How hard is to stop complaining!


Dust off the brain is probably the best outcome of a vacation break. It is unbelievable how much our brains get flooded with futile information. As if it’s not bad enough that our virtual world is feeding us daily with unlimited negative news, exhausting marketing offers, spam e-mails, we have to endure random vain conversations and complains. And I’m not even mentioning the hustles of communing to work, traffic lines or noise that wear us out daily. There’s always someone requesting something from you like a favor, time or attention. So, increasingly it becomes more difficult to spend quality time with your loved ones or simply by yourself. In this context, I really think Facebook “saved me” by submissively keeping strings to not so closed friends and acquaintances. A picture here, a status update there, is a much efficient way of keeping in touch with people and yet enjoy some spare time for yourself.

The other day I was reading an interesting article of Minda Zetlin “Listening to complainers is bad for your brain which scientifically explains  that exposure to 30 minutes of negativity – including here downbeat TV bits and pieces – actually strips away neurons in the problem solving part of our brain. In other words, it makes us Dumb & Dumber even by being passive listeners.  I wondered why for a long time I stopped watching news on TV or listening to them in Radio while driving. It is unbelievable what content seems to make it to the news press nowadays. More horrible the story, bigger coverage it gets. Reading or listening to pleasant news is almost inexistent. Even a technological discovery which is likely to affect the lives of a billion people worldwide seems to be considered as luxurious news. It barely fits into a paper or hopefully it takes the last closing minute on TV news after being bombed with negative information. So under these circumstances I proposed a simple solution to myself: to scan for news online, read what interests to me most and in the meanwhile eat a piece of dark chocolate. Its serotonin will boost my mood and definitely trigger my humour better. 

Being a selective person is not so socially acceptable especially in some extravert cultures where individualism is not quite seen as a value.  The public catharsis of collective complaints are perceived as a better way for addressing individuals’ problems. Confessing to a priest or going to a psychologist is not common in our culture. Overloading the person next to you with your life despair seems rather to be the solution. Someone has to put a shield to save its sanity under these circumstances.  The best safeguard apart from distancing yourself is to learn digesting minor aggravation, clean up the dust though some extra hard work and instead of complaining about everything and to everyone, please find some time to do something about it. 

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Pinned at a fabulous wedding party!


If you were to pin your wedding in an Albanian way, the most frequently asked questions would be: Whom to invite? How many guests? Live music or DJ? Traditional or modern style? I’m not even mentioning the bride’s dilemmas about wedding dress, hair and makeup artist, interior decor, camera man, menu selection, etc. I know these facts from my friends and family who got married earlier. Everyone thinks it’s crazy to go through the process and yet every one does it. It’s all worth it in the end…

I love being a wedding guest. Not only I don’t have to worry about finding the perfect gift for the couple since the norm here requires money only sealed in an envelope, but I have plenty of time to plan in advance my outfit, hair and makeup. It’s a bit like going to a ballroom; equipped with a splendid appearance and a dancing partner. My only single requirement as guest is to show up on time, often a challenge since it really takes time to get ready for such an important event . It is like this old Albanian saying  “One gets married and one hundred get crazy”.
So here I’m sited in a round table with an entrée plate looking at me: Try me, try me!!! Not yet, though. We have to wait for the fireworks signaling the arrival of the newlyweds. Once the bride and the groom greet us, their dancing performance which they mastered following ongoing dance courses in the last few months finally starts. I feel empathy for the groom. Poor him, what he has to go through for the perfect wedding dance. But it’s ok. Little exercise is healthy after all and never killed a man.

As for the bride, she left us all speechless wearing that gorgeous bell shaped wedding gown.  Congratulations to Loreta and Eris and wish them happy new life together!

Once we get out of the way the newlyweds dance’s choreography of romantic ballad-R&B-techno-tango-you name it, is finally our turn to swing and twist. Good luck with that! If the next music track happens to be from the southern Albania, it involves meters long of human chain dancing around in the dance floor. The couple doesn’t have their main performance until they dance the mid-Tirana region collage of wedding songs. A sudden wave of money flows over their foreheads circled by the many of us floating around them to the Napoloni dance rhythms. While kids get busy collecting the money on the ground, someone offers to burn the bachelor’s handkerchief that groom is holding as a symbol of commitment to the new marital life.

As the party goes on for several hours make sure you eat or at least try some of the many courses being served before getting totally lost into dancing lines.

In addition, there are no worries about holding a great speech to welcome guests. That takes 3-5 seconds. And the guests are not required to say anything to the couple, at least publicly. In the end, we don’t have a public speech gene.

Shall we continue to dance?

Music Ban and the End of Summer Nights in Tirana


After our “wise leading fathers” addressed all our political and societal problems, fought corruption which is holding back the country’s integration to the bigger European family, improved our quality of life through sound public policies, created countless jobs for youngsters and middle class, created parks in every neighborhood, invested in public transportation, education, and health system it is about time to win the last battle: The War on noise pollution in every corner of the Albanian territory.

