Friday, 21 December 2012

Shabbat shalom!

The sun is slowly going down, Shabbat is coming. The candles have been lit, the TV is running in the background.
The kettle is on, everything is peaceful. If I compare it to home it'd be one these Sundays when you stay in your pyjamas all day just wandering about, reading, watching tv, drinking tea but not doing anything productive. The atmosphere is very still.

It's raining. Not like the Indian monsoon but like a heavy rainy day in Britain or Brittany.

"I can't remember the last time I was stuck at home because of the rain! We haven't had rain like this in ten years! This is very good for Israel!"

I have been put under house arrest by the Jewish Mother Police. I only have Converse AllStars with me and a pair of crocs and I don't have a good enough raincoat.
It doesn't matter that the world is ending and that it is our last chance to go out ever, I'm not going out because my feet would get wet and cold. There is no arguing with a Jewish mother.

Have a great shabbos everyone!

Jaffa anecdote.

20/12/12, Sderot Yerushalayim, Jaffa.

I'm walking in the street, on my way to buy a SIM card and like a two-year-old, I miss a step and fall on my knees (they still hurt today), I make a whole in my trousers, I'm on my hands and knees.

Opposite me a lady who sees the whole scene:

"haaa! (Shock) HaKol Beseder? Looooooo!" she smiles and leaves. ("Everything okay? Noooooooo!)

LOL. This is a perfect reflection of the Israeli mind (No offence any Israeli readers).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Shalom Israel!

After many hours of travelling, I finally arrived in Tel Aviv this morning.

Yesterday I left my family behind to embark on this hopefully productive journey that will be my trip to Israel. I flew to Zurich Airport where I waited for about 4 hours before getting on their intra-airport underground train after they finally announced my terminal. The airport is just that big. So after that train ride I get to the end of terminal E where I undergo the El Al security questioning which went quite well, far better and shorter than last year. Maybe I look better.
Then of course I get taken to a room where I empty my entire cabin luggage and it gets checked for trace of [explosives? I really have no clue]. Then my shoes. And my passport. Then I am released from the room where my bag has to stay until boarding, in case I was planning to go get that bomb I'd hidden in the toilets. FAIL.
On board are a large group school kids going back home after a cultural exchange in Switzerland (from what I gathered). And of course when I got of the plane one of the teacher almost mistook me for one of his pupils, I look that young...

We arrive in Tel Aviv, we land, the children take hours to get out, delaying my getting out of the plane.

Then I get to the funniest part of travelling to Israel. Passport control. Passport control is really fun, you arrive at the agent's cubicle, the agent never smiles and almost never replies when you say a shy "shalom" or "boker tov". Why am I here? Where am I going? What is your father's first name? What is your father's father's first name? Okay, your passport stays here and you go over in that room and wait for them to call your name.
The room in question has two security guards at the door and one inside watching the chosen people. I too was chosen. I sit opposite two girls, one of them crying on the other's shoulder. A bit further, a girl called Anna trying to call someone before one of the female door guard tells her in a very condescending tone "Anna, we talked about your phone". Anna puts the phone away. On my right, a weirdo sleeping. On my left a tired couple. Khadija, the cried on girl gets called out. After a while she comes back in and goes back out.
I pretend I don't give a shit, I read nonchalantly but on the inside I'm pissed because it's 2.30am and I really want to get some sleep and I don't think this is justified. So I read and get called out. A nice security man holding my passport asks me why I'm here (I'm here to visit friends and family by the way *cough*) and what my father's first name is. I don't get this obsession with fathers' and grandfathers' first names but yeah... He goes somewhere, comes back and gives me my passport and freedom back.

After a short night's sleep in the nice Old Jaffa Hostel I bought a phone and made way to my really amazing host family in Holon where I will be staying for the following two weeks.

Tomorrow I will start arranging my interview in Efrat and when I'll be on my way there transferring in Jerusalem I will pay a visit to Ziad who will hopefully agree to be part of my project. I still need to find a fluent Arabic/English speaker because Ziad's Englishis as good as my Arabic. For the record, this is nod very good.

Kol tuv!

