The Love Languages of Nigeria

Nigeria. City of dreams. Landscape of strange, paradoxical happenings.

See Nigeria. Through the words of seven writers. Come drink of our words, and in doing so, surrender to the emotions that take over you. Excerpts:

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“Sir, is your car covered by insurance?”

“I am covered by the bloooood of Jesus!”

 

“In Nigeria, politics is the lifeblood of our non-sexual interactions.”

 

“If Nigerian time were an animal, it would be lazy, somnolent, and unhurried. If Nigerian time were money, the Dollars from crude oil exports would become toilet paper.”

 

“Every Nigerian is a football pundit, whether they’ve ever kicked a ball or not, and coaching the Super Eagles is the most difficult job on earth. How do you face 170 million people, many of whom are convinced you do not know what you are doing? Ask Stephen Keshi!”

 

“If she would rather save her sweat for managing construction sites or for running her mouth loudly in court or for writing reports in cosy offices, then, a wise woman who learnt AMALA (African Man’s Absolute Loyalty Approach), on the strength of EGUSI (Executive Grant for Ultimate Seduction Internship), from Calabar campus, shall snatch the man from her.”

 

“Whether Skelewu-ing at weddings, Limpopo-ing at roadshows, and Ginger-ing at owambes, the beat and rhythm inspire listeners to do the head-bob, echo the chorus, twist their waists  with mouths half-open as if bad news slapped them, squat, and wobble their thighs as though they’re trying to stifle day-old pee, while marinating in sweat.”

 

“Electrical power failures or NEPA has taken light, is a nuisance that grinds homes and businesses to a halt.”

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Enjoy the full spectrum on livelytwist.wordpress.com. You will be glad you did!

Trials of the Loner

The Lone Watermelon

Yesterday, while going through pictures on my laptop, I got to view an image that struck me in a weird way: yes, the very one you see above.

Taking pictures is one of my favourite hobbies. Nevertheless, many times, while performing the not-so-irregular ritual of going through images on my laptop or phone, I end up deleting many because what must have intrigued me back when I took the shot, becomes lost to me as I swipe or click away.

This wasn’t so with the picture of the watermelons (even though I almost depressed the delete button). Something about the image was arresting. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what it was but within seconds, my mind linked things up.

There was one watermelon screaming amongst the multitude of silent, normal watermelons.

I began to think of people who fight for the voiceless and pay a painful price for it. I thought of those whose kindred–the very ones they speak and fight for–abandon them by the conspiracy of their silence.

This lone watermelon was screaming and bleeding at the top of the pile as the market flies scrutinized its red and wide open mouth.

This must be why those who fight for the masses are vulnerable. This must be why they are easy targets.

Because they are loners. Because their words put them above the crowd.

Because as their mouths and pen scream, as their hearts and bodies bleed, those they fight for remain silent and even castigate them. These people doubt the altruism in the loners’ struggle.

Then, what about the other kind of loner? The Different. The Weird. The Closet Weeper. The one who is picked on because she believes something different from the accepted system. Or the guy who is bullied by family because he is stuck in the pursuit of happiness–that of realising his dreams. How must it feel to be constantly in fear, not knowing if you will ever catch up with your stars so you can finally say:

“Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Friend [insert] … all I ever wanted was to do what I love, to be with who I love, to be myself and never follow another man’s dreams. Look at me now. Haven’t I turned out well?”

?

How must it feel when …

We writhe, wishing warm waters wash

Away all anguish, all agonies arising

From fighting for family, friends, freemen.

How must it feel to scream alone?

Diving into Romania

You take a deep breath and jump.

thump. thump. thump …goes your heart as you fall rapidly from space towards earth. You approach the speed of sound and feel a numbness that comes from questioning this quest you have undertaken.

A short and sharp bit of information flashes through your mind with a punch that surprises you.

You might die today.

