The Pickpocket Huntress

I came across a video of this unique and amazing woman, Eliana Guerrero, who volunteers her time and effort to look out for pickpockets who prowl Barcelona’s subways. Why? Simply because she loves her city so much that it bothers her how the rampant crime affects its reputation, and she thinks, “Nobody is doing anything about this. Somebody has to do something about this.” So she went out and fiercely became that somebody.

Well, she shouldn’t be ‘that’ somebody but just ‘a’ somebody. Because there really should be other somebodies joining her to help their city.

She’s really risking her life and limb, the way I see it. Even ‘petty’ criminals like pickpockets can turn violent out of resentment or desperation when confronted, and they tend to work in gangs. I hope she stays safe.

And I imagine it is a largely thankless affair. I can imagine some people are annoyed at feeling alarmed and give her dirty looks when she blows her whistle or when she reminds them to sling their handbags in front of their body where they can see it. I hope she brushes off the negativity she suffers and stay strong, and always be proud of the very noble volunteer work she’s doing for Barcelona.

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I remember how Bert stopped a crime in progress a few years ago in Penang, Malaysia. We were there because I wanted to do a marathon (my first ever full marathon). We had visited the parking lot of a mall where the organizers were distributing the runner’s bag which contained stuff like the bib number. Then we went to the bus stop in front of the mall to get back to the hotel. Naturally there was a big crowd of people at the bus stop, so when our bus arrived it was a slow process getting to the door to board it because there were maybe more than 50 other people crowding around it waiting to board. There was no queue. It was quite chaotic.

Bert saw it before anyone else. A young guy some distance in front of us who had almost reached the door, with his hand already dipping into the bag hanging from the shoulder of the guy in front of him. Bert shouted at him, “Hey, stop! Yes, you! You with your hand inside his bag!” Everyone around us fell silent, shocked and wondering what the white guy was screaming about. The surprised pickpocket glared angrily at Bert for a moment, then shrugged, deciding to pretend not to know what Bert was referring to. Now alerted, the almost-victim snatched his bag in shock and hung it from his other shoulder. “I saw you! I saw what you were doing!” Bert continued to yell at the pickpocket. He stomped off, suddenly not interested in getting on the bus.

The almost-victim never thanked Bert. Idiot. That annoys me now, thinking about it, but I wasn’t thinking about it then. I probably didn’t even notice Bert wasn’t thanked. I was busy being in awe. My man is so cool. My heart was bursting with pride for him.

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Back to Ms. Guerrero in the video. This remarkable woman is not even from Barcelona, but is an immigrant from Colombia, and yet her love for Barcelona is so strong that she and her incredible sense of civic-mindedness do some amazing and potentially dangerous work to protect this city that she had grown to love. Her city. That’s food for thought about immigrants. That they can see and appreciate what we may take for granted, and end up loving our city or country as much as or even more than we do.

Every city in the world deserves a pickpocket huntress or two hundred. The video reminds me of the subways and touristy areas in places like Rome and Milan, cities I have visited several times. The subways there can be quite unpleasant. Even Bert who is a native Italian was targeted a few times, maybe because he was with me so they thought he was a tourist too. Thankfully we were never victims. Hopefully never.

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Related:

  • The Savvy Backpacker – How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe — Tips for Outsmarting the Thieves
  • Life In Italy – A pickpocket’s tricks: How to Avoid Getting Robbed While On Vacation In Italy.
  • All Singapore Stuff – Woman’s handbag was cut and wallet stolen by thief at Ikea
  • Forbes – How to protect yourself from pickpockets and thieves when you travel (this one is a lengthy six-page article but contains an interesting and comprehensive list of tips)
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Nina Simone’s piano cover of The Sound of Silence

I was delighted to come across this video on my Facebook feed. I’m a big fan of Nina and I love The Sound of Silence, so to hear her piano rendition of the Simon and Garfunkel song is such a treat. According to the Facebook set up for her, her version was recorded in 1968 during a trip to the Montreux Jazz Festival.

And here’s the original of course, the accoustic version it was originally done in for their first album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., kindly posted on YouTube by user Ralph Wiggum. I’ve always had a soft spot for Ralph on The Simpsons haha, so it’s nice to know we have somewhat the same taste in music.

I can’t have a post of Nina without featuring her unforgettable voice and soulful delivery that just takes hold of you for a languid embrace and dances with you. This video by user TamaraConnolly has been in my playlist for a few years now. It’s a gorgeous ‘lyric video’, done for her motion graphics class.

