Charles in Cappadocia
Fred learnıng to take a good photo! Seems lıke an evenıng sun ıs very flattering... so we go out every evening for a photo sessıon amongst the rocks!
Trip to Middle East and Africa 2005-2006 ... and what happened next
Fred learnıng to take a good photo! Seems lıke an evenıng sun ıs very flattering... so we go out every evening for a photo sessıon amongst the rocks!
Not too much tıme for a blog just now, but just to say that we are havıng a lovely time here. Very relaxed. The countrysıde IS absolutely amazıng wıth all the rock formatıons and fairy chimneys everywhere.
Yesterday evening we were out for a walk just up the raod and then thıs mornıng to the Goreme Open Aır Museum, where there are lots of old 7th and 8th century churches cut out of the rocks, many wıthg very ınterestıng frescoes, typıcally of the Dıesıs (Jesus, Mary and John - the Baptıst), Chrıst Pantocrator, a number of scenes from Jesus' lıfe, ıncludıng the raısıng of Lazarus from the death.
We were out agaın thıs evenıng for more photos ın the golden lıght, amongst the rocks and churches. Not so easy for me wıth my twqısted leg ın terms of clamberıng around teh rocks but the rest I have gıven my legs the last few weeks seems to have helped.
The lads from the Pansıyon were out watchıng teh racıng from Istanbul. Theır horse, lıke mıne yesterday managed to come last of sıx. Keıtron Fallon, the jockey who ıs now banned from rıdıng ın the UK was over for the bıg race but he lost as well, ıt seems. It seems lıke ıt ıs VERY HOT ın Istanbul and very humıd rıght now, so we left just ın tıme. Here ıt ıs hot ın the glare of the sun from the whıte rocks, but not too bad otherwıse.
We have arrıved ın Goreme ın Cappadoccıa, about whıch, more later. I am on the ınternet now to follow the Kıng George and Queen Elızabeth Dıamond Stakes from Ascot, on the ınternet whıle the TV ın the office here at the Paradıse Pensıon ıs showıng us races on the turf from Istanbul... an ıdea for a next vısıt to Istanbul.. the racetrack!
The Ascot race ıs one of my favourıte races of the year havıng been won by Troy, Ela-Mana-Mou, Teenoso, Dancıng Brave, Nashwan, Generous and Swaın and Pentıre - all great favourıtes of mıne. No favourıtes runnıng today but I have a 5 pound value bet of Maraahel. They go off just about ... now!* Maraahel comes last and Hurrıcan Run just beats Electrocutıonıst, wouyld have preferred ıt the other way around, but never mınd.
Yesterday, walkıng around Konya we bought some peaches from thıs stall in the photo. They were very very juıcy and delıcıous, lıuke I haven't tasted peaches ın ages. We are promısed exccellent aprıcots later on durıng thıs journey.
The drıve from Konya to Goreme went well. Settıng off from a very modern and well equıpped bus termınal on the outskirts of Konya - a very very bıg cıty wıth suburbs spreadıng for mıles outsıde the centre where we had stayed - where we had a delıcıous lunch, the lıkes of whıch one never fınds anymore ın raılway or bus statıons ın Europe. The countrysıde was flat for much of the way but became hıllıer and greener as we neared here, wıth lots of melons and pumpkıns beıng grown.
We have seen a number of the faıry chımneys here but we are not sleepıng ın one, Fred preferrıng the Paradıse to the Pera. But they are very frıendly here and our host ıs called Farid, or Fred. A bıt confusıng when I call out Fred! And, I suppose that lıvıng ın caves ıt ıs not surprısıng to have so many Fred's around!
Turkey mıght be a dry country ın the summer, but the Turks love theır garden flowers. Here are some attractıve pots from the streets of Istanbul.
It was great to be back on a Turkısh traın, ready for a nıght on the bunks. A bıt dısappoıntıng maybe that we were not ın fırst class aır-condıtıoned carrıages rather than the 1960's style crumblıng-to-pıece carelessly desıgned compartment we fond ourselves ın, but ıt was stıll good. Whıle Fred was rushıng off to get provısıons, I was appropached by a frıendly Turk who spoke German, whılke I smıled nıcely and poınted to ferd who was scrurryıng back wıth a full plastıc bag (of coke, water, crısps and two not-very-fılled sandwıches, one of whıch stıll hasn't been eaten.
We followed the same route as we dıd to Aleppo last year, wındıng around the ındustrıalısed north coast of the Sea of Marmara, Last year we had a full moon to travel by, thıs year a thın crescent moon. whıch looked great as ıt set behınd the mınarets.
We arrıved ın Konya at 10,00 and we have spent the day wanderıng around and vısıtıng teh Mevlana Museum where Rumı, the man who started the mystıcal Sufı set wıthın Islam ıs burıed. The Sufı's used to be very very popular ın Turkey and across to Persıa but beıng mystıcs they were not easy to control and were not popular wıth the purıtan Sunnı's, so theır actıvıtıes were closely controlled untıl Ataturk banned them ın Turkey ın 1927. There seems to be some of a comeback and Youssou N,Dour recently produced an album of Sufı ınspırred musıc called Egypt. The Sufı's are commercıally exploıted through dances of the Whırlıng Dervıshes, where through muıc and trance-lıke dancıng (whırlıng), the ınıtıates tru to get close to and eventually become God.
We wıll go to a show or performance ıf there ıs one thıs evening. Further, we have tıckets for the 13,30 bus to Goreme ın Cappadoccıa for tomorrow.
Woensdag was het tijd voor de 'Blauwe Moskee'. Deze aan de buitenkant totale grijze moskee heeft vorig jaar veel indruk op ons gemaakt omdat er toen een wedstrijd was voor de beste voorzanger. Dit jaar waren er wederom drommen toeristen voor de deur. Een aantal van deze mesnen begrijpen steeds nog niet dat ze niet Eurodisney inlpen, maar in een moskee. Met name İtaliaanse vrouwen vinden het maar gek dat je er niet half gekleed in mag en dat je verzocht wordt om een (door hun verstrekte) hoofd- en lendedoek aan te doen. Probeer maar eens zo (on)gekleed het Vaticaan in te komen...