00:35 …

00:57 …

01:21 …

You are still falling. You are still alive. All conditions remain optimal, all equipments in good working condition. A piece of Europe, your destination, reveals itself through the clouds.

02:55 …

02:57 …

03:06 …

You cross the speed of sound. You are on course. The theme song from your favourite action movie streams into your mind, playing so loudly you feel you can hear it. It’s still playing when you break through the ecclesiastical mass of white that is the clouds. You wonder why this zone feels higher than the darkness of space.

The song stops playing in your head when you are shocked into a new kind of fear.

What if the parachute fails?

thump. thump. thump … goes your heart as you fall, as you try to release the parachute, as you struggle with it, as you keep falling, keep struggling until the parachute jets out and your descent decelerates instantly.

You exhale, slow and steady, when you land somewhere on Anina Mountains, in Western Romania, exactly on the 45th Parallel North, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.

Before your crew locates you, you discover the most unusual waterfall you have ever seen. You instinctively reach for your pocket to grab your camera and laugh at yourself for that foolish act. All you can do is wait patiently for your crew to come for you as you savour the beauty of the fall.

You would later know the name of this cliff to be Bigar Waterfall. You are still wondering, when your crew arrives, at how this cliff covered with moss, is able to shred the stream of water coursing upon it, into tiny threads falling to the stream below.

When you get back to the city and meet with the world celebrating your daring dive through the skies, you think back to the miraculous shower of water that falls at Caraș-Severin county, Romania. You smile when your brain suggests your next daredevil jump: A free fall from space into the Pacific ocean.

Bigar Waterfall, Romania by Adam Rifkin

[highlight]Photo credit: Bigar Waterfall, Romania, by Adam RifkinCC BY 2.0 [/highlight]

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Header image photo credit: “SPACE_Record-Skydiver_39km_Stratosphere_14” by MATEUS_27:24&25CC BY-SA 2.0 

Meet Some Strange Sea Animals You Didn’t Know About?

It’s a crazy world down at sea. All befuddling kinds of shapes, sizes and behaviours exhibit themselves in there. Last week, I came across some interesting sea animals. Have a look:

The Moray Eel

Moray Eel (Canon)

[highlight]Photo credit: Moray Eel (Canon), by Marcelo MarioziCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

I was shocked to find a an eel spotted like a leopard. Scary. What’s more, the strong jaws and teeth of Moray Eels can severely wound humans. Slender-bodied like other eels, they flush out hiding prey when they go on joint hunts with the roving coralgrouper. These two are the only fish of different species known to hunt together.

9603 Blue ribbon eel by Ken Traub

 Have you seen anything as this? That’s the Ribbon Moray Eel.

 [highlight]Photo credit: 9603 Blue ribbon eel, by Ken TraubCC BY-ND 2.0[/highlight]

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The Parrot Fish

Blue parrotfish photographed  in the Florida Keys.

[highlight]Photo credit: Blue parrotfish photographed in the Florida Keys, by Derek KeatsCC BY 2.0[/highlight]

The Parrot fish can change its body colour and shape. I found it very interesting that it can also change its gender several times in its life. National Geographic reports an even more curious thing. Some male parrot fish keep a harem of females. If the dominant male dies, one of the female transforms into a different coloured male and takes up the position of dominant male. If the fish world had CIA’s, The Parrot fish would do excellently well. But wait. There is another contender.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish

Imagine a fish that has the unique ability to change the colour and texture of its skin in a fraction of a second. Doubt? Take a look at the two pictures below. They were taken seconds apart. I should also tell you that this fish spends 95% of its day resting.

Australian Giant Cuttlefish by Richard Ling

 [highlight]Photo credit: Australian Giant Cuttlefish, by Richard LingCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Australian Giant Cuttlefish by Richard Ling (2)

  [highlight]Photo credit: Australian Giant Cuttlefish, by Richard LingCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

The Pacific Sea Nettle

You know, I look at pictures of some creatures and really wonder if they are living things. The Pacific Sea Nettle, found in the Pacific Ocean as the name suggests, is one of such. I can’t find an eye, a nose, a mouth….

