Tag Archives: Thailand

Why Rihanna’s Selfie Brings Attention to Animal Smuggling (And the Adorable Slow Loris)

Mega celebrity Rihanna was recently vacationing in Thailand, when she snapped a photo of herself cuddling a slow loris and posted the pic to Instagram. Perhaps an innocent publicity stunt in the singer’s mind, the image nonetheless alerted authorities in Phuket who are trained to spot potential violations of animal smuggling laws. Sure enough, the two young men who provided the furry animal for the celeb’s photo were subsequently arrested and face up to four years in prison and 40,000 baht in fines. Here is the infamous photo:

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Animal lovers might be disturbed by this image for various reasons, not least of which is the absurd caption Rihanna posted with the photo: “Look who was talkin dirty to me!” But even apart from that, animal exploitation is a major issue around the globe, and particularly in Thailand where elephants, tigers, crocodiles, and other animals are regularly smuggled and abused.

As Phuket District Chief Weera Kerdsirimongkon commented, “It’s like a cat-and-mouse game. But this time it’s bigger because a celebrity like Rihanna posted the picture, and there were more than 200,000 ‘likes’ from around the world.” Such exposure is troubling because it shows how uninformed the public is about the associated issues of Rihanna’s photo. But it also allowed authorities to snag the smugglers. So apparently that was the silver lining.

The slow loris is in fact listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with the greatest threat lying in illegal trade and poaching. It’s unthinkable that anyone would ever want to hurt this amazing and adorable creature. Take a look:

Even this video is somewhat problematic because we don’t know how these people got a hold of a slow loris nor what conditions it is living in. But we can thank it at least for giving us a glimpse at this incredible animal.

What do you think of Rihanna’s infamous selfie? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

“Giving is Communication”: This Incredible Video Will Change Your Life

The title doesn’t lie. This video offers a poignant a message on the power of service, compassion, and gratitude, told through the lens of one incredible and fleeting act of kindness.

This video was made by TrueMove-H, an arm of Thai mobile conglomerate True Corporation. The video serves as a commercial, but also doubles as a meditation on the importance of real human connection in changing people’s lives and spreading empathy to every corner of the world.

Take a look and let the video’s message go to work in your heart:

If you look at your life and how far you’ve come, there are undoubtedly faces sprinkled throughout who had an impact on you along the way. They may be teachers, parents, mentors, or friends. They may be strangers. Sometimes it’s those fleeting, half-developed conversations in passing – on the subway, in the supermarket, on an airplane – that struck you most potently and in some way influenced the course your life would take.

We invite you to reach out in gratitude to those important people who helped you become the person you are today. And for all those unnamed strangers, the briefly known, angels in disguise, send your thanks outward. Pass it on. Pay it forward. Love and service make the world go ’round. And you are part of that essential cycle.

Did this video inspire you? Who are you grateful to? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

“Decoding Deepak”: A sneak-peak at the upcoming film

You probably know Deepak Chopra as a physician, a writer, a speaker, or, as he says, “an explorer of consciousness.” You may have read some (or all!) of his more than 65 books, and perhaps you’ve seen him speak at an event on consciousness, science, or spirituality. You may have seen videos of him on The Chopra Well. Remember this line from “Meet the Chopras”? “I am a luminous, stardust being that was manufactured in the dust of the Big Bang.” Classic Deepak.

Well, here is your chance to see another side of Deepak…Deepak Chopra the father, the grandfather, the everyday man living his life. Gotham, Deepak’s son, spent a year traveling around the world with his father in an attempt to unpack the persona that has developed around the man. The resulting documentary, “Decoding Deepak,” is scheduled for release in theaters and on demand October 5.

To give you an idea of what to look forward to, here is an excerpted scene from the film. In the scene, Gotham and Deepak have arrived in Thailand where Deepak is soon to be honored in a traditional Buddhist ceremony for monkhood. Separated from his work, social networks, and chaotic schedule, he grows restless.

Cool, huh? Yes, even Deepak Chopra is plugged in to social networks. And even Deepak Chopra can grow restless without them. This is just a taste of what’s to come.

Subscribe for The Chopra Well so you don’t miss the next excerpted scene from “Decoding Deepak.” And then catch the entire film, starting October 5, in select theaters and on demand.

Notes from My Father’s (Deepak Chopra) Monkhood Ceremony

As many of you know from some of my tweets and facebook updates, for the past week and a half I was in Thailand following my dad and documenting his ordainment into monkhood. What we recorded will make up some part of a larger doc called DEEPAK CHOPRA: SOUL’D OUT (once again, here’s the trailer: www.youtube.com/watch) that I’m hoping to release next year.

