Friday, December 31, 2010
Ella Maillart - The best travel writer of the 20th century ?
When I was in Delhi in mid November this year, I was thrilled to find a reprint of Ella Maillart's classic, Turkistan Solo, in Bahrisons bookshop. Compared to modern writers of Central Asia such as Colin Thubron's and his book The Lost Heart of Asia which I found so depressing, Maillart's story is travel writing at its brilliant best. Her eye for detail, minute description of faces, dress, food, customs and landscape, is sheer joy to read. She doesn't dwell on the dirt, the lice, but on the human hearts of people
In this book her journey took place in 1932, long before travelling in Central Asia became fashionable, Ella Maillart travelled to Russian Turkestan, bordered by China, Tibet, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Her dream was to see the mountains that lay on the fringes of China and the Takla Makan desert. She travelled like a nomad - slowly, by camel and on foot. Setting out from Moscow, she crossed Kyrgyzstan as far as the Tien Shan range (the Celestial Mountains). She climbed the 5,000 metre-high Sari Tor on makeshift skis, explored the legendary cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, travelled down the Amu Daria river and crossed, solo, the freezing and hostile wastes of the Kizil Kum, the Desert of Red Sands. Her companions are drawn from both past and present - Mongolian princesses rub shoulders with Trotskyist exiles, whilst pilgrims and dervishes ride alongside emperors and kings. Even today, a trip like this would be considered daring. That Ella Maillart did it, largely alone almost 70 years ago, makes her journey all the more remarkable.
I was fortunate when I lived in Central Asia from 1993-99, to repeat many of her routes in what was then called Turkestan: today's Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. I was fascinated to read that she had crossed Ak Bel Pass, and reached the source of the Syr Darya river
Naila and I spent time with a Kyrgyz family near Tash Rabat, a place Elia Maillart passed through on her journey in 1932. I had that strange feeling they were closely related. This was in 1998. Photo Bob McKerrow
But it was not only her travels in modern day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that fascinated me, but her journey through Uzbekistan to Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. It was fascinating to compare my photos with hers and see so many similarities.
Turkestan Solo is the account of an expedition from the Tien Shan to the Kizil Kum where she spent time with the Kirghiz and Kazakh tribesmen. Talgar peak in the Tienshan range in Kazakhstan: Photo: Bob McKerrow
The quote from Turkestan Solo I love is this one:
I smile when I think of the vegetarian credo. The Kirghiz feed exclusively on meat and milk.Yet they live long, and like the Esquimaux, are able to put up an astonishing resistance to cold, privation and the fatique of the long treks. To eat as much as possible when one has the chance, so that the unexpected may find one with every reserve stored full, that is the principle on which the camel works. In unconscious obedience to this rule, I stuff myself daily and put on flesh visibly. I am the terror of Mila who is chatge of our victuals. Either her eyes of her voice remind me daily : " It's frightful. Ella eats more than the men!"
When she died in early April 1997, Sarah Anderson pays tribute to her.
"To dawdle is my usual fashion, as if I had the whole of eternity before me." This sums up Ella Maillart's approach to travel; she liked travelling slowly, absorbing the culture, and she understood the importance of finding the similarities rather than the differences between people. It was this inquisitiveness which makes her part of the tradition of great women travellers; she had an interest in understanding the how and why of other people's lives, rather more than in straight exploration.
Her photos are brilliant such as this one taken of a woman picking cotton in Uzbekistan in 1932.
Ella Maillart, known as Kini, was born in Geneva in 1903; she was a sickly child until, aged ten, she and her family started to spend the summer months on Lake Geneva. She was entranced by the lake, where she learned to sail, and in 1924 she represented Switzerland as the only woman in single-handed yachting at the Paris Olympics. She was a natural athlete and wrote that "with sailing, hockey, and skiing as main amusements I could bear the boredom of school." Her skiing became so accomplished that between 1931-34 she was a member of the Swiss National Ski Team. A photograph in her autobiography Cruises and Caravans (1942) shows her as the only woman in the Swiss ladies' ski team wearing a skirt.