Don’t be deceived by the picture. It’s cap-like head can grow to about 1m (over 3ft) wide while its 24 tentacles and white arms can grow to 3m (10 ft). What were they all doing in this picture?

Pacific Sea Nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) by Cliff

 [highlight]Photo credit: Pacific Sea Nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens), by CliffCC BY 2.0 [/highlight]

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Frog fish

Moaning Red Frogfish by Tom Weilenmann

 [highlight]Photo credit: Moaning Red Frogfish, by Tom WeilenmannCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Forget that talk about the CIA. The Frog Fish is an amazing creature that loves the art of camouflage. Frog fish come in extremely diverse forms and colours. Now hear this: they move very slowly but have the fastest strike speed of any animal on the planet. Then hear this: they have a fishing rod that dangles a lure called an Esca which they use to attract prey. A fish that’s a fisherfish? Incredible.

Clown Frogfish by scian

[highlight]Photo credit: Clown Frogfish, by scianCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Hairy Frogfish

[highlight]Photo credit: Hairy Frogfish, by Tom WeilenmannCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

frogfish by Freddy Fam

[highlight]Photo credit: frogfish, by Freddy FamCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

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Other amazing sea animals I found (be satisfied with just visuals this time)

The Scorpion Fish

An Eastern Red Scorpionfish (Scorpaena cardinalis). Shelly Beach, Manly, NSW

[highlight]Photo credit: Eastern Red Scorpionfish, by Richard LingCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

The Lion Fish

Parc Zoològic Red Lionfish by Sebastian Niedlich

Is that fish about to cry?

[highlight]Photo credit: Parc Zoològic: Red Lionfish, by Sebastian NiedlichCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Pterois-volitans-by-D-o-m-o-n-k-o-S

I think it is. That face doesn’t communicate anything else.

[highlight]Photo credit: Pterois volitans, by D o m o n k o SCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

 

The Eel Catfish

Feather star with striped eel catfish by dachalan

I included this picture because I love the colour combination. It just looks like the plant is a part of the eel.

[highlight]Photo credit: Feather star with striped eel catfish, by dachalanCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

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[highlight]Header image photo credit: Striped Anglerfish by Richard LingCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Learning From the Marabunta: Three Lessons

We know how industrious the ants are. We marvel at how this tiny creatures can build homes of such staggering heights. About ten years ago, some foresters found what was probably the largest anthill in Britain.

Built by wood ants, a one centimetre long species of ants, this ant hill measured an astonishing 167cm (5.48 ft) in height and housed half a million ants. If we scale up to the level of humans and buildings, we get an ant hill that is relatively the size of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York; a skyscraper that was the tallest building in the world for 42 years.

Humans have already learnt a lot about teamwork and diligence from ants. This time, let’s meet with, and learn from, one fierce but unique species of ants—The army ants A.K.A marabunta.

1. You will never walk alone

A raiding swarm of army ants can span an astonishing 20 metres and be up to 200 metres in length. As anything around half a million of these little beings march through the forest floor, they flush out thousands of insects and other small animals they would prey upon and take home to the colony.

But the army ants never walk alone. Birds known as ant followers trail the ants with the sole aim of reaping where they did not sow. Kleptoparasites these birds are called. As the small animals scamper out of hiding, the birds descend on them and deprive the army ants of a considerable chunk  of their prize.

2. Look out for the enemies hiding within your ranks

Not only the birds engage in this parasitic behaviour. Some other animals travel right in the midst of the swarm, having developed advanced adaptive features to prevent from being killed by the army ants. Some beetles ride on the ants and consume food from the jaws of their hosts. The Tetradonia beetle does worse; it could drag away a live ant from the swarm and consume it elsewhere. One species of mite hides in the jaws of the army ant from where it sucks and feeds on the ant’s blood.

