Monday, 4 January 2021

Lessons learned in 2020



Well....So here we are. Welcome to 2021. Same shite different year.

I have not written here for so long that I don’t even know where to start. Is a bit like not having sex for a while- you forget how to initiate it. Much simpler if you are doing it all the time.


Anyway. Is not for the lack of stuff to talk about that I have not written. I have plenty of excuses.

 

The Karabakh war distracted me from my usual topics here, and then it felt kind of strange talking about anything else. And there was still quite a lot I felt like saying about that war. And a lot I personally learned from getting so involved emotionally in that remarkable for us, Azeris, moment. 

 

First of all, I realized how easy it is to just get swept up by the nationalistic wave, and how easy it is to hate the other side. I also realized more than ever just how damaging the social media can be for fueling that hatred and spreading lies. I saw even most balanced people on twitter try to remain balanced, and fail. I also was shocked to read such openly biased reports on what I thought were reliable, well-known news outlets. Yes, I know. A flash of obvious. Media these days is a manipulating, lying, cheap whore. That’s the reality. Now, if we all could just remember that, and treat it accordingly, we would not be hurt every time like a naïve young girl who expects honesty from her handsome boyfriend.

 

I also realized that, despite the national pride and incredible joy of winning the territories back, I also felt awfully sad for al those dead soldiers- on both sides. One article in particular left me tearful, as I was reading about the way azeri soldiers kept climbing up the wet rocks, in the rain, getting killed and falling down, while the ones behind them just kept going. That image somehow got imprinted in my mind. I suddenly pictured, with such vivid clarity, how at this very same moment as we, patriotic assholes both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, including those who are not even in their home countries but scattered around the world, from LA to Moscow, sat there in our comfy homes spitting out more and more insults at each other on social media; those young guys, exhausted, scared, cold and wet were climbing the wet rocks in the dark winter night, to get to Shusha. How we had no idea what it must have really been like for them. How we laughed at the Armenian soldiers being afraid of the drones, not knowing where they might strike from. How they laughed at our guys who kept advancing “like robots”, despite getting shot over and over again. There was nothing fucking funny about any of that. We, patriotic assholes, who tucked our own kids in warm beds that night, what right did we have to laugh at and celebrate the deaths of so many other children?

 

So yes, I had still a lot to add, a lot to say about how I felt it was very tragic, despite Azerbaijan winning (and we did win, whatever some skeptics might say) and the joy of getting our lands back. But wars are ugly and tragic- there is nothing revolutionary about that statement, nothing new that I felt I would be adding by writing a whole post about that. The other night, I was at a party hosted by a friend where I suddenly ran into someone i knew had Armenian roots, who was able to smile and drink and chat with me. I was grateful for his composure and his ability to remain civilized. It isn’t easy at the moment for any of us. And it wont be for a while. 

 

Now, moving away from the topic of war…

 

We also were busy having Covid in our family. 


Thankfully, a very mild one, and thankfully the kids somehow mysteriously avoided getting it. Also thankfully, we were over and done with it before Christmas and the New Year holidays, which we then had a chance to enjoy. Just like I was saying above about the lessons I learned from the whole Karabakh war observation, I also learned a lot about getting Covid, and how people react.

 

There were two most memorable moments in this whole Covid experience. First of all, everyone was demanding to know where we had got it from. As if we went to a whorehouse and saw a particular girl, say Lara, who gave us syphilis. And I could tell them to simply avoid Lara, or at least not go to particular whorehouse, and they would be safe. No, guys. Sorry. Covid is not quite like that. I also got a funny feeling that some people were annoyed with us for getting it. “But, but... where were you???” One of the class mums demanded to know. “How come you got it??? How come no one else we know got it?” 


I felt interrogated and accused of perhaps having secretly attended some wild debauchery parties with hundreds if suspicious covid-spreading strangers. Of not being careful enough.

 

I got so tired of answering text messages and phone calls. The sad thing was that the attention or even simply some texts I perhaps expected to receive- from people I thought maybe somewhat cared about me? I never did. 


I had however, received texts from strangers I normally don’t talk to- like unwanted advice (make sure you exercise every day!) depressive prognosis (be careful, you can still have awful complications during the next six months!), insincere offers of help ( well if you need anything, just give us a shout)  

But mostly just curiosity. 


