Feeds:
Posts
Comments

2019-02-26-hijab

Photo: Gabrielle Emanuel/WGBH News
Shamso Ahmed has opened the first salon in Massachusetts specifically catering to Muslim women who wear hijabs, a religious head covering.

For some Muslim women, as for some Orthodox Jewish women, covering their hair in public is a religious obligation. Even though no one sees their hair when they are outside, when they are at home or among other women, they want it to look nice. Getting a good haircut at a salon can be a challenge, though.

As a young Virginia woman in a 2013 PRI story said, “There’s a JC Penney that has a hair salon nearby and they kind of stick you in a back storage room, and it’s okay, you still get a haircut, but it’s not the greatest atmosphere and you do kind of feel like you’re being shoved in a corner. It’s nice when they have the real chairs, especially when you’re going to pay that much for a haircut.”

Luckily in Boston, there’s a salon specifically for hijab-wearing women. Gabrielle Emanuel has the story,

“For most people, going to a beauty salon and getting a haircut is routine. But for Muslim women in Massachusetts who cover their hair for religious reasons, it can be a real challenge. At a traditional hair salon, they risk men seeing them without their headscarves on.

“But that is now changing. Massachusetts’ first salon and spa established specifically for Muslim women opened. … Shamso Ahmed is the woman behind the new business. She says she’s been dreaming about this since she was a young girl.

“At the age of 10, Shamso Ahmed fled the civil war in Somalia and arrived in Boston with her family. Two years later, she started wearing a hijab, a Muslim head covering, and that’s when she came up with the idea of opening a salon.

“ ‘I envisioned this huge, big salon that had all the services you could think of,’ remembered Ahmed. She wanted a place where ‘women felt safe.’

“Now, some two decades later, Ahmed has a degree in accounting and training in cosmetology. And she has a salon. While it’s not huge, the storefront is decked out. …

“In a neighborhood peppered with beauty shops, what makes Shamso Hair Studio and Spa unique is not the silver and black décor — or even the henna body art or the hammam steam spa — it is who is allowed in and who is not.

“Ahmed says the space is carefully designed to be female-only. At the door there’s a camera and a code required. The windows are frosted so people walking past can’t see in.

“For Muslim women who wear hijabs, Ahmed says it’s long been hard to find a place to get your hair done. … She said some women go to a salon and befriend a stylist, asking them to come to their home. Others ask to go to a salon after it’s closed for the day or they get their hair done in a backroom. Still others rely on female relatives.

“When Ahmed isn’t working on her other business, a translation service, she has often worked as a stylist going from house to house. Now, Ahmed is hoping her clients and others will come to her salon. …

“Ahmed said there’s been a lot of enthusiasm in the Muslim community, and people came from other states just to attend the opening. ‘Maine, Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire,’ she ticked off the places. ‘Some of them came from Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, DC.’ …

“For Ahmed, this isn’t just a childhood dream she’s fulfilling. She said she’s also living out her mother’s dream, who owned a small business in Somalia before war broke out.”

More at PRI, here. There are a couple similar salons in Virginia. Read about them here.

051419-hunting-lockets-in-Brimfield

Hunting for the best vintage lockets for Luna & Stella at the Brimfield antique fair, we really had to bundle up. It was awfully cold (and muddy) for May.

Ever since Suzanne first admired the nearly invisible hinges that characterized the old, handmade lockets, she wanted to offer lockets at Luna & Stella. At first, she investigated whether hinges like that were being made today. They weren’t. So she started an antique and vintage line to complement the way her contemporary birthstone jewelry preserves customers’ special memories.

The best place to start the hunt for vintage is at the Brimfield, Mass., antique fair, a mega event that occurs three times a year and involves thousands of dealers. According to one website, the show extends about a mile along both sides of Route 20 and several hundred yards back from each side of the road.

The dealers are not all selling lockets or even antiques. The event is also a flea market. You can find pretty much anything there. All that stuff you give to the Goodwill, or even throw out because it’s broken, could easily be displayed here with a price tag. It doesn’t even have to be old. People will buy anything.

I had never been on any of Suzanne’s Brimfield expeditions, and as my sister was interested, I decided it was time. Alas, at the last minute, my sister was not able to make the trip. Getting to see pictures is not the same as being in those crazy crowds, eating at food trucks, and using Port-a-Potties, but it will have to do for now. It was definitely fun to see Suzanne in action. She was like a bloodhound on the scent, and I hope my sister will get a chance to watch her in action another time.

Here are a few photos. If a dealer has a dinosaur, you can bet it will get displayed prominently on the roadside. I noticed that the one below eventually talked Lady Liberty into hanging out.

