Read what the others read : Pledge #GiveEbooks

There are very few books that someone can send to the British ambassador in Greece and make really sense to him.  One of those books is “Johnny and Me”. And perhaps it’s the only Greek book that he can mirror himself  from a different point of view and understands better the people around him in this post of his career. / Είναι πολύ λίγα βιβλία που μπορεί κανείς να στείλει στον Βρετανό πρέσβη στην Ελλάδα και να του κάνουν κάποια αίσθηση πέρα από τα συνηθισμένα. ‘Ενα από αυτά τα βιβλία είναι “ο Τζόνι κι Εγώ” . Και ίσως να είναι το μόνο βιβλίο που μπορεί να λειτουργήσει σαν αντικαθρεπτισμός. Να δει τον εαυτό του και τους ανθρώπους που τον περιτριγυρίζουν, σε αυτό το πόστο της καριέρας του,  από μία διαφορετική γωνία.

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Τherefore here is the opportunity to read what the others read(see British Ambassador ) and see the way that they are thinking, as Murakami wrote in Norwegian Wood: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” And for those who still haven’t read “Johnny and me” I have some free codes to give in./ Eδώ είναι η ευκαιρία να διαβάσετε ό,τι οι άλλοι διαβάζουν(βλέπε Βρετανό Πρέσβη ). ‘Οπως έγραψε ο Μουρακάμι στο Νορβηγικό δάσοs  “Mόνο όταν διαβάζεις ό,τι οι υπόλοιποι διαβάζουν μπορείς να σκεφτείς ό,τι οι άλλοι σκέφτονται”. Για όσους δεν έχουν διαβάσει το Τζόνι κι Εγώ και την Πηνελόπη Οnline παραθέτω μερικούς κωδικούς παρακάτω:

Τζόνι κι Εγώ :

1. HHH9RJPTLEP7
2.PMA3WLWLKJLP
3.XYFFJ9PNHR7N
4. MLALRP3J3RT6
5. KEJELR3NJKRW

Πηνελόπη Online :

1. 9LPM7P7NT36J
2. 4RYJNH3HMJK7
3. LJT6T3L97E7T
4. XWNM7WR9YPWP
5.  LEWKLNERTNLY

For those that they weren’t fast enough to download the ebooks(the codes last only 3 weeks) be in tune for the next post, I will give some  more codes to download the boooks.

Don’t forget “the feel good factor” is very important element and the main cause to read the above books. The recession maybe is over  in Greece but the depression was a legendary one.

/ Όσοι δεν προλάβετε να κατεβάσετε τα βιβλία  (οι κωδικοί ισχύουν μόνο 3 εβδομάδες) παραμείνετε συντονισμένη στο επόμενο πόστ. Κοντά στα Χριστούγεννα θα βγάλω μερικούς νέους κωδικούς.

Και μη ξεχνάτε  “the feel good factor” είναι ένας από τους λόγους να διαβάσετε τα παραπάνω βιβλία. H ύφεση ίσως τελείωσε και οι αγορές άνοιξαν για την Ελλάδα αλλά τα σημάδια της κατάθλιψης και του φόβου που άφησε δύσκολα να αποσβεστούν.

Χαμογελάστε! Τα καλύτερα έρχονται !

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P.S. Πάντα είναι ωραία να έρχεται κανείς επαφή με Πρέσβεις και δη με Βρετανούς. Η ευγένειά τους σε σκλαβώνει ! ‘Ωρα για σοκολατάκι ;) Enjoy!

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Amsterdam : New Hype Sightseeing

If someone was asking me which is my favourite city in Europe, the answer would be Amsterdam. The reason is simple and straightforward, it’s a humane city with all the weaknesses and strengths that this characteristic entails.

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In Amsterdam at the moment, there are some new sightseeing  and if someone wants to be and feel  cool , he/she must visit them.

The new Anna Frank Museum is at the top of the list, taking into consideration the two new books, the new museum and the upcoming new film. Average waiting time, one and half hours in the queue. Not too bad!

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Some years ago  AF  museum was located in the High Street, now in the same premise is  the museum of Amsterdam . (Pic. above).

 

P1100074Rijksmuseum entrance – restaurant and shop.

