The HX Report started out as something else. In the distant past, it was about news & local news from back home, for HX locals who had departed to foreign shores. But it’s moved on a bit. If it’s about anything now, MB would say it’s about demonstrating that, at the end of the day, whether we live in HX or in the Middle East or wherever, we all have far more in common
Go raibh míle maith agaibh (‘a thousand thanks’ in Irish Gaelic) to the four ladies who administer and set the weekly photo challenges. They are angels all!
One year of challenges has now just past and Patti has offered us a blank canvas this week with her Your Choice challenge.
A few years back, MB attended a photo workshop given by acclaimed American photographer Steve Simon. Or maybe he’s Canadian?!
Anyway, one photo tip that stuck in MB’s head after the workshop was that if one goes around the back of the subject or subject matter, one will often catch an interesting perspective. Most people with a camera are going to want to catch the face of the subject, so a photo from the rear view will at least be different than most of the other shots of the same person or subject or event.
MB remembers the example given by SS to demonstrate the point. It was a shot of the legendary American baseball player Babe Ruth when he played his last ever game. 99% of photographers jumped in front of Ruth as he walked off the field, catching him face-on. But one photographer took a shot from the back, catching his famous number 3 on the back of his shirt as he walked away. That rear-view shot became the iconic shot of Babe Ruth’s retirement.
So MB often sneaks around the back to take a look at the rear view.
Here’s one such shot – of a Russian Girls Choir from a recent Russian Cultural event on the Doha Corniche in Qatar. At least one hundred people were using cameras and phones to take the face shot. In MB’s opinion, the below shot is a far better photo than any of the ones he later shot from the front.
The English comedian Tommy Cooper, now long deceased, had a great joke about a Rembrandt & a Stradavarius, which MB may have told you all in the past. If he did, he now tells it to you again. It’s out & out MB’s favourite joke.
Man walks into a pawnbroker with a violin and a painting. Good news says the pawnbroker – you have a Rembrandt and a Stradavarius. Unfortunately, Stradavarius was a very poor painter, and Rembrandt made awful violins!
Anyway, MB is off to Maastricht in Holland next week, where he will hear and see a Stradavarius. A real one. One made by Stradavarius. Not by Rembrandt!
MB is taking his mom to see Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra in AR’s home town of Maastricht in the south of Holland, next to the Belgian border. AR concerts are spectacular affairs and very visual, so MB will go a bit crazy with his camera (as usual). And he will do his damnest to take one or two decent videos. But decent videos are very much in the lap of the gods with MB, as MB has got to be the worst videographer in the entire universe. Anyway, he’ll give it a go and maybe you will all get to see the results.
MB is unsure why he is writing this post. Normally, he springs his adventures upon you all without forewarning, to collective inhalations of breath and gasps of amazement. But MB has spent the last hour or two watching AR vids and feels like sharing his news and a vid with you all. It’s as the Gods have willed it, it seems. MB has watched 4 entire series of ‘Vikings’ in the last few weeks, so ‘the Gods’ are also on MB’s brain a lot!
We are all unique MB guesses, but some are far more unique than others.
Take Mother Teresa for example. A unique lady for sure. A Christian nun. Founder of the religious order of the Missionaries of Charity. A Nobel Peace Prize winner. And in 2016, a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
Question to all – Does anybody know where MT was born?
No lads. MT was born and baptised in the city of Skopjé, in the present-day Republic of North Macedonia. To Albanian parents.
Is that the place you visited a few weeks back MB?
Yes lads, it surely is.
It’s appeared in most of your posts since your trip MB. Is there any world event that does not have its origin in, or some close connection to, Skopjé and/or North Macedonia, MB?
Not many lads. Not many at all.
Anyway lads, as MB was saying, MT was born in Sjopjé. Which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. In the year 1910. When she was 18 years old, she headed to Ireland, to the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnham, near Dublin, learning all about St Patrick & St Bridget, etc. Six years later she went to India, first to Darjeeling and later to Calcutta where she became a figure of world renown, caring for the poor and the sick. She died in September 1997.
