Monthly Archives: December 2009

Jolie, Aniston Voted Beauty Icons, Lucky Pitt

Lucky Pitt! His partner and ex-wife have been named the top two of Beauty Icon of the Decade.

Photo by Pulicciano

Photo by GDCgraphics

The fierce rivalry between Angelina Jolie, 34, and Jennifer Aniston, 40, is entering a new phase as a new poll in the UK has named the Original Sin star the Beauty Icon of the Decade. Aniston overshadows her coming in the second position.

The third annual poll was commissioned by Superdrug asking 3,000 respondents. According to the result Jolie was voted for her famous juicy lips, thick hair, flawless skin and strong character. These features have been seen as points that make women across the world envy her.

“Angelina Jolie is not a conventional beauty but her strong character shines through her fabulous features to give her a unique standing in the beauty world,” said Steve Jebson, Commercial Director for Superdrug, as quoted by The Telegraph.

Jolie and Pitt first met when he was still married to Aniston, more than four years before the poll was conducted. I bet he would never sure that he dropped the right choice and left the Friends’ actress behind. Congratulation for Mr and Mrs Smith!

What about Aniston? I should say her iconic beauty faded out when her iconic sleek haircut was over in the 1990s. Anyway British know how to make news by picking the two on the top.

Photo by Tim Beckenham

Who are on number three and five make me wonder the British obsession for beauty. Was the Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue, 41, chosen on the third place just because of her assy back? And, oh my goodness, Cheryl Cole is on the fifth place. Get real!

“But the message from our stores for 2010 is you don’t have to be a film star or celebrity to be a beauty icon. Every single woman in Britain can walk into their local Superdrug and pick up products that will give them the confidence to turn heads on the high street,” Jebson said. ”Unfortunately, we can’t promise that any of them will end up marrying Brad Pitt.”

Here’s the list, they might be pretty, but iconic?

1.Angelina Jolie

2.Jennifer Aniston

3.Kylie Minogue

4.Catherine Zeta Jones

5.Cheryl Cole

6.Scarlett Johansson

7.Keira Knightly

8.Beyonce Knowles

9.Liv Tyler

10.Halle Berry

11.Kate Winslet

12.Myleene Klass

13.Kelly Brook

14.Nigella Lawson

15.Kate Beckinsale

16.Megan Fox

17.Eva Longoria

18.Joanna Lumley

19.Holly Willoughby

20.Charlize Theron


Moroccan Hospitouchlity

It’s seen as a cultural taboo in almost the rest of the world for men to share too much physical contact. But Moroccan men have their own way in expressing close friendship or warm welcome. They touch each other as much and, can be, soulful as possible.

Photo by Ady Nugroho

I understood the real meaning of expression “keep in touch” only when I was in Morocco. Men keep touching, literally, almost all the time everywhere. They show no hesitation in doing so as if no wonder among foreigners witnessing the view. Tourists most likely get the real feeling of getting in touch with local people anyway.

Handshakes and hugs may be acceptable in most countries. But these are not enough in Morocco. Here, they walk arm-in-arm, lean, cuddle, hold hands, kiss cheeks sometimes twice for each cheek. I call it Moroccan hospitouchlity.

I remember one night when I was waiting for a bus at Regent Street in London I saw two young men interacting quite intimately just a meter away from me. It was before I knew the hospitouchlity a la Morocco. They kissed cheeks. One of them wrapped his arm around the other’s waist when they were observing screen on a digital camera. The bus stop was only a stumble away from ‘the red light district’ Soho, so no big question mark in my mind. They looked Moroccan indeed.

The similar sight was seen in a train from Fes to Marrakech, Morocco. Two veterinary students in my compartment cuddled while they were working on statistic exercise. I tended to avoid looking at them but the show was so luring. I was told by a friend beforehand that the highest level of friendship among Moroccan men might be shown by touching and flattering head. They did these gestures too.

Another ‘couple’ mended dream with one head leaned on the other’s shoulder intentionally. They didn’t know each other though.

I am trying to find the correlation between the behavior and happiness. In 2008, research conducted by the University of Michigan’s World Values Surveys placed Morocco in the 67th of the world’s happiest countries.

However, touching bottom is an insulting what so ever in the whole Moroccan land. So I could tolerate so long as they didn’t grab my bumps.

Keep in touch!

Protest Marks 1st Anniversary of Gaza Siege

Hundreds of people turned out for a rally next to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, London, Sunday (27/12). They called on the international community to bring Israeli war criminals to justice over the siege on Gaza, Palestine, a year before.

Photos by Ady Nugroho

Protesters yelled slogans condemning Israel like “Shame on you, Israel!”, “Down down, Israel!”, “Occupation no more. Israel is the terrorist state!” and voicing freedom for Palestine. Various concerns were written on placards waved in the air in between Palestinian flags.

