I was just thinking that the situation we find ourselves in right now is not far off the nightmarish world of Fahrenheit 451. In it physical human connection is replaced by conversations on video screens. These video screens are larger than life in the fact that they become all consuming. It is considered highly attractive if your lounge/sitting room is in fact just 4 screens for walls. In that way that highly prised connection is permanently established but there is in fact no connection because you can’t really see the people or their lives. You only have a facsimile of reality. This was life for me existing behind a screen because reality was so painfully overwhelming as it was real.
It’s like living in the world of Equilibrium. We wanted to remove all the negativity present in the world but in doing so we also cocooned ourselves to the point of numbness. We no longer felt anything so we lost the ability to connect on any level let alone a meaningful one.
This virus is allowing us to reconnect with our immediate family but also disconnecting us from our extended family. We no longer have stories to share or deep conversations because those present were not there.
Everyone is currently in the same boat with regards to lack of mobility. We are craving interaction with our friends. We like to be social and have experiences so being told stay inside is jarring to a couple of rebellious individuals. Usually I’m on the side of the outsider always being one but for once we need to do as we’re told. In this regard tv is helping by having cooking shows, craft shows, walks and quiz shows. These all keep us occupied and possibly give us ideas to try out later. Let’s turn the pain and anxiety of missing friends and family into positive activities that benefit our communities .If we do this we may find a much better world with improved mental health.
Learning to cook is an essential skill that we seem to have lost but maybe we can regain it over the coming weeks. Let’s see if we can get the nation cooking, cleaning, repairing, exercising, gardening and generally looking after ourselves and our environment.
This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does
I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.
As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?
As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.
It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.
This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.
Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.
I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.
Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.
I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.
India – Taj Mahal at Agra
India – Agra
India – Delhi (part 1)
These are some pictures of the mini Taj that we went to the day before we went to the Taj Mahal. We also had to go to a marble cutting workshop as that’s usually part of the deal when you go on guided tours as not all guides are the same. In fact none of them matched up to the one in Delhi in terms of knowledge.
It happens in Turkey and many other places around the world that part of your tour is here look at this stuff that we have for sale “and I will get commission if you buy”.
We also went to the Red Fort which was very expansive. He had 3 wives, one Christian, 1 Hindu and 1 Muslim as he didn’t want to show favouritism between religions.
If you want to look at the other posts in my India series see here:
India – Delhi (part 1)
India – Taj Mahal at Agra
Parsis and Zoroastrians
This is an in-depth look at the differences in children caused by parenting styles. It also seeks to find out about the social development of a child. It looks to see how responsive they are initially and incrementally.
In the first of 6 episodes they analyse oxytocin (the love hormone involved in bonding) counts in both mothers and fathers to see how it differs across pregnancy, child rearing, culture and whether the child has 2 dads, is a 3 parent family so 2 dads and the surrogate mum or a mum and a dad. Additionally they scan the brains of the adults participating to see the sizes of there hippocampus and whether there activated or not. This area is responsible for learning and is bigger in children with more distant parents leading to the refrigerator theory of the 1960s. This is not what causes autism and has since been disproved.
They also measure the cortisol (stress hormone) levels using the still face test. This is where the mum plays with and talks to the child, then sits back unresponsive to see how the child copes with this. The children notice immediately that something is different and then try to figure out what has caused. Eventually they all start crying and self soothe by putting there fingers in there mouths. When the parent returns to normal behaviour the children may over react initially but they gradually return to their happy selves.
I thought this may be the origins of thumb sucking, pacifiers/dummies, nail biting, over eating and smoking as this is all self soothing behaviour by sticking things in our mouths.
They go on to look at the other major aspects of a child’s life like food, crawling, first words, sleep which I thought they would have covered earlier and first steps.
I think this is going to be a fascinating series to watch regardless of whether you have children or not as we were all once children ourselves.
This is part 2 of a five part series on PBS. Part 1 is Northern and Central Greece, Part 3 The Peloponnesus, Part 4 is the Cyclades Islands and Part 5 is the The Dodecanese Islands .
I have been to Athens and I wrote about it previously when I visited at New Year. I haven’t been back since as it took some getting used to.