3. Think outside the box

Army ants don’t build ant hills, which can take years to realise sometimes. They don’t have that luxury of time as they are always on the move. So how do they go around this problem? They make a temporary nest from their bodies. By connecting their legs together, they are able to form a large, highly organized ball filled with numerous passages and separate chambers for food, the queen and the eggs. These living nests can be composed of close to a million ants.

Army ant bivouac by Geoff Gallice

[highlight]Photo credit: Army ant bivouac, by Geoff GalliceCC BY 2.0[/highlight]

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[highlight]Header Image photo credit: Photo credit: Army ants road, by Axel RouvinCC BY 2.0[/highlight]

Ten Architectural Masterpieces I Wish I Designed

The earth is dotted with ingenious works of man that draw out my admiration time and again. From the ruins of the Greek civilization to the skyscraper tradition of the modern era, I have found much to delight my eyes and mind over the years.

Among the lot are some modern masterpieces of architecture that have left an indelible impression on my mind. Most of them have combined breathtaking forms with innovative interpretations of how a building should function. From different parts of the world, I bring you ten buildings I really wished I designed:

10. Crystal Cathedral, United States

Now called Christ Cathedral, it is said that the founder of this megachurch, the famous tele-evangelist Robert H. Schuller, desired to have a church that would evoke the quality of open air services he loved to hold. So, he envisioned an unusual, massive building with walls made of glass. And my, did the late respected American architect Philip Johnson not give him a magnificent building! This tower of glass is almost ethereal in its shimmering communion with the skies.

Crystal Cathedral

 [highlight]Photo credit: Crystal Cathedral by Alejandro CCC BY-NC-2.0[/highlight]

Crystal Cathedral

[highlight]Photo credit: Crystal Cathedral’s Main Seating Area – Facing Right by FXWDCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Crystal Cathedral

[highlight]Photo credit: Crystal Cathedral by Kwong Yee ChengCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

9. Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia

Whenever I think of the seamless blending of the new and the old in architecture, this tribute to New Caledonia’s Kanak culture and the man who fought for its pride of place, surfaces strongly. Renzo Piano, the Italian architect behind this arresting complex, sought to capture the form of the traditional Kanak hut as well as the spirit of their culture. What intrigues me is that touch of abstraction he brought to bear on the complex which, while not robbing of immediately discernible beauty, elevates the complex to a poetic, even spiritual level. Here, steel and wood combine in beautiful ways.

What’s more? Much of the wood came from Africa. Guess what kind of wood? The legendary Iroko.

Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia

[highlight]Photo credit: Panoramic view of centre culturel Tjibaou by Eustaquio SantimanoCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia

[highlight]Photo credit: Centre Culturel Tjibaou by ChristopheCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia

[highlight]Photo credit: Tjibaou Cultural Centre by Leslie LewisCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

8. Burj Al Arab, U.A.E

Watching the making of this iconic tower was an inspiring journey I haven’t forgotten in a hurry. However, long before I watched that video, one of my superiors handed me a brochure he brought back after spending a week or so lodged at the hotel. I think I had only just begun studying architecture then. Needless to say, I was blown away. I am not a big fan of direct symbolism but I take an exception with the Burj. The sleek composition of various materials, and the evocation of beauty from members serving a very functional purpose, is something that made this hotel, designed like a sail, a stunning one indeed.

Burj Al Arab

[highlight]Photo credit: Sacred Caravan _026: Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) by Omar A.CC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

7. Ecumenical Centre, Abuja

Romanesque. Gothic. Baroque. We engaged them all in the history books we read in those back-breaking days we slaved at our drawing tables. And wow, did we marvel at the industry of the artisans of those times.

Visiting a brilliant interpretation of these ancient archetypes in my country’s capital was awe-inspiring. It was like reading a revised edition of an ancient book. All what I had engaged with in the books was finally here to see and touch; only that this time, it had come with the spirit of modern materials and a twist to the building form.

