e diel, janar 27, 2008

Albania 1976

Watched a program yesterday on Digi+ (Digitalb Tv) about Albania in 1976. Enver Hoxha was in Gjirokaster visiting his hometown, and everything in Albania was great! (according to the presenter - and my mother-in-law!)
Couldn't help feel sorry for the people cheering Enver Hoxha...as i remembered the words, "ti kete POPULL NE DRITE E QITE".

Small nation
Little time
Tiny ration
Enormous shadow
Great fear
Great want

And throughout the land
Shrieks and cries
Like owls in the night

Vend i vogël
Kohë e vogël
Rracion i vogël.

Errësirë e madhe
Frikë e madhe
Mjerim i madh.

Dhe rrugëve të atdheut
Si kukuvajka nën hënë
Leh e ulërin.

Bilal Xhaferri

e shtunë, janar 26, 2008

Adrian Paci

Adrian Paci is an artist who was born in Shkoder in 1969 and now lives and works in Milan.

He has gained international recognition for some of his work, and had exhibitions all over Europe.
Some of his work can be viewed here.

I would recommend that you go HERE and watch the short video "Turn On" made in Shkoder, 2004 on the energy crisis in Albania.

e enjte, janar 24, 2008

Robert Burns birthday 25th January

25th January is the birthday of Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet.
We usually celebrate his birthday with a Burns Supper, where we eat haggis, have a wee dram of whisky and traditional Scottish dancing called a “ceilidh” into the "wee" hours of the morning.

Nae haggis for me though….probably just a plate of grosh!

Still I’ll let you hear a beautiful rendition of one of Burn’s songs sung by Eva Cassiday.


Below are 2 translations, I found one by someone called Era1 on a forum. Her translation is more true to the original, and I like it better, so I included it here.
Having sadi that...they still don;t compare to the original!

I dedicate this post to “bukuroshje ime”, Elida my wife.
” Do të dua derisa detët te jene tharë per ujë!”

Yes and before you ask, it is true…all us Scotsmen are as romantic as Burns. ;-)
…well almost!

A Red, Red, Rose by Robert Burns

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.

Si trendafil cel dashuria
Ne mes te kopshtit tim
Dhe si nje kenge bukuria
S'me ndahet ne udhetim.

Kjo bukuri mbi gjitha mbetet,
Asgje mbi dhe s'e tund,
Me mua ecen gjersa detet
Te thahen gjer ne fund.

Nuk thahen detet, zemra ime,
Graniti nuk firon,
Nuk ndalet rera ne udhetime,
Se rera vec vrapon...

Mbec me shendet, per ty ngre goten,
Mos u merzit, o shpirt!
Sikur ta bredh me kembe token,
Te gjej, por vetem prit!

Perktheu: Dritero Agolli

Nje trendafile e kuqe, e trembur.
Ah, dashuria ime eshte si nje trendafile e kuqe, e trembur,
qe e re ka celur ne Qershor,
Ah, dashuria ime eshte si melodia
qe kur luhet, me embelsi ritmon.

Sa e hijeshme je, moj bukuroshja ime,
aq thelle kam rene ne dashuri me ty,
e do te t’dua perhere, e dashur,
derisa detet te jene thare per uje.

Derisa detet te jane thare per uje, e dashur,
dhe shkembinjte me diellin te jene shkrire
Une do te dua serisht e dashur,
Derisa rerat e jetes te rrijne shtrire.

Dhe lamtumire, dashuria ime e vetme,
Lamtumire tani, vetem per pak,
Dhe do te vij perseri, e dashur,
Dhe sikur te jem dhjet' mije milje larg.

E perkthyer nga « Era1 »

e martë, janar 22, 2008

Electrical Hazards

This is the view at the bottom of my stairs. As you can see, the builder, did not do as he promised and did not fix the electrical cables for the apartments. As a result we have to climb over, and sometimes stand on the cables, just to get the bicycle out. What is worse is that when the pump breaks it leaks water, so that the whole floor and cables are wet.

However, the bright side is that as we have no electric meter, we just have to pay a monthly fixed tariff, which i am sure is a lot less than we actually use!