Surya

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Orbis edition one.

As part of our assessment we have to produce a magazine every three weeks called Orbis. Here is my story for the first edition for which I also did the layout. Enjoy!




Reflections on journalism studies and studies in general.

I think it is safe to say by now that I have found my call. This might shock some people who think I have no secrets to them, when I was applying to university I was seriously considering the army path in my head it was always the army or journalism. In the end I chose the "safe" path (note the quotation marks as my aim is to become a war reporter).

Studying is great, I love it. In fact I wanna do some more after I graduate (hopefully) next summer.
And when I say studying, it is a tricky subject for me because yes I study international journalism but not much actual studying is done on my part (I still get excellent grades so I will not change my methods).

I feel university has taught me many things but has failed to teach me other things I wished it would have or more like it failed to force me change my methodology when it comes to actual work. I love what I do and I honestly think I am better at what I do now than I was two and a half years ago thanks to my "studies" and most importantly my brilliant lecturers who are in my opinion amazing admirable people (I hope they don't read this) but that is besides the point. I have been taught how to write and basically be a journalist but I have always been able to do everything last minute which will not do me good in my near future, when I actually start working (assuming I ever do). The thing is I get good grades so my brain doesn't see the problem with writing fully referenced essays in twenty-four hours or less.

I guess university has also changed me into a bit more of a sociable person than I was before even if I still like the quiet of my flat and I love being alone. I am now less afraid to speak in front of a group of people and I think I have more confidence in general (people always think I'm really obnoxious and I like people to think that about me, it keeps unnecessary social interaction away from me but it takes very small things to bring me down). I have just grown in general. Being at university has brought many opportunities my way and I have done things I would have never dreamt of doing before like travelling all the way to Delhi, knock on a few doors to see who would take me.

I feel old now.

I have a new page by the way, it's just my CV, photography, published work and stuff: http://suryajonckheere.wordpress.com/

P.S. I haven't written in a long time and I am sorry I have left you all down but I promise I will write more, I have to, it's what I do, it's what I love to do, funny news rants coming your way soon!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Abortion and whatnot.

Just in case you have been living in a cave and the first thing you're doing after getting out is check my blog (thank you!), Obama won the US Presidential election! Yay!
To be honest, I was a bit nervous for my friends over there,I mean, what if scary Romney would have won?

There was a lot going on about the economy and that is all the Romney supporters were talking about but one thing they were reluctant to talk about was the whole social justice issue.

One thing that bothers me about the US is the whole "pro-life"/"pro-choice" debate, I don't get why in 2012, in a Western, developed society it is even a debate. I mean I know why, it's because some Americans have a hard time separating church and state.
But I mean come on! We see all these men talking about being "pro-life"and all but shouldn't the choice be left to women until we find a way to get men preggos? How come men have a right to policy about what is wrong or right for a woman's body? You see these men talking publicly about rape and how even if a baby is procreated it was in G-d's intention, life begins at conception and it is a gift from G-d... The scariest thing is that these people are in power, they were elected by citizens.
Besides, these people proudly say they are "pro-life" but are they really? Anti-abortionists such as Romney are not pro-life, this is a joke! As a friend beautifully put it:
Dear Romney & Ryan, and people who think like them. You are not "pro-life", you are "pro-pregnancy". If you really cared about life, you wouldn't go to war so easily, you wouldn't have the death penalty, you would improve the health system, you would improve the education system, you would help the poor and the needy. How about you focus on the needs of the people already alive.
We get it, you like babies and pregnant women, but once that baby is born, you really don't care.

Moreover, aren't there more important issues to talk about than freaking babies when you're a politician? They make such a big deal out of it, it's almost as if to them abortion is the cause of all our problems but no, the cause of our problems is probably the gays (when I first heard about Sandy I was like "how long 'til some bigot blames it on the gays?" Didn't take too long...).

Have a good day y'all. Hope you're all happy Obama won! And if you're not well, get over it.

And just because I love you all, here's a picture I brought back from Delhi:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Leaving Delhi.

Yesterday was my last day of work, it felt so strange.

