I didn't get it at first until the tour guide told us that this ginormous statue is actually a cheeky Santa holding a butt plug! I thought it was a Christmas tree!
The Butt Plug Santa
This controversial statue of jolly old St. Nick standing in a square at the end of a busy shopping street in Rotterdam stirred up a huge debate among politicians and residents, reigniting the timeless question of what constitutes art.
I’d just hate to be the parent who has to explain to their child what Santa is holding!
The above photo was captured at one of the three lanes named Concubine Lanes in my hometown Ipoh.
It is said that during the colonial days, rich Chinese miner tycoons and British officers kept their mistresses here, away from the watchful eyes of their wives, hence the name!
Old-timers whiling away the time at the coffee shops nearby often regale bemused tourists with stories of beautiful ladies beckoning from behind red-curtained windows, and furious wives storming the streets!
I never knew what a Stroopwafel was until I had a freshly made one in Amsterdam.
Stroopwafels (syrup waffles in Dutch) are crisp, paper-thin, coaster-sized waffles held together with a buttery caramel syrup.
A slab of dough is pressed with a waffle iron which has a much smaller grid pattern than a traditional waffle one. Next, the waffle is taken off the iron and sliced into half with what looks like a paint scraper. Then, a thin layer of syrup (stroop) made from brown sugar, butter and cinnamon is spread on one half before they are stuck back together
When the soft, warm waffle was plopped onto a napkin and handed to me, the vendor said I had to keep it flat so the gooey caramel syrup sandwiched between the two layers wouldn't drip.
I do not have a sweet tooth and caramel isn't really my thing but that stroopwafel was an exception.
It had a lovely chew, was sweet but not too sweet with just a hint of cinnamon to keep it interesting.
I was told that there is a ritual to eating this delectable Dutch treat. First, perch a Stroopwafel on top of a steaming cup of coffee or tea for about a minute. Then, delight in the aroma of cinnamon as the waffle warms and softens just a touch and the filling melts into a warm and gooey caramel treat.This is the traditional way of enjoying a Stroopwafel to the max in Holland!
This ritual really works its magic on those store-bought ones.
"Stroopwafels ruined my marriage. I was so addicted i would sneak out of the house at night and run down to the ATM to pull money out just to buy more stroopwafels. Well that was until my bank account went into the red and i couldnt afford to pay my bills. And that wasnt even the most depraved state ive been in. I love stroopwaffels" Dylan Troop
It's that time of the year again when I make my rounds to the local malls to photograph kolams for the Deepawali/Diwali festival.
* Deepavali/Diwali also known as the Festival of Lights is celebrated by the Hindu Community to symbolize the triumph of good over evil; the victory of light over dark.
The entrances to Hindu homes are decorated with fresh mango leaves and kolams. It is believed that Lakshmi, The Goddess of Wealth, will only enter a home that is adorned with a kolam.
* Kolam is an ancient Indian art of drawing using colored rice grains or powdered rice to form symmetrical geometric patterns on the floor. The Hindus believe that a kolam at the entrance of a house will usher prosperity and harmony to the home. It is also believed that a kolam wards off evil spirits and diseases.
Another purpose of the kolam is to invite birds and small insects like ants to a home to symbolize man’s co-existence with and consideration for other living things.
Traditionally, the ritual is performed daily by the women of a household early in the morning.
Fun Kolam Facts
1. The lines in a kolam must be continuous and unbroken so that evil cannot enter the house via the gaps.
2. The patterns are traditionally passed on from mothers to their daughters.
3. Kolam in the Tamil language means form and beauty.
4. As the kolam erases during the course of the day by birds and insects feeding on the rice, people's foot steps and the natural elements, a new kolam is drawn again the next morning, thus repeating the cycle. It imparts the idea that life is renewed daily.
So, we were in Brussels and were going to see Manneken Pis – the most iconic and photographed monument in the city. I had heard so much about this famous landmark and was really excited to see it.
When we arrived, the street was already crowded with busloads of tourists jostling for selfies.
Well, did we get the pay-off we had come all the way to see?
The Manneken Pis was quite literally what it means "little peeing man".
Unimposing, overrated and underwhelming the statue is merely 24 inches tall! Even more disappointing, the diminutive sculpture is only a replica of the 1619 original, which is now in the nearby Brussels Museum.
Mannekin Pis ranks #4 on TOP10HQ's Top 10 Most Disappointing Tourist Destinations list!
Size does matter!
So, why is this little naked boy peeing in a fountain so famous? And why are people (even the locals) flocking daily to take a photo of it?
Manneken Pis is a little statue with a big wardrobe! Pee Boy gets dressed in different costumes several times each week. The costumes are managed by a non-profit organization called The Friends of Manneken-Pis. The organization reviews hundreds of designs submitted by fans each year, and selects a small number to be made and used. The schedule of costumes is published on the web and on the posters plastered around the fountain.
Over the years, Mannekin Pis dressed as Santa, Elvis Presley, Nelson Mandela, Uncle Sam, an astronaut and even as a condom on World Aids Day!
THE MOST FASHIONABLE STATUE IN THE WORLD
Photos from Manneken Pis' FB page.
There are many stories surrounding the inspiration for this statue.
Here are just three:
1. During the Middle Ages, tanners let children and street urchins urinate on their leather as the ammonia in urine made the leather more supple. The peeing statue was most probably a homage to the tanners.
2. The most popular story suggests that it was a tribute to a local boy named Julianske who saved Brusssels by urinating on a burning fuse of an explosive lit by enemies who were trying to blow up the walls of the city.
3. According to a folklore, the son of a noble abandoned a procession to urinate on the wall of a house where a witch lived. Pissed, the angry witch cursed the lad to pee for eternity by turning him into stone, thus a peeing statue!
It was amusing to see this mascot of sorts gracing the streets of Brussels. His likeness appears on all things imaginable – from street art to tourist souvenirs to lollipops. You’ll even find him made of chocolate!
image credit - Teeny Tiny
Just when we thought we had enough of peeing statues, our tour guide took us to see Mannekin Pis' family – a peeing girl and yes, a peeing dog!
According to our guide, not many people who live outside Brussels know about this female counterpart of Manneken Pis.
Rumour has it that the little girl in pigtails was commissioned in 1987 by a local restaurant owner to attract visitors to the restaurant. While Jeanneke Pis still squats. the restaurant is no more.
A video of the thousands of costumes worn by Mannekin Pis throughout the years.