharing more delightful insights and reflections from across the world with you. Have a lovely October and the beginning of autumn!
Monica D Lim