The real help was, I have to say…kind of scarce, and truly appreciated. A neighbor who sent us a soup. A friend who did our groceries shopping every time she went. Another friend, who walked our dog.  I am not the type who expects or feels that anyone at all should be helping me in life, and I get absolutely stunned and eternally grateful every time someone does.


Other than that, I will tell you one thing- if you get Covid, expect judgment, gossip, anger (some neighbors thought our dog should not be allowed to get walks outside) and endless questions about how is it???? how did you get it???

But don’t expect a lot of genuine sympathy or love. People are “covided” up to their eyeballs. They hate it. And they don’t wanna know. They don’t want to be associated with it or be near it, or even feel sorry for you for having it. There is something weird not just about the virus itself, but how people react to it, to the others getting it, to the whole situation, somehow. It is almost like the virus not just caused a lot of sickness and death. It also caused a further division between people- your close friends or relatives suddenly turn out to be conspiracy theorists, non-maskers, anti-vaxers… killing friendships and relationships. This just got to stop.

 

Another thing I learned (there seems to have been a lot of learning last few months, for sure) is that Qatar is surely one of the best places to get sick with Covid. The medical attention we received, the way we were looked after, was literally amazing. 

 

My favorite joke recently has been the word blessed

 

As a non-religious person, I found it funny to refer to things as me being blessed all the time. Look at this lovely dog (who is a pain in my arse) aren’t I blessed? I would say.

Or yes, that’s my child shouting in the background. Blessed.

 

But guess what? I guess I am blessed. 


I am so grateful right now that we were here, in Doha, when we got Covid. I am grateful for the sunshine and the beautiful weather we have here now; and for not being locked down. I am grateful for living in a lovely compound where we were able to celebrate New year at a street party, with lots of smiling people around, grateful to be able to still share a drink with friends. Grateful that we still have jobs (well for now, anyway) and that our Covid didn’t kill us. 

 

So yes, even though I joke about being blessed, I kinda am. 

 

Happy New Year to you all, wherever you are. I hope 2021 is going to bring us all peace, and health and some money to buy alcohol with. And some true friends who are there for you when you are sick with Covid. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Nagorno Karabakh- a proof that parallel worlds exist.


In the car journey yesterday, I was asked to explain to two teenagers why Armenia and Azerbaijan were “bombing each other”. 

I explained. But surely, one of them suggested, they just need to stop bombing each other and just go sit down with a coffee and discuss the issue? 

Funny how kids think, isn’t it. 

Well, I said…if only. 

The more comments and coverages by some incredibly biased media I see online, the more I am realizing that this conflict is not going to end that soon. I have to say, if it weren’t for the people dying on both sides, I would find the whole thing quite amusing. Because, both countries, incredibly so, have their own reality. Those two realities are like two parallel worlds in some fantasy novel, where someone lives right next to you but impossible to see or hear from your side.

The accusations coming from each side about the other are practically identical, as if two toddlers fighting with the only few bad words they know.  You are a terrorist! No, you are! 

Both Azeri president and Armenian PM, according to the other side, wanted this war to distract from their country’s economic crisis. Both sides claim they didn’t kill, didn’t bomb, didn’t violate yet another ceasefire. Both sides claim they didn’t start this war. Both claim the land is their home. Both claim the other side are “terrorists”, delusional and brainwashed by the above-mentioned government. Both claim they have control of the same regions and villages. Both sides make up some crazy stories about horrific murder scenes some cousin had personally witnessed. 

Having watched by far the worst, most hideously biased coverage of this situation I have ever come across, by Armenian Ana Kasparian, for The Young Turks, I felt furious at first. 

But then, a thought occurred to me. How is it possible, I thought, that someone could have such strong belief in their “facts”? Without at least some sort of a reason behind it? So I decided to try and understand the other side a little more.

And you know what, it isn’t that easily done. That’s why majority of comments on both sides are so stupid. Because people do not want facts. They are just following their reality. 

So I tried to investigate the main questions I was curious about. 