Over the weekend, our dog was hit by a car, it was sooooo scary. She followed us intotown and waited for us outside the cafe, wondering why we wouldn't let her in. We came out and all headed back home, we stopped at the shop to get some water, I waited outside with the pup. We continue our walk and then, a hundred meters away from the house she got attacked by a heard. Chasing a dog in the middle of the street, a car just went BOOM at full speed, it all happened so fast, we thought she was dead. We heard her crying and rolling under the car, the driver didn't even stop as if it was completely normal to hit a dog and continue your way as if nothing had happened. The pup went back on her feet and ran away in a park where even more dogs were waiting for her. We followed her and got to her before the other dogs did. She was shaking and wouldn't move, she wouldn't respond anymore. Sarah carried her into another park and she followed us back to the house. She was bleeding, had wounds everywhere, it was terrifying.

We brought her to the vet (with some great difficulty), she didn't break any bones and only has external wounds. She is now fine and we are trying to (re)-home her. She is now scared of going out (we have her on the rooftop as the neighbours don't want her in the building (they are terrified of her and Islam tells them they can't have dogs in the house).

Today I'm leaving to Mumbai on a 16-hour-train-journey, Sarah is staying for two more nights and the family we're staying with said they might take the pup back to England.

I feel guilty and heart-broken but I know she is going to be fine.



Sunday, 19 August 2012

Alive and melting.

It has been soooooooooo hot here in Delhi, we are melting. the AC has been on and off (off mostly though) because of power cuts and mosquitoes are at war with me.I kill them but our flat"mate" (cough cough) keeps knocking on the door and stand there talking gibberish while the light is on and lets all of the Delhi's mosquitoes in.

We are also being invaded by cockroaches... the JOY.

On a positive not, I have been published twice yesterday, you can read my [might I say awesome] work here on the Times of India Crest Edition. *does a little dance*

I also got numerous smiles from the tea and coffee guy in the cafeteria, a nigh impossible task might I add, he is soooo shy and it took time.

Six days of work left, it went so bloody fast.

I have to leave you I am sorry for the shortness of this post but I am losing all of my water here (no internet connection in our room, the only room with air con.

Baby monkey behind TOI building


I hope you are all having a great summer!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Welcome to Brussels, capital of Europe.

Many of my friends and some members of my family don't understand this but I don't like going to Brussels town centre or taking public transport in Brussels especially the underground transportation. They tell me I'm being unreasonable, paranoid and weird.

A few days ago, Sofie Peeters, a Belgian film student released her short movie/documentary that raised a lot of debate. The film, "femme de la rue" depicts sexism in the centre of the capital.

I don't consider myself to dress in a provocative way, it is not my style, I don't like women that do not because it is (they do what they wanna do)  but because in my humble opinion it is vulgar, I don't want to see a girl's chest on the same account that I don't like low cut jeans that show off men's asses (and often women too) because I don't need nor do I want to see people's attributes other than in an intimate context.

Many people say that victims of sexual harassment in the street have it coming because of the way they dress and sometimes walk. Even if a woman was wearing a short skirt, she shouldn't have to suffer from men's lack of respect, education, and self-control. But truth is, whether a woman is wearing a short skirt or a pair of baggy trousers she has high "chances" to be called a bitch, a whore, a slut or to be invited to take it up the ass (pardon my French, it's not me, it's them). It often starts as an invitation to go grab a cup of coffee or a request for a phone number, if you refuse politely they will insist, if you refuse more firmly you become a whore, if you deny their existence you are a whore.

And if it were true that these facts occurred because women dress a certain way, we should educate the men not take a woman's freedom of dressing the way she wants to dress.

I remember being chased a few years back and walking into the first shop that I passed. I remember being spat at for not acknowledging someone's invitations, I remember being called weak and a slut because I took a guy's hand of my bag that he grabbed to stop me in the streets after I ignored him. I remember being spat at in the metro, being stared at insistently as if I were naked and an object of fantasy.

This, women in the centre of Brussels endure constantly, whatever the time, day or night. The subject is a big taboo in our society, people would like women not to speak up, the matter is seen as entirely accepted or described as courtesy or flattery. Personally, I do not think it flattering to be called a whore.

