this was a good week

Another good week, friends!  Here's what made me smile:

•  I decided to start my week by treating myself on Monday morning to breakfast at Pondicheri, my favourite Indian restaurant in Houston.  Because any place that emphatically tells me I need to "live spicy" is my kinda place.

•  Though the subject matter is dark, I so love this blog post by my friend Lola Akinmade Åkerström.  Lola's an incredibly talented photographer for National Geographic; she also happens to be Nigerian, and attended a boarding school similar to the one attended by the missing girls in Chibok.  Her words and images are so incredibly relatable (and you can help put pressure on world leaders to find these girls here.  Let's #bringbackourgirls.)

•  Speaking of photography, check out these portraits, taken with an old, $50 film camera.  If these don't prove that it's not the camera, it's the photographer, well, then I don't know what.

•  More photos: portraits of extremely unhappy wet dogs.  Bathtime ain't no joke (but it's seriously funny).

•  Dangerdust, two anonymous graphic art students, have been leaving inspirational chalk messages in their classroom every week.  (They're also apparently graduating this week, but they're promising more on their Instagram account, so stay tuned.)

•  The lovely men of Uncommon Caribbean visited the beach in the fishing village where I grew up.  Huge pangs of homesickness, in the best possible way.

•  More beautiful seaside shots.

•  Speaking exchange:  young Brazilians who want to practice their English, speaking to elderly Americans who love the company.  This is brilliant (and fair warning:  the video is a bit of a tearjerker).

•  And finally, a personal story/blast-from-the-past:  several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with Canadian singer-songwriter Ember Swift.  A mutual friend had taken me to the New York City club where she was singing, and after her awesome show, I met and loved her instantly:  she has a great voice, and a sort of Ani-DiFranco-vibe about her. 

Over the years I've kept in touch with her, and since we met those many years ago, she moved to Beijing, met and married a Chinese man (who is also a musician, in a Chinese-hip-hop-ska-rock band, how awesome is that?), and they have two children.  This week, she sent out an email blast with two videos that I thought were awesome, and knew I'd want to share them with you.

The first is her official music video for her song Laowai ("Foreigner")filmed in China.  The song's lyrics are in the bottom left hand side, and if you read them, you'll see that it's about her frustrations in being a Western foreigner in China -- but the song also smartly features a rap from a member of her husband's band, who admonishes her that she is being as close-minded as she accuses the people of her new homeland. The interplay is very cool.

But that's not the coolest part.

The coolest part is the second video she sent, where she appears on national Chinese TV, on a show called Mama Miya.  This show has sort of an American Idol format, except that all the contestants are moms.  Apparently, they had been trying to get her on the show for over a year, and when she agreed, she was asked to perform the same song, Laowai.  What I love about this video is not the performance (although it is awesome), but that she speaks with the hosts in perfect Mandarin, and reading the subtitles of the video gives a glimpse at the differences between Eastern and Western cultures -- and it's also a great study in how Ember and her family navigate their cultural differences.  It's a longer video than the first, but because everyone in the video is incredibly charming, it's really riveting watching.  I'm so proud of her -- and watching it definitely made this week a good week.

And on that international-yet-somewhat-maternal note, happy Friday, friends, and happy early Mother's Day! Have a wonderful weekend, and as always, I'll see you on Monday.


Song:  Some fine day by Ember Swift.  This is one of my favourite of her earlier songs, in English, that I saw her perform in that tiny New York City club.