At 17 she gave up school to study privately, to try to discover what career was calling her. She realised that earning her own living was her only route to independence but envied those who knew what they wanted to do, not having any idea herself. Her private studies failed, but undaunted she embarked on a six-month voyage with another woman along the south coast of France. On her return, her father, a furrier, told her that, as business was bad, she must think further about a career. She decided that the answer to her future lay in turning her life into a continual holiday.
She did various jobs in England and Berlin, where she lived mostly on porridge, and finally got a visa to Russia in 1930, where she studied film in Moscow and learnt to speak fluent Russian. She soon tired of the sedentary life and set off for the Caucasus. An article she wrote on her Caucasus trip was rejected; this did not surprise her as she said "I never nursed the illusion that I could write." She later saw writing as a tool which enabled her to travel, insisting that "I write with my foot.
An Uzbek merchant and his caravan.
She was later persuaded to expand her rejected article, which was published as Parmi La Jeunesse Russe (1932). Turkestan Solo (1934) was the account of an expedition from the Tien Shan to the Kizil Kum where she spent time with the Kirghiz and Kazakh tribesmen. In 1935 she was sent as a special correspondent by the French newspaper Petit Parisien to Manchuria. It was there that she re-encountered Peter Fleming (whom she had previously interviewed in London), who was in China for the Times, and she suggested that they embark together on a 3,500-mile trip west from Peking through the Taklamakan desert and Sin-kiang (at that time closed to foreigners) to Kashmir: a journey which took seven months. In the foreword to his book of the journey News From Tartary (1936) Fleming wrote "I can hardly doubt that you will find her, as I did, a gallant traveller and a good companion."
This belies the inevitable difficulties that two strong-minded people had with their very different approaches to travel. Fleming (photo left) was impatient to get back to England while Ella Maillart, whose book about the trip, Forbidden Journey, was published in 1937, wanted to linger. She was a traveller rather than an explorer, not interested in map-making, but rather in understanding the people among whom she found herself. "I wanted to forget that we had inevitably to return home. I even lost the desire to return, and would have liked the journey to last for the rest of my life."
The Cruel Way (1947) recounts a journey from Geneva to India via Persia and Afghanistan made in 1939 with a friend who was recovering from drug addiction. She spent much of the war in India visiting ashrams and gurus, way ahead of her time, and stayed for some time with Ramana Maharshi in southern India. He cured her of some of her restlessness and she came to the realisation that "the world with its countless aspects cannot give us the fundamental answer: only God can. And God can be met nowhere but in ourselves . . ."
Her travels had always been a search rather than an escape, but after her time in India she achieved a greater serenity. I remember her coming into the Travel Bookshop in London as an old lady, sitting peacefully on the sofa but still exuding an air of curiosity. It was that, combined with a prodigious energy that made her into such a good traveller and an inspiration to women travellers of today. Her aim was "to push the nose of my sailing boat into every creek and to point my skis down every possible gully of the mountain."
In 1949 Maillart became one of the first travellers to the newly opened Nepal and wrote about the people, who reminded her of her native Swiss, in Land of the Sherpas (1955). That was her last travel book but she continued to write occasionally and to lecture and accompany tours abroad.
She retired to a chalet in Chandolin, one of the highest villages in the Swiss Alps, but went on taking tours to far-off places well into her eighties. In her old age she managed to achieve one of her ambitions by going to the South Pacific and aged 83, she went to Tibet on her last major expedition. Three years ago she went to Goa and spent her remaining years reading about India and Indian religions.
Ella Maillart, traveller and writer: born Geneva, Switzerland 20 February 1903; died Chandolin, Switzerland 27 March 1997. For me, she is the greatest travel writer of the 20th Century
My photograph of a woman sitting outside the Ulig Beg Madrasah in Registan square could easily have been taken by her, except for the colour. Photo: Bob McKerrow
|Baroness Wilcox meets Wallace & Gromit [Flickr]|
"Reducing the burden of bureaucracy saves businesses time and money. It is essential in creating the conditions for businesses to grow and prosper.
These new arrangements will make it cheaper and easier for UK firms to obtain patent protection as they look to expand into other European countries.