I must not having been paying attention when this was on in September and just recently during the week and on at the weekend. As it’s an American show I can’t stream it and I can’t find it anywhere else but I have written about The Parthenon which is a major part of the history of Athens.
It may not surprise you to learn that I have visited this area of Greece too in addition to Lefkás. My reasons are generally not so virtuous as those of Dr Michael Scott or David Suchet though who does the narration in This is Greece. This is a 5 part series which they recently repeated on PBS so I got to watch the rest which mysteriously vanished from the scheduling before I could write about it.
To recap he first went to Northern and Central Greece which I wrote about in This is Greece on PBS with Michael Scott. In the second episode he goes to Athens itself. In this episode he goes to the Peloponnesus area that surrounds Athens. Afterwards visits the Cyclades Islands (Circular) in the Aegean and then finishes in the The Dodecanese Islands.
I have been to Athens but not to the Cyclades or the Dodecanese.
Generally when we go on a road trip as well as history, it will take in at least one winery. This allows us to bring back a supply that is the freshest and since it is from the source it is the cheapest too. Considering how much we have to celebrate in our lives it is a worthwhile investment.
This is part 4 of the series with him previously visiting North and Central Greece before moving on to Athens, The Peloponnesus area, and now The Cycladic (Circular) Islands in the Aegean Sea.
The Cyclades encompasses sacred Delos which is the centre, Syros which houses the capital Ermoupoli, tourist hotspots like Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini for the magnificent sunset, historic Milos and Tinos, religious Paros and out of the way places like peaceful Folegandros and Sifnos known for its many churches.
Our guide for these islands are 2 different Greek ladies, Cassandra and Sylvia as tourism is more prevalent here than history. Santorini is well known for producing the best wines in the area due to its volcanic soil. I personally know this having attended a wine tasting involving their wines. I’ve probably written about this years ago too.
The famous Venus de Milo statue was found on Milos.
He visits Tinos to talk about the islands dedication to Poseidon and to see the many dovecotes on the island. There is also the famous church where pilgrims crawl on their knees from the port to the entrance which is 700 metres. This is an island that is part Catholic due to its Venetian heritage and part Greek Orthodox.
For the last episode he visits the The Dodecanese Islands or 12 islands.
This is the final part of This is Greece with Dr Michael Scott having first visited Northern and Central Greece, Athens, The Peloponnesus area of Greece, and, Cyclades Islands.
The Dodecanese (12) Islands contain Rhodes which is a fantastic historical island especially for someone like me who has an interest in the Durell family as Laurence lived there writing a book about the island which I’m yet to read. That one was called Reflections of a Marine Venus. You can visit his house Villa Kleobolus while your there too.
Rhodes was subject to many invasions over the years so it’s been fortified accordingly. It has been ruled by first the Romans then the British as part of the Crusades and the famous knights of St John or the knights hosiptaller, the Venetians spent some time here, it was owned by the Ottomans but they kept the locals ruling and it was later passed on to the Italians before finally gaining there independence.
Leros is the next stop on the tour but our guide is now an Athenian lady Elenor. There is Byzantine, medieval, Ottoman, Venetian and Italian history here just like Rhodes. Sunsets are of course a big selling point along with churches dating from the knights of St John. If your a film buff you will want to visit the island as it’s the inspiration for the film Guns of Navarone.
He also travels to Patmos famous for being the place where the biblical book of Revelations was written by St John with many churches dedicated to him, a monastery as well as its many windmills.
Symi turns up too. St Michael is the patron saint here with a magnificent church dedicated to himself as he is also patron saint of sailors in the Dodecanese.
As usual with American programs the first and the last are the most interesting with the ones in the middle being mainly composed on second grade material. He even gets other people to do tour guides for you!
This is a clip that a friend of mine posted online with Greek and English plus an auto translation below.
What confuses me the most when trying to figure out the Greek language is where do you take a breath? There are no commas, semi colons or full stops. There isn’t even any speech marks, exclamation marks or question marks!
The Greeks also have a love of sentences that start with And. I think this maybe because they are trying to artificially add in punctuation in newspaper articles. It’s very confusing trying to figure out which words belong in which sentence since they run on forever!
