e martë, shkurt 26, 2008

Live Albanian radio stations online.

A couple of links for you to live radio stations in Albania.






The third of the links is the most comprehensive, although some of the links don't work, and some are under construction. But hopefully you will find something that you like!


e hënë, shkurt 25, 2008

Green Olives or Black Olives?

One of the strange things in life is how we change.

As a little boy (like all little boys) i did not like my green vegetables. Neither did I like cold custard, cold boiled eggs, beans...and the list could go on.

Now there is hardly any food that i do not like - although I still find that i do not eat much fruit!

Anyway, one food that i did not like when i came to Albania was olives. When i arrived, I stayed with an Albanian family for over 2 years and the young boy ate LOTS of olives. He was my "saviour" when we were out for a meal, as I just passed all my olives onto his plate!

However, now I have changed. I find myself searching around the shops looking for black olives - although I also like the green olives stuffed with red peppers.

A salad is just not the same without black olives!
A favourite of mine is crackers with mozarrella cheese and black olives.

When did this change take place ?
How did it happen?
I really don't know - but I'm glad I changed, as olives are great!

I don't know what anyone else thinks...

But which are the best? - Black olives or green?
And which meal just is not the same without olives?

e shtunë, shkurt 23, 2008

Language Lessons #4

Saw this as I was passing a shop in Koplik yesterday.

Although most shops use the words "hapur" (open) and "Mbyllur" (closed) this shopkeeper uses a different word. I take it that it means "i çelur" which means open...but the shopkeeper has written it in Shkodrane "çilun".

"Hajde" means "lets go" or "come on" in Serbian or Croat.In this instance it would mean "come" or "welcome".

e enjte, shkurt 21, 2008

Gjirokaster, Kukes and Malesia e Madhe

This will be the last post on Two Vagabonds in Albania, a thoroughly enjoyable book and great insight into life in Albania almost 100 years ago.

Page 147
“Banishment to Gjinokaster ( Gjirokaster) is as awful a punishment for a northerner as banishment to Kruja in the north is a fate dreaded by the southerner. The average traveller returns charmed by the readiness of Albanian hospitality to foreigners, but one must not overlook the fact that Albanians themselves who will travel cheerfully to America, dislike intensely being transferred to other parts of their own land.”

Page 152
“I do not think that there can be any other town in the world quite like Gjinokastra ( Gjirokaster). It has parts of the element of a fairyland…

Gjirokaster is the birth place of Enver Hoxha. I have never visited it, but I am told it is a beautiful town.

Page 60 –
“ From creepies and crawlies and lang-leggity basties(beasties) and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us,” says the old Scotch ( Surely Scots or Scottish please!!! – Scotch is a drink!)petition.
Well don’t sleep at Kjuks (Kukes), because there He won’t – not from any of ‘em!”

Malesia e Madhe
Page 238
The conversation turned to family affairs and our host with a laugh pointed to the first lad.
“Manners are degenerating,” he said. “See, there is my son. He is seventeen, his wife is seventeen also, and, will you believe me, he doesn’t beat her? He’s getting soft. Aha! The good old times are going.”
The other lad had a stool near the fire and at once fell into conversation with the women. This surprised us, for hitherto in Albania we had seen no man who considered it worth his while to exchange any unnecessary words with the womenfolk. However, looking closer, we began to doubt the sex of this person, and the hairdresser confirmed our suspicion.
“That girl,” he said, “has vowed never to marry, so she dresses like a man, and does man’s work.”
“But if she breaks her vow,” we said” does her family pursue her and kill her?”
“She doesn’t ever break her vow,” said the hairdresser; “she would be too ashamed to.”

My wife had a relation, cousin of an aunt or something like that, who was the 7th daughter in a family. (if I remember correctly) there were no sons, and she dressed like a man. She attended (uninvited) our wedding and ended up drinking everyone under the table and dancing on the tables. She drank and smoked as much as anyone I have ever known, and was far more of a man than some men I know!
However, she was not a sworn virgin - she apparantely just liked dressing that way! 8-|

“cigarette papers and salt are the two things most lacking in these regions. On their ride the English police officers had encountered a woman who was making a two and a half day’s journey down to Scutari (Shkoder) solely in order to sell a dozen eggs with which to purchase sixpennyworth of salt.”

and finally....a comment on religion...
Page 150
“Religions in Albania can be fundamentally political rather than spiritual; the pushing commercial Christian detests the dominance of the more valiant though more conservative Moslem. Indeed, the Albanian might be held up as an example to the world of religious tolerance were it not so largely the result of religious indifference. Undoubtedly, the Albanian Christian owes what fervour he has as much to a spirit of opposition against the Moslem as to any real devotional impulse.”

