in words, sights and sounds

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Photograph of Orthodox Jewish Williamburg couple sitting on bench looking at Manhattan

I’ve just stumbled upon this week’s travel theme (DISTANCE) on Where’s my backpack? and thought I’d input this photograph of a Williamsburg couple sitting on a bench and enjoying the view of Manhattan in the distance. Not the best photograph, I know, but it reflects the idea, no?

Oh how I miss being in NY!

On that note, have a great weekend & safe travels everybody!

I have written about my joy of people-watching before. I love to watch people, preferably in the morning while sitting in a coffee shop and sipping on a cappuccino. Not in a voyeuristic, intrusive-perv kind of way, of course, but as a casual observer. And clearly, I am not alone. People-watching is a global phenomenon and cuts through all generations. I spotted these three jolly Kenyans this weekend, hanging out at a bench in Nairobi’s Central Business District. They were clearly having fun.

The lovely Ajaytao2010 nominated this blog for three blogger awards (he nominated it for another award before) and the Canary is gradually turning red due to both embarrassment and excitement.

Many many thanks for these!! I happily accept them and would love to pass them on to a bunch of great blogs that I have recently discovered.

1. Ihatecockroaches Carrie K is Canadian. She is teaching English and she has been living in Asia for years. Her Korean adventures brought me to tears because I had to laugh so hard. Absolutely hilarious anecdotes.

2. Bibi Eng -Travel Photography Impressive photographs from around the world reflecting the unique character of the countries the photographer has visited. The perfect addition to your guidebook.

3. Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera Great photographs and more by Lignum Draco – the wood dragon.

4. Vickie Lester’s Beguiling Hollywood Want crotch shots? Go to TMZ. If you want a little historical perspective you’re home.

5. scottishmomus A charming blog from an interesting woman. Intrigued? Check it out.

Enjoy!! Or gracefully ignore if you have overdosed on awards already 😉

Man Selling Puppies on the Streets of Nairobi

Every time I am stuck in traffic on Nairobi’s Peponi Road I see them: a group of guys selling puppies, kittens, rabbits, and birds – an entire nursery of pets. Next to the road, there is a little stand with a cardboard indicating “pet shop”, surrounded by numerous boxes and crates amidst thick green bushes and a sound cloud of meows, barks and chirps.

Street Vendors selling puppies, cats and rabbits

Fury gifts for kids

I always feel my heart sink when the vendors run up to my car and hold one of these little animals right in my face. For them, the animals are goods – nothing else. While they peddle animals, others hawk pictures of President Uhuru Kenyatta, sunglasses, cheap-looking plastic passport-covers, Kenyan flags, bandanas, car paraphernalia, and handmade souvenirs. The animals are often extremely young – too young to be sold and separated from their mothers. But, of course, youth sells: there is little on this planet that’s cuter than the baby-face of a young pet. And these tiny big-eyed beings are particularly attractive to those who are wealthy enough to present their kids with a fury gift.

Puppie for Sale

To be fair, it’s mostly Kenyans who buy pets in such places. Most of the foreigners in Nairobi who want pets either go to the animal shelter and get themselves a ‘rescue’, or they rescue one or more abandoned on the street. Indeed some of the pets who are sold on the streets end up in these very shelters. Unfortunately, often these peddled pets are thrown out on the street once they have become ‘big’ or ‘boring’ and need to be exchanged for a newer toy, one most probably requiring less attention.

Cat sold for booze

We had our own pet-trade experience when Lateef, a beautiful stray cat that we had been caring for, was snatched and sold by a caretaker on our compound. He had a drinking problem and needed a few shillings for booze. Lateef was a gorgeous animal, healthy-looking and well-fed, unlike the strays one encounters on the streets. ‘Why not?’ he must have thought and sold the cat. That’s at least what we heard from the guards. Lateef has not been seen since.

Protective Custody

So guess what? Our two own little furballs are total couch-potatoes. Basically, they are in protective custody as letting them outside would certainly mean the end of our happy coexistence: in fact, I am certain that they would be poisoned, shot or on the market within two nano-seconds.

On this note, here’s to our fury room-mates!

Hjordis chilling in the sun

Dreamy Saul

The bizarre coexistence of fish, ‘homo sapiens’ and retail stores in a Dubai shopping mall: these photographs were taken from outside the gigantic aquarium with sting rays, sharks, and tons of other impressive fish that I can’t name in the middle of a shopping mall, located (well, let’s face it) in the desert.


