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from Photographers' Blog:

Star of the gypsy circus

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Paris, France

By Philippe Wojazer

“I want to become one of the best Flamenco dancers” said Roujenka, 13, the youngest daughter of Romanes Circus founders, Delia and Alexandre. The circus, located on the outskirts of Paris, is a small Gypsy circus and is entirely family-run. It is comprised of a tent in an enclave along this busy Parisian boulevard.

After asking her father, Roujenka became the first member of the family to go to school. Her three sisters and a brother were educated by teachers coming to the circus. “I have many problems at school", Roujenka said. "The other pupils make fun of me because I do not dress like them. It is out of the question for me to give up my culture and wear trousers and they do not even try to understand why I wear my long and colorful dresses. It is becoming harder and harder for me to be who I am even more since my community was attacked in France. I am happy with my sisters, my brother and my parents, and the way I live. We do not harm anyone but we are always criticized.”

When I asked about her hobbies, I was expecting a simple answer, like one given by most 13-year-old girls. “I do not watch television. I do not have stuffed animals. My animals are the cats running everywhere in the circus. I do not go shopping, this is not our way of life, it's not in our culture. The only place I go shopping is the Flamenco tailor but it is very expensive. I have three dresses, one red and white, a yellow one and a black with white spots. When I get off from school, I practice my Flamenco dancing, I sing, I rehearse, I listen to music. My sister Alexandra is a great trapeze artist and she teaches me a lot too. All this is with the goal to improve my skills.”

Roujenka, who sleeps and lives in her parent's caravan painted green with the message: “We all have a drop of Jewish and Gypsy blood” on it, was testing wearing make-up the morning I arrived. Suddenly her father Alexandre’s voice resonated, “All under the big top, we have the first show tonight and we have to rehearse”. It took half an hour to find everybody: musicians, artists, three of four daughters, the son Sorin but Roujenka was ready in a minute. She is the main character in their new show "Voleurs de Poules!" (Chicken Thieves!), an allusion to gypsies.

from Photographers' Blog:

Living as a Muslim in Paris

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Paris, France

By Youssef Boudlal

Photographing the daily life of Muslims in Paris is a challenge. I discovered this by throwing myself into the project, which rapidly became a story of failed encounters, rejection and disappointment. Among the people I met, the fear of prejudice towards the Muslim world was intense, as was the worry that cliches about the community could be fueled or spread by images.

I met a good number of people as part of my investigation. The first few were in the suburbs of Paris, home to a large Muslim community. In Vitry-sur-Seine, I met four twenty-somethings of North African origin sitting outside a church. I explained my project to them and their suspicions were quickly aroused. I was asked about my job, the reasons for my project and why I was interested in them. They worried about how my images would be used. One of them took me for a spy.

from Photographers' Blog:

Fresh food on Paris rooftops

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Paris, France

By Philippe Wojazer

Have you ever eaten vegetables grown in central Paris? I have.

“What about growing some carrots in our house’s courtyard or radishes on the balcony?” asked one of my daughters. She said she had heard engineer Nicolas Bel's interview on the subject. So I called him. As with all those with passions, he could speak about his studies for hours and make you suddenly feel part of it.

“Many Parisians who have a flat roof or a large balcony are thinking to produce their own vegetables. There are many technical constraints to build a rooftop vegetable garden such as weight, depth for the substrate (a minimum of 20 centimeters), wind, sun, water. We are now at the live study stage. We want to be able to build a vegetable garden capable of self-sufficient production. We are recuperating biological waste from people, companies and are growing vegetable in trays. We are testing different combinations, all with no fertilizers or any kind of chemicals. Our fertilizers are produced by worms. The project is: Are we able to grow vegetables on a base of organic waste we can find in urban and peri-urban environments such as wood, compost or cardboard,” Bel explained. “My dream is to have a rooftop garden capable on being financially sufficient. I even work with a chef who is growing some vegetables he uses in his kitchen on the rooftop of his restaurant”. “We are conducting pollution tests on our production and the results are really good”, added Bel, who is in charge of the roof of the AgroParistech institute in Paris and is the founder of Topager company where he uses his knowledge to install rooftop vegetable gardens in schools, restaurants, companies and individuals.

from India Masala:

Ishkq in Paris: Love gone wrong

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Preity Zinta’s comeback Bollywood film features the characteristic Zinta elements her fans have loved over the years. Effervescence and her famous dimples. Both are present in “Ishkq in Paris”, albeit in heightened form. Zinta is a little too bubbly, too jumpy and flashes her dimples far too often for them to be endearing. It’s like enthusiasm on steroids.

