Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The simple life versus the race to the moon!!!

I was reading an article by Wray Herbert in Newsweek, the idea of the 'simpler past' attracted my attention. Despite the fact I am only young, but at times, I do yearn for a life that is simple.

Taking a stride through any local village in the region, the simple life of isolation from the rest of the world can, at times, be the ultimate solution to this world that we live in today. That is all about Globalization (Internationalization, liberalization, universalization, westernization and what have you). Having said this, personally, I can not imagine my life for even one day without these fascinating new ideas and inventions that develop and progress before the blink of an eye.

On the other hand, at times being far from all these developments has its own taste, it is a feeling that you are on your own- Just you and Mother Nature. To experience, to a small extent, the life our ancestors had. It brings to my mind ‘where we were and where we have come’. Often when me or my younger brother whine of something, my father begins: ‘back when I was…’ our immediate responses is: ‘ohhh… here we go again’. However it is true, we have come a long way, through my eyes much of the changes are positive to a large degree. But by no means is our life simple today.

Our world has changed in extraordinary ways. We are investing in things that the generation before us never thought of. Furthermore, we have accomplished ambitions that were beyond the dreams of those living before us.

Imagine this, a small village called Halladen, not far from Slemani. Two elderly people are sitting outside their mud house; with the background of a cow ‘mooing’, and the ‘Eeyore’ of the donkey, the pecking chicken beside the green vegetable garden are sitting with a mountain of dates. Both elders, with their shaky hands and weak eyes, breaking each freshly picked dates with a stone.

Not so much of distance outside that village, all of a sudden it is a different planet.
A world where mice are sent into space, mass destruction weapons are created with our own hands; a world where we can connect to any person at any time in any part of the globe; a word where stem cell research is being undertaken and a world where it is not too far before we have ‘human made human’. Whether we are playing God or not is another argument, the point is, if we take the time to think, today’s world is amazing in so many ways and is changing by the second- as we write, as we speak, as we think.

Despite this, some people have no clue all this is taking place. They live their simple life, they basically live to survive. Whereas us, we live to have more, we live to have a sentiment of greediness, we live to make changes, destroy and build. We live to earn and yearn, they live to survive and reproduce.

When we come back to the reality and the world we live in, we realize just how much we take things for granted, how often we do not appreciate what we have. As well as this, the many problems and issues that this positive 'progress' has brought with itself.

We live in a world today where machines and technology do everything for us- even thinking. They, however, live a life depending on their own two hands and feet.

Science, knowledge and explanations dominate today’s society. Opportunities are open and change is constantly taking place. My message is make the positive use of these advancements, do not overuse them nor should you take them for granted.

Make the time to think of ‘the simple life’, so you do not forget how some people live, don’t forget ‘where we were and where we are’ and always listen to the stories our elders tell, they always start with: ‘back in my day….’ For they teach us very important lessons.

Sazan Mandalawi October 2008. Should be studying 'Politics of Developing states' rather than this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So you say: "I am bored?!"

Erbil has come a long way

I remember almost two years ago when I first returned to Kurdistan there was barely any place to go out. Other than Naza Mall, Park Sami-Abdul Rahman, Minaret and New City had just been open. Today, Hawler has come a long way.

We do not notice the rapid changes because the changes are gradual infront of our eyes everyday. If you leave the region and return you realize many changes and developments have taken place.

Rheil Mall- the shops are some of my favourite in Hawler the third storey has brought the children's rides, it is a nice evening out with a little shopping, a snack to eat and a ride or two for the toddlers.

J&K Fitness Centre- This has just been open this year, it is a luxuries 'Women's Only' getaway, it has everything a women needs from a great restaurant, nice seating area, swimming pools, Sona, beauty care, salon , net cafe, etc... it is the ultimate place to go out with a group of girls. Even if just for a coffee in the cafeteria.

2B2, Bakery and more etc...- The restaurants and Cafes keep opening, there is a new one every day, 2B2 has a nice seating area upstairs

Above: Picture of the 2B2 cafe upstairs- the atmosphere is one of the rare in Erbil. Worth visiting for a coffee or ice cream

Aqua Park- Even though I have only been there for a visit, however, the long winding waterslides and pool is a real attraction and appears to be a bundle of fun. The bowling is also very new to the region and seems to be a popular new leisure activity for those who like to try something different.

Family Fun amusement park- This is the most popular new attraction, 12 rides, some too daring I could never try, even if just going to look around. Listening to people's screams and laughter can some how be amusing in its own way. I am looking forward for the opening of the mall and cinema in that area.

The rides are now open, the Alabora is one of three in the world to this grand size... try it if you dare!!

March 2009 the finish produce of the Family Fun project will look like the picture above

It is not the most radical and dramatic change, but when we think of it, this is great development considering the backward development of the rest of the country. The skeleton of buildings in the process of completion stand high; if progress continues like this Erbil will transform into a city of dreams... of course there are many other gaps that need to be filled. For now the shopping, the food and the rides is enough to keep us busy as we await to see what appears next.