The demonstration marked the one year anniversary of an Israeli offensive, code-named Cast Lead, on Gaza. Israel launched the attack on 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 declaring it was aimed to stop rocket fire by Gaza militant groups. Similar rallies took place in Manhattan, Israel and Gaza City.

The Metropolitan Police guarded the approximately 500-strong protest a hundred metres away from the embassy. One helicopter was flying above the spot as extra personnel were deployed when the crowd grew half an hour after the rally began.

A small incident broke out when police pushed protesters who tried to move forward from one side of the street. They were prevented crossing the street to the other side.

Neither a representative of the protesters was sent to the embassy nor did any diplomatic staff come out to address the crowd.

UN role

One orator urged the United Nations to do more to resolve the longstanding conflict in the Middle East. “The United Nations has to start taking action. We will continue to protest… until the Israeli government is forced to end the occupation and end the siege on Gaza,” she said.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council adopted a report declaring that Israel and Hamas were both guilty of war crimes. It called for the UN Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court if either side fails to investigate the crimes themselves.

“I suggest anybody who has committed war crimes must be punished. Be it Hamas, Palestinians, Israelis, or anybody else,” Monjur Ali, one of volunteers from Islamic Forum of Europe, said. “The fact is that Israeli military is the occupying force, Hamas and Palestinian people are the occupied side, the victims who are reacting and defending themselves.”

A picture of Tzipi Livni, who was the Israeli Foreign Minister when the siege took place, looked out from posters portraying her as one of the war criminals. She was once subject of an arrest warrant issued by UK’s court for alleged war crimes.

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem’s report in September noted that 1,387 Palestinians were killed in the assault–773 civilians, 330 combatants, 248 Hamas policemen and 36 people which the group were unable to classify.

British role

The rally was called by the British Muslim Initiative and Palestinian Forum of Britain among others. It was joined by dozens of Muslim-based organizations, Jewish anti-Zionist networks, socialists groups, and civil organizations.

Ali said they had written to local MPs and the British government hoping they will put pressure on the Israeli government to stop terrorizing the whole nation of Palestine. The former Prime Minister Tony Blair is holding a diplomatic post as the international Middle-East peace envoy, but his role has been doubted after the US President Barack Obama selected George Mitchell as the US Middle East envoy.

“I don’t think at all Tony Blair has done anything meaningful to bring about peace in Palestine. He has often spoken in favour of Israel condemning Hamas. He has taken side on Israel when it comes to negotiation,” Ali said.

The latest statement from Blair said that the peace process was still on track. Speaking to Al-Jazeera earlier this month, he pointed out that the two-state solution will be very much dependent on the status of Jerusalem.

“I think what people have at the moment is a deep sense of frustration about the process and they try to work out how we overcome it. In the end it will be determined by whether we can create the context in which we get back to a sensible serious negotiation about the two-state solution in which the Palestinian obviously will argue very strongly that East Jerusalem should be the capital.”

The situation is becoming more complex as Israel continues to construct settlements despite international calls for a freeze in East Jerusalem, where about 268,000 Palestinians live alongside 200,000 Israelis.


More photos are here

Photos: Protest on Gaza Siege

Photos by Ady Nugroho

How Many Cheek Kisses? 1, 2, 3, or 4

How many kisses we should give away is depending on country we are in. The more kisses we plant doesn’t mean the more positive impression we get from others. So far I’ve been experiencing four different cheek-kissing cultures ranging from one to four times.

Photo by Simon Bottomley

Travelers are frequently faced with awkward situation when they have to share cheek kisses with local people. Pushing the other cheek for a second kiss will result in blushing face because the opponent practices only-one-time kiss. On the other hand, pulling our face away after a kiss can be regarded as rejecting warm greeting when the opponent offers more. Research prior to trips is suggested to prevent such clumsy situation.

Who do give the least kiss? British people do. Once cheek kissing is more than enough. That’s better than no touch at all though. It’s only practiced commonly between men and women or among women while cheek kissing among men is kept discreet. The gesture is given for a greeting when people meet up or for a goodbye wish.

My original culture in Indonesia practices two-time cheek-kissing between men and women or among women. Men usually share hugs indicating close friendship. A bit different from those in Britain, Indonesian people interact involving more body contacts among either different or same sexes. Hand shakings are common. They usually take place before a cheek-kissing involving the four hands altogether. Don’t be surprised to see women holding hands in public places. They are not necessarily lesbian.

Three-time cheek-kissing is practiced by, among others, Dutch people. I knew it for the first time when I was learning Dutch language back home. Conversations between men and women in the course book often ended up with “kus…kus…kus…” which means drie kussen alias three kisses. The Time mentions that three kisses are a sign of respect for those at least 10 years older than you.

It’s true that Indonesia was colonized by Dutch people, but the kissing tradition isn’t inherited by indigenous people.