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Night Watch by Rembrandt.

Rijsksmuseum : The building’s refurbishment is super with first class restaurant-quality and service deserve many stars. The art exhibition  is unique from Vermeer to Rembrandt and the coolest thing is that you can take photos of anything you like! You can take pictures of Rembrandt’s Night Watch and make it yours! How cool is that?

For coffee or lunch,  my old-time favourite  “Cafe Americain” at Leidseplein is a constant value.

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The area with the canals  including the Vondelpark are the most expensive properties.

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And the new hype in town is the new self-service of hot food. I think this is super idea! No talking, no queues, no waiting, just the right coins and there you are, with a sausage or croquettes in your hands.

When I’m talking about Amsterdam for some reason comes to my mind the lyrics of the song “A windmill in Old Amsterdam” -

-They sang every morning, “How lucky we are
-Living in a windmill in Amsterdam, ya!”

IMG_5884“In the month of July” by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel – Rijksmuseum

And don’t forget to buy the  hype memorabilia:

If you are collector, like me, the Starbuck city mug.

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and the delft porcelain Christmas ornaments.

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Christmas is coming!

Semipalatinsk: City With A Past

Kazakhstan is not only Astana or Almaty, it’s a huge country with innumerable cities and towns. Semey  is in the northeastern province of East Kazakhstan and in the Kazakhstan part of Siberia near the border with Russian Federation. Semey, during the Soviet Union era, was called Semipalatinsk and for sure isn’t a new brand city as Astana . It’s a city with past and a complicated one.  Very close to the city centre of Semey,  there is a small town “Kurchatov” one of the dozen “closed towns” of Soviet Union. They were known only for the post boxes. Kurchatov was Semipalatinsk-21. It was site of nuclear power. The Soviets use all the nuclear weapons in this site.

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Arriving in Semipalatinsk and stepping out from the airport hall there is a big label : “We are open for our friends”

Some years ago this area was closed. Movement in and out of the cities was restricted and entry was forbidden to foreigners.

“It was Lavrenti Beria, the ruthless head of Stalin’s secret police, who chose the location in the depths of Siberia for the Soviet Union’s nuclear testing programme and ordered the town of Kurchatov to be built-using gulag labour” to house its scientists. During a test of one particular powerful bomb, in 1953, the authorities evacuated villagers and livestock.But not everyone was evacuated. The Soviet scientists left a group of 40 men behind as human guinea pigs. Infant mortality increased four times of the level of the rest of the Soviet Union. Today, residents still have a life expectancy that is several years lower that in the rest of the country” Secret cities of the steppes, Jack Farchy, Ft weekend magazine, sept 6/7,2014.

 

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The park in the city centre of Semey.

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Abay museum, the national poet of Kazakhstan.

 

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City centre.  A war memorial.

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Semey, as part of Kazakhstan Siberia, is quite cold place, the temperature is around to -48 C during Winter but probably without Astana’s winds.

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The city has a major university.

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Binar hotel in the city centre. picmonkey_image

 

Semipalatinsk was the place of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s exile for five years and it was depicted in the various books of Dostoyevsky including  “The Brothers karamazov”

Personally, I had a lovely time there with my Kazakh friends and a major event, a veritable Kazakh wedding!

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Joseph O’Neill and Me : A Common Ground

Who would have thought that Joseph O’Neill and I share common ground? When some years ago, I read his best seller book “Netherland” which I found superb – every sentence was a quote – I visualised him as an Irish  golden boy, Cambridge graduate,  high flyer lawyer in New York and the cherry on top, global bestselleristas.

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When I met him at the presentation of his new book “the Dog”  my first thought was “here we are, my cousin Kostas from Greece has changed identity”. His black hair, an Irish characteristic as well but in combination with his average height  and his gestures  were more from my own part of the world than that of Anglo Saxons.

With the combination of what he said to the audience and the small talk I had with him I realised our similarities are more than what I was expecting. His mother is from the Black Sea region (Turkey), the same with my mother’s family and both of us we had moved around the globe so much – sometimes  perhaps we had overlapped somewhere between Athens, London, Bath, Dresden, Dublin, New York, Amsterdam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Astana…  that we feel totally displaced and we enjoy it thoroughly! His last book “the Dog” is about Dubai the land of expats- the quintessential displaced people.