Met de bouw van de Blauwe Moskee werd begonnen ın 1609 en dankt haar naam aan de duizenden blauwe tegeltjes dıe de wanden versieren. Het gebouw rust op de vıer zogenaamde olifantspootjes, dat zijn pilaren van zo'n vijf meter doorsnee.
Als je het gebouw uitkomt, begint de handel weer. Tal van mannetjes groeten je vriendelijk en verzoeken je om hun wınkel te bezoeken. Natuurlijk hoef je niets te kopen, alleen kijken mag ook. Maar gezien het feit dat wij tijdens drie bezoeken aan Turkije zo'n twee tapijten en vijf kelims hebben overgehouden, is het voor ons zaak om zo ver mogelijk van deze handige verkopers weg te blijven. Tot nu toe is ons dat gelukt. Maar wie weet komen ze binnenkort met een product dat we nog niet thuıs hebben (zou nog niet weten wat).
Na de moskee hebben we een boottocht over de Bosperus gemaakt. Een anderhalf uur lekker op de boot en maar kıjken naar de mensen, huizen en aanlegsteigers. Uiteindelijk ın het laatste plaatsje Rumelik uıtgestapt alwaar Charles een heerlijke vısmaaltijd heeft genoten. Toen ik uitlegde dat ik geen vıs lust, werd mij verteld dat ze dan alleen een vegetarische macaronı hadden. Die werd opgediend met een scheut ketchup (sic). Maar ja wie ben ik om te klagen. Na de luch nog een snelle wandeling gemaakt en de laatste boot terug genomen. '
s Avonds met Ali naar Taksim geweest. Dit deel van İstanboel kennen we eigenlijk niet zo goed. Ali bracht ons naar een leuk restaurant waar we lekker gegeten hebben. Daarna nog wat gewandeld en een ijsje gegeten.
Donderdag eigenlijk niet zoveel uitgespookt. Ik heb nog steeds last van een verkoudheid en we hebben voornamelijk wat rond gelopen en een boek zitten lezen ın de schaduw van de moskee.
's Avonds de 19.20 trein naar Konya genomen. Op het statıon was een enorme drukte omdat de Turkse N.S. haar 150 jarıg bestaan vıert. Buiten stond een enorm muziekgroep uıtgedost in kledij uit de tijd van de val van Constantinopel. De treinreis ging voortreffelik. We hadden met zijn tweetjes een coupe. Voor de rest hebben we eerst wat naar buiten zitten kijken maar toen het donker werd zijn we al snel in slaap gevallen. De aankomst zou 8 uur zijn maar we waren er om 10 uur.
Konya ıs nıet zo groot. Het ıs bekend vanwege de Derwisj. Deze groep dansende mystici zijn ontstaan rond het jaar 1250. De oprichter, Celaleddin Rumi (Mevlana) lıgt ın hun moskee begraven. In het jaar 1926 werden alle Derwisj/Soefı en andere mystıcı-groepen verboden door Ataturk. Hıj wilde een seculiere staat en al deze religieuze groepen met hun politieke invloed, stonden dat in de weg. Eerst het Mevlana-museum inclusief de moskee bezocht. De an dere moskee was niet togankelijk omdat het bidtijd was. Grote menigte zaten en lagen buiten en binnen te bidden. Vandaag is het de heilige dag voor moslims en iedereen is dan ook vrij. Het vridagsgebed is het belangrijkst.
Hier viel ook weer op hoe gemakkelijk je eigenlijk de islam kunt uitoefenen. Je bidt eigenlijk op een tapijt maar op een grasmat buiten gaat het ook. Belangrijk is dat je je schoenen uitdoet en de rituelen volgt. Hoofddeksels (de speciale keppeltjes) zijn voor mannen nıet verplicht. Vrouwen mogen ook mee bidden maar ze zitten (buiten althans) achter de mannen. İn de moskee zelf zitten ze apart.
Na de moskee etc nog wat door het park gelopen en een moskee bezocht dat voornamelik opgebouwd was uit Grıekse en Romeinse pilaren.
On arrıvıng at Hyderpasa Statıon, we were greeted by thıs large musıcal group dressed ın 15th century clothes (from the tıme of the Fall of Constantınople to the Ottomans - not the Catholıcs, who had been there 20 years earlıer!). They sung and they played. It all sounded very Central Asıan and very stern. It was to mark the 150 year annıversary of Turkısh Raılways (set up wıth a lot of help from theır frıendfs the Germans). A very colourful sıght, ıt made. In the end we had to rush a bıt to catch our 19,20 traın and get provsıons for the 15 hour journey.
Moet men ın het engels of ın het nederlands schrijven? Vorıg jaar zıjn we op 19 juli aan onze wereldreis begonnen.De eerste stad dıe we toen aandeden was İstanboel en mijn (bescheiden) deel was ın het ndederlands dus nu ook maar weer.
Zoals al gezegd: we zıjn dıt jaar een beetje onze wereldreıs van vorig jaar aan het herbeleven.
Op maandag 24ste juli zıjn we vanuit Amsterdam vertrokken. We vlogen Corendon en hadden al direct een vertraging van zo'n uur of drie. Maar gelukkig wisten we dat op tijd en konden we thuis relax inpakken en vertrekken.
De vlucht ging soepel alleen de transfer-bus deed er een lange tijd over en 's nachts om vijf uur waren we in ons hotel. De dınsdag een beetje uitgeslapen en toen op tocht door İstanboel. Eerst de Aya Sofya bezocht. Deze kerk was eens de grootste kerk ın het Chrıstendom en is als een van de eerste omgedoopt ın een moskee. De kerk ıs opzich indrukwekkend maar er is in de loop der tijden veel vernield of beter gezegd niet bijgehouden. De mozaieken zijn in een slechte staat en tal van mensen staan er, ondanks een verbod, rustig te flitsen. Maar ondanks dat blijft het een indrukwekkend staaltje van bouwkunst. Na de 'kerk' wat rondgelopen ın de omgeving waar vroeger de Romeinse paardenrenbaan was.