There is an indoor ski resort around the corner as well. Not so great in terms of ecological footprint. But, hey, allegedly it is money that makes the world go round: this is why we will – fortunately – never see a ‘desert world’ for sand dunes surfers in Greenland.

Don’t believe it? Haha. I guess, I can’t blame you. But wait! Check out Alin Coen’s music.

You might not have heard of the German-Mexican Singer-Songwriter, unless you are a Germanophile Northern European. Not sure how many of you fall into this category ; )

Alin Coen, front-woman of the Alin Coen Band, is incredibly talented but still an insider tip outside Europe. I love her musicality and sensibility – reasons enough to share this clip with you.

‘Festhalten’ – the title of the song performed in the video above –  means ‘to hold on to …’ although the song is actually about letting go. The lyrics are beautiful but likely to lose a lot when translated into English. This is why I am not even attempting to translate it.

Nevertheless, non-German speakers might enjoy the video, too. I know, I know … it is hard to believe but German can actually sound tender. Sometimes ; ) Plus, The Alin Coen Band also performs in English. In fact, most of the songs on their new album “We’re Not The Ones We Thought We Were” are in English.


Related article:

German Pop – Alin Coen Band


Gang of Kids on the Streets of Bangkok

I spotted this gang of rascals in Thailand: they were singing and laughing, seemingly carefree. The sight reminded me of the ‘kiddie gangs’ I was in as a child. I grew up in the countryside (a fact that I found less convenient when I was a little older and became increasingly interested in the ‘real world’ that I suspected was taking place in the big city) and was lucky to have had a rather carefree childhood. Having read some of your life stories, I was reminded of the privileged circumstances in which I grew up.

Adventures in the Wild

We had plenty of opportunities to create our own little adventures out ‘in the wild’. Retrospectively, it was a real blessing that TV in 1980s Europe sucked big time: no chance of getting stuck in front of it and transforming into a junior couch potato. 😉 We were mostly out and about in our free time, and pretty creative in keeping ourselves entertained. Most of the time we pretended to be detectives, always on the prowl and hoping to detect unresolved mysteries in our sleepy neighborhood. As elementary school kids, our fantasy was boundless, inspired by the children’s books we consumed like popcorn. Given that there were – naturally – not a whole lot of mysteries to resolve (let alone crimes occurring) in our rural community, we created our own.

The Experiment

I recall one particular experiment was a litmus test to identify neighbors with ‘criminal potential’. My sister and I prepared a wallet with a couple of small bills to which we attached a nearly invisible fishing line. We placed the wallet on the sidewalk in front of my parent’s garden, while hiding behind the hedge, holding onto the line. We wanted to find out who’d pocket the wallet and, thereby, manifest ‘criminal potential’. As detectives we were, of course, keen on discovering those who were prone to commit more significant crimes in the future. We were quite innocent back then, so the theft of a car, for instance, would have counted as an unimaginable crime.

The ‘Lawn Gnome’

We had, in particular, one grumpy-looking neighbor in mind. He lived across the street. He used to scare off our cat when she dared to trespass into his ‘impeccable’ yard that had been completely paved over – a horticultural tragedy. And the cat would not linger there for long:  given the utter absence of any kind of green and life, she only transited. In our puerile world, chasing our cat was as close to a crime as it got, and led us to mistrust the ‘lawn gnome’. We were almost certain that he would be the first to pocket our wallet.

Unfortunately, the ‘lawn gnome’ never walked by. Once, an elderly lady bowed to collect the wallet, and looked rather astonished when it – as if by an invisible hand – was pulled into hedge. We quickly realized that she was no ‘criminal’, but one of the locality’s old ladies who would have brought the wallet to the neighborhood’s lost-and-found. Until this episode, we were so keen and had not grasped the weakness of our experiment…. So we then decided to take a hiatus from our detective jobs, and moved onto other, carefree adventures.

In yesterday’s In Focus: Photos of Photographers I said I’d post a few more pictures of ‘sharpshooters’ in action – all committed to the perfect shot of Dubai’s damn tall tower, known as Burj Khalifa, with full physical exertion.

As you can see, I was fully satisfied with taking a rather unmotivated picture of the upper half of the center of attraction that evening.

No time for this while scrolling down the Reader? Only interested in photographs? I know, I know, I have mostly been sharing photographs, not music. But Ani DiFranco’s ‘Albacore’ is such a moving piece of art that I thought I’d impose this on you 😉 . Maybe one has to be in a similar emotional state to be able to relate to this song.

It’s a song about love and about feeling at peace; it’s a calm song, best consumed late at night with a nice glass of vino rosso. Yeah, a cup of tea works, too.

