“I'm mainly interested in space, light, body and perspective”

This year ArtsAcre  organized Indo-German Art Forum wherein 10 well known artist from Germany will take part in a collaborative workshop with the artists from India.German Artist Christin Lutze’s goal is to bring together functional, constructive and spiritual moments of art. Foremost, it is about the surface and space shaping application of colour. Christin Lutze studied at the University of Arts in Berlin six years of visual arts  and has received numerous distinctions and awards.Since 1997  she has done  regular solo and group exhibitions, participated at  art fairs participation and works in public and private collections at Germany and abroad.

When did you work artistically, or how were you introduced to painting?

Since always, passion for painting has already been with my grandmother and with my mother. Both have always encouraged and supported me to become a painter. I am grateful that I was able to study liberal arts right after graduation from UdK Berlin.

Where do you get the ideas, or the inspiration?

My Ideas and my inspiration are coming by myself. They are all things that influence me, that move me, things that I see and see, experiences, conversations, etc., all of which I incorporate in my pictures of myself.

Do you have a concept before?

No, they are all conceived spatial structures that I first build, partly through coincidences, blurrings, superimpositions, into my own picture worlds. The picture builds up over the long sessions and days in the studio. I start with coarse and arbitrary strokes, which gradually give rise to a motif, a theme. I am also looking forward to the new with each new picture, what it eventually becomes. And that's the beauty of painting, it always creates a great passion for me.

Which artists did you influence and influence you?

Edward Hopper (his special spatial conception) and Caravaggio (his special lighting concept).

What is your main theme in your painting?

Representation of conceived spatial structures, own pictorial worlds, a very idiosyncratic color. I'm mainly interested in space, light, body and perspective.

How do you come to your palette, or to your headstrong and special colorfulness?

Due to the superpositions of my color layers, the direct mixing of the color only on the canvas, whereby I also use the semi-dry states, of course also about coincidences. But I do not want to reveal too much, it's also my little secret.


Puppetry as a medium of communication, entertainment &education

Frankie Malachi (pronounced mair-ler-kai) is an award-winning professional puppeteer, and the founder and creative director of Mascots and Puppets Specialists and Puppet Party Magic.A sought-after international puppeteer, Frankie has received international recognition for his work, having performed in places as diverse as Vietnam, South Africa, Turkey, Taiwan, Indonesia, Palestine and Israel. Recently, he performed at the PUN International Puppet Festival .

How did you discover your love for puppetry?

While growing up I enjoyed watching Sesame Street and muppet show on TV.

What prompted you to form Mascots and Puppets Specialists?

It’s a great way to reach out to children and adults alike. Generally, people like puppets and it’s a wonderful and powerful medium to use to in education.

How does puppetry differ from other types of art form?

It’s a combination of many fine arts which includes: sculpting, make up, costuming, the theatrics, props making and many other factors that makes this art comes alive 

How can puppetry help in developing the communication and social skills of a child?

A puppet in the hands of a shy child usual comes alive and the child tends to forget their shyness as their imagination is fired within them and they come out of their shell in the guise of play.

What are some memorable reactions you have had from audiences who attend your shows?

An organizer once told me that a teenager student who watched our show was going through depression and was suicidal. However the antics of the puppets made such a deep impact on him that it drew him out of his depression and the thoughts of dying left him completely!

What advice would you offer someone just starting out or looking to break into the field of puppetry?

With the information highway, one can easily Google “puppets” or “puppetry” and there’s a lot of information on how to construct all kinds of puppets n manipulating them.

I wish I had those information when I was younger.


Healthy lifestyle, Happy Life!

Many Indians have started to believe leading a healthy lifestyle will have a knock-off effect on their personal happiness. There has been quite a bit of publicity regarding the rise in lifestyle diseases among Indians, and, thus, growing awareness of the importance of being healthy.

We know that as the Indian middle-class has expanded, so has its girth, the result of self-indulgent, sedentary and undisciplined living. We also know that India is the centre of the world’s unfolding epidemic of so-called lifestyle diseases, specifically diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.

