It is International Mother Language Day!

It’s time to celebrate! Today, February 21, is International Mother Language Day. It is a day that is marked by the International authority, UNESCO, to mark and celebrate the many varied languages that humans across he world have developed in order to communicate with each other.

A ‘mother tongue’ is the language spoken in a community. For example, if you are Gujarati, that is your mother tongue, while English may be the language you use most to communicate with others.

Fun fact: There are approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world! It is estimated that 43% of them are ‘endangered’.

You think you know your languages? Take our quiz and find out! Click here.


Written by: Sunaina Murthy


Protest Art!

Credit: weburbanist.com

Hey, I heard a new term – Bushfire Brandalism. Have you? 

Yup. ‘Bushfire Brandalism’ is when a bunch of Australian artists in three cities changed advertising on bus shelters with posters criticising how Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government were handling the bushfire crisis. Each poster had a QR code on it that linked to a charity that was helping bushfire related charities that the artist supported 

Did Mr Morrission respond well? 

Er, not really. Of all the 78 posters put up, most have been taken down. But the artists insist they needed to take action against what they thought was the response of the Morrisson government to control the fires, including denying it was climate-change related. 

I like the idea of using nonviolent ways to protest. Has it been done before? 

Yes, many times in various forms, and for many, many years. In recent times, British artists, the KLF, were famous for it in the 1990s. Another example is street artist Banksy who has also taken political art to a very visible level. Further, in 2015, during the UN climate change conference in Paris, 600 bus shelters were taken over and plastered with climate awareness art posters. 

Banksy, Credit: theconversation.com

I’ve seen some interesting signs during the anti-NRC and CAA movement here in India too. 

Oh yes! Creative posters and placards, poetry, graffiti, songs and slogans and of course memes, have all played a part in growing the movement. Some used humour, others had a more serious tone. But the has become an outlet for anger and frustration that people have felt. Many went viral like the sketch that artist Tanzeela made after the assault on students in Jamia Milia University. 

Caption: Protest art – Tanzeela, Credit: upnewsmedia.com

 

So freedom of speech lives on?!

The artists are doing their best to ensure that. However, they are being muzzled. For example, during the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa last December, the space that was showing three pieces of ‘controversial’ artwork was abruptly shut down. More bizarrely, a school play in Karnataka that was seen to be anti-CAA received a lot of attention. The children performing were questioned for hours by police, and one of the playwrights, a parent at the school, was even put in jail! 

That is not on! People must be allowed the freedom of speech, whatever their views!


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.


Oscarstanding!

It’s showtime! The Oscars 2020 are  on Sunday, 9th February in Los Angeles. There is always a buzz about these Academy Awards including who wore what, who came with who, and of course, who won and lost. Let us give you some other interesting facts about these movie awards that started in 1929! 

How Oscar got his name

The real name of the Oscar statue is the “Academy Award of Merit.” There are a few myths surrounding who the statue got its  name but the most common one is about a librarian named Margaret Herrick who worked at the Academy. When she first saw the statuette she said that it reminded her of her uncle Oscar. The nickname stuck apparently and was officially used by the Academy from 1939.

Oscar Vital Statistics

Height: 13.5 inches

Weight: about 3.8 kgs. 

Composition:  Gold-plated britannium, except during World War II, when the statues were made of plaster. The only Oscar statue made of wood was given to Edgar Bergen for his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy.

Designed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) art director Cedric Gibbons

Oscar Rules:

Oscar-winners are not allowed to leave with their award ceremony before signing a winners agreement, stating that they will not sell their award without first offering it back to the Academy for $1. If someone loses it, they will be given a replacement as Gene Kelly was when his Oscar was destroyed in a fire. 

The Show doesn’t always Go On. Though organisers do everything in their power to see that the ceremonies go off smoothly and on time, the Awards have been postponed three times. The first was when there was flooding in Los Angeles in 1938. Then in 1968, the awards were pushed back two days because of the funeral of Martin Luther King. In 1981, it was postponed a day because of an assassination attempt on then President Ronald Reagan. 