1.   How come Armenians believe in #Artsakh? Why do they think it is their land?

Now, having read carefully through as many unbiased documents online as possible, I realized something that I suspected all along. They feel it is theirs because Armenians actually lived there for a while. That fact seems to be true. Back in 15thcentury there were Armenian Melikdoms that ruled the area- for some time. But the reality is, the area was never really owned by anyone for too long without being taken over- again and again, either by Ottoman or Persian or the Russian empires.  

Nagorno-Karabakh was long contested by the Ottoman, Persian, and Russian Empires as part of the Caucasus Mountains”.  (https://geohistory.today/nagorno-karabakh/)

I guess it depends on how far back we want to go. In ancient times Karabakh was populated by Caucasian tribesmen who spoke a Lezgic language. Does that mean the land belongs to Lezgi people? 

My "bestie" Ana claimed in her reportage on the conflict zone, that the land was STOLEN from Armenians by Stalin and given to Azerbaijan. Well, it seems, if we go back, and like really far back, it was stolen and given to melikdoms by Persian prince at some point, only to be then “stolen” again, by Ottoman empire. 

In 1823 it was liquidated into the larger Russian Karabakh Province. Tax surveys performed by the Russians revealed that while Azerbaijanis were a majority in Karabakh—almost two-thirds in 1845—the mountainous districts were populated almost exclusively by Armenian villages. However, they did not recognize that the majority of Karabakh’s Azerbaijanis lived a nomadic lifestyle and spent their summers in the highlands of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani herdsmen’s claim to the lands of Nagorno-Karabakh is thus not reflected in these surveys, which were typically conducted during winter. https://geohistory.today/nagorno-karabakh/

See what was going on there? 

I think this is enough of history. To summarize, the land was always ruled and taken over by someone and given to someone else. Isn’t it the case usually, everywhere in the world? So what is the final word on who lived there for generations? In my humble opinion looks like both Armenians and Azeris did. And fought for the ruling of the land for what looks like, in British technical terms, donkeys’ years.

Now, all that history seems to be irrelevant however, as legally, and I am sorry it doesn’t matter why and when and who decided to “give it “ to Azerbaijan- Just because Stalin was an unpleasant dude doesn’t change the fact that the land is well, don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but is ours. Sorry, Armenia, but I, in my brainwashed state, simply cannot see how it is yours. 

2. Why are Armenians going on and on about the evil Turks and the genocide, and why are they constantly claiming there is a danger of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh, if not Armenia too? 

Now, this one is interesting. 

The other night, at a small dinner party, my husband brought up something about cultural identity and this strong feeling of belonging some nations seem to have. We were having dinner with Irish neighbors, and one of them explained her need to feel Irish. Husband, who never felt any need to feel British, suggested that perhaps it is the fact that as a Brit, he was never raised with the history of injustice towards British people. Never was taught that people could be awful to him just because he is British, and how every Brit needs this national identity to perhaps, survive all together as a nation. 

I thought husband had a good point. British people never had a particular reason to worry about being humiliated, abused, stolen from or murdered just because of their nationality

I have a Jewish friend however, who will bring up the Holocaust at any given opportunity. 

Now, Armenians remind me of the Jews in the way that they have a long history of being killed or chased away or otherwise hated and mistreated. Mostly and most famously by the Ottomans. 

So, their fear of the Turks is primal, irreversible, and unshakable. And I guess, kind of understandable. 

So, when I see some of the crazier nationalistic ones spreading legends of Azeri’s having burned Armenians alive and eaten some babushkas in Baku; and read claims that Azeris will most probably eat their babies because Turkish generals tell us to do so…. I guess I cannot simply laugh it off, however ridiculous that may sound. This is an unconditional fear, first thing every Armenian probably learns before they even learn to walk or talk, based on their history as a nation. This fear and hatred of the Turks is a huge chunk of their national identity. And this fear is, I believe what drives people like Ana Kasparian to shout from her safe and comfortable apartment in LA about dangers of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh. She is prepared to risk her reputation as a journalist to protect her tribe, at whatever cost. 



Finally, my last question or rather something that amuses me endlessly these days is 

3. Why, how is it even possible that there could be two versions of the same event and no way to simply know the truth?

For example. 

“Ha-ha! Armenians say. “Aliev keeps lying to his people that they took control of Fizuli! How many times did they take control of Fizuli? We lost count! Ha-ha!”  

But Azerbaijan did take control of Fizuli. How can that be so difficult to prove to be true?