The UK has been campaigning for greater work sharing like this and I am pleased to see this latest development.
Cutting duplication is key to dealing with the worldwide backlog of patent applications.These might seem like very good aims, but only really make sense if they relate to reducing a burden that already existed. Rule 141 in its new form does not even come into force until tomorrow, so to claim that the requirement not to submit search results somehow reduces the burden on applicants is somewhat disingenuous, to say the least. In its old form, Rule 141 could only result in an EPO examiner inviting the applicant to provide search results, with no provision for a penalty if the applicant did not comply. This was therefore hardly an onerous burden, and in practice was rarely used.
The quicker we deal with patent applications, the quicker firms can bring the latest innovations to the consumer."
To add a further insult to its (presumably uninformed) readers, the IPO adds that the new requirements reduce costs because "individuals cannot make their own applications to the EPO so companies must engage a patent attorney to do it for them". It is perhaps fair enough to presume that a non-patent attorney applicant would not know of the provision of Article 133 EPC, which states that, except for applicants from outside Europe, "no person shall be compelled to be represented by a professional representative in proceedings established by this Convention". To have the IPO propagate such misinformation, however, is a little surprising.
tytoc collie thinks that perhaps the new year celebrations have started a little early at the IPO.
tytoc collie is also very excited to tell everyone that, just a few short hours ago, he welcomed his 5,000th email subscriber (we're up to 5,001 now, and rising); his Tweets have a following of 1,477 -- almost exactly the 738 he had on the last day of 2009. And so far this blog has been visited over 689,000 times, a decent rise over 2009's figure of 643,451.
All the Kats are united in thanking you, our readers, for your leads, your thoughts, your constructive comments and your attention -- as well as your participation in the wider IP community.
The usual bizarre stuff coming out of Malaysia-truly Arabia these days!
It is obvious that the women were using the mosque hall for aerobic dance - now that's been banned.
The article says ~ that it is permissible for non-Muslims to enter a mosque ~ but this is on top of talk of forbidding non-Muslims from entering. So be it!!
KOTA BARU: Islam does not prohibit any activity, including aerobics, to be carried out in the compound of a mosque as long as such activities do not contravene Syariah principles, said PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.
He said it should not be a problem for either Muslims or non-Muslims to conduct any activity outside or inside the mosque.
“In Islam, it is not wrong for certain quarters to hold activities in mosques because even during the time of Prophet Muhammad, non-believers were also allowed to enter mosques because they also acted as the centre for various activities, including politics,” he told reporters after delivering a Friday sermon at Dataran Ilmu, here Friday.
The Kelantan Mentri Besar was commenting on the action of Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching who was reported to have entered the compound of Taman Cheras Jaya Mosque in Balakong, Selangor in tight attire and participated in some aerobics exercise with the congregation of the mosque, which was deemed as not respecting the house of worship.
Nik Abdul Aziz said the question whether the MP was wearing immodest dress was the second thing that needed to be addressed.
“Most importantly, we have to tell them the things that are religiously forbidden while in the mosque ... we have to explain the Islamic rules and regulations before he or she be allowed to enter the mosque,” he said.
Prior to this, Nie Ching had also caused a controversy when she delivered a talk in a surau in Kajang Sentral, Kajang in August. -- Bernama
|Mourners carry the coffin of slain Christian Fawzi Rahim, 76, during his funeral Mass at St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010|
Two Iraqi Christians have been killed in a new wave of apparently coordinated bomb attacks in the capital just two months after militants massacred 46 Christians in a church in the city.
A total of 14 bombs were placed at different Christian homes late on Thursday, an interior ministry official said on Friday.
"Two Christians were killed and 16 wounded" by the 10 bombs that went off, while security forces were able to carry out controlled detonations of four other devices, the official said.
The only deadly attack was in the central district of Al-Ghadir, where a home-made bomb exploded at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT), killing the two Christians and wounding three others.
Most of the 14 bombs, which targeted Christian homes in a total of seven different areas of the city, were in Karrada in central Baghdad, the official said.
