Archive for December 2008

Merry Christmas HO-HO-HO!   Leave a comment

After spending some months in non-democratic countries, finally I return to be proud of my own! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

The blog has been down for a few days and will be down for some more until I manage to find once-again-conscience-relieving-not-necessarily-fact-based-yet-comfortable answers on some of the following questions:

– Will justice decide if a 15 year-old should die or will Rambo return from Afghanistan?

– Can invertebrates study law?

– Who judges a judge? No. 1? Internationally?

– Do flower pots send people to hospitals for 5 euros a day?

– Does religion own lakes?

– Is working 16 hours as allegedly mind altering as ministers demonstrate?

– Which is better travel agency; the Monastery of Vatopedion or Siemens?

– How many policemen are necessary to celebrate white Christmas in gray Athens?

– Are fascists truly elected or only deserved?

– Does the constitution protect the Orwellian equivalence of a pork-head-offering with a pork-man?

– How many known-unknowns can a closed mathematical system of one equation solve?

– Do tear gases cure spiritual flatulence?

– Will national prices for couches drop after a series of demonstrations with adult participants?

– Can you find 3 Wise Men and a Virgin in the parliament?

– What does a pork head need to obtain ISO 9001 and HACCP?

– What is the energy potential of 300 representatives in joules/inch^2 during a football match or  at the night club?

– Will the Army put some order or will the Order put some army?

– How many dictionaries of greek language does it take to change an LED lamp?

– Why did the shit hit the fan left-center-right?

– Can you choose which country you betray if you have no citizenship?

– Will Christmas still be celebrated even if the mayor of Athens would place Rudolph’s nose up his rectum?

– Does spiritual masturbation evoke same physical feelings as physical masturbation provokes spiritual experiences?

Huf, so many questions to be answered, better go and buy, the market needs my financial face lifting!

Answers to the quiz here.

(If you don’t propagate these Seasonal Wishes, you are doomed to be brain-dead before you say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. This is not your usual threat; this is your usual penitence.)

Posted Sunday, 21 December, 2008 by piperi in Gut feeling, Κακώς κείμενα, Πολιτικά, Sex, Violence

From Iran: in memoriam   Leave a comment

It is very difficult to get the exact picture of what is currently happening in Greece while on move in Iran. One thing is a fact; a 16 year-old kid was shot dead by a policeman in the very center of Athens.

Just a few days ago, I saw this cartoon from Javad Alizadeh. One man shot dead, was holding a banner reading 2+2=4. The man who shot him, triumphant with one foot against the deadman’s chest, held another banner reading 2+2=5. And he had the gun.

Simple and generic and universal. Like all teenagers.

Posted Tuesday, 9 December, 2008 by piperi in Gut feeling

Go Betsy, go!   1 comment

On my nameday, I met Betsy. She is about 22 years old or so did the two Irishmen told me, and they know her pretty well. They have been on the road with her for more than a year, this time more than 4 months in a row, and they still had 10 to go. They must be getting along pretty well then; after all, they quitted their jobs to travel with her. She was treating them well, and I was of the lucky few to witness her charms and talents. Additionally she is pretty low maintenance, given what she is offering. The perfect girlfriend; only that she is running on diesel.

Des and Kev, are my heroes of the day. Two cute Irishmen in their late 20s (?), bought Betsy, quitted their jobs, and are currently driving a super van with a super sound system and a super home cinema-GPS-DVD-coffee maker, all the way from Dublin (as Des pronounced “dobln“) to Australia, with expected date of arrival Sept 2009, just to check the Coriolis force -Des is sceptical, he is considering an international scientific conspiracy.