Dr Agnes Electra Chlebinska, Physician, author, international speaker and the founder of Lifestyle & Preventive Medicine said, “According to WHO, four out of five chronic disease deaths today are in low and middle income countries, like India. We also know that people in these countries (including India) tend to develop diseases at younger ages, and therefore suffer longer with complications. We estimate now that more than 60% of all deaths related to chronic diseases are preventable. And according to available research, it is estimated that 60 - 80 % of all chronic diseases (dependent on diseases) is related to lifestyle, rather than to genetic factors. The rapid increase in the number of overweight and obese people is one of the factors contributing towards developing chronic diseases.”

She added, “For the past twenty years doctors and researchers around the world have been looking for solutions to the rising problem of chronic diseases. And there is a consensus that there are four areas of our life that affects our health and which are responsible for development of chronic diseases and premature deaths; nutrition, physical activity, stress, relationship and social life.”

Nirmaan B.D. Bangur Endowment of Kolkata, the charitable trust, addressing various social causes has organised this Happy Bootcamp for the first time in India.

The workshop took place in Crow Field of Jungle Crows Foundation.

It is a global health, fitness and social initiative and it is one of the projects of nonprofit organization Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine by this couple.

David W Evans, Lifestyle Medicine specialist,an author, and an international speaker said, “We started Happy Bootcamps over seven years ago. When we first started in London we only had few people turning up.  Within 6 months we saw that the numbers started to increase.  We decided to reach one billion people worldwide and spread a message of health and happiness through activity, connectivity and education. We went to 12 different countries (Philippines, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden, US etc.). Because of the health crises, the General Sports authority of Saudi Arabia invited Happy Bootcamps to launch a pilot project across the kingdom. Within only a few weeks, we mobilised Saudi’s largest fitness providers, universities and hospitals, involving thousands of people and turning Happy Bootcamps into a national phenomena.”

When we asked why Nirmaan thought of hosting such an event in the city, Mrs Manju Bangur, the organiser said “The Happy Bootcamp is free for everyone and will be an ongoing activity every Sunday 7am to 8am. The goal is to spread awareness about the benefits of exercise and active lifestyle and make the society healthy.”


"We hope to raise standards in family entertainment"


Noisy Oyster is a company from Frome, Somerset (United Kingdom) formed by: Sarah Rowland-Barker, dancer and circus actress (No Fit State Circus) Nik Palmer, puppeteer, creator of puppets and musician (DaSilva Puppets, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Parachute Theatre). Recently they participated in the  PUN International Puppet Festival.

Why the name Noisy Oyster?

When Nik and I started working together and were trying to find a name, we spent two days only being able to say two words to each other - like Green Wellies, Ohkams Razor, etc. It became quite frustrating. Nik eventually texted me with Noisy Oyster. I liked it, so said 'Yes'.  We were very relieved, and could talk normally to each other again.

There is a rhyme, and a song -What noise annoys a noisy oyster? A noisy noise annoys a noisy oyster.

Noisy Oyster was established in 2006. What inspired you to form this company? What contribution do you hope to make to the puppet theatre community?

Nik's previous company had disbanded. We met and he needed someone to perform a show Dangerous Dave with him. As I'm from a performing back ground I offered.

We hope to raise standards in family entertainment. And we hope to find innovative ways to make and control puppets. We also want to make people happy.

What kinds of stories do you like to tell with your shows?

All our shows are very different, but we feel it's important to entertain the whole audience not just the children. We want to entertain the adults too, especially as they are the ones paying for the tickets. So we often put in a few jokes for the adults.

What do you find are the similarities and differences between British puppet shows and those from other countries?

Similarities - We all suffer from low wages. Differences - Some countries use a lot of words with little action. Some countries have the backing of the government and are able to put on very big shows with very big scenery and effects. Some countries revere their puppeteers. In England we don't have government backing, and we are not revered. People always think of Punch and Judy with regards to English puppeteers. And English people see puppets only being for children.

