Eid al-Adha in Peshawar, Pakistan

It is the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha this week, which marks Abraham/Ibrahim’s intention to slaughter his first born son Ishmael as a sacrifice to God, before God decided that this rather defeated the point of having given Abraham a son in the first place, and provided a lamb to be slaughtered instead.

I was in Peshawar, Pakistan for Eid Al-Adha in May 1993. During the afternoon before the festival there was an atmosphere of anticipation in the air. Herds of sheep and goats were led through the streets of Peshawar during the afternoon, which was not an ordinary day to day occurrence. As we walked around the city the following day, the most immediately noticeable evidence that something significant had happened over the previous few hours were the huge piles of guts and entrails stacked up on the street corners, each one a metre or so high, and several metres across. Here a mound of intestines, there a pile of kidneys, all oozing liquid and lunge onto the muddy streets in the morning sunshine.

I didn’t take a picture of this at the time, as it didn’t seem too out of place. However here is a photo I did take, of a fairly average northern Pakistani butcher’s shop at that time. Mutton and goats’ heads are on display, with the chopping happening behind the front display.

Mutton and goats' heads on display for passing customers in Peshawar, Pakistan

Mutton and goats’ heads on display for passing customers in Peshawar, Pakistan

More of my photos from Pakistan taken at this time are on my Flickr page here.

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Berlin – freedom of expression

Another thing you notice about Berlin is the extent to which freedom of expression surrounds you wherever you are. Everyone is familiar with the images of the old Berlin Wall, which weren’t famous because the grey concrete was anything special to look at; it attracted attention because of the vibrant defacement that people felt it needed, to stamp human identity on what was otherwise a structure built specifically to separate and dehumanise a city community.

Berlin’s history from a few decades further back in time needs no introduction, but when you wander round Berlin today you get a sense that those responsible for that period of history would, were they around today, be appalled by the extent to which personal freedom thrives in Berlin. The city’s rebellious personality is ubiquitous, as is its unique mix of global business and party loving culture. Berlin leads the world in dance and techno music, as well as other areas of modern popular culture, all flowing from the diversity of races, backgrounds and orientations that make up its population. The old regime would absolutely hate it – which must surely be the highest form of praise you can get.

One area which is getting special attention from the locals is the redevelopment of areas of the former East Berlin  around the river Spree. Local squatters have made their views very clear, while occupants of one of the huge empty communist buildings on the river front are a little more forceful in their language, if you look carefully…

We don't want no yuppie flats - Berlin

Media Spree - Berlin

 

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