Archive for the English Category

Basque Limbo

Posted in Basque, English with tags on 2016-03-03 by candycactus


Although the violent conflict in Basque country is over, the peace is not there yet. This article reviews the recent history and reflects the current  situation in the Basque country.

The presence of police in Berlin’s streets these days was stronger than usual. Several German citizens were killed in Istanbul in January. So, taking a plane to Bilbao felt like heading to a safest and most quiet place in Europe, far from news concerning terrorism or refugees, the latter occupying a lot of public minds in Germany. Basque country now seems like a quiet paradise for surfers and occasional French tourists indulging into the Basque miniature culinary delights known as ‘pintxo’s. The landscape of rolling hills, generous views of the Cantabrian sea so as the pilgrims passing by on their route to Santiago de Compostela serve almost as a disguise, covering up the bloody past and the twisted present of these places. What an irony, I thought. The place that used to be known for the longest persevering armed conflict in Europe now becomes quieter than any other place in Europe. Reading news about Spain one would find out more about Catalans and their strife for independence, but not about the Basque country. As if it would be a strange conspiracy punishing the former ‘enfant terrible’ of Spain depriving it now of attention.tWhat used to be general Franco’s summer palace, almost four decades after his death served as a venue for a conference that would mark the end of the violent conflict in the Basque country that lasted 50 years. Short after carefully staged international conference held in San Sebastian in the palace of Aiete 2011 with the presence of the prominent international figures such as Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Gerry Adams, ETA delivered BBC a video recording, in which figures dressed in a variation of a ku-klux-klan fashion sporting black Basque berets declared a definitive ceasefire. In the video you could hear a decisive female voice reading a text in Basque, stating ETA’s commitment to find a democratic solution to the conflict. “In its commitment to a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations, ETA is prepared today as yesterday to agree to the minimum democratic conditions necessary to put in motion a democratic process, if the Spanish government is willing.”

If there were ceasefires before, this time it was for real – a definitive one. So, the armed conflict is over. ETA is not more. But the peace is not there yet. So what then?

Basques are one of the most enigmatic nations of Europe. A lot of evidence suggest, that the ancestors of Basques must have been there before anybody else arrived. Euskera is a pre-indo-european language featuring most prominently ergative form (An article in Wikipedia explains it like this: for instance, instead of saying “she moved” and “I moved her”, speakers of an ergative language would say the equivalent of “she moved” and “by me moved she”.)

There have been various hypothesis linking it to the languages of the Caucasus, in particular with Armenian, however none of them could be proved. So, in this regard Euskera must be one of the oldest and most intriguing languages of Europe. However, instead of being celebrated and acknowledged as such, in the European context it is almost unknown and totally marginalized until today.

Although Basque history predates any other nation in Europe, in order to understand current events it is enough to reflect the their history of the past century. Picasso’s painting ‘Guernica’ can serve as an emotional starting point that depicts the suffering of the recent past. During the Spanish Civil War in 1937 Guernica, the former capital of the Basque country was bombed by Nazis in co-operation with Franco, causing a tremendous wound in the national psyche of Basques. Nazis were defeated. However, Franco stayed not least because of the help of American government in power until 1975, his phantom legacy extending until now.

During the years of the Franco regime, for saying  ‘agur’ (hello) in the street, you could end up in the prison. Children were punished harshly for using Euskera and would be made to talk in “christian” (‘hablame en cristiano’ meaning  ‘talk to me in christian’, would be a usual phrase to undermine any attempts to speak Basque and impose Spanish). Although the situation for the language got much better after Franco’s death in 1975 and after however Euskera has been facing further challenges. It has been mocked harshly in the Spanish press since long time. Juan Mari Torrealdai, a Basque intellectual collected excerpts from various statements of the Spanish journalists about the Basque language from the Spanish press and published them 1998 in a book “Libro Negro de Euskera” (The Black Book of Euskera). The book contains pejorative statements of Spanish journalists about the ‘primitive’ and ‘limited’ nature of Euskera. With my Lithuanian background I thought it was rather remarkable – I could not imagine any of these statements referring to Lithuanian language during the Soviet era. Despite the political oppression language was never a target of humiliation. But in Basque case it was and is in a very extreme way.

