New York Squirrels

Even though, New York (especially Manhattan) doesn’t have too much green space, of course you can find squirrels everywhere (a friend of mine called them New York’s rats of the trees – a rather unflattering account, I think)! The squirrels I found most amusing were jumping around in Central Park!

For everyone who’s wondering about why I post so many squirrels on my blog, click here.

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New York, New York – impressions

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Voilà, I fled London due to crazy high prices, just to end up in another of the world’s most expensive cities: New York. I’ve been living here for a while now but there are still some things that surprise me (after all it’s my first time on this continent). So in good old tradition with my ‘Impressions’ posts about Bishkek: here some impressions from New York City!

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London East End – Oranges and Lemons

IMG_29622.JPGHere comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

This English nursery rhyme is part of the famous novel 1984 by George Orwell. It is also a depiction of historical life in the East End of London, both known for Jack the Ripper’s murders and Charles Dicken’s stories, where I have lived during the past year. Much has been written about it and I definitely do by no means claim to be an expert on the history or the present of the area, but I wanted to give the interested reader a glimpse into what I learned about the neighbourhood during my all too short time there.

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London crisis – or: from post-communism to pure capitalism!

Some months ago, the US-economist Jeremy Rifkin published his newest book, in which he predicts the end of capitalism as an outdated form loosing power to the “Sharing Economy”. This model, as opposed to capitalist system of reducing marginal costs as far as possible for competition means, is based on zero marginal costs in society in many different aspects. I have not yet read the book (for more details click here) but have heard of similar models.

As nice as they sound (although of course every model bears their own problems), they are hard to believe in if you are currently living in Europe’s most capitalist city: LONDON!

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Bishkek impressions (2) Two months later – monthly update

Just coming back from Uzbekistan might be the bestIMG_2616 time to give you an update about my personal impressions, highlights and disappointments in my time abroad, since right now I have another external view on the country (contrasting it with its neighbour) and at the same time just realized how I already felt like coming back home when crossing the border on foot and seeing the red national flag…

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To eat or not to eat (2) – Ramadan

mosque

Mosque in Issyk-Kul region with obligatory aluminium ribbed roof

As I already mentioned in previous posts (see ByeBye MZB), the main religion in Kyrgyzstan with about 75% followers is Islam (followed by 25% Russian Orthodox). When I arrived in Bishkek, Ramadan was already about to begin. As you will probably know, Ramadan (Рамадан or Рамазан) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and an entire month of fasting.  This year it coincided with the hottest time of midsummer. Interestingly in Central Asia, the exact days can vary in the different countries depending on the decisions of the муфтияти (Muftiates – special Islamic commissions or Spiritual Boards) that are responsible for the religious administration of a certain region and were installed already under Tsarist rule. In Kyrgyzstan this year fasting time (пост) began in the night from July 8 to July 9 and lasted till August 8. In short, Ramadan is about celebrating the time when Mohammed received the word of the Qur’an. Therefore, following Qur’an, all Muslim people should fast during this month (except for sick or elder persons, children, pregnant women, fighting soldiers and travelers), which means they are not allowed to drink, smoke, eat or have sex during day time. Every evening, the day is closed with breaking the fast – mostly this includes eating a lot and inviting neighbors (unfortunately my neighbors apparently weren’t following as we only shared cigarettes during day time ;-)) and relatives.

So, in the beginning of July, I was totally prepared for shops being closed due to Ramadan because people shorten their working days to have more time to concentrate on their religious duties. I was also ready to stop drinking on the streets in order to not offend people or disturb their fasting. But then – surprise: in Bishkek I almost didn’t notice Ramadan at all. Continue reading