Month: October 2014

Swastikas and Poppies

The swastika is an ancient symbol which in the west now symbolises the Nazi atrocities of the Second World war. To the Jewish People it symbolises fear, oppression and extermination.

The word swastika comes from Sanskrit meaning well-being. It has been in use for thousands of years, particularly by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists as an auspicious sign which is part of everyday life. For some it is a symbol of love. In India it is often found painted over doorways or on motor vehicles.

The poppy has been used since the 1920s in Canada, Britain, Australia and some other countries as a symbol of remembrance for the soldiers who died in the war. The poppy was chosen because it was found to grow well on former battlefields, the destruction of battle caused calcium to leach into the soils and made them attractive for poppies. Also the poppy is red a reminder of the blood shed by those soldiers for our freedom.

Remembrance Day is on 11 November, known by many as Poppy Day in Britain. Unfortunately the poppy has been used (hijacked) by far right groups in the UK like Britain First (an offshoot of the BNP) to promote their agenda of Islamophobia and racial hatred.

poppy and swastika

poppy and swastika

For some in Ireland the poppy is seem as a symbol of British Militarism and is for them more offensive than the swastika. It is rare to see Poppy wearers in Dublin around Remembrance Day.

1909 notecard

1909 notecard with poppies and swastikas in the corners for good luck

Music for Juggling

I learnt to juggle in 1999, I found the best background music for juggling was something fast with a repetitive beat, the dance music of Sash and similar acts worked well for juggling.

Me juggling

Me juggling

I can juggle three, and I’m trying to move up to four, five would require an enormous amount of practice….

Here is my playlist (10 tunes):

  1. Sash- Adelante
  2. Sash – Ecuador
  3. Darude – Sandstorm
  4. Ian Van Dahl – Castles in the Sky
  5. Faithless – Insomnia
  6. Sash – Encore un Fois
  7. Tina Cousins – Mysterious Times
  8. Darude – Feel the Beat
  9. Fragma – Toca’s Miracle
  10. Alice Deejay – Better off Alone

Reading in Georgian: ვახტანგ გორგასალი Vakhtang Gorgasali

Vakhtang Gorgasali was a Georgian King in the fifth century.  His biography is the first in the series “დიდი ქართველები” (Great Georgians).

ვახტანგ გორგესალი Vakhtang Gorgesali

ვახტანგ გორგესალი Vakhtang Gorgesali

Vakhtang Gorgasali was the son of King Mihrdat V (მირდატ V) of Iberia (Eastern Georgia) and a Persian Noblewoman Sagdukht. His father died when he was just seven years old.

An equestrian statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali can be seen in front of Metekhi Church in the centre of Tbilisi. Vakhtang was famous for founding Tbilisi, at the time of his birth there was no Tbilisi and the capital was Mtskheta.

Night drawings and Vakhtang Gorgesali 019

Equestrian Statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali in front of Metekhi Church

I have been reading this with the help of Khato, my lovely Georgian wife. As she prepares the dinner (ხათო თლის ვაშლს), I read the text, painfully slowly, she then helps me translate the words. For a children’s text there are a lot of long words like “ქერპთაყვანისმცემელთა” (20 letters long!). Long words in Georgian should come as no surprise, where even a simple hello in Georgian is გამარჯობა (gamarjoba) which means something like “I wish thee victory”.

Night drawings and Vakhtang Gorgesali 020

ქერპთაყვანისმცემელთა (20 letter-long word)

Some useful vocabulary picked up in the first couple of pages. (I try to learn vocabulary by making associations in my mind, I find Georgian words much more difficult to remember than French, Spanish or even Russian words…:)

თითქმის    (titkmis)   almost…. this almost has rude associations…you might be disappointed if a Georgian girl offers to show you her თითი (titi) as this means finger (or toe) not what you might have been thinking!
მთავარი    (mtavari)  main   the “tav” in the middle is like” tavi” meaning head

გმირი  (gmiri)   hero  trying to imagine the Soviet Space station Mir inside a GI….

ქვეყანა   (kveq’ani)  country…the word doesn’t look like any country I know

სპარსეთი  (sparseti) Persia

სპარსი  (sparsi) Persian this looks a little like Farsi, the language of Iran/Persia

დედოფალი   (dedopali) queen დედა is mother so there is a similarity

მტერი … მტრები  (mteri…mtrebi) enemy…enemies the plural is very close to the Georgian word for pigeon (მტრედი) I can imagine a flock of pigeons crossing over the border invading Georgia…

მოკვდა  (mokvda)  died  this doesn’t suggest any associations to me…so I just have to learn it.

I still have several pages to go so I shall update this post as I make further progress.