Hmmm...let me see...I don't quite understand the reasoning here.
The Albanian Christian is indifferent or fervent? Surely he cannot be both. He seems to "detest" or have a "hatred" of muslim people rather than a "hatred" of their belief(Islam)! Yet this is the only reference in over 300 pages to this "problem" and is not backed up with any example or further information!
Maybe they were going to write about it in another book that was never published!!

Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.

e mërkurë, shkurt 20, 2008

Emigrants & Edith Durham

Page 110 –
Undoubtedly the emigrants were the curse of the country.
There were whole villages of whom the male inhabitants were either in America or had been in America and wished they could go there. These emigrants deadened the country, they dreamed of vast enterprise, they clamoured for enlightenment, for advance, yet in reality, all they clamoured for was the right to earn money in large sums.”

Page 67 – the authors surprise that now they had fought to get independence, so many seemed to want to live in the USA.

Page 73
The doctor had written a long poem in Albanian about those that had emigrated.
He depicts in moving rhyme the young man saying adieu to his mother, to his fiancé. His departure to the land of gold, the emigrants continual deferring to come home – a little more money, a little more money, a few dollars yet; at last the mother dies. Even this does not tempt the young man back, and when he does return, he finds his fiancé worn out with waiting on her death bed. And so the good doctor’s muse leaves the fellow with money in his pocket indeed, but with all his dreams sacrificed to the now useless dross. The good doctor exclaims “Ah gold, gold. What sins are committed in thy name.”

Interesting thoughts…I wonder what their view would be now. Especially as many families now only can afford to live with some of the “gold” sent back from family members living and working abroad.
It’s a tough one…I would far rather see the Albanians staying in Albania, but with unemployment so high (estimated around 20% in Shkoder…I imagine it would be something similar, if not higher through the country.) you can understand why people are leaving to find work elsewhere.
What I am really worried about, is that due to lack of opportunities the “best” and the “intellectuals” will leave to find suitable work elsewhere, rather than working to improve Albania…we will be left with workers and political leaders who are just not up to the task.

Page 250
Edith Durham – there are some interesting comments here on Edith Durham, whose travels were only a few years earlier in this very region.
“Aha, that was indeed a woman.” Cried Neij Miraka, the man in the white goatskin. “She went about in man’s clothes, and I tell you that she was here with us, and over the mountains too, for fourteen days, before I as much as suspected her sex.”

And yet in spite of the self-sacrificing work that she has done for the Albanians, Miss Durham is being rapidly forgotten. All the priests that we met insisted upon one thing, that the Albanian peasant does not feel gratitude, and such gratitude is nowhere more exemplified than in this instance. We often had great difficulty in extracting memories of her from the very places that must have known her best.”

e martë, shkurt 19, 2008

Language Difficulties and Bajram

2 entries today. There is so much of interest in this book, either amusing, or something similar to my own experience that I feel as though I could post for at least another week...but I am trying to get to the end of the posts from this book. So I am putting two different topics together.

Language difficulties

Jan and Cora Gordon spent six weeks learning the Albanian language prior to their visit. I just wonder how much of it they really did understand. Some exceptionally gifted people in language studies may pick up a lot ( and I’m not one of them) , but for others ( like me) it takes months and years and in fact you are always learning!

Page 71/72
Constant questioning of muslim women as to why they did not have any children.
She told them that she did not know, but each woman that came by asked the same questions adding that she looked ok and so did her husband.
She decided to get round this by inventing a story that she DID have a child but the child had died.
Unfortunately, she used the Albanian word to tell them of the event and her pronunciation was not what it should have been
( and how well some of us can relate to that!) and the hearers mistook her saying “vdek’ as ‘djeg’ ( to burn) and they thought the child was burnt. This only caused them to take great pity on her and bring her coffee, mulberries and patted her on the shoulders.

Yes I have a similar problem. I struggle with the single “L”. I just seem always able to pronounce only the double “LL” sound which of course changes the meaning of the word.
I could for example be saying that I have a good boy “djalë i mirë”...but if I mispronounce the single “L” sound in the word for boy “djalë”, then I end up saying “djalli i mirë” which is “good devil”.

Page 214 -Shkoder and Malesia e Madhe
“The prospect of touring with an interpreter had almost chilled us off from the journey, but unluckily we had only the dialect of the south, which might be almost useless, we understood amongst the northern tribes. Besides, there were ceremonies and customs to understand.”