Aishah Samad

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From Yahoo! Sports Singapore. Click to go there.

I read about this lady and was totally blown away by her strength and attitude.

An article from Yahoo! Sports Singapore written by Ewan Mah which I chanced upon last weekend tells the story of 41-year-old Aishah Samad. Just a year ago, she suffered a bacterial infection that left her hospitalised for months at the ICU of Changi Hospital. On top of that, gangrene set in and resulted in her losing all four of her limbs below her joints.

My head was spinning at the thought of an illness suddenly striking a healthy person like that, and things escalating so quickly and viciously that limbs, in this case all four, are lost. Ignoramus me went all ‘huh?‘ and thinks that bacterial infection sounds like virus infection, as in, it sounds like flu and the like. So I quickly typed ‘bacterial infection causing loss of limbs‘ on Google Search and was quickly greeted by a lot of scary information, the kind that makes me go weak at the knees. Really, life and good health are so fragile, and can be so fleeting.

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Photos by ST and Lim Chea Rong. From yourhealth.asiaone.com. Click to go there.

Well the thing about Aishah is that she was already a remarkable woman before her ordeal that began last year. She was a member of the national shooting team and bronze medallist at the 2003 SEA GAmes. She had to retire from the sport after a new management at her workplace wouldn’t let her take the time off to train for the months leading up to major competitions. But life went on. The single mum to two kids (now grown, aged 21 and 18) became a coach to guide the next generation of Singapore marksmen. I read in an AsiaOne article dated 17th May that the strong and independent woman did her own DIY projects around the house and once rode solo on a motorcycle to Thailand.

Then her world came crashing down after the severe bacterial infection that began only last July. But she picked herself up, which is already remarkable enough. But to do it in mere months, oh my God, where does she find the will and the strength. And as if that’s not mind-blowing enough, there’s her beautifully sunny attitude about her present and future, her optimism and continued zest for life. She’s raring to go. Look at that smile.

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From Yahoo! Sports Singapore. Click to go there.

She was discharged in October, a month after the amputations. She completed her physiotherapy by January, and decided she wants to compete at the Paralympics. From the Yahoo! article:

By then (January), she had decided she was going to aim higher than she had ever aimed in life. Aishah was going to pick up her rifle again and compete.

“I miss the smell of gun powder. None of this air rifle stuff. I do the 50 metre live rounds event.” she glares, then smiles cheekily. “I just want to be in the sport I love. I also want to create awareness for those people like me that we are no worse off than you people,” she says, gesturing towards me with an invisible hand.

She is looking forward to receiving her new prosthetic arms to begin competitive training:

Having received S$130,000 after a fund raising charity fun shoot in May, Aishah will now be able to afford the most advanced $40,000-$70,000 prosthetic for her right shooting arm. She still faces a wait from overseas distributors, and at least another two months of training before she can finally do the things people usually take for granted.

“I’ll be able to brush my teeth, wash my face, pick up things. The movements (of the fingers) will of course be more robotic than usual, but I’ll be able to shoot and more importantly, be confident that it’ll be safe when I’m handling my rifle. I’ll also be the first in Singapore to have such advanced prosthetics.”

I can’t really describe the sense of awe and admiration I feel. It’s almost suffocating, it’s overwhelming.

We come by stories of these heroes every so often. Some have a hold on us more than others. I still remember the story of this elderly Chinese lady in Singapore too from a newspaper article that I read perhaps ten or twenty years ago, who lives in poverty and survives by recycling discarded cans and other stuff, but who still donates I think $50 of her meagre monthly income, because she reckons no matter how bad her situation is, there are always people even worse off. If I had known I would still be thinking of her every now and then, I would have saved that article and framed it up or something.

I have a strong feeling I won’t be forgetting the story of Aishah Samad so easily too.

Yuna

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Born on 14 November 1986, the singer and songwriter Yunalis Mat Zara’ai is more popularly known simply as Yuna. Photo by Irwandy Mazwir, and sourced from Wikipedia. Click to go to source.

Just read in Yahoo! News Singapore that Malaysian singer and songwriter Yuna sings the theme song for “The Croods”, the new animation from Dreamworks. The song called “Shine Your Way” is a duet with Adam Young, the American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind the musical project called Owl City.

