Hindu fundamentalism — you’d think it’d be an oxymoron: “India’s Opposition Leader Sweeps Into Power”

16 May

The news from everywhere just keeps getting worse — more fundamentalists, reactionaries and racist crazies to deal with.

INDIA_ss-slide-2QNG-superJumboPeople took photographs of a map of India with a portrait of Narendra Modi on Friday in Gandhinagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Saurabh Das/Associated Press (click)

From The New York Times:

“Narendra Modi Prevails in Election”

“The elections came during a period of rapid transition in Indian society, as urbanization and economic growth break down generations-old voting patterns. With his conservative ideology and steely style of leadership, Mr. Modi, who came from a humble background and rose through the ranks of a Hindu nationalist group, will prove a stark departure from his predecessors in that office….

“But his reputation also worries many people. He is blamed by many of India’s Muslims for failing to stop bloody religious riots that raged through his home state in 2002, leaving more than 1,000 people dead. Others fear he will try to quash dissent and centralize authority in a capital that has long been dominated by the Indian National Congress and the liberal internationalists who support it.”


“Some Muslims React Warily to Hindu Party’s Victory in India”


“Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?”

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

“Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, job rejections and turned-down loans that are part of living in India for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination by a Hindu majority a key reason why. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

“Now, in the wake of a landslide electoral triumph Friday by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, some Muslims here said they are worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous…”

“But that is exactly why Mr. Modi is such a poor choice as prime minister, said Siddharth Varadarajan, the former editor of The Hindu, a leading Indian newspaper. Many among India’s liberal intelligentsia see Mr. Modi as a threat to India’s secularism, which is enshrined in its Constitution. It is a defining characteristic that distinguishes India from Pakistan and binds a nation of extraordinary diversity.

“Many of the things that are evil about India are not going to find their solution with Mr. Modi,” Mr. Varadarajan said. “If anything, they’ll get worse.'”


Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com


This photo is effing disgusting…

16 May

turkey-coalAbove: A man identified by Turkish media as Yusuf Yerkel, an adviser to Prime Minister Erdoğan, kicks a protester in the mining town of Soma, Turkey. Photograph by Depo Photos/AP.

I’ve been masochistically looking at it all day and it just sums all of us up so perfectly.  ALL OF US.  From Petersburg to Chania and from Zagreb to Dacca.  The young technocrat in the nice suit and tie — probably an IPhone, a tablet in his BMW — acting like an animal.  You can take the boy out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the boy.

“YouTube yok…” is only funny in Greek.

16 May

I thought I needed to explain because some people asked…

“Yok” in Turkish just means “there isn’t” or “there isn’t any” as opposed to “var” which means “there is” and it’s often used as a more informal way of saying “no” than the, I guess, more formal “hayır.”

But to Greek ears the word has a particularly Turkish tone of finality and even thickheadedness about it.  That’s it.  Yok.  Don’t even bother.  Don’t even try.  Like with a donkey that’s sat down in the middle of the road and just is not getting up again till it feels like.  It’s not happening.

These things aren’t meant to offend anybody and it may seem like the waste of a post to explain it.  But little details like this often add up to a bigger picture of how people — for either better or worse — see each other.  In this case, it is true that Erdoğan‘s stupid intransigence on so many issues strikes many Greeks as particularly Turkish.

For Greeks, there’s never a final word in any discussion, partly because we just love listening to ourselves.

But a Turkish “yok” is The End.



Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com


Turkey’s Coal Problem — the photo and: “Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time,” the prime minister said.

15 May

From The New Yorker:

turkey-coalAbove: A man identified by Turkish media as Yusuf Yerkel, an adviser to Prime Minister Erdoğan, kicks a protester in the mining town of Soma, Turkey. Photograph by Depo Photos/AP.

May 15, 2014

Turkey’s Coal Problem

“And Novak breaks back, not unexpected…”

14 May


From the Bleacher Report:

“The fact that Djokovic had to work for the win was actually a positive in that it forced him to dig deep and get back in the swing of things. [My emphasis]  Now the Djoker will be faced with the challenge of progressing in the Rome Masters and getting properly prepared for the French Open.”


Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com


Welcome to C-town: Tear gas in the Staurodromi…and a dedication: “In Spite of You…”

14 May

Galatasaray Lisesi gatesGalatasaray Lycée gates

Today, I had my first experience of tear gas.  A demonstration that, like most, was perfectly peaceful, started, like most, in the center of Pera, where the Jadde meets the Yeni Çarşı Caddesi and the Meşrutiyet Caddesi to the form the crossroads that the local Greeks used to call just that — το Σταυροδρόμι — the “Crossroads.”  If Pera was/is the center of the city, this was/is, despite everything, the center of Pera.  Here’s an old pic, the gates of the Lycée on the right:



Pera: the large lot at the corner of the İstikal Caddesi and the Yeni Çarşı Caddesi in the lower-left-hand quadrant of the map, just before the İstikal bends a little to the south, is the beautiful Galatasaray campus at the “Crossroads.” (click)

This started out as a quiet sit-down demonstration about the tragic mining accident: “245 Dead and 200 Missing in Turkish Mine Disaster “(NYTimes, May 2014).  I’m in no position to tell whether the accident was the government’s fault or its response criminally ineffective as most people here seem to think, but it does kind of sound like one of those acts of God that a people angry at their government are just looking for as a club to use against an unpopular regime.  If the mining accident wasn’t in any way the government’s fault though, what’s now become the conventional way to break up these demonstrations was: setting up a cordon of armored vehicles around some quiet twenty-somethings and then finally disbanding them with tear gas and water-hoses and helicopters — for pure intimidation’s sake: “shock and awe” — just, stupidly, gives the demonstrators exactly what they want.  It’s inexcusable.  The demonstrations seem to have become weekly events (below) and Erdoğan seems to think he’s showing us all his magandalık by acting like he doesn’t care or dismissing them as works of subversives trying to make Turkey look bad.  (See his comments in The New Yorker article by Jenna Krajeski, “Turkey’s Coal Problem.”)  I’ve never seen a bunch of kids who seem to love their country more.

Protester, with cream applied to his face to protect against tear gas, reacts during a May Day demonstration in Istanbul A protester, with cream applied to his face to protect against tear gas, reacts during a May Day demonstration in Istanbul May 1, 2014. (Ümit Bektaş/Reuters)

Here I was all happy on this trip that I had found a place to rent literally fifty meters from the Staurodromi, and instead getting home tonight involved passing through the thick of the left-over tear gas cloud and tires burning outside the door.  The tear gas was, not so much a more painful, but much more panic-inducing a feeling than I had imagined it could be.

Here’s a dedication I want to make to Tayyip Bey, Brazilian cultural super-hero Chico Buarque’s 1970 “A pesar de você” — “in spite of you.”  The story of the song, from Lyrical Brazil:

“After spending approximately a year in Italy in exile from Brazil’s military dictatorship,  Chico Buarque returned to Brazil in 1970 and met with a rigid censorship machine — a result of Ato Institucional V, which institutionalized the pre-release censorship process.

“In an interview in September 1971, Chico lamented, “Of every three songs I write, two are censored. After being censored so much, something troubling is happening with me: I’m beginning to self-censor, and that is terrible.”

“The censors had grown particularly harsh with Chico after their inadvertent release of his thinly veiled protest anthem “Apesar de você.”

“Chico wrote and released “Apesar de você” as a single in 1970. The censors initially approved the song and it became a quick hit on the radio. As the song became popular, rumors spread that it was dedicated specifically to general Médici, who served as president from 1969 – 1974.(Chico says the “you” in the song actually referred to the entire system.) To the censors, Chico argued that he had written the song for a rooster that mistakenly believed that the day only broke as a result of his song, until one night when the rooster lost track of time and realized that day broke in spite of him. Unconvinced, the censors banned the song and punished those who had let it through.

“After the song was banned, Chico says he received the treatment of a traitor who had attempted to dupe the censors.  As a result, he faced even more stringent censorship. “Apesar de você” was re-approved and re-released on the album Chico Buarque (Samambaia) in 1978, as the government began a gradual political liberalization process during Ernesto Geisel’s presidency.”