One thing you can do at Brimfield is get ideas here for the stuff you have at home. For example, if you have a fake rhino head collecting dust in your attic, you might want to spray it gold.

I sent Stuga40 the picture of the Swedish tent. Here’s what she said about the clocks, moraklocka: “Mora is a small city in Darlicalia (Dalarna). These clocks were painted and decorated by peasant artists. There are certain areas in Sweden like Dalarna and Hälsingland  where the ‘kurbits’ type of painted furniture is found. The red ‘dalahäst‘ [or wooden horse is] painted in this style and now used as a souvenir from Dalarna and Sweden.”

I loved the morning-glory look of the old Victrola. The quilt picture is for a few of my favorite readers.

The last photo is from the rural B&B where we spent a night. We needed the quiet haven after all the crowds.

You can read about the event here and get “tips on surviving Brimfield” here.

051419-Brimfield-dinosaur

051519-Brimfield-dino-&-Lady-Liberty

 

051419-Brimfield-rhino

 

051519-Brimfield-Swedish-antiques

 

051519-Brimfield-Moraklocka

 

051419-Brimfield-RCA-Victor

 

051519-Brimfield-quilts

 

051519-Brimfield-crwods

 

051519-Brimfield-B&B-view

real-kashmir-7-591a66101b34d7f508201129db96670cb2626d2a-s600-c85

Photo: Furkan Latif Khan/NPR
In wartorn Kashmir, there are Muslims and Hindus who who would rather play soccer than spend their lives fighting. Above, loyal Snow Leopards fans watch a game.

In every part of the world, no matter how troubled, there are always people who would rather play ball.

I have to blame the British colonial empire for leaving behind the seeds of war everywhere it went, chopping up countries without attention to the needs of the people living there. But thank goodness that human nature and the love of peace is strong! There are always some folks who have no interest in fighting.

Kashmir, created by Partition as the British left India, is an example of what I mean. Today, because of the way the country was divided, Kashmir knows constant war between Hindus and Muslims. Despite that, two friends, one Hindu and one Muslim, started something beautiful.

Lauren Frayer writes at National Public Radio (NPR), “They play soccer in a disputed Himalayan valley prone to car bombs, strikes and heavy snow. Soldiers with machine guns patrol their home stadium. Players sometimes have to arrive at practice three hours early to avoid police curfews. Their team is less than three years old, with a budget that’s one-tenth that of some of their competitors.

“[As of February 2019], Real Kashmir Football Club, from Indian-controlled Kashmir, [was] tantalizingly close to winning India’s top professional soccer title. They’ve been flitting back and forth between first, second and third place, and the season ends in early March.

” ‘We’re the only club in India that has sold-out stadiums at almost every game,’ says the team’s co-founder Shamim Mehraj. ‘What we have done is give people some hope in a place that has actually been taken down by conflict and violence for the past 60 years. It’s helping this place heal.’ …

“A natural disaster helped give birth to this soccer team. In 2014, the Kashmir Valley suffered devastating floods. Hundreds of people were killed. Schools were closed, and young people spilled out onto the streets of Mehraj’s hometown Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and one of the largest cities in the valley.

“One evening, Mehraj and a friend had an idea.

” ‘We used to go for evening walks. We would see a lot of kids hanging around doing nothing, and I had been a footballer myself. That’s when I thought, “Why don’t I get some balls and at least give these kids something to do?” ‘ recalls Mehraj, 38. He had played for his college team in New Delhi, and for his state in amateur soccer tournaments.

“Mehraj, who is Muslim, and his Hindu friend Sandeep Chattoo, 52, got friends and neighbors to pitch in and buy 1,000 soccer balls, which they handed out to flood victims. But why stop there? In March 2016, they started a team.

“They applied for the team to compete in India’s I-League 2nd Division — the pro soccer equivalent of baseball’s minor leagues. Mehraj and Chattoo invested their own money to pay players’ salaries. They also hired a Scottish former player, David Robertson, who had been coaching a professional soccer team in Phoenix, Arizona, to coach Real Kashmir, a.k.a. the ‘Snow Leopards.’

“Robertson had never been to India, and admits he probably couldn’t have placed Kashmir on a map.