Much of the journey was spent, well, tracking the journey as my father traveled from one monastery to the next, met various monks, endured hardships, and finally underwent rituals (getting his head shaved most notably – and eyebrows!) before going into silence, which coincided with my leaving and coming home.

But before and between some of the monastery visits, we also did some interviews in Bangkok, talking about what it is that my father really considers his spiritual quest to be. That’s really the premise of the film, for a guy that much of the world equates with the notion of spirituality, I – as his son – am trying to decode the man to some extent and understand where exactly his spiritual quest will land him. In part, I suppose that may help me better understand my own quest as I transition from one phase of my life – somewhat as a kid myself, to the next where it’s time to raise my kid with a sense and perspective of the world that is aligned with something larger than just our own brief existence(s). I won’t ruin the surprise, not that I have any bold revelations just yet, but something else came up during our conversations that I am still thinking about.

First the context. While to me Bangkok resembles a lot of other eastern cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Jakarta, Singapore etc with his rapidly growing cityscape, mega-malls, bright lights, and bustle, it also has an underbelly that is impossible not to see. The city’s red light district of Pot Pong may be famous and have a certain tourist-y attractiveness to it, but it’s really just a small speck in an expansive city-scape infested by a darker sex trade. Check that, in Bangkok, much of the sex trade does not seem to have the same stigma that it does elsewhere. Most travel books or websites I flipped or surfed through often described Bangkok’s massage parlours – infamous for being not so subtle fronts for brothels – as iconic features of the city and "must visits" for any visitor. Call me crazy, but when Lonely Planet says getting a hand-job is a cultural experience, it’s kind of strange.

There are of course more extremist outposts of the sex trade, ones that indulge in more fringe activities or even veer into criminal world of underage sex. Still, all packaged together, for me the whole thing felt kind of sordid and rotting. Sex – and I don’t think of myself as a prude – is everywhere in Thailand. Not just the streets and alleyways of the dense city, but even the five star hotels and upscale spas. Especially at night when clusters of scantily clad girls and transvestites line the streets, soliciting patrons to enter various parlours, bars, and hotels for "sexy time," it all wore on me – the dull decay of humanity, exaggerated eroticism to the point where it just felt like a rotting muted version of a Grant Morrison graphic novel.

When I raised this seeming contradiction with the so-called spiritual journey that we were tracking to papa, he thought about it for a while and remarked that he didn’t necessarily see the contradiction. (I’m paraphrasing here) – he resolved the sordid affairs of the sex trade as pieces of a deeper consciousness, a Universe of contrasts constantly expanding and contracting, part of broader Universal evolution. In other words, papa’s thesis is that sinners and saints, sacred and profane, divine and diabolical are expressions of the same singular consciousness. Neither is necessarily more or less spiritual than the other. They exist as part of the same prism, in fact co-create each other and in essence define one another.

Truth is, I get that. Part of me even agrees with it (I think) when I spend enough time untangling it all. But none of it makes me feel any better about what I saw. In fact, it frustrates me, makes me even kind of angry. Because when spirituality loses its practicality, I think it also loses its functionality. I realize that absolutes are taboo in the world of spirituality, but I consider the sex trade a pretty rotten thing. Not because of some sort of moralistic value proposition, but the sex trade is usually plied by the disadvantaged, desperate, and destitute and generally patronized by the opposite. It also is usually accompanied by drugs, disease, violence, and exploitation. To dismiss all of that with a philosophic shrug is alarmingly unsatisfying to me. In fact, it’s infuriating to me to some degree when as part of our own spiritual adventures, we so willingly reconcile the existence of suffering as part of some universal equilibrium.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my father’s some sort of callous spiritual pilgrim unaware of the suffering of others. In fact, he’s one of the most philanthropic people I know and has really genuinely committed himself at this stage of his life to the service of others. In fact, I even envy his ability to remain so clear headed and committed to not only his own spiritual growth, but also a collective one. He doesn’t seem to get distracted by the sordidness of the streets. And certainly he knows a LOT more about countless spiritual traditions and practices than I do. He can be side by side with those decaying streets, and remain fully resolved and focused on the path in front of him.

I, on the other hand, find myself now a world away – back in the comfy confines of my Santa Monica home – and yet still very much stuck in the confines of those Bangkok streets and alleys unsure just how to make much sense of it all.