Ecumenical Centre

Ecumenical Centre

6. Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, United States

The famous Canadian-American architect Frank Ghery astounded me with this building, enough to include it in this list. Here, he brought the wild and the tame into play all at the same time, to simulate the distinct roles the left and right parts of the brain play. How fitting for a building designed to be a centre for research into the treatment of brain diseases. While titanium-clad waves dance against each other on one side of the building, white rectilinear boxes align on the other side with the discipline of marching soldiers.

Lou Ruvo Centre for Brain research

[highlight]Photo credit: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Denver AquinoCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Lou Ruvo Centre for Brain research

[highlight]Photo credit: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Denver AquinoCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Lou Ruvo Centre for Brain research

[highlight]Photo credit: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Roman TrugilloCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

5. Centre Pompidou-Metz, France

The poetry, simplicity, and inventiveness of Japan has endeared me very much to that country. When I discovered haikus and tankas, I almost went through with my decision to write only those kinds of poems. I was captivated by how the structure of these poems granted freedom while still restricting the poet.

Japanese architects have largely brought the poetic dialogue of simplicity and complexity typical of Japanese tradition, to bear in their innovative buildings around the world. With the Centre Pompidou-Metz in Metz, capital of Lorraine, France; Sigeru Ban, the winner of this year’s Pritzker prize (the Nobel of architecture), reinvented how wood is used in buildings. Wood has always been a Japanese favourite. It seems Sigeru Ban decided to pay an ambitious compliment to the building traditions of the orient, right in France. And he sure succeeded at that; in this simple exhibition building sheltered with a complex roof that tapped inspiration from a Chinese hat lying somewhere in Paris.

Centre Pompidou-Metz

[highlight]Photo credit: Le centre Pompidou Metz by Jean-Pierre DalbéraCC BY 2.0[/highlight]

Centre Pompidou-Metz

[highlight]Photo credit: Centre Pompidou Metz by Alexandre PrévotCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Centre Pompidou-Metz

[highlight]Photo credit: La charpente du Centre Pompidou Metz by Jean-Pierre DalbéraCC BY 2.0[/highlight]

4. CCTV Building, China

Oh my—what a building! Remember the Leaning Tower of Pisa from history books?

Imagine two skyscrapers leaning towards each other and then bending by 90 degrees to meet in the skies just as they had done on the ground. What you have is a warped hollow square blown up to a jaw-dropping scale. Incredible! Rem Koolhaas’s firm, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), is famous for bringing brutal rationalism to bear in its designs that birth simple-shaped buildings some would tag as ugly.

But with the CCTV tower, OMA redefined the concept of the skyscraper, forever.

CCTV Building, China

[highlight]Photo credit: Beijing CCTV Building by Arlyna BlanchardCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

3. Linked Hybrid, China

I was working on my thesis when I found this building and I knew immediately that it would impact heavily on my work. I was already familiar with its architect Steven Holl, through his principle of phenomenology and some of his works designed to reflect this principle, the inspiring Nelson Atkins Museum for example. But Linked Hybrid? The stretch of technology here, in achieving a utopian vision of communal dwelling in the skies, was too exciting to not strike an impression. This building scored many firsts and won a number of awards for its incorporation of sustainable building technologies.

linked-hybrid-beijing-1

[highlight]Photo credit: Linked Hybrid by Wojtek GurakCC BY-NC-2.0[/highlight]

Linked Hybrid

[highlight]Photo credit: Linked Hybrid by Wojtek GurakCC BY-NC-2.0[/highlight]

2. Jewish Museum Berlin, Germany

The many many layers of symbols worked into this building are just mind-blowing. Conceptualized to communicate a powerful narrative of the effects of the holocaust on Jews and Jewish culture in Germany, this museum drew inspiration from incredible sources to become a most fitting emotional journey for visitors. The Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind evolved the building’s zigzag form from an abstracted Jewish Star of David. This was combined with criss-crossing lines that were mapped from the locations of different related historical events. One of the striking parts of this building is a tall void whose floors are covered with 10,000 iron plates shaped as human faces that express anguish.

