Category Archives: travel

The Evolution Of Hula: Traditional, Contemporary, And Hotel

By Guest Contributor Sarah Neal, cross-posted from Sociological Images

Earlier on SocImages, Lisa Wade drew attention to the tourism industry’s commodification of Polynesian women and their dancing. She mentioned, briefly, how the hula was made more tourist-friendly (what most tourists see when they attend one of the many hotel-based luaus throughout the islands is not traditional hula).  In this post, I want to offer more details on the history and the differences between the tourist and the traditional hula.

First, Wade states that, while female dancers take center stage for tourists, the traditional hula was “mostly” a men’s dance.  While it has not been determined for certain if women were ever proscribed from performing the hula during the time of the Ali’i (chiefs), it seems unlikely that women would have been prevented from performing the hula when the deity associated with the hula is Pele, a goddess. Furthermore, there is evidence that women were performing the dance at the time of Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawai’i.

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The Perennial Plate Visits India And Sri Lanka On Its World Tour

by Guest Contributor Pavani Yalamanchili; originally published at The Aerogram

Chef Daniel Klein and co-producer/filmmaker Mirra Fine are the creators of The Perennial Plate, a weekly online documentary series that tells the stories of food and the people who make it, with a focus on socially responsible and adventurous eating. The first season took place in Minnesota, and the second took them across America. For its third season, the series is going global and traveling to China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Ethiopia.

In recent months, the series has been posting episodes from the South Asian leg of their world tour, including a fast-paced and musical montage video “Day in India.” It compiles footage from their Indian stay during which they filmed several episodes, including “Dabbawalla” and another featuring an interview with environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. The film-making pair, who recently announced their engagement, also spent time in Sri Lanka where they visited an organic tea farm, a coconut plantation and met a fishing family.

The vegetarian co-producer of Perennial Plate, Mirra Fine, took time from her packed itinerary to entertain a few questions by email from The Aerogram.

What’s involved in making a popular montage video like “A Day in India”? 

For a montage video such as that one, we spent three weeks in the country and filmed everything we saw, ate, and experienced. We came home with at least 15 hours of footage and had to try to figure out a way to condense it into three minutes. We figured that creating “one day” from all the footage would be a great way to do so. Sometimes videos with “themes” have a better chance of going viral. Pretty much, we had to comb through all of the film and take just the beautiful shots, and then find an amazing song (or songs), and then sit for 3-4 hours putting the images to music.

How long were you in Sri Lanka?

We were in Sri Lanka for two weeks (we went there straight from India). We filmed three stories there: “Tea Farmers”“Coconut: Nose-to-Tail” (about a family on a coconut plantation), and “Do Not Blame The Sea” — which came out on Monday and is about a stilt fishing family who lost six members in the tsunami but still fish every day. It’s quite beautiful.

The “Tea for Two” episode offers an intimate look at a Sri Lankan couple who farm organic fair trade tea, and you mention that you didn’t expect to be so taken with their relationship. What kind of video were you expecting to end up with? 

When filming a new story, we never really go into it with a clear vision of what the story will be. We just have a vague idea. Especially when filming overseas, we have limited access to information due to lack of a common language, internet access etc. All we knew about Piyasena and Ariwatha (the two farmers) is that they were part of the Sri Lanka Small Organic Farmers Association meaning they were organic and fair trade.

We went to the farm hoping to see a day in their lives… hear about what it’s like to be an organic tea farmer in Sri Lanka, and hear about their lives. When we got there, we saw that there was something else even more powerful going on — and that was the relationship between the two of them. So we decided to focus on that. I’ve got a TON of footage on the editing room floor with information about tea farming, etc. But this story just touched us. So we went with that. I think we spent four hours with them.

The Perennial Plate has a video on How to Make Chopped Roti and Dal. Did you learn to make any other foods in Sri Lanka? Which foods were your favorites to eat there? 

We actually didn’t learn how to make chopped Roti in Sri Lanka. Instead, we just ate it a lot and then came home and Daniel tried to make it. (He’s really good at that sort of thing). We did visit a family who showed us how to make string hoppers, which are delicious. Have you tried them? String hoppers are amazing with curry.