I thought it would be interesting to meet Juan Mari Torrealdai and find out what he might have collected after 1998. Did the style or attitude towards Basque language in the Spanish public sphere change since 1998? I found out that now 73 year old Juan Mari was imprisoned, tortured and currently is suffering from cancer that has a clear connection to the torture he had endured. I did not meet him finally due to his advanced stage of illness.

This is just one example of what seems to be usual destiny in the Basque country. Basque population must have the highest rate of prison experience in Europe. Nowhere else I met so many people who have been through prison and torture as in the Basque country. One would want to believe that people deprived of freedom somehow deserve it. But the people I encountered were exceptionally far from any image of a terrorist or criminal. Intellectual, somebody who happened to be working in a bar frequented by nationalists, the choice of the authorities often looks just random etc. The practice of the Spanish government is as follows – the person would be put into prison as a suspect. The suspect would spend a year or more in the harshest first grade prison level before facing charges. Later the charges would be dropped and the person released without any trial. Several cases have been brought successfully to the European Court of Justice, however the Spanish Government ignores the decisions of the court and refuses to pay compensation for their ‘mistakes’. Spanish government has been criticized and warned on various occasions in UN concerning the incompatibility of their application of law with human rights.

During the government of the conservative Partido Popular 1996 – 2004 José María Aznar released a set of special laws for the Basque country that were meant to combat terrorism. The adjustment would have as a consequence for example differences in interpretation of the law depending on where the crime was committed. It might cost you 12 years of prison if you would happen to burn a trash bin in Pamplona, whereas just some kilometers away in Logroño you might get away with a fine of 300 EUR.

Although ETA seized its activity, the Spanish Government insists on keeping special laws to combat terrorism introduced during that era. One of them is a deliberate dispersion of political prisoners, perpetuating the suffering of the families who visit their imprisoned family members traversing huge distances. In 2015 there were still 427 Basque political prisoners. If at the time of law’s introduction it might have had a certain, even then questionable, justification, now it seems like a mere caprice indulging in the sweetness of revenge. The government argues that lifting this law would do injustice to the families of the victims of terrorism. However, this is a highly arbitrary argument. The behaviour of Spanish government towards the Basque society and the changed political reality facing the end of the violent conflict seems to be unprecedented, in which they deny the fact, that there is a conflict, thus preventing peace process from any development from its most initial phase. To the outrage of international observers dealing with armed conflicts, after the definitive ceasefire ETA did not receive any assistance by the government and has been left by itself to deal with questions concerning weapons, refugees, political prisoners, etc. Spain seems thus to be the only country in the world where an armed group wants to disarm and the government makes it as difficult as possible.

Thus it is tempting to think that Spanish government needs an image of an enemy in that form and it would perpetuate the problem to keep the confrontation. In his book “Dirty War, Clean Hands” (Yale University Press, 2003) Paddy Woodworth meticulously describes the details of the antiterrorist war known as GAL in the 1980’s, as later evidence suggests, initiated by the socialist government of Felipe González. Several actions of death squads of GAL, deliberately assassinating people who were not involved in ETA activities, invoke the creeping impression, that the goal of this war was not to combat terrorism, but its opposite. Since the latter they succeed. The 1980’s were known in Spain as years of led, ‘años de plomo’, and innumerous victims were claimed from both sides, with ETA activity higher than ever in its history. At the same time terrorism seem to have always served well redirecting attention from internal affairs.