Touchable society

And the most touchable-society award goes to Moroccan people based on my observation so far. I was confronted with a totally-different culture minutes after I landed in Morocco from the don’t-touch city, London. Four-time cheek-kissing, twice for each cheek, is a universal form of greeting among old or young men, a gesture may be seen in different way by Londoners. Handshakes and hugs usually take place before both persons lean forward and either touch cheek with cheek or lip with cheek.

On the other hand, kisses between men and women are quite rare regarding religion restrictions.

The practice is common in the rest of Mediterranean and Middle East countries including France and Spain by which Morocco was once controlled.

As quoted from Wikipedia, it is an alleged excuse in France to steal a few more kisses to a girl to say something like “Chez nous, c’est quatre (Where I come from, we kiss four times)” after having already kissed twice. Some girls will even push the joke by answering “Mais chez nous c’est huit! (And where I come from, we kiss eight times!).”

Jakartans Demand Demolition of Obama’s Statue

Ho ho ho… One of Christmas gifts given to the US President Barack Obama recently is threatened to be withdrawn. There are at least 20 groups of Indonesian people on Facebook demanding his childhood statue in a park in Jakarta to be demolished.

The groups share the same idea of bringing the bronze statue down motivated solely by nationalism as a sovereign nation. The Indonesian version group with the most members questioned the vision and benefit of its existence for local people bearing in mind that he wasn’t exist in the country’s history.

“Barack Obama has no contribution for the nation. It can be said that he had gone by Menteng just for eating and pupping. He lives American life for the rest,” the group said referring neighborhood where Obama had spent his childhood for four years in 1970s.

As this blog mentioned in the previous article Double Christmas Gifts for Obama, the US$10,000-worth statue is the first action figure of foreign person in public places in Jakarta. It was unveiled by Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni on 10 December 2009, the same day he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

Chairman of the Friends of Obama Foundation, Ron Mullers, expressed concern over negative response towards the statue. The organization initiated the establishment of the statue and had raised fund from ten Indonesians for it.

“It’s just a statue of a boy who once lived in Menteng and liked nasi goreng [fried rice] and bakso [meatball soup],” he said to the Jakarta Globe, adding that there was no political motivation behind it.

‘This is Indonesia’

Of 20 groups on Facebook, 18 are in Indonesian. The biggest one is Turunkan Patung Barrack Obama di Taman Menteng with 45,205 members at the time of writing. One of the two English version groups, Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Taman Menteng Park, has gained 1,807 members at the time of writing.

They use profile picture of the statue in a forbidden sign read ‘This is Indonesia’.

Discussion on the group’s page has been talking about likelihood to file a class action against the city government. Another concern has demanded the statue to be moved from its current location to the US embassy. Most members are proposing to replace the statue with another portraying local figure. No sculpture of former Jakarta’s governor has been erected in public place this far.

It is getting clear then that he won’t walk alone when he visits Jakarta in 2010. Demonstrators have a new concern by now.

Double Christmas Gifts for Obama

The US President Barack Obama got actually two prizes in the same day on Thursday (10/12). In Oslo, Norway, he received the Nobel Peace Prize as an adult and in Jakarta, Indonesia, he got his childhood statued.

Photo by Sasha

This is another evidence of what I said in the end of my previous post President Idol. We tend to hate our own head of state and over-treat the others. Unfortunately, BBC Three has only The World’s Strictest Parents show which sends teenagers abroad to live with other family. It hasn’t come up with an idea of swapping presidents.

Supporters of the president unveiled a bronze statue of him as a young school boy at Menteng Park. The “Barry Dreams Come True” action figure stands only a stumble away from the school he used to attend as a kid.

“The statue is not for an individual cult nor is it for political

motivations, it’s more to motivate younger generations of Indonesians,” said Sylvina Murni, the Central Jakarta Mayor, as quoted by Reuters. “Who knows, there could be another child from this country who can be a world leader.”

Are students from the same elementary school motivated by the US 44th president? “I do not want to be like Obama, I want to be a general,” said a schoolboy attending the ceremony to Reuters.

Obama spent four years of his childhood in the neighborhood when his mother married her Indonesian husband in the 1970s.

Non-Indo statue

As long as I’m concerned, the US$10,000-worth statue is the first one of foreign person in public places in Jakarta. Even of six presidents of Indonesia only one whose statue is placed in a public place, the founding father Soekarno. However, the Obama statue doesn’t picture him as a president instead of a child and the mayor guarantees no public tax involved in the building.

It’s expected that Obama will be requested to have a look at it when he visits Indonesia in 2010. Blaming on the postponement of the state visit, there will be a longer list of side events waiting for his appearance. His then-school wants to be peeped. His step big-family wants him to share nostalgia in his then-house.

It’s expected too that the experience in his planned visit won’t be much different from what he had in Oslo when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Demonstration is undoubtedly.

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