Monday, April 26, 2010

The Mango Scandal

I used to looove mango as a child. The sweet-sour orange fruitiness with a slight flavor of cedars, could there be any better fruit?! When my mom brought them home on summer days I didn't know where they came from. Today I do and as a consequence I don't buy them anymore.
I was skyping with one of my friends from one of the biggest mango-growing countries, India, just the other day. She is a very sweet girl from Pune. Two years ago when I visited her and her husband they told me about the mango season. The fresh Indian mango is nothing like the unripe green desaster we get in the supermarkets here. They were talking about the quality of their mango with dreamy eyes, in short, they absolutely made my mouth water.
But then they told me that the best mangoes never reach the Indian people. They are shipped to the international markets right away.
Now, two years later, things have gotten worse. It is mango season right now and my friend told me they've had a single mango and only because someone has given it to them. The price of mango is so high that she simply can't afford anymore - and she belongs to the Indian middle class. The wikipedia entry listing uses of mango in Indian and Pakistani cuisine stretches three paragraphs. How will that work when no one can afford them anymore?
I told her that I don't buy mango in Germany, though I love them, as they are either unripe or brought by plane, which is environmentally insane. I didn't dare telling her how many mangoes I see rotting in our supermarkets until noone wants them anymore...
That's a downside of globalization.
What do you think? Can we make a change buy responsible shopping or are we helping the markets of the country of origin by buying tropic fruit? Which fruit are "exotic" in your country? Do you buy it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Series: Cultural ambassadors: SINGAPORE (Cross-Culture Email Connection)

Wow, our next cultural ambassador is from Singapore. We hardly get any news in Germany from this little country so I am super curious about getting a personal review about what living in Singapore means. And finally someone who doesn't eat the regular western breakfast of cereals or rolls...

Hi Everyone!

Singapore representative here! :)

A short description of your country and its position in the world,
including something you like about it and something you don't like

We are a tiny island in South East Asia, near the equator. We do not have the 4 seasons, the weather here is usually hot, wet, or hot, damp & wet. Yep, so I've always felt a mixture of envy and relief that we do not have snow, beautiful snow, and the scary devastating snowstorms and other natural disasters. Our greatest resource is our people! Or rather, the only resource... This is what I usually tell people when I have to introduce my country!

Like: We don't really have many homeless people sleeping on the streets... :)
I also like that English is the most common language here, I'm Chinese but I'm much more comfortable using English!

Dislike: Due to our lack of natural resources maybe, but since people are our only asset, the education system is crazily competitive! Luckily I managed to scrape by and still have a childhood. Kids nowadays are so overwhelmed with tuition, ballet, music, art and other random classes that I wonder if they really know what they are doing...

Now on to the Wiki facts:

Singapore is unique as it is the only country in Asia which has English as its first language. The population of Singapore is highly cosmopolitan and diverse. It includes many Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, Caucasians and Asians of different origins.

Singapore has one of the highest percentage of foreigners in the world. 36% of the population in Singapore are foreigners and foreigners make up 50% of the service sector in Singapore.

Singapore is the 5th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita  and 23rd wealthiest in terms of GDP (nominal) per capita. The city state is also the second most crowded country in the world after Monaco.

A description of what you eat for breakfast
Weekdays: I take breakfast in the staff canteen in my office building. The foods available in the mornings are usually Malay/Chinese cuisine. Some of my favourite Malay foods are Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) & Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles) as pictured.
Weekends: I like to laze in bed and eat random foods! I usually wake up late and have brunch instead.

A short description of a typical work day
My work day starts at about 8am after my breakfast with my colleagues. I work in an MNC as a business analyst of sorts. So I communicate frequently with my fellow colleagues in other worldwide subsidiaries. I try to reply to my emails as early in the day as possible, as some of the people I liaise with are in the USA, my morning is their evening, so there is only a short window of time where we are both available! The rest of the work day is filled with internal discussions, crunching numbers and churning out reports. Lunch is again at the staff canteen, but the variety of food is usually more exciting than at breakfast! Then a mad rush to reply to emails at the end of the work day, as I also liaise with people in Europe! My evening is their early morning, and again if I miss the opportunity to catch them I have to wait till the next day! The boredom of the work day is relieved with coffee breaks, toilet breaks, and random gossip with my colleagues. :)
Due to the fact that my office building is located in the Industrial sector, there is not much public transport available. Being a large company, my job perks include free company bus rides to and from work! There are various pick-up and drop-off points, I'm so lucky that one of them is near my house! So it's like primary school with the school bus. No need to squeeze in crowded trains/buses!

