Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brussels public transport - masochists paradise

Living in Brussels and having to use the public transport every day makes me wonder. Mostly whether the people who invented reality shows based on survival got the idea from spending a week using Brussels public transport. Sadly "driving a sack of potatoes" attitude is actually the least annoying one.

First painful realisation is that Brussels doesn't actually have the  underground, despite all the signs indicating it. What Brussels has is trams pretending to be metros and buses occasionally posing as trams. 

There's many different kinds of problems and technical ones vary from big screens, telling you how often any mean of transport will make its appearance at the station but not also which one and when exactly. Trams are very often equipped with modern displays used to show the final destination or in case of buses, the commercial for the company logo. The ones that display actual stations and time are said to be experimental. Even the official map gives up at some point and stops showing names of stops. I guess if you got that far, you'll probably be OK in any case.

If you manage to catch the late tram/bus and at therefore don't have to resolve the occurring mystery of where and when the night buses drive and where to, you should consider yourself to be very lucky. The worst thing that can happen now is the tram will change its mind just before the last station and change the direction after short announcement in French. The display will however continue showing the actual destination where tram will of course not go.

But things go also the other way around and busses occasionally show other direction than the one they are actually going to. Which is confusing mostly for non-natives who don't know that the drivers failed attempt to push the button will now take another 2 - 3 hours of their life.

So what's the alternative? Cycling in Brussels unfortunately classifies as suicide attempt and walking is a bit too optimistic for such distances. I'm currently thinking of either learning to fly or getting a horse. What's your solution?

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Slovenia says yes to pedophilia and misogyny..

...but only if done by priests. In this case also sexual harassment will pass, probably along with almost anything else.

At least this are the conclusions drawn from the Slovenian High Court decision in the case the priest Slavko Štefko who was touching several female minors on different occasions and different body party, including their genitals. He was already found guilty on the first level but the appealed and was despite witnesses of harassment and experts opinion now magically found not guilty due to lack of evidence. Their bright conclusion was that the touches weren't of sexual nature.

I see. So if I randomly go an grab someone's crutch, ass or any other body parts this is actually an act of affection, friendship and appreciation? I suppose in this case black eyes, rape and murder are then the ultimate proof of love.

This is simply way beyond sick.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ist das Kunst oder kann das weg?

To me art is a manifestation of life, very often presenting itself as a product that reflects the artistic process. So when seeing art,  I always want to connect it to life.

This was however not very easy with some art pieces at Berlin's emerging art fair at Preview Gallery.  I'm not going to criticise it from artistic point of view as I didn't study art, I did however wonder how did they end up there. These for example:

I'm sure there must be someone who was absolutely thrilled with this pieces and wouldn't hesitate to spend ridiculously a lot of money to buy them just to be able to admire them in their living room every single day. I find them, well quite frankly very boring.

Then of course there were pieces that weren't boring but just disturbing, not in a good way that would make you think. Eye-stabbing colours put together, allowing me approximate observing time of 2 seconds. It's like bad 80's gone completely mad.

The most ridiculous one was just a set of boring black and white paintings with a dry tree part in the middle, and lots of broken glass on the floor. Not only do I not get the connection nor the concept behind it, I also think it's fairly dangerous.

But in the end there were quite some really cool and inspirational art pieces that made all the trip there worth while. My favourite one was a actually from Slovenian Gallery Alkatraz (3rd picture below), followed closely by bizarre statues, plants in light bulb's and Arjan Pregl's witty paintings.

I don't know about others but I appreciate art for inspiration and creativeness it has and gives and definitely not for being difficult to grasp. For this I already have loads of hardcore theory books and politics with all it's dose of daily disrespect and hatred.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eating in Berlin

Eating well is essential part of any good city experience and after 2 years in Berlin I've discovered many nice snack and food places. Unless you got your heart set strictly on Currywurst, 1000 different potato dishes or classic tourist menus, you might want to try out one of them.

Nil is an absolute must for all the snack fans. This Sudanese snack place has for sure the tastiest Falafel like snacks. Their notorious Tamiya Haloumi (Falafel and grilled cheese) is just ridiculously tasty and for sure 3 EUR well spent. You might want to try also peanut soup or buy a jar of their delicious peanut sauce. Nil is also meat and vegan friendly.

Zeus is for sure the best  pida place around and you can notice its popularity by dozens of fans notes that are popped to the wall. Now I'm not sure whether the recipe is really following Turkish cuisine, but Zeus's pidas taste much better than any of pidas I had in Istanbul. Delicious snack for about 4 euros.