The clenched-teeth rage of this song — “you’ll pay me back with interest” — behind the sweet samba beat and Buarque’s soft Rio accent always moved me enormously.  And the image of the rooster who thinks the day breaks because of his crowing is beautifully Erdoğan-ish.


And here’s a “non”-video version with much better sound:



The lyrics:

Tomorrow will be another day…

Today, you’re the one who calls the shots
I said it, it’s been said,
There’s no talking about it, nope.
My people walk around today
Speaking to the side and looking down at the ground

You, who invented this State,
Invented by inventing
All this darkness
You who invented this sin
You’ve forgotten to invent forgiveness

In spite of you
Tomorrow will be another day
Where are you going to hide
From the great euphoria?
How will you prohibit it,
If the rooster insists on crowing?
New water bursting forth,
And our people loving one another, without stopping

When the moment arrives
This suffering of mine
I’m going to charge you for with interest, I swear
All this repressed love,
This scream contained
This samba in the dark.

You who invented this sadness
Now be so kind as to “disinvent” it
You’re going to pay – and doubled
Every tear that rolled
In this anguish of mine

In spite of you
Tomorrow will be another day
I will pay to see
The garden that you tried to stop from blooming.

You’ll end up choked in bitterness
Seeing the day break
Without asking your permission.
And I’m going to die of laughter
And that day is bound to come
Sooner than you think
In spite of you

In spite of you
Tomorrow will be another day
You will have to see
The morning reborn
Gushing poetry

How will you explain to yourself
Seeing the sky clear, without your permisson, suddenly
and with impunity?

How are you going to stifle
Our chorus singing
Right in front of you
In spite of you

In spite of you
Tomorrow is going to be another day
You’re going to to be out of luck
Etcetera and so on
La la-ya, la la-ya, la….


Hoje você é quem manda
Falou, tá falado
Não tem discussão
A minha gente hoje anda
Falando de lado
E olhando pro chão, viuVocê que inventou esse estado
E inventou de inventar
Toda a escuridão
Você que inventou o pecado
Esqueceu-se de inventar
O perdãoApesar de você
Amanhã há de ser
Outro dia
Eu pergunto a você
Onde vai se esconder
Da enorme euforia
Como vai proibir
Quando o galo insistir
Em cantar
Água nova brotando
E a gente se amando
Sem pararQuando chegar o momento
Esse meu sofrimento
Vou cobrar com juros, juro
Todo esse amor reprimido
Esse grito contido
Este samba no escuroVocê que inventou a tristeza
Ora, tenha a fineza
De desinventar
Você vai pagar e é dobrado
Cada lágrima rolada
Nesse meu penarApesar de você
Amanhã há de ser
Outro dia
Inda pago pra ver
O jardim florescer
Qual você não queria
Você vai se amargar
Vendo o dia raiar
Sem lhe pedir licença
E eu vou morrer de rir
Que esse dia há de vir
Antes do que você pensaApesar de você
Amanhã há de ser
Outro dia
Você vai ter que ver
A manhã renascer
E esbanjar poesia
Como vai se explicar
Vendo o céu clarear
De repente, impunemente
Como vai abafar
Nosso coro a cantar
Na sua frenteApesar de você
Amanhã há de ser
Outro dia
Você vai se dar mal
Etc. e tal
Lá lá lá lá lai-
Will be back for more post-Balkans trip coverage soon.  NB.

Welcome to Turkey: “YouTube yok.”

13 May

Bu internet sitesi (youtube.com) hakkında 5651 sayılı kanunun 8. Madde 1. fıkra (b) bendi ve 4. fıkrası uyarınca Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı tarafından İDARİ TEDBİR uygulanmaktadır.

(The ADMINISTRATION MEASURE which has been taken for this website (youtube.com) based on the subparagraph 4 and 1/b of article 8 of Law Nr. 5651 has been implemented by “Telecommunications Communication Presidency”.)

http://www.tib.gov.tr | http://www.guvenlinet.org | http://www.ihbarweb.org.tr *


So, it’s going to be awhile before you get my next posts, many of which were based on videos I wanted to put up….and which took me hours of trouble to compress into a format that would’ve been  useable.

The man’s losing it — which might be the sign of a close exit or a loooooong hot summer.



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