Monday, 8 September 2014

Your kids come in tongues II

I ranted a few years ago about the Lebanese phenomenon (I suspect it has also appeared in other Arab countries) of only speaking English or French to their kids.

Now that I have my own child, this is even more obvious to me. During my summer stay in Lebanon, I was often THE ONLY PERSON SPEAKING ARABIC TO THEIR KID at playgrounds and other venues. I must say I absolutely loved the condescendence that my daughter and I got for it. People felt the need to speak to us slowwwwly and translate all kinds of stuff to Arabic, because, clearly, I must be totally illiterate and my poor little girl is destined to an underprivileged life.
Copyright Kankana LLC

Here are the reasons I think this is terrible:
  • By teaching your kids not to speak Arabic, you are essentially telling them that their culture is inferior to that of the French/British/Americans etc whose language you seem to treasure.
  • By extension, you are also telling them to be racist against themselves and their own people.
  • You may be giving them a false sense of belonging to another culture and guess what, one day they will realize that in fact, they don’t belong there.
  • I often get the impression that foreign languages are associated with social status in Lebanon. First, that’s not really the case because an enormous number of people speak these languages. Second, if you’re craving social status, get a nice car or a monogrammed purse, walk around cigar in hand and don’t forget to display your iPhones and iPads everywhere. Just DON’T make your kids miss out on their mother tongue.
  • You are reducing their future chances in the job market: the Arab world stands today at over 300 million very young consumers, this means the population will increase exponentially by the time your kids hit the job market. Guess what, by not speaking/reading/writing the language like natives, they will be much less competitive.
Copyright: Kankana LLC
  • Some parents think that the kid will get to learn Arabic anyway by living in the Arab world, but when the nanny, grandparents, teachers, other kids and even the man in the grocery store find themselves compelled to display their own linguistic prowess by using foreign languages with the kids, their actual need to understand and speak Arabic will be minimal.
  • Many Lebanese living in Europe or the US insist on their kids attending Arabic school on weekends. These parents understand that multiculturalism enriches a person’s life, not to mention that, with so much immigration taking place globally, a big chunk of the wold population of the future will be bi-cultural. I was born in the US and currently live in Europe and I think it’s crucial to integrate and embrace the culture of the country you live in ( language being a crucial component of that), but that doesn’t mean giving up your own heritage. If anything being aware of this heritage enables you to add richness to your life and to those of the people you interact with.
  • Last but not least, kids who don’t read or speak Arabic (or are weak at it) are missing out on a beautiful language and an amazing literary heritage.

If you do want to familiarize your kids with the Lebanese/Arabic language, here’s a nice app book I came across recently. It’s called Ahlam and you can download it here. The screen shots in this blog post are taken from this app. It has an engaging story (about a child trying to find ways to sleep better), and there’s a Lebanese feel to it that I enjoyed a lot. Although its graphics could be a bit higher quality, my 2 year old likes it and uses it quite a bit.

Friday, 27 June 2014

In the spirit of visualizing something to help make it happen, this post is me visualizing how the tragic, dreadful, erroneous situation in the Middle East would be resolved.

  •        Highest Shiite and Sunnite religion authorities speak up. They each launch a proper, concerted and sustained effort to remind people that Islam is not about bloodshed and has nothing to do with the murderous ideologies that are using its name left righ and center.
  •        These same authorities preach in mosques, use social and broadcast media, Islamic schools and all other places and mediums to make sure their voices are heard above the racket made by the terrorists.
  •        Muftis, Imams, Ayatollahs and all other types of genuine clerics visit and help victims from each other’s communities.
  •        They hold a Sunnite-Shiite summit at the highest level, and issue joint statements taking people back to basics. They remind people that murder, oppression, rape and pillage which is all that these gangs do are actually the biggest sins in Islam.
  •        They pressure governments to reduce or shut down funding for terrorists. They use the funds to promote peaceful thinking and conciliation.
  •        They excommunicate all those preaching violence and warfare and clearly state that what they are doing is neither Islamic nor jihadist.
  •        They ask the civil society to help by raising their kids in tolerance and acceptance and the practice of real, peaceful Islam.
  •        Civil society responds by launching its own activities. Sunnis and Shiites meet and talk. Mixed families speak up. People make every effort to ensure their kids are not recruited and brainwashed.
  •        Civil society speaks up takes back the image of Islam which has been hijacked by the savages and the mercenaries.   
  •        Funding is channeled to support war victims across the region, especially in Iraq and Syria.
  •        Governments put all measures in place to stop funding and recruitment for the gangs.
  •        A wide scale NGO efforts are launched to understand how and why the hatred spread and put measures in place to ensure that through education etc this would not happen again.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Feeling unloved by World Cup advertisers

Copyright may apply

I’ve barely come across any World Cup related marketing this year. I’m thinking it’s one of the following reasons:

  1. All marketing budgets have gone into targeted digital media and since I have no interest in sports whatsoever, I’m not the right profile. 
    1. If so, the marketer in me is very impressed! It means that you really CAN target the exact people you want and avoid wasting money on others. 
    2. But as a consumer, I feel unvalued and resentful  
  2. Very few companies are interested in sponsoring/activating marketing around the world cup this year, at least in the UK. 
  3. People have stopped caring about the world cup and advertisers know that. 
  4. Marketing budgets are extremely small.
  5. I need to get out more or even watch TV  
If you’re seeing a lot of word cup related advertising or marketing, please reply here with your age, gender, attitude towards brands, internet usage details etc ;).

Friday, 9 May 2014

And then there was Shabu Shabu....

... and my life will never be the same again

I loooove this place! It's called Shabu Shabu, on the top floor of Whole Foods on Kensington High Street.

Shabu Shabu is a form of Japanese cuisine. Thinly sliced meat, shrimp or pork, are cooked on a live station in boiling broth along with udon noodles, tofu and vegetables.

The waiter places a bowl of broth on a hot plate in front of you and brings the vegetables, noodles and meat in separate plates. 

Once the broth is boiling, you throw in the ingredients and when they’re cooked to your preference, you take them out, dip them in sauce (the ones available are tomato, dashi and soya) and eat immediately.

If you don’t want to be hungry again an hour later, I suggest you order steamed rice as well.


Friday, 25 April 2014

Paul Kenton's amazing cityscapes

"Touch The Sky" by Paul Kenton
I’ve been a fan of Paul Kenton’s work ever since I came across it a few weeks ago at the Royal Exchange building in London. Kenton is a contemporary artist specialising in cityscapes. He also paints abstracts and seascapes.

I’m now the proud owner of a “Touch The Sky” print.  I can’t get enough of its blazing colors and vivid take on London.

You can view Kenton's portfolio here

P.S. Dear Paul, please paint Dubai, it has the most breathtaking skyline on the planet.