Sri Lankan food is really incredible. Rice and curry is the main staple, but the street food was also wonderful. Daniel loved the fried fish in chickpea flour (I didn’t try it as I’m a vegetarian). We both loved this chickpea dish that we happened upon when we saw a man in Galle selling it from a cart on the street. It is warm chickpeas with fresh chili, coconut, and spices. It was presented to us on a piece of folded up newspaper. It was amazing.

Is there any particular South Asian ingredient that you enjoy using when preparing food?

Daniel is a chef who trained for some time in India, so he loves all the spices that go into Sri Lankan and India cuisine. And he does say that the most prized ingredient that is the most difficult to find in the US is the fresh curry leaves.

Brixton Village Market: The New Brixton [Travel Diaries]

by Guest Contributor Kiratiana Freelon

My dream of visiting the black mecca of London in 2009 ended because of the Tube, when the Victoria line was out of service and a London underground employee convinced me it would take two hours to get to Brixton by bus.

So when I arrived in London early 2012, a voice in the back of my head kept saying, “I must get to Brixton. I must go to Brixton. I must get to Brixton.” After tweeting about my desire, Olympian Andrew Steele tweeted the following to me:

Thankfully, the Victoria line was working, and my journey was a straight shot from Oxford Circus.

As I emerged from the Brixton Tube Station, a steel drum band greeted me on the corner. I stayed to listen to the music, but as it was cold, I finally started walking.

The first thing I spotted was the open–air market, which reminded me of a typical African or Caribbean market—lots of starchy tubers, grand pieces of meat, exotic veggies and fruits, and a ton of random stuff, from socks and bedding to key chains?

But where was the covered market?

Before I headed toward where I thought the covered market was, I spotted a stand selling fresh juices and Jamaican snacks, including beef patties. I decided that a patty would be my introduction to food in Brixton.

I would later regret wasting my appetite.

As I entered the covered market, the first eatery that caught my eye was a small cupcake shop. Then I saw a diminutive gourmet brick oven pizza joint. Then, a Caribbean food and goods place, a hamburger restaurant, a tiny shop selling hair weaves, three Colombian restaurants, a braid shop, a vintage clothes shop, and finally a home-style Thai restaurant. And that was just the beginning. Continue reading

A Racial Profiling Victim on 9/11 Shares Her Story

By Arturo R. García

On Sunday, three passengers at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport were detained after someone reported “suspicious activity on board.” Not long afterwards, one of those three passengers’ story has gained national attention after blogging about her treatment by Homeland Security officials.

According to The Associated Press, Shoshana Hebshi and two men were detained and questioned after the crew on their Frontier Airlines flight “reported suspicious activity on board.”

Hebshi, an Ohio resident who identifies as half-Jewish and half-Arab, wrote on her blog that she was sitting with two Indian men from Detroit when the flight was first diverted to a different part of the tarmac, then boarded by armed personnel. She and the two men were subsequently “pushed off the plane” and detained. Hebshi wrote that she asked, “What’s going on?” but did not get an answer.
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Daughter of The Great Migration

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

Over the course of six decades, some six million black Southerners left the land of their forefathers and fanned out across the country for an uncertain existence in nearly every other corner of America. The Great Migration would become a turning point in history. It would transform urban American and recast the social and political order of every city it touched. It would force the South to search its soul and finally lay aside a feudal cast system. It grew out of the unmet promises made after the Civil War and, through the sheet weight of it, helped push the country toward the civil rights revolutions of the 1960s.

During this time, a good portion of all Black Americans alive picked up and left the tobacco farms of Virginia, the rice plantations of South Carolina, cotton fields in East Texas and Mississippi, and the villages and backwoods of the remaining Southern states–Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and, by some measures, Oklahoma. They set out for cities they had whispered about among themselves or had seen in a mail order catalogue. Some came straight from the fields with their King James Bibles and old twelve-string guitars. Still more were townspeople looking to be their fuller selves, tradesmen following their customers, pastors trailing their flocks.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Reading The Warmth of Other Suns, I am reminded again that I am a member of a soon-to-disappear group–children and grandchildren of The Great Migration.

