Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eat Pray Love & Desert Flower: Arranged Marriages

Desert Flower's dramatic story and the romantic Eat, Pray, Love have two completely different arranged marriages scenes. They're great to talk about this topic.

Arranged marriage, with its emphasis on compatibility in religious, educational, and financial backgrounds, is most convenient. It's also often pleasing to the parents, since they have approved or even decided on the choice of partner. In some cases, parents will arrange a marriage for business reasons. When a parent engineers a match for a child in order to grow or expand the family business, this is less convenient and compatible. These marriages may fail, being need based and not based in companionship. Often, people who agree to this option only do so because they feel they have no other options or they have previously failed in love.

I. Discuss these questions:

1. How are arranged marriages seen by you and your culture?

2. Would you consider having an arranged marriage for yourself or someone in your family? How so?

3. Why do you think the lowest divorce rates come from countries where arranged marriages are common practice?

4. Is love the most important reason for a couple to get married?

5. Do you consider a marriage in which one of the mates is looking for a better financial situation arranged? Explain it.

6. Do you consider arranged marriages are solutions for illegal immigrants to become legal citizens?

II. Read the statements below and decide if they are true about arranged marriages, according to your own opinion.

( ) There is a deeper trust among the boy and the girl.

( ) There is full family support from both sides.

( ) The bond is stronger and healthier if the families know each other4. Boy and the girl can concentrate on other important

( ) Issues in life, like career and studies, leave the decision on the parents, so the couple can dedicate themselves to their own professional lives while parents decide on the marriage.

( ) The parents take the risk and the most important decision in the boy's and girl's lives.

( ) Arranged marriages encourage caste system, seldom do they look for partners from different social backgrounds.

( ) Parents should choose who is supposed to be the most important person in their children's lives.

( ) It encourages the dependence of children on their parents and does not help in making an individual identity.

( ) They tend to be long-lasting and more stable.

( ) You're likely to develop a close friendship as well as a love relationship with time.

( ) There is the excitement of the unknown and uncontrollable.

III. Watch the segment from the movie Eat, Pray, Love and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. How are the couple's feeling towards their arranged marriage?

3. What is the wedding like?

4. What's your opinion about this marriage? How likely is it to succeed?

5. What do you think will happen to the couple in the future?

6. Why are they having this kind of marriage?

IV. Watch the scene from the movie The Desert Flower and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. How do you know this marriage is arranged?

3. How common is this reason for an arranged marriage?

4. Would you consider this kind of marriage if you needed to move to another country for professional reasons? What about political reasons? And financial reasons?

5. Is it fair that social workers visit immigrants who have married native citizens' homes to check if the marriage is for real? Why (not)?

6. How likely to succeed is this kind of marriage?



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sex and the City 2 & The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Cultural Differences

The first movie is much better than this sequel, but it has its good moments too. The ladies visit to Abu Dhabi is perfect to talk about cultural differences.

I. Work in pairs:

1. When you think about Middle East cultures, what comes to your mind?

2. How different from your own culture do you think the items below are in Abu Dhabi?

- Men's clothes

- Women's clothes

- Viewpoints about beauty and cosmetic surgeries

- The purpose of the clothes people wear

- The use of the Internet

- The food

- Family structure

3. Is your culture better than Middle East countries'? Or is it just different? Explain it.

4. How easily would you adapt to a such different culture? What would you change in order to be part of the society?

II. Watch the movie segment from the movie Sex and the City 2 and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What can you say about the culture the American ladies are talking about? How do the American ladies see their culture?

3. How respectful are they?

4. What can you say about the items in exercise I #2, according to what you saw in the segment?

- Men's clothes

- Women's clothes

- Viewpoints about beauty and cosmetic surgeries

- The purpose of the clothes people wear

- The use of the Internet

5. Would you adapt your habits if you had to visit or live in Abu Dhabi? What would you never accept adapting?

6. Is it easier for an American to adapt to the Middle East cultural behavior or for an Arab to adapt to the American way of life? Explain it.

7. Does it make any difference if you are a man or a woman? Why?

Watch the segment from the marvelous movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and discuss the questions:

 1. Describe the scene.

2. The segment shows a British lady visiting her Indian hotel clerk relatives. How does the British woman and and the locals react?

3. What are some of the cultural differences and misunderstandings you could observe?

4. What should (not) the British lady do?

5. Would you like to visit a country such as India? Why (not)?



Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Da Vinci Code: Symbols

A great book, but not so great a movie. The messages in the film, though, are very good food for thought and discussion. I used these scenes to talk about symbols and what they represent.

A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers or amounts. All language consists

Look at the symbols below and say what they represent:



gay pride,





solidarity for HIV positive people living with AIDS

Vitruvian man symbolizes everything about Leonardo DaVinci’s calculated approach to both art and science and the beauty of the human form



no smoking area


 swastika - racism and the "white supremacy" of Neo-Nazis


I. Work in groups. Which symbol could represent the following ideas? Use your imagination.









Pet shop



Wireless Internet connection

II. Choose four of them and create posters with your own image. Make sure your friends will guess what it means from your drawings.

III. Share your posters with the class and let them guess what they represent.

IV. Watch the first segment from the movie The Da Vinci Code and answer the questions in pairs.

1. What does Professor Robert Langdon say about what symbols can help us understand?

2. What were both interpretations of the symbol he showed first?

3. What about the second symbol?

4. And the third one?

5. What message does he want to give with this presentation?

V. Watch now the second segment from the same movie and answer the questions in pairs.

1. What does the pentagon represent in this context of the segment?

2. What is your interpretation of the whole scene?