Since a couple of weeks now you see police knocking on every bar-pub-club door with a clear noise-free mission: To enforce our Prime Father’s order for shutting down music at midnight. Seriously, the music in every bar in Tirana stops at 12 pm, followed by crowds of young people leaving soon afterwards.
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So the typical Saturday night now looks like go out around 11 pm and come back home around midnight. Why bothering, really!!! Such an effort to dress up, do my hair, put on some make up, get the car out of the garage, look for parking, order quickly a drink while waiting for the music to ditch me by midnight? This is nonsense. There’s no need to mention the disappointment of younger crowds and their frustration to this ridicule. This harassment has to stop, it is mockery.

We are a Southern country with the youngest population age in Europe. One of the biggest if not the only asset of Tirana, often pointed out by foreigners for its dullness is the stylish and vibrant night life. There is really a neat party culture in Tirana which is hard to find even in some main European metropolis. Numerous fancy designed bars, open air summer terrace, well behaved and dressed up people partying to urban beats in +26 degrees at night, sets a wonderful example of modern party culture. Not to mention here the negative economic effects and burden of this sudden restriction on local bars and entertainment businesses.Image

What is more important is to understand that the concept of noise pollution does not only refer neither it is limited to loud music in bars. It is a much broader concept and addressing it requires smart public policies and not lousy executive orders followed by police authority. Keeping the city noise down requires a long-term plan and commitment set to cope with a wide range of factors, such as noise from transportation, private businesses, road works, construction sites, noisy neighbors, etc. This plan should involve better management of transportation systems, better city planning and better design of buildings. Roads, for example, can be made quieter by better repairing them, using low-noise road surfaces, and also by educating drivers to use less horns and drive less chaotically. Barking dogs or quarreling neighbors are not less sleep disturbing though are generally accepted in here.
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I’m not saying that we have to ignore the rights of habitants for living in a quite city. I’m just trying to trigger a second thought to this discussion. There are certainly better ways for addressing this issue properly than cutting corners. Applying specific rules and regulations in certain areas depending on population density, setting different closing hours, music volume, etc. Midnight music ban in “Mai Tai” located in outskirts of Tirana, in the middle of valleys is misfitting to the general rule. A clustered plan based on cost and benefit analysis could determine the optimized solution. Let’s rather try for a win win situation and avoid lousy shortcuts.

The Naked and the Posh at the French Riviera. (Part 2)


The first evening in Cannes started curiously looking at the wealth demonstration in La Croisette Boulevard. Image

Everything seems literally shinier there, the signature shops of Dior, Burberry, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Yves Saint-Lauren, the jewels’ exhibition in the lobby of Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, the shelter of movie stars, the impressive Galeries Bartoux, the lighten promenade occupied by world-class models on frame of the 9th international photographic festival on Mode and Beaute, the gleaming red Ferrari driving by…

At some point we have to eat dinner. It definitely feels like the most dangerous avenue to satisfy our gourmet appetite. Look at this hotel, the menu is first written in Russian followed by French translated version. In situations like this my modest French skills become handy, but let’s check further for something less dangerous. A waiter with a trendy haircut and Armani belt approached to take the order. That went well. We got what we wanted in a minimalistic size. Where do you find such a place where the portion itself take care of your ideal body figure? Too bad there is no Quality Burger Restaurant near by, if not at all to ease our “stomach pain”. But hey, there’s always delicious red wine. That can certainly soften our souls.

A failed version of Brigitte Bardot is now approaching the table next to us where these two Algerian looking-like women are sitting. Still a mystery how the ladies knew each other, but it was definitely very amusing to listen to their spiced-up conversation. How to convince the young Algerian lady in her early thirties that there’s still time to find the right man? This coming from a single 60’s Bohemian lady who was never married, but she seemed to happily enjoy her freedom and her yoga state of mind.

The days were usual, free tanning sessions at the crowed public beaches opposed to lying in a 40 Euro beach chair, little ice-cream and Orangina breaks to satisfy thirst, afternoon naps in the little oasis at the charming backyard of our hotel. Life is pretty good in here!

As Cannes is being the playground of every world’s elite including rich and famous, royals and multi-billionaires, celebrities and stars, want to be moneyed and want to be celebrated, it sets the stage of an arrogant and rather patronizing behavior even at an early age. So there’s no joke, you see little kids rather 14 years old running around with jeans and classy jackets sitting on bars sipping, well, just apple juice. Also, Cannes is certainly the place where hot chicks are neither secretive nor put out of the sight. Totally dressed up in their fancy evening dresses it gets even difficult of distinguishing them from the “good girls” of La Croissete Boulevard who certainly have a style of their own. Flirting and playing around you get to see in every corner; in the colorful avenue, by the beach, in the party area, on the back door of Film Festival Palace where wild parties are being thrown for the worlds’ most glamorous celebrities.  Even a flirty approach in midnight clubbing line had a rather classy style to it, as being asked by the club body guard if I was alone or with “my husband”.

Is it really everything about status in this overexcited posh environment, isn’t it? Enough of this madness! Let’s go to somewhere more inspiring, warm, and inviting.

Next stop: Little charming of its own kind French town, the beautiful Antibes!