Building that wall …

I am astounded at the unravelling of the forthcoming US presidential elections … and I am alarmed.  Like it or not, the US is a cultural lodestar for numerous other countries, particularly in the west, A.K.A  the ‘developed’ world.

Quite frankly, I am confused  as to how the likes of Donald Trump can even be considered seriously by US voters as a potential candidate.  I am not referring here to his policies – (and should clarify at the outset that I am an objective bystander with no interest in either candidate).

What I am astounded at is the character of the man.  Or should I say the lack of character. He was OK, even a celebrity, admired for his business acumen from afar. But once he entered the race and got up close and personal,  I have lost any respect I had for him.  I doubt even the staunchest Trump fan would deny his records of discrimination, injustice, bigotry and racial prejudice which makes people of the 21st century squirm in disbelief.   And the fact that he blatantly boasts about his ability to avoid taxes!!   I cannot understand how America can seriously consider such a man for the highest office in the land.  What do you think … that he will make a difference when he is the President?  That if he had no patriotic fervour for his country, sent some of his businesses offshore, and felt no compunction or conscience to pay his dues as a billionaire,  that he will now provide windfall benefits to all?   His audacity and the acceptance of it by a sizeable populace boggles my imagination.

Please forgive me if I am treading on the toes of any one who sees Donald Trump as a saviour of the nation.

I accept there are circumstances that could make him appear as an  economic saviour to persons who have lost their jobs, whose companies have been threatened by advancing technology of the East, by those who want to live in a promised ‘safe America’ without fear of attack  by terrorists, (although it is questionable whether the hatred he incites will actually prevent or invite attacks from the ‘enemy’,  or even police/locals gone amok with hate)   … and to realise the American dream.

The American dream  – to which you have every right.

But what I am questioning here … is what gives Mr. Trump … or indeed any other leader or any race or group of people – the right to take over a piece of land, call it their land and then prevent anyone else from entering.

We are so used to having ‘nations’ and ‘borders’ that it is almost impossible to imagine a world with freedom for everyone to move to a nation of choice, live by the rules and call it ‘home’.

This is a radical view but one that has been on my mind since I heard Trump talk about ‘building a wall to keep them out’. 

Two decades ago, my father suggested that national flags, school flags, church and temple flags only promote segregation and differentiation of people.  It was a radical view and I did not then see the wisdom of his statement.

My father also suggested that if we can get every soldier in every country to sign that he would not go to war under any circumstances, then we would have peace.

We laughed at him.  It seemed an impossible dream.

But when I hear about people like Donald Trump  – a candidate for the highest post in the world talking of building walls to keep people out,  then I realise my father was truly a visionary.   And a Christian of the highest order  (albeit one who hardly went to church) !

And it saddens me to think that it is the Christians mostly – conservative, evangelical, bible belt and bible-loving Christians – who are thinking of casting their vote for this very un-Christian view point viz . to keep out the marginalised, the desperate, the poor and those seeking refuge,  and to deport others based on nationality and religion.

This is the policy loudly proclaimed from the platform of Trump  – inciting people to religious and racial intolerance and financial selfishness,  and dangling the God of mammon and prosperity before you.

The other candidate inter-alia promotes free choice, and whilst as a Christian there are some choices that I wish people would not make,  I also do not think that you can bring about moral values in a nation by regulations and legal restrictions. The choice of right and wrong should come from deep within you, not from legislation.  It is still hard to accept that we should give each one the freedom to make choices we disagree with, and to accept that we are not called to act as arbitrators and judges.  And so

America .. you are truly between the devil and the deep blue sea.  And I feel for your plight. Your choice is tough.

But if I were you, I would run from the fear mongering devil, jump into the “deep blue and cast my cares on the Lord.

Blessings and prayers … and peace to all men of goodwill.

Port City Development – or Destruction !!

These are some shots I took of the Port City Development – attempts to ‘land fill’ the ocean!

There is a huge controversy behind this project which was done by the Rajapakse regime without any Impact Assessment. Who needs EIA’s when money beckons?

Even though I do not find beauty in these pictures  – destruction cannot be beautiful – I would like to be able to capture them meaningfully so am submitting for Mundane Monday Challenge after seeing Jithins work of art on cranes.  Jithin am hoping you will comment on how I can improve these as pictures please. ie … composition frame etc the way you have done so beautifully with your cranes.  Muchas gracias 🙂

PS  For those who may be interested, also adding the ‘vicinity’ of the Port which is in the heart of Colombo.

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Galle Road at the end of Galle Face promenade

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Filling of the ocean ….

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The end of the famous Galle Face green.

Chantilly lace

Bricks is the theme of Photrablogger’s MM Challenge #12 and I thought these will fit in well for photos on brickwork.

Palazzo Ducale

Section of wall Old Square Mantua

The first picture is a close up of a wall on one side of the Old Square in Mantova, (Italy) which has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site.  I think the pattern of white stone on the wall of Palazzo Ducale, which dates back to the 15th Century, gives it an enchanting ‘lacey’ look … like Chantilly lace on brick !!!

Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, Lombardy

A bigger expanse – more white motifs and more enchantment. A pattern of small hollow squares (like dents) is visible but these are too ordered to be bricks that have fallen out. It may be due to restoration work- if you look closely you can see where  windows appear to have been walled up. In a way it adds to the character and charm.

The small angular buttresses on roof are duplicated on walls on the opposite side of the square – see below. The entire square may have been part of the Palace  (I need to read the guidebook).  Perhaps the different designs represent different quarters. The white insets are visible in a more frugal way on one wall.  You can see that repairs  have been carried out where the pattern is interrupted.    And note that the other wall  is pure brick – with no aesthetic extras. The chimney indicates it may have been the kitchen area … elementary my dear Watson 🙂

And now the bigger picture contrasting old with adjoining new, ochre wall with blue windows . Old and new blend so seamlessly.

Palazzo Ducale, 15th Century

A toast to buildings that stand the test of time .

Postcript :  We had travelled to Mantova  frtom Milan o meet Rev. Sr. Teresina – Professor of Christology at my faculty in Sri Lanka, who travelled from Carpi, to meet halfway in this entrancing city.  I took this whilst enjoying a delicious Italian meal with famous Italian wine in celebration of our meeting after five years.

I had initially ‘cropped’ our table from the picture to focus only on brickwork. On second thoughts however, I kept in the bottle of wine, for a building this beautiful and this enduring, surely deserves a toast.

So, a toast to buildings with workmanship and materials that endure …  and a toast likewise to enduring friendships.

Cheers 🙂

Magnifico Milan !

I’ve had an anything but mundane two weeks in Prague, Turin, Milan and environs.

With so much rich art, culture, heritage and beauty around, I was hard pressed both in time and opportunity to find anything  to meet Photrabloggers challenge.  Since I was clicking away like crazy, I was surprised that nothing seemed to fit the challenge so I decided to google Mundane.

OK .. .. here it is … ” Mundane  –  routine, ordinary, everyday, run-of-the mill, customary  …. earthy, material,  non-spiritual.

No wonder then I found it difficult.  The last two weeks was anything but run of the mill.  Definitely not my routine everyday experience, and definitely (many times over) not not-spiritual !!  I mean .. those magnificent churches, castles, architecture, works of art by Renaissance masters that transcend everyday terrestrial experiences.  New faces, new people, new cultures  .. all novel and unique. Nothing mundane for me there 🙂

But I had missed two challenges so decided that perhaps the apartments I saw daily in the last week would bring in the ‘routine’ element for mundane.  Even though I found them fascinating … wondering at the type of lifestyle the Milanese lived behind them – they could probably pass the test for mundane everyday living so here I go :

View from our bedroom window :

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Some apartments on the street in the Primaticcio District of Milan where we stayed :

I do not like to be around high rise buildings but these seemed different.  Multi-storied but not high rise! There were plenty of open spaces in between, with parks, gardens and playing fields

Basketball  and soccer court

Basketball and soccer court. The older kids played basketball whilst the small ones played soccer between their legs. Wish I had taken a photo .. so busy looking on!!!

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Church and open court yard. Buildings and shops all around. We stayed in the orange building behind the Church Steeple.

And I found that the Milanese like to have flowers and plants even in apartments –  or beautiful gardens to look down on. Their view will change with the seasons. Mundane and beautiful !!!!

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Fragrant plants are everywhere giving off a heady perfume into the atmosphere !!

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I doubt I would like to live in Milan  … it’s not what I am used to.  I need to come down to earth – literally 🙂 from high rise buildings and works of art that take you to dizzy heights.   But with its heritage and art, Da Vinci’s Last Supper,  and its Duomo amongst many others,

Milan is magnifico !!! 

And I could not just give you one mundane picture 🙂  even though I tried !!!

Shifting Street Scene

A street scene is never the same with vehicles, people and all types of traffic constantly moving through.

I captured these one morning  – of ‘walkers’ focusing on their health; trishaws ‘tuk-tuk-ing’ on way to a hire, cars whizzing past tooting exercise addicts off the road, bicycles;  bread-vans by which you can set your clock … all changing scenes of our busy street.   Made for an interesting half hour inspired by challenge of Mundane Monday.

However I could not wait for the buffaloes  (Yes … they traverse our road too  each morning on their way to the remaining piece of wetland, and return when the sun sets.

I could not also keep vigil for the 8 ft crocodile that resides in the lake (visible in the background). Mr. Croc tends to float downstream around 2.00 pm.  You  know when he is around because everyone stops to look at him. I too stop almost every time … always marvelling at how he glides through so silently and stealthily with  body partly submerged. Absolutely no ripples to warn of his presence!!

And in case you are wondering, the lake has been fenced off.  Long tale of our fundamental rights action to have fence removed when the lake and wetland was leased to a private company and environment degraded. We won the case but the government deviously moved war veterans into the ‘island’ that had been created – knowing that was one ‘fight’ we would drop: you can’t argue for the environment against those who have risked their lives for the country.

So we live with the fence .. 😦