A description of your favorite day off (weekend or holiday)
I like staying home. Really! It amazes many people, including some of my close friends that I would rather sleep in and laze around with a good book rather than have a fun day out at Town! Most tourists who have been to Singapore would know about Orchard Road and its many shopping centres. I don't really like crowded places so I hardly ever drop by! I like to do my shopping at less crowded times. Besides, surfing swap-bot and packing swaps are fun activities for the weekend, right? :P

A list of languages (optional: dialects) that are spoken in your country
For the younger generation, English (or rather Singlish) is the most commonly used language.

For my grandparents' (and older) generation though, many of them speak only dialects or Malay. Singapore used to have many kampungs where the Chinese and Malays lived, worked and played together! Thus my granduncle could speak fluent Malay, but could never pronounce "McDonald's"! :P My ancestors from my mother's and father's side of the family came from roughly the same region in China, but the Hokkien they speak is different! My younger brother and I thus have a unique mish-mash Hokkien dialect which sounds pretty funny coupled with our slightly English accent.

Description of some national specialties/products

(Please note that due to our population mix and culture, we don't really have "Singapore" anything. But these have been modified to suit our tastebuds, similar foods in their country of origin might taste very different!)

Ya Kun Kaya Toast
I don't think it's all that great, but we have tourists buying bottled kaya and taking it back to their home countries!
Delicious over warmed toast and great coffee! Maybe it's the sit around, while away time allure of it all...

Bubble Tea
Besides Coca Cola, this is my other favourite drink in the whole world!
It's crazy expensive in non-Asian countries I think, so I'm glad it's super cheap here! an average cup costs less than a third of a cuppa from Starbucks, and it's tastes so heavenly! :):):) OK I'm excited just thinking about it right now. Definitely not for calorie counters, there is ZERO nutritional value in any of its ingredients. But oh so lovely. I've tried this is Taiwan where it originated, and Hong Kong where it's super popular too. They all taste different, yet they have their own merits. Anyway just try it if you ever get the chance to! I order you to! :P

A description of the role of men and women in your country
The guys like to complain that only they have to go for mandatory national service in the army for about 2.5 years! But they do get more pay as compensation for their delay in entering the workforce and for their contributions to national security. Until they can get guys pregnant, I believe national service is a small price to pay for being a "guy"!
As a girl I would say that gender equality is not perfect in Singapore, but it is much better in other countries. We don't get outright rejections for being female, but somehow when it comes to top management positions and politicians etc, females are still the very small minority. This could be partly due to the fact that many women still shun such positions as they believe (Asian values) that a woman's place is in the home. This is less evident in the younger generation, so maybe one day we can have a female Prime Minister or President!

A type of craft that is typical for your country (doesn't have to be typical ONLY for your country)

Here's something we make for the Lunar New Year festivities! Fish sounds like "abundance" in the Chinese language, so it's featured prominently in Chinese culture for prosperity!

I hope you've enjoyed reading this! :)

I really did and I hope you liked it as well. I had some questions left unanswered in the end, though. Did any of you taste bubble tea and ya kun kaya toast? What does it taste like? Anything you could compare it to? And I wondered about the lack of homeless people in the streets. Is it like in Germany, that they are driven from the city centres by the police to create a nicer "appearance", or is it that there is such a great state support system that there simply aren't any? Or is it any other reason?
I hope I'll one day be able to visit Singapore properly, like on a stopover to Australia or something like that.
If you liked this, also check out the other contributions:

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to contribute your own story (especially if your country isn't featured yet)

All umarked text in this post was supplied by a third party. The opinions expressed are not the same as those of the author of this blog. According to §§8 to 10 of the German Tele-Media Act, I am not obligated to monitor third party information provided or stored on my website. However, Ishall promptly remove any content upon becoming aware that it violates the law. My liability in such an instance shall commence at the time I become aware of the respective violation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Series: Cultural Stereotype Buster: Western people are more hygienic - NOT!