Still, care is often needed in Albania - just for the simple things!

e diel, janar 20, 2008

How many men does it take to get a mercedes out of a hole?

Our road is horrendous. (This in fact at the entrance to "Foto Marubi")
Anyway, almost every second day a car goes down this hole.
This time the tyre burst, but they still thought they could tow it and push it out.
I thought it was unlikely, so i took the video...

Then I remembered the story of the negro American beaten up by the Police, which was filmed on video by someone watching from a window nearby. I remember someone saying at that time..."Listen if the Police ever beat ME up, and you have your video camera, then PLEASE - put the camera away and come and help me !"

So I put the mobile phone away and gave them a hand and having jacked up the car we managed the get the car out of the hole.

Problem solved - until tomorrow and someone else goes down the hole.

e enjte, janar 17, 2008

Monty Python Colin 'Bomber' Harris

Having been outposted by the peshku, I will have to post my other humour video quickly!!

This is the live version of Colin Bomber Harris fighting against himself.It is from the Monty Python Show...which transformed British humour on TV in the 1970's.

Unfortunately, the commentator changes the words for the live version, but the original Tv version went like this....

"Here comes Bomber now, circling round, looking for an opening. He's wrestled himself many times in the past, this boy, so he knows practically all his own moves by now. And he's going for the double hand lock. He's got it. Here's the head squeeze. And the ALBANIAN head lock. He's going for the throw."

I remember seeing this on UK TV just after I returned from my first visit to Albania in March 1994. It made me laugh so much!...although I still don't know what an "Albanian Headlock" is?!

Part of the original TV version can be seen here http://www.spike.com/video/2704447/collection/14295 but to be honest the acting does not compare to the live version.

Interestingly, Michael Palin is the host at the beginning. He recently paid a visit to Albania for a travel show for the BBC.

Albania - Cheers

I have had this clip for ages, but just didn't bother posting it. I choose today, and now go to www.peshkupauje.com and find they posted the very same video YESTERDAY.
Sorry peshku...I honestly did not copy you!
But I like this so much I am not taking it off my blog!

Long before "Friends" was the hit comedy programme in America, they gave us "Cheers". The life in a local bar in Boston, America.

This is a clip from the 1980's (I guess)of Sam, the bar owner learning geography from "The Coach".

I grew up watching "Cheers", so I find this quite funny...but on its own it doesn't give a true reflection of how good the programme really was.

What it does tell us is that during communism, the Western world knew very little of Albania. I guess the majority still don't.

The words of the song are...
"Albania, Albania,
You border on the Adriatic,
You are mainly mountainous,
And your major export is chrome!"

"You're a communist republic,
You're a red regime..."

e hënë, janar 14, 2008

Update on Bank repairs

I posted a few weeks ago on repairs that were started on the bank on one of the main streets of Shkoder. The bank was burnt down during the riots in March 1997. Since then there has been no work done to it, nor did there seem to be any plan for reservation, even though it is still a beautiful building.

Now, it appears that the plan is to use the building to display the exhibition of “Foto Marubi”.
Pjeter Marubi was an Italian that came to Shkoder in the mid 1850’s. He took with him some photographic apparatus and took the first photos in Albania, particularly of people in Shkoder and the North of Albania.

There are around 150,000 photographs as part of this collection dating between around 1850-1940. Since 1994 there have been endeavours to make Marubi’s work better known to the public.

At the moment, the exhibition is very well hidden, behind some building near the centre of Shkoder. It would not surprise me if many local people never knew where the exhibition is situated – nor the “treasure” within. A more public building will be more accessible to the rising number of tourists that are now visiting Shkoder, giving this exhibition it’s proper place in the town’s history!

This can only be good for Shkoder.

( I believe there is a book available on the work of Pjeter Marubi )

e mërkurë, janar 09, 2008

Sali Berisha

I was down in Elbasan yesterday, and driving through Tirana I noticed what I think is a bar/cafe that I hadn't seen before.

I don't know what the owner had in mind...
Sali Berisha is a communist?
Sali Berisha is as much a dictator as the other three?