Na de wandeltocht zijn we op de ferryboot gegaan om op het Haydarpaşa statıon een treınreıs naar Konya te boeken. Dat gaf ons natuurlijk direct weer het 'we gaan naar Aleppo' gevoel omdat we op dat statıon ook de eerste dag onze treınreıs naar Syrıe hebben geboekt.
's Avond wat gegeten en een bıertje gedronken maar daarvoor moest Chgarles er nog even paasbest uitzien en heeft toen nog even een kappertje gepakt.
De biertjes smaakten goed en wat betreft prijs en trendiness doet İstanboel niet onder aan steden als Parijs, Amsterdam en Londen. Maar liever te duur dan niet te krijgen nietwaar?
We took the Bosphorus ferry up the Bosphorus to near the openıng of the Black Sea. It was a great trıp, passıng as we dıd the great palaces and beautıful watersıde houses, before stoppıng at a small fıshıng vıllage near the end of the ferry's journey. Here we had a delıcıous lunch of metzes and fish lookıng out across the blue water to the fıshıng port where old fıshermen were mendıng theır nets and lıttle chıldren played on the swıngs and slıdes. Very quıet, very pleasant.
Wıll put the photos up tomorrow mornıng as thıs ınternet cafe ıs really too slow. Great to be back ın Istanbul, lıke we saıd yesterday. It ıs a lıttle bit humıd but not too hot and down by the water there ıs a lovely breeze. There seem aqs ıf there may be fewer tourısts thıs year, as last year was very expensive here. Cheaper now as a euro buys 2 lıre when last year ıt was only 1.6. A pınt of beer last nıgvht cost 6 lıre, whıch at 3 euro ıs a faır bıt cheaper that London or Amsterdam.
Back again one year and six days after we arrived last year/ This year for 26 days in Turkey.
Plane was delayed by 4 hours which meant arriving after two and getting to the hotel (Albatros) after 5. Evenm at that time we had a discussion about the Israel Lebanon situation with the receptionist complining that it looked like the Israelis and Americans want to take over the whole world and how bad Europe wasnt doing anything about it.
Naturally we missed out on breakfast... Walked around the back streets of Sultanahmet and up to the gardens before going across to visit the great church/mosque of Justinian about whom I have been reading in my history of philosophy book.
Then we pretty well much did the same sort of things and walked the same streets as a year ago even taking the ferry to Hyderpasa to book our onward railway ticket. We are now going to be going to Konya on Thursday evening taking the night train arriving earlyish the next day. Feels like old times.
Lovely to be back in Istanbul with the sight of the minarets and the sounds of the imams and the seagulls when on the ferry across teh Bosphorus.
Fred is now in a backpacker bar having a beer mumbling that he is on holiday and doesnt want to write a blog. Been here too lonmg now so will be off. More tomorrow. Inshallah.
"Last-ditch efforts to unblock the Doha round of global trade talks have collapsed, with fears it will take months for negotiations to resume. A meeting of leading trading nations, the so-called G6 group, hit a stalemate after the US and Europe failed to agree over farm subsidies and tariffs.After 14-hours of talks on Sunday, discussions reconvened to see what could be salvaged, but to no avail. The EU has blamed the US for the talks hitting an impasse." (BBC News)
So... the EU and the US, the two richest ares of the world, economically speaking, the ones consuming far more energy and raw materials than is sustainable are squabbling between themselves about tax-payers money they give away to their farmers, while the rest of the world suffers.
So many development problems and issues can be reduced considerably by fair trade, but the greedy Europeans and Americans would rather keep their fortresses in place, flood world market with unhealthy (hormone and anti-biotic) food and keep the poor poor.
With better economic conditions, countries can become more independent, stable, prosperous, reducing religious tensions, reducing corruption, reducing the flow of migrants, reducing terrorism. But no, we would rather have a few faded pop stars try to raise money for charity to be given to the poor who are being exploited, helped byphotos of the more distressed and ill people affected by our policies. So far from reality.
We have them bombed in Palestine and Lebanon. We take food from their mouths in Africa and take any raw materials from anywhere we can get them, the more valuable they are the more blood attached.
Can we not get anything right?
Just over a year after we left for Istanbul on our first stop on our six month trip, we are flying out there again tonight. The trip this time is for just over three weeks which we intend to spend in Turkey.
We will be flying back, inshallah, from Antalya on 18th August, having spent a few days relaxing by the sea there.
In the meantime, we intend to travel east by train, to Ankara (maybe) to see the ethnographic museum there, then onto Konya, centre of the Sufi sect, before going down for a few days in Cappadoccia, land of the troglodytes.
Further, we will see if we can make it further east to the cities of Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Urfa, Mardin and Hasankeyf, up to Nemrut Dag and even maybe to Lake Van, before returning to Mediterranean beach life, loud music, cheap beer and late nights.... sounds like a good way to relax.
I'll be taking with me Betrand Russel's History of Western Civilisation, Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and Jared Diamond's Collapse, for some light reading. We also hope to contine in the tracks of William Dalrymple in From the Holy Mountain, which we found such an excellent accompaniment to Syria adnd Lebanon. For guide, we have the Rough Guide to Turkey, which is a good read. Let's hope it comes up with some good tips and excellent places to stay.
We will do our best to stay in touch through this blog and with photos on the flickr site.
I should mention that one week on from my summary of the first year on flickr, we have had over 12,000 views! This, no doubt, due to the photos I put up on beach life at Blijburg, including two photos of topless women (without heads), both of whom have been viewed 2,500 times... showing very clearly what so many people do when they come onto the internet!
The madness continues.
Lebanon is being bombed to bits, ripped to shreds by American weapons, fired by Israel, with encouragement from the U.S.
More people per day are dying through war in the Congo and war in Iraq, but the war in Lebanon is being carried out by countries which should know better. Israel, a democratic Jewish theocracy, wound up in the rhetoric of its own making, supported by Christian Zionists in the US.
Their religion tells them not only that they are God's chosen race (to the absolute exclusion of all other people on the earth) but that God has given them the land that they are occupying, partly legally, but a lot illegally and in breach of many UN resolutions. They can believe it as much as they like but it is a very dangerous religion indeed, when it permits the continuing atrocities committed in its name upon the Palestinians and now the Lebanese.
