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Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

Afghanistan Before The Wars

These photos were made in 1967 by professor of Arizona State University, Podlich, during a two-year trip in Afghanistan with UNESCO while teaching at the Higher Teachers College in Kabul. He visited Afghanistan with his wife, and two teenage daughters Peg and Jan. This family is happy to share  these photos and their impressions with the world to show how this country looked like before terrible wars.





Of her father, Dr. William Podlich (second from left), Peg Podlich said: "He had always said that since he had served in WWII...he wanted to serve in the cause of peace. In 1967, he was hired by UNESCO as an expert on principles of education for a two-year stint in Kabul.... Throughout his adult life, because he was interested in social studies, whenever he traveled around [in Arizona, to Mexico, and other places] he continued to take pictures. In Afghanistan he took half-frame color slides [on Kodachrome] and I believe he used a small Olympus camera."





"I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and when my dad offered my younger sister, Jan, and me the chance to go with him and our mother to Afghanistan, I was excited about the opportunity," says Peg Podlich (right). "I would spend my senior year in high school in some exotic country, not in ordinary Tempe.... Of course, there were loads of cultural differences between Arizona and Afghanistan, but I had very interesting and entertaining experiences. People always seemed friendly and helpful. I never got into any real difficulties or scrapes, even though I was a fairly clueless teenager! Times were more gentle back then."

Peg Podlich (in sunglasses) during a family trip by bus from Kabul to Peshawar, Pakistan.



Jan Podlich is pictured during a shopping trip to Istalif, a village about 30 kilometers northwest of Kabul. "We arrived in Kabul one sunshiny morning in June.... My dad met us and was able to whisk us through the customs. We proceeded into Kabul in a UN 'kombi' (kind of an old-school SUV). I was tired, but I can remember being amazed at the sight of colorful (dark blue, green, and maroon) ghosts that were wafting along the side of the road. My dad explained there were women underneath those chadris and that some women had to wear them out in public. We never called the garments burqas."

Afghan men gaze out over the village of Istalif, some 30 kilometers northwest of Kabul.





Afghan schoolgirls return home after attending school, an act that the Taliban would ban some 30 years later. "Afghan girls, as well as boys, were educated up to the high school level, and although girls [and boys] wore uniforms, the girls were not allowed to wear a chadri (burqa) on their way to secondary school," says Peg Podlich. "Able young women attended college, as did the men."
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Young Afghan students dance on a school playground as a teacher and a student accompany on instruments.


Men and boys washing and swimming in the Kabul River.

Afghan students learn chemistry in a mud-walled classroom.

"For the year that I was in Kabul, my family lived in a house in Shar-e Naw, up the road from the Shar-e Naw Park," says Peg Podlich. "My parents had lived in Denver, Colorado, in the 1940s. My mother would say that Kabul reminded her of Denver: about a mile in altitude, often sunny, with beautiful mountains in the distance. I thought it seemed somewhat like Arizona because of the arid landscape and lack of rain. Since I was born [in Arizona], it was very easy for me to appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape there in Afghanistan."









Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, near the Kabul River


A boy decorates cakes, cookies, and other sweets.






"In the spring of 1968, my family took a public, long-distance Afghan bus through the Khyber Pass to visit Pakistan (Peshawar and Lahore)," Peg Podlich remembers. "The road was rather bumpy in that direction, too. As I recall it was somewhat harrowing at certain points with a steep drop off on one side and a mountain straight up on the other! I remember that before we left Kabul my father paid for a young man to go around the bus with a smoking censor to bless the bus or ward off the evil eye. I guess it worked -- we had a safe trip."

The 2.6-kilometer-long Salang Tunnel, which passes beneath the Hindu Kush mountain range, was built with the help of the Soviet Union. It opened in 1964.







Young boys walk home on the outskirts of Kabul.






A smaller Buddha statue in the Bamiyan Valley


"The Higher Teachers College was a two-year institution for training college-level teachers, located at Seh Aqrab Road and Pul-e Surkh Road, on the west side of Kabul, near Kart-e Sei," recalls Peg Podlich. In this photograph, a Mr. Bahir (left), who was William Podlich's counterpart at the college, and an Afghan teacher pose outside the school.

Young Afghans gather to share tea, sing, and play music.







A merchant fries jalebi, a sweet Afghan dessert, over an open fire.

