One. Witnessing the free spirit of girls everywhere fighting to get out is heartwarming and gives me hope for the human race. Witnessing it in countries where women are routinely stifled at best, and often treated like objects, is even more inspiring. In this Los Angeles Times story, a group of girls and a chance encounter on a Bangladeshi beach with a local surfer speak of the willingness of women to affirm themselves. These girls learn to surf, amid peers’ taunting and their parents’ disapproval, and some go on to participate in competitions, bringing home prize money and an unimagined chance to a different life.
Two. I kid you not: I read about, the escape artist octopus from New Zealand, right after taking the last bite of a delectable squid risotto I had made. While the story ruined my digestion and made me feel terrible about the octopus I had just ingested, it drove home the point that animals are smarter and better at problem solving we give them credit for. If an octopus can escape from an aquarium and find its way back to the sea, with no sense of smell, what else could it do? Does this mean I have to cross it off my list of edible creatures (which is getting longer and longer)?
Three. I have been a Formula One fan since I can remember. Be that it is mostly a European sport (sorry, Nascar, you don’t compare), I don’t get a chance to follow it much here but this video reminded me of the Sunday afternoons spent watching cars go around at mind-boggling speeds. Jelle Bakker, a 32-year-old with a form of autism, designs and runs complex marble races, with professional commentary to boot. Here you can lose yourself for four minutes and follow your marble of choice, thinking it is a perfectly acceptable pastime.
Five. If you have ever tried to escape the traffic in Rome, you will have a lot of sympathy for a man who has driven a taxi in the eternal city for the last 50 years. Alberto Tomassi bought his taxi license in the 60s, at the height of the Dolce Vita, shuttling around his fair share of celebrities. In the age of Uber and of would be actors and writers moonlighting as taxi drivers, there is something admirable in people who choose professions others view as humble and bring pride, professionalism and humor to it (source New York Times). Alberto Tomassi is about to retire and escape traffic forever, making me wish I had had a chance to hop in his taxi at least once.
Top image: French contortionist Arthur Cadre