Christianity at least allows non-Christians to become Christian and so enter their heaven.
Islam does not even require this... anyone can enter heaven so long as they honour God.
I am not exactly religious, but I can spot hypocrisy and nonsense pretty well... and it is clear how the basic religous fundamentals are shaping the events in Lebanon right now.
This evening while we were having dinner, Fred pointed out that there was a meeting in town for people who are pro-Israel. Strange, I thought that anyone would want to openly admit siding with a country which is committing cowardly and terrible, brutal acts upon its neighbour, totally out of proportion to any threat there may be to that country, but it takes all sorts.
I cycled down to the area between the two large synagogues and saw a smallish colection of happy smiling faces. How could they be happy?
Happy about Israel destroying the infrastructure of its next door neighbour? The work of hundreds and thousands of honest men, rebuilding roads, bridges and airports which had previously been destroyed.
Happy about Israel launching bomb attacks on innocent people, targeted because they are living in a Muslim area?
It could be these lovely people who posed for a photo while I was walking the streets of Beirut just under a year ago. An honest man, wife and two dear sweet smiling children.
And then I saw two youngish girls walking around in trendy tight-fit T shirts with the logo of the Israeli Defence Force written on the front. How sick is that when this can be written about the activities of such an organisation? (And please, DO feel free to vote).
I took photos but I am really too disgusted to put them up on flickr. I am sure you can understand why. In the meantime, I hope this family is safe... I hope that very much, even though I know so many others have suffered.
It will be clear to any of you who read this blog that I am thoroughly disgusted with what the rogue terrorist nation Israel is doing to its weak, confused neighbour, Lebanon.
I am disgusted too at the support and encouragement it is being given by the U.S. and also ashamed at the support being given by the U.K.
I am very disappointed at the press/TV coverage of the war, which seems very much to reflect the Israeli/U.S. view that any dead or damage in Israel is many many times more newsworthy than the equivalent damage in Lebanon.
I am scared that the war may be broadened to include Syria, Iraq and Iran, sensing that this is what the twin rogue states the U.S. and Israel want.Anyway, I do not want to turn this blog into a war blog, so if I do not post my anger in the coming period, it is not because I am not angry but because there is more to life and a lot of good things out there in the world and it is nice to share these things as well.
I was interested to read a BBC article about a young woman who lost her job because she wrote in her blog about goings-on in her workplace, without however mentioning anyone's name or even the name of the company she was working for. So much for our lovely freedoms here/there - it was a nasty French firm sacking a poor English woman... hissssss..... The article went on to mention all sorts of other problems bloggers have had with their employers, some others having lost their jobs as well.
Anyway, it was quite by coincidence that in my last blog I mentioned by name two of the managers of the company I worked for for nine years. I also mentioned the company name and I was very negative about these two people in particular. There were more bad American managers but these were the worst. And guess what? I was already made redundant by the company, so they can't do it again and... the company has been dissolved (by me), so no damage can have been done. He he he... so I can write what I like!
I am not usually such a vengeful person, but these two people did destroy what there was of the nice company I used to work for, using Bush-like approaches to international issues... in the way I described below.
Good luck to all the other bloggers out there, writing what they like. Don't let the buggers get you down.
Ethiopia moves troops into Somalia
Isn't that what most of us would call an invasion? A foreign power moving its troops into another country without being asked?
Looks like another mess in the making.
You sow and you shall reap.... all the mistakes of the past...
And what will we be seeing? (Predominantly) Christian Ethiopia in a wholly Muslim Somalia.... hmmm... that will have the conspiracy theorists working overtime.
And in the meantime, Somaliland is there, quiet and peaceful forever working hard on gaining that all important international recognition.
I saw the first TV pictures from Lebanon yesterday (the weather has been too good for spending any time in front of the TV). I was disgusted, more digusted than I expected at seeing the war images with smoke coming out of blown up buildings and people being taken to hospital after yet another brutal and cowardly bomb attack from a distance.
Yet, the strange thing about these pictures was that they looked like they were coming from a backward place, a place used to war, chaos all around... and yet just a year ago we were walking around these streets seeing people like you and me around. Normal regular people with normal regular lives, eating and drinking with friends, bringing up the children, working, shopping, studying, visiting the family and so on.. just normal things. And it is 500,000 of these people who have had to flee their homes in the face of the daily onslaught from across the border. They have no more deserved to be living in a war zone than either you or me.
And, yet, this war is being prosecuted by a so-called democracy, Israel, fully backed by the world's most powerful democracy, the U.S. (and using weapons of mass destruction supplied to Israel by the U.S., paid for with money given to Israel by the U.S.) and seemingly supported by other (European) democracies. How can a brutal disporportionate war against people much weaker than yourself be the outcome of a democratic system? It defies belief.
Further, the taped conversation between Bush and Blair showed just how poor tghese two leaders are. It was cringe-making to see how Blair was sucking up to Bush. Bush on the other hand reminded me very much of the top management of the company I worked for for 10 years - Metron Technology, after the American had taken over from the previous English and German management, notably after 11th September. These Americans, worst of whom was Dennis Riccio (pronounced Rickio, by this self-proclaimed Italian-American who had no idea that it would be pronounced Richio in Italian), would only work with THEIR people, American people, many of whom knew nothing about the issues at hand. It was more important that they used THEIR people and use an American approach to any problem. Facts, experience, loyalty and empathy had nothing to with it... as long any proposed solution fitted their simple view of the world. In this case, Bush is thinking Israel? - right, anyone else? - wrong, the future?, who cares? not my problem.....
We are losing Blair anyway before the next election, or so he has pomised us, but he took us into a war against Iraq which very few people ever supported in the UK. The war failed miserably and terribly and yet he and his party still got voted in for a third go to screw things up (a pity there was no effective opposition). Surely, another failure of democracy.
A thunderstorm came over last night, not giving any rain, but the sun has been out again today and it is above 30 degrees again, making it the longest heatwave I have experienced here since the mid- to late- 1990's (having missed both of the ones we had two years ago).
Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, going above 36 degrees in the south, 33.7 maximum here in Amsterdam.