And the Syrian mercenaries? Is that true? Or not? How do we know for sure when there is absolutely zero concrete evidence? Their bodies, according to Armenian officials, may have been eaten by wild boar, so impossible to present as evidence. 

You will say but Scary, but this is normal. This is what everyone does. Biased media is normal. Crazy stupid people with access to the internet (and ability to breed which is even more disturbing) are normal…conspiracy theories are normal…and different “facts” are normal, depending on your “side”. 

Yet…I cannot comprehend how, in our days, when allegedly we are all being spied on by the governments; and Bill Gates knows exactly how many times we shat today, and what porn turns us on….how come in this amazing modern technological world we cannot prove -even to the most stupid ones, even the most nationalistic moronic ones… that children did get murdered? Cities did get bombed? Thousands of soldiers, only marginally older than some of our own children… are probably dead? Is their national pride or whatever you want to call it so blindingly all-consuming that they refuse to accept that it is maybe possible that their side did indeed commit some pretty gruesome shit? 

Finally... 

Those Twitter images of Armenian press secretary claiming to blow up their own tanks to show us what they are capable of are probably fake. 

The stories of Azeris hiring jihadists and then not paying them which led to the annoyed jihadists sending missiles to Ganja are also probably fake. 

Finally, the fact that Turkey likes us and supports us…well, we are not sorry about that. Armenians have the US, France, Canada, Russia…(They do have Russia, right? Hard to tell at the moment) They can play the Christian religion card and get sympathy based on that fact alone. We only have Turkey. FFS, let us have at least one country who supports us! Oh, and Hungary for some random reason. Cheers, Hungary! 

So what is going to happen then? Will there ever be peace? How can Armenians ever live in Nagorno Karabakh next to Azeris? Without getting ethnically cleansed? Well, do you know how many Armenians live in Turkey right now? Around 70,000, according to Google.  Despite the Turkey-phobia. 

So yes, maybe it will be possible. They will have to learn to co-exist at some point.

But in the meantime…sadly, there wont be many coffees had between Armenians and and Azeries.  Because the stupidity of some people who continue to share fake stories and hatred online, the aggressive biased reporting by the likes of Ana Kasparian and the refusal to accept anything the other side says as possible truth…all that just takes us nowhere. 



Friday, 9 October 2020

Some thoughts on Nagorno-Karabakh and the social media.



I don't actually want to talk about whats going on right now. But I guess, I have to. 

This war...what can I say. I am very worried. 

Wars suck. People die...nasty shit happens- on both sides. 

What pisses me off the most at the moment though is that nobody seems to be able to keep a balanced view on what is happening. It seems to be impossible. To be honest, even for me is difficult. And I have always tried to be pro-peace. I have had Armenian people visiting my blog, I met journalists and bloggers who tried to work together in a hope to build a dialogue...a peaceful future. But now I see all of them  posting such utter bollocks online, that I realize...things are serious this time.

This media war is pathetic. Both sides are being pathetic with their propaganda. Truly. "Look! " Armenians write..."Azeris acting like animals! They are attacking our churches! ISIS style!!" 

Azeris in the meantime posting photos of the mosque used for pigs and cows. 

The sad thing is nobody reading our posts, except for us. And the "other" side, who gets even more infuriated by all that hateful propaganda. 



Everyone is biased. Absolutely everyone. Every expat living or ever lived in Baku is on our side. Every expat  who ever lived in Armenia is posting nasty shit against Azerbaijan. 

But, overall, in reality....nobody actually cares. Nobody

Armenians are learning it the hard way right now. It is obvious that they are shocked and offended that neither Russia nor America showed any interest in their fight. They are reminding the Western Christian world the they are Hello??? Christians!! This is not a war of just Nagorniy Karabakh, they say, is the war with islamic terrorism!!! Nice try, by the way.  They are plastering the words jihadists and ethnic cleansing all over social media. But guess what. America has its' own shit to sort out right now. And as for Russia..well, we all know Russia. They of course don't care either. Because, when it comes to serious politics, religion does not matter as much as money and oil, does it. 

Who started this war? Who cares? Who shot the first bullet this time? Who fives a fuck. Azeris are fighting to get their land back. Whats so difficult to understand. Armenians believe is their home, and won't give it up. They also are probably afraid of the ethnic cleansing in Karabakh. Not so difficult to understand either. Why this conflict is so complicated is also pretty easy to understand. 