Given the ever-more digital performance scene, what do you think is the role of puppetry today?

It is important to see live performance. As an art form it encompasses a wide range of skills. Puppets can say and do things which live actors cannot.

Do you think that art has the potential to bring people together in a way that other diplomatic tools can not?

Absolutely - you only have to see all us puppeteers sitting together. We have a whole world-wide family because of puppets.


“Nothing tastes as good as vegan feels.”

Recently, Dr.Will Tuttle gave a lecture at the IMI Kolkata which was organized by - Millennium Mams' and Satvik Vegan Society. Dr. Will Tuttle, visionary author, educator, and inspirational speaker, has presented widely throughout North America, Europe, and the Pacific. Author of the acclaimed Amazon #1 best-seller The World Peace Diet, which has been published in over 15 languages, he is a recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award as well as the Empty Cages Award. We spoke with Philip Nicozisis on the sidelines of the event. Philip is public speaker on veganism and a credentialed Hippocrates Health Educator, as well as a World Peace Diet Facilitator.  He is an experienced businessman, real estate investor, PADI Divemaster, published songwriter and musician, political activist, and physical culturist who changed his health and his heart with a switch to a plant-based diet.

What inspired or motivated you to become vegan and when?

As I like to say, “Nothing tastes as good as vegan feels.”  I live in West Palm Beach in South Florida, USA. Nine miles from my home is a beautiful place set on 50 acres. It is a nonprofit in operation for over 60 years, called Hippocrates Health Institute. 400,000 people have gone through their three-week program over the decades to help themselves heal, and they often reverse and resolve catastrophic and chronic diseases. The core of the program is raw living vegan food based on sprouts, nuts, seeds, legumes, and all of the savory food that is available in plant-based cuisine. 

About eight years ago something compelled me to enter the three-week program at Hippocrates. At age 42, my doctor was warning me about my blood work, which was less than satisfactory. I came out of the program three weeks later a vegan, feeling great while my blood work had dramatically improved. I had a clear advantage to stay on the vegan path, given that the Institute is very close by. So then about 4 years ago, I entered their nine week health educator program which convenes three times a year. For years now I have been teaching two classes which are now part of the health educator curriculum. To say it’s a passion project of mine is an understatement!

During the past decade the number of people going vegan has risen dramatically. What’s driving the trend?

In short I think we have to say the biggest driver is awareness. People are questioning the stories they’ve been told about the benefits of animal foods and they are simultaneously discovering plant-based cuisine. It’s never been easier to turn vegan because of all the amazingly tasty choices that are on the market now. In addition, vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere all over the world.

Could you enlighten our readers about your presentations- “The Ethics of Eating,” and “The Case for Vegan?

Both of those presentations are my signature lectures. Besides presenting these lectures at the Hippocrates Health Institute, I have a regular speaking schedule in the United States. For the next year I’ll be traveling the world spreading the vegan message! My lectures are PowerPoint driven with video, graphics, humor, and some hard hitting stuff. However, I never show pictures of animal cruelty or anything having to do with the slaughterhouse.  I’m always changing the presentations and updating them with new information. In the Case For Vegan, I contrast the hazards of the animal based diet with the benefits and joy of the plant-based diet. In the Ethics of Eating, I make the case that throughout the human experience, whatever we’ve done to the animals, we end up doing to each other. The consequences of our food choices have profound effects, and there’s no way it can be a personal choice when there are other victims involved. I’m not just talking about the food animals. I’m talking about other human beings who we could feed with the grain that the animals use, future generations who will be stuck with fishless oceans, and the poor factory workers who stab animals for a living.  I’m a World Peace Diet facilitator which is based on the book, the World Peace Diet, by Dr. Will Tuttle, so the information in that book plus my facilitator training, has been very helpful in formulating some of the key points that I talk about. 

Vegetarianism comes up quite a lot in relation to spirituality. What are your thoughts?

