Photography and Nostalgia: Scanned Pictures - 1993 to 2004

Me, Grenoble 1998Auntie Dot in Melton 1994Zoe in Manton 1994Dylan in Loughborough 1994Koss and me, Oakham 1994Koss and Zoe, Oakham 1994
Zoe, Simon and Koss, Manton 1994My room, Sassenage 1994School courtyard, Grenoble 1994Rebecca, Champollion 1994Alice and me, Sassenage 1994Me and Karli, Sassenage 1994
Me, Grenoble 1995Worshipping the Docs, Grenoble 1995Rebecca, Grenoble 1995Cannibal, Pascal, me Grenoble 1995Andrew, Grenoble 1995Goth Jade, Grenoble 1995
Pascal, Grenoble 1995Shannon, Grenoble 1995Cannibal Corpse back patch, Grenoble 1995Spontaneous mosh pit, Grenoble 1995Karli in my Sepultura t-shirt, Grenoble 1995South of France, 1994
Scanned Pictures - 1993 to 2005, a set on Flickr.

A few months ago I purchased an amazing little tool called the Wolverine Photo Scanner (see link below for more details if you are interested). The tool scans negatives and slides into .jpg format photos that you can then load onto your computer and post online. So for the past few months I have been scanning all of the negatives I have managed to save over the years and over the multiple moves from country to country and apartment to apartment. I finally finished uploading and labeling them all this week as I had a bit more downtime than usual, with it being Christmas and all.

The photos are a mix of moments in time, taken between 1993 and 2004, mainly of people and places in my life at the time. The amount of nostalgia felt while labeling all of the photos was intense, as there are moments that I had forgotten about, and moments that I will never forget as long as I live. Some people come and go over time, others remain around, however far away you may live from each other and however many months pass between conversations. The photos are all mixed up, as I didn’t have the heart to sort them by year, so you may find an image from 1994 in our old house in Sassenage, France right next to one of me and my volunteer friends in Kibbutz Evron in Israel in 2003. I feel as if this entire set is a snapshot of a decade and of the changes and non-changes that may have happened over those years. I thought about making a playlist to accompany the set, but it would have taken many hours and would have been too long to accomplish before the end of the year. Maybe a project for 2013?

Before I post an obligatory piece about 2012, I felt a real, old-school nostalgia piece was needed, not only because I feel that it helps me to collect all these images in one place, but also because a lot of my friends are probably going to appreciate seeing these, especially as at the time none of us had cell phones and cell phone cameras, and I was usually the only one who would take photos during our random nights and days out…

Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them. Bob Dylan

From our house in Sassenage, through the apartment in Ile Verte, Grenoble right through to my first apartment alone with my best friend and roommate Maud, my home was always the main meet-up place and place to hang out for me and my friends over the years. Cooking up pots of pasta and sauce and smoking hash in the Ile Verte, listening to metal into the early hours before going out to explore the huge graveyard down the street; making mulled wine and listening to The Cure on vinyl at our place on the 5th floor at 5 Rue Crépu in Grenoble; standing on the balcony and belting out parts of Mozart’s Don Giovanni to our neighbours at 4am; playing tarot around the table talking about the world and how we could change it…

Walking through the streets of Grenoble with bottles of wine in our hands; sitting on the steps of the FNAC and the church waiting for something to happen. Trips up to the Bastille and nights spent drinking in bars until we were drunk enough to go dance in a club up in the mountains; Paris with Maud and dancing to Bauhaus in a basement bar; electro-goth nights in Grenoble and Lyon; Nick Cave in Lyon in 2001 and standing speechless in front of him, because what on earth can you say to someone you adore without sounding like an idiot? Months and months spent on a kibbutz in Israel, making new lifelong friends and drinking cheap Russian vodka, dancing on tables until 5am and getting up at 6am to go to work in the kitchen. Walks and naps on the beach in Nahariya; talks around bonfires and an 8 day trip around Egypt with $150 in my pocket. Visits to my family in Sacramento, California, meeting up with old high school friends and realizing that some things never change. Little Luna cat as a tiny kitten, still the same little Luna as she is today, 12 years older. Working in the pub in Empingham, England; hanging out in the graveyard and talking for hours; walking around Rutland Water and waiting for the next big thing to happen…

There are so many moments I could write about, so many moments I have already written about and made into chapters of a book that I may or may not finish one day, and I love having a visual reference to these moments in time and to the people I shared these moments with. There are about 400 photos in the set, and there are some people and photos missing because I somehow lost the negatives along the way, but the ones I chose and/or found really portray a great view of our lives at the time.

“Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they're also what tear you apart.” - Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

 

Articles: Some interesting articles from today's paper


 Work is quiet so I just spent the last hour reading through today's paper, looking for something to write about... I started off with one article and ended up with 5, so instead of writing multiple posts about each one, I thought it would make more sense to make one post and provide my own comments/opinions. Most articles come from the New York Times, but I've added other similar articles from other sources in some places. It's quite Middle East-heavy, but, then again, why wouldn't it be?

Afghan rape case is brought before the authorities (NYT article can be found HERE)
I've followed the plight of women in Afghanistan for many years now, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of the country. In the late 90's (I think) Marie Claire published an article about the treatment of women by the ruling Taliban power, something that most news outlets never bothered with, forcing the world to acknowledge there was a real problem in the country. Remember the recording of public execution that was released to world, taken via stealth, the camera concealed beneath a burqa by RAWA in 1999? That was some amazing investigative journalism - because if the reporter had been captured, he/she would probably have been executed in the same fashion. The video was sent to different press outlets at the time, none of which wanted to publish it because of it's ability to shock the world. However, when foreign forces invaded Afghanistan, all of a sudden it was all over the news. Yes, we went in to save these women that a year before we were turning a blind eye to. Nothing more than the usual hypocrisy of the world, another country's plight only becomes important to us when we actually have something to gain in said country. Anyway, this article is interesting because it portrays a few different points; one being that in certain places the laws haven't really changed, even if the Taliban has lost most of its stronghold. Another being that instead of following the unwritten law of the ages, the victim's family have decided to bring it to the public and gain their daughter's honour back by seeking justice via trial.
What we all tend to forget is that Afghanistan is a very unique country, where different ethnic groups/tribes live together, all with different rules of living, many unwritten. In many places, especially remote, rural areas, the honour of the family remains of most utter importance. To destroy or tarnish that honour means certain death, as death is the only way to rectify the balance, and restore the lost honour. To us this may sound backwards and horrific, but this is the way it works, and has worked for generations. I find it admirable that Lal Bibi is looking for her kidnappers and rapists to be brought to justice WITH the support of her family. I hope that they succeed, because if they don't, she will die, either at the hands of her family, or by her own hands (as seen in the article). What a brave, brave woman.

Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison (NYT article can be found HERE)
Life in prison for the deaths of the unarmed protesters last year, however, all charges of corruption were dropped. I'm honestly not really surprised at either ruling, although I think that it is interesting that the police commanders who gave the orders to shoot at the crowds were acquitted. Surely there were more than two people who were responsible for all of the deaths? In any case, I suppose at least some sort of justice has been done, even if the country is still without a democratically elected government (when will those promised elections ever take place?!), although how real this justice is will be seen if the ruling doesn't fall down on appeal. With all other charges having been revoked, if Mubarak wins on appeal he could walk away a free man.
What I found the most interesting about this article is the comment section. They go from right to left, zig-zagging through different opinions, some highly well thought-out and others just plain stupid and actually laughable. Yes, Mubarak was a US ally, but that doesn't make him a saint, does it? Let's all think back to the lovely Shah of Iran people and look at what the good that did to the world. Mubarak wasn't all evil, but he outstayed his welcome for more than a few presidential terms, and stole way too much money from the people he was supposed to be protecting to not be punished for it.
For those commenting on how the world is letting fundamentalists take the power in Egypt by the removal of Mubarak: if this happens, then it is what happens. The Egyptian people fought for change, and will probably stand up and fight again if they feel the government they elect is not acting in their best interest. In the end, we don't have a say what should happen in Egypt - it's up to the Egyptian people to decide what to do. The median age in Egypt is 24 years old, meaning that the population is young and will not stand for any further domination. I'm interested to see how it all plays out in this country. Read all those comments - it's highly entertaining to say the least.
BBC News articles on the same subject HERE.