What annoys me is the pathetic- yes, pathetic!- attempt to blame all of it on the other side and portrait yourself as the innocent and, as my old friend would call it "white and fluffy". Nobody here is particularly white or fluffy, guys. Is a war. They bombed Ganja. We bombed Stepanakert. Why is everyone so surprised? Do you know what happens at war? People get killed. Casualties happen. Churches might get destroyed. 

And, I am not an expert in politics, far from it, as you all know...But I wouldn't be surprised if what is happening is the big players, such as Turkey and Russia, having their own agenda, probably already agreed long time ago how far they would allow this to go on, how many lives would be sacrificed on both sides, until they step in and tell us OK, enough, halas as we say here in Doha. Stop fighting, children. Now, now. You have a few villages and you take a few, and calm down. 

The best thing we all could do is not post stupid propaganda trying to paint the other side as a monster. And stop sharing images of burning churches and crying children. 

Because: 

a) Nobody cares. The only people who read your propaganda is your own people. Azeris and Armenians. 

b.) We are at war. Nasty shit happens. And oh, nobody else cares. Except for us. 

c) Nobody cares. If anyone who is not Armenian or Azeri does care, it is only because they are somehow connected to either of those countries, or they happen to live there. Both sides have supporters based on that fact alone, nothing else. No "truth", no facts, nothing else matters here. And yes, religion. I mean, if you are a Christian somewhere in, I don't know...Minnesota, you probably could believe that Azeris are some scary jihadists, who want to kill all Armenians, and help recreate Ottoman Empire. Why not. If they don't know us, it would be easy to believe. 

And finally....

Nobody cares!  I cannot repeat it enough. 

You know how many western friends, other than those who lived in Baku, "liked" any of my articles about what is going on in Karabakh on Facebook? Or even read them? None. ZERO. You know how many friends asked me about Karabakh situation? Maybe three. 

This is our war, this is our land, our homes, our people. I am Azeri and of course!! I think we have been treated unfairly for years. Of course I think Armenians are taking the piss. I am particularly pissed off about their efforts to turn this into a religious war, and portray Azerbaijan with jihadist paint. And of course I think is our land and should be given back. But I also understand that if I were Armenian, I would think differently. I get that. Why is is so difficult for others to get? 

In the meantime, people are dying. Economies are getting fucked. Oh, and in case you have forgotten...Covid is still here. So yeah, nice one, 2020. Thanks very much.








Sunday, 21 June 2020

Have you posted enough black squares?



I have not written for a while, but for a change, this time it is not because I have been too busy or been feeling lazy. I just really wanted to express what I thought about the current situation in the world, without coming across as a racist. Which I suspect, is virtually impossible in the current climate. 

 

Yet, when something bothers you, and your main channel for expressing your thoughts is your personal blog…you cannot simply bury it, and talk about something else. It doesn’t work. 

 

So I know it will not be easy, but I am going to try.

 

I was watching an old interview of Morgan Freeman. I always liked Morgan Freeman. What I would like to point out here is that I am not proudly claiming that I like Morgan Freeman because he is black

 

Because right now, in the way the media is, everything turned black all of a sudden. Every advert has a black person in it. Everyone who is anyone is urgently hugging a black friend and taking a photo of it. Every single celebrity is virtue-signaling. What a great expression. Every magazine seems to be shouting: Look! Look! We have put black people on the cover! Aren’t we so Woke! Please don’t dislike us, please keep following us!

 

Is so fake. It is so forced. It is done under such aggressive, relentless pressure. 

 

It makes me feel very uncomfortable, and the fact that I cannot even explain why, makes me even more uncomfortable. I feel that this forceful feeding the world with the anti-racist stuff is going to backfire, badly. I feel it is probably creating a deeper divide based on skin colour. 

 

Which brings me back to Morgan Freeman. I like Morgan Freeman not because he is black, or not. I like him because he is a good actor. I honestly don’t care what colour he is. And, as this interview demonstrates, he thinks the same way about race issues. 

 

How do we illuminate racism? He asks. Stop talking about it.