"In the spring of 1968, my family took a public, long-distance Afghan bus through the Khyber Pass to visit Pakistan (Peshawar and Lahore)," Peg Podlich remembers. "The road was rather bumpy in that direction, too. As I recall it was somewhat harrowing at certain points with a steep drop off on one side and a mountain straight up on the other! I remember that before we left Kabul my father paid for a young man to go around the bus with a smoking censor to bless the bus or ward off the evil eye. I guess it worked -- we had a safe trip."

Two sisters pose for a photograph on a street in Kabul.


Amazyble





London at Night


London is a city that has seen considerable change in the last 20 years. Of course, many of the capital’s most notable buildings such as St. Paul’s and the Palace of Westminster have been around for centuries, but two decades ago there was no London Eye (completed in 2000), no Gherkin (completed in 2003) and no Shard (completed in 2012)… not even a Millennium Dome, of course.

A great time to see the city’s changing skyline is at night so, armed with my DSLR and some warm clothing I headed down to London to spend a few days unearthing some of London’s most iconic views after dark. But of course I wanted to enjoy some of the best bars and restaurants that London offers while I was there, so I connected my American Express card to my TripAdvisor account and sought out recommendations through its network of exclusive ‘Amex Traveller’ reviews, which you can access along with some great ‘top 10’ content for major world cities and a range of offers.

Cheval Three Quays

Whilst on assignment, I stayed at a beautifully appointed two bedroom serviced corner apartment at Cheval Three Quays. This has to be one of the best views from any accommodation in London. Below to my left, I had the Tower of London and to my right a view of the Shard and, to the far right in the distance, I could see the top of the London Eye. But straight ahead of me was the highlight – a superb view of the Tower Bridge.



With two outside balconies to choose from, I could have simply sat and watched all night as boats drifted up and down the River Thames. Instead, though, I was had a quest ahead of me… to find other great views that were a match for this one!

Vertigo 42 Champagne Bar

Dusk is a magical time to observe the city transform from day to night, and a great location to see this happen is at Vertigo 42, on the 42nd floor of Tower 42. You’ll have to take two lifts to get there, changing on the 23rd floor, as well as climb just one flight of stairs, but this bar is well worth the visit for the views alone. You can get a close-up view of the Gherkin which is only a stone’s throw away as well as an amazing panorama of the heart of the city.



To help you with your orientation, the words ‘tower’, ‘bank’, ‘big ben’, ‘eye’, ‘st pauls’, ‘bt tower, ‘wembley’, ‘barbican’, etc. are etched in the glass table that surrounds the bar. Whilst you settle down and get your bearings, it would be rude not to choose from the unique collection of Champagnes, wines and cocktails. They even have a tapas menu should you be feeling a little peckish.



Tate Modern

Tate Modern is pretty much directly opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of London’s most iconic buildings. Entry to the gallery is free and if you head for Level 3, you will find a balcony offering a wonderful view across the River Thames. Note that the gallery closes at 6pm most days so if you want to see this view at night, you will need to be prompt. Alternatively, visit on a Friday or Saturday when the opening hours are extended until 10pm.



If you’re out of luck, then the view from nearby Millennium Bridge isn’t a bad alternative.



London Eye

For stunning views of the city – day or night – the London Eye is a must. A single revolution takes around 20-30 minutes but the time seems to fly by as there is so much to look at and take in.



Please note that you are not allowed to take tripods, multiple lenses or long lenses on to the capsules so taking good photographs, particularly at night when there can be lots of reflections coming back off the glass, can be a little challenging. (If you do happen to have a tripod, don’t worry… there is the means to hand it in for safekeeping and then claim it back after the ride.)



Make sure you also visit the 4D experience either before or after your ride as it is included in your ticket. This is a groundbreaking three minute 3D film with spectacular in-theatre effects including wind, bubbles and mist which add a breathtaking fourth dimension.

Paramount

I’d heard great reports about the views at Paramount and it didn’t disappoint. Located at the top of Centre Point, on the 32nd floor, you are in for a real treat here. There is a viewing gallery on the uppermost 33rd floor, accessed by a single flight of stairs. This offers truly 360-degree panoramas (you can walk right the ay around) with near-floor-to-ceiling windows and occasional clusters of low seating where you can relax and quite literally drihnk in the views.







Speak to the very friendly and approachable Marco, the head barman at Paramount, who’s responsible for about 80% of the cocktails on the menu. And they each have a story… pictured is the Femme Fatale – which he told me is “everything he looks for in a woman” – but on the menu is described as “Mysterious and seductive whose charms ensnare, this base of Bowmore 12 year old boasts a higher proportion of sherry-matured malt in its make-up which together with St Germain Elderflower cordial, lemon juice and egg white, and garnished with an edible flower makes a tantalising temptress.”