Russia refuses intervention in Syria (NYT article can be found HERE)
Quelle surprise! Although I am completely against any type of outside military intervention in Syria, I do feel that more pressure should be put on Assad to stop the massacres that seem to be happening on a regular basis in Syria these days. Then again, I understand the plight: if he listens to the UN and withdraws his troops from the areas of uprising it will most definitely lead to civil war. I mean, he could stand down, and be replaced by a democratically elected president, haha, but we all know that is not going to happen. If he continues to let his troops massacre men, women and children in villages it will just create a louder uproar around the world. It appears that the bloodshed is not going to end too soon, and we may just have to sit back and watch it happen. Although, I have no doubt that the West is already smuggling weapons and agents into Syria, and helping the rebels.
Another article on the subject, BBC this time, can be found HERE.

Oh, by the way, there is renewed fighting in the North Kivu area of the DRC, strongly reminiscent of what happened in 2008, see the Al Jazeera article HERE. As always, no one really cares about what is happening in this country, even after years and years of civil war and millions of deaths. It breaks my heart that it is still happening.

Last, but not least, American nuns fight back against the Vatican criticism they face (NYT article can be found HERE).
Interesting how the Vatican plays down all of the child abuse allegations and insists on covering them up, while at the same time accuses a large group of American nuns of challenging "church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” So it's OK for priests to sexually abuse children, but it's not OK to promote free healthcare for all?! Because, oh no, this may promote the usage of birth control, and even worse, abortion! In essence this criticism goes completely against all of the real teachings of Christianity. My own thoughts on religion aside (having had a mix of Anglican, Catholic and free spirit education in my youth I decided to go with the latter, without scorning any of the former), I think this is highly despicable. Nuns dedicate their lives to educating and helping others, while giving up everything to live with their faith. The Vatican condemning them for promoting homosexuality and feminism is just plain old gender bigotry. It's time for the Vatican to get with the times and stop acting like they have the right to twist religion in a way that suits them best. Religious freedom means that we have the right to choose our religion and to live by it in the way we see fit. There is no place in this world anymore, or at least in the world I imagine, for men to dictate how women should live their lives. If these nuns are promoting radical feminism, then I really wonder what my views would be called! More radical than radical? I'm SO happy these nuns are taking a stand and continuing to promote what they believe in.



Bahrain: Shouting in the dark - documentary to watch

Bahrain: Shouting in the dark
(Al Jazeera documentary - the journalist crew who filmed and documented all of the content in this documentary obviously risked their lives more than once to collect all of the footage. Amazing).

I posted this documentary on Facebook last week, but it has really affected me and I can't help posting about it again. I know I should keep my focus on certain causes, talk about, fight for and research one or two major concerns in this world, but I can't. Everything affects me and I want to make changes everywhere. I know I can't, but at least this blog is one platform where I can talk about everything and anything that affects me (be it in a good or bad way), and maybe, just maybe, it may affect one of you reading it and you will pass it along too.

Earlier this year, in the heyday of the Arab Spring, when news crews were showing us images of clashes in Libya, demonstrations in Egypt and protests in Bahrain, there was so much talk about people standing up for their rights, for democracy, for free speech and for change in these countries. A small domino effect of different populations seeing hope and reaching out to grab it in their hands. We all know what happened in Egypt (currently waiting for the first election results after the fall of Mubarak). We all know what happened in Libya (we all saw the pictures of Gaddafi being captured and then dead), but does anyone actually care that Bahrain just dropped off the newsreels back in the Spring? Does anyone actually really care what happened to the entire population who went out and peacefully protested for reform? They didn't even protest for the overturn of the ruling powers, just reform...Link
Watch this documentary, it will show you exactly what happens in a country when the minority ruling powers decide to go in and crack down on revolution, and when nobody in the West cares, because maybe, just maybe, this little country is too close to certain assets that we want to keep on our side. Watch how an entire population goes from rejoicing freedom and the right to speak to watching loved ones being shot down, arrested and tortured to death. And still, no one cares.

(And as food for thought, why are we all imposing sanctions on Syria - Western AND Arab countries - because of the violent governmental crackdown on protests, but no one even bothered with Bahrain?! This is not about not-caring, it's full-blown hypocrisy).

World Events & Active Ignorance

This week, amidst a million other things, the following events happened:

- Popular uprising/Revolution in Egypt: Al Jazeera live blog updates
- Sahra Bahrami, Iranian-Dutch citizen, sentenced to death in Iran for alleged drug smuggling was hanged: Iran Hangs Sahra Bahrami
- The Deputy Governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan was assassinated: Deputy Governor of Kandahar Killed
- Ugandan Gay Rights Activist, David Kato was beaten to death: David Kato Murdered

There is a world outside your bubble. If you don't feel like actively participating, at least try to KNOW about what is happening in the world today. The amount of blank stares and raised eyebrows I have encountered every time I brought up one of the above events this week makes me want to vomit.
I just wish people didn't try to actively be ignorant. It drives me insane.