 

In this interview, the guy asked him how he felt about the Black History month.  Morgan Freeman replied that he thought it was ridiculous. Black history is American history, he says. You want to relegate my history to one month?

 

Do you have a white history month? He asked the interviewer. No, the guy replied. I am actually Jewish! 

 

Fine, Morgan said. Do you have a Jewish history month?

 

No, says the guy. We don’t. 

 

       -Do you want one? 

-      No. I don’t.

-      I don’t either.

 

Now, I appreciate that I don’t know enough about America. I never lived there. I of course know they had serious racism issues in the past, and I am sure some of it is still present. But I also suspect it is a lot better these days. Please watch this video, where people who do know, talk about it. In a much better way than I can. 

 

I also loved this Denzel Washington’s interview about Fences. The way he said things are better. “You and I are sitting in Four Seasons. Things are better.“ And the way he said…you can’t legislate love. You can change laws, but you can’t legislate people into loving you. 

 

And that’s just exactly what I feel is happening right now, as I watch all this sudden over the top focus on black people on social media. The more obviously they do it, the less believable it becomes. I don’t believe you are fighting for racial equality if you apologize for a movie filmed years ago, loudly support some idiots defacing a statue, or simply post a photo of a black model. I think you are just doing what you are pressured to do, or feel you would, in some way, benefit from doing. And those who are racist are not going to change because you are plastering more and more photos of black faces on social media. 

 

Now, I don’t have an answer how to get rid of racism entirely, because I actually believe humans will always dislike each other for one reason or another- whether it is religion, skin colour, economic status, white privilege…you name it. Some people will always find a reason to hate. My Jewish friend is convinced Jews are hated more than anyone else. What about Muslims? You think they don’t suffer from racism these days? I would be curious to see a worldwide anonymous poll on who is most hated right now. I am sure the data collected from such research would be quite fascinating. 

 

Of course I feel appalled that anyone- no matter what colour - could have died like Floyd did. It is awful.  However, I can’t help but notice that this whole huge uncontrollable wave of protests is slowly turning into something disturbing and worrying. 

 

The fact that the media who, as my other favorite celebrity, Tim Minchin pointed out, has a “penchant for hysteria”, has gone absolutely insane with the accusations of TV shows, books and people who may not have posted quite enough supporting images of BLM, is crazy. 

 

Emma Watson got criticized for not posting enough about black lives. 

And wait, also for making some esthetic changes to the black square. Not for posting something racist. Not for posting nothing against racism. Nope. She was chastised for not posting enough, and not doing it in the correct way

 

Is that normal? Is that the way to fight racism?

 

Friends didn’t have enough diversity in it? What the actual fuck. 

 

Which TV show will be next, I wonder. Desperate Housewives I seem to recall, is very white. What about Modern Family? Sex and The City? How far will we go? Oh and by the way, SATC has a whole storyline about reverse racism in it, where Samantha was not allowed to date a black guy because his sister didn’t approve. Based on her skin colour. I am surprised that episode hasn’t been erased from the series yet. 

 

You must be realizing that the world is turning into a crazy circus. Surely, some of you must feel that when the Vogue editor apologizes for not giving enough opportunities to black editors in the past, she is just saying it because she feels she has to be quick and say something before getting attacked, or sacked? 

 

How much of what people are in a hurry to announce now is based on a genuine desire to fight injustice? How much is done because people feel they have no other choice but put some picture on Instagram? Does that not bother you? Perhaps because I grew up in a Soviet Union, a country which was built on severe censorship, forcing people to say only what they were allowed and dictated to say, this situation really worries me? I wanted all my life to escape the Soviet structure and move to live in a free speech Western country, where I expected people to be able to express their opinions- popular or not. This, now, is not really the case. 

 

It is outrageous that people should be worried that they would be labeled racist and lose their jobs if they question whether Floyd should have been turned into a martyr he got turned into, and whether he really was such a "gentle giant".  


And the fact that we live in the society where you feel you might get in serious trouble for asking questions like that is by itself, I think, is a huge problem. I do not believe that by putting everyone under all that social media pressure you can get rid of racism. You are only going to make racists hide better, but hate deeper. More violence will come, and will be met with even more violence. Where does this stop?