Spanish I think may have the opposite problem of using exclamation marks at the beginning as well as the end. Kind of like the Spanish themselves being very enthusiastic.
I haven’t learnt sufficient about other languages like Russian yet, to be able to comment properly; but from what I’ve seen far they don’t seem to have the same issues.
Do you have any issues like this in languages you have learnt?
This is the third program of this name but the one I’m referring to is the 2019 Turkish TV series Atiye not the 2000 or 2015 psychological thriller films.
This is an interesting looking series of 8 programs about an Ottoman era archeological dig in Anatolia based on a Turkish book and author that has been filmed for Netflix.
It’s Turkish originally of course but it’s available in English dubbed or you can have English subtitles. I personally find it jarring that when I was streaming it, the American voices are slightly out of sync with the actions. The actors and actresses are vibrant in their movements but since Turkish and English are such different languages it’s never going to look or sound exactly right. I tried turning the sound off and relying on the subtitles but then you lose so much of the program as your reading and not paying attention to what’s going on. If you however download it and put the subtitles on you can concentrate on what’s happening much easier.
It’s very modern and female forward which I’m surprised about but this is maybe Turkey trying to show to the world that it can live in the 21st century at least in a show that is about abstract art. If I didn’t know that they were speaking Turkish I would have figured it was perhaps another Middle Eastern nation like Israel who have participated in Eurovision each year since the 1980’s.
This is a style of art from the 1930s that was again a reaction to the harshness of world war 1. It took its name from a exhibition that took place in Crystal Palace show casing all of the new items for sale. Art Decoratif in French or Art Deco as it came to be known in English. Wikipedia has a very good article on this so I don’t need to go into too much detail here but it was fascinating when I went in the Design Museum in Berlin to see object from this era on display. I also love it when I come across examples in painting, architecture or tile.
I really like this as it’s angular and embodies the principles of form and function without redundancies. There is not superfluous lines there just to make it look good. It is streamlined and efficient. It is also aesthetically pleasing.
It was taking place not long after the Bauhaus movement in Germany. It also influenced many of the Greek poets that I have previously written about since they lived in Europe at the same time. I have also written about Bauhaus along with Picasso impact on Cubism.
Which art movements have spoken to you over the years?
I can’t believe I’ve never written about one of my most favourite art movements before! I absolutely love Cubism. I have been a fan of this style since I first discovered this at college. I did an Access course to higher education which grants you entrance to university after one year instead of the usual 2 if you were not able to do your a levels for some reason.
I had a good Art History teacher Lorraine Monk who was also a bit of a feminist so we studied people like Frida Kahlo which is another one of my interests and one of the reasons why I was very happy when I got to visit Mexico. Anyways this is getting away from Picasso.
Picasso invented cubism with his seminal art work Demoisselles de Avignon in 1917. He was affected greatly by the First World War as was everyone else who served in it. Being Spanish Picasso was very emotional so the world was constantly recreated in an abstract way on his canvases. When a friend of his committed suicide he entered his blue period for the next couple of years until he had recovered. It was the Spanish Civil war which caused him to paint Guernica which is another era defining painting.
I think a certain amount of anguish is necessary for art to be created as we need to tap into that resource of feelings which are usually hidden behind logic. The best music is usually created by musicians when they are currently under going some kind of trauma like Rumours by Fleetwood Mac or the Winner takes it all by ABBA.
This is part of the new breed of historical programs on Netflix that are part dramatisation and part recitation of historical facts from learned professors in the area. I have watched some about Russian history too namely the Czars. I will write about this also in due course.
This series has 6 episodes covering the legendary siege of Constantinople in 1453. This was conducted by Mehmet the second against Roman Emperor Constantine the 11th. It is narrated by Charles Dance the man who voiced Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones.
I think this is a fascinating period of history starting with the astonishing takeover where 23 armies including his fathers had failed before him. Each episode covers a different bit of the siege from the initial plans, the artillery attack, naval attack to sneakier tactics and finally the success.
This follows on from previous posts I have written about the Ottoman Empire and when I eventually visit Istanbul there will be some more as the city is bound to yield many interesting things to write about.
