I keep this photograph among my important possessions.
I’ve never personally used an instant camera–never even held one in my hand. The shot is from an event in my home town of Bratislava, organised by Kia, the car manufacturers, when they opened their first plant in Slovakia.
It was in one of the squares in city centre, where they set up a stage for traditional Korean performances (I remember we watched some cool drummers). Among the promotional material they were giving away, like key rings and stickers and bags, that sort of stuff, I don’t really recall exactly, they did Polaroid shots for people.
As you can observe, there is a Kia car in the picture and those two people in front of it are myself and my younger brother! I was 23 and he was 12. I had already left for UK by then, but was back for a visit.
So, the year was 2004. An interesting year, because that was when Slovakia (with 9 other countries) joined the EU. Here in UK, you bet they had a lot to say about that and not in a good way. But on one news program they also said that with Kia now establishing themselves in Slovakia, potential other car manufacturers will follow and the country might one day become a second Detroit. Amazingly, to this day, it was the only positive thing I heard about my country on British TV ever. Now fifteen years later, we have Brexit and car manufacturers are leaving Britain.
And that thing with second Detroit became true.
Obviously I wasn’t the one who took this pic, but I was the one who took the pic of the pic, so is it my pic or is it not my pic?
So I was scrolling through my blog the other day and saw a post where I said I should post pictures of Bratislava Castle one of these days. The post was from July 2016. I don’t know if the present day counts as “one of these days” in relation to July 2016, but I guess late is better than never.
These were taken with my old compact Fujifilm. I’ve not actually been to Bratislava since I got the Canon.
The castle has a long history; there have been settlements of sorts ever since any people lived in this part of the world. It has been converted numerous times, at one point even burned down. Here’s the Wikipedia article.
The castle is on a hill as well–here you see the towers just poking out from the trees.
For all other pics of my hometown, check out my Bratislava tag.
And if you want to see more castles, here’s my Pinterest board.
To blog or not to blog?
As I bring my blog back to life, aside from my Gloomscapes series, I still intend to be posting nice things. There was a time in the second half of 2017 when I wasn’t sure what to do with the blog, I felt it lost direction. Even the Weekly Photo Challenge wasn’t doing anything for me.
Well, not only have I got over that, I’m more excited than ever about blog and can’t wait to post more!
25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union
This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.
EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.
I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.
Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.
I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.
In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.
It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.
Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.
Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.
And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.
Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.
Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.
28 Members of EU
UK (for now)
I love you all.
Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:
On Shrove Tuesday, it is a tradition in UK to have pancakes. Since I can’t make them and didn’t feel like going out to eat them (I’m off work this week), I went for something else–chocolate. But what chocolate.
In my neighbourhood there’s a shop that sells food and snacks from Slovakia and Czech Republic, among others this chocolate which has always been my favourite back home. It’s called Student’s Seal and contains a mix of fruit, nuts and jelly.
The bottom one is apparently Rebel’s Edition. I did feel quite rebellious eating it, let me tell you.
These days I don’t consume as much chocolate as I used to in the past, I only stick to a square or two of dark chocolate with 70-85% of cocoa. For Lent, I’m giving up any sweet treats whatsoever–my waistline will be pleased, I’m sure.