I was trying to explain to a friend–a 40-year-old white guy–how I really want to travel with my nieces and nephews to Mississippi, so they can experience going “down South” in the summertime, something they have never done. He replied, “Yeah, my family used to head down to the beach in Florida all the time, when I was a kid.” And I had a hard time articulating that what I am speaking of is different. Here in Central Indiana, it seems every white family clears out of town to the Florida beaches come Spring Break or summertime. But what I’m talking about is different.
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Kakum National Park and Cape Coast Castle in Ghana: A Personal Essay

The canopy walkways of Kakum National Park

By Guest Contributor Eccentric Yoruba, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

Our next guided tour was to the Kakum National Park and Cape Coast, which is home to several colonial castles. Once more we woke up really early in the morning and got into a bus with other Nigerians and off we went on our two hour journey to Kakum. The national park is famous for its canopy walk, which has several hanging walkways above a thick forest. Apparently, some people find the canopy walk challenging and cannot go through it, that is totally understandable. It took a while walking through the forest until we reached the walkways. One by one, we were guided to them, but not before we were warned not to swing the walkways and to refrain from such behaviour.

There are seven canopies in total. I took the shortcut, which means I walked through only three. “Are you scared?” one of the men– presumably a safety guide–asked me when I turned left for the shortcut.

“Yes, I am absolutely frightened,” I replied even though I had a huge grin plastered on my face and had paused to take a picture a few moments ago. As I walked hastily through the shortcut, I heard the man say behind me, “You’re lying.” In front of me a little girl was crying while her mother told her not to be scared: “We’ll soon reach the end.” I felt sorry for her.

Part of the reason I had chosen the shortcut was because I wanted to see Cape Coast. To be honest, I was dreading it at the same time because I’d heard stories; of the slave dungeons and the Door of No Return, of people breaking into tears while there, and I wasn’t ready to be caught unawares by several strong emotions and end up crying in public.

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Epic Fail Of The Week: ‘Black Out Korea’

By Arturo R. García

Call this a more loathsome counterpart to Sleeping Chinese.com: There’s actually a blog dedicated to posting images of drunk, passed-out Koreans, and, frequently, the people who find them on the street.

In an interview with Matador Nights, the blog’s anonymous owner, an American man teaching English in South Korea, had a blunt response to concerns about his subjects’ privacy. (Note: that’s not him in the picture posted above)

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U Go Gurl: Traveling As a Black Woman

by Guest Contributor Margari Aziza Hill, originally published at Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman?

Most travel books don’t prepare Black Americans for the experiences they will have abroad. Ever since I first traveled abroad, I have been bemoaning the lack of resources for Black women who want to see the world. I receive frequent emails from Black women who are either planning to go abroad or are already abroad and looking for resources. Last year, I suggested that someone should compile our stories so that I could support other sisters who want to travel abroad. That’s why I was happy to find this web resource,
U Go Gurl and the book, Go Girl.

FINALLY A TRAVEL BOOK FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN.

A rich collection of fifty-two stories covering the globe. Sister-to-sister advice on everything from destination selection, to traveling solo, to saving money on airfare. Exploration and discussion of issues of particular concern to black women; dealing with racism, overcoming fears, claiming entitlement, etc. The book also includes a planning guide and a resourceful guide.

Maya Angelou tells the story of arriving in Africa a stranger but leaving claimed as a member of the Bambara tribe. Evelyn C. White writes about finding new pride in being black after visiting Egypt. Opal Palmer Adisa evokes the sights, sound, and aromas of urban Ghana where she traveled to meet her lifelong pen pal. Lucinda Roy brings alive the year she spent teaching girls in Sierra Leone and talks how the villagers’ friendship overcame her loneliness for home.

Alice Walker offers a quite meditation on how the beauty of the country stirred her imagination. Audre Lorde captures her experience of being refused entry to the British Virgin Islands because of her dreadlocks. Gwendolyn Brooks recounts the camaraderie and tensions of a trip to Russia with a group of American writers. Gloria Wade-Gayles explores the complexities of being both an American and a woman of color as a paying guest in a Mexican home. Continue reading