"Ignore it", "if it didn't happen you would feel unwanted", "it's nothing", "it's not as if they physically abused you" are but a few of the responses women get if they dare speak up. I don't want me or anyone to ignore it, I don't know about you but I don't need this to feel wanted, and verbal abuse is still abuse.

From September, verbal abuse, sexist insults and sexual harassment happening in the streets will be punishable by law. I am sorry but as good as it sounds, I find it laughable. How on Earth will the system work? I am awfully sceptic about this and I am pretty sure not 5% of cases will see "justice" ("justice" because I don't know how a fine paid to the government is justice to a victim of abuse).


I duly encourage women to speak up and defend themselves, we are not weak, I will not lower my glaze or avoid certain places because of this (I still take the metro and go to town). If everyone did then they would win.

Further reading:
http://leplus.nouvelobs.com/contribution/602891-machisme-ordinaire-non-le-harcelement-de-rue-n-est-pas-de-la-drague.html# (French)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/03/belgium-film-street-harassment-sofie-peeters

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Started working at The Times of India today (as an intern)!!!!!!!

This week Sarah and I will work on the weekly paper called the ToI Crest. I have already started on a travel piece about... Belgium.

It has been a very long day today, I am not too sure I enjoy the working hours (2pm-10pm) but it'll have to do and I will probably get used to it. We got a ride back home from the editor himself tonight which saved us the trouble of finding an auto rikshaw that would be willing to take us to our part of Delhi.

So today was fun.

On the downside, on our way in, we took an auto-rikshaw and at a stop we were harassed by two men (one on each side of the rikshaw) who wanted to sell us boxes of tissues. The one on my side kept staring at my chest and saying nice after each glance. Then just before we left the guy put his hand, quite deliberately, on my chest to have himself a nice touch. The same happened on Sarah's side... If we hadn't been going I would have punched the guy or crushed his non-tissue-carrying-hand. I'm starting to think I need to travel with a sliding knife... it has never happened to me.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Kashmir, Himalayas, power cuts.

Namaste!

Between the last time I posted and now, so much has happened.

So I ended up in a family house after picking up Sarah at the airport on the 20th. We did a little sightseeing, went to the local market (one of the best markets in Delhi according to every local we've talked to).

On Saturday night I hurt my foot, forcing me to use crutches. On Sunday a friend of the family, AJ, arrived from Kashmir, we met him briefly but it is important I tell you about him for he plays a huge role in the following events.

On Monday the 23rd, we met with the editor at the Time of India and got ourselves a full-time three week internship (we start tomorrow).
Coming back from the meeting, we have a little chat with AJ who is planning to go back to Kashmir the same night and he convinces us to come with him for a week in the Himalayas. So on Tuesday at 5am, we are on a plane to Srinagar, Kashmir. An hour later we land and are on our way to our houseboat.

Sarah and I spent two wonderful nights in a luxury houseboat on Nigeen Lake near Srinagar before heading to the Himalayan mountains for four days of trekking. I must say I had the time of my life. We climbed (partly by horse because of my foot) up to 5000m!! We camped in a huge tent near fresh rivers of melted ice, we were fed amazing dishes by our cook Elias and saw wonders. I really wish I had had more time, better shoes and a better foot for I would have climbed the hell out of these mountains!!
After our trek we were back for two other nights on the houseboat (pictures to come shortly, my batteries are dead atm).
Nigeen Lake is a very odd place... The boats and the floating market make you feel like you're in Thailand, the numerous Israelis speaking Hebrew make you feel like you're in Israel (as well as the hebrew signs everywhere), the weather is very similar to the weather of South West of France, the loud calls for prayer five times a day make you feel like you're in the Middle East. All that with a view on the Himalayas.

Today we flew back to Delhi. Seven Indian states are without electricity, that means no air con and incredible heat. People have been sleeping on rooftops for the past two days and the temperature has hit the higher forties.
Tomorrow Sarah and I start working, I am a bit stressed to be honest but I am sure everything will be alright.