These days a prominent figure of Basque political scene, Arnaldo Otegi has been recently released from the prison after facing charge to revive the political arm of ETA Herri Batasuna. In her book “Endgame for ETA” (Oxford University Press, 2014) ” Theresa Whitfield skillfully describes the initial secret talks between Arnaldo Otegi, the de facto leader of the Basque left and Jesús Eguiguren form the Basque socialist party PSE. Reading the details of the compelling secret and deliberate process that lead ETA to declare definitive ceasefire it becomes once again obvious that Arnaldo Otegi is one of the central personalities for the peace process and if something he might deserve – it would be a Nobel prize for peace and not a prison sentence. Instead Otegi, the best communicator of the Basque left, has been held in prison since 2009 charged for taking part in a secret meeting with the accusation that he wanted to reorganize the political arm of ETA Herri Batasuna. However, it left unnoticed that the same meeting led to the definitive ceasefire of ETA. It was the judge Baltasar Garzón, famous internationally for the trial against Augusto Pinochet, who spoke out the prison sentence for Arnaldo Otegi applying the exceptional laws of the Aznar era. In an interview in 2015 even he admitted that for the peace process it does not make any sense that Arnaldo Otegi would continue imprisoned, since he would be able to contribute to the process much more being outside than inside. Although the 10 year sentence was reduced to six and half years by Spain’s Supreme Court, the willingness of Spanish Government to proceed with the peace process is more than questionable. Mr. Otegi has expressed his doubts in a written statement from the prison: “The governments of Spain and France need to extend the non-solution scenario because they fear that once that phase is over, the next scenario will be that of using the right to self-determination”.

Two main points that seem to be hopelessly stuck between the positions is the recognition that there is an unresolved conflict and it has claimed victims on both sides so far. Although it seems obvious, Spanish Government refuses to acknowledge the victims of the side of the nationalist independentist movement, simplifying the reality by acknowledging only victims caused by ETA, further denying that there is no conflict as such. According to the logic of the Spanish Government, there was a terrorist group, it is defeated and thus the conflict is not existing any more.

Based on her research and observations Theresa Whitfield ends her book “Endgame for ETA” with a following appeal to Spanish government: the peace has no price, however it does not come for free neither. The fact that the Spanish government fails to co-operate in the peace process might turn what seems to be peace in the Basque country into an elusive passing phenomena. The nationalist left with aspirations for the independence of the Basque country, making up around 15-20% of the Basque population, has been limited of means to organize themselves politically, since many of the political creations have been undermined with the accusation of reviving the political arm of ETA. As a result many political activists had to face prison sentences, thus again preventing them to be elected as political representatives in the future. More than one hundred ‘herriko tabernas’, bars that in the last 40 years used to be meeting places for the nationalist left, are supposed to be closed in near future following the decision of the Supreme Court several years ago. Numerous demonstrations happen on regular base in the Basque country protesting against the policy of dispersion, however are ignored and often do not even make it to the local news.

All this puts an enormous psychological strain on the nationalist left of the Basque country. It seems that even among the radical nationalist left the prospect of taking up arms again is not an option any more. However, it is still questionable what form the political will of the nationalist Basque left will take if political means are being deliberately limited and do not seem to have not even the most distant prospect of achieving their actual goal – the independence of the Basque country. The left wing coalition EH Bildu were in many municipalities far from successful in the last elections giving way to Podemos, a new left-wing Spanish party that gained the most votes in the region.

The peace process is in danger also because of the fact that one of the cornerstones of the nationalist left population mentality is a deep rooted mistrust in the political game. Spanish government fails to acknowledge the fact that majority of Basques deliberately did not vote for the constitution in 1978 and it is precisely this constitution that prevents Catalans and Basques to exit the Spanish state, requiring the consent of all the provinces of Spain. So, engaging in the politics for many people who consider themselves as nationalist left means playing the game where only the opponent can interpret and change arbitrarily the rules.

