Meanwhile, irl

Seems more then a year and a half since I updated this blog. Oh well.

Life is… different. I’ve been firefighting the last months. Which is ok if it’s only work, or only private life. But it seems to be both at the moment. It’s interesting, and a good opportunity to learn, but boy, is it tiring.

I don’t like the UK, and I might be turning Tory with age.

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Back home after Nepal.

The usual pictures and stories will have to wait until I have some logistics and backlog issues figured out. But it was good. Here’s the no-nonsense rundown.

On the way there I was a bit anxious to be on the road again, as well as worrying about the fact that I was joining forces with a friend, something which I haven’t done in a long long while. Luckily, my worries were unfounded. From the minute I arrived in Kathmandu,  I felt very comfortable. Nepal is a Buddhist country, and all the people are relaxed and friendly. There’s a relatively high level of proficiency in English, as well as a decent developed tourist infrastructure. It’s a big playground for trekkers and spirituality seekers (terminus of the old overland hippy trail, of which I did half in 2010), even though I feel absolutely zero affinity for the latter.

We did it slow. General strikes shut the country down for about one week, which means no transport or internet. Road conditions and general discomfort make distances quite large. Which means a lot of beers, watching street scenes, and idle loitering. I didn’t really have the time to all I set out to do, but I was fine with that.

This trip was quite uncharacteristic for me, in that I didn’t push the experience, and just permitted myself to have an easy time and enjoy myself. I still had my good experiences and stories, but it lacked the restless drive that marked previous jaunts. This is probably good and bad. I’m also surprised to conclude that when you travel with someone, the time you spend with this person becomes almost as important as the time you spend interacting with the location, and it’s best to prepare for this. In hindsight, I was lucky that my partner in crime is a seasoned traveler, and this made our joint outing completely friction free.

All in all, I’m happy with the way things went, even though I didn’t plan it this way, and probably won’t pursue it like that in the future again.

I’m also happy to be able to write “back home” and imply Edinburgh.

Watch this space.

PS Bahrein is a sandy heap of shit and you should do all in your power to avoid it.

PPS You might have noticed that this post is pretty raw. Understand that I write this blog in equal measure for you as well as me. I learn a lot about my thoughts by forcing myself to put them in words.

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Yeah, I know, it suprised me too

Thursday morning, slightly more than two weeks ago. I’ve just arrived in London for a conference, and while walking to the hotel my sleep deprived brain is jolted into overdrive.  Something about this street, but what? Got to follow the colleagues, but what? And it hits me. I’ve been here before.

I’ve been here before, exactly one year ago. Exact same street, exact same weather. I had just been rejected for a job teaching in Africa, after making it through to the final 24 out of more then a thousand candidates. I was left with no idea on how to proceed with my life, and 8 hours to wait before the train home, optimistically planned to take occasion of a paid for trip. Optimistically, because the rejection left me feeling like shit, and neither the British Museum nor the quintessentially me-ish hours long random walk changed that.A shit day to start a shit month.

Exactly one year later, I happen to recognize one of the many streets I walked on that wondering, but it’s hard to recognize it. The street’s the same, so is the weather. It’s me who’s different. I’ve found a job which treats me well, and is discombobulation different enough from week to week to occupy my mind, keeping it from being restless. My friends are amazing, a rag-tag group of misfits that somehow seem to fit together, not unlike a rickety Swedish nightstand. Classy pressed recycled pinewood. Nicked by all the moving. Also something on the side. You probably are intuiting it by now,  but let me spell it out for you, even though it’s hard for me to type these letters in sequence.

Thursday morning, slightly more then two weeks ago, looking at this street I saw a year before, I am happy.

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Left and right

Drunk weekend before, new headphones today
London in 3 weeks, Nepal for May
Still no idea where this is heading
but luckily, cool people almost everyday

New flat on the weekend
Mexican, Greek and me
maybe a shave and a haircut
doubtful, but let’s see

No matter how old I become, I’m always surprised when spring comes, as if it’s not certain.


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Oh, BTW, this is actually important

For everyone who has a GMail account (or some other Google service, but for the majority of you this will be GMail.

Please visit and enter your password. Also, best to do it now, don’t procrastinate.

