Stories from the front lines?

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by oakleyer on Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:59 am

Broccoli wrote:
Hey, do you guys think that if the progressive movement in the Philippines asks the UN very nicely that they, too, can get a "no-fly zone"? (Seeing that the criteria allegedly is when a government attack its own citizens--the GoP certainly seems to fit this bill, though I don't see why nobody bitched about this with regard to Ahmadinejad+Iran, or Putin+Chechnya. I suppose the West was too scared that those ones could actually fight back. How about Darfur, then? Not enough oil interests there? Clooney must be livid.)

Or are no-fly zones only reserved for Islamic leaders who we happen not to like at this moment? bom

And why does Sarkozy love North Africans more when they are over there, than when they are in France itself?

Sarkozy loves the North Africans in North Africa where they can't upset the pretty little lives daily lives of the French. Keep them at arms length. Karma is a bitch -- the colonialists are now feeling those effects. They didn't mind invading and impeding upon the lives of 'lesser, non-whites' but now that citizens of those former colonies are heading to the lands of their former masters, the Europeans don't know how to handle it. God forbid their own culture be forced to change. (in my humble opinion Smile)

A far as no-fly zones -- what good does a no-fly zone really do? Seems to be more of a symbol and a way to make the West 'feel good' about themselves more than anything. Of course it means that the rebels wouldn't be attacked by the air, but that surely doesn't stop a ground attack. Instituting a no-fly zone is certainly better than not -- so what the hell is taking the international community so long??? Seems as if they're waiting for the situation to magically disappear.

For Darfur, I'd agree with you, certainly not enough oil-interests. The Chinese would NEVER go for one there.

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:27 am

oakleyer wrote:Karma is a bitch -- the colonialists are now feeling those effects. They didn't mind invading and impeding upon the lives of 'lesser, non-whites' but now that citizens of those former colonies are heading to the lands of their former masters, the Europeans don't know how to handle it. God forbid their own culture be forced to change.

QFT!

With regard to the no-fly-zone/ invading Libia: it's just another way of the imperialist countries to impose their will upon the rest of the world. This is a revolution of the Libian people, we shouldn't intervene. Instead, let them fight their own war -- of course, guided by a strong Party, build upon socialist foundations, instead of neo liberal, imperialist capitalism...

... according to my red friends. I don't really share their opinion.

@ Erica: whatever you do: never come here! They'll drink your American blood haha :p
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by oakleyer on Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:03 am

Niels wrote: @ Erica: whatever you do: never come here! They'll drink your American blood haha :p

hahaha - I've got Filipino friends so think I would be ok. Plus, who could resist a Southerner???? Wink

And I meant to include the US on that former comment as well. Neocolonialism. Karma.
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Kevin on Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:51 pm

Babe, I don't think the Filipino's will see Southerners different from Northeners

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Broccoli on Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:53 am

oakleyer wrote:I've come across my first life-threatening encounter. It came in the form of a car-sized cockroach. I was chasing the thing all over my room trying to kill it. I was NOT about to fall asleep and take the chance of it hopping into my bed. It even ran up the wall so I had to throw things at it to make it fall...finally killed the bastard and my life was spared.


OK, if you think that was bad, wait till you go to Batticaloa and see the bus-sized spiders chasing the car-sized cockroaches, who try to flee into your bed. affraid

It's a distressing sight, enough to make you pee in your underpants (or, in the case of Kevin, pee in the nearest closet). Luckily, I know how to prolong the usage of my underwear during fieldwork.


Last edited by Broccoli on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Broccoli on Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:59 am

Niels wrote:With regard to the no-fly-zone/ invading Libia: it's just another way of the imperialist countries to impose their will upon the rest of the world. This is a revolution of the Libian people, we shouldn't intervene. Instead, let them fight their own war -- of course, guided by a strong Party, build upon socialist foundations, instead of neo liberal, imperialist capitalism...
Shocked


You see, boys and girls, this is what happens to your brain when you cross the line and get too close to your research subjects and their struggle. Brainwashing is subtle, but effective, as Niels's colourful, new vocabulary aptly demonstrates. I bet now he's also starting to wear red underwear.

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:21 am

Selective quoting... are you pulling a Wilders on me? Razz

Anyhoo, I've got to go: sick as a dog, but going to visit some upland communities for a couple of days to integrate with the peasants. I'll be back somewhere around the first week of April.

Hasta la Victoria siempre, Viva la Revolucion! (... or whatever communist mumbo jumbo they use) Wink
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Broccoli on Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:26 am

Niels wrote:Anyhoo, I've got to go: sick as a dog, but going to visit some upland communities for a couple of days to integrate with the peasants. I'll be back somewhere around the first week of April.

Hasta la Victoria siempre, Viva la Revolucion! (... or whatever communist mumbo jumbo they use) Wink

affraid I detect sarcasm and a lack of belief in the Communist ideal. Anyhoo, I'm afraid you'll need some more re-education, comrade! Twisted Evil

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:23 am

Broccoli wrote: affraid I detect sarcasm and a lack of belief in the Communist ideal. Anyhoo, I'm afraid you'll need some more re-education, comrade! Twisted Evil

Don't worry Mario, I still have some integration sessions with the peasants ahead of me. In no time, you will see me running down the mountains, holding my M16, shooting everything that looks slightly imperialist, shouting: "Americans go home, we don't want your imperialist capitalism here!" ... apart from your guns, we need them for our revolution... and also your jeeps, boots, radio's and other equiptment. McDonalds can also stay, since we do like your hamburgers. And the Hollywood movies! We love watching them, so they can stay as well. But the rest? The rest has to go! We don't need it!

tongue

Just kidding, everything is going great here and I must say I can understand why some people take up arms to fight for their lands and to protect their rights. Some of the things I saw were just appalling. Even the legal movement has become a legitimate target of the governments counterinsurgency policy. The government is doing a great job cutting off all the legals means of people to express their anger, leaving only 2 options open: suffer from hunger or take up arms and go underground...

