Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức


Ok, so self-immolation has been going on for centuries, particularly in India. But for most of the western world, the first time we ever heard of this type of protest was when a buddhist monk in Vietnam sat down at a crossroads in Saigon on 11th June 1963, had 5 litres of gasolene poured over him and dropped a lit match into his lap. He did this in reaction to the Buddhist Crisis  and treatment by the ruling administration in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem being the president at the time. It was caught on film for the world to see:

I’m not posting this for shock value or for any political reason. I simply think it needs sharing. I think the world needs to see what true devotion and true belief means. Granted, I can’t believe Thích Quảng Đức did such a thing or why ANYONE would do such a thing, but it is amazing what people will do and the lengths they’ll go to for a cause they truly believe in.

I think the other amazing thing about this particular case is Thích Quảng Đức didn’t move or make one sound while he burned. He fell over after his death, but the whole time he sat in the lotus position and never moved a muscle.

 

This also got me to thinking of the student protests going on in London of late over the increase to university fees. The students have resorted to violence to try to get their message across. This, historically, has never been a useful tool in protesting or getting what you want. Generally speaking, it has the adverse effect. I wonder what Thích Quảng Đức would have made of these protesters and their methods. Probably agree that it was pointless and will achieve nothing, but I’m not sure how many people would agree that his way was better (although it could be argued he helped the coup take place)

My Car’s Social Worker


I drive a BMW. I know what you’re going to say “BMW drivers think they own the road” blah, blah, blah (well, we do!) I love my car. I’ve always had Fords before this and think they’re great cars, but I wanted to treat myself to a toy before my daughter was born, so persuaded the wife to let me get it last year.

Now the time has come for its first mot. For my non-uk readers, an mot is a yearly government test on all vehicles older than 3 years which tests to see if it’s safe, brakes are ok, tyres, lights, co2 emissions. Generally an orderly working car and not a death trap or pollution monkey.

I hate these things! I always panic and feel I’m being judged (which I suppose I am) I’m guessing it should be ok as I keep it in good condition, but you just can’t tell. Before the test, I got them to put two new tyres on the back. I had a bit of a result. Not as expensive as I had thought they would be.

It doesn’t help though when they put you in a waiting room overlooking the test pit. You sit there, watching them going over your prized possession with their clipboard and pen, making notes and things and deciding if your car is good or not. Makes me feel like a bad parent in front of the social worker! “Yes mr. Wade, your child’s brakes are faulty and her rear-brake light is out”. Their faces never give anything away either. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing really.

 

To cap it all off, I just remembered I have a bulb out on the rear of my car, which I’m almost positive is a fail. Not got a great feeling about this….. I’ll just hit the free coffee and hope for the best.

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – The Pictures


Ok, so after the disaster of my beloved iPhone 4 screwing me over by deleting my saved holiday blogs, I’ve accepted I will NEVER remember all the details of this fab family holiday. Bit gutted as I wanted to do the whole “Egypt Holiday: Day 1” blog thing. I do, however, have photos of the holiday. So what I’ll do is post these up here with a short blurb about each one and if this jogs my memory then I’ll elaborate. I’ll also try to keep them in chronological order as best I can:

The perfect way to start the holiday! There’s something about a pint of Beck’s Vier at 9am that just puts you in the right for flying

She was awake pretty much all the way there. But throughout a 5 hour flight, she only cried a total of about 40 minutes and most of that was due to hunger. On the way home, she slept the entire flight. Such an angel.

I think you’re a little young angel! (she was sucking the condensation from the tin as it was baking on the plane, before anyone starts yelling child abuse!)

I had to throw this one in, purely as I think it’s a cute picture of us

 The sight of Naama Bay shopping bit. The first few days of the holiday were spent round the beach/pool doing not a great deal, which is fine. But I prefer going out and investigating places. So I managed to talk my whole family in getting a mini-bus thing from our hotel to Naama bay. We get there and my brother is being a miserable sh*t, moaning at every opportunity. We look for food and my sisters kids want to go to Hard Rock Cafe (hardly Egyptian cuisine in my mind!) so we agree. 10 minutes in there and my little nephew is throwing up all over the table (not a great traveller, bless him) so my sister and her brood leave early. We finish our “meal” then my brother announces it’s too hot for his little boy and they disappear. This leaves me, my wife and child and my mum and her partner. Perfect! Finally, we get to do some shopping, mooch around the town, have a nice drink and it finally starts feeling like my holiday.

Shisha cafe’s in Naama Bay

This photo is very special to me. This is a photo of the very first time my daughter ever really cuddled up to me and the first time she ever fell asleep in my arms.

Teaching my nephew a few moves on the beach. He so desperately wants to learn a form of martial arts (he loves all these fighting cartoons etc.) I’ve told my sister to get him into muay thai and when he’s older, I’ll move him over to san da

This guy was a regular on our beach. There were loads of little tiddlers swimming about in the shallows of the sea, so it must have been like a fisherman’s buffet for this guy.

So caring of the wife to stand in my sun. Jealous much that I was getting a better tan than her??

Zip-wire fun at our hotel. I have to say, the hotel we stayed in (Holiday Village Red Sea, in case you were wondering) was fantastic for families. Can’t knock a thing. We had a few little things when we first got there, but they solved the problems quickly and no fuss. Great service.

Manly pose……….

On the way to our quad biking adventure, we met a famous star from the past and my brother just had to get a photo………….. What do you mean “you don’t recognise him?” It’s Orvil the Duck!!!!! (I wish I could fly, right up to the sky…….)

All I need is an AK-47 and I’m sorted baby!