Westminster Bridge

Of course, you don’t have to scale tall buildings to enjoy some of the best views of London. If you don’t really have a head for heights, the views from Westminster Bridge at night – whichever direction you choose to look – rival those from some of London’s highest landmarks. From here there’s a great view of the National Theatre lit up in different colours, the London Eye and the chain of lights along the South Bank.



OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie

At the top of London’s famous OXO Tower is a restaurant, bar and brasserie. Formerly a power station for the Post Office, the building was saved from demolition in the 1970s and 1980s, you can now dine in this 8th floor restaurant and from there enjoy access to a long terrace overlooking the banks of the Thames.



Whist you enjoy the views, the restaurant offers a fine dining experience with beautifully presented, modern, seasonal British dishes with an innovative twist. For a special treat, try the roast Chateaubriand for two, with beef fat chips, béarnaise sauce, baby spinach and bacon salad.

Radio Rooftop Bar

Located on the 10th floor of the ME London hotel is the lovely Radio Rooftop Bar and is another bar with superb views of the city. From a fairly expansive terrace, the panorama takes in Tower Bridge, the Shard, London Bridge, Saint Paul’s, Tate Modern, Somerset House, Southbank, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and the Theatre District of Covent Garden.



As well as the drinks and wide selection of cocktails, there’s a choice of international tapas (try the calamari or the goats cheese crostini) and a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere.

Palace of Westminster

Finally, one of the most iconic views in the world. If you aren’t one for heights, the view from the opposite bank to the Palace of Westminster is a sight to behold at night, with the glow of the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (more commonly referred to as Big Ben) reflected in the Thames.






Alternatively, venture on to the bridge, armed with a tripod, and see what you can capture as the vehicles trundle by.



Enjoy these views, and do let me know what you consider to be the best views in London. Don’t forget to visitwww.americanexpress.co.uk/tripadvisor if you have an American Express card and would like to find out more about the content and offers.


 on Dec 29, 2014                                        A Luxury Travel Blog

2014 - Satellite Imagery - Arabian Ramadan and Eid at Night

The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Color bar for The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
acquired 2012 - 2014 download large image (1 MB, JPEG, 3099x3323)
                           
In December 2014, scientists using a NASA-NOAA satellite announced that they had detected significant changes in the amount and distribution of nighttime lighting during holiday seasons in the Middle East and North America. For instance, nighttime lights in some Middle East cities were 50 to 100 percent brighter during the holy month of Ramadan.


The maps on this page show changes in lighting intensity and location on the Arabian Peninsula and in the countries along the eastern Mediterranean coast. They are based on data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The maps compare the night light signals from the months of Ramadan in 2012–2014 (parts of July and August in these years) to the average light output for the rest of 2012 to 2014.


Green shading marks areas where light usage increased during the holy days; yellow marks areas with little change; and red marks areas where less light was used.


The VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP can observe faint light signals on the night side of our planet, including reflected moonlight, airglow, auroras, and manmade light sources. In 2012, scientists assembled a new composite map of Earth at night created from averaged data from 22 nights of VIIRS data. The new 2014 analysis of holiday lights uses a new algorithm that filters out moonlight, clouds, and airborne particles to show city lights on a nightly basis.


The idea to examine holiday lights arose in 2012 out of an issue with some nighttime images of Cairo, Egypt. A science team led by Miguel Román of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center noticed a discrepancy in city light signals while performing quality checks on early mission data. The science team realized that there was either an error in the data or an unknown signal that they should study further.


After digging deeper, the team found that the large increase in light output around the Egyptian capital corresponded with the holy month of Ramadan. The change made sense because Muslims fast during daylight in Ramadan, pushing meals, social gatherings, commerce and other activities into nighttime hours. To confirm that the nighttime signal was not merely an instrument artifact, the team examined all of the nighttime data from spring 2012 through autumn 2014.


They found that the peaks in light use closely tracked the Islamic calendar, as Ramadan shifted earlier in the summer each year.


Light use in Saudi Arabian cities, such as Riyadh and Jeddah, increased by 60 to 100 percent throughout the month of Ramadan. Light use in Turkish cities, however, increased far less. Some regions in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon did not have an increase in light output—and some even demonstrated a moderate decrease, possibly due to unstable electrical grids and conflict in the region. Click on the large, downloadable map for a closer view of the differences.


acquired 2012 - 2014


“Even within majority Muslim populations, there are a lot of variations,” said Eleanor Stokes, a Yale researcher and collaborator with Román. “What we have seen is that these lighting patterns track cultural variation within the Middle East.”