Jewish Museum Berlin

[highlight]Photo credit: Berlin APR2012 Jewish Museum facade 4, by Mark B. SchlemmerCC BY-NC-2.0[/highlight]

Iron faces

[highlight]Photo credit: Jewish Museum, Berlin, by Ben_from_DkCC BY-ND 2.0[/highlight]

1. Walt Disney Concert Hall, United States

Built after his more famous masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; this dazzling concert hall stands as my most loved of all buildings designed by Frank Ghery. His daring designs necessitated adapting a software meant for designing airplanes into one that could analyse complex designs like his. Walt Disney Concert Hall, for example. The grace and harmony of the sweeping curves, the smoothness of the building’s skin, and those meeting points at the top that seem to poke the sky asking to be drifted away with the clouds, are simply breathtaking.  The whole ensemble of curves evokes the image of a grand fleet of sails sailing proudly through the city of Los Angeles. This is surely my most loved building of the modern era.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank Gehry, Modern

[highlight]Photo credit: Walt Disney Concert Hall, by Christopher ChanCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank Gehry, Modern

[highlight]Photo credit: Walt Disney Concert Hall, by Jordon CooperCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank Gehry, Modern

[highlight]Photo credit: Walt Disney Concert Hall, by Devon HollahanCC BY-SA 2.0[/highlight]

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There. The ten buildings I wish I designed. How about you? Any favourite buildings you have encountered that you could tell us about? What struck you about these buildings? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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[highlight]Header image photo credit: Walt Disney Concert Hall, by StephenCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

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An Ancient Gift From The Steppes Of Mongolia

Thousands of years ago, the Mongolians invented something that became an integral part of their cultural life. Being predominantly nomads who moved around three to four times a year, it was needful to develop a sturdy, comfortable and easily movable dwelling that could adequately house the Mongolians and their belongings. A dwelling that could withstand the high wind speeds of the steppes, a flat grassland with no trees or tall shrubs.

So out of necessity, the Mongolian ger came to be: a circular, movable tent that could be set up between thirty minutes to three hours, depending on the size. Dismantling the ger wasn’t a problem as that could be done in less than an hour. Because the materials used to build the ger were light, they could all be easily packed up and transported elsewhere on horses, camels or yaks. A circular shape brought aerodynamic qualities to the ger which was very important in resisting the impact of the strong winds.

Genghis Khan, the great leader of the Mongols, and who is widely considered the father of Mongolia, ruled his vast empire (the largest contiguous empire in the world after his death) in the 12th century, from the comfort of a large ger that was nine meters in diameter. This ger sat atop a great cart pulled around by 22 oxen and was guarded night and day by Mongolian soldiers.

In 2014, gers are still hugely popular in Mongolia. 75% of the people live in gers. In Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital where classical buildings and skyscrapers abound, 40% of the local population still habit gers. The ger has also become popular in many other regions, even in far-flung places like the United States, Hungary and Turkey. Apart from serving as dwellings in these places, they are also used as shops, exhibition pavilions, camping tents, restaurants or as relaxation spots separate from the main building in a modern compound.