” ‘All I ever saw was TV shows that showed it’s 90 degrees — it’s hot in India! But I arrived here and the next day, it was snowing,’ says Robertson, 50, now in his third season as Real Kashmir’s coach. ‘There was no Internet, the electricity was out, and I just thought, “I want to go home.” ‘

“Mehraj invited Robertson over to his family’s house, gave him a hot water bottle and some home-cooked Kashmiri food — and convinced him to stay. Since then, Robertson has recruited his own son, Mason Robertson, 24, to play for Real Kashmir. By the end of the 2017-2018 season, several Robertson relatives were in the stands at the team’s home stadium in Srinagar, to watch Real Kashmir win the 2nd Division title. …

“[By February, the team was] neck-and-neck with Chennai City FC and East Bengal FC for the top title in Indian professional soccer. …

” ‘I never did think we would go this far,’ Mehraj tells NPR, as he looks out over the turf at Real Kashmir’s home stadium. …

“Kashmir’s 21 percent unemployment rate triple that of the rest of India and militant groups recruit from the ranks of young, idle Kashmiri men. Soccer ‘keeps him away from that,’ says Ishfaq Hussain, 52, a former professional cricket player whose son Muhammad Hammad plays center-back for Real Kashmir. ‘He thinks always about when to play, when to practice. He’s got no time to join politics or go shouting or pelleting stones.’ …

“His teammates include fellow Kashmiris and recruits from Africa, Europe and across India — including Muslims, Hindus, Christians and atheists. Mehraj says he can’t manufacture T-shirts, stickers and banners fast enough to keep up with fans’ demand.”

More of the NPR story here. Follow the rankings here.

47538971_303

Photos: Hive Earth
Joelle Eyeson is a co-founder of Hive Earth, which is working to address the housing challenges in Ghana. The company supports using the traditional ‘rammed earth’ technique as much more eco-friendly than cement.

Lately, I’ve seen a number of articles about how cement is bad for the planet. (For example, this story on the mining of sand used in cement.) But what else can we use? We can’t cut down all our remaining trees.

In Ghana, a company interested in sustainable home-building practices is experimenting with modernizing some traditional materials. DW interviewed Joelle Eyeson, co-founder of Hive Earth. Here is the DW interview.

“What are the housing challenges in Ghana right now?
“Joelle Eyeson: There is need for around 2 million new houses in Ghana per year, but most of the building is concentrated in the capital Accra, where land is very expensive. The other issue is that when you build in more rural areas it then becomes expensive to travel to the cities for work. We knew that the majority of people in Ghana have a relatively low wage. We thought it is strange you have workers building these big houses that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and they could never afford them.

“So our aim is to build houses that our workers and the majority of Ghanaians and West Africans can afford. The prototype that should be ready by the end of the year will cost roughly $5,000 for a one-room house.

“What exactly is the ‘rammed earth’ technique that you use?
The rammed earth technique is just a mixture of laterite, clay and then granite chippings. We use 5 percent cement to bind it but also do it using lime.

We wanted a way of building without using cement, because it is very toxic; especially in our climate it combines with the heat and humidity and creates a really bad indoor air quality.

“When we discovered the rammed earth technique, we thought it was great because it is basically like the traditional mud house, but updated. It’s a tried and tested technique that’s been around for centuries. Parts of the Great Wall of China were even built with rammed earth.

“In what other ways are the buildings eco-friendly?
“In Ghana it is so hot you usually need air conditioning systems in your home, but these are not always affordable, eco-friendly, or good for your health. We teamed up with some German engineers who gave us the idea of underground cooling systems. We dig around 8 feet or more until we get to the cool air underground. Then we use a solar pump which is constantly bringing the cool air into the home. Then it is only the cost of the solar pump (around $300) which people need to pay and there are no bills. …

“With our foundation we are also planning on doing more workshops with local communities, helping to teach them the skills of building with rammed earth. We are also planning on building eco toilets. … We want to enable people to come and learn about rammed earth, build something that is beautiful, eco-friendly and useful for their own communities.”

More at DW, here.

The rammed-earth building technique uses local materials in Ghana and almost no cement.

47539467_403

The Louis D. Brown Peace Walk in Boston has been supporting survivors of violent crime for a quarter century.

The nonprofit’s concern is for the people who are left behind after a violent death — the mothers, the fathers, the children, the siblings, the classmates, the communities. Sometimes the ongoing needs of these survivors get lost. In Boston, some of the bereaved families have banded together to help others heal. They have taken the lead in standing against violence and have invited residents of the Greater Boston area to join them. Nonprofit groups, churches, mosques, synagogues, and individuals arrive from the suburbs in droves.

Here are a few photos from this year’s walk, which is always held on Mother’s Day.

I loved the band that played outside Madison Park High School, where our group joined the walk. Some people carried signs. Lots of people chanted peace slogans. We passed by a mural of the great Frederick Douglass in Roxbury.

If one or two people were to walk down Tremont Street on a rainy Sunday morning, no one would notice. When many hundreds do, it’s an event.

