Back from Istanbul (and back to blogging)


After Istanbul, like after all of my travelling, I’ve come back with a better perpective on life and on London. As much as I love this city, it is even more obvious that, in London, there is a coldness and a distance between people.

I am writing this as I am sitting on the Bakerloo line to meet a friend in Little Venice. People do not look at each other, but not just on the tube…everywhere. On the street, at work, in the pub… The main question that comes to mind is ‘why’? …Do people feel that looking at someone else might be perceived as rude or invasive (the most common explanation my London friends have given to me when I expressed my thoughts on this issue)? That would be strange, though, considering it’s such a multi cultural city. Could it be that people feel scared of what they might see if they look up? Or do they simply not feel the need to do so?

If that is so, then how is it possible? Curiosity is intrinsec to human nature, just like interaction with fellow human beings. Some cultures, as it seemed to be the case in Turkey and in Italy (my home country), take it at times to the opposite extreme, and people are often showing their ‘curiosity’ so much to become invasive and irritating.

Surely a balanced compromise must be possible. Interest in other people is not only legitimate but necessary and healthy! It keeps us connected to the world around us and it makes us a part of it. A friend was recently commenting on how she’d never notice a good looking man whilst on her way to work, as her focus is entirely on the day and tasks ahead. She said that to explain why she thinks people in London appear ‘distant’ to me.

There are surely times when I’m oblivious to others if I’m lost in my own thoughts. But I don’t think I am generally capable of involuntarily blanking out people around me. In fact, when I’m thinking about something, I project my thoughts on the people around me and imagine what they would do, what they might think. It sort of helps me to get a perspective on things. I like feeling aware of my surroundings and this includes wondering where the lady sitting next to me, who’s wearing a thick black fur coat, might be going to ..or what the slim blond girl sitting opposite to me might be reading whilst tapping her new Converse shoes.

Yet when I look up at her purposefully, we never meet eyes. Wait! Something funny has just happened: just as I was writing this last comment, I looked up quickly and – yes! – the blond girl was looking at me and smiling! Maybe she thought I was weird, or maybe she thought that it was nice for another person on the tube to notice her existance and show interest in what she was doing.

My purpose was to challenge her sense of curiosity. Surely, when two strangers meet eyes, it means that some healthy curiosity for other people must still be there!

Below is a small selection of photos from Istanbul (a beautiful city). Enjoy & I promise my next blog post won’t be in six months!

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Sultanahmet Parki

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Sultanahmet Parki, view over the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

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Monkeys in a cage on a pavement in Gedikpasa Caddesi (Sultanahmet District)

ImageSunset from Topkapi Palace

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Topkapi Palace, inside the Hammam

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The Koran, Book Bazaar (Bazaar District)

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A wall in Yerebatan Kaddesi

Feel the London Vibe


You know your plane is landing in London when outside the tiny window you see pouring rain and a marvellously green landscape. Just about the time to wait for your suitcase, change into something warmer that you notice a few shy rays of sunshine peeping through the clouds.

 

You take a seat on the tube and no one appears to notice the girl with green hair who’s forgotten to wear a skirt. Nor is anyone bothered by the man taking up two seats due to his extra-huge size.  The newspaper read by the lady next to me reports in details the remarkably wrongful behaviour of two policemen who parked on a double yellow line to shop in Tesco’s. In Italy, this news wouldn’t even feature in a minor last-page column.

 

As you step outside, the wind makes any efforts to comb your hair entirely useless but gives you wings to walk. You soon smell food from the local Thai restaurant which blends in with the smell of McDonalds’. If you don’t like it, don’t worry because just round the corner you’re in Italy or, if you prefer, in France. But make sure not to hesitate while walking or you’ll literally get run over by crowds of people.

 

As you make your way through the crowds, you get a first glimpse of the vast green areas. Just a few steps, and you’ve stepped into the countryside – now you can just relax lying down on the greenest, cleanest and softest grass.

No Need To Be Serious


Even on a short work / study trip to Den Haag (The Hague) – generally associated with serious people, serious places and serious thoughts – you can find abundant occasions to smile.

While I was there, I found many things around the streets especially sculptures, which put a big smile on my face and made me laugh. Just perfect to get into the best positive mood while on my way towards a library or a tribunal!

In a street near Scheveningen, I saw a small house which had red gates oddly decorated with what looked like a ‘Winter Theme’ (yes, in June!): white owls, snowmen and other strange (fake) stuffed animals.

Now…what is t-h-a-t?? If you think this is odd, wait for the next picture. I was walking in the same area and, as I stopped checking my map, I felt eyes staring at me from a close-by window. As I turned to check who it was…this is what I saw:


Creepy, but funny! I think the shop-owner had a very good sense of humour, although I am not sure how well he was able to sell his products through this sales technique. But the best conclusion to my trip was this wise sign hanging in a chocolate shop in Brussels:

Have fun – wherever you are – and keep on smiling! 🙂

Chagall painting: photos!


A long time ago I wrote about a painting I made copying a famous Chagall painting which I love! You can read all about it here… http://wp.me/s12zme-chagall

Here is the photo of the original painting. It is a painting which is part of the Biblical Cycle of the Song of Songs. In particular, it represents the Song of Solomon IV.

In my post, I had written that “as soon as I retrieve the photograph of my version of this painting I will publish it here!” So…I finally have the photographs! They are not very good because they are photographs of a photograph (which had been cropped, thus the whole painting is not visible)…however I thought they were decent enough to be published here!

The colours are a bit too bright …In the real painting I made they were darker, but I had to edit the brightness settings otherwise the photos would have been too dark to see all the details.

My favourite detail of the painting are the two faces of King Solomon and his bride. This post has made me feel like I want to paint again! I wish I had some free time to do it!!!
What about you?

Do you paint? Do you like painting or drawing?

 

Winter Poem


A crunchy iced crust

shining in the sun

hiding the soft slushy snow

hands are frozen tingling icicles

breathing clouds of steam in the sun

little footprints in the frost

while even the strongest trees

bend over, under the weight

of their heavy blankets

(27 December 2010)

The pictures included in this post were all taken by myself on 26 December 2010 in Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier (France).

“Due passi” in Turin


Last night I went for a short walk around the centre of town on my own. In Italian we say ‘andare a fare due passi’, literally meaning ‘going to walk two steps’.

The street lights were being lit up and people were mainly on their ways back home or, as in my case, on their way out. I love it when I have some spare time on my hands to walk around alone.

At first, I generally feel that I am not sure where to go and what to do. I feel like I need to talk to someone about my day, about what is bothering me or what is new in my life. But after a couple of minutes an amazing feeling kicks in and I breathe in the freedom to walk wherever I want, stop by any shop window I want for as long as I want or even just stop somewhere an look around.

I also love listening to random conversations in the street and smiling at funny comments, stories, situations. But there is more than words that I listen to, I look around and appreciate the beautiful buildings around me, the sun setting, the cold air on my face. It is no longer about ME, but about what is AROUND ME.

This allowed me to notice and visit an open-air photography exhibition in the centre of Turin on the ‘Spirit of Nomads’ by Gianni and Tiziana Baldizzone. The photographs portray nomads from various parts of the world in their natural settings, from the Tuareg in the Sahara desert to the Dolgan in Syberia.


I love the light in the last picture. There were about 100 photos exhibited and each was accompanied by a detailed comment on the nomads and their habits. The focus of the captions was on the relation between humans and nature.

It was a perfect way to end my solitary walk!

Below, I post some of my own photos which I thought could somehow relate to the topic of ‘Nomads and Nature’ – with a bit of irony or not, it is up to you to decide on how to interpret them!