Enjoy these pictures and video as they take you into the world of the Mongolian ger:

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Mongolian Ger in Federation Square

[highlight]A Mongolian ger being exhibited at the Federation Square in Australia during the 2012 Cultural Diversity Week, Viva Victoria. The Viva Victoria is a multicultural festival of Australia that showcases a plethora of cultures from around the world.[/highlight]

[highlight]Photo Credit: Mongolian Ger in Federeation Square, by AlphaCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

Ulaanbaatar Services Improvement project

[highlight] A section of the city of Ulaanbaatar[/highlight]

[highlight]Photo credit: Ger couple in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 8 by Michael FoleyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

Ulaanbaatar Services Improvement project

[highlight]Photo credit: Ger couple in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 5 by Michael FoleyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

Ulaanbaatar Services Improvement project

  [highlight]Photo credit: Ger couple in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 2 by Michael FoleyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

Ulaanbaatar Services Improvement project

 [highlight]Photo credit: Ger couple in Ulaanbaata, Mongolia 1 by Michael FoleyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

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[highlight]An exhibition of an ancient Mongolian ger[/highlight]

[highlight]Photo credit: Exhibits from Genghis Khan: The Exhibition, at the ArtScience Museum, Singapore, by hsloCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

 

 

5994042299_b19ed1f09a_o

  [highlight]Photo credit: Ulaanbaatar, by Julie LaurentCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Roof of Mongolian Ger

[highlight]The roof of a modern Mongolian ger[/highlight]

[highlight]Photo credit: A traditional Mongolian structure at Ceres by Leonie BourkeCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

Home on the steppes

[highlight]In modern times, the perpetuating nomadic lifestyle of many Mongolians notwithstanding, it is common to see motorcycles besides gers suggesting that these modern mode of transport is beginning to replace the traditional use of horses.[/highlight]

[highlight]Photo credit: Home on the Steppe, by Baron ReznikCC BY-NC-SA 2.0[/highlight]

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Watch how to build a Mongolian ger in just about an hour. Exciting!

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What have you to say? Let’s here it in the comments section below!

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[highlight]Header Image photo credit: Ulaanbaatar, by Julie LaurentCC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/highlight]

Attending To Your Art

[button]25 September, 2013. [/button]

Earlier today, I went to see someone who is doing a job for me. He is a friend. Some months back, while we worked on a project together, it became a ritual for us to satisfy ourselves with something awesome.

Satisfy ourselves with a particular brand of fried yam garnished with a small quantity of a special kind of stew.

It’s not that the yam is from another country. No. It’s not that they are special ingredients in this stew, that drive us to eat this awesome yam till our bellies can’t be punished further. No.

We only have a woman who is too good a cook. Someone who owns some place of the kind Nigerians have branded ‘Mama Put’.

Today, I decided to visit her shed and help myself to her food right there in that corner shed with creaky wooden seats. Back then, someone handled the buying while we worked on the eating in the comfort of my friend’s office.

The long white gown I wore, the type we call “jalabiya”, seemed to pose a problem. I really wanted to enjoy her fried yam without having to stain the experience with a stain on my white gown.

So right there in her shed, I solved the problem by taking off my gown and settling down to eat this modest but sure to be sumptuous meal.

I wasn’t disappointed.

She delivered. Again.

After the meal, after my tongue had many times romanced my lips, I began to ruminate over the dignity of labour and the importance of doing whatever you work at, well. No matter how little. Here is a woman who isn’t probably worth much financially, who might have had just basic education, but who still makes graduates, professionals, big men and sophisticated ladies, happy with the kind of meals she takes her time to prepare. It is her art.

And she does well at it.

Do you do well at your art?

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[highlight]Header image photo credit: Old Woman Frying Eggs (The Old Cook), Wikipedia[/highlight]

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The Art of Eating Out

Ceddi Plaza is one building out of a few in Abuja I hold in high regard. I remember how impressed I was as we toured its interiors many years ago as third year architecture students. Last week, I was there again and as I walked up the stairs and caressed its handrails, I found I was still impressed with the fine detail that had been worked into the marriage of steel and glass that was the balustrade; amongst other things.

But this is not about Ceddi Plaza, really.

After I had printed some documents (which I had been struggling with for hours on my laptop) I became quite hungry. I didn’t want to momentarily suppress the biting hunger with a piece of meat pie, burger or any of that sort of thing. So I asked a kind waiter at a snack spot on the upper floor for a restaurant that sold ‘real’ food.