Even if Arnaldo Otegi with his unmistakable charisma would manage to create a somewhat uplifting atmosphere among the nationalist left when released from the prison, the loss of faith in the effectivity of political means among the nationalist left has run deep in the Basque history so as in the last years. Although pro-independence nationalist left makes by no means a majority of the Basque population, it nevertheless used to ’cause trouble’ during the years of ETA activity. Thus it raises the question how the energies of this part of the society will be channelled in a constructive way in the near future given the fact that ETA has left arms behind and the Spanish government at the same time blocks virtually any attempt for discussion and resolution of the conflict. Basque limbo might last, but it is not sure how long and what the outcome would be in the future.

More on Basques by Cactus:

#Otegi #Freethemall #FreeOtegi #Basque #ETA #Euskalherria


Music to Indonesian Poetry & Google Translator

Posted in English, Music, Poetry with tags , , , on 2014-02-16 by candycactus

It is quite a piece of art what google translator produces translating Indonesian Poetry. 

Here is a sound to this peculiar poetry: 


Hours street. I do not know what the fate of the future? 

The young men of the elders nimble drive, 


Her dream of independence of the stars 

certainty for keeping my side of this dead area 

I love the people who dare to live 

I love the people interviewed in the night 

Perfumed night dream, forfeit dust 

Hours street. I do not know what the fate of the future!



Here is the original 



Waktu jalan. Aku tidak tahu apa nasib waktu ?

Pemuda-pemuda yang lincah yang tua-tua keras,

bermata tajam

Mimpinya kemerdekaan bintang-bintangnya

kepastian ada di sisiku selama menjaga daerah mati ini

Aku suka pada mereka yang berani hidup

Aku suka pada mereka yang masuk menemu malam

Malam yang berwangi mimpi, terlucut debu

Waktu jalan. Aku tidak tahu apa nasib waktu!


by Puisi Chairil Anwar

A Story About Ice Surface and What Frozen Chicken Has To Do With It

Posted in English, Stories and Tales with tags on 2014-02-09 by candycactus

Muziejaus street means the street of a museum. After the war it was called that way, because a museum was built there. Before it was called German street “Vokieciu”. And Germans were long gone. I did not know any of that when I was a child. I did not even know that it was built in a place what used to be the heart of the Jewish Wilna ghetto. And the big fire, that I used to see while day dreaming was actually exactly in the place where the great synagogue of the Jerusalem of the East used to stand.

However, when I did not see the fire or other things I imagined, it would be a big yard of a Soviet style urban settlement. In the middle there was some sort of square used for various purposes. In summer stranger boys swearing in Russian would play there football. In winter it would be filled with water that would turn into ice for all kinds of winter games.

Concerning winter games – I never really got into that business. In the collection of bizzare things I got as a present in my childhood were skis. The thing is, I could not figure out how they were supposed to work. No wonder, much later I realized they did not have any metal parts on it, they were basically just planks of wood. Thus, on this ice surface I would go with no particular equipment, purpose or expectation. It was fun.

Well, there is a story to this ice surface and how a frozen chicken was involved in it.

I wished to have a pet. Once a kitten had to be transported for us from Belorussia by some mothers friends. Eventually she (the kitten) got lost in the woods. The friends that transported the kitten apparently got out for a smoke or a pee and the kitten gone lost without that they noticed it. Then the idea was that we should get a dog. My mother was a special lady with special taste. She decided that we should have a basset-hound. There were no basset-hounds in Vilnius at that time, not even one. We had to wait until the puppy came all the way from Riga, which is a capital of Latvia. It came with a Latvian name “Burve”, which means “witch” in Latvian and it almost meant a potato in Lithuanian (which would be “Bulve”). I was very happy.

The puppy grew up eventually. I am not sure what happened with puppies education. What was certain is that I did not have much to do with it. So, Burve was a particular dog with her particular will which happened to be imposed on all of us.

One day, as usually, I went to walk Burve and met a friend. We engaged in conversation. I did not notice some crucial factors I would learn after in my life to be aware of – 1. there were horny stray dogs around 2. I was on ice. The result of this combination was that Burve eventually walked around me several times wrapping me gently in the thing you keep your dog tied to. At a certain point she must have jumped towards the dog fellows pulling me in a way that I changed my position from vertical to horizontal instantly, my head being a point that landed first on ice followed by the rest of my body.