Oscar Records

The most nominations for a single film: 14. Titanic and All About Eve

Most wins for a movie, 11 for Ben Hur, Titanic and Lord of the Rings.  

The most  nominated person ever: Walt Disney. 64 nominations, 26 wins. 

The most nominated actor ever: Meryl Streep with 19 nominations and 3 wins. 

Most wins for a country in the Foreign Language category: Italy with 10 wins. 

Most nominated person without a win? Sound mixer Kevin O’Connell, nominated 20 times. 

Youngest person to win – Tatum O’Neal at 10 years, Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon. 

Oldest person to win – Christopher Plummer, 82 years, Best Supporting Actor for the movie, Beginners. 

Clean Sweep 

Three films have pulled off the remarkable feat of winning  the top five awards of Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Writer, Best Director and Best Film  – It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs.  

The Short and Sparkling  Oscar Path of John Cazale: Actor John Cazale had a short but remarkable acting  career. Before he died at the young age of 42, he acted in five films; all of them were nominated for Oscars! 

Fictional Nominees: Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen won several nominations for No Country For Old Men, directing it under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.

Oscar to Oscar: The only person named Oscar to win an Oscar was Oscar Hammerstein for his song, The Last Time I Saw Paris in the movie Lady Be Good. 


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.


Happy Chinese New Year!

It was the Chinese New Year on January 25, 2020. This year is the Year of the Rat. The rat is the first animal in the 12 year Chinese zodiac cycle.

Click here for some fun facts on the Chinese New Year.

What are some traits of people who are born in the Year of the Rat? People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be intelligent, charming, and quick-witted, and are praised for being value-conscious!

How come we didn’t hear much about the celebrations this year? This year, news of the coronavirus outbreak has affected the Chinese New Year celebrations. Schools and factories have remained shut even after the New Year, in order to contain the virus and halt its progression. Check out these pictures below to see the impact that this has had on celebrations!

Caption: Ditan Park on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Pig in Beijing, China, February 5, 2019. Credit: insider.com

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Caption: 2020: Ditan Park after the Lunar New Year celebration was cancelled in 2020. Credit: insider.com

 

 


Did you miss the 2020 Grammy Awards? Click here to get a quick update.

Singer and actress Alicia Keys hosted the star-studded Grammys on January 26, 2020. She paid a heartfelt tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant who died earlier that day in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter. Coincidently the Grammy’s were hosted at the Staples Center where retired NBA star Kobe spent most of his career. Lizzo, who had the most number of nominations this year also paid tribute to the star.  Lizzo won the award for Best Solo Pop Performance for her song ‘Truth Hurts’.

The biggest winner of the night was Billie Eilish. At 18-years-old, @billieeilish made history by being the youngest person to be nominated and to win awards in all four general-field categories (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist) in the same year. Congratulations!

Demi Lovato took to the stage for an emotional performance and rapper Nipsey Hussle who was killed earlier in 2019 won the award for the Best Rap Performance. He was also honoured by his fellow artists like John Legend and DJ Khaled.

Michelle Obama was a surprise winner at the Grammy’s, taking the award for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio version of her bestselling book ‘Becoming’.


Other performers included the Jonas Brothers, Camilla Cabello, Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. Ariana Grande sang a medley of some of her greatest hits including 7-Rings. One of the top performances of the night was Lil Nas X with BTS, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, and Mason Ramsey performing  “Old Town Road”

Another tribute performance in honour of Prince was put on by rapper Usher along with Sheila E and FKA Twigs.

For a full list of performances, nominees and winners log on to grammys.com now!


Protect Machu Picchu

Forbes

Machu Picchu is an ancient city in Peru, South America. The Incas, an ancient South American civilization built it more than hundreds of years ago. The Inca were a powerful empire known for their architectural and engineering prowess.

This special stone city is located 7000 feet above sea level on the slopes of the Andes mountains in Peru. The Ancient city was built on different levels and with a farming district, a residential area, a royal district, and a religious area. There are 3,000 stone steps that link its many different levels.

Did you know?

