Skip to main content

You Never Miss the Water till the Well Runs Dry

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

One of the things I liked most about living in an ex-Soviet republic like Azerbaijan was the public art. It seemed that every square had some sort of socialist-reaslist sculpture exalting the working class, Huge works in metal actually representing our lives as something admirable. In other countries I had travelled through, public art always seemed to be either religious, historical, folkloric or odd mixtures of the three. While kings, crosses and military heroes dominated public spaces elsewhere, out on the banks of the Caspian outrageously heroic factory workers marched off to glorious Monday mornings in the Baku oilfields. Politics and the joys of coalmining aside, these muscular odes to the proletariat offered a completely different roost for pigeons than the usual tragedy on the cross, despot of the day or couples dancing a local dance. With work about to start on making San Pedro de Alcantara a pedestrian street, there will surely be some sort of statue placed in the new golden mile of Caceres. But rather than a hero riding a horse from the past, why not celebrate some heroes from the present? The brave, selfless people who volunteer to help fight against an enemy much more present and lethal than any opposing belief or invading army. The people who struggle day to day to keep us healthy while their bosses cut back on everything that isn’t tied down and privatize the rest. Creating impossible working conditions all the while accusing the hard working doctors and nurses of being incompetent. Perhaps the statue of the brave nurse who might have touched her face should be left to preside over the Plaza Mayor in the city she almost died defending and choose another for our city. Personally, I would vote for a monument to the tireless midwife who helps bring new life into our city every day. A woman who twice kept my wife out of the surgical unit by never giving up and going far beyond the normal call of duty. Let the birds rest on statues that celebrate the kingly and the dead and let’s honor those that keep us living. 


Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida

If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen

Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

The Statue of Liberated Woman

Last night's Minaret exhibit was not only a chance to share some photos that I've taken on my travels but an opportunity to retrieve and relive some dusty memories that had been lying forgotten in my 1.0 memory chip mind.

During the evening, a few astute visitors were quick to notice an early Soviet-era statue that features prominently in one of the photographs, thus refreshing my memory in regards to one of my favourite emblems in Baku, Azerbaijan.

While living in the city, my wife and I lived just off Nizami square/Metro stop in the infamous 'Beysh Barmak'. Baku's first 5-story building (thus the name) that was stodgily yet sturdily built during the years of Russian rule. The window panes hadn't been changed since the 5 year plans, allowing the winter wind free access to the flat, but it was a handy address that every taxi driver knew...especially given the fact that I speak no Azeri or Russian, no matter how much vodka I drank.

At the time we lived there (2004-…

You Call it Tomato, I Call it Quasi-Legal

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

My wife and I spent some time living on the banks of the Mekong in a country that is known to most Spaniards as Roldan’s hideout. Back then, the first traffic lights were just going up and life moved at a pace that was reflected in that great river. I worked at a University, helping young Laos prepare to study abroad and also provided training for public school teachers. The Lao are some of the friendliest people on earth and my wife and I quickly built up a solid network of friends, both local and foreign. Our social life was either spent by the river drinking beer with icecubes, an acquired taste in the heat and humidity and absence of refrigeration, or having improvised barbeques under the mango trees of our courtyard. In a context as foreign as south-east Asia, you are bound to come across cultural differences and …