It is crazy to think if I hadn't met Pawan, a complete stranger at the time, at the bank on my first day in Delhi, I wouldn't have spent my last week in the Himalayas. Fate does wonders.

Have a good night.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

New Delhi, here I am!

So yesterday was a boring day, I was looking for a place to stay but I had no success.

Today however...

This morning I woke up (kind of) early to get breakfast (which wasn't very good but whatever) and then went at the reception and asked where I could exchange my money and buy a phone.


After a small discussion with the reception guy, a guard from the hotel took me to the bank, we're walking in the heat and the sun, and we get to the bank only to be told they don't do exchange. But the lady tells me to go elsewhere. As we're getting out of the building, a guy (I later found out his name is Pawan)the guard there is no exchange at the place. We go anyway but as Pawan said, no exchange. My only option: Connaught Place. It's not far from where I am, I want to walk there, the guard insists he wants to drive me there, Pawan  says he's going in that direction anyway so he will take me.

The guards hesitantly leaves me with Pawan. I learn Pawan is a student, taking a course in English Language. I tell him I'm looking for an accommodation and he takes me to the government aggregated tourism office. We wait, the man in the office finds me a place and exchanges my money.

After that, I follow Pawan to a small street where I buy a cheap phone and a prepaid SIM card. We then go to a dark bar. We take his scooter. Oddly, I wasn't scared to die on the main roads of New Delhi... People crossing, oxen carts, dogs, "bicyle cabs"(?), speeding cars, tuk tuks, bicycles, trucks... Horns, noise, noise, NOISE.
I even crossed these roads today... Pawan promised me, three days and he will make a true Indian out of me.



Music of the day: Jind Mahi by Gitaz Bindrakhiya

Monday, 16 July 2012

Welcome to Incredible India!

WOW.

Scary. You don't realise how big New Delhi is until you're flying over it!! I cannot start to describe the immensity of it!

New Delhi is probably as big as Belgium if not bigger!

I have an awesome flight especially compared to the two people who had a malaise. We almost had a lady give birth on the plane!!

I was blessed as fate put Nira on my way, a wonderful lady who was coming back from Toronto.


I don't even know what time it is here. I'll ask Google.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I'm off!

I know. It's been a long time. I have an excuse though; my dog ate my computer.

So anyway, I have finally obtained my visa and booked my flight just hours ago.

This time on Monday I'll be in New Delhi!

Stay tuned for great adventures!


Thursday, 15 March 2012

KONY 2012.

Yes. Again.

The Kony 2012 has quickly been criticised on the basis of numerous arguments (If you still don't know what I'm on about, I suggest you get out of your cave).

Once again today I contributed to Rupert Murdoch's fortune by buying The Time in which Daniel Finkelstein wrote a pretty good opinion piece on the campaign. I must say I agree with him.

While it is probably naive to think that the Western World can put an end to the LRA and arrest Kony just like that, because people have seen the Hollywood-like, 30-minute-long film and felt really bad (my eyes teared up, I admit it) because let's face it, Western Governments aren't interested in spending a great deal of resource on arresting a powerful man as Kony, it's all about business and money, what's in it for our governments? Nothing so chances they will act are close to nothing.

People have criticised the fact the documentary is too Hollywood-like and manipulative. I have to say yes, it might be, but if it hadn't, would you have carried on watching it? Or would you have closed the tab thinking "Not another teen movie about african children dying", would you have shared it? Admit it, people don't want to read about old news. So I believe the efficiency of this film is an important part of it.

Critics have also accused the film-makers of simplifying a very complicated issue. Again, if you knew the documentary was going to last an hour and a half and that it was about a crazy Ugandan who plays war with children, would you have watched it? Probably not, so in order to make it short, yes they had to simplify the plot but the essential remains.

And yes they might have found oil in Uganda, but that is also old news.

I still find this campaign admirable and it has my support. As Mr Finkelstein puts it "[Kony] is a comissioner of murder, of rape and of child abduction. Though he lives far away his crimes are still crimes and the people who died because of him are still people. If someone gets 76 million people to hear about it, and try to do something, you won't find me among their opponents."

And as Charlie Chaplin once said: "We think too much and feel too little".