These variations appear even at the neighborhood level. Román and Stokes compared night lights data from Cairo with socioeconomic data, voting patterns, access to public sanitation, and literacy rates. Some of the poorest and most devout areas observed Ramadan without significant increases in light use throughout the month, choosing—whether for cultural or financial reasons—to leave their lights off at night. But during the Eid al-Fitr celebration that marks of the end of Ramadan, light use soared across all study groups, as all the neighborhoods appeared to join in the festivities.


“Whether you are rich or poor, or religious or not, everybody in Egypt is celebrating Eid al-Fitr,” Román said. This is telling Stokes and Román that energy use patterns are reflecting social and cultural identities, as well as the habits of city dwellers, and not just price or other commercial factors.


NASA Earth Observatory





10 Extraordinary Native American Cultural Sites

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico) preserves structures of Ancestral Puebloans. 
Credit: NPS.





In honour of Native American Heritage Month, we take a look at a few noteworthy Native American cultural sites on public lands.

Native American Heritage Month offers all Americans the opportunity to recognize and honour tribes who understood the value of wilderness long before European Americans ever laid eyes on bison or redwoods—or, indeed, decided to call certain places  “wilderness.”


A number of the national monuments, parks and other sites we cherish contain major historical and cultural resources connected to these tribes. In many cases, the land that surrounds them might not have remained in good condition without the Antiquities Act, a law passed in 1906 that allowed presidents to protect natural and cultural sites as national monuments. The Antiquities Act was first signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt and has been used on a bipartisan basis by 16 presidents since then (including President Barack Obama). It is likely that some of these special places would have been obscured by development—or demolished entirely—without this law and the strong movement to preserve public lands it exemplifies.


In addition to providing magnificent spots for outdoor recreation, that deserve a closer look in November. These places preserve traces of Native American culture that are hundreds (or even thousands) of years old.



Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)


Credit: Terry Feuerborn, flickr.


Mesa Verde was the first national park designated with the express purpose of preserving "the works of man"—in this case the remnants of 6th-12th century Ancestral Puebloans, as exemplified by more than 4,000 known archeological sites, including some of the most notable and well-preserved in the U.S. The park’s signature attractions are some 600 ancient dwellings carved into rock alcoves, stumbled upon by a pair of cowboys—who called it “Cliff Palace”—in the late 19th century. At that point, Mesa Verde had been vacant for hundreds of years. Experts think the last Puebloan residents of the area were forced out when a booming population eventually exhausted natural resources and was torn apart by internal strife. Since 1906, the park has been preserved for the enjoyment and education of all Americans (though oil and gas development in the area pose a threat to the landscape). Tours of the site offer details on these lives, and trails provide opportunities for hiking and snowshoeing. The 360-degree panoramic view at Park Point is one of the most breath-taking in the country.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (Arizona)


Credit: Rory D, flickr.


The 14th century “great house” around which this monument is centred was once part of a chain of settlements along the Gila River and is considered one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Prized as a trace of ancient Sonoran Desert dwellers who developed wide-scale irrigation farming and a large trade network before leaving the area around the year 1450, the Casa Grande was originally protected as our country’s first archaeological reserve, in 1892. The building, whose exact purpose remains unknown, gained national monument status from President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Today, several Native American groups claim an ancestral link to the builders and occupants of the monument’s eponymous structure.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: Lisa Phillips (BLM New Mexico), flickr.


The campaign that led a stretch of picturesque land near Las Cruces, New Mexico, to be designated a national monument by President Obama in 2014 was a major initiative of The Wilderness Society—but it was led in part by local tribal leaders, a fitting testament to the significance of this place to Native Americans. The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo tribe asked that the area be protected in part to preserve an expanse of ancient petroglyphs, and the Fort Sill Apache tribe, considered modern-day successors to the Apache that originally inhabited parts of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region, requested that they be accepted as partners in managing the monument for future generations. The mountain ranges and rugged plains here contain traces of civilizations hundreds of years old (and in some cases much older); the Paleo-Indian peoples who once roamed the Potrillo grasslands hunted now-extinct game like giant ground sloths thousands of years before Christopher Columbus was born. Stretches of land protected by the monument contain some of the earliest known prehistoric habitation sites in southern New Mexico, among many significant historical and archaeological resources.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico)


Credit: Damon Taylor, flickr.