Western people are so much more hygienic. They don't eat with their hands, don't spit on the floor, have superclean flats and streets, don't blow their nose with their hands, you know what I'm talking about... When I encountered other cultures more intensely this world view that I had absorbed from my environment was suddenly challenged.
The first time was with an Italian friend of mine on my stay abroad in Ireland. A group of some of my international student friends was discussing hygiene and my Italian friend complained that there wasn't a bidet in any bathroom in Ireland. He asked how you are supposed to clean yourself after the toilet without a bidet. My Dutch friend and I told him that that was what the paper was for. He looked at us in disgust and said: "But that's not enough to clean yourself!"
You haven't seen a bidet yet? Neither had I when I went to Italy for the first time as a teen. This is what I discovered:

As you can see, it's a very low washbasin. My first thought was that it looked like a men's toilet. My parents were so kind as to explain... Still, being told how to use it and being able to use it properly are two different things.  If you ever come in need of using one, here's a description of how to handle the situation (believe me, a bidet is not self-explanatory, really).
In India I have seen heaps of trash on the street. People spit on the ground in public and had no (!) toilet paper. On the other hand, Indians keep the left hand off the food at all times. One hand is the one for the bathroom and the other for the food. I guess many Indians don't mind if us Europeans struggle to eat with only one hand and use both, but they'd never do it themselves. And if you've ever tried to rip some bread off a loaf with one hand you know a second hand comes in handy. If you're saying this is just a small exception to an otherwise less hygienic people let me tell you you are wrong. How do you drink straight from a bottle? Well, you surely put the bottle to your lips and - Not the Indians! They pour the water in their mouth without touching the bottle with their lips. They use their right hand to hold the bottle to keep it above the mouth and then pour the water. Unfortunately I don't think there is a video online showing how it is done. Drinking like that requires quite some practice. Lucky for me it is warm in India and it wasn't so bad that I spilled water all over my clothes...
Eating with only one hand and not drinking straight from the bottle are both measures that reduce the risk of infection by bacteria in the warm and humid Indian climate.
Other Asian countries also have hygiene habits that are stricter than Europe's. Whenever I see pictures of streets in Japan and Singapore I am amazed by the cleanliness of the streets. Not one piece of paper in any of the images. They must either be really disciplined photoshoppers or they just have much cleaner streets than us Europeans. I know the punishment for littering is quite high in Singapore and I'm not sure about Japan, but rules like that wouldn't work that well here.
How about you? Did you visit a country that had much stricter hygiene habits than your home country? How did you feel? Did you follow or stick to your own system?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Series: Cultural Ambassadors: ESTONIA (Cross-Culture Email Swap)

Wow, our next cultural ambassador is from Estonia. I am amazed. I have never had the chance to meet anyone from Estonia and I am very happy to learn more about the country and its culture this way. 
I tried to make some parts more easily understandable but only when I knew exactly what was the intended meaning. It was interesting to see that many of the grammar used in the text had the same structure as German grammar (which I see a lot in the English texts of my German students). There must be some kind of language relation. And not only language, we also eat black bread a lot. Many foreigners don't like it as it is quite hard, but it is soo savoury and delicious. 
I am also happy that we get some great pictures to illustrate Estonia's culture for us.


a description of what you eat for breakfast
We eat usually sandwiches and drink coffee. We eat a lot of black bread.

Sometimes we eat white bread too. Sometimes we toast our bread, but mostly we do not toast it. We put only butter on bread and cheese, sausage, ham, pate
or fish.
When my son went to school he ate porridge every morning and I know that many people do that. But I do not. Sometimes I eat muesli and yoghurt. I drink 2 cups of coffee every morning.

a short description of a typical work day
Typical work day is from 8 a.m to 5 p.m and lunch is 12 a.m to 1 p.m. from Monday to Friday. That's how I worked at most offices.
Our workweek is 40 hours long. I worked too so many years, but now I work in a newsstand and I work from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. Mostly shops work from 9 or 10 a.m to 6 or 7 p.m. Big shopping centres and food shops open from 8 or 9 a.m to 9 or 10 p.m.

a description of your favorite day off (weekend or holiday)
My favorite day off is at home with my computer or books. Sometimes we went out to walk or to some culture event. Sometimes I went to capital city for shopping or culture events. My favorite holiday is when I can go travel. We travel a lot in Estonia, as well. In the evenings most people watch TV, but I am not a big fan of TV.

a short description of your country and its position in the world, including something you like about it and something you don't like
Estonia is in the European Union. My country is again free after long occupation of USSR. The country is poor and needs time to arrive to same level of other European countries. Our prices will arrive soon, but our salaries will not. In 2011 they wish to go to euro. We have a lot of unemployed people now. Our economy is bad, but we hope that this will go better soon. In free Estonia life is better as it was in USSR.

