The Reality of “Life, as Usual”: Life under Arab-Israeli Conflict

A very European breakfast of espresso and pastry
A very European breakfast of espresso and pastry

Today I am told “Bethlehem: No.” I am in Itai’s home in Israel, in the middle of a very European breakfast of pastry and espresso, flipping through scribbles of itineraries I had taken from my guidebook. Bethlehem was definitely on the list. “I’ll get shot, you might be okay,” he says, translating his father’s headshake:

Bethlehem lay within Palestinian territory, and with border-town Jerusalem being tense enough from the Arab-Israeli conflict, it was best not to tempt fate. Continue reading The Reality of “Life, as Usual”: Life under Arab-Israeli Conflict

Photo of the Week: Garbage or Corruption?

This is the scene in the market of Damnak-Changaeur, a four-block-square town on the road north from Kep, Cambodia to Vietnam.

The mess of Damnak Chang'aeur market, Cambodia - YourLocalKatNot somewhere you’d want to buy fresh meat from?

A local store owner explained:  The government in Cambodia is corrupt. It is so bad, that it doesn’t care about the ‘little people,’ and consequently doesn’t bother having the market cleaned up.

That could be one man’s opinion, but the lack of maintenance is evident: the mess that’s left when the market closes at 10am remains throughout the day until it gets somewhat tidied by the sellers as they set up again at three in the morning.

And that’s a reality.

After the market, Damnak Chang'aeur, Cambodia - YourLocalKatBut besides a few gathered garbage piles, the culture in Cambodia is to litter (plastic, paper, mussel shells) and expect someone to tidy up. Is it too ‘western’ to expect pro-active action? Is the government completely to blame?

the seventh month: in search of sunshine [grgurici, croatia]

only sandy beach we found (brna, korcula, HR)It’s a whole new way of giving up control when your durations and your locations are dictated almost entirely by the whims and tantrums of a vehicle; it’s why we stayed in Slovenia longer than intended, why we stayed in Bosnia longer than intended, and why we stayed in Croatia longer than intended. Continue reading the seventh month: in search of sunshine [grgurici, croatia]

Festa della Donna [everywhere]

Yesterday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day (IWD). All over Italy, men woke up and immediately contacted the females in their lives – mothers, wives, friends – to wish them a Buona Festa della Donna. During the day they would also present to those closest to them flowers, specifically the yellow mimosa, the Socialist-supported official symbol of Italy’s Women’s Day.

Yes. Socialist supported.

The stories of the origins of IWD range from ancient Roman myths to modern tales of martyrdom, but the most consistent one points to a declaration made by the Socialist Party in 1909 in the United States, after which the national event was held. Quickly picked up the year after by the Danes, it was adopted the year after that by the Germans who decided to establish it as an annual, international day of civil awareness.

Awareness for what? You wouldn’t know it from the marketing it receives today but IWD was first held, and consequently established, largely as a political act promoting equal rights and suffrage for women as well as protesting sex discrimination. Presently, it is most prevalent everywhere but North America, and is observed as respectfully as Mother’s Day and as diligently as Valentine’s Day but without as much product marketing.

This however doesn’t stop the purchasing of chocolates, candy or flowers for what is now an occasion, and it didn’t stop my roommate/house owner from getting me a goody-bag filled with candy and a stuffed animal, making me a delicious dinner complete with champagne, and presenting me with a twig of yellow mimosas to call my own. And it was wonderful, this seemingly out-of-nowhere occasion to be adored: why not?

But I couldn’t help but wonder, is this what we were fighting for all those years ago?