I did not understand much at the moment, but the fact that I could see faces almost in every window must have meant that I cried in a persuading way. My mother rushed out. She brought a frozen chicken. It was apparently the only thing that would be suitable to put on the head to sooth the pains of the bruise on the head.

So, this is how I remember myself on this ice surface – with a frozen chicken on my head waiting for the ambulance. The ambulance came. They told me to stand up, straighten my arms to the sides, close my eyes and try to hit my nose with the finger. I hit something else. Thus I was diagnosed with brain injury and brought to a hospital.

If a person is somewhat strange, Lithuanians say “trenktas”, which means one certain aspect of being “hit”. I can see why, I suppose. Most of my friends at least stepped on a rake at some point in their lives. 


Muziejaus 11-13. Things of No Importance

Posted in English, Photo, Stories and Tales with tags on 2014-02-08 by candycactus

This is probably the introduction to the book Muziejaus 11-13, which is an address of the place where I grew up.


I had a slight notion, that the place where I lived was special. But when it really entered my mind was when I was 13. I lived alone my myself and I will explain to you at some point later why. However, I was listening to Pink Floyd “The Dark Side of the Moon” on an old soviet vinyl player while writing my diary, as all at a sudden a flushing water sound entered my ears. It perfectly fitted to the music played, but it was the sound of real water really flushing into the apartment. The door bell started ringing without interruption. I made my way to the door to get help from neighbors and wondered what all this strange tingling in my body was about (it was electricity flushing down from the doorbell). Neighbors managed to get the water turned off. The rest I had to do myself. So, I went to a soviet neighborhood management office and asked for plumbers to fix the pipe. Wait, they told me.

After two weeks two remarkable guys appeared. One was very tall and thin, the other one was short and round. Both were in their years and drunk. They would have fitted into the comic to deliver the message that the job has no chance to be completed. But things took an unexpected turn. Petia, do you remember us being drunk in that corner once? Yeahh, I guess so, it has been a while, ugh?

It turned out that once they were guests of my grandfather, great poet and notorious drunkard. All nation must have passed by here once. I missed that era completely, since my grandfather died when I was just 4. But the same place happened to be a nod of trajectories crossing of many more people to come later.

A great percentage of my childhood time was dedicated to cook coffee for the guests. I had no idea who they were and I had not much idea about coffee since I did not drink any myself – I was a very young child –  but I must have been really good at it. Coffee Turkish way. Very low flame. Plenty of fresh grounded coffee, three times letting the foam come up. My mother would have been a good trainer and will breaker in any detention camp. However, after resisting to learn to deal with the fire, I gave in and was trained to cook probably the best coffee in town. At least this was what the guests would say, and note that these people were not particularly generous with compliments or any kind of superficial remarks as usual in some other parts of the world. At some point I didn’t mind this job. When people ask me when I started meditating I realize that it must have been around that time. Watching coffee cook very slowly.

Thus I witnessed the guests of Muziejaus 11-13 coming and going. Things of no importance. It just turns out that in a small country things of no importance make history.


This is me and my grandfather in Muziejaus 11-13. This and most of other photographs to be posted about Muziejaus 11-13 were take by my mother, a great photographer Dange Sirvyte


A Story About How Everybody Disappeared

Posted in English, Stories and Tales on 2014-02-08 by candycactus

su puku zydu gatvej

So, I am a settled person for now. Got a home and a job and spend considerable amount of my lifetime in subway. My mind escapes from here and now quiet regularly. To various points. Starting to pin down these points.