That’s how I got to Nkoyo.

As the waiter presented the menu to me, and my eyes widened at the boldly written prices of the meals, my heart tugged at my head and sold it a convincing argument that the price was justified.

Because the interior of Nkoyo is amazing.

As you step unto the corridor, you are welcomed by three paintings lined on your left, each one seated majestically on an intricately woven cane stand. You would be forgiven if you think they are up for sale (I actually enquired about this from the waiter). There is an atrium to the left of the corridor, behind the three paintings. Natural light streams through the pyramidal glass roof of the atrium and into the outdoor eating area that fills its floors. There are more lovely paintings here and a number of potted plants whose patterned shadows romance the white walls as well as the cane chairs and table. The whole place strikes you as an art gallery.

NkoyoAnd walking into the restaurant proper doesn’t erode that art gallery feel. Except you are really really hungry, it is impossible not to notice a big black wooden wheel standing ahead of you. As I waited for my order, I noticed more sculptures and was arrested by the ingenious use of bamboo and cane in the interior. The light bulbs were shrouded with what looked like long cylindrical baskets turned upside down. Picture how the light filtered out of these baskets, and how it washed upon the food before us. I daresay the food looked more palatable under the light!

Many times, I see bamboo applied in its natural stick form as an exterior member. In Nkoyo, it looked pleasing as an interior demarcation member. I thought of Japan while I looked around (the Japanese are experts at maximizing the aesthetic and structural potential of wood). I really like the way the bamboo sticks were tied together with what must have been palm fronds to form a grid.

I sipped my juice again. While transporting a portion of the moi-moi I was eating to my mouth, the thin cushion I sat on caught my attention afresh. It was wrapped in green coloured ankara that contrasted beautifully with the light brown shade of the wooden seat it padded. Whoever designed the chair definitely has an eye for detail. I totally love the way the cushion was fastened to the stiles of the seat with ropes made from same ankara cloth.

I enjoyed my meal and couldn’t stop admiring the place. Eating is an art well enjoyed in pleasant climes.

Nkoyo 2

Source: Nkoyo Facebook Page

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Gabriele Basilico: Architectural Photography in the Hands of a Master

The photographs of the late Italian architectural photographer Gabriele Basilico transport one to scenes of loss, hurt and abandon. It is incredible what emotions pictures taken with a careful eye can evoke in us. It is equally incredible what rich and deep stories buildings and cities are pregnant with.

Looking at some of his black and white images of empty buildings groaning under the terror of misuse, and deserted urban landscapes bombarded by war, it feels as though one is viewing through a window, the lives of those who have habited these places. Yes, because even though you do not see these people in the photos (I saw people only in one photo I think) your mind conjures up all kinds of secondary images of the joys, pains, disappointment and what have you, that the people who inhabit these places—or once inhabited them—have experienced.

I look at one photo and imagine a small kid, probably aged nine, in one of the dilapidated apartments that dominate the photo. He has been crying softly for days, hungry and afraid to come out because he thinks he will be shot. He is desperate to find out if anyone he knows is still alive…

A picture is a thousand words, we have heard time and again. Gabrielle Basilico’s pictures speak volumes and remind us that architecture, together with the cities they contribute to creating, is meaningless without people. People are to cities what blood is to people.

Basilico’s pictures of harbours and ships are equally mesmerizing. Some of them are sweeping views of the sea and harbour that remind you of your little place in the world. You are never too important. Then there are those pictures that come even closer to the ships to the point of intimidation. You think of what great things man has built with his hands, but then, you think again. All these great man-made objects standing atop a subdued sea, are still wary of that mass of water, knowing that if it decides to wreak havoc, everything and everyone on its path is in danger.

Experience Basilico’s photos in motion as you watch this short video:

Then look through some other photos here:

Gabriele Basilico Portfolio

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[highlight]Header image photo credit: “San donà 1st mondial war”, Wikipedia[/highlight]

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