LUXURY IS NOT FOR ALL

16/06/2013

Luxury is not for All– WOW! Look at that Lamborghini! And another one! And there’s Rolls-Royce! Oh my God! How can people live like this?! In all this luxury?! I really need to start earning lots of money and move in here!

These were some of the exclamations of my friend, an entrepreneur from Moldova, who had walked beside me along the streets of Monte Carlo, a small district of a not much bigger country of Monaco. Together with several more young businessmen from Moldova we visited it in May – June 2013 in order to attend a European conference and participate in a social business plan competition with our global movement of makers creating and multiplying sustainable solutions Dreamups. Ultimately we won the grand prize, but this is not the point of this post.

2013.06.01 - Moldovan Delegation in Monte CarloThe point here is that almost all people around me were extremely excited about all the splendour and wealth of Monte Carlo. They were following each fancy car on the road and yacht at the sea with large hungry eyes. They were dreaming of getting at least a piece of this splendour for themselves.

But not me.

Of course, I was observing all the rich businessmen, ladies in expensive dresses, luxury cars, fancy shops, castle-like villas and other elements of wealthy lifestyle around me. However, I was not attracted and excited by them. Instead I was making fun of some of my friends getting envy of all the rich things and people they had seen there. This was because I have different values, attitude to life and perception of wellbeing and personal happiness.

For me the Nature, being together with it and researching its mysteries is the apogee of happiness and satisfaction. Therefore instead of lingering my eyesight on man-made objects, like my companions did, I admired the diverse species of plants and animals in many green areas of Monte Carlo, the rocky top of Mont Agel above the city and the blue Mediterranean Sea washing the shore called the French Riviera or Cote D’Azur. From this point of view the district appeared as quite a nice place to spend some time – the natural landscape was very impressive. Although I would not like to live here permanently, I was quite happy that I had visited this place.

2013.05.29 - Happy to Visit Monte Carlo– What?! You would not like to live in Monte Carlo?! Are you crazy? – You may exclaim.

Well, yes. I may be considered “crazy”, but my personal preference for a residential environment is totally different from such a rich and fancy place as Monte Carlo. I see myself living and working in more natural surroundings: in a small house near a forest, in a research laboratory on an island at the shore of an ocean… or even in a lab at the bottom of the ocean. Why?

Because this is where I can explore the beauty and wisdom of the Nature.

Because this is where I am closer to the natural environment and can contribute much better to its conservation.

Because this is where I can fully release my creativity and write poems and novels in silence and peace.

Because this is where I am truly happy.

This is Where I am Truly HappyTo conclude, luxury can be attractive and desired. It can be the measure of an individual’s social status and satisfaction. It can be something that many people strive to obtain and enjoy. However, everything is relative in our World.

And so, luxury is not for all.


TRAVEL!

09/01/2013

Travel!Travel, my friend!

Travel to learn about new places.

Of course, you can do it by reading a lot of books and travel magazines with beautiful pictures in them. But reading about these places while sitting in a comfortable chair at home and actually experiencing them, surviving in them, adapting to them, and finally enjoying them is definitely not the same. You learn much… much more when you go out of your cosy comfort zone and jump right into the foreign environment.

Before my trip to South Africa I thought, like most Europeans, that all Africa is kind of the same: hot, wild and poor. Well, it’s not. Cape Town, which I was lucky to visit in November 2012, is quite developed due to tourist industry. And in Stellenbosch, where I participated in a conference, there are a lot of luxurious wine farms.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - View from Above2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Flower FieldAnd due to that trip to South Africa I found out that there are squirrels in Africa. Before it I thought that these animals are indigenous only to Eurasia and the Americas. But no, I saw many squirrels in the parks of Cape Town. Yes, I agree, this sounds a bit silly: “What did you see in Africa: giraffes, elephants, lions…?” – “No, just some squirrels”. Still, that was more or less a discovery.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - SquirrelAnd it looks like not only I was surprised with the presence of squirrels on the African continent.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Squirrel and TouristsTravel to admire the diverse beauty of the Nature.

It is true, that you can see different plants in a botanical garden and various exotic animals in a zoo in your city. But again, this is not the same as observing these plants and animals in their natural habitats. Because only there they show their true behaviour and character.

In South Africa I saw not only squirrels. Together with some friends we travelled to Boulders Beach and observed the colony of African penguins relaxing on sandy beach.

2012.11.22 - Boulders - Colony of African Penguins2012.11.22 - Boulders - African PenguinAnd afterwards we visited the Addo Elephant National Park, where ostriches, warthogs, zebras, elephants, lions and other animals were roaming around freely.

2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Warthog2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Zebra2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Elephant2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - LionOf course, the most exciting moments of our South African safari were observing a family of elephants and a male lion right outside our car without any cage or fence.

2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Elephants Outside

Travel to taste exotic food and do unusual activities.

You will never understand what foreign food tastes like and what a certain activity is about until you try them. You can take a cookbook and try preparing the food yourself, but there is a risk you will not find the necessary ingredients, and the meal will not taste like the original one. The same with activities – you can watch bungee jumping or diving with sharks many times on TV, but you will not get the same experience and adrenaline as with the real thing.

The exotic food in Africa for me was the Ethiopian cuisine we stumbled upon in Cape Town. And the most adventurous activity for us became driving across the African wilderness in the night on a gravel road in a car that is not suitable for such motor rally.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Ethiopian Cuisine2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Enjoying Ethiopian FoodTravel to meet interesting people with different culture and mindset.

Last but not least, travelling is the most certain way to meet people from foreign countries, from different cultures and with various worldviews. And these meetings can be the foundations of the great and long-lasting friendship that will give you even more travelling opportunities.

During the conference in South Africa I managed to meet many interesting people, both from the African continent and other parts of the World. With some of them we went around the country afterwards and visited Cape Town and Table Mountain, Mossel Bay, Grahamstown and other interesting places. As you can judge by the photos of this blog post, that was a spectacular journey.

By the way, the trip to this country was made possible mostly thanks to Brigitte, whom I met at a conference in Germany a year before and who invited me to the one in South Africa. I am very grateful to her for that, as well as to all friends, who made that trip an amazing and memorable one.

2012.11.22 - New FriendsSo, I advise you to travel, my friend. And I ask you to do it in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Try not to use greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting means of transport; restrain your consumption of meat; generate as few waste as possible, especially the hazardous one (batteries, chemicals, etc.); do not cause harm to indigenous flora and fauna, particularly to the rare and unique species; and so on.

In August – November 2012 I was a very “bad boy”: I took flights to Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Denmark, Germany and South Africa, in this way contributing to a lot of GHG emissions.

Travelling in August - November 2012Some of it I managed to offset through my contribution to climate change mitigation in the Ungaran region in Indonesia (you can read about it in “INDONESIAN VILLAGES AND CLIMATE CHANGE”). And nowadays I do more research and campaigning aimed at protecting the environment to compensate for my environmental footprint during the travelling.

What else is left to say here? I suppose the best conclusion for all this is the well-known quote:

Travel Makes You RicherHappy travelling!