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

KONY 2012

For a little while now I have been struggling to find a subject to write about but tonight I have found something that really affects me.

You might have seen KONY 2012 posters, people wearing tshirts with the same slogan or even heard about a man named Joseph Kony and wondered what it was or who he is.

I urge my readers to support the KONY 2012 campaign and to raise awareness to stop the criminal that Joseph Kony is.

For almost three decades Kony has been abducting children from their homes to turn them into soldiers or sex slaves.
Kony is the founder and leader of the Lord's Resistance Army which fights for a theocratic governments based on the bible laws and while it started in Uganda, the LRA has now spread to other African countries.
An estimated 66,000 children are forced to fight for them. These children are forced to mutilate others, to kill their own parents and other terrible things.

Last year, Obama sent 100 advisers to help the Ugandan Army catch this man but the US government is threatening to remove them.

We have to let the authorities know we care about these children.

I urge you to sign the pledge here and watch the documentary made by who I think is an incredible man, Jason Russell and watch the video here under:



We must speak for the invisible children.

For further info on Kony, click here
To freely download the digital kit (posters to print and pdf leaflet) click here and the download should start automatically.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

An akward reunion.

I met Nate last year in the street when I was walking home with a friend of mine. We met him a couple more times after that. It was always very casual, a nice hello then we both went our separate ways.
The neighbourhood kids always chased him around. Then one day, no more sign of him. I slowly got used to the idea I would never see Nate again. He was always so happy to see me and I was always happy to see him too. Now I was sad. I didn't know where he lived so I couldn't really look for him.
But that's life, isn't it?

Life went on as usual, lectures, grocery shopping, spring past, then summer, I went back home, came back to Preston, fall passed, then winter.

This morning I had planned to take my bicycle and go check out the new Waitrose that recently opened a couple of miles away. I opened the backyard door and saw that it was gone. Half-shocked/angry, half "there's nothing I can do" attitude, I decided to walk there.When I arrived back in my street I slowed down, took my keys out. I lifted my head up and there he was, running across the street, chased by a kid.
Nate saw me and slowly walked up to me.

Hi Nate! How have you been?

I held the door and invited him in. At first he was hesitant. "Should I really?" he asked himself, "I guess she can't really hurt me, I'm stronger than her anyway."
I came in, helped put my shopping away and then wandered around the flat for a bit, checking everything out, just being curious. "So strange" he thought.

Then I went to the living room to watch The Sopranos, he didn't know if he should come sit in the sofa with me or not, even if I encouraged him. He stayed and sat on the floor for a bit, looking at me, only like Nate does. After a while I guess Nate got tired because he went to lay on my bed to take a nap.

Not liking the idea of having Nate sleep in my bed, I woke him up and told him my invitation to the sofa still applied. After hesitating for a minute, he joined me.

I guess Nate doesn't like being alone because everytime I stand up to get something in the flat, he follows me.

Now he's there sleeping next to me. It feels so weird, but he doesn't want to leave. I don't want to be rude and throw him out but I think that's what I'll have to do in a little while.

Nate is a really nice cat though.



I kidnapped a cat for the day. Shame on me.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Neda Agha-Soltan, a life cut short.


Tehran, Iran, 20 June 2009. People are protesting, they want freedom: they shout, they are angry. The streets are crowded with people. In the middle is Neda.

Neda Agha Soltan was a very special 27 year old, she was a gifted musician, was spiritual, she had dreams and aspired to be a mother, she loved the arts and travelling, and was hoping to live in Istanbul one day. The kind of person you would want to know. But most of all, Neda, like many other young people in Iran, longed to be free.
Neda died before she was given the chance to make her dreams come true.
When young Neda left her house in that spring afternoon, she didn’t know she would never see her mother again.
“She left the house mid-afternoon. I couldn’t join her but I said I’d keep in touch with her.” said Hajar Rostami Motlagh, Neda’s mother.
Hajar, as any mother would be in times like these, was worried for her child. She managed to get through to Neda twice during the protest. When Neda told her mother the streets were full of people, Hajar asked her to come back home. Soon afterwards, Hajar called her again. This was the last conversation Neda ever had with her mother. She was stuck with her friends in an area where soldiers had fired tear gas, her eyes were stinging.
“Then early that evening, I got a call from her music teacher. He said: ‘Come to the hospital, Neda has been shot’.”
Hajar learnt her daughter had been shot in the leg, she hurried to the hospital. When she arrived there, Neda’s music teacher, Mr Pahani’s shirt was covered in blood. She wanted to know the truth. She knew something was wrong. But everyone was telling her different things about where Neda had been shot.
“Fifteen or twenty minutes later, I learnt my daughter was dead.”
Neda was assassinated for wanting freedom.

