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StrangeSights: Valentine’s Day voting in Bali; a museum for lost relationships; and, a happy ending for matchstick Eiffel Tower…

DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life…

A member of the Linmas civil defence force passes by ballot boxes at a Valentine’s Day themed polling station during the general election in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, on 14th February, 2024. PICTURE: Antara Foto/Ari Bowo Sucipto via Reuters

• Heart-shaped balloons, chocolate and pink candy welcomed voters to a polling station in the city of Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali during the presidential election on Wednesday, Valentine’s Day. Voters were greeted at the 026 Tunjungsari Polling Station by women dressed in pink traditional clothing, handing out chocolates instead of how-to-vote cards. Once ballots were cast, voters were thanked with candy. “It makes voting fun because I can vote while celebrating Valentine’s,” said first-time voter Ni Komang Intant Yuliani. Indonesia’s election, with more than 200 million of the 270 million population eligible to vote, is the world’s biggest single-day election. Nearly 259,000 candidates are contesting 20,600 posts. “We’ve exercised our voting rights and we’ve voted as a form of loving our state representatives,” said Agus Supraptha, who was surprised to receive the confectionery on Valentine’s Day. The election will decide who succeeds popular President Joko Widodo to run the world’s third-largest democracy and world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, a 72-year-old former special forces commander making a third attempt at the presidency, is favourite according to opinion polls. – SULTAN ANSHORI and ZAHRA MATARANI, Denpasar, Indonesia/Reuters


• A scab from an old motorbike accident. An unworn wedding dress. A prosthetic leg. An axe. As the world celebrates Valentines Day on Wednesday, one museum in Zagreb has collected objects that commemorate sometimes bizarre tales of love lost. Established in 2006 on a secluded street near Zagreb’s main square – a favourite meeting place for lovers and friends for decades – the privately run Museum of Broken Relationships has thousands of pieces, some ordinary, some odd, each an emblem of a dying romance.  “It’s not the objects, but the stories that are intriguing and inspiring and emotional,” said museum co-founder Drazen Grubisic.  “For me this is a museum about love. We just may have a different view on love when it’s over.” A Croatian war veteran donated a prosthetic leg as a memory of his affair with a defence ministry worker he met during his treatment. The leg outlasted the relationship. A Turkish woman donated a wedding dress she never wore because her husband-to-be passed away a month before the ceremony.  One person gave an axe that they had used to chop up their ex-girlfriend’s furniture. Another donated a 27-year-old scab from a lover’s motorbike accident. The person, a biologist, once wondered if they could use it to clone their loved one. “The desire to clone my partner from that time exists no more,” the person said in a post on the museum website. A book by the British hypnotist Paul McKenna called I Can Make you Thin is among the items displayed in the museum, donated by a woman who received it from her partner. “Do not buy this book and give it to a loved one, if you want your relationship to last,” Grubisic said. – ANTONIO BRONIC, Zagreb, Croatia/Reuters


Richard Plaud, a Frenchman who built a model of the Eiffel Tower using 706,900 matchsticks poses next to the structure measures at 7.19 metres in this undated photograph taken in Saujon, France, on 7th January, 2024. Richard Plaud/Handout via Reuters

Guinness World Records on Thursday told Frenchman Richard Plaud that his 7.2-metre matchstick Eiffel Tower was a record height, a day after initially rejecting it for using the wrong matches to Plaud’s dismay. Plaud said he had been on an “emotional rollercoaster” this week, after spending 4,200 hours over eight years on building his model from more than 706,000 matches and 23 kilograms of glue. “For eight years, I’ve always thought that I was building the tallest matchstick structure,” he told Reuters. However Guinness World Records initially told him he didn’t make the cut as he hadn’t used matches that were “commercially available”. Plaud started off by using commercial matches, cutting the head off each. Tired of this tedious process, he asked the manufacturer if he could buy just the wooden sticks without the head, prompting Guinness to refuse his record. “We’re really excited to be able to approve it…we’re happy to be able to admit that we were a little bit too harsh on the type of matches needed in this attempt, and Richard’s attempt truly is officially amazing,” said Mark Mckinley, director of central records services at Guinness World Records. – ARDEE NAPOLITANO, Saujon, France/Reuters



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