Surajkund Crafts Mela 2010

When it comes to arts & crafts, India has always captured the world’s imagination. We owe our global reputation to our rich heritage – one that´s lived on in our villages for centuries.India has many cultural events that set the stage for traditional artists to showcase their creations. The most vibrant of them all is the Surajkund Handicrafts Mela.The Surajkund Mela was orgaised to promote the culture and traditions of Haryana. The first Mela was put together by the Haryana Government in 1981. Artisans from all over the state came together for the first time ever. Ideas were exchanged, and a thriving art culture was born. Year after year, people took notice and the Mela spread its wings further. Today, it is one of the biggest art events in India. Skilled artisans now converge, not just from around India, but neighbouring countries as well.

Surajkund becomes alive with the rhythm and beats of folk dances and riot of colors. Rajasthan– The magic of vibrant Rajasthan is the theme state  for this year Mela.Surajkund is the annual fair that showcases the finest handlooms, handicrafts, authentic fragrances & flavours of rich Indian cuisines. As winter turns briefly into spring, a caravan of 400 National and State awardee craftpersons from every corner of India wind their way to Surajkund. This year craftpersons from SAARC Nations are participating in the Surajkund Crafts Mela. At Surajkund Mela, the artisans’ delicate hands create the most beautiful pieces which have fascinated many through ages !24th Surajkund Crafts Mela offers a lot of Fun, Frolic,Entertainment and exclusive shopping. In the rural ambience, 400 craftperson will display and Demonstrate their finest crafts work that is set to capture your hearts. The authentic fragrances & flavours of rich Indian cuisines will kindle your taste buds. Tap your feet with the beats of enthralling folk dancers from the various parts of the country.

Welcome to Surajkund Mela 2010
The Surajkund Fair is going to be held from 1st to 15th February 2010. Artisans, craftsmen and performers will be arriving at this cultural hotspot to showcase their talents. Whether it´s from across the
country or beyond. Step in to find a wealth of exquisite handicraft items including paintings, jewelry, showpieces, upholstery, furniture and more.  You´ll also find mehendi design artists, musicians, dancers, painters, weavers, sculptures, craftsmen from all around. The idea is to exhibit the splendid variety of Indian culture.

Craft exhibitions

 Chikri woodcraft of Kashmir

 Lace and crochet items of Goa

 Banjara and Bunni embroidery of Gujarat

 Sandalwood and rosewood carving handicrafts of South India

 Kantha work of West Bengal and North–East India

 Chikan work of Lucknow

 
The Surajkund Food Festival
 No Indian celebration is complete without Indian spices. Savour traditional recipes from all over the country, on a platter!While you shop, soak in the aroma of delicious cuisines being prepared at the many stalls. Savour delicacies from around the country.

A fair to cherish and remember…..

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. The Craftspersons from all over India, SAARC and other neighbouring countries would be selling the best of Handlooms and Handicrafts items.

 2. The State of Rajasthan is the Theme State of the Mela Rajasthan known for its Fort Places, Textiles,Handicrafts,Cuisines and Fairand Festivals. Replica of Choki-Dhani can be seen at Haveli in Mela Ground.

 3. Tajikistan,Egypt and Thailand are the three Partner Countries. They will bring their craftsmen,cultural teams and cuisines.

 4. Best of Cultural programmes organized jointly by Ministry of Culture,ICCR,New Delhi, Theme State Rajasthan and Cultural Affairs Department, Haryana & Haryana Kala Parishad.

 5. Exporters meet and Buyers meet to be held at Surajkund Design Galleries with assistance of the DC Handlooms and DC Handicrafts.

 6. Food Court with variety of Indian, Thau & Egyptain Food.

 7. Amusement Zone with playful rides and swings.

 8. Folk Dances by Schools/Colleges at Chaupal daily from 11 a.m. onwards

9. Participate in special games and in competitions like Rangoli (2nd Feb.), Face painting(3rd Feb.), Essay Writing (4th Feb.) , Mehandi (5th Feb.) drawing (9th feb.), kite Flying for adults (10th Feb.) and Photography for amateurs only(11th Feb.)

Intriguing Questions

Lately, I have been thinking that conversations work like doors. Sometimes conversations are "open" and through them we can see new possibilities. Other times you can feel a discussion closing down, locking out new information or diverse viewpoints.

Powerful questions have a great habit of re-opening constricted conversations. This week I ran across a short video from Thailand that asks two intriguing questions:  

  • What you are responsible for? 
  • What is your commitment?

 

Asking myself these questions has a centering effect when in stressful situations. They open my internal doorways. The two questions help me clarify what I can control and my appropriate next steps; I pause (a good thing in conflict) as I consider, "OK, what really am I responsible for in this situation?" and "What are my highest commitments?" And, as seen in the video, asking others can transform someone you believe you know well into a fascinating stranger. 

 I invite you to give them a try and welcome your insights!

 From "Playing Well at Work and Beyond" by Deidre Combs

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