As you know I am in New York but what am I doing here? When people ask me where I work, I have a standardised sentence by now which is very concrete, honest and will keep them from asking any further questions:
General Assembly Hall from the outside
All memberstates flags put up every day in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Secretariat Building and my 25th floor!
“I work for the United Nations Headquarters at the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the Secretariat. Within this Department, I work for the Office of ECOSOC support and coordination (OESC) and within THAT in the NGO Branch”. Deep breath!
We knew the UN is not an easy enterprise to get into, but I did a lot about it in my studies and still admit that it probably took me still2 months of my 6-months internship to get comfortable with the diverse abbreviations, responsibilities and regulations.
So here a quick overview of the UN – in a nutshell. Behind that bureaucratic monster lies one of the most glamourous and idealistic undertakings and one of the most politicized institutions of the world.
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!
Between 30 November and 11 December this year, the leaders of the world are meeting in Paris for 21st session of the COP (Conference of Parties) to the UNFCCC, which is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Together with Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) have a special status and interest in negotiations about climate change. While SIDS are mostly threatened by a rise of water-levels due to climate change, LLDCs experience serious threats due to the melting of glaciers, their only water source. Obviously, the whole crowd of ‘stans’ is part of the latter category and Uzbekistan is together with Liechtenstein the only doubly landlocked country in the world.
While in Paris, the country representatives pledge to provide more money, commit to measurable goals etc. to manage the human-made catastrophe of climate change, there are of course also human forces that, mostly for the sake of profit, continue to work in favor of climate change, such as the Goldmining industry in Kyrgyzstan, which contaminates water resources and, together with already melting glaciers poses a threat of a flood for the country. In this post, I will address another water-related issues in Central Asia and its human origins: the Aral Sea catastrophe in Uzbekistan.
Here 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.
Unbelievably, I’m done with my Masters and thus also LonDONE (sorry for this bad pun, which is however part of an advertisement campaign in the tube…). Due to the high prices and the continuous humidity, I fled the city almost immediately after my last exam was over.
Unfortunately, due to my Masters Programme, I had little time to experience London beyond the realm of my daily trip to the centre and the rare visits by friends dragging me to the numerous street markets. However, there’s one thing that stuck to me during one of my rare exploration trips to the British Museum – I have discussed it since with friends and flatmates – Brits and non-Brits alike: the Imperial Hangover (unfortunately, a quick google search showed me that I’m not the one who invented the term after all), which allegedly led British Comedian John Oliver to say
The entire British Museum is basically an active crime scene
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!
Some time ago, I left Bishkek for a weekend and visisted Talas, where the family of a friend of mine lives. Talas region is a beautiful place in a valley in between very high mountains. It is surrounded by mountain ranges which make it hard to enter (over a pass-road from the East) but make its nature all the more remarkable:
Except for the nature there were some things that were new to me or that I had heard about but never really experienced with my own eyes and ears. It was pretty interesting so I wanna share three facts that Talas taught me: