A Sense of Place: Malawi Harmonies

Our weekly web roundup of the best in world culture

By / September 2013

The Sound

The guys in the gospel band the Malawi Mouse Boys met as children when they stood on the roadside proffering barbecued mice snacks to tourists. In addition to field mice, the boys discovered beautiful harmonies together. Ian Brennan, the Grammy award-winning producer, stumbled upon the group and produced their first album He Is #1 in 2012. In July, the now grown men had their debut performance in the UK to a packed audience. Click here for a video recording of “Jesu” from their album He Is #1.


The Look

The above photo of Lake Kangasjärvi, frequented by swimmers and fishers in the daytime and stargazers at night, captures the very essence of a summer evening. Shooting nightfall over western Finland’s picturesque lake, the photographer writes that he only noticed the shooting star upon downloading the photos back at home.


The Words

Read an excerpt from Canadian author Taras Grescoe’s Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile. Grescoe, Toronto born, a self-described “non-fiction specialist” writes a treatise on the public transportation systems of the world’s major cities, at the same time criticizing—with impassioned prose—the automobile. And if you, like me, weren’t familiar with the term “straphanger”—it’s a nickname for one who commutes via public transportation.


The Taste

Artisan coffee vs. Nespresso? In a blind tasting which would win? Writer Julian Baggini staged just such an event at a Michelin-rated restaurant in Surrey. His hypothesis? No way could coffee made by a machine from capsules (Nespresso) compete with a cup of joe brewed in the traditional way. But the results proved surprising, and a bit unsettling, leading Baggini to wonder: “Does this herald the death of artisan coffee, except in those exclusive enclaves where the very best, most obsessive practitioners ply their trade? And is the writing on the wall for other areas of human excellence where we cling to the idea that artisanal is best?”


Emily Bratcher is a contributing writer and editor for EthnoTraveler. She lives in Iowa City.