Saturday, 23 February 2008
In my youth I have been twice there, as a hitchhiking tourist, before the Soviet invasion. In my memory this was the country I liked most compared to Iran, Pakistan and India.
At that time, to me, Afghanistan seemed to be a fairy tale country, straight out of Thousand and One Night.I liked these proud men (proud of what?) in their baggy pants, frequently in rags, but carrying nearly always a gun slung over the shoulder.
Considering that half of the population is female in every country, I never saw one. Never. It took me some time to realize that these statures walking around and wearing a kind of blue sack covering from top to ground ARE the women I never saw.
So, when saying something about Afghanistan it must be said I only talked to men, met only men, saw only men, had only their opinion.
There was only one exception to this: in Kandahar, in an electrical appliance shop, I talked briefly to a German woman who had married an Afghani. She wanted to bail out of this country as fast as possible but could not because her husband confiscated her old passport as well as all her other papers. Furthermore, her marriage made her an Afghan national. She was the sales girl in this shop and during the 15 minutes I met her she told me her dream: to return to Munich, sit in the sofa at home, watch the telly and sip a cool beer.
All that is snow from yesterday.
The fairy tale country has long ago changed into what it is and probably always was: a God forsaken place with too much religious fanatics. And even those who are not practice a "way of life" coming straight out of the darkest part of the Middle Ages.
Afghanistan is the worlds' biggest heroin grower and exporter; the trade being protected by the armies of about ten NATO countries. The chase of Osama bin Laden has long ago turned into a farce. The Taliban fighters who happen to be made prisoners don't have to worry: they pay 1000 Dollars or more to the Police to be free again, back in business.
What are we doing there?
For good measure, here is a photo from a work of art made right there, but about 2000 years ago. It is safely in a Paris museum otherwise the present day people would either have smashed it or stolen it to be sold abroad for easy money.
Last not least: the first picture has not been made in Afghanistan but in Yemen and sent to me by a friend who went there. I like it, it is so funny. Hope you appreciate, too.
Saturday, 9 February 2008
For me, English is a foreign language, I have never stayed in an English speaking country longer than a fortnight.
Considering all this it is clear that I am fully qualified to talk about usage of English. Why limit oneself to subjects you know all about? There would be too much silence all around.
So here we go.
When people talk to me, in real life or at the telly, I always hear again and again "you know", "you know", "you know". I hear it frequently in every second or third sentence and I hate it.
Sometimes, I try to interrupt by saying "no, I don't". Generally, I get an astonished look but no comment, never.
Next, there is a word that should be forbidden. "Nice". I hate that, too. Nice is not warm it is tepid. It is a mild agreement of something vaguely comfortable. A horrible hat on someone's head, "nice hat you have there", the weather is nice, a girl is nice. "Nice pic", seen frequently on blog comments for splendid photos. Nice be hanged.
And here comes the summit: "cool", bloody hell and damnation, I dislike "cool" intensely. Don't know why but it is non grata to me. I hear it in English, in French and in German and God knows in how more languages the word is being used.
"Cool" seems to be the macho version of "nice". "Nice" is kind of old spinster language, wishy-washy, no offense given no offense taken. "Cool" and its counterpart "uncool" is Rambo-English. "That's cool, yeah". "And that's not so cool, yeah".
The good thing about the Internet and especially about blogs is that everybody can have his saying. You and me. Now I can unburden and tell the world what is on my mind. Sure, there are 30 Million blogs outa there and I have about 50 readers max. Never mind. Better than nothing, far better.