I’ve come to understand my vegan lifestyle as a liberation. Part of that liberation is a spiritual ascension, and believe me, I’m no sage. Yet how can we say we are spiritually enlightened or religious when we dine on so-called food that required violence, despair and misery? So then without a doubt I think people who have an animal-based diet will hit a spiritual ceiling, and like the laws of mathematics, one can never go beyond that self-imposed ceiling. Further to the point, how can we say we are compassionate and caring people, or even advocating for so-called women’s issues, when the dairy industry is nothing less than sexual violence against females?

How do you use your music as a tool for vegan activism?

Music for me has always been a creative outlet. Before I became vegan eight years ago, I was playing in a working band and I developed arthritic conditions in my foot from jumping around a lot on stage. I’m not in the band anymore, but if I was, I think I’d have more energy and have a clearer mind. Lately I’ve been writing jingles for universal records and writing power pop songs which are now on Spotify under “Phil Nico Solo Project.”  My whole body of work is there as well as iTunes. I’m very happy with the studio that I’ve built at my home in West Palm Beach.

Why that tody’s generation and younger vegans is are embracing activism that goes beyond sharing recipes for dairy-free cupcakes?

For many people, veganism is a social justice issue. Today’s young people are standing on the shoulders of giants because I believe our society has come a long way as far as what recent generations have accomplished. But sentiment beings, namely the food animals, who have no voice and who do not want to be in the situation that they’re in, and who would do anything to get out of being imprisoned, I think are worth standing up for. Many people who also agree are getting involved. Decent people are awakening and understand that it’s not a personal choice when there are victims involved. Veganism is not some kind of badge of honor, or something to be proud of, it’s just a path to being a truer version of yourself, and then right thought and right action can flow from there. 

There are a lot of rumors out there that vegans often do not get enough nutrients or protein. Your opinion?

These notions are in the book of myths. First of all meat has very few nutrients and no phytonutrients. Meat has essentially five things: cholesterol, saturated fat, protein,   viruses, animal hormones, and endotoxins.  All of these are not in our best interest, and that’s putting it mildly.

Conversely, the 20,000 known phytochemicals in the plant world, many of which are well known to halt, reverse, and resolve chronic and catastrophic diseases, are the intended source of a human being’s nutrition. We should simply cut out the middleman and get our nutrition from the same place that the animals do: the plants. Any suggestion otherwise is just phony soy baloney !


“I believe puppetry is taking more relevant place in theatre productions & films.”

British - Peruvian artist, Jose Navarro studied Art at Peru's National University of San Marcos in Lima; was trained in Mime by the master of that art- Juan Arcos and has an MA in Advance Theatre Practice - 'Puppetry and Object Theatre' from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Recently, he performed at the PUN International Puppet Festival.

The world of puppetry is fascinating. How and why did you become puppeteer? 

I've became involved as a puppeteer because I consider this art form quite attractive and challenging, it mixes different creative skills and blends well with other art mediums to express things in way that actors can't. It's full of possibilities and that makes it very enticing. I've thought and learn and exchange with many people around the world and enrich my experience with the puppets more. 

Can you tell us a little about puppetry scene in Peru?

Peru is a place where people are easily attracted to art and puppetry is no exception. Although traditional puppetry mainly is about finger puppets, most puppeteers are quite experimental and embrace tradition and modernity and are explorative to the opportunities that puppet brings to the theatre. 

Nowadays more and more companies are emerging there and I can see the number of artist and productions are growing. Also helps the fact of the visiting artist from other counties bring to the Peruvian puppeteers. 

What are your thoughts on Puppets as a means of social expression?

Puppets like any other art form are not exception to the fact that is interrelated to what happens in the social context. The conflicts and history of the people are themes of many productions and puppet even as a metaphor is used to bring awareness of certain social problems the country faces. It’s common to see puppets Giants accompanying the demonstration against social injustice, corruption and other relevant social problems on stage through puppetry. 

Have you used your puppets to communicate such ideas about culture and preservation of culture?

Yes, although I don't dedicate my puppetry exclusively to this issue, I have themes of inequality, discrimination, and heritage. 

