Ever Heard Of Daniil Granin?

He was a Soviet Party lackey, but what a great travel writer!

Granin

That's his East German travel book ...

 

Granin

... and that's him in the 80s

I DISCOVERED HIM MUCH TO LATE, in the year of his death, this Daniil Granin (1919-2017). He was for ages the president of the Soviet Writers Union, responsible for the ostracism of his colleague Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. And he enjoyed such a privileged status, even under Stalin, that he could travel wherever he wanted, got enough money to do it and used it extensively. I don’t like his political attitude (a stiff communist, as long as Communism existed in the Soviet Union, and a liberal thinker afterwards), but even when he travelled in the Cold-War-Fifties and the precarious 60s, he was – amazingly enough – a fair observer, a man for whom humor meant more than ideology, and to read the commentaries of a writer from another world (about the Taj Mahal, the New York traffic system, the Japanese emperor, Indonesian temples or Goethe in Weimar) in such a literary quality is eye-opening. I read Granin in German, in editions which were published in East Germany only, and I regretted not to have known his „Travel Sketches“ (that’s how he called them) before I went to the destinations he had visited and written about. This Russian is definitely in one class with Waugh, de Beauvoir, Gide and Fleming.

Categories: A Story Of Glory, Newly Discovered, The Book to Look, The News To Use | Tags: , , , | Kommentare deaktiviert

You Will Always Be Winning …

... with this miracle coin from the Internet!

Münze

That's how they offer the crooks coin ...

YOU KNOW THE GAME: „Pitch-and-toss“ or „Head or Tail“ – football/soc- cer games start with this throw of a coin, you are cheated out of your money in shady bars by artistic crooks and in Western movies professional gamblers are shot when they discover that their coins had two identical sides: heads and heads = eagles and eagles, numbers and numbers. No wonder you always choose the wrong side and lost! No, you decide, this won’t happen again, you try to protect yourself – by not playing again or by acquiring a crook’s coin. BINGO, they are offered between on eBay and other internet platforms for a modest price between 9 and 29 Euro! The most popular coin seems to be to 50 Cents piece (showing the amount on both sides naturally) and I wonder, why such a criminal tool is allowed to be sold publicly! A forger has to produce these so-called „Double Sided Coins“. On the other hand: Nobody would pay a 50 Cents amount with a 50 Cents-piece with cost 9 Euro minimum! No, but cheaters jubilate – and you too, when you never loose again while tossing with your friends. Without pinching money from them, naturally!

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Botswana Is Turning The Screw …

... and Safaris become more and more difficult!

Botswana

Me and my friends: It will never happen again ...

Botswana

... and how we loved those visits!

WELL, MAYBE THEY ARE WISE IN A WAY – protecting wildlife against tourism. The latest „security measures“ for the Okavango Delta, the Savuti, the Kalahari and so on are as follows: 1. You can build a camp with maximal 12 tents only! 2. A group which is lager than 18 people is not permitted! 3. And if you organize a group this large, you have to split it up and use two campsites! Fine, one thinks, the reasons behind those strict rules are understandable. But there is a big BUT (as I told you in a previous post already), and not a fair one: The government got a contract with an American billionairs group which buys all the luxury lodges (and constructs new ones), they dislike tourists who travel in tents independently, they want all travelers to book rooms in the lodges – which means a lot more money and a tighter control. So the old Safari romanticism dies, the campfire nostalgia, the „You & Me-Feeling“ between man and beast. After even I, a licensed game warden, couldn’t get an additional bed in a Safari group of 18, I say „Kwaheri“, „Good-bye“, „Au Revoir“ and „Auf Wiedersehen“ to the wonderful old world …

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Ah, Does Anyone Remember Bushkazi?

It was once the national sport of Afghanistan ...

Bushkazi

The postcard I got from Kabul ...

IT WAS BY FAR THE WILDEST SPORT ON EARTH! A kind of Polo match, called „Bushkazi“, with up to a hundred and more competitors, and the aim was to bring a dead goat or calf back to the judges table. Or what remained of it. It was „played“ on open grounds, as large as stretching from horizon to horizon, and damned the gardens and fields, parked cars and spectator stands, who came into the way of the cavalcade! The riders watching nothing but the animal’s carcass and the horseman who had it for the moment. They beat each other with whips and sticks, rode the others merciless to the ground, ripped the carcass to pieces while galloping at highest speed, and left a trace of blood and wounded, horses and men, and if a „player“ died, he was recognized as a hero who lost his life in honor. Then 50 years of war destroyed everything in Afghanistan, tradition, religion, the ruling system – and Bushkazi! It’s not „played“ anymore but there are still some people alive who mourn it. And these days I got a postcard from an former employee of my parents in Kabul and it was a nostalgic greeting, showing an old Bushkazi scenery, inscribed with the unusual, un-Afghani Christian well-wishing „Merry Christmas“ and „Happy New Year“. Why the postcard reached me in March instead of December, I can’t say. Maybe some guy in the Central Post Office in Kabul hesitated to send it, fearing the reaction of Taliban sympathisers …

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What An Amazing Membership Card …

... and the photo is not a fake, it's real, including the walrus !!!

Explorers Club

A beautiful shot from the Arctic ...

