17 December 2017

Book Review: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Several people have recommended this book to me, telling me that it is the most amazing book they have read. So after some resistance, and some prodding by my friends and family, I have picked up this book. And I must say, it is indeed an interesting read, but I don't think it is the most amazing book I have ever read.

This book is actually a history book. However, while most history books tell the story of a single topic in a small temporal focus, this book tries (and succeeds in my opinion) to tell the history of humankind from the beginning of time, so to speak. It is very scientific, and so if you have religious beliefs still clinging into your mental closet, then those would probably be dismantled.

15 December 2017

Spain 3.0: Revisiting Catalonia and the Basque Country

Two months ago, I was in Spain. Yet again. In fact, it was my third time to visit the country. The first time was when I spent 5 days in Barcelona and Figueres in 2013, which was for me a short holiday. The second time was when I went to Bilbao last year for work (when I attended my last academic conference). And two months ago, I was in the same area for a third time: I was on holiday for 9 days, first staying in Barcelona for 4 nights (with a day trip to Tarragona), then 2 nights in San Sebastian, wrapping it up with another 2 nights in Bilbao. As you may have noticed, most of the places I have visited are not new, having visited them already in the past. But I happen to be in a revisiting mode lately, so I am implementing it in my recent trips.

13 December 2017

Philip Glass's Satyagraha

It gets better, it seems. At least when it comes to my opera experiences. Last month, we attended a performance of Philip Glass's Satyagraha, an opera written in 1979. This is the fourth opera I have seen so far, and I must say it is the best one to date.

11 December 2017

Staatstheater Cottbus

As I mentioned in the previous travelogue, I headed to Cottbus. I walked around town, which gave me an overview of the city's architectural features. One very prominent building in Cottbus is the Staatstheater, or the State Theatre. The Staatstheater Cottbus is the only state theatre in Brandenburg. It is a good example of Jugendstil, as you can see from the photos below.

09 December 2017

A Foreigner in One's Own Country

The other day, I was grabbing some coffee during my lunch break. I was with a colleague in a cafe having a quick flat white. While we were standing in the small cafe drinking our beverages, I witnessed some weird interaction between a customer and the barista. The customer was trying to order something, yet there was a problem. The customer was speaking German, yet the barista couldn't speak a word of German at all, instead speaking only in English.