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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SIGHTS Moments You Never Forget …

You won‘t ever be closer to god but on this spot in Newfoundland!

Just look and look and look – this is not a painting, it’s a photo! A platform at the end of a fjord, meandering for a hundred miles, the shores a palette of colours, light and shadows, the universe so near, reality so far, and if you had the luck to enjoy this sight, I tell you – you are homesick for it, you feel ill everytime you remember it and it is so far, your heart aches for this melange of earth and sky, this paradise on Canada’s island of Newfoundland, in this National Park Gros Morne, nobody knows who doesn’t live on this stretch of Atlantic coast. Am I exaggerating? Well, just look and look and look …

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Lake Chad is vanishing …

... and a secret desaster lurks around the corner!

The map of „The New Yorker“ demonstrates the situation dramatically ...

THIS LAKE WAS ONCE THE SOURCE OF LIFE FOR MILLIONS! With 22 600 sqkm it was bigger than Israel or Slovenija, four times bigger than Lake Albert and bordering the states Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. And now? Lake Chad has shrunk by ca. 95 %!!! The northern basin is desert now, part of the Sahel Zone of the Sahara. It started in the 1970s, nobody knows why, and presently the dozens of inhabited island are rapidly becoming more like dunes. About a 100 00 people once existed there, but the goverment forced what’s left of them (ca. 55 000) to leave their traditional habitats. But since these tribes were robbers by tradition, nobody living on the mainland (so to speak) wants them. So they are poorly reorganized in camps in the hot Nowhere – right in the desert. Their cattle herds die, water is scarce, food almost non-existent – and nobody cares! They are dying by the thousands, and the disappearance of Lake Chad will change a significant part of Central Africa. The world isn’t aware what’s happening on the shores of what was 40 years ago a vast water basin, with navigation from country to country, trading routes by boat, fertile land and a never ending source of water. Look at the splendid map, La Tigre made für „The New Yorker”: The green indicates the former size of Lake Chad, the blue is the actual status.

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CHRISTMAS Are The Japanese Christians?

No, but clever businessmen – and great copyists ...

Pre-Christmas in Tokyo – wow!

JUST LOOK AT THIS PHOTO, I just got from my friend Hans and his Japanese wife Yoko: Tokyo, exploding in christmas decorations. My god, the Shopping Mall close to the Ginza looking like the „Christkindlmarkt“ in Nuremberg! Everything is artificial, no tree had to die for these basically christian decorations in a Buddhist land. No green needles visible, just lightbulbs in a dozen colors. You won’t see anything which has to to with what happened in Bethlehem 2017 years ago. Well, let them have their own way with what we invented. I just wanted to show you that you wouldn’t feel lost in the Japanese capital in the next four weeks …

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