One thing is for sure, if you speak about Sali Berisha you certainly get a response!
The Albanians either love him or hate him.
Which is quite strange, as he seemed to get the blame for the 1997 pyramid schemes and the anarchy and deaths that resulted throughout the country.
Yet once again he is back as Prime Minister.

The funny thing is that I find that Sali Berisha is a great orator.
He is one of the few Albanian politicians that I could easily sit and listen to. Maybe because he speaks slowly and clearly and I can understand him better than some others, but I think the real reason is that he is a "charismatic" figure. He could be talking absolute rubbish, but I find his manner of speaking excellent.

When he starts speaking I find myself turning the volume up, which is the direct opposite of some of the other people on Albanian Tv who have me rushing for the remote control to switch the channel.

e hënë, janar 07, 2008

Albania and the Albanians by M. Edith Durham

From time to time I hope to do a book review on some books on Albania.
I have a few. Some I still need to read, and some to re-read.
But I start with this one from Edith Durham.

Albania and the Albanians by M. Edith Durham ISBN 1 903616-09-3

This book is a selection of articles and letters written by Edith Durham between 1903-1944.

On more than one occasion in her letters she gives detailed account of the history of Albania up to early 1900’s. (see pages 77-79)

There are number of things that I found interesting in the book.
The first was the lack of mention of Tirana. There is mention of Elbasan as the capital of Albania (page 43) and also Shkoder of being the ancient capital of Illyria.(page 77) Mention also of Durres as being the capital,(page 62) I think in the time of Wilhelm if I remember correctly, but it takes till page 114 for the first mention of Tirana.

Another thing that is clear is the great hope through Albania at the time of independence in 1912, especially in having literature in Albanian and freedom to teach in the Albanian language. Prior to independence, there was a punishment of 15 years imprisonment for anyone caught teaching in Albanian.
Interesting also to read of the resignation and dissatisfaction with Ismail Qemali after independence had been granted. (pages 49-51)

What is clear is that Edith Durham loved the Albanians and Albania. ( and the Albanians loved her. They called her the “Queen of the Highlanders”). She must have been quite some women. Her bravery is seen a number of times in the book, although she does not highlight it, she just gives it a passing mention. (for example, page 81 as she seeks to see for herself outposts of Greek soldiers who were fighting with the Albanians…or page 135 where she steps in to stop a fight as she travelled on the road, with one man biting the nose of the other and refusing to let go!)

Sad to say that Edith Durham died in 1944.
Her final letters are full of hope that following the Second World War, Albania would have freedom and the Albania people themselves would choose who would lead them.
She got her wish…but the result was not what she wanted I am sure!

Overall, an excellent book if you want a brief survey of Albania history and to know more about Albania in the early 1900’s.

Unfortunately much of what is written in some letters is repeated later on the book. This is especially true in connection with the history of Albania. So I would only recommend this book to those with a serious interest. There are other books that I think would be a better read on Albania in general– including Edith Durham’s own book “High Albania”.

e premte, janar 04, 2008

New Year in Albania

This was drawn by Medi Belortaja (Albania). I have no idea who he is, but he certainly knows about New Year in Albania!

Who said "a picture speaks a thousand words"?

Superstitious practices

Most Albanians are very superstitious.
This can be seen in a number of different ways.

First of all there is the popularity of horoscopes. For some it is an important part of their life. They follow them daily and are very influenced by them.

Secondly there is the practice of reading the bottom of a coffee cup.

There are some that have the “gift” of telling fortunes through the residue at the bottom of the coffee cup. This is the Turkish coffee that leaves a large amount of coffee at the bottom of the cup (and in your stomach I would imagine!). Again many women are very influenced by this.

Then there are many different things to ward off the “evil eye”( Albanian “syri i keq” Turkish “nazar”). The “evil eye” is a belief that someone has “evil” powers and can curse you just by looking at you. If your eyes meet, then he/she can curse you. Usually the belief is that someone is jealous of what you possess and therefore “curse” you by giving you the “evil eye”. To ward off this evil, people will put cuddly toys on new buildings so that anyone with the ability to curse, will look at the cuddly toy rather than the building or the family in the building, and as a result a curse is not cast on those that live there.