In the city of Skopjé today, there is a house in the city centre dedicated to her memory. In the city centre square, not far from that house, the authorities have marked the four corners of the small family house where MT was born, the house being long long gone. It might be a tourist scam by the locals, but MB doubts that. MT is revered locally by all.
So that’s MB’s answer to this week’s ‘unique’ challenge. Hit ‘like’ if you think MB nailed the challenge. Hit ‘like’ twice if you love MB loads and want him to rule the universe. Joking lads!
The 4-day Eid public holiday was upon Middle East residents earlier this week. Temperatures were in the 40s and rising daily. MB could have fried an egg on the Qatar stones. If he had an egg. And a stone.
MB got to thinking. It was time to get out of town. And out of country. But where to go?
MB remembered reading a few months back about the ‘name’ dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia getting settled. Greece had it in their Greek heads that because one of their provinces was also called Macedonia, the neighbouring country, the Republic of Macedonia, was somehow, inexplicably, making a geographically claim on the Greek province.
That’s Greeks for you!
MB can put the Greek position in perspective with the following analogy:
Two neighbours are called John. John 1 gets out of the bed on the wrong side early one morning and knocks loudly on the front door of John 2.
I want you to change your name, says John 1 to John 2.
Why so? says John 2.
Because by calling yourself John, I strongly believe you are making a claim on my wife, answers the genius John 1.
John 2 punches John 1 hard on the nose and breaks it in a number of places, leaving John 1 with a very swollen nose and two black eyes for a period of some weeks. Wife of John 1 nurses John 1 during that time, with nice food, soothing words and much TLC. John 1 never comes clean to wife about the cause of the fracas.
However, The Republic of Macedonia did not break any Greek noses. They replied approximately along the following lines, albeit MB did not see the final name change agreement:
We could choose Brazil or Russia, but both names are already taken. Can we introduce some geographical indicator into our name to demonstrate that our country is only our country and not any other country, and any other places on the planet that might coincidentally have the same name are not ours and we don’t want them.
The Greeks were caught wrong-footed, expecting a long-winded dispute. Ah….. ah….. ah….. ok I guess, said Spartakus, the Greek delegation leader.
Thanks for calling over, replied the laid-back cucumber-cool Macedonian ruler. Safe trip home.
End of dispute.
When Macedonians were able to easily solve a seemingly intractable problem (according to the Greeks, who ran out of bright ideas it seems, very soon after their carpenters finished the wooden horse), MB got to thinking that Macedonians must be a decent bunch of lads. The kind of lads that MB wouldn’t mind spending a few days with, sipping Macedonian wine and cool Macedonian beer with, chewing the fat with and shooting the Macedonian/Irish breeze.
A mere minute or two after having his Macedonian Eureka moment, and with the benefit of a first world passport (sorry Arab brothers and sisters!), MB booked a flight from Doha to Skopjé, some two days hence, leaving others to fry their eggs on the Qatari stones. Those that had eggs. And stones.
And that is exactly how MB came to be sitting in a boat in the middle of the Matka River Canyon, some thirty minutes drive south-west of Skopjé, Republic of North Macedonia.
But what about the photo challenge MB?
Oh ya, the photo challenge!
When MB was in the boat in the Middle of the Matka River Canyon, the young Albanian boat driver, called Janjo (of zero relevance to MB’s story), suddenly killed the engine. Janjo had just spotted a wild deer jump out of the adjacent forest to forage for some riverside grass. Or whatever it is that wild deer look for in such situations. MB, the ‘Jesse James’ of lens changes, snapped his 200mm lens onto the camera body and caught the below deer shots, amongst others.
Travel and photos. And Macedonians. These are a few of MB’s favourite things.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
Thanks to Tina for the ‘walk on the wild side‘ challenge. If followers would like to see some superb shots from Tina’s African adventures then please click on that link.
Many of the major towns and cities in the Middle East have large bird markets. The markets are not restricted to just wild birds of course. In the Bird Market at Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar, one can find turtles, domestic pets such as puppies and kittens, and more.