 

And humor…Dear god, what is happening to our sense of humor? It is being smothered by the political correctness. I posted a Chris Rock video on Facebook. I knew I would be judged for it. But it was hilarious. Moreover, I think Chris Rock was being very clever in that video, shining light on some serious issues but in a humorous, smart way. But nope. Not one, and I repeat not one person liked it. 

 

Now, lets just be honest here. Did people not comment and not like it because they didn’t think it was funny? Were they truly appalled by it? Or did they not like it because they were afraid to be judged and attacked should they dare to laugh right now, when the world is so busy going absolutely crazy? 

 

Watching Faithless concert the other night on TV, I reminded myself what normal should look like. That band, with a cool black singer, with talented white and black people working and making great music together, that’s how things should be. Natural. Not forced. And mostly, they actually are. Lets not forget that in this mass hysteria.  Meghan Markle became a princess of England. Obama became a president. Of the United States. We don’t live in 1950s. And we don’t have to humiliate and abuse all policemen, including the ones in England, burn books, or be told what to post , what to watch or what to say to prove we are not racist. 

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The unexpected shapes of hope.



I was chatting with a girlfriend in NYC whom I had not really talked to properly for many years. But these days, of course, we both have free time for zoom calls.  You know, she said, I am having one of those low days. Is difficult to stay positive, isn’t it. Some days I feel our life will never get back to normal. 

I was thinking about it afterwards. Shit, I thought. Will it ever get back to normal? 

Nobody of course knows the answer, even though everyone has an opinion. Seriously though, doesn’t everyone have an opinion on the whole Corona subject? And how strong those opinions are! Corona has become another big divider in the society. As if we needed any more. 

Just like the Conservatives think Liberals are just naïve idiots; just like those who were against Brexit thought they were intellectually superior to everyone pro. Just like anti-vaxers are disliked by...well, the rest of the world... And just like with many other things we all categorically can never agree, or even imagine how it is physically possible to have some other crazy opinion on, COVID-19 has divided the whole world even further, into very distinct groups. 

It is incredibly frustrating to suddenly realize that your little cousin believes the virus doesn’t exist, and thinks you are paranoid; and your friends share videos that to you are so painfully obviously stupid and yeah, it hurts but you know people find their own ways to cope and you try, you honestly try your best and sometimes fail, to appreciate that perhaps, just like many other beliefs that might be alien to you…it is just a way for people to escape the reality. And you have to be kind. Or at least pretend. 

Because this reality kinda sucks, to be honest. And that’s the bottom line; whatever you believe in right now, whether you think the virus was man-made in a lab in CHI-NA! Or maybe you think it doesn’t exist at all, and doctors everywhere get paid to write any random geriatric death down as caused by COVID…whatever you believe or want to believe…it still sucks as let’s face it people will loose jobs, here and there… and summer holidays aren’t happening. And neither are brunches for a while. And I appreciate my personal priorities shining right through loud and clear in that sentence, but I don’t care. I miss the brunches! 

It is easy to feel shitty right now. People are getting fed up. My colleague and a friend was hinting the other day that they had just bought a table so big that, sitting in the garden for a drink, we would totally be socially distancing. And he is definitely old enough to know better. But I am seriously tempted, of course. We are all so, so bored. 

Flying and travel will never return to normal, another friend suggested to me the other day. "Of course it will!!!" I said optimistically, sounding dangerously like Trump. "Just like that!  Like magic! You will see! It will all be fine again!"

But really, inside, I was not so convinced. I also get days when I wonder just how long this will last, whether we will lose the jobs and have no money and won't see our elderly parents. 

But then, I remember what one of the consultants I am working on a project with said the other day during our virtual workshop. It was, surprisingly, the most positive, optimistic thought I have heard during this whole pandemic period; and it came from this unexpected source, during what was meant to be a very serious discussion. It was a small group of a few very intelligent, experienced people from various countries, all stuck in their homes, miles away from each other, trying to figure out what changes were to happen; and how things would affect us and our little project.  Everyone was super serious and super important on that call. I was taking notes, not saying much. 

"You know what?' this guy suddenly said. "The only time I can think of in my whole life when things were this scary and this uncertain and our future looked extremely bleak was when we first heard about AIDS".   (At this moment, the others on the call laughed politely but not too enthusiastically, probably expecting him to stop there, but he didn’t.) 