STUDIO AND EXPEDITION ARTIST DANIELLE EUBANK made it in 2014, sailing on the barquentine tall ship, „The Antigua“ (seen in the background of the card), to Svalbard in the Arctic. When asked about the image, Danielle wrote: „I captured this photograph in Raudfjorden, Svalbard. I waded into the water and the walrus came over to check me out. He was curious. I took several shots as I wanted a diagonal composition of the walrus and the boat. I was keen to capture the walrus looking at the camera. There was a fine, omnipresent sleet that lent a diaphanous spray across everything. I think it gives the photo a kind of mystery.“ Very true! I was so amazed by the scene, that I took the liberty to present to you my own Membership Card 2018 of the Explorers Club – in the hope to amaze you too …

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Fear Of Death Is Not In His Religion …

A friend of mine discovered this monk between earth and heaven

Sabine Magnet

A monk high up on a crossbeam ...

WHAT AN AMAZING SIGHT! A Buddhist monk in the temple district of Wat Puh Noi, close to the Sam Rot Not National Park in Thailand. A new building is erected around this statue of Buddha, and the monk couldn’t wait until completion and climbed (sprang, floated, flew, was catapulted, lifted by crane?) up to the highest crossbeam. Sitting on the hard steel, not wider than one foot, he reads a holy scroll, totally absorbed and far away from this world, mankind and any anxiety, closer to Nirwana and Reincarnation. Eating, drinking and other humane necessities? No problem, non-existing. Thinking of how to get down in the evening? Probably not. My dear friend Sabine Magnet, the German-Austrian Lyricist and author, discovered the monk while wandering through Wat Puh Noi, and took a whole series of pictures: Of the monk who is already halfway up to his final destination …

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We Are Underestimating Elevator Doors …

... and I can understand Connaisseurs who collect them optically!

The doors in „The New Yorker“ ...

I WAS REMINDED OF THE MISTAKE WE ALL MAKE by a page in „The New Yorker“ (shown here). The American artist Julia Rothman had 6 elevator doors, all in famous buildings of New York, beautifully painted and the readers were asked, to recognize them (some difficult, some easy). But the essence of this page was: There are lift entrances so unique, so pure in style, so fitting to the whole complex (preferably historical) that they should get their own chapter in art history. Just have a look at those 9 doors of Julia Rothman: one more significant than the other! You could/should each of them unhinge and give them an exhibition room in the Metropolitan Museum. And I know of many more elevator portals like those. Just think of the gorgeous (and creaking) French ascenseur cages of painted wrought iron! Or the Art Nouveau doors made of Lalique glass. The wooden masterpieces in German castles (installed after 500 years of climbing the stairs). I’m grateful to Miss Rothman and „The New Yorker“ for bringing this subject up and I’m waiting now for the architect/art historian to publish the book I’m waiting for. And should you discover a remarkable elevator door, please let me know.

The answers to Mis Rothman’s quiz: A Chrysler Building, B Hotel Carlyle, C General Electric Building, D Hotel Lexington, E Cities Services Building, F Empire State Building, G Tiffany, H Hotel Plaza, I Film Center Building

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Look What I saw In Zimbabwe!

...but on the other hand – wasn't it a clever idea?

Links NO, rechts YES ...

I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY EYES – and the flash of an idea poisened my brain: Is it anti-african to show it here? In a „white“ blog? Well, I came to the conclusion that you might see such an hilarious toilet advice even in Lower Bavaria (Germany) or in Gurky Corner (Wisconsin/USA). This one here I discovered in Bulawayo, a beautiful town in the southwestern part of Zimbabwe. It’s fixed to a public toilet and I tell you frankly, that I have seen toilets in Asia, Europe and America which I used exactly like it shouldn’t be used!!! Because it was the only way not to soil me from head to toe by the „leftovers“ of previous users. And is the traditional Middle East toilet not a simple tiled hole in the ground? And is therefore the illegal position on the rim of the bowl not a very clever compromise with „western“ technology? No, it’s not, says the city, owner of this public luxury. Which was clean as a bride’s veil and I had a great time using it …

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ANIMALS Lost & Found …

What's barking in Madagascar? The smallest dog in the world

Dog

That's the barking dwarf from Madagascar ...

I had never seen a dog like that: It was barking from a rich lady’s handbag in Antananarivo, the capital of the island of Madagascar, and when I ask her what this was, she said: „Coton de Tulear“. It sounded like „Cochon“ and  „Fuck off!“ to me, so I left. But she was right: The name of this liliput race is „Coton de Tulear“ and it was created in Tulear, a town in the southern part of the island, where some people got rich by cotton and became so bored by wealth that they invented the smallest dog in the world, 10 inches (24 cm) high at the head and weighing never more than 12 pounds (5 kilo). A white piece of fur with hanging ears and long coat, looking like a Maltese (dog) and – well – fitting into one of these modern handbag. In Tulear, where I went, they are quite common, anywhere else they are very rare. But one should refrain from entering a handbag with a hand to cuddle the „Coton“ – both the lady and the dog might bite …

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HOTELS The Nice Advice …

In Namibia's „Canyon Lodge“ ask for hut # 11

Namibia

The Canyon Lodge in Namibia in a water color of my own doing ...

Where the country (almost) ends, there lies a paradise. Around 1900 it was the farmhouse of the German brothers, now it is the „Canyon Lodge“ not far from one of the wonders of the world, Namibia’s Fish River Canyon, Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Nearby and clustered around a rock formation lie some 25 one-room-bungalows with baths, equipped with simple luxury or luxurious simplicity, far, far away from everything that burdens mankind. But ask for No. 11. The best best positioned, most individual and nicest hut. A big white owl nests near the bathroom window and from the veranda ons looks far into the southern tip of the Namib desert and at night sparkle not only the stars in the sky but equally the crystals in the sand. I hope, my watercolour shows the „Canyon Lodge“ in an appropriate way …

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