This was the view I had from my quad. The scenery on the Sinai peninsular is truly breath-taking. I honestly thought I was on Tatooine and expected to see R2D2 fly by me.

On the quad ride, we stopped off at a Bedouin camp for some light refreshments. The whole sitting on the floor thing was remarkably comfortable considering there is only a blanket thrown on the floor.

Tourist shot……… Sorry…….

My first Shisha Pipe. And contrary to my wife’s thinking, you do NOT have to smoke tobacco in the shisha pipe. We were sampling a lovely cherry flavour and was fantastic. I was with my brother, brother-in-law and mum’s other half, we’re all ex-smokers and all loved this, but didn’t in anyway want a cigarette. Lovely experience.

My first bit of REAL culture in nearly two weeks and it came at the end of my holiday.

The wife and I finally got out and had a love Egyptian meal outside of the hotel (well, she had pizza). Again, such a shame we only did this towards the end of our holiday.

In closing, it was an amazing holiday where I saw and did a lot, relaxed wonderfully and got to spend some great time with all my family. I did miss out on my holiday type where I would immerse myself in the country and avoid all touristy things, but Sharm El Sheikh was built for tourists, so you can’t expect much more from it. That being said, if you have kids, this place it amazing and the people are really friendly and honestly love kids. Go there!!

The Forgotten Army


The other day, I blogged some pictures of the Holocaust and commented how we must never forget this part of history.

I’d like to add to this. On 15th May 1945, Japan official surrendered and ended the second world war. We celebrate this day as VJ day. This moment in time may not be as famous to us in Britain as VE day, but it is just as significant in our history and the sacrifice on the par with the European soldiers.

A few figures for you (courtesy of Imperial War Museum, London):

  • The Japanese captured 190,000 Allied PoWs
  • 50,016 of these were from the UK
  • 12,433 UK PoWs were killed or died in Japanese captivity
  • 100,000 British troops fought in the Burma Campaign between 1941 and 1945
  • More than three million Japanese died
  • During the war in the Pacific, the Japanese were famous for total ruthlessness in battle and towards their captives. This can be put down to the Japanese culture of surrender being dishonourable (just what I’ve heard). However, the fact remains that PoW’s held in camps in Thailand and Burma (and others) were treated as sub-humans, brutally beaten and starved. Due to the tropical climate, disease was rife in the camps and little or nothing was done.

    Two emancipated soldiers liberated from a prison camp on Formosa, November 1945

    PoW being executed at a prison camp

    My mother told me of a story: One of her uncles (Billy) fought during the war based in Burma. According to him, his troop used to reccy through the jungle in single file due to the undergrowth and, as a precaution, they would tie a rope around themselves and use it as a guide to know no one got lost. One day, Billy’s friend was bringing up the rear of the column. when they got back to camp, he was no longer there. They went back into the jungle to find him. They found him dead, nailed to a tree. The Japanese had cut the rope and took him from the back of the column without anyone realising.

    Here is a piece by the BBC on the Forgotten Army. The effects of these prison camps became real to me when I tried speaking to an ex-PoW who my mum looked after for my school homework. He refused to speak of it. All he would tell me is that not one night has gone by in 50 years (when I spoke to him) where he has had a full nights sleep. Every night he has woken up suffering nightmares and will never forget. He passed away last year, still never having a peaceful nights sleep.

    During the japanese occupation, they used forced labour to construct a railway from Bangkok, Thailand to Rangoon, Burma. This railway ran for 258 miles through tropical jungles. About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied POWs worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians. this railway became know as The Death Railway

    My point of this is simple and ties in with my Holocaust post: we must study this, learn and evolve. We can never go back to treating people the way these PoW’s were treated. War is not acceptable. Diplomacy is the only way this world can become what we all want: a peaceful place were all can live together.

    *I’d just like to point out that I am in no way against Japanese or Germans. The sins of the father can NEVER be put on the sons and daughters.

    Pictures of Horror


    I’m reading an amazing book called Voices of Yesterday by Michael Yarwood. It is set in the Warsaw Ghetto during ’42-43 and the oppression and systematic extermination of the Jews by the Nazi’s. And the vivid words of the writer got me to thinking and imagining what these people went through, the suffering and brutality forced upon them by the Nazi’s (and not just Jews, but Romani, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and many more). The figures stand at around 6 MILLION Jews wiped out by the Nazi regime (2/3 of the European population of Jews). If you include the other  groups killed by the Nazi’s this figures rises to between 11-17 MILLION PEOPLE! All non-soldiers.

    So I’ve done some surfing and found some pictures I’d like to share with you. Next time you hear someone verbally abuse someone or say racist or homophobic comments, show them these photos and ask them to look into the people’s eyes and put themselves in their shoes:

    April 12, 1945: Lager Nordhausen, where 20,000 inmates are believed to have died.

    A member of Einsatzgruppe D is about to shoot a man sitting by a mass grave in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, in 1942. Present in the background are members of the German Army, the German Labor Service, and the Hitler Youth.[94] The back of the photograph is inscribed “The last Jew in Vinnitsa”.

    Jews captured and forcibly pulled out from dugouts by the Germans during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The photo is from Jurgen Stroop’s report to Heinrich Himmler

    A child dying on the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto

    Starving prisoners in Mauthausen camp liberated on May 5, 1945

    Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of medical experiments

    A grave inside Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

    I’m sure some people who see this will still stick by their disturbing views of racial and religious superiority, but these people have no soul. No human being can look at these images, think clearly about what is being done and still condone secular violence or hatred of any kind. Please, I beg you all, educate each other and the youth of today.
    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
     
    -George Santayana