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months ago, the US-economist Jeremy Rifkin published his newest book, in which he predicts the end of capitalism as an outdated form loosing power to the “Sharing Economy”.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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“Find permit A38” – trapped in Kyrgyz bureaucracy

Bureaucracy illustration with Max Weber and Franz Kafka by: Harald Groven (flickr)

Bureaucracy illustration with Max Weber and Franz Kafka by: Harald Groven (flickr)

I enter the building for the fifth time in two weeks. I know now where to head. I carry my passport in my hand, passing  by the queue of people sitting at the table and filling out documents. The woman in line before me is almost crying: “… but he is studying here. He has all the documents to study, he already started!” Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month. I cannot extend it”. The first woman: “But you cannot finish studying in a month. He will miss the exams. He will fail the exams”. Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month.” The woman turns around and addresses the person she’s been arguing for. He shruggs, she sighs and both of them have to leave the room. I’m next. I’m nervous. I will ask for the director, I will try to find clear answers. I know I won’t get them from only-one-month-permit-lady but she is my starting point into a lot of trouble. I hand over my passport – and wait for the trouble to start.Visit visa-free  Kyrgyzstan!

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Mens sana in corpore sano – stories about the Kyrgyz health care system

Everyone is talking about health care these days. The US government was shut down due to trouble with the Tea Party Republicans about the health reform “Obamacare”. Okay, it’s basically two different things – the US household and Obamacare – but you see: one can link anything to health (or anything else that suits the Conservatives)…

Anyway, recently random American people were asked about their preferences regarding the health care system and didn’t know that there is no difference between the affordable health care act and its nickname “Obamacare”. See the video here. Still, I guess we shouldn’t be too ready to make fun of them (like we Europeans often are), because, I, being asked about the health care system in my country, probably couldn’t explain how it works in detail either. And if we don’t know about our own country, what then about other countries we have been to due to globalization?

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Abandoned health care. A surgery room in an old hospital in Beelitz, not far from Berlin. (pic by Grabthar – flickr)

Recently, I’ve had the unwanted opportunity to get in touch with the Kyrgyz health care system and made some research about it additionally. Of course my experiences (in italic) are not to represent the system but only picture the tiny impression I could get during one week of coping with labs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists of the Kyrgyz Republic. So here’s what I learned:

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