The Byzantine Empire was much earlier and I have already written about that too in a couple of posts. Byzantines.
This was a race of people who lived in Byzantium. This is the city that the Romans founded called Constantinople and later become Istanbul . This was the subject of a BBC 4 program last winter called A city of 3 names – Constantinople, Byzantium and Istanbul.
The Byzantines were famous for their religious beliefs. They created a style of art that is unique and there many museums dedicated to it. There is an exhibition on Byzantine art in Lefkás town on top of the library that I have written about previously and I have seen an exhibit in London at a Hellenic centre too. There is also one in Berlin on Museum Island.
There is however only so much information that you can take in over the course of a holiday. This is why I haven’t been in that one yet but I hope to return to Berlin to check it out. I also want to go to Istanbul to see Hagia Sophia and all of the other treasures that are inside the city as I have previously mentioned when talking about the Ottoman Empire.
To start to live life you need to find out how to unplug yourself. This will be lonely and you will have to learn a whole new way of being but it will be worth it. The world outside the Matrix is a fabulous place. It is inhabited by children, autistics and other neuro diverse individuals, eccentrics, the enlightened who have emancipated themselves, self employed and digital nomads. These are spread throughout the world so although it seems like many, there are likely to be only a few near you. They are increasing though with the current attitudes towards climate change, vegetarianism, sexual and gender identity as well as dress and nationality.
If you need help and encouragement to understand this watch the first 3 parts of the Matrix and look forward to the next instalment coming next year. It will be interesting to see how the fact the Wachowskis are both now women alters the storyline. Along with the progress that has happened in technology in the past 20 years. I’m extremely excited to see what they come up with as it’s my favourite movie that I gain something new from each time I watch it.
The Ottoman Empire ruled Greece from when the Byzantines finished in the 14th century until the end of the First World War. This was a considerable amount of time. There was a program on BBC 4 about this last year by Rageh Omar. It was titled The Ottoman Empire – Europe’s Muslim rulers. There is now also a Netflix program about the rise of the Ottoman Empire which I’m going to write about as well.
I found it a fascinating insight into a period of history that isn’t covered much in the UK. It’s a crucially important part of Europe’s history but since we seem to be so anti European it gets missed out of the history books. I think this is a grave error and I’m almost working on filling in the gaps of my knowledge.
I want to visit Agia Sofia in Istanbul to see the magnificent shrine that was built by Sulliman the second. I want to see the Blue Palace and the Topkapi Palace as well as all the other delights that a city on the Bosphorus can offer. The Grand Bazaar is one of a kind.
As you all no doubt know by now, I am a child of the British Empire and the Ancient Raj. Being an army child but not having the companionship of any of the army families around me is incredibly isolating.
You start out with all of these morals and ideas from a bygone era that immediately sets you apart from the rest of the civilian world. I had a very structured and disciplined upbringing which was good for me in general but it wasn’t when it came to socialization. This made me rather awkward as to properly socialize you need to both know yourself and be yourself. This requires you to be an individual and as part of the army mindset you are just another cog in the machine. You don’t think for yourself, you just do as your told, blindly and without question as that is the nature of hierarchical authority.
This probably explains all the trouble and problems people like Lord Byron caused. They were born with a different mindset so they had to go on extended tours of the continent to find themselves. When they had and realised they were never going to fit in to the closeted English society – they stayed abroad in the many outposts of the British Empire.
This is possibly why I’m attracted to people like Patrick Leigh Fermor and Lawrence Durrell as they echo the upbringing of my parents. They were both well travelled enjoying the benefits that living in foreign countries brings. This way of living compels you to always travel, think, research, to understand the meaning of things.
There is so much history out there that has been reported in a biased way. It was always to the benefit of the victors neglecting the other side of the conflict for wars are fought by 2 sides but only 1 is recorded. Even then it was only men who recalled their lives for prosperity.
So in order to correct this I have been watching The Rise of Empires – The Ottoman Empire on Netflix and I have been reading feminist retellings of classic books like the Odyssey and the Iliad. I have written about my findings and I hope in the not too distant future to go on holiday to places like Sicily, Rhodes and Cyprus to further explore my background.