Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Amid dire world conflict, more expressions of friendship and goodwill

Don’t know about you in this Christeidhanukwanzaamas, but I’m exhausted. Seems that just when you get a break after a busy year, the body says to itself “OK, you can get tired now, the mind’ll allow it!”. You know how it goes, when you’re too busy to get tired or ill, so when you slow down it hits you. The body is wise, should listen to it more often.

For those of you who celebrated (and are still visiting relatives and friends etc), hope the revelry was judicious. I managed not to down too many Lebanese pastries but mum’s cooking is always delectable.

In current news, vale James Brown* and the other unelected US President, Gerald Ford. Vale also the 250+ who died at an oil plant explosion in Nigeria and the soon to be executed Saddam Hussein, another stupid and ill-timed decision and missed opportunity in Iraq. Enough killing, enough! And enough whitewashing of occupation as we see the Israeli spin of somehow being generous and allowing crumb concessions to the Palestinians it is killing and squeezing while continuing its strangulation and starting a new illegal West Bank settlement. US taxpayers are paying to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars per settler (2005 figures). In other news, a recent population survey now has American Jews outnumber Israeli Jews by a million (6.4 million of a total US population of 300 million).

[*Yes, the sharp-eyed eagle Servant noticed my funny goof-up: I had originally typed in James Dean. Really behind the times or in a time recursion Star Trek episode! Well spotted – winner of a year’s subscription of The Eagle-Eyed Editor]

Elsewhere, in the blogosphere, have a read of Layla Anwar’s A Letter to An American G.I. at Arab Woman Blues, and over at the Fanonite a great post about Rachel Corrie is featured, check it out.

The tree below is from my second cousin Lillian, a talented and funny woman from whom its always a pleasure to hear, as we get to see each other so rarely but have a ton of fun when we do. Thanks for sending this Lil., had to share with an international online community of appreciated friends. Now I know you won’t all think its too soppy given the doom and gloom content of the other posts today! (and if you do, I’ll exercise some biffo action on ya! That’s right, ’embrace non-violence, unless you want your head smacked in’! heh … world politics is hard-hitting enough …)

easons Greetings, friends …



I would

like to put

up a tree in my

heart, and instead

of hanging presents,

I would like to put the

names of all my friends.

Close friends and not so close

friends. The old friends, the new

friends. Those that I see every day

and the ones that I rarely see. The ones

that I always remember and the ones that

I sometimes forget. The ones that are always

there and the ones that seldom are. The friends of

difficult times and the ones of happy times. Friends

who, without meaning to, I have hurt, or, without meaning

to have hurt me. Those that I know well and those I only know

by name. Those that owe me little and those that I owe so much.

My humble friends and my important friends. The names of all those

that have passed through my life no matter how fleetingly. A tree with

very deep roots and very long

and strong branches so that

their names may never be

plucked from my heart. So

that new names from all

over may join the existing ones. A tree with a very

pleasant shade so that our friendship may take a

moment of rest from the battles of life. May the

happy moments of Xmas brighten every day of

the New Year. These are my sincere wishes.

*** Wishing you every Success in 2007 ! ***

And as a wise man and friend once recently inspired me to think, may you not so much have dreams in life as live a dream that has you … with great friends and experiences in your orbit. xo Ann

8 comments on “Amid dire world conflict, more expressions of friendship and goodwill

  1. Ben Heine
    28 December, 2006

    Lovely post, thank you Ann.
    Amazing lay out!

  2. Servant
    28 December, 2006

    Since your exposition on the history of Kilroy, I’m wondering if I should return to my original moniker, since you have shown the hubris in thinking one can ever “first” where-ever one goes. I am servant in the sense of a subversive leadership tactic time honored in the Marine Corps called leading from behind. I learned the concept from a Vietnamese man in recruit school. My corn-fed white counterparts used to deride him as a “Gook” and since either English was a second language for him or because discretion is the better part of valor, he never said much to his mates. He always made his weapon click pop snap at the exact right moment during drill, which neither my black or my white counterparts could. He was never the one who messed up and forced us all to suffer collective punishment. He could run longer and climb faster than any of us and I’m sure it got on people’s nerves. Beyond “Yes, Sir,” “No, Sir” you don’t need much command of English to succeed as a Marine. You just have to take that bone out of your head which makes you think before you execute an order. Private Nguyen never screwed up and he never missed a command. It got on people’s nerves. They had a blanket party for him one night, and I slept right through it and received the instruction from the drill instructors in the form of my own all day exercise period. I knew it wasn’t me who had screwed up, and I knew it wasn’t Nguyen. I knew who screwed up and I endeavored to fix them.