What you should see is a list of every single search you’ve done for a good couple of years, tied directly to you email account, hence also your full name. Probably best to delete this entire thing, as well as to kindly request G to stop tracking you in the future. Note the request here, as Google is and will always be an advertising company, and as much as I like Don Draper, I would never trust him with my wife.

You could also consider using the unfortunately named DuckDuckGo for all your searches. It’s not open source yet, but it claims to be the most protective about your privacy of all the search engines.

Also don’t forget your ISP is probably required by the police to log all your internet traffic of the past x months, but there’s nothing much you can do about that than use something like Tor.

What’s really interesting is that the technology to have completely secure email and browsing is already free and ubiquitous, but nobody really uses it.

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I’m fine. I’m rushed, and slightly hunted, but I’m fine. There are many things I want to write about, but all of them will be half-hearted unless I put the time and effort in. Considering that I’m simultaneously being kicked out of my flat, being indignant about the Western/Israeli effort at staging a war against Iran, as well as planning a heroic escapist caper, please forgive me this post-it. As well as some other stuff emerging that I’m not supposed to talk about.

One thing never seems to fucking change, I’m still trying to do too many things at the same time, failing to bring any to a satisfactory conclusion. Ironically, this post is pretty representative about my life, by being exactly that. But I wouldn’t leave you with only excuses. Still your humble servant.

PS Belgium next week

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Some strange things

in old Cockburn street

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I have my camera again. The same dirty, scratched one.


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The good ones go first

Today, the only thing that matters is that Etta James is no more

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2011: A retrospective

There’s a lot of things I can say about 2011, but, in all honesty, there’s very little I want to leave to posterity. There was one thing I did want to write about, but to my later amazement I discovered I was dead wrong. For about 15 minutes, I truly believe I didn’t fall in love at all last year.

What was actually going on, is that  I was loathe to admit that the only time I feel in love last year was with a woman that I’ve never met with person, that I only know from listening obsessively to the same couple of music records I found on some dusty corner of my hard drive. Yes, dear readers, I’ve fell victim to the common teenage crush, and I wish I was kidding.

Her name is Yasmin Levy. Ethnically, she’s Ladino, Jewish of Spanish roots. Her music is both this heritage (of which her father is an eminent scholar and performer), as well as Flamenco and Middle Eastern influence. The music can be haunting, exhilarating, bone-chilling or passionate, and often all of these at the same time. But you can figure this this out for yourself.

Yo bebo y bebo y bebo para olvidarte
Yo duermo y duermo y duermo para no pensar
Maldito mundo
Vivir para pagar por el pecado de amarte
Maldita tú

Te digo que vida no tengo
Y es por tu culpa
Las noches igual que los días
De soledad
Oh, Dios mío
Ayúdame para matar este amor
Que está en mi corazón
Bendito Dios, sálvame

Solo caminando en el camino de este mundo
Y no tengo más fuerza para luchar
Pensaba que amarte fue el remedio del dolor
Pero el dolor se hizo grande más y más
Te dejo para siempre, vida mía, no te olvides
Que soy hombre que existe para ti
Y el cante de mi vida te regalo para siempre
Hasta que llegue el día del morir

I drink and drink and drink, to forget you
I sleep and sleep and sleep, not to think
Damn world
I live to pay for the sin of loving you
Damn you
Let go of me

I tell you I have no life
And it’s your fault
The nights, just like the days,
Are full of loneliness
Oh, my God
Help me kill this love
That is within my heart
Holy God, save me

All alone, I walk the path of this world
And I have no strength left to fight
I thought that loving you would be the cure to pain
But the pain grew stronger and stronger
Now I’m leaving you for good, my love, don’t forget
That I’m a man that exists for you
And I give you the song of my life, forever
Until my dying day comes

From the mouth of this wonderful creature:

I am proud to combine the two cultures of Ladino and flamenco, while mixing in Middle Eastern influences. I am embarking on a 500 years old musical journey, taking Ladino to Andalusia and mixing it with flamenco, the style that still bears the musical memories of the old Moorish and Jewish-Spanish world with the sound of the Arab world. In a way it is a ‘musical reconciliation’ of history.

PS Does any one know a Ladino restaurant in Scotland, or another place they congregate?

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