Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Desktop. Kind of Stupid.

I think it's kind of stupid, taking lots of interesting pictures while on streets, and not being able to transfer to computer and publish them, just because you want to sleep. And after all, sitting right now at my workplace in office (at 23:34!), the only interesting environment I can arrange around myself is browsing web or a new desktop wallpaper.

Yes, this is how my virtual workplace looks like. This is Kyiv. Picture is taken by very interesting guy, who takes photos of the city from different roofs. Here's his blog: http://ked-pled.livejournal.com.

And this is where I took the picture from. I think I have to change something in my life.

Summer storm in Thessaloniki

A few minutes before the storm, the sky started getting heavier.

In a matter of seconds, strong winds blew and heavy raindrops started to fall.

This is an old warehouse of the Thessaloniki dock, now used as an exhibition venue.

Some restored buildings of the Ladadika district, in the old Jewish quarter of the city.

The building of the National Bank of Greece, in kind of ancient Greek style.

This building is one of my favourites, because it is so ugly that it almost turns to nice.

And finally a slight taste of more modern architecture.

When the storm started to stop, it was a good time to get back home to some dry clothes!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mountain bike ride

In my previous post "How to fight depression" I had promised to do this bike ride again. Well, there you go.

There was a fresh breeze after 7pm that made my life easier.

I followed this path uphills, for about an hour.

At some point I came across this plant. Anyone knows how it's called?

Sun was setting peacefully and the temperature was becoming even more pleasant.

What would Austin Powers say in this case?
"Oh, beehive!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MWC Jam Graffiti Festival

From 18-22 July I attended the MWC Jam Graffiti Festival that took place at Poseidi, Halkidiki.

The festival took place at the premises of a university-run camping site. More than 200 graffiti artists, dj's and musicians attended as guests of the event.

The level of painting was higher than the year before, leaving behind some really beautiful works:

This is a piece by one of my personal favourite artists, Wake:

The graffiti festival was powered by selective dj sets,

explosive live bands,

and, above all, the fantastic beach of Halkidiki.

Update 25 April 2009

I finally edited the video:

Monday, July 21, 2008

"From boys to men"...hhmmm??? or not

At any one moment; living in Africa is a really interesting mix of dichotomies and contradictions. South Africa, being one of the most cosmopolitan, modern and integrated countries, is most definitely a case in point. Someone can live in a million dollar mansion, have a doctorate degree, but still go through ancient traditional rights of passage and ceremonies.

Last week, I was asked to record a ceremony celebrating my nephew's return from initiation. This initiation (ukuya eNgomeni) from being a boy to being a man is a complex and involved process. Him and his fellow initiates (Amasokana) were away for 3 months in the blistering cold going through whatever it was they are taught in the bush (women and non-initiated men are forbidden from knowing what goes on there). So, while recording this I started wondering...what does it really mean to be a man in Africa..coz one thing I know...he sure didn't seem any different from when he went to when he came back... Here are a few pictures I took using the camcorder so the quality is not that great...but hope you find this interesting...

The initiates on their return. My nephew is the short one in the middle (can't really see his face coz of the sun...sorry about that)

This is my cousin- his mother, preparing Pap (a staple food of ours). She has not seen her son in three months. During this 3 month wait she is never told about his well being while he is away. If for instance, he had died, she would have only found out on this day that he did not make it through the initiation process.

The initiates are put in a kind-of open grass house on the day of their return. The blankets are traditional Ndebele colours. My family is of the Ndebele people, and we have a lot of colours and beaded work in our clothing.

The initiates, singing and dancing later on in the day.

I don't know these guys, but I thought to take a picture of the full traditional outfits (note the beads and colours). The women take pride in knowing that their husbands and sons have gone through this ceremony. I for one, for some strange reason, also have it in me that a man who has gone through the process has one up on the one who hasn't...what that one up is, I DO NOT KNOW. Strange.

His paternal aunt on the day of the ceremony.

