28 April 2016

Bumming Around the Balkans: The Hammam Museum in Mostar

I've been to countries where hammams are operated. However, I never really had the urge to try going into a hammam, as for me, bathing is more a personal event, not a social event. Perhaps it is due to some subconscious trauma I have experienced, perhaps a residue of some culture shock I have experienced back when I was in Japan, which is a country with a social bathing culture, and there were a few times during the time I have lived there where I found myself pretty much forced to partake in social bathing, and I was perhaps mentally unprepared for that.

Anyway, I have to admit that I have something against public nudity. It's not that I mind seeing nude people, I really don't. But I just don't want to display my own flesh myself. So even though I have encountered hammams in the past - in Palestine, in Morocco, in Georgia - I didn't really go rushing with my swimsuit, soap, and loofa, just so that some random heavy-set hairy bath attendant scrub me until my dead cells peel off and my skin end up almost bleeding. So imagine how happy I was when I saw a Hammam Museum! I can enter a hammam without actually getting wet!

26 April 2016

Book Review: Up In The Air by Walter Kirn

This is one of those books which I wished I didn't read. See, I watched the movie a long time ago, and I remember liking it. Unfortunately, the book didn't elicit the same response from me. It's also one of those rare events where the book was actually worse than the movie. Looking at it more closely, the film is just a loose adaptation of the book, and now I can see how the screenplay writer actually made a good job in transforming this bizarre unpalatable novel into something way better.

See, this novel is about Ryan Bingham, a corporate person who flies around all over many cities in the United States, and his job is to fire people. That's pretty much where the similarity ends. The movie made Ryan Bingham a hero, the novel portrayed Ryan Bingham as a good-for-nothing person, an inhuman robot, whose sole concern was to fly around the place in his quest to earn a million miles.

24 April 2016

Bumming Around the Balkans: Karagöz Bey Mosque

Mostar is a very Ottoman city. The Old Town is filled of Ottoman-era structures, and I am referring to more than just the famous bridge. For example, there is also the Karagöz Bey Mosque, which was built in the 1550s. This mosque is the largest in the region, and sustained extensive damage during the Bosnian War. However, it was rebuilt and refurbished in 2002-2004, and it is again open to the public nowadays.

22 April 2016

Book Review: Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

My taste in books is pretty eclectic, and I read books from a wide variety of genres. So this time, I decided to pick up something that I haven't really touched too much, that is, the genre of 18th century erotica. So this time, I picked up this book, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland, published in 1748. I didn't expect to be turned on, but regardless I wanted to see how 18th century erotica was like. After all, people's sexual tastes change over time, and I was curious what people back then found to be erotic.

Regarding the plot and style, it is written in a diary-like epistolary style. It is divided into two volumes, and each volume is pretty much a very long letter by the protagonist, Frances Hill, nicknamed Fanny. She is writing this very long letter (the whole book is about 230 pages long) to an unnamed madame, telling madame her life story. Basically, her story on how she transformed herself from an innocent country girl to a woman of pleasure. In between, there are plenty of sex scenes, ranging from lesbian sex, to BDSM, to an orgy, to gay sex, to fetishism. Basically, pretty much the whole spectrum of human sexuality, as we know it, accompanied by the bourgeois morality of that era.