Again if you travel north the short distance to Koplik or further north into the mountains, then you will find a whole different dialect and use of words and expressions. I have heard of some that have come from Tirana or further south to work in the villages in the mountains, only to return as they could not understand a word the mountain people spoke!

Page 234
Outside a narrow cemetery was deep in grass, from which stood up tall crosses, many beautifully chip-carved. Poised as if in contemplation on the crosses were primitively shaped wooden birds with wire nails for legs. They are probably meant to be cuckoos the Serbian bird of grief, for the Serbian word for ‘woe” is “kuku”. But the Albanians have lost both derivation and meaning of the birds, and we saw them nowhere else.

I am wondering if this may be the source of the word "kuku" in Albanian. As in " Kuku moj nanë!" or "Kuku për mua", "Kuku moj det!", "Kuku, ç'më gjeti!" which are expressions used in an unfortunate event. Something along the lines of "Oh dear, look what's happened!" - though i am sure that someone will correct me on my Albanian!- again! :-)

Page 246
Language difficulty
They believed people were wishing them a white road…which I take it was “rruge te mbare” ( safe journey) rather than “ rruge te bardhe”.


after many visits andevery house was a coffee, cigarettes, sweets and sometimes syrupy drinks, superadded until one felt cloyed and clogged with stickiness”…on return to the hotel they said “Thank heavens that Bhayram will come only once in OUR lifetime.”

Then on return to the hotel…they found a present for Bajram.
“We opened the door. There before us, on the table was a large Baklava cake compounded of wafer-like paste, fried oil, drenched in syrup, interleaved with walnut mash and crowned with cream. It was a climax of sweetness, stickiness and indigestibility. We sent back a message of false gratitude and sank upon our beds wondering how we could dispose of that cake without detection. As with a corpse after a murder, all traces must disappear.”

( Big mistake! Baklava is really good ( especially if like me you love walnuts)and you should not miss the opportunity to try it. However, there is nothing worse than getting ready to eat a piece and finding it is a week old!! Then it is like eating a piece of cardboard!)

e hënë, shkurt 18, 2008

"The Kosovars are now independent."

George Bush endorsed Kosova as an independent state in an interview on NBC's Today program.

"It's something that I've advocated along with my government," Bush said in an interview on NBC's "Today."

"The Ahtisaari plan is our blueprint forward," Bush said. "We'll watch to see how the events unfold today. The Kosovars are now independent."

I must be honest, and as much as I agree that Kosova should be independent...I can't help but feel a little scared at what might(and may probably) happen from the Serbian side. I have heard far too many interviews and Serbian politicians say that Kosova will NEVER be independent.
I can't see Kosova getting a smooth run in their new state...

I'm worried a little for the future( the Balkans has always been a tinderbox of problems)...I'm praying for peace!

Albanian Music and Dance (Two vagabonds in Albania)

I continue with some excerpts of Jan and Cora Gordon’s book on their travels through Albania in 1925.

Description of hearing music played by a doctor on a lute…
“ Our Turkish music is more real, more like life, always changing, always developing, always different, flexible elusive.”
They then describe the arrival of a schoolmaster who played the violin, but with Western melody.
“I see in this duet something of a parable of Modern Albania, itself, volatile Easternism and pedantic, ponderous Westernism leashed together in a incompatible bond.”

Page 135
“ then he and his 2 companions began to sing. It was a strange song. The old man led and after he had sung a few notes the gunman came in with an unexpected second while the Greek hero and all the others joined in with one steady basic drone. The old man threw his head back and cried his song to the sky:
“ Tur-lish, Tur-lish, se c’me ben cigaren.
Zemra moj me renkon edhe s’fumoj s’fushon dot te garet (qaret ?)etc
On the last note, all – soloist, second and drone – ended on a most odd dying slur which ran down into a groan like finish of an unwound gramophone. We afterwards found that every song in the region was brought to a conclusion in the same extraordinary fashion.”

( Seems to be talking here of the “labe” songs of southern Albania)( see this link )

Page 156
A line of men formed a chain, the leader flourishing a handkerchief in his unoccupied hand, postured and pranced as he went slowly forward; the next man to him also made steps which were less complicated than those of the leader, but the rest of the line merely slouched behind in an inner tail.
The dancing was even less exciting than that of the Tirana gypsies, unexciting not only to watch but to dance. Yet since we have seen it danced not only by drunken men at a wedding, and by those unscholarly schoolmasters, but also by the hired bravoes of Ahmet Zogu, the irregular mountaineer troops of Dibra, there must be some pleasure in the thing that we have missed. Like fishing, it is perhaps a sport to which one is born.”

Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.

e diel, shkurt 17, 2008

Gezuar Pavaresine e Kosoves

Gezuar Pavaresine e Kosoves!

Megjithate e kam degjuar shume duke thene "Turp! Festojne me shume Pavarsine e Kosoves sesa pavaresine tone!"

( Although I heard a good number of people that said, " They (Bashkia - City Hall) should be ashamed, they spend more money celebrating the Independence of Kosovo rather than the Independence for Albania!")

e shtunë, shkurt 16, 2008

Elbasan, Korçe and Permeti. (Two vagabonds in Albania)

“A regular roasting afternoon when the sun, having sucked up all the moisture from the general things about, turned his whole attention to ourselves as the last remaining moist objects within range and concentrated his whole attention on tossing us down a the end of the day as parched and brittle as a Bombay duck.”

(Yes, I know what that is like. My first Albanian summer included a day at Lake Shkodra. By lunch time I was red. The sun just seemed to love my “whiter than white” Scottish skin and by afternoon I was trying to find any kind of shelter and avoid the sun at all costs. Then we had to cycle back from Shiroke to Shkoder which took another half an hour…serious sunburn and dehydration!)

“The voyager who dashes from Tirana to Elbasan, along the road through the plains, a four hour ride in a rickety Ford car, and who bravely risks one night at the Hotel Adriatik, does not get the quality of Elbasan. Elbasan is a town to loiter in, though not in the café , to be sure. That is a rather dismal place, decorated by oleographic prints of big-bosomed, wasp waisted, luscious light ladies of forty years agone, occupied by groups of spasmodically barbered Albanians playing cards, dominoes, or backgammon with a nerve racking vehemence. No. Perhaps the best place where to get your Turkish coffee and cigarette and contemplation is in the hairdresser’s shop. Coffee and cigarette we write advisedly, for does not the Albanian proverb say: “Kafa pa duhan si Turku pa iman”( Coffee without tobacco is like a Turk without belief.”
And the barber’s shop, much more gay
( in the 1920’s the word “gay” meant “carefree” or “happy”) than the café, was a place of resort for coffee drinkers as well as the unshorn. Or you could go to the silversmith’s and begin a lengthy bargain for a pair of old silver buckles with the baptism of Christ crudely carved upon them, or for a few silver amulets; here, too, you would have got coffee. Then the lawyer’s shop was always open; opposite it was a poorly furnished general store of two brothers who had been in America, who never seemed to make a sale of more than twopence in value. Alternatively you might have sat with the leather worker whom you have commissioned to make a satchel, and he would also have given you coffee; or you could have joined the audience at the tailor’s, where the policeman read the newspaper aloud; or you might sit with the tobacconist while he was selecting the leaves of excellent Elbasan growth, cutting them with minute precision in a primitive apparatus, or have watched his little daughter blowing water from her mouth on to the cut of tobacco to give it proper moisture; or you could have drunk strange scented herbal tea at the tiny teashop of the Moslem priest. In all these places and many more you would have been warming Elbasan in your hands and allowing its flavour to penetrate to your nostrils. Then you might have talked about it.”

In the afternoon we went down to the River Shkumbi and seated near the magnificent old bridge…we watched these dramatic peasants file homewards against the skyline, the men riding, the women trudging patiently behind.

( Funny enough I was down in Elbasan recently and that is the very same impression that I got. I saw on a number of occasions either women carrying heavy loads, or on one occasion, an old man probably in his 70’s walking with a donkey loaded up, and his poor wife behind carry a heavy load!)

Page 153
If you desire to take a thrill, take a public lorry from Korcha to Permeti. Your life will be in danger at least 6 times and you will see the magnificent scenery. You will also quite possibly be partially deaf for 2 days afterwards.

Page 109 – Permeti
Permeti was remarkable for 2 causes. The first was the numbers of men, the second was the dearth of women. The men…sat about in the cafes or loafed at the street corners from morning to night, talked revolutionary politics ( all the south was, of course, a hotbed of anti-Zogist conspiracies), read the wretched rags of newspapers, played cards or backgammon or else – favourite occupation – sat for hours with blank faces and minds, twirling key chains or rosaries about their fingers. The old genial schoolmaster was the only one we ever saw who read a book and he had to read in Greek, for I believe there are not above two dozen books in all, printed in the Albanian tongue.”