Oh wait! Lemme add a photograph to make this post a little more eye-catching and appealing to the photo-crowd. Maybe I can coax them into having a quick listen as well. Or not. The below photograph was taken on Manhattan’s lower west side.

Street Art - on a wall somewhere in Manhattan

Have a lovely Friday evening!

In Focus

She was determined to capture the atmosphere in front of Dubai’s impressive Burj Khalifa.

To be more specific, the lady in the photograph above was filming while walking around the open space facing the Burj, in an attempt to capture every aspect of the building and its surroundings with her eyes fixated on the display of her camera. She clearly was on a mission there: one could sense her purpose.

I do not have to tell you that the Burj Khalifa is gigantic and therefore interesting as such (particularly if you know about the various complications during its construction). However – as followers of this blog might have guessed – I was more interested in the diverse bunch of visitors of the site than Dubai’s latest architectural gem.

I had a blast observing the visitors desperately trying to capture this seriously tall tower (burj means tower). Artistic moves included.

0010 - Dub-2013

More ‘photos of photographers’ will follow tomorrow. Stay tuned + have an awesome day.

The Canary is feeling a little blue and unmotivated today, must be a post-vacation low. The cure: focusing on the good thing(s) in life. Or the best ‘thing’ rather. The glamorous Marlene summed it up nicely 😉

One of my favorite followers, Ajay, has nominated me for a couple of awards yesterday (see below). Thanks, again, Ajay, for this nice surprise.

Allegedly Peter Ustinov said: “To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal”

In that sense, I am happily + silently accepting them, while being a little embarrassed about the frequency of award posts on this blog recently. So I am keeping this post short and sweet, particularly as Ajay’s two awards come as a rule-free gift 😉

However, I would like to recommend Ajay’s beautiful blog, Ajaytao 2010, in case you haven’t stumbled upon it as yet. I have followed it for a while now and his daily photo posts are a real visual treat.

Finally, dear friends of the Canary, sharing means caring in the world of blogger awards … and I would like to share these awards with a few bloggers, who I haven’t nominated before, including:

1. Frenchy Diary

2. steve.b.images

3. The Vanilla Housewife

4. Insanitree

5. Views from a Small Island


Wow. Another award. What can I say: Awards are not only nice to receive but also a great way to help promote other blogs of interest.

Many thanks to Michaela, the strong, impressive and talented woman behind “the mmmmm family“, for this lovely nomination! Michaela is a real fighter. She has started her blog to create memories for Mike – her disabled husband who suffers from memory loss after two spinal operations – of things the mmmmm family has experienced, and ‘to help him remember all the things he has yet to forget’. I have only recently discovered Michaela’s blog and find her posts moving and inspiring at the same time. You should definitely go and check it out!! Best of luck to Michaela and her family – the ‘five Ms’ seem to be an emotionally healthy and happy family, despite the challenges they are faced with. Way to go!

As always, these awards come with certain rules. Here they are:

1. Display the award logo

2. Link back to the person who nominated you

3. State 7 things about yourself

4. Nominate 10-15 other bloggers for this award.

And now it’s time for rule number 3 – here are the seven facts regarding the Canary:

1. The Canary (not a crazy cat lady) has a soft spot for cats, despite their constant desire to hunt members of its extended family and colleagues. Note: The Canary’s own cats have been successfully tamed. One is sitting on the Canary’s lap as we speak.

2. The Canary loves to swim, particularly in nice and clean Olympic-size pools.

3. The Bird’s affinity for water is also reflected in its love for warm showers (Nah, not cold…).

4. The Canary is very interested in international politics but has never had the desire to join a political party.

5. The Canary is an outdoor-bird and much prefers an active vacation over days of lying on a beach. Looking at the sea with a glass of wine after an interesting day is lovely tho.

6. The Canary has never been to China and wants to go!

7.  The Canary is a confessing chocoholic.

 … and here are my ten nominations for The Best Moment Award:

…oh wait, just a quick word before I begin with my list of nominees: as you will know, there is absolutely no pressure to accept the award, particularly as there seems to be a plethora of awards out there and nominees are usually not being consulted beforehand. Just take my nomination as a sign of the Canary’s appreciation for your blogs…and play along if you like ; )

1. Abu Zar

2. completelydisappear

3. 365sirens

4. Chris Bronsk

5. xavigeis

6. speeddemon2

7. thehappyhugger

8. Modes of Flight

9. Oenkenstein

10. Jared

Phew! Enjoy.