Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The smell of sweat under the sun of the tropics - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Today I was walking by a construction site. The workers were eating and chatting their break away. I was looking at them...and do you know what? The sweat on their skin under the sun of the tropics smelled better than your corporate executive's crap!

Photo of a "work in progress" sign in Singapore, by Fabio

A better credibility

Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and many others have done something great and then won the Noble Peace Prize. Last year the Committee used a different method: as there probably wasn't any worthy candidate, they picked President Obama, the best bet they had, hoping that in the future he would do something to deserve it. The prize would definitely have a better credibility if in cases like this it were not awarded at all.

Portrait of Alfred Nobel, by Gösta Florman (PD)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Those highly-decorated paranoids

Aung San Suu Kyi was banned from running in the upcoming elections. 
Elections? They've got to be kidding...she isn't even allowed to take a walk in a city park! 
What would you expect from those highly-decorated paranoids?

Photo Aung San Suu Kyi by U.S Department of State (PD)

Friday, March 26, 2010


"Some days it feels like you've just scraped it through..."

"Few men can become as merciless as an average woman - if she wants to - can be. And with such ease!"

"Traveling for work is not really's just another type of long distance commuting."

Click here for other thoughts

Photo of a pensive man in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, by Fabio.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The source - Bangkok, Thailand

The detractors of the protest movement have pointed out that while the interminable parade was advancing through the streets of Bangkok, bringing Saturday's traffic to a standstill, the strategists of the demonstrations would have been using groups of motorbikes and cars, making them move fast in order to pop up at different locations within minutes, giving the impression of being in control of a much larger group of supporters than they actually are. Realistic, and probably true. Things like this happen everywhere: everything is fair in love and war. 
Undoubtedly though, the reds have found a source - probably not unexpected - of fresh forces in the crowds of Isan-born taxi and moto-taxi drivers. They come from the provinces of the little developed and culturally Laotian north-eastern region, the same where the majority of the demonstrators come from and the same where the sequence of parties directly or indirectly founded by Thaksin Shinawatra have harvested votes by the rice sacks. The important difference is that the taxi drivers, being already living in Bangkok, didn't have to travel for hours to reach the capital and don't have to camp for more than a week on the streets and the squares of the city center.
In the last few days I've often happened to be in a taxi, with the radio broadcasting the red leaders' speeches and a waving flag tied to the aerial outside: every time that the vehicle came across a pick-up truck full of red shirts the driver, from Ubon, Khon Kaen or Khorat, honked, greeted and if he was waiting at a traffic light, he'd open the window, say something, crack a joke and encourage the protesters. A lot of drivers did join the parade on Saturday or went to work donning a red shirt and hanging out the movement ensigns.
The protest goes on, the demonstrators went back to their camp but don't seem to be willing to retreat. The stock of green papaya hasn't run out yet. Thaksin is urging them on from Montenegro. Abhisit, the Prime minister, said that he's eager to start talks, provided that the reds' supreme chief - and the backer of the entire venture - is left out of the negotiations. Unlikely, unless some of his lieutenants opt for a sensational stabbing in the back. 
The city, curious, exasperated, amused or enraged, awaits for the next political developments.

Photo of Bangkok Tuk Tuk, by Fabio

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Excrement vs blood - Bangkok, Thailand

After having threatened to throw three different kinds of excrement (man's, woman's and of the "third sex") at some members of the government, the Reds announced that they will pour one million cc of their own blood around the Government House. 

Criticisms that have been raised can be grouped in three main areas:

- hundreds of demonstrators will have to donate blood on the streets, within a short time. Do they have the necessary equipment and trained personnel?
- hundreds liters of human blood on the ground: apart from the gruesome nature of the scene, what are the possible consequences from a sanitary point of view?
- one million cc of blood that could be donated to the city's hospitals or the Thai Red Cross: what a waste...and what an embarrassing gesture! Do they really want to make such a bad impression on the public?

Considered all this, as disgusting as it may seem, it's still much better to throw some poop!

Blood vs shit: vote for shit! 

Photo "Blood nose" by Steve Kay (CC), from flickr

Monday, March 15, 2010

The calm before the storm - Bangkok, Thailand

Sukhumvit Road on Friday night is quiet. The Saturday's crowd in Khao San Road is half as large as usual. These are two of the most popular hangout places in Bangkok: on weekends they are normally packed with hundreds of Thais and foreigners. The business loss in the area has been estimated in the hundreds million baht.
Red shirts (many of them are donning black suites and red bandannas) hang around Sanam Luang and Rachadamnoen Road. Convenience stores in the area don't sell alcohol, even before midnight. Someone buys energy drinks by the crates and distributes the small bottles among the protesters. Young men stop and chat with the foreigners, smiling, answering their questions, taking photos together. 
The Reds coming from Isan brought with them huge amounts of unripe papaya, fermented mud fish paste and chillies: they'll be able to pound som tam for a week at least. 
Sunday morning, standing on a sky-bridge over Pahonyothin Road, one can watch a parade of trucks, cars and songthaews carrying hundreds of people waving red flags. They pose in front of the cameras, cheer at the bystanders who greet and smile in return. On Monday morning a much larger procession might pass through this same road, in the opposite direction, bound to the base of the 11th Infantry regiment, where the PM Abhisit has set up his backroom.
Is this just the calm before the storm?

Photo of a Red Shirts procession in Pahonyothin Road, Bangkok, by Fabio Pulito

Friday, March 12, 2010

General feeling of paREDnoia in Bangkok

Some of the most curious pieces of news on the first day of protests in Bangkok:

A merry journey out of town: "Some members of the Shinawatra family have just left the country. According to Thaksin's legal advisor they aren't running away, as they had planned the trips in advance."

Thousands of poor people take to the streets to protect his interests and what does he decide to do? He turns stingy all of a sudden: "Protest leaders only managed to gather hundreds at each spot. A reason could be that the organizers have requested Bt500 million from Thaksin for a five-day campaign, but Thaksin cut it down by half." A government backed commission just ruled that a 46 billion baht share of Thaksin's assets must be seized."

Emergency related chauvinism: "According to the Phuket Gazette, due to the unstable situation in Bangkok and the bomb blasts reported today in Surat Thani city, foreign tourists are to be routed to the island-province of Phuket."

And the last smelly (but politically correct) gem: "A Red Shirt leader claimed that three different types of excrements will be used against Prem, Abhisit and Suthep. Men's excrements will be thrown at Abhisit, women's excrements against Suthep. And the "third sex" excrements against Prem." What a demonstration!

Photo of Red Shirt demonstrators, from the Bangkok Post

More thoughts/2

"We have to take it as it is: the heart has its reasons which reason does not know...but sometimes the heart can be such an ass!" 

"Pride, shyness and jealousy: what a deadly mix. The heart swells up, compressing the lungs, until one is not able to breathe anymore."

"I'm gonna kick your butt until you'll have to change pants size!"
"If someone thinks that a fashion event is fun...he must have never had fun in his life..."

Click here for other thoughts

Photo of a pensive man in Kashgar-Xinjiang, China, by Fabio Pulito

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Purgatory road - Bangkok > Pattaya, Thailand

In Siam there is a highway,
just one hundred miles long,
that connects the city of angels
to the land of sin.
Inexorable the Charon-bus
through steamy darkness ferries
damned souls against traffic
down Purgatory road. 
The first cries pierce the air,
flames are flaring high up,
with the angels far behind
we are heading straight to HELL! 

Photo of Pattaya's burning sky by Anaktaro (CC), from flickr

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The real mosaic - Istanbul, Turkey


Photo of olives at an Istanbul market, by Fabio Pulito

Boats like splinters thrust into the Golden Horn,
the ripples of the Bosphorus clotted by an optical rennet:
it's not a still frame or a digital shot,
but a painted landscape by a visionary vagrant.
Posing like a bantering, whimsical model,
the city looks at history that hurries, tugs and raves.
Mosques and Churches squeeze buildings and bazaars,
the pressure pushes up bell-towers and minarets.
The real mosaic is not stuck to the naves,
it's tiles of history, customs and faces.
But the complicated structure of stone and colors
is simplified from a terrace,
with black olives and tea.

Istanbul, autumn 2009

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A fruit shake in Rangoon

In a papaya science finds antioxidants and vitamins. I see the flag of a tropical country: the external stripe is yellow, with green engravings, the center is orange-red, mushy, almost rotten. And close to the pole the black of the seeds, dozens of pearls, rubbery and shiny.
Downtown in Rangoon, in the shade of the palm trees, in front of the mirrors and the fans of a teahouse, a phlegmatic Burmese is making a fruit shake. The blade slides slowly, peeling without waste. The pulp gives in without any effort: the weight of the knife seems to be enough. He throws it into a mortar, with a block of ice, and without using blades, plastic or current, he grinds it with patience, with pestle blows. 
A fruit shake in Rangoon is like the quiet street, the shade of the foliage, the colonial teahouse. It's more than a drink, of a cool spray on the afternoon: it's a throbbing atmosphere, a complete experience.

Rangoon, Burma, autumn 2002

Photo "Papaya" by Flowery Luza (CC), from flickr

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


"I would be one of those adults who behave like an insecure teenager...if I were not already an insecure teenager..."

"Somebody said that women are dreamy, fanciful, emotional, while men are coolheaded, matter-of-fact, resolute. What a gross blunder: it's the other way around."

"Some days it would just be better to wake up the next morning."

Click here for other thoughts

Photo "Thinking RFID" by Jacob Bøtter (CC), from flickr