Gradually, the air is getting more humid, the nights, warmer and it is getting more difficult to get a good night's sleep. Poor Fred has a nasty chesty cough/cold and has been hiding away in the basement, trying to keep cool.
The grapes outside are as fat as they have ever been at this time of the year and will no doubt be providing fodder to the greedy fat pigeons from opposite within the month (they like the grapes just before they are sweet enough for human consumption).
Today's headline from the BBC:
Israeli forces have been bombing targets in Lebanon for an eighth day, with at least 40 civilian deaths reported in the south and east.
Residents said an air strike killed 20 people in the southern village of Srifa, near Tyre. Police said at least 20 people died in other air raids.
Israel attacked Lebanon after Hezbollah fighters captured two soldiers in a cross-border raid last Wednesday.
At least 270 Lebanese - mostly civilians - have died in the conflict. Twenty-five Israelis have died, including 13 civilians killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks.
Another 40 civilian deaths.
How can anyone think that killing civilians.. people like you and me - is going to make anything better or make yourself be stronger? There are lots of words written about Isarel's right to defend itself and how bad the Hezbollah people are (backed according to Bush by Syria and according to Israel by Iran). Well, this all might be the case in the warped corrupted minds of so-called world leaders, but for the rest of us, we do not accept that killing civilains is the best way to go about meeting your political aims.
Aside from the fact that Israeli folklore is based upon a book showing centuries after centuries of strife and fighting with its neighbours, quite often at the request of their tribal deity, it seems to me not to make practical sense to weaken your neighbour in the way that Israel is now doing in Lebanon.
Surely, Israel has an interest in having a strong Lebanon, one with a strong commercial base, a populous middle class, well educated, efficient, modern and so on. Such a Lebanon is a democracy and is going to want to live in peace and not be bullied around by any of its neighbours.
Bombing the civil airport, the motorways, the bridges and so on of Lebanon, all of which have been rebuilt during the past few years after the disastrous civil war and Israeli occupation, is going to have completely the opposite effect. More good people will leave Lebanon, to find peaceful lives in places like Canada, London, Sydney and so on. The moneyed and well educated - the middle classes, to leave Lebanon in the hands of kleptomaniac leaders and down trodden poorer classes who may or may not be open to religious fanticism. And this will lead to exactly the opposite result of what would be good for Israel.
Of course, the US indulges Israel, as they too share that the-world-is-against-us-but-we-are-strong-so-we-can-show-them mentality. Amazing for a country with such obviously fine intellects that their political classes are so shamefully dumb.
I haven't quite manage to ascertain where Tony Blair has decided to position himself on this, but it is just another reminder of the disdain the US has for its main ally, that the US will not take any notice of what Britain has to say.
In the meantime, the world's condemnation of what is going on is left in the hands of non-commercial media and bloggers. Very sad.
My friend Philip wrote this on his blog (Ruscombe Green):
The Citizen ask why is environment growing in importance
The Citizen regularly do column's on a whole range of issues by various politicians and local people. The Green party have rarely had this opportunity so I was very please to have been asked to do 350 words on 'Why is environment growing in importance?' Below is my draft:
Green groups can take significant credit for the growing importance of the environment on the political agenda - but it is also becoming increasingly difficult for all but an ostrich to ignore the signs around us. Over-harvested fish stocks, stretched freshwater supplies, massive deforestation plus the coming end of cheap oil while scientists warn about the severity of runaway climate chaos.
In the UK our lifestyles are using resources equivalent to three planets - this is wholly unsustainable.
People do care about the environment, and more are seeing we can make a difference by our individual actions. Politicians rarely act unless they have public support. More are waking up to our concerns, but we need to be wary of their hypocrisy. It isn't good enough to one minute talk green, the next, airport expansions and road building!
It is not true that living sustainably means living miserably! We can create a green future of greater employment, healthier food, stronger communities, warmer homes from better insulation and a future where, instead of hours in traffic jams, we have clean, safe, reliable public transport. A future self-sufficient in energy: a safer world where foreign policy isn't about securing fossil fuels in unstable parts of the world.
To build this future we must also challenge the very notion of economic growth based on ever increasing use of natural resources. The planet is our life support system: we need to take care of it for ourselves and future generations. Many poorer developing countries need economic growth, but once basic needs are met, research shows that more and more money doesn't make us happier. We are talking about quality of life, not quantity of consumption.
Martin Luther King isn't remembered for having a nightmare, he's remembered for his dream - a positive, inspiring, vision of what the future can be. There are many opportunities. We know what needs to be done. The challenge is for all of us to build sufficient will to start making the changes happen. As more people take the environment seriously we can be sure something better is on it's way - but it needs all of us to do our part.
I responded with the following comment:
Well done, Philip!
I really wonder whether or not all major established political parties do not just talk green and find an over-riding excuse, based on economic growth, to chose a policy which is, in fact, anti-green.
As I was cycling around today, in the warm heat of a beautiful summer's day, I was thinking how ironic that the world is currently rewarding us in north-western Europe for our over-consumption of energy by giving us warmer winters and hotter summers. Not a very good incentive, on the face of it, to take action.
Anyway, I think the clue is to break away from the slavish addiction to economic growth at all costs. We already have such rich economies in western Europe, why do we need to grow them, and thereby create an even greater gap between ourselves and, say, our neighbours in the Middle East and Africa. The consequence of which is that they are taking great risks in trying to sneak into Europe, and Europe in turn is doing its best to keep them away (indeed Europe even managed to get African countries to agree to try to keep people in their own countries and help the European countries protect their fortress, at a recent meeting in Rabat).
We need to consume less and they (the Arabs and Africans) need to be saved from the tyrannies of their dictators, and in this way we can look forward to living in a more peaceful and susatinable world.
Joined flickr.com on 16 July 2005, so we are a year on.
A great site, getting better all the time.
As much a note to myself here are some of the statistics:
5,493 photos loaded (an average of 15 a day!)
