in words, sights and sounds

Posts from the Curious Category

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Dear friends of the Canary

Wow. I have just realized that it is the 1st of December today. Time definitely flies. I barely got used to the idea that it was November and now this: the year is basically over and so are 6 months of blogging on WordPress. Let me tell you, honored friends of the Canary, it’s been an entirely positive experience sharing my observations with an amazingly diverse blogging community, and I almost feel I have made some real ‘virtual’ friends out there. All an illusion, an artificial world that has nothing to do with reality? Nah, not entirely. It’s a sphere in between, which continues to be fun to explore. I seriously enjoy your feedback and our exchanges. So thanks for this.

The Canary will switch continents tomorrow and, then, provide you with what I hope to be interesting winter observations from Berlin.

Here’s an overview of what’s been cooking in November (click here for more observations-of-the-canary):

Have a lovely Sunday, y’all.

B&W Street Shot: 'No pointing with fingers!'

Oy! I was told it’s rude to point at people with your finger?! Yeah ok, it is probably also rude to zoom in on people while they are trying to cross the street. As you can see, I clearly got busted that time. However, ironically, I wasn’t even interested in taking a picture of the guy and his girlfriend but the mother and her kids in front, which is why they are in focus and ‘Mr. Finger’ is not. In any event, I thought I’d share this with you. While this is not a great photograph, it documents a not-so-rare experience of those of us who walk the cities and shoot their people. Jeez, this sounds awful … but you know what I mean.

Photograph of rural food place called 'Stress remmover'

It’s only Tuesday and you are stressed out already? Well, consider visiting this rural food joint near Nairobi. Alternatively, you can always consult your local miracle center. In the meantime, keep calm and carry on!

Photograph of Maximum Miracle Center in Downtown Nairobi

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.

Actually, I am a relatively calm and peaceful being. But when I sit behind a steering wheel and I am faced with crazy drivers left, right and center in a more or less rule-free environment, I regularly transform into a hot-tempered Southern Italian version of myself. (No offense Southern-Italians, I do like you!)

English: Swedish Rallycross driver Mikael Nord...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you speak Honk?

I lived and worked in the Middle East for quite a few years and quickly got used to honking my way through. In Beirut, for instance, honking is considered absolutely normal and necessary if you want to make your way through the congested small streets of the city in a reasonable amount of time. Nobody takes issue with it. On the contrary, blowing the horn is a well-established and highly effective means of communication.

Just a few examples to illustrate my point:

  • Pushy, staccato-like HONK! HONK! HONK! means ‘Watch out! Here I come’.
  • Short, encouraging HONK! means ‘Wait a second, ya habibi, and let me take a turn.’
  • Death defying HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK!!! means ‘Should there be any traffic coming towards me behind that curve we will probably both die as I do not intend on slowing down too much’.
  • Pleasantly surprised HONK HONK!? amidst a traffic jam – ‘Hey!! You? Here!? How is it going?’
  • Indignant HONK HOOOONK! (usually accompanied by wild gesturing and drumming on the steering wheel) means ‘You son of a donkey! Are you insane!!? You cut me off!’

Back to the Rule of (Traffic) Law

Needless to say, in other parts of the world honking indiscriminately (all a matter of interpretation of course) either gets you a ticket or triggers the rage of your fellow-drivers in no time. Whenever I visit my folks in Northern Europe, I am at high risk of misbehaving and, therefore, have to reprimand myself regularly to stay out of traffic trouble.

Manual signaling

What I learned in Saharan Africa is that signaling ( = using the turn indicator) is totally overrated. Nobody does it. Crossing lanes frantically without indicating so is what you do. If one feels the need to signal, s/he pulls down the window and sticks an arm out to ensure that the half-comatose drivers in the back understand what’s going on. Friendly waving (which occurs less often) means “Go ahead, I am peaceful and I have time.” And, yes absolutely, in cities with lots of fast-moving traffic, this can lead to nasty injuries.

Therapeutic cursing

Personally, I am pretty verbose when I am driving, particularly when I am – as I usually am – late for work. This verbosity usually includes less diplomatic expressions as well. I know, at my age I probably shouldn’t lose my temper over the behavior of co-drivers and transform into a cursing trucker but – I swear – there are reasons for it! It’s a circus on the streets… and frankly, isn’t a good rant in the morning also terribly liberating?

Unfortunately, I do also belong to the self-deluding species that believes – despite actually knowing better – that nobody can hear (let alone see) what she is saying (and gesturing) only because she sits in a car with closed windows. But so far it’s remained pretty civil.

Wishing you smooth driving, whether you are verbose like me or yogi-like.

Have a nice weekend!

Istanbul - market impressions

Photography: Istanbul - it's all about bargainingPhotography: Istanbul market - you can get anything there

These are a few impressions from Istanbul’s famous Mısır Çarşısı – the city’ s largest ‘covered’ spice market, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar. The spice market is located centrally in the old Eminönü disctrict – the old city of Constantine.

It’s a must-see when you are in town, and stuffed with colorful spices, smelling like “1001 nights”… you can find any spice you desire, but sometimes you also stumble across unexpected items displayed next to Persian Saffron and chilly peppers.