Recoded: aug 2007
Locations: istanbul, turkey; amman, jordan; the israel/jordan border; jerusislam, tel aviv, jaffa, israel
Tags: august penguin day, dotan mazor, matan kaminer, eldad brin, the dome of the rock, jerusialm, hair cut
Music: The City Awakes by stefsax and Revolve by His Boy Elroy
About: on my way through the middle-east, i found my self in isreal with a real hankering for falafel and in a desperate need of a haircut... i hope you enjoy!
THANK YOU: dotan mazor, matan kaminer, dana gordon, iddo dror, adylin luckle, ...and the family of luckles..., eldad brin, shachar shemesh, the person who invented falafel, judas, the romans, moses, mohammed, jesus, mary, mom & dad
last night, boy was there a fight.
after taking an eight hour bus from Naski to Mumbai, i found my way through the monsoon laden streets to yashish's company of friends. after commandeering two cell phones for directions, i found a small hotel with three restaurants. nestled in down a dark road stood, my destination was within aqua.
as i sat in an overly sterile environment, i found warmth in the company of nine indians. glued to a flat panel, we watched the semi-finals of the world's first T20 cricket match.
for those of you (like my self) who don't pay attention to cricket, let me enlighten you about a few things... first, the world over has found cricket to be a total bore. second, the world of cricket has a new shortened version. it's kinda like two innings with a pitcher throwing no more than 20 pitches. third, cricket is a fanatical sport. forth, india and Pakistan will play each-other in the world series T20 final. fifth, they are arch rivals.
as i've traveled around india, i see a sense of nationalism unlike any other. there's almost a hell bent attitude that india is ready to take over the world. maybe it's their position as one of the world's fastest growing economies. maybe it's their position as the largest democracy in the world. maybe it's their diversity. maybe it's their position as one of the worlds largest english speaking countries. maybe it's because of their diverse history and willingness to compromise to make things equal. maybe it's because they see beyond the horizon and see a world where their footprint will dominate the globe.
one can not overlook the impact india has on the globe. one can not overlook the pride indians have for their country, diversity, and history. the world can not overlook india.
today, i made a little journey. after last night's jaunt, i woke up with three agenda items... 1. get a new SIM card (btw, i'm writing up a long overdue review of SIM purchases for MobileVoices) 2. hang out with yashesh. 3. find a way to see shreya, a college student whom i met while at digital bridge camp.
the first two were quite easy to accomplish. yashesh is a geek, and despite his maxed out metered ADSL, has his geek connections. ten mins away from his house sits a train station. surrounding the train station sits a local market. as we passed by airtel, hutch, reliance, vodaphone advertisements, i wondered which provider would clam me as their next victim.
as i first attempted in egypt, i selected vodaphone as my vampire of choice. to my surprise, vodaphone gave me a kickass deal, 10 times better than airtel. i kinda felt like a schmuck after the kind booth-man handed me my pre-paid packet and i wooted out-loud.
after a 15 minute interlude of names, phone numbers, addresses, passport and visa numbers, i sent my first text message to shreya. who immediately informed me her younger sister was in town and plans would have to be "family" oriented. in my mind, that meant MOVIE NIGHT!
after my night at movies with omar, i am now hell bent on catching as many movies as possible. you really don't know a culture until you know how they experience movies. despite the whole concept of sitting in a dark room with the lights out, movies are highly social and provide a rare glimpse into the banality of life.
i arrived and immediately qued up to start my bewilderment. the man behind me, stood so close that his belly touched my back. every step forward endured another oppressive re-acquaintance with this discomforted. after two quick steps and a quarter turn to my right, i experienced his dirty fake italian shoe on top of my foot. not to mention his big-assed belly pushing my arm. fed-up with his physical comport, i created a force field with my elbows. in india, physical space is one of those things you create or deal. i took it to the next level and pretty much built the taj mahal between us.
after a bit of slow-going, i was in-front of an attendant with two options - sliver seats (300 rps / 7.50 usd) or regular (90 rps / 2.50 usd). confused, intrigued, bewildered and excited, i pulled out 1000 rps, felt like a millionaire and purchased three tickets.
when shreya and her sister arrived the movie was just about to start and my excitement was about to boil over. somewhere above my head sat three leather lazy boys with our names. walking though security was not a breeze. since isreal, every mall's entrance has a guard, metal detector and bag search. after loading up my pockets with an ipod, cell phone and camera, i set off more alarms than an that crazy old farmer who drove his tracker into washington monument.
apparently, cameras are allowed but not their batteries. cell phones, while allowed, are closely monitored. after a bit of my belligerence demanding to know where my battery would be kept, we dashed up four flights of stairs to one of the most amazing theaters in the world.
there was no opulence, just glutney. the concession stand was to the right. to the left stood seven or so booths for any tasty delight of your choice. hot dogs, ice cream, starbucks, sorbet, cell phones, books, credit cards... there was a booth for them all... not only was this theater in a mall, but there was a mall within the theater.
tucked away somewhere, i assumed there was another smaller theater, but couldn't find it. maybe it was on the half-level below me and i just missed it.
in the theater, we were quickly shown our seats - three fat lazy boys with electronic adjusters to recline. each one came with a soft pillow and a warm blanket. as i pondered when was the last time the blanket was washed, my naked wet legs found warmth. comfortably adjusted a mile apart from each other, the three of us sat in a row to watch "loins of punjab." (spoilers precede this statement. LOP was not entirely a flop, and i might see it again... so now you've been warned.)
the movie had it's moments and more importantly had it's defining moment at the tail end. unlike a majority of the attendants, the three of us arrived too late to stand for the Indian national anthem. well guess what happens at the end? the white guy who's vying for desi idol sings the national anthem. AND in spite of the Indian-American demand for no one to stand up... the entire audience stood up...
the three of us just kinda looked at each other, tossed some popcorn in our gullet and waited for everyone to sit down.
then something hit me harder than bars of soap on the fat guy in full metal jacket... ireguardless of the stereo type portrayed in American pop culture, this country is going to bite us in the ass. we might think of them as a little democratic brother, but india has a shit load of natural and mental resources unyet tapped.
the Japanese economic fright of the 80's is nothing compared to unsmoked resources of Goa. in more ways than one, i've got my money on india!
tomorrow, i head to egypt and cross into my third continent.
it's weird to think that tomorrow might bring some new delightful ray of enlightenment, but sadly it will bring 13 hours cramped into a bus. as i write these words, i have no clue where i will be staying, nor if my egypian contacts have gotten my messages about my arrival.
nonetheless, in true form, i've gone out and done something really crazy. i've shave my head, but kept my beard. it's not your normal thing to do before heading to a country that has a love/hate relationship with the country you are in... but as i set forth on this journey, no longer am i too concerned. i know my path is vague and the journey is just part of the process.
...and haircuts are just part of the process...
now, with adylin luckle, my host in isreal...
ps - it's been 15+ years since i've let a barber touch my head...
speaking of sanity, i called up the indian embassy in ciaro and they told me it take five days to process visas. so, knowing reality to be somewhat a figment of consciousness, i'm not worrying about my visa until i walk though a metal detector and finally sit down with someone.
if you are planning on doing something as insane as this venture. you have two options, one get an ambiguous visa while you are in the states, OR drop into the indian embassy in paris or london. both locations will expedite same day visas (or following day visas) if you are willing to pay twice the price.
despite these headaches, tomorrow i'm venturing into one of the craziest cities in the whole world. tomorrow, i'm heading to jerusalem...
don't misunderstand me. i'm calling the city crazy, not because of all of the religious zealots that flock annually... no, not because of them... i'm venturing to the "holy" city because it's one of the oldest cities in the world and the "old city" is smaller than a square mile.... oh and did i mention the all the small tiny streets?
oh and if that didn't wet your whistle, i'm looking forward to finding a bus to Bethlehem to experience this lovely "security fence." i really don't understand the whole thing... from my conversations with activist, matan kaminer, this issue is deeply rooted in economics.
from my conversations and terse research, the Ashkenazi jews have long oppressed the middle eastern jews and Palestinians (muslim and christian). let's not even get into the armenian and Moroccan side of things... 'cause, that really starts to blow my mind...
nonetheless, with a country that is the cradle to three of the world's largest religions... let alone, a town that is cradle to three of the world's largest religions... it's bound to be crazy. maybe i'm too secular. maybe i've long lost my faith in a specific religion, but one thing has emboldened my perspective from the past few days...
these "holy warriors" would love to have an iphone, ipod, imac, internet, youtube, air conditioning, power, clean water, transportation, education, the opportunity to travel and the ability to move freely. so many of the Israeli's whom i've come across live a comfortable middle class southern californian suburban lifestyle. from shopping mall to shopping mall, from strip mall to strip mall, from gas station to gas station... the modern israeli is no different than the community i was born into nor the midwestern community i grew up in.
hopefully, tomorrow i will get to see a different perspective.