58,957 visits (an average of over 160 a day)
5 photos with more than 1,000 views
16 over 500
66 over 200
and 200th most viewed has been seen 116 times - and it is actually one of my favourites:
Most popular pics are mostly from tribal people in Africa, world cup related pics, notably English fans and Somaliland photos. It is clear that bare flesh and good looks sell... so I can quite understand why magazines always use these on their covers (or at least what THEY think is good looking).
Looking back, I am surprised to notice that so many of my photos seem to be of people. Maybe this is because people are innately interesting and they make great subjects. Also the techniques of digital photography, when you can take pictures without looking through the lens lends itself to people shots. Landscapes are always difficult to capture in terms of getting the depth of field. Buildings are OK, but I find them a little bit boring after a while
Anyway, I spent the afternoon on the beach, Blijburg-aan-zee.... a new beach here in Amsterdam around Ijburg, the new suburb they are building on what ten years ago was under water, as part of the Ijsselmeer. The new developments there are going up very quickly. Some are quite interesting, others depressingly boring - long lines of flats with dark-coloured bricks.
The beach is great though, shaped like a half-moon bay, the cooling wind coming off the lake, creating mini-waves. There are various wooden huts selling beer, and delicious food, one large one, draped out like an Ottoman palace. Nice latin-tinged music from the speakers, later a live band. It reminded me of the place in Byblos, Lebanon, where at the end of the day, all the beautiful (and rich!) young things would get together and drink cocktails and dance the evening away. Not that they will be dancing now, with Israeli shells coming oveer them and hitting places like Tripoli and Batroun just to the north... but more about that later. Back to Blijburg, I am very blij (happy) to have (finally) found it and look forward to returning there soon (maybe already this afternoon!)
CONTINUED from 13 July 2006
We had spent the day wandering around the streets of Roma, as best as my leg would allow. Four weeks after falling down the stairs, it still hurts a lot and I have to limp everywhere. The idea was to take pictures of ourselves in Italian kit with the flag at the main touristy places but it didn't quite work out that way. Anyway, we walked from Teatro di Marcello through the Jewish quarter to Campo dei Fiori to Piazza Navona to The Pantheon, lunch near Largo Argentina and then back to Campidoglio.
The only people wearing Italy kit seemed to be foreigners, Italians probably being to stylish, despite what the BBC says, to wear clothes as yobby as football shirts.
Anyway, finally towards the end of the afternoon, it started to get noisier and people started converging on the Coloseeum and the Circo Massimo is preparation for the Final. Having been hot and humid all day, the skies were darkening and it threatened rain, of which we received only a few spots.
As it was getting late and we didn't want to be late getting stuck in traffic, we did not have too much time to take photos of the colourful crowds gathering in Circo Massimi, the battery of the camera was failing and the memory stick was getting full, while the light was fading.... not a very good combination, unfortunately.
The pub where we were to meet the friends of Angelo was near Piazza Risorgimento, near San Pietro and we got there early, so early that the place was, in fact, empty. Gradually people appeared, looking anxious in anticipation of another important football final for gli Azzurri.
The pub was divided into three rooms, and we had a table reserved in one, by the bar, with a tiny screen somewhere near the ceiling... but it was good enough. The atmosphere by the tim ethe national anthems were being played was elecrtic and now it was time to sit back and enjoy the feast ahead, with a large glass of beer.
Both teams started well and all of a sudden someone fell in teh Italian penalty box and after a moment or two of confusion...because what the TV showed did not look like a foul, it was a penalty for France. Zidane takes it and we are not sure if it went in. It bounces out and we are happy that he seemed to have missed.... but then it turns out that the ball had gone in and France are 1-0 up. I say it is good that this happens at the start of the match as it'll give Italy plenty of time to come back and win.
We do not have to wait long because Materazzi manages to head in a Pirlo corner and everyone is ecstatic! Back level now, it is anyone's game and certainly within Italy's grasp. Italy go on to dominate the rest of the first half, but there are no more goals. They were not passing the ball around with as much accuracy as they had against Germany and they were not being given much time by the hustl French and Totti was not really in the game. Great defence always and some strong work in midfield from Gattuso and Pirlo.
Half-time and the bar empties. There is a strict no smoking policy in Italy, so all the smokers leave for their fag outside. The next half is tricky, as Italy seem to have run out of energy quicker than the ageing French, such that France gets the majority of ball possession, without really getting past the Italian defence. However, every one is confident that Italy WILL win. Unlike the England v Portugal match when I never really believed England would win, despite Portugal being so poor, I felt very confident that this was Ital's year and that they would pull it off.
Totti comes off and Daniele De Rossi comes on, after his four match suspension... which is good for the lad's confidence. Del Piero comes on and also Iaquinta.
Extra time and still stale-mate, with two tired teams but there is more space for Italy. Then comes in Zidane incident. A nasty headbutt, a long time waiting for the referee to make his decision and he is off, shown the red card. A cheer goes up as he is shown the card, more because that is what he deserved after such an attack.
The game carries on with no more goals and we are into penalties and still everyone is confident. However, Buffon, despite being the best goalkeeper in the world, but the French one is a buffoon and I am sure Italy will do it.
However, it is not the goalies who fail, but just one Frenchman.... who, when he came on, I said he was no good... the poor poor David Trezeguet. The cheers went up every time an Italian scored, silent when a French player scored.
Pirlo (rock solid king of teh midfield)
Materazzi (so soon after that incident - what composure)
De Rossi (a young man, back after a four game suspension - so cool)
Del Piero (an older man, with fresh legs - what a hero)
and last but not least ... GROSSO... the man who had put Italy into the final with his late goal against Germany!
Here I was in Italy and Italy have just won the World Cup, from all those other countries.... and with 30 teams having gone home tearfully from the finals in Germany
Champions of the World
Freddie Mercury singing in the background.
And the all-night party starts on the streets of Rome...
Here is a scene from yesterday evening's 'buurt buffet', organised by teh neighbours.
I made a pizza and brought some Argentinean wine. Not so many people there and notably not teh people with the noisy children out the back who want to have the trees cut down. A pity, as it would have been a chance to get to know our enemy a little better!
More about Rome, Italy's World Cup and Toscana later. Going out now.
... I am a stylish Italian.
