Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw [Book Review]

25893705Writing an “issue book” for young adults can be dangerous. Writing an issue book that incorporates diversity and a non-Western setting can be disastrous. It can be shallow. It can be whitewashed. It can be a pity-party. It can be subtly racist. Issue books are hard to write because we all have unwitting biases, and they can reveal themselves in our writing, despite our very best intentions.

Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw is nothing like that.

Besides being teenage girls in Mumbai, Noor and Grace seemingly have nothing in common. Noor (which by the way is one of my favorite names!) is the eldest child of a prostitute. She was raised in the red-light district of Kamathipura. Education is her refuge, but she lives in constant fear of following the fate of her mother. Continue reading “Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw [Book Review]”

Semester at Sea in GIFs

Finding the words to describe a four-month around-the-world-on-a-floating-university experience is often hard. And also, expressing things in GIFs is so much fun, so here you go.

How you feel when the ship sets sail for the very first time:

(You’re going to have that song stuck in your head all day. You’re welcome.) Continue reading “Semester at Sea in GIFs”

“Water, Water, Every Where”

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I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.

And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.

Continue reading ““Water, Water, Every Where””

Africa Needs More Books

I was walking through my home suburb (read:village) with my brother the other day. We went to the local library, sampled some books (slim pickings) and as we walked home, I asked about such-and-such a bookshop, and such-and-such a used bookshop. They were all closed down. Anyone wanting to purchase books needs to go to town (literally). A town which, incidentally, has only generic chain bookshops.

And I said to my brother, “This place needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Our country needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Africa needs more bookstores.”

morebookstores3 Continue reading “Africa Needs More Books”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

I grew up by the ocean. Feeling the sand under my nails and scrabbling as the water tried to swallow my sandcastles was second nature to me. In the late summer months, after-school activities meant going to the beach. I am glad I have never had to live inland, but I am convinced that my first year at university was so difficult because I was thirty minutes from the nearest beach with no transport to get there. These days I spend every weekend by the sea with The Boy, and recently I spent almost four months living on the sea. So, love is not the right word for how I feel about the sea. It is more like, LIFE. Here are just a few of my favourite “sea” pictures.

Linking up with Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge

P.S: click here for some photo’s of Cape Town seas during the Super Moon – it is not called the Cape of Storms for nothing!

Booking It Around The World

Last week I posted about books for travelers, and I realised I never wrote about my forays into bookstores while traveling. Most Semester at Sea students decide to collect ONE THING in each country. One girl decided to buy a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in every country, preferably in a local language. Another chose Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was cool, except that a) I don’t have an all-time favourite book and b) I prefer books that I can read. So I decided to buy a book in every country, either about that country or by an author in that country. In English.

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Continue reading “Booking It Around The World”

TTT: Books for the Traveler

I am changing things just a little for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. The topic is Top Ten Books that feature TRAVELLING in some way. I’m choosing books that I think travelers would like. Whether you are traveling, have actively traveled, or dream about traveling, these books are all set in foreign countries and are great to read (whether you’ve been to the countries or not). And since they transport the reader to another world, I’m thinking it’s not too much of a cheat ;).

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Continue reading “TTT: Books for the Traveler”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Two photo posts in a row! This week’s photo challenge with The Daily Post is about culture. YAY! I have seen a LOT of that these past four months.

The most beautiful thing about culture and travel is not just learning to celebrate differences… but learning to appreciate what makes us the same. There was not a single country where I did not hear Gangnam style, or see children kicking a soccer ball. But I love what makes us different too: variety, and all that. Here are some pictures taken over the past few months in some of the countries we visited. Enjoy!

Soundtrack for a Week in India

The Daily Post’s prompt today is to put together a soundtrack of five songs to explain the past week. I’ve had an amazing day and I’m far too excited to sleep so I figured this was a worthwhile pursuit.

Jai Ho by Sukhvinder Sing et al – because we have been in INDIA this week! And it’s colourful and busy and loud and beautiful and delicious and heartbreaking too. “Jai Ho” means “Let victory prevail”, and it’s the spirit I see in India: pride and resilience and stamina.

Continue reading “Soundtrack for a Week in India”