Later, Mr Pahani who was accompanying Neda at the protest, revealed her last words to be "I'm burning, I'm burning!"

She had never been political, it was all about being young and feeling passionate about freedom said Hajar. She didn’t belong to any party or group nor did she support any faction.

“Every other young Iranian was there – she was one of them.” said Hajar “You can’t blame people for going out and wanting to feel free.” she added.

Before she died, Neda and her brother were looking into buying a piano and found one they liked. A few weeks later her brother Mohammad bought the piano and put it in Neda’s room in her memory.
Mohammad plays one hour every night to remember the good singer that was Neda.

Soon after her death, Mr Karroubi, part of the opposition, visited Neda’s family at their home. He told them she was innocent and called her a martyr.

“Her death has been so painful – words can never describe my true feelings. But knowing that the world cried for her… that has comforted me.” said Hajar.

Neda should never be forgotten.

“I am proud of her. The world sees her as a symbol, and that makes me happy.”


This text is part of an exercise for my course. It is however based on true facts and a real interview. I will not post a link to a video of Neda's last moments as it is quite painful and I'm sure you will find it if you really do want to see it. Any complaint about this text should be made to me via my university e-mail: SLJonckheere@uclan.ac.uk

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Killing Us Softly.



Yesterday I watched two documentaries. The first one I watched was about children preachers and it was questioning their motivations, it was quite good, it's a National Geographic documentary called Pint-Sized Preachers.

The second film I watched was the 2010 “Killing Us Softly 4” by Jean Kilbourne.
Killing Us Softly 4 is an update on three previous films she made about the same subject, only in different decades, the advertising’s image of women.

And then, wow. All these small ideas and theories that I had about media and feminism and women’s image, they all connected.

Jean Kilbourne is my new hero. I admire her work just in this film so of course I will look into her work more deeply (once I finish writing this).

Everyone should watch this film!


“Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D. is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses. She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and co-author of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly,Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes.”

I am not going to lie, in last few months, I have been a little obsessed with my weight and body. I watched this movie and it got me thinking. A year ago, I couldn’t care less about my weight in a sense; I couldn’t care less of what people thought about it, if they ever had an opinion. Although I must admit my grandma telling me I was fat every time she saw me only half-amused me (but now I’ve taken care of this little issue1).

And it made me realise, all these images we’re fed, they’re all bullshit, why should we let others dictate what we should look like or what we should be? I for one, will not stand for that.

So googling images of a model mentioned in the film, I stumbled upon pro-ana/mia websites as they call themselves (pro-anorexia/bulimia). I’ve in fact known about such websites in a long time but I never really looked into them.

On there, girls share tips and “thinspiration”. It almost made me cry2 to see the pictures of what these girls aspire to look like. Pictures of Ana Carolina Reston not long before she died, pictures of girls who are made of skin and bones. It is scary.

Media are destroying millions of people in the name of profit.

But it’s not only about weigh issues. It’s also about the objectification of women, the downgrading of women to a position of weakness, and vulnerability. It made me sad to think a lot people accept this without questioning it.
Anyway, go watch that film. Part one. Part two.3



1. Now instead of referring to me as “the fat Surya” (in front of me of course), my title has moved to “the shame of Belgium” (but that’s another looooong story). Don’t get me wrong, I admire my grandma, I love her to bits, but she can be a bit harsh sometimes.
2. I didn’t because I’m a cold hearted-bitch.

3. I just received new scores in the mail, I’m way too excited and I lost my chain of thought.