So happy for Yuna that she continues to go from strength to strength. She has been massively popular in the Malay music world for some years now, and deservedly so. She also writes and sings English songs, hauntingly beautiful ones, and so I’m glad for her that she continues to do well in the international scene as all. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that she does not write and sing mainstream pop. Shine Your Way is a huge departure from her ‘usual’ sound, which at times reminds me of giants like Sade and Tori Amos.

Yuna started out as a solo MySpace artist in 2006, singing in both English and Malay. She graduated with a law degree in 2009.

According to her Wiki page:

Yuna recently signed with Verve Music Group. Multiple Grammy-winning producer David Foster, who heads the creative operations of Verve, tweeted: “I’m really excited about the next hot artist to join Verve Music. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for Yuna in 2013“.

I love her voice. I’m not articulate so just the cliché ‘hauntingly beautiful’ keeps popping into my head when I think of her voice and style. Take her rendition of Nirvana’s rock classic “Come As You Are” in the video below. A live performance in the U.S. (Portland, Oregon) in 2011. Breathtaking.

One of my faves is still Someone Out Of Town

A more recent offering is Live Your Life. This link is for a video of a performance on Conan O’Brien’s talk show last year.

Winona. Forever and ever.

When I came across this video directed by Tim Burton and featuring Winona Ryder last week, I was delighted because I’m a huge fan of both. And more than just a great video, it’s sheer magic because it’s just like ole’ times. The many layers that make each of them so unique and adorable, and even more so together; the breathtaking magical wonder they create together in those movies all those years ago, they weave again in this video.

And what a perfect song to go with it. Here With Me by The Killers really deserves a separate entry because it’s a gorgeous song. And the lead singer Brandon Flowers’ intensity turns me on like crazy, with its shades of Agent Smith. The actor featured alongside Win here is Craig Roberts, who I hadn’t heard of before, but I’ll be looking out for his work. I like his Elijah Wood / Tobey Maguire vibe.

The mannequin lying on the shore on their date at the beach cracked me up.

I’ve been meaning to start a ‘Women I Love’ category. I love Winona because she’s such a talented and entertaining actress, always such a joy to watch on the big screen. The fact that she pretty much has been laying low professionally the past ten years or so, choosing to take up few roles, and yet still has an amazing and iconic body of work to her name compared to many other actors today, just says a lot about her achievements as an actor.

To me the mark of a great actor is not an Oscar or other awards, (there are many lesser actors with awards), but how many memorable and iconic roles that actor has, that people will always remember them for; easily, affectionately and admiringly. For example as a comparison, the lovely and talented Gwyneth Paltrow has an Oscar, and in terms of memorable roles, I loved her work in Great Expectations, Sliding Doors and A Perfect Murder. She excelled in those three films. But personally I didn’t see anything special in her other work including Shakespeare in Love, to be honest. (All four films from 1998.)

Here…. *drumroll*…. is a list of the astounding number of memorable and iconic roles (to me) that the one and only Winona Ryder has under her belt. There are actually many other celebrated movies she excelled in, but these are the ones I love most.

All images (except for S1m0ne) were first seen via the delightful tumblr site Winona Forever. Click them to go to the source.

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Beetlejuice (1988), as Lydia Deetz

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Heathers (1988), as Veronica

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Edward Scissorhands (1990), as Kim

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Mermaids (1990), as Charlotte Flax

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), as Mina

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The Age of Innocence (1993), as May Welland

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The House of the Spirits (1993), as Blanca Trueba

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The Crucible (1996), as Abigail Williams

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Girl, Interrupted (1999), as Susanna Kaysen

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S1m0ne (2002), even in only a cameo as spoilt brat actress Nicola she is memorable.

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Star Trek (2009), as Amanda Grayson.

What unexpected and genius casting, as Amanda Grayson, not just as a mother but as Spock’s mum! Another just-a-cameo where she still glowed nevertheless, sprinkling stardust with her sweet and melancholic screen charisma. I remember having goosebumps when I realized it was her, lump in throat, thinking to myself: “OH MY GOD, IS THAT WINONA??? IS THAT REALLY HER? OH MY GOD IT’S HER! IT’S HER!!”.

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Black Swan (2010), as Beth.

Did you suck his cock?“. I loved that line and how she carried it, but I thought it might had distracted audiences from the rest of her performance and subsequently contributed to it ending up under-rated.

I haven’t seen The Iceman and Frankenweenie yet (both 2012). I know I will love both. Can’t wait.