Three devices wounded three Christians in that area, while all four of the controlled detonations were also in Karrada.
Another bomb targeted a house in Al-Ilam neighbourhood in southern Baghdad, wounding one person; two bombs wounded four people in Dora in the south of the city and one bomb in Saidiya, also in the south, wounded two people.
Another device targeted a Christian home in Yarmuk in western Baghdad, wounding one, and a house in Khadra, also in the west of the city, was targeted by a bomb that wounded two people.
The wave of attacks comes almost two months to the day after an October 31 attack by militants on Our Lady of Salvation church in central Baghdad, which left the 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security forces members dead.
Al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack and made new threats against Iraqi Christians.
Ten days after the church massacre, a string of bomb and mortar attacks targeting the homes of Christians in Baghdad killed six people and wounded 33 others.
Chaldean Catholic archbishop Monsignor Louis Sarko in Kirkuk said on December 21 that he "and 10 other Christian personages received threats from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq."
On Christmas day, both Iraqi speaker of parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nur al-Maliki urged Christians, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled abroad amid unrest since the 2003 US-led invasion, to stay in Iraq.
"Iraqis don't want the sound of the (church) bells to stop," Nujaifi said at the opening of session of parliament on December 25.
And Maliki said in a statement: "We strongly call on (Christians) to stay in their country, to commit to their country and participate in building and reconstructing it."
A preliminary report released on Thursday by Iraq Body Count, a Britain-based monitoring group, said that the number of Iraqi civilians killed in violence in 2010 was set to be the lowest since the 2003 US-led invasion.
However, it also noted that attacks remain common across the country.
Maliki, who was approved by parliament for a second term in office along with a national unity cabinet on December 21, has cited security as one of his top three priorities.
But 10 ministries, including those responsible for security, which are controlled by Maliki in the interim, still have acting heads only.
Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders will publish an anti-Islam book in the first half of 2011, he told the Telegraaf newspaper in an interview on Friday.
“The book is aimed mainly at the US market and focuses on how to combat the spread of Islam on a global level. We can do a lot here in the Netherlands, but we want to send out a strong international signal to the Arab world that a party in the centre of power in this country is fighting back,” Mr Wilders told the paper.
His Freedom Party cherishes “a wide range” of ambitions, he says in the interview. “Our first priority is to launch the International Freedom Alliance, which boils down to a platform against Islam. That will be huge.”
The book will be Mr Wilders’ second, after the publication in 2005 of a short autobiography, titled Kies voor vrijheid (Choose for Freedom).
A 24-hour strike organised by Sunni Muslim clerics is taking place across Pakistan to protest against possible changes to blasphemy laws.
Rallies were staged in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta after Friday prayers.
The government has distanced itself from a bill to change the law, which carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.
Rights groups say the law is often used to persecute religious minorities.
The legislation returned to the spotlight in November when a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death.
Although no-one convicted under the law has been executed, more than 30 accused have been killed by lynch mobs.
'Over our dead bodies'
The Pope has led international calls to show mercy on Ms Bibi, who denies insulting the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with other farmhands in a Punjab province village in June 2009.
Friday's strike saw businesses shuttered and transport workers walking out in towns and cities across the country.
There was no public transport in the southern city of Karachi, where demonstrators blocked traffic as part of the industrial action.
The BBC's Ilyas Khan says bus owners in the Sindh province capital may have feared their vehicles could be torched if put on the road.
Quetta, the capital of the southern province of Balochistan, also ground to a halt.
There was a partial shutdown in the national capital of Islamabad, the north-western city of Peshawar and Lahore, capital of Punjab.
One Sunni cleric in Islamabad warned in his Friday sermon that any change to the blasphemy law would happen "over our dead bodies".
The strike was held to protest against a private member's bill submitted to parliament.
It seeks to amend the law by abolishing the death sentence and by strengthening clauses which prevent any chance of a miscarriage of justice.
The bill has been drafted by a member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and by a former Information Minister, Sherry Rehman.
This led religious groups, who are demanding that Ms Rehman quit, to conclude the government was behind it.
On Wednesday, Pakistan's religious affairs minister told parliament the bill did not reflect government policy.
"I state with full responsibility that the government has no intention to repeal the blasphemy law," Syed Khurshid Shah said.
Federal Law Minister Babar Awan told reporters that Friday's strike was simply the latest attempt to revive a once powerful alliance of religious parties.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal emerged as the third largest vote-winner in the 2002 elections held by the regime of President Pervez Musharraf, but the grouping had broken apart by the time of polls two years ago.
Our correspondent says the government is hoping to placate shrill religious protest at a time when it is in difficulty with two coalition partners.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement this week withdrew two ministers from the federal cabinet, blaming corruption and rising prices.
The Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam party, a smaller coalition partner, withdrew from the government earlier in December after one of its ministers was sacked.
Many believe the two parties are acting at the behest of the security establishment to undermine the country's political system.
You decide: A macho thing, bravado or penile deficiency
After I heard Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, make some asinine statements I seriously questioned his motives for being a Marine. It is obvious that the man is a homophobe, but worse, I seriously question his rationale….Being a Marine is a “macho” thing and gays are weaklings and too prissy to defend our country. If that were the case, then women should also be excluded from the Military and I have known some women as well as some queens who have more testicular fortitude than this asshole.
What is disturbing to me is that this macho-bravado thing translates into actions that demonstrate a pride in the act of killing. It is killing for sport…kind of like hunting for sport; whether you kill a beast in the wild or another human being for sport that to me is totally immoral, repugnant and perverse. Don’t get me wrong…I still support the right of Americans to bear arms and keep them in a safe place where children can’t access them, and killing an animal in order to eat is quite acceptable.
Arms ownership also brings me to the contentious point of gun control. It is abundantly clear that not many of our citizens would have any use for a tank or a machine gun. It has become a national nightmare that any one person could carry a gun and shoot arbitrarily at a crowd or at a law enforcement person. This makes the job of police that much harder. I am in favor of registering and legally owning fire arms…but only to those who do not have a criminal record or are mentally stable. The SECOND AMENDMENT OPTION has to be used with prudence and wisdom…not a free for all, wild west type of an environment; or worse yet…propose like Sharon Angle did that we should use our 2nd Amendment option if elections didn’t go the way Teahadists wanted.
Frankly, I am more concerned about home-grown terrorists than I am of the radical Muslim Jihadists. We have seen what damage somebody like Timothy McVey can infflict. But easy, unrestricted fire arms ownership can make it a cinch for this kind of person to carry out an attack against defenseless and innocent people. But then again, this is the type of mentality that is cultivated in our military rather than the need of our country to have it defended. Commandant Conway is part of this culture and we should be relentless in weeding out people who need to wear a uniform or bear arms in order to validate their masculinity, or in the case of religious fanatics…obtain a free pass into paradise.
Oftentimes it is the old men who never served in the military who are the most vociferous proponents of war. Their bellicose endeavors are perceived to be a bravado-macho thing. That is very sad because we, as a country have engaged ourselves in many unjustified and unnecessary wars.
When I heard McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” I cringed at the thought that perhaps one day this man could be President of the United States. Conversely, I cringe as well when I hear an asshole like Commandant Conway speak of his erroneous perception of gays.
Sadly, our culture is permeated with this kind of thinking and it is fertile grounds for others to inflict injury…even death to gays as was the case with Mathew Shepard and to add insult to injury; having an elected representative (Virginia Fox) utter the odious claim that his death was but a “hoax” while his own mother was sitting in the spectator’s balcony.
I have often criticized law enforcement people for excessive use of force and a culture that encourages police brutality; it seems that some men, devoid of genital prowess, put on a uniform to feel more manly…isn’t that what this Conway asshole is doing?
I also see acts of kindness and compassion coming from our brave military. It is clear that not many are serving their country because they want to feel like Commandant Conway and find validation in killing. We have seen photos of military personnel demonstrate an uncanny sensibility and a show of compassion in many recent photographs.
Javier Solana is a behind the scenes negotiating in many world events. According to Constance Cumbey, he has had an active role in the shaping of the New World Order. Solana has a direct affiliation to the Luciferian New Age and their desires to depopulate the world. Many believe he could possibly be the Antichrist, but I don't think that's why Constance keeps watch of him.
In this particular presentation, he showcases how our changing world is getting more crowded and requires new solutions in sustainability. He is another scary dude to keep our eyes on!
Since we know global warming is a farce agenda of the global government to enact control and get money, then what is the true purpose behind Chemtrails? It is obvious that Chemtrails will have a negative impact on people and further impact on the environment...so it makes you wonder.
Contrails vs Chemtrails
Contrails are a different phenomena and you can tell the difference between the two. You learn the difference by knowing what a contrail is - a single line that dissipates over a short time.
Chemtrails look like this:
|The Kat is having a bad caption|
day. Can anyone come up with
a good one?
Nominet -- the UK registry for dot.uk domain names -- will be offering short domain names to registered trade mark owners. Rules and guidance here; register here.
Regarding this weblog's recent post on the Court of Justice ruling in the battle over Bavaria beer ("Court upholds Dutch Claim to Bavaria", here), the Kats have received a thoughtful missive from their friend, scholar and trade mark diplomat extraordinaire, Alexander von Mühlendahl. Alex writes:
[An admirable sentiment, though not one which is expressed in European Union trade mark legislation. Would we say the same if for 'Holland' we substituted 'United States' and for 'Bavaria' we substituted 'Budweiser'? Budweis beer was brewed in Bohemia since 1265. However, it is now clear that the Danes, French, Germans and Britss should have opted for a name other than Feta for their feta ...].
Second, the first Bavarian case - C-343/07 - upheld the validity of the registration of BAYERISCHES BIER as a PGI, and it did not hold that the Dutch were entitled to use their mark in Italy. That issue is currently before the Italian courts.[In legal terms Alex is absolutely correct; the Court of Justice only makes a preliminary ruling, and then it's up to the referring court to apply the law: but the right to use the Dutch Bavaria trade mark in Italy has already been conferred by Der Spiegel and Reuters, and no-one seems to be betting on a win for the real Bavarians].
Nota bene: Under a bilateral German-Italian treaty for the protection of GIs, concluded in 1963!, Bayerisches Bier has always been reserved to German products in Italy. [Quite rightly so! This Kat would defend the reservation of this right to German products too]
Third, the ECJ's newest foray into the conflicts between trade marks and GIs, the second Bavarian judgment of 22 December 2010, merely held that the Dutch-origin mark could not be cancelled on the grounds of Article 14 of Regulation 2081/92. But no more: prior to the registration of BAYERISCHES BIER (or the publication of the registration) German law applied, and nothing in the Court's judgment precludes German courts from applying to a mark applied for or registered in (or with effect in) Germany the rules of German law. Under German law applicable until the protection at EU level became effective there should not be any doubt that the registration of the Dutch Bavarian mark could have been cancelled. And this may well still happen now.[The Kat suspects that one or two readers may wish to comment on this point]
As IP lawyers we know, by the way, that the principle first-in-time = first-in-right, also called the priority principle, has so far not ever been interpreted as meaning that where two marks or signs are in conflict, the date of publication of registration is decisive. The ECJ could have held that the date of application for registration was decisive - it did not, instead choosing for BAYERISCHES BIER the latest possible date of all dates. We should be wary before applauding such a novel notion. Thus the cases are not yet over, and certainly not yet resolved n favour of the Dutch Bavarians".
here) -- and it didn't have a great deal of cheer for the private sector of the innovation community. Dr John Crawshaw Taylor, an inventor, was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to business and to horology. The holder of over 150 patents, Dr J's innovations led to the sale of over 200 million Strix thermostat controls for electric kettles (used over a billion times a day by over 20% of the world's population). He is also a noted philanthropist, though there is now public record as to how much money he has invested in the services of intellectual property practitioners. Six good souls from the government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills also picked up honours: on Knight Bachelor, one Companion of the Bath, one CBE, one OBE and two MBEs -- which presumably shows that we are better at administering innovation than at doing it. Congratulations, everyone!