What it’s like to grow old in different parts of the world


The world’s population is getting older. Across the globe, people are living longer thanks to advances in healthcare, nutrition and technology. This population shift brings with it incredible possibilities — but also a new set of challenges. So … How do we care for our elderly?

Writer and scholar Jared Diamond (TED Talk: How societies can grow old better) examines the vast differences in how societies across the globe view and treat their senior citizens. Some groups revere and respect their oldest members, while others see them as senile and incompetent, making them the butt of jokes. In some societies, children care for their parents at home; in others, children put their parents in homes where others care for them. Some cultures see their elderly as a burden and resource drain and opt for more violent approaches to senior care. Here’s a look at how people across the globe treat their old…

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Want to be happy? Slow down


In 1972, Matthieu Ricard had a promising career in biochemistry, trying to figure out the secrets of E. coli bacteria. A chance encounter with Buddhism led to an about turn, and Ricard has spent the past 40+ years living in the Himalayas, studying mindfulness and happiness. In this free-wheeling discussion at TED Global in October 2014, Ricard talked with journalist and writer Pico Iyer about some of the things they’ve learned over the years, not least the importance of being conscious about mental health and how to spend time meaningfully. An edited version of the conversation, moderated by TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz, follows. First, Pico Iyer on how he became taken with the idea of staying still:

Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014. Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED. Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014. Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED.

Pico Iyer: When I was in my twenties, I had this wonderful…

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Operation Tubetop – My life as an expat in Vienna. Let me kvetch.

I just discovered this blog and am loving it!

In other news: last night I acted like a brat. It all started like this:

The Husband: Dear, my mother found a place that maybe we could go to for a holiday.
Me: [Silence]
The Husband: Just the three of us!
Me: Ooooo.kaaaay?
The Husband: It’s not far from Vienna. And they provide childcare.
Me: Mmmhmm.
The Husband: It’s a farm.
Me: WHAT?!

And then it went downhill from there. Now a weekend at a farm: no problem. A week on a farm? Kill me. Now, don’t get all judgey and up in my grill about this. I like nature. I like animals. I just don’t want to live with animals… for a week… I’m a city girl. I can also do villages. Preferably villages with a pizzeria and a place that sells wine. Maybe on the water.

So I just found out about a place on Lake Como and I am still waiting for details about the place. But it sounds absolutely perfect. I excitedly wrote the Husband all the details and I have been humming every Italian song I know (the national anthem because, Ferrari). I am picturing myself in a sundress and sunhat and pulling into a beautiful Italian town yelling “Eh! Buongiorno! Come Stai?”, the Kid running around and eating gelato. Bliss.

The Husband just wrote back and is not on board with this trip so I am in a snit and being a brat again. I suggested we take an overnight train ride to Milan and then rent a car, but he doesn’t like driving in Italy. I understand but I am pouting. It has been over two years since we have had a family holiday and I am desperate to go somewhere beautiful. I am totally having a pity party for myself. Y’all can come… especially if you can convince the Husband that this would be a great holiday. Not the farm holiday… the Como holiday.

Operation Tubetop – My life as an expat in Vienna. Let me kvetch.

Nine things to know before dating an Austrian

A recent article on The Local noted the fact that almost one third of Austrians are single, and seemed to hit a nerve amongst our expat readers, with many writing in to tell us about their experience of relationships with Austrian men and woman – both good and bad. Here’s a list of nine things to know before dating an Austrian.

Discounting some of the more bitter responses – “weird and psychotic” or “hard work and volatile” we have put together a list of nine things which might help you understand the Austrian psyche before you embark on a date. We’ve tried to avoid the obvious stereotypes, and apologise for any offense we might inadvertently cause.

To read the article:
Nine things to know before dating an Austrian

Seven great things to do within 50 miles of Vienna

Vienna is packed with imperial history, excellent museums and great places to eat. But how about when you want to escape the city? Barbara Cação, of Vienna Unwrapped, has some suggestions.

