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  noun 1. The act of immersing oneself in other cultures without crossing national borders. 2. Local cultural diversification. 3. Traveling on a budget. 4. A website that will allow you to accomplish all the above from the very seat in which you sit.


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BH.net: new writing, from Latvia to Thailand, UAE to Spain, NYC to Korea

From our resident contributors, fiction, poetry and journalesque to accompany you on your weekend. Don't forget - you may always send us your feedback: letters@borderhopping.net (or, post a comment, but of course).

Kanchanaburi, Thailand
1. Kanchanaburi: Inventory on the River Khwae by Brent Katte:
I'm looking around at the setting, taking it all in, putting them in the picture, putting the picture in me, framing things. My immediate thoughts are on childhood and its bliss, the great removedness from the adult mess we all move to some day.
Read "Kanchanaburi: Inventory on the River Kwae" >>

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
2. Al Ain by Colin Mulligan:
It has been just short of nine months since I left home for my round-the-world adventure. In that time, I have almost completely lost my intellectual vanity; the part of my personality that wants everyone I meet to know just what a clever and enlightened American I am. But old habits die hard, and this part of my psyche that was responsible for my next question—a question whose answer I already knew. "They have Sharia'h there," I asked, using the Arabic term for the strict interpretation of Islamic Law that has gained worldwide notoriety since the fall of Afghanistan's Taliban regime.
Read "Al Ain" >>

Riga, Latvia
3. Riga by Colin Mulligan:
I set out on this trip to escape from my comfort zone, but the clean, safe and well-maintained cities of northern Europe left me feeling more domesticated than ever. All of that changed when I arrived in Riga, which is a hypnotic, beautiful city, but not in any conventional sense. The twentieth century was not kind to the Baltics, and scars from Latvia's recent brutalization are visible beneath the easygoing way of life here.
Read "Riga" >>

4. Still Life With Nude by T. Paul Buzan:
Blossoms pirouetted on the surface and were carried away with the current, or became trapped on thin reed stalks. Here Hyeon-mi could be alone, but not always alone. They too had sat like this once, watching the water. The creek was swollen with rain that day, it flowed noisily. His whispered breath had felt warm against her ear.
Read "Still Life With Nude" >>

Seville, Spain
5. Out of the Sevillian Swelter by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard:
Mind still muddied, I travel down the hallway, attempting to remember what room he's in. I pitch the door ajar, breathing heavily, and hear him groan. Good.
Read "Out of the Sevillian Swelter" >>

NYC, United States
6. CAFÉ DOMA "series", West Village by Farrah Sarafa:
I have been meeting a lot of cafe-goers, lately and as a writer I have them mapped out in my head, a color-schemed café map of New York City. Being able to write or capture some poetic sculpture from its interior, I can soundly say the café is an aquarium; a space dusty with turnover but elegant – in its frame. People that like cafés can't like them more than me, because I have five poems here, written in one sitting at Doma Café.
Read "CAFÉ DOMA "series", West Village" >>

NYC, United States
7. Romantic Dream, Lenses, Endless Motion by Farrah Sarafa:
Sniffles and giggles shatter the glass
c r a c k s into pieces with light reflecting various people's faces
like marble does the eyes
blackened with
dusts of
Read "Romantic Dream, Lenses, Endless Motion" >>

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NYC: Park51, a controversial ? center

When images were released by Soma architects of Park51, a Muslim community center too-close-for-comfort to Ground Zero for many, the very purpose of the building was questioned. What, some are wondering, is really going to go on in there?

Certainly it doesn't look like the mosques and other iconic Islamic buildings Westerners are accustomed to seeing in photos of foreign lands or mysteriously dotted, seemingly haphazardly, at the heart of discrete Muslim populations in the U.S.

With it's sleek, honeycombed sides... (based on mashrabiya, the traditional Islamic architectural screen used since the middle ages to shield out the sun)...

White, modern interior...

As New York Magazine writer Justin Davidson puts it in "Dream Mosque," published this past October 18th:
The design's vagueness reflects a certain muddle about Park51's mission. Will the new building be a religious establishment or a cultural one, an interfaith center or a Muslim organization, a symbolic place or a pragmatic facility? It's the architect's job to ask these questions, then weave the answers into the concrete and steel. Bu the Park51 website refers to Soma merely as its "Architectural Design consultants," which is another way of saying that Abboud might not design the building when the clients figure out what they want, assuming they can raise the money.
The purpose of a building may not as always be so critical. In this case, and in light of the opposition forming due to its proximity to the World Trade Center, it is perhaps irrelevant what it will be used for; that it is associated with Muslim organizations at all is enough for opponents to raise their American flags in protest. But for the more open-minded critic, the mission of the building is the very information that can establish understanding, swaying a neutral party in favor or in doubt.

In attempt to rationalize the project based on the architectural images alone, Davidson leans towards the negative. "In absence of clarity, Soma resorted to facile globalism. The façade invokes a series of Western architects' glosses on the mashrabiya more than it does the real thing... Park51's version yields a generic whiff of the Middle East, but ignores its immediate surroundings. The allover pattern even obscures the basic module of New York architecture: the story.

Looking at the "night" version from Soma architects, perhaps Davidson is correct...

But then again, if this Muslim "community center" is to keep with the times, and help to change Western misconceptions about Islam and Middle Eastern culture, then perhaps globalism might be key... and perhaps it's not facile at all.

Head to the Park51 website >>
Read the rest of Davidson's NY Mag article >>

[images © Wikipedia, New York Magazine]

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