They will hang out garlic on their balconies, hang a “lucky horseshoe” upside down at the door of their house. Many houses, shops and cars have an amulet or talisman hanging to protect them.

When people meet you in the street they will say “marshalla” after any kind of praise. So for example, when our eldest son was born, he was almost 5kg in weight and was a big baby. One lady told us never to tell anyone his proper age, in order to ward off the “evil eye”. She held the view that over-praise may cause something bad to happen to him. For this reason they repeat the word “marshalla” after praising you, or saying something nice or good about you.
This is seen in the song sung as the bride enters a wedding…
« Sa bukur na ka dal' nusja,
Marshalla, marshalla;

E bukur per bukurie,
Marshalla, marshalla;

Paska ball per perishan! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska vet'llen si gajtan! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska synin si filxhan! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska hundin niskavi! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska faqen gurabi! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska gojen si kuti! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska dhambët si inxhi! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska gushen farfuri! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska qafen si zambak! Marshalla, marshalla
Paska shtatin si bajrak! Marshalla, marshalla»

( I think there are different versions and the words sometimes change. I also think that at some point they sing, “sa shyqyr, sa shyqyr!” instead of “marshalla”. “Shyqyr” …well there is no point in me trying to tell you what it means, I will likely get it wrong! I believe it means something along the lines of “thankfully”. Someone will correct me I am sure. I am not even certain it is Albanian, I think it may be a Turkish word.)

The superstitious practices are explained very well in the excellent article The Dordolec: Albanian House Dolls and the Evil Eye, by Kristin Peterson-Bidoshi, in the Journal of American Folklore.
“Informants mentioned numerous precautions one can take to prevent the evil eye. Of the forty informants, thirty-five use garlic, two use black beads, ten use horseshoes, two use sheep horns, three use flags, and one uses onions. Three of the thirty-five Muslim informants say the word "Marshallah" after any praise is spoken. Marshallah should accompany all complimentary remarks, Albanians say, and failure to say it after admiring or praising a child will certainly be considered to be the cause of any illness or misfortune that may befall the child in the near future. As early as 1914, Cozzi discusses Albanian farmers' use of Marshallah against the evil eye. He writes, "When these mountaineers see each other in the street with a flock/herd or with some beautiful animals, they put their hands in front of the eyes saying, 'mos past synin e keq' ('may it not have the evil eye') or 'Marshallah, Marshallah' ('what God wills, what God wills')" (461).14 Marshallah is an expression used the world over as protection from the evil eye. Donaldson documents this practice in Iran and postulates that the authority for its use is found in Sura 18:37: "And why didst thou not say, when thou enteredest the garden, 'What God wills'? There is no power but in God" (1938:55). On a similar note, George Foster documents the Spanish and Spanish-American practice of uttering the phrase "God bless you" to ward off the evil eye (1953:207).”

I did read a book a long time ago about by a Christian missionary who had lived in Turkey( if I remember correctly). He had many strange stories of superstition which he claimed was very much mixed in together with Islamic beliefs in Turkey.
There were stories of the “Jinn” which are half human half “angelic” beings. In fact the English word “genie” comes I believe from the word “jinn”.
What I found surprising on coming to Albania was not that the “evil eye” and stories of “Jinn” are believed, but that they are not just for one side of the community: e.g. both catholics and muslims believe in the “evil eye”.

For us Westerners, when we hear of these things for the first time, they appear to be “old wives tales” and we find it hard to understand how ANYONE could believe them. But, some of these are very much part of life in Eastern countries and certainly in Albania.

I have come to realise that they are not so “unbelievable” after all!

e mërkurë, janar 02, 2008

How well do you know your geography?

Sorry but this has nothing to do with Albania.
But as it is New Year, i thought i would post it.

Traveller IQ Challenge

I am terrible at geography, and tried this only once scoring 131,266.
Level 5
Traveller IQ = 87

Managed to get a couple totally in the wrong continent!

e martë, janar 01, 2008