Egypt... 2004

If you are staying in Israel as a volunteer you get a 3 month volunteer visa. If you want to renew it you have to leave the country and come back in again, the easiest way of doing so is to cross the border into Egypt and come back again after a few years. Most people tend to go and spend a few days in Dahab and then come back again. I decided to travel around the whole country in 10 days (on an extremely low budget) to at least make the most of it.

I spent $150 while I was there and left with a small back pack, containing underwear a couple of t-shirts, a towel and a bathing suit. I wore jeans and a sweater seeing as it WAS in January and I had no idea how cold it would get. Three girls together, Kirsty from South Africa (who had never traveled before), Andrea from Colombia (seasoned traveller) and myself (also used to traveling). I would honestly never do it again that way - it was an amazing experience, but we ended up staying in the worst hostels ever (ever seen a shower that drips water on you OVER a toilet?! Go to the cheapest hostel in Cairo).



Taba to Cairo: six hours on a bumpy bus with Egyptian music, not really expecting the culture shock when you finally get off the bus (shaky legs and all). People shouting at you in Arabic, pulling at you (especially Kirsty with her blonde hair, light skin and terrified expression), and trying to get you to pay extortionate amounts of money to go to the "best place in town".
I don't like Cairo. Too noisy, too many people staring at you, too many crazy drivers and just WAY TOO BIG. The pyramids were incredible though... If I ever go back again I will ride a camel all around them, as it was something I didn't end up doing.



Cairo to Aswan: 12 hours in the 2nd class cabin on the train. I kept one eye open all night in case we were robbed, but it was actually pretty safe. Aswan was my favourite place - much smaller and friendlier, and I actually felt I could breathe there! We met a lovely Egyptian man who resided in the UK, but who's family lives in the Aswan Nubian community. He decided to be our tour guide for a couple of days and took us to visit his family, and to a lot of different places off the beaten track. He even got us a great deal on a felluca trip back up the Nile, so we didn't have to share with a bunch of strangers - and he didn't ask for anything in return. I think we were pretty lucky, if I think back at it now I realise we were a little naive to trust this guy, but in the end, right to.
Sadly the felluca trip back up to Luxor didn't work out because of very heavy winds, but we did end up spending the night on it, on the deck, under the stars. Amazing.



Aswan to Luxor: there were no 1st or 2nd class seats left so we had to go 3rd class. Tourists are actually not allowed to travel 3rd class for safety reasons, but someone must have taken pity on us as there wasn't another train until the next day. We were asked to sit next to a group of soldiers, and spent three hours with our heads stuck out of the window to avoid the stares of the other passengers and the stench of the overflowing toilet between the carriages.
Luxor is a strange place. It feels safer because it's very touristy and cosmopolitan, but we had our worst experiences there. on every street corner someone tried to lure us into a dark alley to buy drugs, and the pickpocketing situation was insane. Andrea had her wallet stolen without even realising it was gone.
The ancient architecture in Luxor however is mind-blowing. The temple, the Valley of the Kings, the statues... I don't even know how to explain how incredible it was to actually stand near these creations.

Luxor to Dahab: 22 hours on a bus through the desert, breaking down by the tip of the Suez canal and realising that the desert is FREEZING at night when the sun is not there to warm it up. Dahab was wonderful - and just what we needed to relax after 7 days of hardly any sleep and a lot of traveling.It was off-season so we got a cheap bamboo hut to sleep in and spent a lot of time sitting in comfortable cushions on the edge of the red sea. The showers only had cold (sea) flowing through them so we ended up not even showering for the last three days ( :D ).
Once I got back to my aunt's on Moshav Hatzeva in Israel and I had the longest and best shower of my life.



Egypt is full of extremes. One moment I never wanted to leave, the next I couldn't wait to get out of there. If I ever go back again it will be to do a cruise on the Nile: good food, comfortable beds and showers that work. Or maybe just Dahab in the summer: swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea, backgammon on the beach and dancing to good music at night.

Or maybe next time I am in the Middle East I will just go to Jordan. Or Lebanon.

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