Datscha is a Soviet restaurant, open also late in the evening where good food usually meats good indie music. It's not the cheapest one but has really good breakfasts and in my opinion also the best Sunday brunch buffet in Berlin. Nice place also just to take coffee.

Sadhu is a Pakistani restaurant at Falckensteinstr., not far from Metro station Schlesisches Tor and remains my favourite restaurant. The food is not only absolutely delicious but also not at all expensive. The meals cost around 6 and 7 euros and are totally worth it.

Burgermeister is a hamburger place with supposedly the best meat burgers in Berlin. I've tasted only veggie ones and those aren't really worth mentioning, but the reputation of the meaty burgers has been confirmed several times by my meat loving friends. The place is hidden below the Metro tracks and opposite to Metro station Schlesisches Tor. It's also open almost whole night so it's convenient for night stops back from/to the party.

The White Trash is somehow a tourist place but still worth visiting every now and then because of the nice burgers. They have a good selection of creative yummy burgers, all available also in very tasty and juicy vegetarian version. If you visit it in the evening, you might catch some of the nice indie concerts.

ChénChè is a Vietnamese Teahouse that also serves tasty meals and nice fruity cocktails. With the open garden it's perfect for warm weather but inviting also in winter, especially because of their delicious home made teas. You will get the meal for around 8 euros.

Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap is a small Kreuzberg miracle - situated at one of the exits of Metro station Mehringdamm, it is very close to one of the popular Currywurst place. The only difference is the cue in front of Mustafa's stand is usually at least 10 meters long. However about 15 minutes of waiting is totally worth getting the best Kebap I ever had (originally vegetarian but meat versions are possible) with grilled vegetables and really good mix of spices. I'm getting hungry just by writing about it.

There's more to be discovered - it's surely a tasty task and I don't mind doing it.

To be continued....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My last visit to the ZOO

There's something depressing about the ZOOs so I could never really convince myself to like them. All this animals, being taken from their natural environment for the sake of our own curiosity and entertainment is somehow decadent post-colonial idea of doing things without thinking about consequences.  It's like kicking someone in the back and saying you were performing a massage.

This is only the biggest, but not the only problem I have with ZOOs. The most annoying thing actually is they're full of people. This loud, nosy and unbelievably embarrassing species that is not at all aware that they are either loud, nosy or annoying.

I wonder what the animals actually want to do when people clap their hands or bang on the glass to wake them up, just to squeeze the best out of 13 euros entrance fee. It is a wonder that one of this animals hasn't actually lost it and started showering us with shit random objects.

Having to listen to a tourist screaming repeatedly kangaroo, kangaroo! for only about two dozen times, I was quite keen on doing some ass kicking myself. I am sure if kangaroos' could turn at his doorstep in the siesta time and started banging on the doors, screaming "Human, human, human!", his response would be much less decent than theirs.

So this was the last time I visited a ZOO. For my own mental health and for the sake of annoying tourist, not knowing they were not very far from being verbally harassed by one of their own species.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Free doom?

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free." 
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

The following post was inspired by two similar events, even though the topic itself has been intriguing me for quite a while. Questions like 'what is freedom?' and 'how do you know that you are free?' can sound a bit too philosophical. But in the end, is freedom the same as living in democracy and peace? I don't think so.

In his masterpiece “Escape from freedom”, Erich Fromm points out that freedom is the opportunity to have and express your own opinion – the one that is based on your own critical estimate of the social and political environment you live in[*]. What this means is being able to ask yourself what is it that YOU want and whether you really want it, or only think you want it because it is “normal” and expected for you to want it. I wonder how many people actually stop themselves on the way to achieving “wealth and success” or starting a family and ask themselves the question: Do I really want this and will it make me happy?

People are usually surprised if you ask them what it is that they want in life. They tend to give you this confused look, as if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of such a question. Most of the time, they will just shrug it off and admit that they aren't sure. On the other hand, expectations are high and the paths are laid; we walk them with great certitude while never asking ourselves where it is that we are actually going. I don't know about you, but the pressure of finishing an education to get a job with the purpose of making money so you can buy a flat and start a family doesn't sounds all that appealing to me.

And I can imagine after going through all of that and finally achieving the goals set, that you can easily end up feeling quite empty and exhausted, possibly even cheated. Especially if you find yourself stuck in a job you hate, but need to keep in order to pay off the loan for a flat you share with a spouse with whom you're with solely “for the sake of the children”. And all of that before you’ve even had the chance to discover who you are and what is it that you want to do?