'The Pongo's Dream' is one production that tackles the relations between master and servant, based on stories by a writer Jose Maria Arguedas. 

'Ritual Scissors Dance' relates to a traditional dance practice from the Peruvian highlands. And so on. 

Puppetry: A dying art form or not? What is your vision for the future of puppets?

I think the contrary. I believe puppetry is taking more relevant place in theatre productions, films, shorts and the trend is growing. 

What advice would you offer to new and emerging puppet artists?

Believe and love what you do. Puppetry won't die, in fact there is a revival and therefore an opportunity for keeping the tradition. Make effort to keep the tradition, because that gives your culture and yourself strength. It isn't easy, but all effort always will give you rewards. Try your best! 


“Puppets have the ability to engage people”

La Bottega Teatrale was founded in 1995 and since 2003 it has organized the Theatrical Season „Le Figure dell’inverno” in Turin and since 2008 the European Festival, EuroPuppetFestiValsesia”. La Bottega Teatrale organizes also shows and workshops in the schools. It’s an Italian professional company of Puppet Theatre. Recently, Giuseppe Cardascio along with Salvatore Varvaro performed at the PUN International Puppet Festival.

Can you tell us about the origins of La Bottega Teatrale?

Our company "La Bottega Teatrale" was born in 1995 by actor Giuseppe Cardascio, actor of prose, cinema and television. It was born to divulge the puppet theater in every technique. For 15 years he has been organizing the theater season of figure "The Figures of the Winter" and for 10 years the Theater Festival of figure "EuroPuppetFestiValsesia". In 2012 he performed in the Vatican in front of Pope Benedict XVI with the performance "La Fame di Arlecchino" (Hunger of Arlecchino) with Salvatore Varvaro (as Arlecchino) and Giuseppe Cardascio (puppeter). It participated in numerous festivals in Italy and abroad: Switzerland, Bulgaria, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and India.

What is the philosophy of the company in a nutshell? What are your ambitions for it long-term?

Our philosophy has always been to help the children live in a world of fairy-tale fairies. Never lose sight of reality but always playing. Our desire is to spread and develop as much as possible the mixed technique in the out shows and to have a great international puppet school and mixed technique.

Puppetry has been facing stiff competition from cinema, television, video and computers and today there are few takers for live puppet shows. What are your thoughts?

Television and cinema are a big problem. We believe that the world is going to the right direction: there are many puppet theater festivals in the world. We hope to have more festivals and not expensive for the Public. This is because we our "EuroPuppetFestiValsesia" was born and for this reason each Country must help to grow a new festival.

PUN International Puppet Festival
Do you agree Puppetry has a unique ability to bridge gaps of misunderstanding and to bring people together?

I think puppets have the ability to engage people, sometimes impose their own way of thinking. They help you understand and find solutions to every problem. I believe, however, that they can be means of communication, as well as effective, very dangerous if they are used inappropriately.

Any advice for aspiring puppeteers?

I recommend studying and having good amount of patience.


For the love of Kathak

April Vuncannon has been dancing for the past 20 years. She started learning tap, jazz and ballet as a child and performed on stage and at professional sporting events for 10 years. It was not until college, however, that April was introduced to Indian dance and her now favorite style of dance, Kathak. April first studied this dance form in Pune under Indrayani Kulkarni. For the past 3 ½ years, April has been learning from her Guru Rinku B. Das and performing as part of Nrityajyoti Dance Academy's professional group. The team performs Indian classical, contemporary, folk and Bollywood dances.

What got you interested in Indian classical dance?

Back when I was in college, the school's film program offered their first ever course on Indian cinema. At that time, my knowledge of India was very limited, so I decided to take on this new experience. I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I became a big fan of Indian movies. It was interesting to watch a world so unlike my own. What really captivated me however, were the dances, so lively and graceful. Even though all the different types were beautiful, I started to notice that a particular style had put a spell on me. It was, Kathak. From that point onward, I had no choice. I had to learn the dance.

What’s the core spirit of Indian classical dances as you feel it? Do you feel there’s a spiritual side?