a list of languages (optional: dialects) that are spoken in your country
We have only one official language and this is Estonian. My language have some dialects in South Estonia, but they all speak too correct Estonian language. In USSR time many russian or people from other nations of USSR came here . So here you can hear every day Russian language too. Many Russian will not study Estonian and say that Estonia tempts they. But with years it will go better. When I work I must use the Russian language every day too. In North-East Estonia we have cities, where mostly Russian speakers live. In Narva there are only 4 % Estonians. Narva is the border town of Russia.

a list of the three most important holidays of your country and how they are celebrated.
1.Christmas and New Years Eve. In USSR time Christmas was forbidden, but most Estonians celebrated that at home. I think that Estonians celebrate this like most other people. Some went to church, some not. We have a Christmas tree - a fir that we decorate. In the evening of the 24th of Dec Santa Claus comes and gives gifts. We eat pork, blood sausage and sauerkraut. In the evening of the 24th of Dec we have a beautiful tradition. All people go to graveyards and put candles. It's very beautiful in evening, when is dark and in graveyards are thousands of candles.
2. Jaanipäev - Midsummer, St.John's Day. 23. June: In the evening and at night there are big fires
everywhere and people have parties outside.
3. Easter - we color eggs, made pasha and bring to home pussy willows:

the role of religion in your country
Religion has not got a big role in Estonia. Most people do not go to church. In USSR time religion was illegal and so most younger people had no religion. The biggest church is the Lutherian church, but we have too many orthodox churches. These are most for russian people. On third place are Baptist Churches.
a description of the role of men and women in your country
Women do most housework and are at home with small kids, but in all other things they are like men. Both worked full time. Statistics say that men receive more salary, but they work more as bosses, too. They both have equal rights.
a description of the most common ethnic minorities in your country and how they are viewed
Russian, Ukrainian and other nationalities from the former USSR. They had their culture centers. In my town are many Finnish people. They will come to live here after retired. Here they have a cheaper life. They have their organisation for their own culture events.

description of some national specialties/products
Skype - this was Estonian at first, now they sell that. I do not know other products that very many people from foreign counties might know.

a famous person from your country and what she/he is famous for
Arvo Pärt - classic music compositor. Neeme Järvi, Eri Klas - famous conductors in the world. Jaan Kross, Anton Hansen Tammsaare, Eduard Vilde - famous writers. Toomas Hendrik Ilves - our president. Lennart Meri - our first president of the second free Estonian Republic. We have many famous sportsmen: Erki Nool, Andrus Veerpalu, Kristina šmigun, Gert Kanter, Paul Keres, Kristjan Palusalu...

a type of craft that is typical for your country (doesn't have to be typical ONLY for your country)
This craft is from my hometown - Haapsalu rätik (Haapsalu shawl). That was done by senior people and now this is again popular and girls study it in school.
Haapsalu shawl is a traditional rectangular size up to 100x100 150x150 cm. The towel is composed of three parts: the central part of the purl and the fine-woven and sewn into a separate lace. He doubled as a fine woven woolen yarn needles No. 3-4. Finished shawl is washed in a warm mild soap, with medium voltage and framed immediately. Was the most revered white shawl. The material used to be single or double wool yarn, preferably with lamb's wool. The right Haapsalu shawl was pulled through the ring.

Here is a little picture as an illustration of the pretty Haapsalu shawl:
It is like the most delicate knitted lace. I've never seen anything like that, very sweet.
I also found the part about the different festivals very interesting. I like that Midsummer is celebrated with big fires. Here in Germany these fires and parties have shifted to the Christian context and are now on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. What time of the year and occasion does your country have bonfires?
The tradition of putting candles in the graveyards on Christmas Eve also sounds beautiful. What a serene atmosphere that must be.
Lastly, I found a picture and a recipe for Pasha, the Easter dish that is mentioned in the text. It can also be done completely vegan

I hope you enjoyed this interesting peek into Estonian culture as much as I did. If you are interested, check out the other countries as well:

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to contribute your own story (especially if your country isn't featured yet)
All umarked text in this post was supplied by a third party. The opinions expressed are not the same as those of the author of this blog. According to §§8 to 10 of the German Tele-Media Act, I am not obligated to monitor third party information provided or stored on my website. However, Ishall promptly remove any content upon becoming aware that it violates the law. My liability in such an instance shall commence at the time I become aware of the respective violation.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SERIES : Cultural ambassadors: USA (Cross-Culture Email Connection)

I am happy to announce that we have a second contribution from the USA for our series of cultural ambassadors, this time from the great lake area in the north. Our lovely fellow swapper will give us another insightful view on a country with a young but rich history.