To counter her obvious efforts, co-star Rhehan Malliek narrows his eyes each time he is expected to show some emotion.

from Photographers' Blog:

Into a fashion model’s world

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Paris, France

By Philippe Wojazer

Now I know where United Nations negotiators should be trained: in the fashion world!

If you want to cover a “not usual” story in the world of fashion, you have to learn what negotiation means. If you want to take pictures backstage at a fashion show, you have to be ready to send 120 emails and call the recipients to explain what you meant in your messages and hear "I am afraid this will not be possible”. But, once those people are convinced - they might change their mind the very next minute - but if they don’t, you enter the fashion and model's world and realize, it was worth it. I didn't know if I would be able to photograph this story untill the last minute. Once I finally got the accreditation for the Valentino show, the model had to be rushed to the dental emergency and was not guaranteed to work that day. But suddenly the clouds opened and I started seeing the sunlight of the fashion world.

from Left field:

Federer at his sublime best in Paris

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By Greg Rusedski

The Paris Masters was going to determine who was going to be the last players to qualify for the ATP world finals in London. The last few places were up for grabs and all the players that were in pole position ended up qualifying. The top eight for the field ended up being Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish.

The other story of the week concerned Djokovic and whether he would play after shoulder problems in Basel. If he didn't play he would have missed his commitments for the master series events and it would have cost him over 1 million pounds in bonus pool money. He did play!

from Global Investing:

The power of Chinese international tourists

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These days, streets of London, Paris, Tokyo and even Santorini are filled with Chinese tourists. In London's Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, the queue for the tax refund is so long that one has to wait 3 hours to get his or her tax refund (my mother, on her recent trip to the UK, had to give up in the end).

But the potential economic impact of Chinese international tourists -- estimated to be 100 million by 2020, or 6.4 percent of global outbound tourists according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation -- is something that could boost sluggish consumer spending in the West.

from FaithWorld:

Paris death salon shows life and new trends in funeral industry

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Salon de la Mort 1

(A television journalist speaks to camera as she tests a coffin on show at the 'Salon de la Mort' -- Salon of Death -- in Paris April 7, 2011/Charles Platiau)

"Care to try out the coffin?" Surprised but intrigued, the young man lays himself down on the ivory satin fabric and holds his breath as the heavy lid closes over him. At the Salon of Death, everything is permitted.

from FaithWorld:

Catholic-atheist meetings end with Pope Benedict appeal to youth

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(Catholic-atheist meeting in the Grand Amphitheatre of the Sorbonne, Paris 25 March 2011/Tom Heneghan)

(Catholic-atheist meeting in the Grand Amphitheatre of the Sorbonne, Paris 25 March 2011/Tom Heneghan)

Pope Benedict urged French youths on Friday to help put God back into public debate, either as Christians sharing their faith or as non-believers seeking more justice and solidarity in a cold utilitarian world. In a video address from the Vatican to an evening rally outside Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris, the pope also urged them to "tear down the barriers of fear of the other, the foreigner, of those who are not like you" that mutual ignorance can create.

from FaithWorld:

Catholics & Jews discuss their future dialogue, possible Muslim trialogue

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bernardins

(Collège des Bernardins, site of the ILC meeting in Paris, 2 March 2011/Tom Heneghan)

Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders reviewing their dialogue over the past four decades expressed concern on Wednesday that younger generations had little idea of the historic reconciliation that has taken place between them. The two faiths must keep this awareness alive at a time when the last survivors of the Holocaust are dying and both the Catholic and Jewish worlds are changing in significant ways, they said at the end of a four-day interfaith conference.

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