(photo discovered on fejron's flickr feed but obviously stolen from somewhere else...)
perched in the arid land of zionist deliverance, i mull over the next few hoops. from these mounds of sand, i move southwest into the land of the pharaohs. all along the way i am perplexed by my next journey. after visiting the river nile, i am to venture onward to india.
like an impatient child, i neglected to pick up a visa in new york, and with less time to waist, i ran away from the visa services line in paris. now i am faced with a dilemma. relinquish my passport to a travel bureau, wait 10 days bouncing up and down in israel and miss an opportunity to visit the occupied territories, or i can venture onward to egypt, re-negotiate my travel plans, and hope that i am not detained more than necessary.
i should note that within this predicament there is a silver lining. my original departure would have shuttled my soul before the full moon. now with a vague statement of 10 days to process my visa, i will be in forced to capture my second full moon on my second continent. oh the pain and agony of watching a bright and beautiful moon amongst the company of random strangers.
israel is one big metal detector. unshaven and caring a bag of electronic goods, i'm setting off alarms.
today, the shoe is on the other foot. for the next four hours, i'm attempting to understand hebrew and get hands on conversations with attendants of August Penguin 2007 - The Israeli Open Source Community Conference.
organized by the hamakor non-profit, the conversations today will present a brief synopsis of open source in israel and provide an opportunity for FLOSS members to mingle.
things to note...
- all presentations are in hebrew
- open wifi, but only in the lobby
- within the hall, most attendants did not bring laptops, and are concentrating on the presentation.
- the first speaker has mentioned DRM and DMCA 10 times... apparently in israel, they saw what was happening in the united states and thought it would be a good idea to replicate the DMCA.
- they are handing out fresh hebrew copies of open office and ubuntu
- did you know that five years ago, this event started when people needed to find a venue to watch a movie on open source.
- also, did you know that the state of israel funded the localization of open office into hebrew.
today's journey brought me through three countries, currencies, and languages; fifteen check points, six bag scans, five metal detectors, one air puff blowing device; six taxis and one bus.
luckily, i was greeted with open arms by adylin luckle, her family, and a feast of knish, hummus, cucumber, tomato and ice cream. ah, how wonderful it is to have a simple, healthy meal.
today, i venture into the unexpected.
from istanbul, i fly to amman jordan and hop on a bus to one of a handful border crossings into israel. while i could have taken a plane, my wit and fortune did not find a suitable route. after reading several other travelers entries, i do not fear the crossing nor the 6 hours or more to travel 50 miles across disputed territory.
after traveling through the west bank, i'll find my way through jerusalem to a train bound for tel aviv. by the days end, i will have traversed more security checkpoints in 24 hours than i've traversed in the past 34 days.
with my whole life wrapped around me in two bags, will i feel safe?
not one bit, i will always fear losing sight of my thoughts, dreams and tools. no dog, metal detector, security checkpoint, will make me feel safe in a world where the pursuit of liberty is masked in the search for next new phone, social tool, president, ipod, car, stove or relic.
freedom is not a tag. freedom is not a twittering digg or new application for you ponce over. freedom exists beyond the loose keys that sit beneath your fingers. freedom is what you find beyond the thunderdome most call the work place.
for the next few days, please take A photo and add it to the flickr group luck of seven and tag it "luck of seven."
the rule, you can only upload one image that best illustrates your perception of freedom. if you do not have a flickr account, point me to the URL or email me a copy of the photo...
see you in israel...
''My second continent is Africa, but i'll be passing through the middle east first. From Aug to September, I will bounce around looking to cover as much as possible. If you have something to add, please feel free!''
== '''Week 6''' ==
* '''9 - 15 Aug'''
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv Tel Aviv]
* [http://august.penguin.org.il/AUG2007/english.html isreali open source community conference] - aug 10 (thanks Zohar Stolar)
* hang out with [http://www.dotanmazor.com/ dotan mazor]
== '''Week 7, 8, 9''' ==
* '''19 Aug - 6 Sept''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt Egypt], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo Cairo]
* '''Guide & Translator for the first week''' [http://omar.owahab.com/Omar/ Omar Abdel Wahab]
* hang out with the guys and gals at [http://open-craft.com OpenCraft]
* [http://www.eglug.org/ eglug] egyptian free/open source community
* [http://mardinix.net/ mardini] - programmer and partner of OpenCraft
* [http://www.manalaa.net/ manal and alaa] bloggers and drupal peeps
* [http://norayounis.com Nora Younis] - activist, flickr'er and journalist
* [http://gharbeia.net/ Amr Gharbeia] - activist, programmer and translator
* [http://monem-press.blogspot.com/ Abdel-Monem Mahmoud] - activist blogger
* visit [http://baheyeldin.com Khalid Baheyeldin] and his brother to discuss open source translations programs
* 25 Aug - [http://www.open-craft.com/drupal_scalability_userpoints open craft conversation] on drupal
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza Great Pyramid of Giza]
=== '''Seas to Sail''' ===
* South Atlantic Ocean
* Indian Ocean