• a description of what you eat for breakfast
Usually, my breakfast is some fruit and some water or juice.
The "typical" American breakfasts include eggs, sausage or bacon, toast and hash browns or pancakes.
I do not eat animal products, so my breakfast is not typical of my country.
Some people stop at a fast food restaurant to grab a quick breakfast.
McDonald's seems to be one of these most frequented places.

• a short description of a typical work day
Most people drive to work or take the bus (public transportation.)
As for me, I am unemployed outside of my home - so my workday goes something like this:
wake up, log on to the pc, feed my husband when he wakes up, (if we have to go to the grocery, we go then), maintain the house, eat something, do my crafts, prep dinner (or sometimes we go out), sometimes in the evening my husband and I may watch a movie together.
When he is not here (I am a military wife), my day goes something like the above - but sometimes I will skip dinner.

• a description of your favorite day off (weekend or holiday)
The weekends are pretty much lazy days around here.
When Jacob is not home, I sometimes take long walks and window shop.

• a short description of your country and its position in the world, including something you like about it and something you don't like
America is said to be the policemen of the world. I do not like this aspect, so much - but am proud of my husband for fighting for our country.

• a list of languages (optional: dialects) that are spoken in your country
English is the primary language.
Spanish is becoming more prevalent.

• a description of the most common ethnic minorities in your country and how they are viewed
Actually, Anglo-American people are quickly becoming the per capita minority.
Most of our neighborhoods around where I live are African-American and Latin immigrants.
In our areas, everyone seems to work toward getting along.
The biggest minorities that we have a problem with getting equal treatment lately are the disabled and the homosexual.

• a list of the three most important holidays of your country and how they are celebrated.
Most of the holidays celebrated around here are Christian based.
The two biggest being Christmas (the celebrated birth of Jesus) and Easter (the celebrated resurrection of Jesus).
Gifts and baskets are exchanged respectively.
On July 4th, we celebrate Independence Day with a big parade and fireworks.

• description of some national specialties/products
The United States exports from about $906 USD billion to $1.057 trillion USD worth of goods & services to the rest of the world annually.
Our main exports are:
agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%
industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%
capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%
consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0%
Our main imports are:
agricultural products 4.9%
industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%)
capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery)
consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys)

• a description of the role of men and women in your country
In our country, men and women are supposed to be equal under the law.
Both are potential house spouses; both are potential wage earners.
A woman does not have to be married to own property any longer, although that was so at one point in our history.
Still today, women generally make less than men at the same jobs (glass ceiling).
There is no specified role for men and women.

• a famous person from your country and what she/he is famous for
An example of an American Artist from my country is Chris Isaak.
He is am American rock musician who was born in Stockton, California in 1956.

• a type of craft that is typical for your country (doesn't have to be typical ONLY for your country)
Native American crafts include making dream catchers and peace pipes.
Sadly, the United States is one of the only countries who denies their Native heritage and culture for the most part.

• the role of religion in your country
Although the constitution was founded with Christian principles, our first amendment grants us the freedom to worship as we choose.
Religious freedoms are granted for every citizen.
There is no country religion.

Alright, for foreigners like me, I need to add some pics and videos for clarification. Hash browns
Ah, little patties from mashed potatoes. 
Many countries have these with slight variations. The Irish are very proud of their "boxty", us Germans like our "Kartoffelpuffer" and in India I had some spicy "potato tikki" that I still drool over. Over here, however, we don't eat these patties for breakfast, we have them for lunch with apple sauce (boiled apples either puréed or with some big chunks left in). Many Kids love it. How about your country? What's your potato patty recipe and how and when do you eat them?

Chris Isaak might also need clarification. He calls for a video. There we go:

In 1991 people were still wearing these giant bold color suits and Elvis hair? Wow, I really forgot.

Dreamcatchers are also not necessarily well known outside the U.S. For those of you who haven't seen dream catchers before, it is a traditional talisman in some Native American tribes, such as the Lakota. 
The Native Americans create these delicate objects to prevent bad dreams. Depending on the legend, good dreams are let through the hole in the middle whereas the bad dreams are caught or the other way around. I had great fun creating a dream catcher in school when I was little. It is quite complex but yields a wonderful result. If you'd like to make one yourself here is a link to an original tutorial by a Native American. Or, for those who prefer video tutorials, here you go:

Something bad Germany and the US share is that apart from the above mentioned exports these two countries are also amongst the biggest arms dealers in the world. This is mostly hidden from the population. One of my friends works in a shipping company and one day told us in surprise that there was a shipment of 300 transport tanks to a middle eastern country. It was not in the news, not anywhere in the media. This creates in my opinion a very hypocritical diplomatic position. Sell weapons for peace...