The core spirit of Kathak is dignified and passionate. Absolutely!

What is Guru-Shishya Parampara to you? 

For readers who are not familiar with the Guru-Shishya parampara, let me explain it as I know it. When someone wants to learn an Indian art form, they should choose their teacher (Guru) carefully because this person will become a key figure in the student’s life. Learning an Indian classical dance, or any other art form, requires dedication, lots of hard work and of course, guidance. The Guru will guide the student (shishya) like a parent does a child and as a result a close bond can develop. This happened for me and my Gurus. First, I learned the basics of Kathak in Pune with my Guru Indrayani Kulkarni Ji. And for the past 4 years, I have been training with Rinku Bhattacharya Das Ji. Time spent with both these wonderful women has enriched my life and helped me grow into the dancer and person that I always wanted to be.

What are your thoughts on the fusion of traditional and classical Indian dances with the influence of some jazz, hip-hop and modern dance? 

I have mixed feelings about fusion. I love how it reaches larger audiences but I worry that the quality of these traditional dances might diminish as a result. 

Any special moment or memorable experience in your dancing career till date that you would like to share with us?

Last year, my Guru, Rinku Bhattacharya Das Ji, directed a dance production called “Classic Bollywood.” In this show, we performed on popular Bollywood songs from days past and present. There were classical dances and folk, as well as Bollywood numbers. This was the most challenging show that I have ever done. I was in Kathak, contemporary, Bollywood and hip-hop items. Altogether, I was in 6 dances! Before then, I always felt that 2 or 3 dances weren’t enough. I had so much more to give. “Classic Bollywood” gave me that chance; to show my best, to dance my heart out! 


The magic of puppets

The puppet theater ‘Nykštukas’ (Dwarf) in Kaunas, Lithuania is a family, mobile, repertoire type theater which shows a number of plays dedicated to children audience. Darius Armanavicius was here for PUN International Puppet Festival .

What’s your earliest memory of being interested in puppetry?

When I was in kindergarten - we got a trip to a state puppet theatre where for the first time I saw a puppet play. Another memory is this - on television there was a program where it showed how to create your own puppet theatre from scratch. It showed how to tailor puppets from socks, so I took my younger brothers knitted sock and made my first puppet. Back then I thought if it is shown on T.V. - then it's possible for me to make puppets as well.

How did “Nykštukas ” come about?

At the beginning this theatre was a after school, extra curriculum children puppet theatre club. My teacher brought me there. It had no name at the time, it was just a puppet theatre club. This was in the year 1982. We won many contests. Back then when a club wins many contests it gets an official national name for the club. This club was the first ever childrens puppet theatre club that received the privilege of getting an official national name. Everyone was picking a name in the club and they decided it will be "Nykštukas" (Dwarf). At the age of 19 the clubs leaders and founders left the puppet theatre club to me. Since 1990 we reformed the theatre club in to a full, professional, official, touring family theatre. Currently today we have 18 plays. This format hasn't changed since then.

It appears puppetry has a timeless, magical appeal for audiences of all ages. Why do you think that is?

First - in a puppet theatre you can show all and every possible dream any human can imagine and all of those dreams are born in childhood. Those same dreams lead you throughout your entire life. Second - a performer or puppeteer can bring life to the non living, just like a God. This is the magic appeal of puppet theatre that audiences of all ages see, feel and understand.

From conceptualization of the show to creating the puppets, scripting– what is the creative process like? 

Every play has it's own creative process and it's always different. But I don't start to do anything until I see a clear, final vision in my mind. Sometimes it starts from the music composition, sometimes from the puppet crafting, sometimes scriptwriting or maybe just scenography... every process is never the same.

Do you have a particular philosophy or goal when designing the puppets?

Yes. The philosophy is this - every puppet has to be able to express a specific dramaturgical character according to the plays script.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of your job?

The biggest challenge in this job is to make the eyes for the puppet. That is because the eyes are a mirror of the soul.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into puppetry professionally?