    On Saturday afternoons in boot camp you are allowed to do anything you want within the confines of the barracks. You can listen to the radio, read, write letters, or add a new layer of spit polish to your boots. So I went over and had a little conversation with Nguyen. He had no idea what I was yammering about. But I smiled a lot and made gestures like fighting, trying to get him to show me is martial arts skills. He declined, preferring to write his letter and steer clear of all white devils. Wise man.

    So I went down to an open area at the end of the squad bay and started a series of exercises that I had learned from my older brother, who took Karate. Of course it made everyone laugh, including Nguyen and attracted the attention of people who wanted to know more. I demonstrated my straightest high kicks and made all the noises that are supposed to add power to the dance. I hadn’t been in a real fight since sixth grade, but maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing.

    Nguyen couldn’t resist. He came over with a bit of pride in his smile and adjusted my position for me, slapping my knees apart to make a lower “horse” position. Then he grabbed the tallest recruit from the gallery that surrounded us and motioned him to raise his hand straight out in front of him, and then tapped his own elbow to make him hold it higher and higher until the hand was a good foot above and in front of the Marine’s face.

    None of us knew what he was doing, maybe teaching us a Buddhist prayer or something. He stood face to face to the Marine, who was looking quite scared. As far as I knew this guy hadn’t participated in the blanket party, or maybe he had. Maybe Nguyen was going to lay him out or something.

    Nguyen pointed at his feet, as he arranged them parallel to each another. No one could imagine what the position of Nguyen’s feet had to do with the Marine holding his hand over his head in front of his face – a good two feet over Nguyen’s head.

    No one saw it. We were too focused on his feet. He spun around completely and jumped into the air and put the bridge of his foot exactly in the palm of the man’s outstretched hand. Then he landed like a cat just like they do in the Matrix after they kick some one’s virtual butt.

    We heard the sound and we saw the Marine holding his hand. But it happened so fast I don’t think any of us actually saw the foot making contact with the hand. I reconstructed it in my mind later. We looked at little Nguyen and we looked at the tall Marine, and then we all went back to writing letters or doing whatever it was we were doing.

    I tried to get Nguyen to show me other things, but he was happy that he’d made his point and I never got anymore information from him other than the occasional knowing smile. But it was clear to the Marines that gave him the blanket party and everyone else in the barracks – they had been messing with a man with deadly knowledge and they knew they had been shamed beyond words.

    Needless to say, no one called him “Gook” anymore. Nguyen taught me the meaning of real strength. It’s not the brow beater or the apple polishing climbers. Real strength means doing your bit such that no body notices.

  3. peoplesgeography
    28 December, 2006

    Thank Ben, trees are so nicely conducive to art and poetry :)

    Welcome back Servant. That does help!

    Great story and moral, like the sound of this Nguyen and his reserved dignity and unobtrusive strength.

    Would that others also practised this subversive leadership you mention, we need more of it.

  4. homeyra
    28 December, 2006

    My vocabulary is too limited to write anything else than “another great post PPGG”. Very interesting links too.
    I love subversive minds and I love N’guyen’s wisdom. Art of living among the surouding mess:)

  5. Servant
    29 December, 2006

    What say everyone? Should we have a sing along until the mistress gets back from her rest? I’ll get it started. Join in when you feel like it.

    Old McDonald had a farm, e i e i o.
    And on this farm he had some Yanks, e i e i o.
    With a Bush-Bush here and Bush-Bush there,
    Here a Bush, there Bush, everywhere a Bush-Bush …

    Old McDonald had a farm, e i e i o.

    You see what happens when you’re away, Ann?

  6. peoplesgeography
    29 December, 2006

    The farm animals play? Sounds like you’re having more fun in the sing-along than I in my work :) Seriously, thanks for the laugh, I’ll be singing it in my head all day now! ;) x Ann

  7. Bluebear2
    30 December, 2006

    Old McDonald had a farm, e i e i o.
    And on this farm Cheney went hunting, e i e i o.
    With a Boom-Boom here and Boom-Boom there,
    Here a Boom, there Boom, everywhere a Boom-Boom …

    Old McDonald had a farm, e i e i o.

  8. homeyra
    1 January, 2007

    e i e i o
    e i e i o
    If you want to practice hunting:

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"