What do you think when a person smiles? I smile when I’m happy. When I’m sad, sadness seeks a natural expression, but there are such moments when I’m sad but I’m smiling. Sometimes I might even get “a sour smile” when I predict happiness. Probably the same as you. I smile when I’m being ashamed. Or sometimes when I make a mistake – I probably think that smiling can take me out of stupidity or make things easier. When I’m embarrassed and sometimes shocked. I smile at the sentences like “Okay, see you” or “Tina, nice to meet you”. But why, what’s the meaning of that smile? I know that smiling is a way of my expression, and more often than not it is my mute language, but I also realize that sometimes we need to awaken positive feelings to others, or not to show weaknesses in the moment, which certainly involves false smile caused by anxious situations or smiling in situations when it is expected of us to do so.
Just a week ago I came across an article that is explaining how to recognize when a dog is smiling. I read it because I was searching for it with the intent to find out how to make my dog happier. So, in the end, Nietzsche was not right when he thought people were the only animals that laugh. However, for people, and in this case for my dog, the situation is similar – smiling is related to the game, to interaction.
I was sitting in the common room of a nearby hostel, eating toast with jam and I was thinking where to head in the next hour. It was the fifth day of my solo trip. I bought a one-way ticket for the Kansai region, and at that moment I knew that that was the right decision. It was also my first solo trip. Sitting in that hostel while feeling like I had reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I cannot believe that I had been so afraid of traveling alone. It all turned out to be simple, safe, and easy. Honestly, a couple of times before the trip, I was questioning myself, and back then traveling solo sounded scary, especially because I am a woman, fed with a lot of kind of fears. From the risk of having no one to share the experience with, to the fear of looking like a loser – all seemed to me like valid concerns. However, there was no way to miss an amazing experience, and I knew that at any moment. I’ve encountered so many amazing women out there doing the very same thing, some of whom are as young as 18 or 19 years old.
Now I do understand that people do not travel alone because they can not find a friend to go with – it`s because they got tired of waiting for the perfect companion and just went. Then, as they find out there are many personal benefits to it, it typically becomes the preferred mode of travel. The same happened to me. On the other hand, when you get tired of loneliness you can easily find someone who feels the same – that unknown person who is always the sweetest satisfaction.
That’s just what happened to me that morning. Seeing a few of them that are gathering to go somewhere else than Kyoto, I came running up to them and asked where are they heading to. Their little family made only a few minutes earlier, was completely generous to the adoption of new members, and in a few minutes, without any larger plan, the four of us went to Nara.
Being a child is learning, which means absorbing the world around with the entire body. When a child is immersed in the story written or spoken word as if playing a game, he/she develops abilities necessary for life: trusting in the good, courage, fear, wonder, and joy, fantasy, morality, measure and weight of people and things, the capacity of judgment and observation. Therefore, children’s yearning for fairy tales should be taken seriously. When looking in their eyes we can recognize how powerful words can act, how fairy tales can meet the emotional, cognitive, and psychological demands of children, their need to belong, to act, to share, to feel protected. Stories speak to the “I” of the child. From my experience, while working with kids, I have noticed that through the fairy tales we are showing them life as one great panorama.
Shibuya is one of the main centers of Tokyo, with a distinctive pedestrian crossing that has many sides and through which about 3000 people pass at every green light.
When we left Tirana that afternoon, M. asked me:
“So, what did you see in Tirana, Tina?”
And the city of contrast. Elegant and riotous, drab and rainbow. The quirky city with its massive construction projects, a wild mix of colorful communist buildings.
Let`s talk a little bit about the Japanese kitchen. As you already know, most of the typical Japanese dishes are based on rice (as a staple in the nourishing of Japan) and various kind of vegetables, fish, spices, sauces, and algae.
Since ancient times, the Japanese food was painted down with the term “five flavors, five colors, and five ways of preparing”: five tastes – sweetness, sourness, spiciness, bitterness, and saltiness; five colors – white, yellow, red, green, and black; five types of preparation – raw, boiled, baked, fried and steamed. Therefore, we are talking about delicatessen food, in which, in addition to taste, great importance should be attached to the scents and colors.
The main shrine that meets you at the entrance is nice enough, with its stark red color and golden ornaments. But this is Kyoto, a city with hundreds of spectacular shrines and temples, and the main attraction is not the shrine itself but rather the pathway that starts behind the shrine.
When I went behind, with seemingly endless arcades of vermilion torii (shrine gates) spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this vast shrine complex looked like a world unto its own. Thousands of torii shrine gates in front of me – feels like entering the world of Japanese mystery.
Later that day I woke up in a medieval town that seems to be torn straight out of the pages of a storybook; in the fantasyland of cobbled streets, pointy spires and red-tiled turrets. Cafe workers dressed in vintage clothing embraced their heritage and stood proudly as they ushered guests into Estonian restaurants and pulled them to their fragrant almond kiosks.
So, if you ask me if Riga is a beautiful city? I think for most of the people – absolutely. I found Riga utterly charming. It’s lovely. It’s old. It has history, art, and culture, and looks gorgeous. While walking you can picture elegant men and women strolling arm in arm on the tiny streets of Riga nourished by Russian glamour and extravagances Art Nouveau boulevards.