This story is from a yet not existing book called Muziejaus 11-13. It is an address in Vilnius where I grew up. And many other things happened.

my kindergarden was not very far from home. you walk walk walk and then walk a bit more and then you are there. so, i used to go there by myself. it was winter. i got up. it was still dark, as always. i got ready to go to the kindergarden. put on a fur coat, struggled for a while with the upper button. it was hardly possible to move arms in this coat, so putting on mittens was also an act requiring some patience.

i set off. checked the places where one can slide on ice on the street. watched for a moment the twinkling of snow bellow the street lantern. then walked a bit more.

the door was locked. i looked around and could not see anybody. strange. what happened? maybe i should just wait. sat down on the stairs covered with snow. there was nobody there. nothing. what happened to everybody? is this some sort of game where they are all here but i just cannot see them? it did not make any sense. i waited more.

first it just felt cold in the feet. then the cold was inside of my fur coat. it was all over the place. i felt heavy and nothing mattered anymore.

what are you doing here? i heard the voice. it was nurse maryte. what are you doing at such an early hour?

at that time i did not read clocks yet.


Shaman Rites

Posted in English, Stories and Tales with tags , , , , on 2013-09-13 by candycactus

As I am trying to get used to a settled life in a settled continent such as Europe after many years of nomadic wandering, I travel now mentally, reading books about amazing things. Reading this book is really like a surreal trip – you get to think of and imagine things that usually would not enter your mind. It is liberating somehow to read such strange things. 

Julian Baldick: Animal and Shaman. Ancient Religions of Central Asia. New York University Press. 2000.  

Here is a selection of interesting things: 


Strangling the king 

 A bizzare ritual performed by Khazars at the assession of the new king. “He is strangled, almost to death (so that he loses consciousness), and the words which he utters during this are interpreted to predict the length of his reign. At the end of this period he is put to death.” (p. 29) 


Oak trees 

“In addition they sacrificed horses to a specially dedicated oak trees, pouring the blood over them and throwing the heads and skins over the branches.” (p. 29) 


Dirty for respect  

The Huns, also like medieval Turks and Mongols, used not to wash themselves (and smell accordingly) in order not insult the deities of the rivers. The main Gods for Mongols were these of the River and of the Mountain. 



“The Huns practiced divination by examining the bones of livestock: this is an ancient Inner Eurasian practice, in which, as a rule, the shoulder blades of sheep are exposed to fire and the resulting scorch marks are interpreted. 

When the Huns’s great king Attila died they cut off part of their hair and made deep cuts in their faces, as was their normal custom while mourning.” (p. 27)


Death for death  

“It is also recorded that the Bulghars of the Danube, when burying an important man, would burn some people and send others (his wives and servants) into the tomb to die of hunger.” (p. 31)


Skulls as cups 

“According to a Khitan legend there had once been a chief in the form of a skull, who lived in a tent and occasionally donned human form to come out and see the double sacrifice”. (for example a white sheep for the Heaven and a black one for the Earth). (p. 32)


Burning food for death 

“Sacrifices were also made after the death of a Khitan nobleman: food would be burnt at the new and the full moon. The body itslef was exposed on a tree in the mountains. After the three years the bones were gathered and cremated.” (p. 33)


Human sacrifice 

“Human sacrifices were made at the funerals of emperors early on in Khitan rule over China. The emperor himself, at his investiture ceremony, had to go through a ritual which seems to correspond to the simulated human sacrifice of the Khazar ruler: he was obliged to gallop off, fall from his horse and be covered with a felt rug. He also had to lean against a black bearskin, which hid some children: this apparently reflects the ancient T’o-pa investiture ritual in which the ruler stood on a black felt blanket covering seven men. The investiture itself was preceded by the ‘rebirth’ ceremony, performed by the emperor in a specially erected building outside which there stood an old man carrying a quiver and arrows. After the emperor had passed under three timbers in the form of an inverted “V”, the old man hit the quiver and called out “A boy is born!” At this point the emperor’s head was covered by the chief shaman.” (p 34)



“Scalping is typically Altaic and so is the custom of turning the skull of a defeated leader into a cup and using it for ritual purposes.” (p. 36)