To end with something nice, pictures of a 4th of July parade are on the first contribution from the USA, check the "ambassador" of the north east of the US, quite interesting. Comparing the two is also very insightful. 

I am very thankful for this great personal review of our fellow swapper. 

Also check out the other contributions if you are interested:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter and Update

All of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you had a nice one.
So, what do we do in Germany? My family used to have a big Easter breakfast (without guests, just my sister and my parents). After that the kids would search eggs in the garden, or, if the weather was bad, inside the house. Today my future hubbie's parents and my mom were visiting our grandparents and my sis was on holiday, so we organized the breakfast for whoever was left (not much, let me tell you...) I did some last minute watercolor egg painting and we had rolls and a walnut ciabatta I had prepared and eggs, different kinds of cheeses, sausages, smoked salmon, jam and a lot more. In the picture you can see our dining room table after the breakfast. All the books you see there are cook books... I have a little obsession.

So, what else is planned after one month of this blog? We have a few more contributions of the cultural ambassador series (cross culture email swap) which I am working on right now. I have worked a little on the layout as well and will have to start thinking about a header soon. I am also preparing my second tutorial, still something Japanese, I can tell you. And then there are all the little topics that come to my mind. Oh, and some travelling experience. If there's anything specific you'd like to see or contribute, don't hesitate to let me know.
Thanks to all my readers for your interest and comments, I hope you'll enjoy future contributions as much as I do.



Monday, April 5, 2010

The best skin color in the world - tanning, whitening, or what?

In Germany and many western countries a healthy tan (not the overdone "coin-mallorca" one) is regarded as quite attractive. I guess the reason is that it means you have the money to go on holiday to a nice and sunny destination. Historically, being tanned was often not regarded attractive because it signified that you belonged to a lower class. Only farmers and street merchants had to work outside where their skin would get darker from the sun. To appear more "noble", people even practised skin whitening by applying (often lead-based) powders.
Today, on the other hand, there is a whole tanning industry at work providing us with a more or less fake tan. Tanning spray, self-tanning lotion, showers, tanning beds... I know there are also people out there who tan for health reasons and I'm not talking about that.

The text under "self tan" says "wonderfully even tan without sun".
When I was in India, the situation was absurdly reversed. Darker people were regarded much less attractive. My pretty bland skin color over here was suddenly regarded very nice. This shows also when you look at posters of Bollywood stars: with some you can hardly tell they are not white.
There is no difference for Indian men or women. I was quite surprised when I heard that Sharukh Khan was promoting skin whitening cream for guys. The mechanism is simple but effective: dark = unpopular and stupid, fair = popular and smart. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad, have a look:

So, cappucino/very light brown is the answer for everybody? Nope, that'd be too easy. Here's an ad for snow white. Not as funny, but interesting:

It might have been a coincidence but on my tour through the north of India my driver was of a very dark shade, his sister with a university degree as a teacher on the other hand was a lot lighter. My driver and I had trouble communicating as he barely spoke English and I almost no Hindi. I understood, however, that he repeatedly talked apologetically about his own dark complexion and told me about his pretty sister.
I wonder how much of that is coming naturally as a desire for what is rare or has a certain luxury connotation (being able to afford holidays or belonging to the ruling class) and how much is industry, getting us to feel bad so we buy stuff we wouldn't otherwise.
After all this I enjoyed hearing about the operation beautiful campaign where you leave affirmative messages in public. I found one of the handwritten "you are beautiful" notes once and it really made my day. Have a try; I will start taking some post-it notes with me from now on, so I can add a touch of feel-good here and there (as a teacher having post-its is always handy anyway).
I also like this charity project that helps young black girls explore beauty through photography. I think there needs to be a bigger effort to counteract the influence of advertising.
My reader "Onelovelygurl" was so kind as to remind me of the Dove campaign to show more natural women in advertising. Of course, these were also digitally manipulated, but it is a step in the right direction.
One of our most famous women magazines, BRIGITTE, now only uses "real people" as models. Many of them are still almost as thin as models, but it looks a bit more healthy on the whole. Some people complained that no one wanted to see "ugly" people showing off fashion (they were still really pretty and had makeup and all, they were just not skinny size). What do you think?

Do you know about any campaigns that make a change by supporting inner beauty ?