Angelina in the UNHCR

If you happened to have passed by the Jet d’Eau on your way home from the final concerts of the Fête de la Musique on Sunday, you may have noticed something unusual about the majestic fountain: it was lit entirely in blue. The reason for this illumination was the fact that on Friday was UNHCR’s “World Refugee Day”. They are trying hard to promote their corporate identity by printing their blue logo on each and every white refugee tent that they set up in crisis regions of the world. I guess with lots of imagination you could interpret the gushing whiteness of the jet d’eau as some sort of transcendent notion of a stylized tent and the artificial blueness of the spotlights as some sort of transcendent notion of the UNHCR logo. Or something like that.

On Friday itself, UNHCR Ambassador Angelina Jolie interrupted the jazz-adorned festivities within the Geneva UNHCR headquarters via video-transmission, in order to urge the staff at the UNHCR to not forget about the refugees in the world:

At first, I was a bit irritated at how any staff could forget the subject matter of their day-to-day work, but then I soon found myself having to decide which one of the many free drinks to choose from, and I realized: The popularity of Geneva amongst international civil servants may lie within its great potential to distract you from your task at hand. No matter how pressing your issues had seemed before coming here, one UN-sponsored party can be enough to make you feel completely comfortable and forget about the lives of all the less fortunate, of whom you only really get to know about via the paperwork that you have to fight through every day.

Thankfully, Bollywood movies are there to guide you out of this dilemma. Of all art forms, Bollywood is by far the most underestimated. At least the Indian Filmfare Awards recognized its vast potential as early as 1959, when they introduced the “Filmfare Best Lyricist” category for the Bollywood song with the best lyrics (have you ever heard of an “Oscar for the film music with the best lyrics”?!?). In the year 2000, this ingenious award went to the song “Panchi Nadiya Pawan ke Jhonke” from the movie “Refugee”:

For those of you not fluent in Hindi, the award-winning key lines go as follows: “Birds, rivers and draughts of wind are not stopped by borders – Borders are only for human beings. So think about it: Then what did you and I get out of being human?”

The value of Bollywood lies in its courage to use all available artistic techniques – lyrics, music, dancing, acting, sceneries, etc. – in order to fully explore emotions in all their unavoidable cheesiness to the max. Also, by wrapping each and every subject matter thickly in sugary candy floss you as viewer don’t even notice how bollywood daringly tackles one painful real-life subject after the other (it also helps that bollywood always has a tacky solution to offer regardless of how unsolvable the situation may appear).

Thus, the next time you’re in the mood for distraction, plunge into Kareena Kapoor’s and Abhishek Bachchan’s fantastic debut film. And while you suffer along with the 207-minute-plight of the two lovers, you’ll unconsciously find yourself being more deeply immersed in pondering about the absurdity of the Indian-Pakistani border than you’d ever expected.

Have a sheltered week,

Eric

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