But other than raise funds for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute outreach, which is valuable, does this help prevent violence? There are still homicides in Boston. But the huge gathering seems to generate an indefinable energy and awareness that sometimes leads individuals to wage peace in their own ways throughout the year.

051219-good-band-at-Peace-March-Boston

051219-good-idea-US-Dept-of-Peace

051219-Peace-Marcher-Boston

051219-Frederick-Douglass-mural-Roxbury-MA

051219-1-and-2-and-50-make-a-million

 

 

 

Whenever the sun peaked out this spring, I tried to take a picture. Not that you can’t take photos without sun, but I’m obsessed with shadows. Blogger and photographer Milford Street had a good idea for taking advantage of all the rain. He chose this time to shoot some waterfalls. Check out this shot from Ashby, Mass. (Where is Ashby, Mass.? Will I ever learn all the names of towns in this state?)

Moving right along, I loved the way the writing on the glass door below repeated itself on the interior wall. The very high wall that comes next is in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a magical place that no wall, alas, could protect from human error and theft.

Sunshine also brings out the vintage cars. I couldn’t resist shooting this red one, even though I am not especially into cars.

The curiosity you see after the car is a piece of bark hanging off a tree that is on conservation land. I have been finding walks in the woods very calming lately, especially since my sister’s cancer returned. If I don’t find ways to calm down, things start breaking or spilling or overheating in my vicinity. Not on purpose. They just happen.

Next is a decorative gate standing all alone without a fence, like the random street lamp in the middle of a Narnia woods. You don’t know what its purpose is, but you’re kind of glad to see it.

The gate is followed by my neighbor’s weeping cherry, which by this date has lost its flowers. The beauty of a weeping cherry is so short-lived. The apple tree by the swamp seems to have planted itself. It beautifies an ordinarily messy area I often pass on my walk.

I will close here with photos from the amazing deCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass.  The founder’s brick castle is quite dramatic in itself, as you can see, but the sculpture park is the museum’s crowning glory. Even when the indoor exhibits don’t speak to you, the outdoor ones will.

050819-shadow-through-door

042519-Isabella-Stewart-Gardner-wall

050319-vintage-car-ConcordMA

041419-bark-hanging-off tree

041919-curlicue-gate

041919-weeping-cherry

050319-blossoms-and-swamp

042419-deCordova.Museum-Lincoln-MAJPG

042419-outdoor-sculpture-deCordova

042419-reclining-head-deCordova

orchestr981

Photo: Handel & Haydn Society via AP / Chris Petre-Baumer
The Handel & Haydn Society performing Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral” at Symphony Hall in Boston on May 5, 2019. After the performance, the orchestra sought to find and thank the boy who cried “Wow!”

I have a story for you that is sweet on so many levels. You may like it for the support the concert audience gave a young boy or for the wish of the Handel & Haydn Society to find and thank the boy for his response to their music.

I think I like it most because of the way this grandfather is with his grandson.

As Kaitlyn Locke reports at WGBH radio, “Seconds after the orchestra stopped playing Mozart’s ‘Masonic Funeral Music’ at the Boston Symphony Hall on Sunday, 9-year-old Ronan Mattin was so swept away by the music that he loudly exclaimed — for the whole auditorium to hear — ‘Wow!’

“After a beat, as Ronan’s awe-filled ‘Wow!’ echoed throughout the hall, the audience burst into laughter and cheers. So charmed were the Handel and Haydn Society by the child’s exclamation that they asked the public to help find him, hoping to reward the sweet sentiment with a trip to meet the artistic director. …

“Ronan didn’t mean to be disruptive, said his grandfather, Stephen Mattin, who took Ronan to the concert. His grandson, Mattin explained, is on the autism spectrum, and often expresses himself differently than other people.

” ‘I can count on one hand the number of times that [he’s] spontaneously ever come out with some expression of how he’s feeling,’ Mattin said.

“Mattin said that his sister-in-law saw on television that the Handel and Haydn Society was searching for the ‘wow kid,’ and the family, who lives in Kensington, New Hampshire, reached out soon after. The Society has invited them to meet the artistic director, and they are figuring out a date.

“Ronan is a huge music fan, his grandfather said. He took the 9-year-old to another concert in Boston a few months ago, and he ‘talked about nothing else for weeks.’ …

David Snead, the president and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society, wrote in a Facebook post that it was ‘one of the most wonderful moments [he’s] experienced in the concert hall.’ …

“Mattin said he was touched by the kindness of the other audience members and performers after the ‘wow’ moment, and that the Society reached out.

” ‘You know, everybody’s different. Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves,’ Mattin said. ‘I think people in general, society’s becoming more tolerant or understanding of the differences between people.’ ”

More here.

%d bloggers like this: