Sunday Shot – No Comment


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Foto Friday – Black & White


MB saw this guy sitting across the street, as MB sipped a beer outside a cafe in Istanbul, March 2015.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Atop


Atop.

For 900 years, since the middle of the 6th century approx, the Hagia Sophia Greek Orthodox Bassicila in Istanbul (known as the Ayasofia in Turkish) was the largest cathedral in the Christian world – atop the pile, so to speak. It then became a Mosque for 500 years, until it was converted into a museum in 1935 by a secular Turkish government. Its dome roof is still studied by architectural and engineering students worldwide, and it was a groundbreaking structure in its day, and even beyond.

If you follow Turkish politics in more recent times, then you will be aware that the Hagie Sophia has become one of the meats (there are many) in the internal Turkish conflict sandwich. There is much demand from Islamists that it reconverts to a Mosque, and in recent months a Muslim performed Islamic prayer on the floor of the building. There are also some other smaller buildings with the same name, but in different towns in Turkey, which are also the similar targets of the Islamic brothers. To the best of MB’s knowledge, some have already fallen.

Prime Minister Erdogan is a master fox in the overall political scheme of things, playing and relying very much on the less educated strands of society, who are also more prone to the urgings of the Muslim Imams. Turkish politics are in a huge state of flux at present, and it remains to be seen which way Erdogan will eventually go on this Hagia Sophia matter. If he wins the constitutional election next month, he will become an all-powerful President, and may very well not bother too much with this issue thereafter. Inshallah.

MB is now thinking back to a conversation he had a few short years back with a young Istanbul tourist guide who had taken part in the mass demonstrations in Taksim Square/Gezi Park of 2013. There were multiple groups involved in the protests and many seemed to have different agendas. MB’s young Turkish friend explained that all the groups, albeit from different strands of society, had one common bond. They did not want any further Islamisation of Turkey.

MB recently discussed this point with a Turkish friend in Qatar. He was of the opinion, given recent history and particularly the fact that Erdogan has used the recent military coup attempt to castrate the more secular opposition to his government, it will only be a few short years before Turkey becomes akin to Saudi Arabia in many Islamic respects. MB spent two years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, (2012 to 2014) and has visited Istanbul multiple times so he can speak with a little authority on the subject. Suffice it to say, that many, if not the majority, in Saudi Arabia wish they could have what Turkey presently enjoys in terms of social life and culture. It’s sad, to put it mildly, that Erdogan should be taking his people in the opposite direction.

OK! MB knows this is just a Weekly Photo Challenge post, but he recently thought of posting something on the current Turkish situation. Today’s theme just opened the door, and MB decided to walk right in!

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Turkey


Less than 24 hours ago, the bridges over the Bosphorus Straits were closed by Turkish army units who were attempted a coup. The coup failed. For medium-term or longer-term impacts we must wait and see. MB is no fan of Erdogan, but he does not support any coup.

MB has traveled to Istanbul a number of times in recent years and took many shots of the Bosphorus and its bridges. Herewith:

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Dinnertime


Dinnertime

On receiving this week’s Photo Challenge from Michelle at the WordPress website, MB started a trawl through his photo library for something suitable. He came across a really nice shot of some street pigeons eating bread crusts on a footpath in front of Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland. It would have got lots of ‘likes’. He came across another cutie shot of a monkey in a forest park in Goa, India, eating a banana while holding her baby. For sure many ‘likes’ would have clocked up. There were many others that would equally have brought smiles to the faces of observers.

Then MB came to some pics he took in Istanbul on his last visit to that city in the Spring of 2015. And he saw some pics of Syrian refugees begging on the streets so that they might enjoy some occasional food, ‘dinnertime’ being a long forgotten concept. And but for the generosity of passers-by, which obviously fluctuates up and down, even ‘occasional food’ becomes even more occasional.

Turkey has some 2M Syrian war refugees at this stage. The refugee camps are places of horror, and hence many refugees prefer the indignity and awfulness of begging on the streets of the major Turkish cities, in all weather conditions, in preference.

The EU has recently promised Turkey some USD 3B to cater more easily with the refugee influx, but more critically from an EU point of view, to stop the refugee tide flowing into Europe from the Turkish mainland. A Turkish friend said to MB recently that we can expect about 10% of the cash to go to the migrants and about 90% to be syphoned off by Prime Minister Erdogan and his cronies. If you know anything of Turkish politics then you will know that such predictions mightn’t be too far off the mark. Incidentally, a Syrian acquaintance of MB’s in Doha, hailed the re-election of Erdogan some months back as “a great day for Islam“. MB nearly wept on hearing. Erdogan wraps himself in the Islamic flag for sure and plays the Islamic card very well. It doesn’t surprise MB one little bit that Erdogan’s major support base comes from the lesser educated sectors of the Turkish population.

And so MB comes to the end of his ‘preachy’ introduction to this weeks photo challenge. Please forgive the departure from the more pleasant norm. A little commentary follows on each of the pics.

MB is not expecting many likes!

The angelic faces of the two babies caught MB’s attention in particular. The shot was taken in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist area, approx 100m from the famous Blue Mosque and other iconic Istanbul attractions. A grotesque contrast if ever MB saw one.

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This is not a nice photo, in the sense that it doesn’t convey anything nice. In fact it is very un-nice. MB is sure that when this young couple got married only a few years back, the world seemed full of great promise and all things good. Then their country and their region were engulfed in war. MB noticed that the father never lifted his eyes from the downward direction. He would raise his hand to beg money on hearing passers-by get close or on seeing their feet, but the shame of his new found refugee/begger status didn’t allow him to look strangers in the eye. The look on his wife face is even worse, and speaks a thousand words and more of her new-found situation also. To say that she is beginning to look more animal than human is not an exaggeration. What a world we live in.