Yesterday, the two of them, together with Guillome (a frenchman that arrived in Yazd on his way to Pakistan and who will continue with the guys) and myself, hopped on Betsy, trying to find Chak Chak, the Zoroastrian temple and Kharanaq’s mud-brick ruined old city. The landscapes we crossed, only minutes from the boring highway, nicely and securely tucked among impressive mountains of 4000m, desert and snow are preciously incomparable. They are the sort of landscape where you stop your car, pull out a chair or two, you sit, shut up and admire. And you wait. And you wait for ever, absorbing every sun ray reflected on them. And somehow, equally marvellously, the perfect music was coming from the speakers, ah, the perfect music is always the tip of the culinary side of an image, just like the most precious stimulant to fill up every little brain cell left untouched by the shear beauty of the landscape. Or maybe it was the joint. I am not sure. I will certainly listen again to the Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band. Or maybe you get to listen to it yourself first. And after you do, why not try looking for the album of Camille, Le Fil. And yes, there was travelling and politics and emancipation and cars and living and everything. I learned about Adam Curtis. I got new ideas for thinking, listening and dreaming. Isn’t this what travelling is all about?

In the meantime, Des and Kev, trusted me with an once-in-a-lifetime short movie, a single continuous shot of ~32 minutes, of pure deep philosophical thinking, coming in the form of a waterfall of direct questions from a 60+ iranian taxi driver about ethics, moral guidance, Life, Universe and Everything. You should see it, and pay a full movie ticket so that Des and Kev will keep on giving thirsty Betsy the diesel she desires! 🙂

The three of them left yesterday night for Kerman (buhuhuuuu!). They should have driven through Baluchistan today; a pretty dangerous place full of thieves and monsters and sorcerers and witches and a few kidnappings in its recent history. With some luck they must have made it to Pakistan as we speak. Their immediate next target is celebrating New Year’s Eve in Goa with friends (I should be sincere and say they want to get pissed drunk, but it would act as potential defamation, so yeah cultural touch, they want to celebrate New Year’s Eve, drink a pint of Guiness, a glass of whisky, and whatever the irish do anyway -huf, even this one looks like they are gonna get drunk!)

So long guys, and thanks a bunch!



Posted Monday, 8 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Right(s)   1 comment

Arash, my mysterious and fractal iranian friend says: “I told you, where I come from, it is everyday Halloween! Probably in 50 years, we’ll manage to reach Stone Age”. I remembered this, when I saw this picture at a photo exhibition about Shiraz’s past.

1934: Removing the veil ceremony

2008: Buying vegetables


Posted Saturday, 6 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Can I have a glass of Shiraz, please?   Leave a comment

Shiraz is a famous -and it so happens, my favorite- grape variety and, mmm, I so much wanted a glass right now. The variety comes from -guess where- Shiraz, thanks to the revolution the wine is not produced anymore, commercially at least. My wishes for a glass of illegal juice did not materialise, but that was not the only thing that disappointed me in Shiraz. I did not quite fancy the city, too much traffic, too much pollution, too much “hallo, I love you”. Just a bit too much.

Persepolis, however, did worth the effort and although my fingers are almost frozen now, it also worths the effort of telling you. We met a German couple that was travelling together with their 4-month old son, on a backpacker style travelling, really admiring people. The little one, little did he care about Persepolis, Necropolis, or any other -polis the ancient greeks burnt, tortured or actively aided in its demise one way or another. The school that was visiting, though (girls) were thoroughly amused, seeing the father, with a marsupial profile, keeping the baby warm inside his fleece. He looked quite odd, indeed a bit as pregnant man, and I only wish I will live to see this coming true. In any case, Persepolis was great. And naturally, many of the pieces are in Louvre and British Museum to be “protected and preserved”. The Arabs had attacked the palaces and the mullahs had send soldiers to destroy the site, believing it was temple of worship on multiple deities. Thus most of the faces of the Persian and Median soldiers depicted are thoroughly scrapped. Which reminds me of the ancient greek statues, most of them breastless and dickless, since they were insulting the morals of the early (and not only) christians, or the two huge Buddhas in Afganistan. Ah well, what’s the point of teaching history if you don’t learn from it?