And in his own words – the interview he gave at Paris Review: “I’ve moved around so much and lived in so many different places that I don’t really belong to a particular place, and so I have little option but to seek out dramatic situations that I might have a chance of understanding. Hence Dubai: Dubai is an expat center…Before Netherland, I didn’t know how to approach that sense of chronic displacement. It took me a while to realize it was a huge story, the sense of not belonging, as you put it—of pretty much never being in a position to say, These people and I are the same. You could write a thousand novels about it and it wouldn’t get old, because it’s such an essential part of what it is to be human—that idea of where, if anywhere, you fit in, in the so-called scheme of things. And how does the world work? A lot of novels might inform you about how a character gets on with his Auntie, but they won’t necessarily tell you where the characters stand in relation to the world. I’m interested in putting characters in places where the world order is changing, and changing in a particular way. The word globalization grunts into view, here, along with post-nationalism, another brute.”

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O’Neill as all the writers have an issue with publishing their books and sometimes it’s just perfect luck. He says about his book “Netherland” : “Then my luck changed. It could change again. That’s the way it is. My job is to keep writing.”

And our job is  to keep reading- isn’t it?

Bambi, A life In The Woods

A Sunday walk in the park with the deer! They are lovely companions when they don’t feel threatened! The latter can apply to everyone even to  humans!

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When Bambi has his first encounter with “He”—the animals’ term for humans— terrifies him. The man raises a firearm and aims at him; Bambi flees at top speed, joined by his mother.

 

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Bambi meets his Aunt Ena, and her twin fawns Faline and Gobo. They quickly become friends and share what they have learned about the forest.

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Bambi gets used to being alone at times.

 

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“When Bambi has grown gray and is “old”, the old Prince shows him that man is not all powerful by showing him the dead body of a man who was shot and killed by another man” -Bambi, a life in the woods.

 

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Have a great week !

 

We live in the Age of Simulacra

“The simulacrum* is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true”   Ecclesiastes.

Have you noticed on your fb timeline, twitter, blogs, tumblr, pinterest … platforms,  how many times have you seen the same things, quotes, pictures, ideas and even moods to go around again and again by sharing, reblogging and copying? Sometimes by attempting to paraphrase the initial message  the meaning of the original has already been changed totally.  This game of sharing, copying, reblogging that we all play on social media reminds me the children’s game ‘Broken Telephone’ or ‘Chinese Whisper’.

On social media it’s not only the repetition of quotes, pictures or ideas but as well as  moods. It is quite surprising that there are days where a high percentage of my virtual friends share the same mood! Something about the therapists have a lot to say.   I’m totally convinced that we live in the age of simulacra and simulation.  As the philosopher Jean Baudrillard argues in his book with the same title “Simulacra and Simulation” : We live in a world of which there are simulations upon simulations, copies of copies of copies. This concept stems from the idea that when something is simulated, it is inevitable that the original will become extinct. As the word simulacra by itself explains the whole concept “simulacra are copies that depict things that either had no reality to begin with, or that no longer have an original”*.

Nevertheless, the most interesting argument is that  humans are thriving when they are imitating each other. Karen Joy Fowler writes, in her short listed Booker Prize book ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ :  “Humans are much more imitative that the other apes. If chimpa  watch a demonstration on how to get food out of a puzzle box, they, in their turn, skip any unnecessary steps, go straight to the treat.  Humans overimitate, reproducing each step regardless of its necessity”.

The same idea/argument has been reinforced in the film “Giver”,  the Giver (Jeff Bridges) says to the Receiver “there is a plan of sameness in this society”.

Perhaps,  the Golden Age has  taken off for humans and they have  the time of their lives! At last, their behaviour is mirrored in every way possible and the simulacrum is  the truth!

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P.S. : Sharing is carrying and copying is flattery! Somehow my quote can be justified.

William & Harry

William and Harry in action. The two princes took part in a polo match for charity reasons in Ascot during last May. I was quite lucky to be able to see both of them playing polo in professional way and at the same time having fun with each other! It seems to me that Harry was starting the jokes and William was following full hearted!

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Prince William.

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Prince Harry.

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William and Harry.