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The awful irony of this photo is that the two signs behind this hungry mother and child refugee beggar duo, on a hot Istanbul street, are advertising health supplements in the adjoining shop.  The mother has positioned herself and child in the shadow of the tree trunk to avoid the sun’s heat and allow her child to get some easier sleep. She would raise her hand to passers-by for donations.

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Church of the Holy Saviour at Chora, Istanbul (2)


Post of yesterday featured a photo from the old Byzantine Church at Chora, Istanbul. Today it’s a museum called Kariye. MB took many photos during his visit in March 2015 and decided to share some of

MB took many photos during his visit in March 2015. The following are some of the more interesting shots, both from within the church and externally in the church grounds.

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Happy Easter


A fresco at the Church of the Holy Saviour at Chora, Istanbul.

The Greek Orthodox church (& frescos) at Chora, in the Fathi district of the city, dates from approximately 1,300AD, but a number of churches have stood on the site since the 5th century. MB’s shot dates from a March 2015 visit to Istanbul.

Happy Easter to all.

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Suicide Bombing – Istanbul – Istiklal St


On a day that has witnessed primitive evil savagery in Brussels at the hands of misguided brainwashed low-intellect individuals, MB wants to mention last week’s attack in Istanbul. Read More

Photo Story – 5 of 7


Istanbul is the most interesting city that MB has visited. Half the city lies in Europe and half in Asia. It has a wealth of history that rivals or betters most cities in the world and is a fascinating place to visit and wander about. Most visitors go to the old town to see the ancient walls of the city, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum, the underground water cistern, or to take boat rides on the Bosphorus sea straights which divides the city into its two halves.

Taksim Square on the Asian side of the city is also a place of tourist pilgrimage for many visitors, partly due to the large scale street protests that took place there in recent years. There were many conflicting stories in the media at the time about what exactly the numerous groups who took part in the protests actually wanted. The protests started in the first instance as an attempt to stop the demolition of some trees in a park adjoining the square for the erection of an office block. Then they turned into anti-Government protests against various proposed laws. MB spoke to a young Turkish tour guide who took part in the protests during one of his visits to Istanbul who confirmed that many people had different agendas at the protests, but the one factor galvanising them all was a desire to stop the further Islamisation of Turkey.

Nowadays the Square’s majority occupants are the pigeons who swoop down in large numbers to eat the monkey nuts scattered by the tourists, who purchase the nuts from the street sellers. If you ever have to good luck to get to Istanbul, and get to wander around the square, take a walk down Istiklal Street (translates as ‘Independence Street’) which starts at the corner of the square just behind the monument, and which is the primary shopping street in the city. It’s about one mile long and has a great array of shops, food to die for, and many street entertainers.

MB gives you one of his shots of Istiklal Street to give a flavour:

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Photo Story – 2 of 7


The War in Syria has created some 10M refugees from a total population of 23M. Approx 6.5M are internally displaced and some 3.5M have fled the country. Millions of houses and apartments are now reduced to rubble. 250,000 to 300,000 people have died as a result of the extremely complicated civil war war which has many participating actors. More than the combined dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Read More

Turkey – Election Colour


Istanbul recently. Was much taken with the colourful flags that political parties hang in the streets throughout their strongholds. Took the following shots on my Samsung phone.  Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Intricate


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Church of the Holy Saviour at Chora, Istanbul. Visitors view the famous intricate ceilings frescos.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Blur


MB doesn’t do ‘blurry‘. MB’s pics are razor sharp. You could cut your finger on an MB pic by the merest of touches. Touch at your peril!

However, MB has a number of paintings photos that he has never before released to the general donkeys public. He has kept them under wraps – until now that is – on account of fact he didn’t really want to start a collapse in the world art markets as everyone threw their Monets & Van Goghs into their rubbish bins and flocked to the auctions houses that were lucky enough to negotiate sales contracts with MB. Too many jobs depend!

Anyway. Here’s MB submission this week. It’s called – Istanbul. An impression.

Click to enlarge:

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Taksim Square


MB wrapped his cold hands ’round a cup of hot coffee. In a cozy coffee shop overlooking Taksim Square.

He munched on a slice Turkish cake sitting by a window on the upper floor. There are so many Turkish cakes. And Turkish goodies of so many sorts they are like the stars in the heavens. MB finished his cake and wandered outside, cup in hand. He stood on the narrow balcony to view the sights below. The square spread out from MB’s coffee-drinking vantage point where visitors and locals alike enjoyed the open spaces of the famous square.

An elderly lady sells bird seed for peanuts to those who might like to fed the pigeons. In Taksim there are so many pigeons. More pigeons than people. The pigeons enjoy the free food. It’s far better that scavenging for a living like pigeons in other parts of Istanbul. If MB was a Turkish pigeon he would like to live in Taksim. He would not like to live in low pigeon-income locations having to scrimp and scrape day in day out.

MB likes to take pics. He didn’t have his camera at Taksim. But he had his iPad-mini gadget and gave it a go.

Next week MB will be taking himself to Panjim on the Mandovi river estuary. He will say hello to Vasco De Gama and also get to meet St Francis Xavier in the flesh. Even though SFX died in December 1552. No kidding.

But in the interim here’s a few of MB’s iPad shots from Taksim:

  

                

Refugees


At end of 2014 the number of forcibly displaced people in the world was estimated by the UN to be over 50M. The highest number since WW2. Africa, as ever, is one of the race leaders. But in the last 4 or 5 years it’s Syria that’s won the gold medal. 0.25M or thereabouts dead as dodos. Some 2.5 to 3M have fled the country and some 6.5M people are displaced within the country itself. A huge proportion of the countries housing stock is totally destroyed. Read More