Unfortunately, oil and gas development currently threatens the beauty and tranquillity of this park and adjacent land—and it would be a true shame to lose it. Between 850 and 1250 CE, Chaco Canyon, in what is now northwest New Mexico, was a major center of Ancestral Puebloan culture. Today, the surrounding area is protected to preserve the history of those people, including majestic public and ceremonial buildings that are among America’s most significant intact examples of pre-Columbian culture. These multi-story “Great Houses” were truly monumental undertakings, sometimes involving decades of construction, and many were connected by a system of roads to other buildings in the region. It is thought that this area was once a unique gathering place for different clans to meet—a center for trade and cultural exchange that remains a hallowed landmark today.


In 2013, the park received International Dark Sky designation for being one of the best places in the United States to stargaze (due to its distance from artificial light pollution).

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (Colorado)


Credit: Eszter Hargittai, flickr.


This sprawling, landscape-scale monument in southwest Colorado contains thousands of known archaeological sites that have yielded invaluable historical information on Ancestral Puebloan (sometimes referred to as “Anasazi”) and other indigenous cultures. A nearby museum contains millions of items chronicling those peoples as well as historic Ute and Navajo populations (the protected area is considered to have ancestral links to dozens of modern-day tribal nations). Three original villages within the monument have been prepared for visitors and outfitted with interpretive signage, making it an essential destination for anyone with an abiding interest in Native American culture (though a huge number of dwellings, shrines, petroglyphs and other artefacts remain unlabelled).

Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: Ellen Green, flickr.






Aztec Ruins National Monument was protected as a national monument in 1923 and named a World Heritage site in 1987 (as part of Chaco Culture National Historical Park) for its well-preserved examples of Pueblo architecture—the same features that still draw tourists from around the country. So why is it called “Aztec Ruins”? Early white explorers initially mistakenly identified the buildings on-site as traces of the Mexican Aztec culture, rather than the work of (even older) indigenous peoples, and it still bears the original, ill-gotten title. Despite this, the monument is an important place for Ancestral Puebloans, its ancient “great houses” and associated “kivas”—ceremonial chambers—serving testament to the legacy of its old inhabitants.


Artefacts discovered in the ruins have included food remnants, clothing, tools and jewellery, offering a glimpse at the way Ancestral Puebloans used natural resources and traded with other peoples.

Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa)


The “Marching Bear” mounds, whose size and intricacy can only be fully appreciated from overhead. Credit: NPS.


The only national monument in Iowa, Effigy Mounds was protected by President Harry Truman in 1949 in order to preserve its namesake series of sacred hillocks, constructed by a culture that inhabited land along the upper Mississippi River, stretching east to Lake Michigan (what is now parts of Iowa, southeast Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois). Numbering more than 200, the mounds were built over thousands of years in a variety of shapes ranging from simple cones to bison and birds. Though the exact function of the mounds as a whole remains unknown, some are burial sites, and experts think that others may have acted as territorial markers. Whatever the mounds’ purpose, more than 15 modern-day tribes, ranging from Minnesota to Oklahoma, are considered to be culturally associated with them. The largest and best-preserved chain of mounds, the evocatively-named “Marching Bears,” can only be fully appreciated from overhead.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Ohio)


Credit: HOCU-NPS.


This park protects five different archaeological sites containing artefacts of the broadly-defined Hopewell culture, chiefly earthworks and ancient mounds. The people who flourished in this area practiced a wide array of spiritual, political and social customs, but are considered to be related precisely due to the elements this park preserves: their similar construction of earthen-walled enclosures and mounds, with the former often appearing as squares, circles and other geometrically-precise shapes. A variety of archaeological figures have devoted their careers to finding out more about the Hopewell culture.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: NPS.


Surrounded by the Gila National Forest (and at the edge of the Gila Wilderness), this monument, protected by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, is named for its most striking feature—the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples who lived in the area in the late 13th- and early 14th century. While the monument covers comparatively little physical ground, it offers a wealth of things for visitors to do once they’ve finished exploring these rare traces of ancient Puebloan culture: activities in the broader area include hiking, bird-watching, camping, fishing and horseback riding.

Ocmulgee National Monument (Georgia)


Credit: J. Stephen Conn, flickr.


Ocmulgee National Monument contains North America’s only intact “spiral mound,” a 20-foot-tall hillock built by indigenous tribes for purposes that remain unclear. This is just one of the monument’s pieces of major earthwork traced back to South Appalachian Mississippian settlements. The monument, containing seven mounds in all and a collection of more than one million artefacts, was protected along the Ocmulgee River by act of Congress in 1934.

- See more at: Wilderness.org