Machu Picchu is very difficult to get to because it is so high in the mountains. It has only one way in and a stone wall to protect it. Most people on Earth did not know it was there until a Yale graduate named Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911.

Today, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most visited attraction. Millions of people visit every year to see the architectural ruins. The development of nearby towns and damage to the environment continue to take their toll on the site. In 2017, the Peruvian government laid down some rules of how many people can visit Machu Picchu every day and even closed some sections to the public in order to preserve the site.

Peru is taking its protection of Machu Picchu one step further by launching a campaign to plant 1 million trees all around the protective zone that surrounds the city and which stretched for 135 square miles (350 sq. km).

What will the trees do?

Apart from being a really great environmentally friendly idea, the trees around Machu Picchu will help to protect the historical landmark in many other ways. The trees would help prevent mudslides which can be dangerous and can destroy the site as well. It will also protect the area’s unique fauna and flora.

Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra is a big supporter of this initiative. “We’re here to begin the planting of a million trees,” he told reporters this month. The plan is to put the tall, leafy plants all across the zone around the famous city. Vizcarra called this a promise from “all the citizens who want to protect this world wonder.”

Together with the protections already in place, this planting of trees can help ensure that the ruins of Machu Picchu can be visited and enjoyed by tourists for many years to come!


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.


Children’s Books in 2019: Peek A Book’s top picks for 10-12 year olds

The world though books in 2019 as seen through children’s books was a fascinating one. Internationally, books reflected changing societies and issues that affect the lives of children. Characters, settings or stories touched up a wide variety of themes from racial discrimination to mental health. In India, storytelling became more innovative and non-fiction, more creative. Here are Peek A Book’s favs of 2019.

In 2019 two fabulous writers Katherine Rundell and Francis Hardinge were back with great books.

The Good Thieves (Bloomsbury), set in 1920s New York is a fast-paced adventure through the city with young Vita and her three intrepid, if slightly dubious friends. Their goal? To bring a notorious conman who has swindled Vita’s grandfather of his possessions, to justice. Written in Rundell’s inimitable style, with quirky loveable characters and great atmosphere.

Costa Award winner Hardinge, is in her element marrying fantasy with adventure in Deeplight (Pan Macmillian). Hark and his friend Jelt live on an island by a seas that once churned with the wrath of the under-sea gods who destroyed each other. But now the sea is once more stirring as something rises beneath the waves. Should Hark and Jelt heed the call? Then again, some things are left well alone.

While on adventures, one of the most unputdownable books for 10-11 year-olds this year was All of Me by Venita Coelho (Harper Collins India). This is Victorian London. The year, 1854. Eleven-year-old Castor has been locked away in a basement by his uncle for five years – he’s not alone, but accompanied by his “family.” When Castor managed to get out he finds that there is more danger without than within the cellar. He unwittingly gets embroiled in the search for the great Kohinoor diamond, gets tangled with a shadowy secret society, and runs into all kinds of people from royalty to common thieves.

Best-selling author Raina Telgemeier’s third graphic novel, Guts (Scholastic), came out – and didn’t disappoint. She continues to explore the trials and tribulations of middle school with one more complication – a case of full blown anxiety.

Depression is also the underlying feature in the poignant All the Grey’s on Greene Street Laura Tucker (Viking). Twelve-year-old Ollie’s dad has suddenly and secretly gone away to France and her mom cannot seem to get out of bed. This is a story of family, friendships, depression, and the healing power of art against the diverse backdrop of New York in the ’80s.

Arun is 7 years old and for the first time in his life has come into contact with a father he has never known. Balaji Venkatraman’s Pops (Duckbill) is a poignant, yet funny look at the child caught in the problematic relationships of adults.


Credit: This list was thoughtfully put together for you by: Lubaina Bandukwala, Curator Peek A Book Literature Festival for Children


Top artists of 2019!

Here are some of the artists whose work has been heralded in 2019!

Adapted from www.artsy.net


Interesting Family Movies in 2019!

Here are some of the more fun family movies of 2019!

 


Top Music of 2019!

Here’s what people listened to most in 2019!