This photo was published on the BBC site at stylish italians (photo number 6)
Photo taken by Angelo during the day before the match, when almost anyone walking around Rome in an azzurri shirt was a foreigner. This would change AFTER the match when everyone came to the centre to celebrate Italy becoming Footballing Champions of the World.
..... no doubt they are somewhere on the battle front.
I am disgusted when I read just now that Israel has killed 50 civilians and bombed the Beirut international airport in retaliation for the kidnap of two soldiers by Hezbollah.
Where is the sense of proportionality?
As always, it is nowhere to be seen.
I am now counting myself lucky to have been to Lebanon last year in a time of peace, when the Israelis had gone and the Syrians too. OK, they were dealing with the assassination of Hariri but they were going the right way... and now this...
What a tragedy for this country to be the battleground for interests outside of their own.
Well, Italy, that is!
What a great feeling for the country to win sport's biggest prize with a team which consistently played highly skillful, well disciplined and attractive football. A team playing together as a team to show the world that there is more to Italian football than scandals, to put a smile on the face of ex-colleague Gianluca Pessotto, to celebrate the end of the Berlusconi era and to show the world what they could do.
They had the skill, the temperament and, for once, the luck to make it and win the Final.
What a fantastic evening, watching the game in a bar in Rome.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Taking a break here from the heat of the Roman streets to make a quick blog.
You would not really think that Italy were going to be playing in the World Cup Final this evening. There are very few flags flying or hanging out of people's windows and none flying from cars, like in England or in Holland.
The only people walking around in Italian football shirts seem to be foreigners like me. And it is Pakistani's who are selling the Made in China flags, caps and football shirts on the streets. The black Africans are more selling handbags.
Anyway, I am assured there will be a great party if Italy do win, where the Colosseum will be the place to be. Too dark to take photos, I think, but we will see.
Otherwise, having a lovely time here, eating too much, lobster spaghetti for lunch just now and delicious seafood yesterday for lunch, at Elizabetta's near Trastevere. Very hot here, quite humid too.
Tomorrow to Val di Cecina, near Volterra in Toscana for a couple of days. Near the sea, so maybe go to the beach to cool down. But first the Final, which I will be watching at teh Sax Club near the Vatican before taking to the streets in the mayhem which will follow!
It seems like I am getting in big trouble with a German lady from Gelsenkirchen on the flickr site.
Having explained what great hosts Germany were, she tghen writes the following:
".. and Germans have been singing very nasty songs about Holland recently ....
... and English fans sitting half naked in the city cafés,
singing Ten Little Bombers,
standing completely naked at the Public Viewing,
obscene gestures to women,
greeting a German woman and then pissing in the bush just beside where this woman unlocks her bicycle ....
I could go on further and further as I was a witness of all this, but I am a world cup host in my town and to a host's duties belongs a certain kind of reticence.
But with all respect, Sir, may I remind you, that these games are about football, and the thing what should count first is the ability of a team to handle the match. Of course, you are free to make it a contest about national characters, but in this case you should be aware you will be judged by the same criteria."
I think we know these kind of people from experience - kind hosts when you are around, who can't wait for the opportunity to bitch about you as soon as your back is turned.
Also, she suggested that the chaps playing around in the grass and the mud, pictures of which are on the flickr site, should be arrested for 'exhibitionism'. Hmmm... lighten up, lady, only a bit of fun, late on a summer's day in the middle of a grassy field.
A boring semi-final this evening, well after teh excitement of last night it couldn't have been any different, I suppose.
France win on a penalty after 30 minutes.
France look old and tired. Zidane still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve but didn't have to use them like he did against Brazil.
Portugal were real fighters, except near the goal, and continually cheated with their diving antics, which should have been stamped on by the referee by giving the divers a yellow card each time.
The crowd signalled their dislike of baby-face Ronaldo by boo-ing him every time he had the ball. Why is it that otherwise great players can make themselves so unpopular? Maradona was also very annoying, but at least a far better player than Ronaldo is at present.
Strange the the Portuguese, who are probably really nice peopole, always manage to come up with nasty football teams.
Looking forward to the Italy - France final, hoping that the skill and youth and the cameraderie of the Italian team win out over the worthey old workhorses of France..... Paris or Rome, which is the place to be?
I just found this article on BBC, which I will copy and paste.
Here is a photo of Germans, Italians and Ukrainians and others getting excited in front of a big screen showing Fabio Cannavaro, the fabulous captain of Italy, from last weekend. People from around the world come together to enjoy watching the most popular sport in the world, a great spirit of camaraderie and so on..... a time when people can normally put aside their worries about politics and economic rivalries.
And yet here we have another example of the pernicious influence of religion and the people who mis-use it for their own ends. Disgraceful.... especially in a country where so much needs to be done to mend the wounds of the last 40 years of tyranny and anarchy.
Somali World Cup viewers killed
Two people are reported dead after Islamist gunmen in central Somalia opened fire in a cinema where people were watching a banned World Cup match.
The cinema owner and a young girl were reportedly killed by militia loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts, who seized control of parts of Somalia last month.
The courts have introduced Sharia law in areas under their authority, including a World Cup broadcast ban.
According to reports on a Somali news network, gunmen arrived to close down the cinema in the town of Dhuusa Marreeb in central Galgadud district, where a crowd had gathered to watch the Germany-Italy World Cup semi-final.
Some of the football fans began to protest and according to reports, the gunmen fired in the air in an attempt to disperse them. When this failed, shots were fired at the demonstrators and two people were killed.
The Islamic courts have introduced Sharia in areas under their authority. This has included in some parts a ban on cinemas and on broadcasts of World Cup games because they have carried advertisements for alcohol.
... the night that Italy stormed into the World Cup final with a brilliant match against Germany.
What a match! Fantastic open play from both sides helped by a great referee who refused to let the divers take over the game.
As I was watching, I wsa so hoping that Italy would win, not so much because I had a bet on them at 10-1, but because they really deserved to win. The way they passed the ball around, along the grass from one to the other and the long passes up to the strilkers up front was a joy to watch. The Germans did excellently in defence to keep the Italians out, as did the Italian defence with regard to Germany. Cannavaro, what a man!