“What is most striking, howeverm is the logic of transformations between humans and animals, AMong the Hsiung-nu a huge fish with two horns turns into a man, and wolves through intercourse with humans, produce more of the latter. The Huns are guided by a doe or cow, and the T’o-pa by a supernatural animal which looks like a horse but sounds like a bull. Among the Khitans men become “deer-men” or “boar-men”, imitating animals’ cries and donning their skins and heads, while animals and humans also turn into each other through mutual consumption. This motif of “becoming-animal” involves anomalous animals like the horned fish or bovine horse which we have hust encountered, and which we have to distinguish themselves from ordinary animals in order to lead humans into new adventures. They also point out that ‘becoming-animal’ is necessary not only for hunting, but also for warfare: warriors turn into animals on battlefields, owing to the demand for speed and fury.” (p. 37)  



“Along with Tengri [deity, god], the Türk inscriptions also mention a benevolent goddess called Umay, who seems to have been borrowed from the Mongols, as imai is the usual Mongol term for ‘placenta’ or ‘womb’. Umay is still venerated among some Turkic peoples in the Altai region, and by the Tunguz: she is seen as protecting the souls of unborn and small children.” (p. 40) 



“The Oghuz never wash, and always wear the same clothes until they disintegrate.” (p. 46)


Tree parents – Uighur myth

“In this myth we are told that at the junction of two rivers there were two trees. A great mound arose between these trees,, and a light shone down on it from the sky. The Uighurs heard a sound like singing comoing from the mound. Eventually a door opened in the mound and revealed five tent-like cells, each of which contained a baby boy. In front of each boy there hung a tube, which provided him with milk. When the wind blew the boys gathered strength and came out. After they had grown up they were told by the Uighurs that their parents were the two trees. The boys paid due respect to the trees and the ground in which the latter grew, and the trees broke into speech to acknowledge this respect. Then the youngest of the boys, Buqu, was chosen by the Uighurs to be their king.” (p. 54) 


Call to move 

Buqu eventually became a powerful ruler, confronted his shamans with Buddhist monks and a result Uyghurs converted to Buddhism. “Buqu lived happily until his death, after which he was succeeded by on of his sons. Subsequently the Uighurs heard, in the sounds made by animals, birds and children, the cry ‘Köch, köch’! (Move, move!) and migrated to East Turkestan, where the cry stopped.” (p. 55)


Baraq Baba 

Muslim historians describe a Turkic Muslim mystic who dressed like a shaman, Baraq Baba (‘Father Shaggy Dog’). “We are told that Baraq Baba and his followers were beardless, but with long moustaches, and wore felt hats with two horns. Around their necks hung cows’ knuckle bones painted with henna, crooked sticks and little bells. They would beat drums and play other instruments as they moved along, thereby producing, with the sound of their ornaments a horrible and terrifying cacophony.” (p. 56) 


Things like that.  







Posted in English, Photo with tags on 2013-09-12 by candycactus

Here is a selection of pictures about LIFE OF THINGS



Posted in Caucasus, English with tags , , , on 2013-06-19 by candycactus

Displaced people, robbed public money and overall unsustainable development as an effect of the neoliberalist logic  – same reasons for the protests across the world.

The film Ecümenopolis (2012) describes the background of Turkish protests, but the story is really similar in other places, like Brazil, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced due to the building of stadiums for the Olympic Games.

Sochi in North Caucasus, where Russia is preparing the Winter Olympic Games 2014 literally on the graves of Circassian people, suffers from the same fate. Will North Caucasus rise too?

Watch the film Winter of Discontent published by Al Jazeera.


And some more info, why to boycott Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. 