"I remember, he said, I was a teenager. And to me the future looked dreadful then. There was no hope. We all thought we would have to stay monogamous for the rest of our lives.  We would never have sex with strangers again. But guess what? That was not the case. Here I am in Netherlands….and everything is fine and back to normal. We have coffee shops and saunas and…"

Anyway, he said. I am just saying we all might feel things changed and are there to stay this way, and the damage to the society and economy is irreparable…but, just like with AIDS, life most probably will get back to normal. It might be a new normal, as some of the changes that got propelled into happening right now might actually work really well, and we may decide we might as well keep them this way…yet things will most probably get back to normal. 

Now, I know the guy is an unusual character, an architect and is an eccentric free spirit in Netherlands. I know he is not a professor specializing in viral infections. Yet, every time I feel down, I remind myself of that story and you know what? It really does cheer me up.

Yes, AIDS was scary and horrible, people died from it and still do…and guess what, it didn’t disappear and is still here, but we learned to live with it.  Life goes on and the saunas still open in some countries… and people are not that monogamous. 

So here is to hope. And to the weekend. 

Monday, 23 March 2020

Corona Part 2- The real problem


Media is funny. I sometimes wonder if it is all directed and controlled by one secret control centre somewhere.

Have you noticed with Corona? At first they were all writing that only old people die from it. And now, have you noticed? How many articles suddenly popping up about a little girl who is on the ventilator...and a random young person, only 24...no underlying conditions...and lots more? It is almost as if they panicked, all together, and thought shit, shit! No, we didn't mean to do this, sorry!

They were the ones who spread the 'only sick and old people die, don't worry guys!' news around and now, when they saw all those stupid students who just wanna party on their spring break because they don't give a shit about anyone else, media started backpedalling, frantically. They are so obviously trying to fix their own fuck-up.

They fucked up. because:

a) Majority of people are stupid. There are people who do stupid things because you know, they are ignorant and don't know any better. But, amazingly, there are people who do stupid things even though theoretically, technically, they should have certain amount of brains. They have degrees and jobs and make good money.

Today, I was reading a discussion on one group chat. One of the fathers suggested we "stay safe" and use sanitizer to clean equipment in their small kids' playground. Another parent responded with a suggestion that that particular disinfectant was not strong enough and suggested to mix it with bleach. Wait, said another one. Bleach is harmful for the kids! Lets use Dettol! And nobody, not one of those nice, friendly, educated, western expatriate parents thought for just one moment that it makes absolutely no difference which disinfectant they use, and how often... when all their small kids (who don't have much control over keeping a distance or touching their faces, or covering their sneezing) play on top of each other for hours, all in a group.

This is the bunch of people who worry whether security guards and gardeners are all "clean". As if Corona is not something that can affect our little bubble, our western community, as long as the labour and security get regular checks. How hard is it to understand that there is little point in social distancing and closing the schools, if you then bring all those small kids to play in a park all on top of each other? Dettol away at the every centimeter of that slide five times a day, but all it takes is for one of those kids to pick the virus up from their pilot or doctor parent ( just for example...) and cough and sneeze all over those lovely clean blond children. Isn't that obvious? Clearly, not.

b) People are selfish. Terribly selfish. I don't know why everyone is so surprised at all that panic buying, at the youngsters not caring about someone else dying as long as they are okay...and people continuing to socialize and go out while that smart media keeps trying to influence them not to. You know why all those articles about young people dying now appearing all over social media? Because that is our only hope to stop those idiots. You can remind them of sick people, you can beg them to think of their parents and grandparents...You can continue posting flattening curve diagrams...They don't really care. That's the problem this world is facing, not the actual virus. You can try and post all sorts of inspirational influential cards, but they will still do what they want. Unless you change your story, and try and convince them they themselves may be lying there gasping for air, dying without a bed in ICU. That may if not stop, then slow them down a little. But only this group, the selfish one. Not the one above, who are hopeless.

So what to do you say. Well, there is only one thing that is possible and needed- a total control. A total lockdown. Thats why I have hope for the countries where the government had the balls to say you know what, you can't resist going out so I will make you stay in. You don't like it? Tough. Stay at home, you stupid selfish wanker. And stop buying so much toilet paper.

That may just work.