Wine Tour at Klosterneuburg
900 years old, Klosterneuburg Monastery is Austria’s oldest wine estate. You can tour their vast maze of vaulted wine cellars, learn about centuries of local wine making, and visit the monastery’s modern production facilities. Ask for the extensive old wine archive packed with rare wines. German language tours take place daily at 2.30pm. English tours are conducted on request.
Address: Stiftsplatz 1, 3400 Klosterneuburg

Classical Music at Grafenegg
While Vienna’s top orchestras take a summer break, why not visit the ultra-romantic 19th century castle of Grafenegg. From mid June to early September, tunes by Debussy, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Strauss, Vivaldi and others will echo through the castle and down the lush green hills of the Wachau Valley. The orchestras, such as the Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstlerorchester, are all well respected. Tickets for the Midsummer Night’s Gala (19th June) and for the Grafenegg Festival are selling fast.
Address: 3485 Grafenegg 10

A Night In The Chequer Tree
Brand-Laaben in the Vienna Woods is home to the ancient and now quite rare chequer tree (Elsbeerbaum in German). Between May and September you can spend a night in one of the trees, gently swaying in a safe portaledge. Beforehand, join a guided hiking tour, learn about the local culture of the chequer tree and taste some regional chequer fruit produce.
Dates: 29th and 30th May, 3rd and 4th July, 25th and 26th September.
Address: Iring Süss, 3053 Brand-Laaben 101. Email: iring@baumtraum.at

A Baroque Day Out at Schloss Hof
If you can’t get enough of the likes of majestic sites such as Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, why not spend a day at the equally splendid baroque Hof Castle. It once belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy, and was designed by Lucas von Hildebrandt, who also built Prince Eugene’s winter residence, the Schwarzenberg Palace, St Peter’s Church and other Viennese gems. The beautifully restored state rooms include original furniture. The vast baroque garden is bursting with flowers at this time of year, and children will love the Meierhof manor farm with its animals and orchards. A shuttle bus leaves from the Hilton hotel at Wien Mitte.
Address: 2294 Schlosshof 1

Apricot Harvest in the Wachau
Tracing the origins of your favourite breakfast jam can be fun. Local apricot growers from the Wachau Valley celebrate their produce from the first blossom to the fruit. Start hiking along the 4.5km apricot trail (Wachauer Marillenweg) from Weinhof Aureiter in Krems-Angern. Pick your own apricots at harvest time (forecast this year around mid-July) at Obsthof Reisinger in Spitz an der Donau, and celebrate the harvest at Spitzer Marillenkirtag (17th to 19th July). True nostalgics travel there by steam train from Wien Praterstern.

Picnic Concert at Esterházy Palace
Burgenland’s Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt has long been an insider tip for fans of classical music. On two weekends in July and August pack your picnic hamper for an open air concert on the meadow in front of the palace. On the menu will be music from Beethoven, Schumann, Strauss, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Britten and von Webern. Take the opportunity to see the palace and join the Joseph Haydn trail.
Dates: 11th and 12th July (Music from Woods and Meadows); 15th and 16th August (Sounds of Seas and Meadows)
Address: Schloss Esterházy, 7000 Eisenstadt

Draisine tour in the Weinviertel
Travel along train tracks through yellow rape fields, reeds and acacia forests on warm summer weekends. The Weinviertel draisine tour explores 13 km of disused train rails from Ernstbrunn to Aspern an der Zaya. The start of the tour is a moderate workout, before the rails start leading gently downhill. Each draisine has two bike seats and two middle seats for accompanying people. Great for family weekends out. (Also open during August on Thursdays and Fridays.)
Address: 2115 Rübenplatz Ernstbrunn

Seven great things to do within 50 miles of Vienna

Nine spectacular rides in Austria you have to cycle

June 3rd is European Cycling Day and what better time to plan a cycling adventure in Austria? Picturesque riversides and lakes, idyllic villages, historical towns and magnificent mountains are on offer – and taking your bike on the train is no problem.

Austria has an extensive network of more than 10,000 km of well developed and mostly paved cycling trails, and many Bed and Breakfast providers are cycle friendly. Here’s our pick of nine of the most scenic and exciting bike rides.

Nine spectacular rides in Austria you have to cycle