( Again I have a similar experience any time I take a short trip of 17kms to the small town of Koplik. There, the streets are full of men standing around but not so many women, and I think I could count on one hand the times I have seen a women in the café. Although you will see many women on bicycles in Shkoder, I have as yet to see a woman on a bicycle in Koplik)

Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.

e premte, shkurt 15, 2008

Tirana (Two Vagabonds in Albania)

Author's quotes in bold.
My comments in italics.

The book opens with the authors arriving in Durres and travelling to Tirana although there were not too many cars to travel in…

“Don’t stay in Durrazo (Durres). There’s nothing to stop for in Durrazo unless you want to sketch the old walls that the Venetians made…”

I find that funny. First impressions really do last, and this is the last of Durres that we hear about - yet they really seem to like some other places e.g. Elbasan.
My first impression of Albania was arriving near midnight in March 1994, staying in an apartment in Kombinat with serious damp problems! , and sleeping on an old communist style couch.
Still, I fell in love with Albania.
Next morning I had a beautiful breakfast of warm Albanian bread and “çaj mali” (mountain tea...though i think it is more of a medicinal plant boiled in hot water)

As a capital Tirana was hardly impressive. It looked at first to us like the bazaar part of an Eastern city, but which had lost its city. Rows upon rows of meagre houses hollowed out into shops and hot with the tired heat of the end of a languid afternoon. There were 3 hotels…” all were full and the reason…” The parliament is sitting. Deputies are sleeping two in a bed.” Sorry but that last sentence makes me laugh! We can’t get 2 deputies now to agree on anything let alone share a bed!

In the end Tirana pleased us well in its way. It was an excellent town from our points of view. Essentially we are lazy travellers. Give us a decently warm climate, a chair outside any too respectable café, a refreshing drink and tobacco and we will sit and sit for hours on end, cheerfully contemplate.” You can begin to realise why they enjoyed Albania!

“And for the evening’s amusement there were two cafes where gypsy orchestras played queer and thrilling music, and where gypsy girls danced the most trivial and uninspiring dances that it has ever been out lot to witness.”

For all its Parliament, Albania is an autocracy, a tyranny, to use the word in its Greek sense, and about all a deputy can do is to job jobs in the civil service, the police or the army.”

5a.m. they left Tirana…

“Tirana still slept. All her political aspirations, jealousies, quarrels, intrigues were numb for a few hours. And how sweet the air tasted.”

Tomorrow they travel on down ( or should that be up and over into Elbasan)

Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.

e enjte, shkurt 14, 2008


I have recently had 2 posts from a person with the username "MALEBEI".

The post says " click here".

Unfortunately, I discovered that the link was to a website with some disturbing images. Not only this , but it added a virus to my computer.

Please do NOT open any comments with "click here" in them...and certainly do NOT open any comments by Malebei.

I have deleted the comments on my blog.

I hope my blog is not infected, but if anyone finds that their computer is infected from my blog, then i will delete the blog.

Sorry, but if I get any more posts like this, then I will have to screen all the posts before they appear. ( Bit too much like "Big brother", but it's the only alternative )

Two Vagabonds in Albania

Sorry I have not posted for a few days, but I have had a nasty virus on the computer that first did not let me get past the start up screen, then after solving that problem, it sent 25,000 e-mails a second!
Then it deleted my network connection and we had great difficulty in getting back online.
I had to re-format my computer, so hopefully the problem is gone.

This post is another book review, this time...
"Two vagabonds in Albania" by Jan and Cora Gordon.
(Apparently the most sought after book in the vagabond series by these authors - although it is now difficult to find a copy)

One post will not do justice to this very readable account by an English couple travelling around Albania in the mid 1920's.

They write...
“This is a picture of the half-oriental, half Western community trying to make a state of itself”

As you can see from the above map(click on the map for a larger image), they travelled extensively around southern and northern Albania. They had studied the Albanian language for 6 weeks prior to their visit, and they often describe events as though they themselves understood all that was going...but I think much must have been translated to them.

This is an account of their journey, mostly in the mountain areas, and gives a very good detail of Albanian life at that time.

Rather than give a brief description, I hope to post a few entries over the next few days , which will give you a far better flavour of this book.

Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.

e shtunë, shkurt 09, 2008

Lead Mosque - Xhamia e Plumbit

I hear that money is being made available from the governement and the “Bashkia” for the renovation of the Lead Mosque.
Built towards the end of the 1700’s this is one of the few mosques that were not destroyed around 1967, when Enver Hoxha’s communist government declared Albania an “atheistic country” and banned all religious meetings and literature.