Yes, traveling, if not a soul cleansing experience, is a the way of getting inspired and meeting inspiring people. I met these two Germans, who, themselves, they met on the way, one on a BMW from Sweden, the other on a Yamaha from Germany. Final destination, India. They drove all the way, excluding the ferry Italy-Greece, and they advise it. No problem, the carnet de passage worked fine and they were traveling with a tent, although it wasn’t much of use because they’ve been sleeping in cheap hotels. They were picked by a bunch of schoolgirls, all with the same jacket -although with different fake brands- who were insisting on taking pictures all together and one-by-one and in every possible configuration. If nothing else, their popularity this time brought the girls; the BMW guy commented on mostly having to tolerate toothless smelling old men for those moments of immortality.

Back to Shiraz, we decided to visit the bazaar, which was nice, and the carpets are quite different from Esfahan, because they are more focused in the nomadic patterns. And the gardens. Ah the gardens, are so nice. Unfortunately, the tired traveler will soon find out that there are not many teahouses or coffeeshops, thanks -again- to the revolution that is not so keen on seeing people socialising in confined spaces. Who knows, you might ends up discussing something without the presence of agents. We were happy to find the signposted teahouse in the centre of the bazaar, with pretty western atmosphere, although it was full of locals. Very gezellig place, as the dutch would say.

But it doesn’t only take the lack of coffeechops, the lack of coziness, the lack of westernized manners, the subtly constant harrassement, the cold, the pollution, the queue jumping, the taxi drivers, the traffic, the endless kebabs, the need for checking the bills before paying or the obvious segregation to exhaust you physically and naturally, psychologically. It also takes a long and rushed bus drive from Shiraz to Yazd, in a packed Volvo bus, with ultra loud live music on the screens and a sleeping beauty for travel companion. I managed to become popular when I requested for the music volume to be lowered. It was snowing outside, the bus was driving against the thick snowflakes, and the mountains were already white. It was nice and warm inside,with this bit of stale air of the unanimous breathing, all together, known-unknowns, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. And after some 1500km I missed home. It was getting dark outside, Laia was sleeping, often jumping awake, thinking that her headscarf had revealed here hair and the police would either whip her or deport her, the TV screens were showing a post-revolution movie, where the woman would tight the shoe-laces of her husband as a sign of love and the bus was devouring kilometers. It was still a long way to Yazd. A long and cold way. A long and cold and long and cold way.

Posted Saturday, 6 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Mafi khanoum, miss!   1 comment

Following the (in)accurate Lonely Planet (ok, let’s be fair, there is a disclaimer), we took the bus to Shahr-e Kord, an ex-soviet-like radioactive little town, in the Zagros, with the idea we’d catch a minibus the day after to go through the mountains and enjoy the view on the way to Shiraz, instead of a monotonous grey highway. So we reached there. It was a memorable first touch. The place, I am telling you, dead radioactive, with some super friendly taxi drivers (miracle!) at the terminal. We did not know what we wanted: continue to Shiraz? It was late. Continue to next village? It was uncertain we’d find somewhere to stay. Continue to Chelgerd, which is supposed to be a marvellouis place to see the mountains and snow? The first quotations from the taxi drivers seemed insane. Then can Leyla, who decided for us; we would stay there, in Shahr-e Kord, and we’d sleep at what Lonely Planet quotes as the best available hotle in town (read 3 hotels/guesthouse). So that was it, she took us with the taxi, we were left like babies, in the wisdom of the beautiful Leyla (me study medicine) to go to Azadi hotel.

Azadi hotel, had definitely seen better days, only that must have happende in the prehistoric era. This is one of the hotels that my father used to describe for the ex-eastern block; great from a distance and incredible fucked-up details from close. Azadi was no exception, but yeah, given the circumstances. We played poor and tired girls, the receptionist gave the nomial discount, we asked without breakfast for extra discount (we are lame, yes), and then he said “it is ok, you can have breakfast”. How nice…