All the initiates at the end of the day. Ready to go out into the world as men!

I really appreciate tradition and culture (I have certainly been through my fair share of tradition and ceremony)...but am also in a space where I ask myself where are we loosing its essence and purity. I don't know what it takes to be man, or what being a man really is, but I really wonder what it is that they teach them up there in the mountain, bush or where ever it is that they go. For all I know, they are taught to roll up a great spliff and chill for three months or they are taught what it takes to build a nation and be responsible for your home, family, community, country and world. The way some of my more affluent brothers have come back from initiation and treated their women, children, mothers, communities, country etc, makes me wonder if the memo on what is meant to be taught there got lost somewhere in the process of colonisation; modernisation and erosion of our sense of pride and self....but hey this entry was not mean to be political or serious...just wanted to ask the question...WHAT DOES IT REALLY TAKE TO BE A MAN IN MODERN AFRICA?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crimea: Resort Which Takes You Back to Soviet Union

During the last weekend me and Dasha decided to take a short (4-day) vacation. Our friends have apartment in Gaspra (Гаспра), on the southern coast of Crimea, so we took this opportunity to have a small rest.

These are the views from the windows of this flat, on 9th floor of 12-storey building.

First thing I saw from the kitchen window was this nice "penthouse", on the rooftop of old Soviet concrete apartment block:

It actually represents, quite symbolically, the present state of peninsula. Crimea has very rich history, splendid nature and awful service and tourist infrastructure. Nevertheless, the nature is great, and the view of the famous Ai-Petri mountain is gorgeous (again, from the flat window):

In order to get to the beach, one would have to walk through the Yasnaya Polyana sanatorium and take the cable car to the beach. It costs 10 UAH per ride (1.5 EUR). The center of this sanatorium is old house, where Leo Tolstoy used to stay:

And this is the view of the cable car - from the top platform:

Passing by the second car (which goes up from the beach):

Don't forget to wave hands to your fellow "recreationists"

The ride takes 4 minutes. Approaching the lower platform:

And, eventually, you are on the beach! Now you can enjoy the 5 to 10-meter wide stone beach, full of housewives and small children:

Weather was not very nice at first, and water was very cold (17 Celsius).

But it was getting better during next days!

The painted sign says "Do not litter!"

It is also possible to climb the hill back by foot. If you are late to the cable car (which closes at 19.25), you have no other choice. While you climb up, you can notice the out-of-order smaller cable car, which could possibly bring you half-way up the hill. The form of the gondola reminded me of Star Wars, for unknown reason:

It is also possible to spot other interesting things as you walk up, like this door:

The words say: "No smoking! A wonderful land, delight for eyes!" The first day ended with beatiful sunset in Crimean mountains:

Next day we decided to go to the aquapark located nearby, next to the town of Simeiz. It is famous of its nude beaches and gay bars. No pictures of aquapark, sorry. But in the Blue Lagoon, where it's located, there is an old scientific station, which is now abanodoned and will soon fall into the sea:

On our way back home we spotted a splendid bus station:

A nice sign of canteen (the words say "FOOD" and "CANTEEN"):

A nice example of fine modern Crimean architecture:

Next day we went to visit Livadia palace. It is famous for being the summer residence of the last Russian monarch, Nicholas II, and also as a venue hosting the Yalta conference of 1945.

And of course, we spent rest of the time on beach, frying up.

Exploring nearby piers:

Feeding cat in the restaurant:

On the last day, we spotted a very arrogant seagull:

First she pretended she just stopped by:

"How are you doing? Nice to meet you"

And then, all of a sudden, she stole some food in plastic bag from one of the girls, and ran away!

That was the end of this 4-day holiday. We packed our bags and went to the airport in Simferopol. On our way, taxi stopped at the fuel station and we observed the picturesque view of the Bear Mountain:

And eventually, boarded the brand new WizzAir (the first and yet only low-cost airline in Ukraine) airplane.

Which also was kind of funny inside: