Monday, December 12, 2005

JogVlog Interuptus

click here to view vlog interuptus

At this time of year the Netherlands suffers from acute blue-sky deficiency. Today was a rare exception. The sky was deep blue so I went for a jog and decided to vlog it. Not one hundred meters from my house, I was stopped by a motor policeman who had obviously found my activities intolerably suspicious. Being totally taken aback I was unfortunately unable to shoot the first part of the questioning procedure but unobtrusively turned my camera on as the exchange progressed.
I’m glad I got something otherwise I would not have believed it myself. After extensive communication with police base camp the officer was compelled to concluded I was not an extremist terrorist and bid me on my way.
I did finish the JogVlog although by now I was no longer in the mood to do what I had in mind. I wasn’t anywhere close to a controlled area. The Amsterdam Police are extremely jumpy and they are not shy about it .I think GabeMac would agree.
Considered on a local level however, although I dislike getting stopped and questioned by the Dutch Police who are notoriously cerebrally deprived and impolite, two minutes walk from my house in the other direction, young men parade around provocatively in jalaba’s doing their best to mimic Bin Laden. The neighbourhood is a notorious feeding ground for the fundamentalist Hofstad group who are presently being tried for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. One minute further on from there marks the spot where Theo van Gogh the film director was brutally murdered by an affiliate of the group. The existence of this active terrorist cell came to light when one of it’s key members was discovered filming potential targets such as the parliament buildings, the national airport, electricity generating plants and the national security agency’s head office….with a dvcam!


The Queens bath tub at Hampi
Hampi - Once the capital of the Vijayangara Empire
Now a World Heritage site.

In 1522 a Portuguese traveller, Domingo Paes wrote “Hampi is as large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight, the best provided city in the world”. It is now a World Heritage Site.
By the measure of the middle ages Hampi was an immense, powerful, wealthy and thriving metropolis, strategically well protected by mountains and rivers from unwelcome intruders . Its environment was permeated with rich, fertile vegetation providing all that was needed to sustain the city comfortably, and more. It was also a religious centre and a seat of learning in a intensely beautiful d├ęcor of palaces and temples sculpted out of the mysterious volcanic, moonlike, landscape of hard granite.
This place is truly the genus loci tangibly personified. It’s reputation became known far and wide but especially, and more importantly with the Moguls to the north who found the existence of place so close to paradise intolerable and made it their prime mission to see that it was destroyed.
In one blow, the city of Hampi was violated and every single sculpture and palace defaced. To destroy something made of massive granite requires extreme conviction.
The Virupaksha Temple seen in the video was the only building spared and therefore still standing to this day.
Yet another example of senseless destruction driven by ignorance, hatred, greed and intolerance.

This video is a short compilation of many hours of footage shot in 2000 on a Cannon X65 Hi8 so the quality leaves much to be desired but it's good enough to give a good impression of this amazing place.

Hampi in the (vlog)map
World Heritage
Karnataka Toutist Bureau
More pictures and foto's

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

St. NickVlog - Christmas Dutch Style

click here to start video

Saint Nickolas - the Dutch Christmas

In Holland the festive season starts somewhat earlier than elswhere. For centuries, as legend would have it, Saint Nickolas comes to Holland on a boat all the way from Spain to celebrate his birthday on the 5th of December. Well in advance of this happy event, young children put out a shoe containing a carrot which is intended for St. Nick's white horse Schimmel (dutch for mildew). He is known coloquially as Sinter Klaas - which is not the only close similarity to Santa Claus.
If the children have behaved themselves throughout the year they can expect a present from St.Nick. Of course it is too much work for St.Nick alone to deliver all the presents on time to all the children's shoes, so he has a host of helpers who all are niknamed Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). They are mischievous young men with frightening deep black skin (?). Apart from St.Nicks presents they also carry canes to punish the children who have misbehaved in the preceding year. Young Dutch children are often petrified by these frivolous black strangers from Spain who add to the mystery and the excitement. The Black Petes deliver the presents by way of the intended recipients chimney!
This embeded tradition is the start signal for a month of extreme overindulgence - not only because in keeping with the rest of the overcommercialised world, the Dutch also celebrate Christmas.
On the 2nd or 3rd of January they are shocked back into reality, feeling guilty about their waist lines and their shrunken bank balances. So in short over here - it's just the same....but different!