So we decided to hit the “center”, and the recepitonist freaked out when we said we’d walk. “It is cold, no walk. Taxi. No walk”, yeas well, whateva, we will walk. It had already become tiring having to negotiate with taxis. On the way a lady that we asked for directions, offered dar baste which mean to share a taxi, so we went for it, mainly for her, she was with a flimsy chador, freezing, while we were with fleece and GORE-TEX (R), albeit not muslim-compliant long, but urban-muslim acceptable. We would go to what LP quoted as “one of the most atmospheric teahouses in Iran”. We asked another girl, a rounded-face sweet radiant girl, who pointed us to the right direction. We started walkng, supposedly we were 20m from the target, until we heard “khanoum! miss-miss!” and the chubby-cheek young girl was calling us, there is the teahouse but mafi khanoum in there. Ah yes, the authors of LP were men; probably they forgot to check this detail. Ok, no chay. Chay? Come to my house! We have been frequently getting invites for tea, but never to a house. Did I mention they spoke no english whatsoever? And of course we went. She called called “blahblhablha, yunnani khanoum blahblah espanya” and there we were in the car of her boyfrend, with her 16-year-old sister. We reached home, where a big mamma was expecting us, they draw the curtain from the official sitting room, chay? chay!, there appeared brother Ali (30) and soon after the father, some 60 years old, all of them sat around to… talk to us. Ali could speak some english, that is mainly 10 words, we strated drawing things on paper, there came a dictionary, and we discussed about everything. Everything. And one of the first questions: where is your husband. Ah no husband. NO HUSBAND???? Travel alone???

Ok, you can remove the headscarf, no problem. Chay? Chay!

After the first shock, I mentioned the Bachtyari nomads, and Ali said “we are Bachtyari”, so the mom and the older daughter (Oliya) decided to dress me up, you see the resutl in the photo, I know you like it, I also have a special hairstyle, and three skirts. And Ali is next to me with the Bachtyari men’s clothing. Then, musik? Bale! Musik! Chay? Chay!

We talked about everything, don’t ask how. They are Shia. You 9mom Zahra made the sign of the cross). Yes, christian. My experience with Middle East has taught me that it is simpler for these encounters to admit faith to the Book. Easier. Zahra said “brothers”. Yes. Chay? Chay!

The young daughter wants to be architect. Ah, Laia is architect! She brought free drawing to show. Then the magic word was mentioned: Internet! Internet? Bale. Chay? Internet! Bale, bale Internet. Chay? Chay!!!

We went to the monitor and kicked dad out who was playing solitaire. We found an online translator, from english to farsi, sort of altavista. INTERNEEEEET! Then we really talked about everything! Family, children, houses, work, politics, visa, distances, travels, dreams everything. It was a super night. They asked us to go back, we said inshallah. The youngest has MSN, she gave it to me. Ali said, next year, spring or summer to visit the tribes and the nomads. Then Zagros is beautiful. Now “germ” (cold).

We got up, in order to leave. It was already 23:00. They hugged us and it was really touching. It was so nice, I can’t really type it in. They were our family in a little god-forsaken ex-soviet like radioactive village. They took us to the hotel, laughing and music in the car, the car would not start, Olyia admitted the driver was her boyfriend and blushed when I asked her. We took the last photos all together in front of the Azadi hotel (4 stars) and as they were ready to leave the manager came out.

Your friends?

Yes

He showed his watch, tapped on it two-three times, looked down on us in a dismissive yet paternal way as in “what time is this you are coming back? This is a hotel, it’s not your house!”

I instantly thought of my father who used to say the exact opposite.

 

Posted Thursday, 4 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Where you from?   Leave a comment

Welcome to Esfahan! Where you from? A, Yunnan, Yunnan. Espain, Espanya, ah, ah, ah, Espanya. I have been in Barcelona airport for 1 hour for to change airplane. I restore. I restore old art. Yes. Yes. And my father picture in Lonely Planet, edition two zero zero four. Why now in Esfahan? now cold. Yes yes, Barcelona. You klnow Javier Brdem? Yes, one woman, came to me, she says, you look like Javier Bardem. Who is Javier Bardem? I go I look internet. Javier Bardem, I look photos. Yes. I look like Javier Bardem, but I don’t know who is Javier Bardem. Yes, yes. Welcome to Esfahan, have a good day!

Posted Thursday, 4 December, 2008 by piperi in Intro