Syria On My Mind

Posted in English, Middle East, Stories and Tales with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2013-06-15 by candycactus

This blog is not about politics. Maybe it is. Listening to the news about Syria, I am thinking much about the experience there in 2007 and what is happening now, trying not to judge, just to observe. Here are some thoughts that cross my mind. When I lived some time in Damascus in 2007 many people said to me that they preferred dictatorship than what was happening in Iraque at the same time. There are many things that make one thoughtful about what is really happening. As I stated some time ago – history is a pile of stones. It depends which stones are on top, this is what you see, but there are always many underneath that you cannot see easily. There is no right history. We are presented now the facts by the media, that are writing history in the very moment, but in the future they will most probably turn out either to be fake completely (as it happened several times with wars in the region) or in context of other facts they will look differently. The “stones”, facts about Syrian reality on my mind are like a disordered pile.

  • Syria has a social landscape of extreme religious diversity – Shiites, Sunni, Druze, Allewi, etc. However, Sunni muslims are trying to get the over hand in the region. Dictatorship made sure that this diversity could flourish.
  • Turkey has a majority of Sunni muslims. Religious minorities, such as Alewi and others have been persecuted and emigrated, many of them to Europe. Turkey is a member of NATO and is ally of USA. Who has more dictatorship in this case? Whirling sufis you’ve seen in Turkey on your trip? Bullshit. There are no not underground Sufis in Turkey.
  • The number of weapons available to rebels now in Syria could not have appeared in a short time. A long time secret action was needed to make it possible, also regarding the fact that the Assad’s regime did perform a lot of control. When the revolution was happening in the Baltic states, the weapons where pencils and sticks. Weapons do not appear just out of nowhere.
  • Turkey was fighting the PKK near boarders of Syria. Weird coincidence – the war against PKK has stopped as soon as the war in Syria began.
  • Turkey is in control of water flow from Euphrates and Tigris rivers to Syria and Iraque. The Ataturk dam effected that Northern Syria suffered from lack of water with all its consequences. Same thing is happening with Tigris Ilisu dam, affecting Iraque. By the way, with huge investments from Germany and other well off countries not from the region. (There are many dams being built in the North of Turkey resulting in the loss of millenium old architecture from ancient Bagrationi ruled Georgian-Armenian Tao Klarjeti region, events happening quietly, since Turkey through clever policy made sure where turists go and where not )
  • Jonathan Cook in his bookIsrael and The Clash of Civilizations. Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East. Jonathan Cook 2008 explores the speeches of various Israeli politicians and notes that it has been since the 50’s that the goal of Israeli policy was to cause a chaos in the Arabic world. One example from the book:

“Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon official and an ideologue of the American Enterprise Institute had given voice to this longer-term neocon ambition in 2002, before the invasion of Iraq:

“First and foremost, we must bring down the terror regimes, beginning with the Big Three: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. And then we have to come to grips with Saudi Arabia… Stability is an unworthy American mission, and misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize”. p.119  Link to my earlier post 

  • In one of the short films presented from Syria about the events now (a part of this project) it was interesting to hear a following story. There were guys fighting on the street in some town in Syria, people gathered around, more and more, and then the guys suddenly started shouting “Freedom” and the crowed joined in, not thinking any more that the fight was staged in order to attract attention.

If you need to start a revolution, I think from these facts you can write a manual how to do it. Not difficult. Make sure that you isolate the country politically and economically beforehand. And put it on the dangerous country list so that nobody goes and sees it from your own country. And takes the news of today as they take it.

Accepting the permanent impermanence of things I am terribly sad that Damascus, the city of the cities will never be the same. This is how Syria looked like in 2007, have a look at some pictures here. 

PaveikslėlisA man selling fuhl in Damascus – beans sprinkled with cumin and lemon.

Music for THEATER PIECE that does not EXIST

Posted in CandyCactus Music, Downloads, English, Music, Poetry with tags , on 2013-01-25 by candycactus

Mari constructed an instrument and named it “caixinha”, a small box with guitar strings, played with chop sticks. Recorded this on the river Lapao in Lencois (Bahia, Brazil) with sounds of water and me with Armenian duduk, which is sort of an ancient clarinet, and later added some stuff.

Do you know any theater director who would like to use this music? Maybe the theater piece exists after all?