If you have the wish to create a miracle and with it astonish the audience, the people - you can try. But YOU MUST create EVERYTHING from BEGGINING to END by yourself and only YOURSELF.


The magic of the Northern Lights through incredible images

In 2017, Finland celebrates a century of independence and continuous democracy. To celebrate Finland’s 100 years of independence, the Embassy of Finland together with Visit Finland and Fortum India presented a photo exhibition of the most spectacular phenomena of Finland to the Indian public – the Northern Lights. This exhibition gave the opportunity to experience their magic through incredible images captured in Finland by seven Finnish photographers .The exhibition also presented stories and impressions from nine Indians and seven Finns about living in each other’s country. . Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland to India, shares her thoughts  on the sidelines of the Photographic exhibition happening at the ICCR, Kolkata
How important are cultural exchanges between the two countries?
I think collaboration between countries is very important. People get to know each other. The more the interaction, more the people get to understand each other’s way of thinking. Also, you find out how many things you share in common. That is something I found out while I was reading the stories published as a part of this exhibition. Initially the (both the Finns staying India and Indians staying in Finland) stories were about their first impressions of the country,finally they spoke of similar things important to all humans: friendliness, openness, welcoming approaches…Matters that matter everywhere in the world.  
Could you please throw some light on the Finnish Community here in India?
There are roughly 100 Finnish companies that have established business in IndiaThe amount of Finns living in India is low, I think we speak of only a couple of hundreds.   India is becoming an ever more  popular tourist destination particularly during the Finnish winter time. People travel  especially to Goa.   Goa is also a popular over winter long term destination for Finns who want to escape the gloomy months of the north.
What are your thoughts on Finland as a tourist destination?
Finland is a great tourist destination! It’s a country in the North. It is a big country with lots of Nature: 80 % forest, 10 % of water and we live in the rest 10 %!. We have almost 200 thousand lakes so plenty of water for swimming and sailing.   We have very beautiful archipelago along the Baltic Sea coastline. There are undulating hills in Eastern Finland and  the lake land area in the central Finland. Helsinki is the capital of Finland and has a very active cultural scene.  Also, I think Finland is very open and liberal society and it offers a good choice for every taste.
What would be the takeway message from this exhibition?
I think the message from this exhibition would be how amazing the Nature can be. How it can sort of mesmerizes your mind and thought.


Exploring Self through Volunteering

Amy Hsieh is one of the co-leader in TAIndia. She is a junior (third-year in University) from Fu Jen Catholic University. Her major is in Clinical Psychology. Also, this year Amy join her teacher's lab to research about Emotion & Attention Studies. In her free time, she does volunteer work in hospital to learn more and help others.

How did you become interested in volunteering?

Since I was in Junior high school, we had the courses like service learning. Through those courses from high school to University, I learned a lot of experiences and how to do volunteer. However, my mom is the one who inspired me to be interested in volunteering. She goes to do volunteering since I was little, and even now she volunteers for at least one day every week. She is a so kind person that I hope myself can keep doing these good things like her. 

What was the best experience you had whilst volunteering?

I think it was the smile and the hug from one of the patient gave me in Missionaries of Charity. During the days there, I went to Shanti Dan to do the volunteering. I remember that there was an old woman I still clearly can't forget. At first, I saw her sitting on the ground and she was like a little bit uncomfortable. Then I walked to her and tried to understand what she needed. However, we both couldn't understand each other. Then I found her pants was wet and I thought she might wanted to change it. So I took a clean one for her. Because she was quite short so I squatted down, and she put her hands on my shoulders then I helped her to change it. She was so lovely and cute that she even wanted another pattern and color of pant! When I finished, the old woman helped me fix my hair softly and gave me a deep hug and smile like a kind grandma. At that moment, I was so touched although we don't understand each other's language but I felt she was thanking to me. I can feel the warm from her and I really cherish it. 

One of the common challenges faced by volunteers abroad is coping with culture shock. How do you help combat this and deal with it when it comes up?