Some of these buildings have now been rebuilt….like the Mosque in the main street and the one in Parruc, along with the Bell/Clock Tower at the large Catholic Church and the tall tower with the illuminated cross at the Françeskan Church.
However, it has taken a long time for anything to be done regarding the Lead Mosque.

It appears that it has been “unlucky” in many ways.
The River Drini seems to have caused the land around the mosque to rise and what used to be an elevated mosque now is on the ground level.
Also, many people have built houses nearby which appears to have caused blockage in the draining of rainwater and the mosque is often surrounded by pools of water.

Hopefully, now there will be no “red tape” and unnecessary delays in getting the work started to bring the mosque back to something of its former glory. (and a little bit of a tourist attraction!)

By the way, there is a very good photograph at the Foto Marubi building taken from Rozafa Castle looking down on the mosque surrounded by trees and shrubs that sadly are no longer there.

I will bring more news as and when work starts….but knowing Albania – don’t hold your breath!

e mërkurë, shkurt 06, 2008


My mother-in-law is putting new windows into the balcony. She needs to put some brick work done and then get ready for the windows. The workmen should have been there last week but they could not come...because it was raining. :-)

Anyway, all this week it has rained , so she has not seen them.
I got a call about half and hour ago saying that they had arrived.
I shouted to my wife that the workmen were there and we got ready to go and give her some help.
5 minutes later the phone rang...
"That'll be the workmen away again" I joked.
But I was in fact right...they came, they saw ... and they left to come back tomorrow!

Don't you just love Albania! :-)

Some people e-mail to ask how long it would take to get e.g. a kitchen fitted to property they have bought in Albania....
How long is a piece of string?

Shopping #1

Shopping in Albania has its advantages and its disadvantages.

You can find lots of things, and a lot cheaper than abroad. Unfortunately you pay less because the quality is a lot less!
Everyone tells you that the product is Italian , trying to convince you that it is a quality item...but a lot of the stuff is Turkish and Chinese, and does not last very long.

You do need to be careful and ALWAYS check the sell by date!
My wife bought cakes that the boys like to eat. The sell by date was okay, but when she opened the packet she found that the cakes were packed individually and the sell by date on the individual packets inside had expired!

Friday, I bought the boys a couple of new Playstation2 controls. Brand new in their Playstation packaging.
Saturday, the control lever broke. I returned it to the shop and the owner told me that my son should not move the lever too hard ! ( What's that all about! - surely the control lever is for moving hard and suddenly, when in the middle of a game!)
Anyway, he said he would see the technician and fix it. I went back yesterday, and he was quite pleased to tell me that it had been fixed.
"Good! " i said, as I handed him the other control I had bought " Go and give him this one too, as my son has just broken it as well!" (and exactly in the same way!!)

There are a couple of proper Playstation2 controls on their way to me right now courtesy of Ebay!

e martë, shkurt 05, 2008

Stop the Trafficking !

A video by World Vision on human trafficking.

e hënë, shkurt 04, 2008

e shtunë, shkurt 02, 2008

Saturday is ... betting day!

Unfortunately there seems to be a rise in the amount of betting and gambling in Albania. This can be seen by the increase in cafes that have installed betting facilities on their premises. There is even a sports cafe in the former restaurant where I got married, with multiple screens on the wall so you can watch your investment increase - or more likely watch your money fritter away with every goal scored.

With live football(soccer)matches on Tv from England, Germany, Italy, France and Spain every weekend, many men spend most of the weekend in the cafe watching the games.

I have a number of concerns, especially here in Albania where wages are low and many people live in debt.
1) Although many bet small amounts in the beginning, a large number find that the "buzz" of gambling goes away, and they have to increase their stakes to feel the same way as before.
2) Some see betting as a quick way of wiping out their debt...only to find that they end up deeper in debt.
3) Profits won only seem to increase the feeling that the "better" is on a "winning streak" and what is gained is used to bet again at a higher stake.

There seems to be little in education or warning in Albania of the dangers of gambling, nor of any age restriction. I see young teenage boys of maybe 13-14 years of age leaving the cafes working out how much they are "sure" to win!

I would like, at the very least, to see the government taking on some initiative to teach high school pupils the dangers of gambling.

If cigarette packets must contain a warning of dangers of smoking...surely the betting shops should advertise that you should bet only what you can "afford" to lose.

In Albania that couldn't be very much!

e premte, shkurt 01, 2008