To go back to the two events that I mentioned at the beginning: both have something in common. The common thread is me breaking the law while biking; the first time riding on the wrong side of the road and the second time riding on the pedestrian sidewalk. Both times strangers attempted to push me off the bike, and it was no accident. After recovering from the initial shock, I started wondering what could possibly have filled them with so much anger? I was in no way endangering anyone else and there was more than enough room for everyone. Only later did I realize that it was not about me endangering others but about me breaking THE RULES. They are put there for everyone and I certainly shouldn't be so presumptive as to take advantage of the situation and do whatever I please. Rules are there to be respected. Even if they make you suffer.

In the end freedom seems to be quite a slippery ground to tread. It doesn't matter how fast we're running, if we don't know where we're headed. There might be many ways on how to get there. Following the rules however, is not one of them.

Excluding expressing fascist, racist, nationalist beliefs and other kinds of hate speech.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tea snob

I'm definitely a tea person and even though I love coffee, I wouldn't as much as blink to give it up if I ever had to choose between the two. It's almost a religion.

Coming from a village small town tea was considered something you drink when you're sick. Not a surprising attitude considering other disgusting things you have to put in your mouth when you're sick. The tea I had at that time was tasteless yet colourful water with somehow nice smell. Even when it happened to have a taste, it was mainly because of the sugar.

But then I moved and my flatmate introduced me to the idea that not all tea comes in a bag so I discovered great tasting teas. It was a matter of cups before I became a tea addict. Fruit teas, green teas, spiced black teas, white teas, red teas it was just getting better and better. I admit, I got spoiled to the level of becoming a tea snob.

In the summer I make my own iced tea and I love experimenting with fresh ingredient teas, e.g. ginger, lemon-grass, lime and honey. I noticed being genuinely frustrated when ordering tea and getting it done all wrong. I'll survive lousy coffee but don't mess with my tea!

Black Tea.Image via Wikipedia

Supposedly Ireland and England have a high tea culture, some kinda of tea aristocracy so of course my hopes were high. Don't hold your breath. When the question: "Would you like some tea?" is not followed by "What kind?" you know you're in the black zone: no matter what time of day, you'll always get different versions of black tea. I like black tea, but 10 times a day? I don't know the tea drinking cultures well enough to know whether they get offended if you ask for a different kind of tea. Do you?
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three books everyone should read

For those ten readers of my blog I want to first apologise for not writing. My absence is party related to lack of time but mostly to reading a lot. While reading things "I have to" I actually came across some extremely interesting books that I think everyone should read.

Especially this three jewels:

Erich Fromm's: Esacape from Freedom is an excellent analysis on historical development of individual/collective identities and reasons for rise of the totalitarian ideologies. It can also give you amazing tools to evaluate your own life.

Cordelia Fine's: Delusions of Gender is showing how gender is being constructed from the perspective of neuroscience using hard evidence. After reading this you might change your mind on how you see men and women.

Douglas Adams's: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - because it's a seriously hilarious & genius adventure that can give you a taste of one thing we should never forget - to have fun.

And since I'm a curious person and always in search of a new good reading, I'd like to ask 3 people for which I know (or assume) they love books/reading to do the same.

So Fairy, Hirkani and Alcessa, please share 3 books you think everyone should read. There's no such thing as too many book recommendations :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pills inc.

I don't like taking pills, mostly because I don't trust them. Having one relatively bad experience was enough, thank you very much. Being sick about one time per year means most of the time I get away with using only natural medicine and herbs. My favorite one is definitely herbal oil 31, the most useful medicine I discovered in the past 10 years.

There are however situations where this is not enough. Like flu. After several continuous attempts to cough my lungs out I exhausted all my natural resources. Finally I gave up and went to the pharmacy, where they sold me this. After reading the long list of side affects I found out that there were cases where this syrup was connected to emergence of severe skin diseases, such as Steven-Johnson Syndrome and Lyell Syndrome. One look at those pictures was enough. Of course they suppose the diseases would have appeared also without taking the syrup but they can't be sure. I guess the fact that it was on "special offer" should have told me something.

I  didn't take it. Instead I went to the other pharmacy, where I found out  they always offer 2 options - one being equivalent natural medicine. I came home with eucalyptus based capsules and so far the effect it satisfying.

Btw, if you happen to have a nice recipe for anti-flu home made medicine, please share.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

This year...

started differently. When you know what you want things should be easier. Unfortunately that is not always the case. But when you keep on stumbling upon the same answers, it would be wasteful to keep on making turns that lead you away from them. Even if it does make your life a less comfortable and a slightly more difficult.

So what exactly am I talking about? Another change, probably a big one. No more "I can" and "I could" but "I want" instead. And this is not only a matter of semantics.