The most impressed me so much is the horn sounds on the road. I remembered the first day we arrived Kolkata was about 2 a.m. Therefore, I was so tired that I fell asleep soon when I went to bed. However, I think it's about 6 a.m. then I woke up. I didn't wake up by the alarm or others' calling but by the horn sounds outside the window. I found that people in India often honk their horns. After days, I got used to the horns blaring. So, I even don't set any alarm to wake me up in Kolkata cause I know the horn will help me! 

Do you think volunteering in TAINDIA will make a difference in your life?

To me, TAIndia is an amazing team. As I joined TAIndia, I learned a lot from our teachers and members since we had prepared for about half a year. Doing volunteering in TAIndia changed me a lot. We had meeting every week, came up with different ideas and practiced until it was perfect. It's not only about team work or service learning but also what we can do more and how much we can accomplish. It's a very special and unforgettable experience in my life. Therefore, I really thank for joining TAIndia and being one of them.

What would you recommend to other people who are looking for volunteering opportunities?

I will tell just go ahead! Don't hesitate! Sometimes people say doing volunteering is helping others. However, I think sometimes doing volunteering you can gain more from them cause you will introspect yourself and try to make something better. The most important is to have an enthusiastic heart. With your passionate and open mind, you will get lots of different experience in your life!!


Ritual Meets Piano

Keyboardist Nik Bärtsch is a player, composer, and improviser very much in the European classical-oriented style of jazz, but has created a language that transcends these basic categories. A native and resident of Zurich, began his nine-year-long piano studies at age nine, and also briefly took up clarinet. Listening to blues, jazz, and string quartets, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, and ethnic musics from Japan, Greece, Romania, and Sweden, have all shaped his personalized music. Nik Bärtsch currently works in three parallel musical settings: as a solo artist, with the acoustic group Mobile and with the 'zen-funk' group Ronin. Recently, he performed at the Calcutta School of Music.

                                                                 - Ronin
When did you begin to know that music would be your path?

I never thought about it. It was always my path.

It’s interesting to notice how diverse the scale of your works is. You have worked in different projects. What urges you to express yourself in different contexts?

I focus on my personal musical expression as composer and player. I mainly play with my two bands Ronin (a zenfunk quartet) and Mobile (an acoustic music ritual group) and solo. I also compose for other ensembles and work a lot with young musicians because this should be our duty when we are more experienced. I also co-founded a music club and a label for younger artists (I work with the great label ECM for my projects). All of these activities are initiatives to be independent and to create opportunities also for other musicians.

Could you enlighten our readers about your ongoing project-Ritual Groove Music?

This term describes my musical philosophy which is based on repetition, rhythmic variety, community and ceremonial organization of the concerts and work processes. We want to create a coherent dramaturgy in our shows but also in everyday work processes to serve the music.

Do you believe new approaches to classical music are the route to its revival?

New approaches in classical music are always happening. But we never had such a huge overview over do many decades and styles. This is interesting but forces us also to decide clearly where we can really contribute something essential to a certain development - an inspiring challenge.

How important are music clubs for creative expression, musical collaboration, exploration and learning?

Spaces, venues, clubs, festivals and even private initiatives are very essential to support the meeting of musicians and audience live. The live playing in front of and audience is still the main musical experience.

                                                     - Mobile
So how has the local indie music scene evolved or changed over the years?

It is very alive in Zurich and since we meet and work every week we also have a regular home base to meet and talk etc. It's important to have a community based structure for ongoing development.

How did you develop an interest in the influence and combination of music and movement?

This seems first of all very natural since a musician should move efficiently and naturally to create a clear sound. But I also always loved dance music, especially in the arts and in tribal and spiritual context. Sometimes even just the mind can dance when you are listening to a concert on a chair. With several movement techniques like Aikido, Feldenkrais or Girokinesis I tried to make my playing more natural and simple to have more capacity to listen and to enjoy live playing.

Any top tips for aspiring young composers?

Morton Feldman said it already: Believe in your composition by being clear at any price! I would add: enjoy your work as a spiritual duty to the heaven of music.


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