Also, excellent to see the trainer put one forward or attacking mid-fielder after the other as he tried nso hard to avoid a penalty shoot-out. His tactics deserved to be rewarded, whilst it was clear that the Germans were working towards penalties.
So hood to see the outcome of a match decided by skill, tactics, attractive, attacking football, rather than luck, cheating or bad refereeing. The game of football needed such a result.
The whole match it was very exciting. More exciting to watch at home, actually than in a large public arena. How incredible when that shot from Grosso (from PALERMO!) actually went IN the goal and hit the net. So often you see balls going over or wide but this one actually curled its way out of the reach of the goalkeeper into the goal. Unbelievable... they had actually done it! No penalties but a goal, fair and square.... and how that Grosso celebrated that goal running out shaking his head with excitement.
Now, off to Rome for the weekend!
Despite having taken my tent and sleeping bag, I ended up spending the night in a hotel in Koln. The Italy vs Ukraine match finished at 11.00 and I was feeling quite ill, as a result of dehydration earlier in the day. Also tired on my feet.... so I was lucky to find a place with a room available, for not too much money, albeit the room was facing the noisy street and was very very hot.
The streets were particularly noisy because Italy had just won, after Germany had won, so all the cars were going by tooting their horns, whilst flags were being waved around. A great atmosphere.. could almost have been Rome!
After a poor night's sleep, a nutricious breakfast in the hotel and some homeopathic medicine from a nearby chemist and I was back at the station. After much confusion, I was on the full train to Essen from where it was a ten minute ride to Gelsenkirchen. The platform here was a sea of white and red and a bit of blue, with some lost Brazilian supporters adding spatters of yellow. I thinjk Portugal were supposed to be -playing, but there were very few supporters to be seen.
Already, there was a great atmosphere, the whole town becoming one great big English fan fest, with about 100,000 English arriving to soak up the atmosphere and support their team.
The organisation was incredible, as they had set up two big screens in the racecourse just outside the centre and had laid on free buses to transport the fans there from the station. The bus I caught was full and very very hot and filled with the songs of the English, supporting their team... and every now and then being nasty to the Scots (their Frist Minister having asked for it by declaring publicly that he was supporting any team which was playing against England).
It was a long walk from where the bus dropped us off, to the racecourse (trotting only) and I was pleased to see that they had provided us with a campsite as well. The racecourse was as sea of red and white with two massive screens positioned to give everyone excellent views.
I was nursing a heavy cold, from yesterday, so there was no beer for me, just as well, as the temperature was hot and in fact many people were asleep on the grass by the time the match started.
Although it was not exaciting like being in the stadium would have been, with no communal song sessions, it did feel good to be there altogether in anticipation of what England might finally do for us... and I kept wondering what it'd be like when Engand put the ball in the back of the net. If it was anything like Germany's goal the night before, it would be an electrifying moment.
So, the match started eventually andit continued and, to be honest, it was all rather low key, no real sense of excitement, strangely enough. England were going to meet their destiny and we were just spectators, hoping for the best. England played well, Portugal not so well. The referee seemed to alittle bit overconcerned to protect the Portuguese players after the treatment they had at the hands of the Dutch. We were still hopeful, as although we never actually looked like scoring a goal, we were creating more chances than the opponents. It still seemd as if the system was working against England, with a lone Rooney up front unable to really scare the opposition. The defenders were doing well, while Hargreaves was doing the best of teh mid-fielders.
We had BBC commentary, with John Motson. Whenever a Figo or a Ronaldo would get the ball, he would change the pitch of his voice to indicate danger for England, the ball being in possession of a great player. He never did this with the English players and it semed as if he rated the Portuguese as better and more dangerous players than any English player, except maybe Rooney.
Beckham was injured and replaced by Lennon. Half time came and went. Rooney got sent off. England started playing even better. Time was running out. It ran out and we were into sextra time and by now, almost everyone could sense what was coming.
There were only two moments of hope and excitement for the loyal English supporters when the second of the Portuguese missed and Hargreaves got his penalty in. And from then, only disappointment. When it happened, it just went quiet. England out . Again. Time ot think about going home. The dream of the last four years dashed by an incompetent trainer who could not get the best out of his golden boys.
I lay down in the grass, as did many others. The field emptied. After about half an hour, people go their spirits back and started having more fun, certainly around the water cannon provided by the German police.
A few of us stayed to watch France deservedly beat Brazil until it got dark and it really was time to be getting on. I pitched the tent up in the dark and spet a bit of time in the music tent before going to bed. There was talk of German police chasing after English fans in the town centre but there don't seem to have been any real problems.
The next day, the long journey home. I found it quite annoying that while Germany still seems to be capable of winning football matches, they seem to have lost the knack of running the trains on time, with the result that it took seven hours to get home!
Coming from behind
Scoring a sneaky goal ( a freak goal of two headers)
Winning on penalties
Football is a game played by 22 men running around a field for 90 minutes, and in the end the Germans always win. (quote: Gary Lineker).
Here are some people celebrating the win... some of many thousand in the fanfest enclosure, just below the cathedral in central Cologne, at the end of a hot and sunny afternoon.
Although I was for Argentina, among the very few there, it was difficult not to be taken in by the joy and relief displayed by everyone when teh last penalties went in. The Germans had put on a great party and had organised everything really well. The people were happy and very friendly, a bit loud at times, but they created a very good atmosphere.
The crowds had been building up all day, mosty dressed in some combination of white and black and red and yellow/orange. Many of them had great fun in singing mainly anti-Dutch songs, for some reason. Official FIFA beer and official FIFA bratwurst weree served on FIFA bread and there was also FIFA Coke, Fanta and Sprite available. Nothing much else and everyone's bags were searched before going in. They did not however force anyone to remove non-FIFA T shirts, although it was a day to go shirtless, if one had the body to allow that.
It was dead still when the Argentina goal went in. As if nothing happened. It remained quiet for another half hour or so until it became clear that Germany were really back in the game. Germany's goal was met with a roar and thousands of people jumped up and down, relieved, finally believing in the dream once more.
And with the onset of extra time and after the penalties, there really was no doubt left. No doubt that Germany would not win... and so it happened.
More about the trip tomorrow.