Anyhoo, I'm off to this big rally in Manila. Tomorrow the Supreme Court will take a decision regarding the Hacienda Luisita case: will the farmers finally get ownership of the lands they are tilling, or do they have to accept mere stocks? We'll see, I'm not optimistic about it No

Update: The Supreme Court decided not to decide...
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Qlies on Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:08 pm

Hey all,

Short update from Bujumbura, Burundi! First lesson: ' French' computers have different keyboards, although here, they look the same (I kinda knew this already, but keep forgetting). Hence the Qlies, instead of Alies (not Carry). Lovely.

So, I arrived here two weeks ago and am totally feeling the expat vibe, which is incredibly surreal. I am living in the house of one of the Dutch Embassy's employees, who is on leave for a month, meaning I have all the comfort a girl can dream of. It is insane, I even have people cleaning my house and doing my laundry - I can't help it, but it feels kinda ' wrong' in such a dirt-poor country. But it is very safe - which is an important factor here in Bujumbura. I hear gunshots almost every night, since I am living quite close to the not-so-safe (understatement..) suburbs/slums, and going out after the sun has gone down is a no-go.


Research-wise; I went INTO THE FIELD! past three days; together with the research institute I am doing my research with, we went to see self-defense groups. There's many palm-oil plants in the South, and these often get attacked by rebels/bandits and the like. The police and army can't do much about it since they're both under-equipped, and now civilians have set up their own self-defense groups. They do work closely with the army and police and serve more as an alert-system, and they even include de-mobilised ex-rebels. The overall security of these communities seems to have improved due to these groups as well.

We are organising a group discussion with these defense groups, some people from the army, the police, and several local governments (chiefs etc) next week and I am hoping to interview them individually as well. This seems to be a very good case for my broader research on non-state security actors in Burundi.

The fieldvisit was really interesting, even though I could not understand what people were saying (my translator did not really translate everything, but more the broader picture - something to work on), and the fact that there recently was a cholera outbreak in this village, and I brushed my teeth using tap water. So far so good, my immune system is working pretty well.

I also wanted to focus on security perceptions/needs of Burundians themselves, and the institute I am working with is probably going to do a nation-wide baseline study on this, as was asked by the Dutch Embassy - I will be acting as key-person between the two, and will also get the chance to join in on the research in several provinces. Pretty awesome!

It's really great to read everybody's stories here, hope you like my update, good luck to all!

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:44 pm

Wow Qlies, that sounds really amazing! I really like your research topic. Please keep us updated.

Here in the Phili's everything is allright... I guess. I think I got myself caught up in an arranged marriage with an obese gay man: I attended a wedding last night and I caught the garter. The bouquet however was caught by the beforementioned homosexual. All fun and games, till I had to put the garter on the gay-man's leg. They wanted us to have the opening dance, but I kindly refused...

To make things even worse, I just heard my future "husband" will also be my translator when I'm going to visit a community of fishermen on a remote island... now I don't mind sharing a bed with other men (I basically do this every night)... but in this case I think I will watch my back haha.

Ah well, it is all part of the "integration" with the locals I guess Razz

Anyhoo, Qlies, good luck with the group discussion and I wish you all the best with your research!
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Qlies on Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:10 pm

Hahaha Niels that story made me laugh out loud.. Good luck Very Happy

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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Davey on Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:29 pm

congrats niels on getting hitched!! time for a BACHELOR PARTY!! wooo!
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Cameroonian on Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:15 pm

hahaha LOL. I get at least one marriage proposal a day and multiple love declarations. Maybe we should have a double wedding Niels?
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:41 pm

Hereby a quick update of my adventures to bring this forum back to life. Now where was I? Oh yes, somehow I got myself engaged with an obese gay-guy. As it happened to be, this guy would be my new translator. Now I don't mind sharing a bed with another guy, but spending the nights together with new my 'fiancee' sent shivers down my spine. I'm in for some crazy sh#t, but Mario didn't prepare us for something like this...

Thank god my 'fiancee' suddenly had a change of plans, which prevented him from being my translator on the island. Instead, a new translator was assigned to me: a very attractive girl of my age. And this is when things got out of control...

We left Manila and soon discovered we had a lot in common. The same humor, the same interests, and - as we discovered on the island: the same bed. Sleeping with the locals is a great experience, unless the house consists of only one room, divided by mere curtains. Since our hosts were somewhat embarrassed and didn't want us to sleep on the floor, they offered us their bed. Now I hadn't felt the comfort of a genuine bed in weeks, so I instantly said yes to their offer. And even though my translator had never slept next to a "stranger" before, she also choose the bed instead of the floor.

Everything went great. During the day my translator and I wandered the island talking to fisher folk, taking boat rides and enjoying exotic food. We climbed a hill together, talking about my research untill the sun went down. We came home after dark, drank a few shots of Brandy with our host and than fell vast asleep next to each other.

This ritual repeated itself for the entire week, and when we went back to Manila I felt great. The island was amazing, the stories of the fisher folk were very interesting for my research and I took some nice pictures. Also, I must admit I liked the company of my translator.

And than we came back at the office... Somehow - still don't know how, but I accuse our host on the island - our adventures reached the main land. People at the office spoke about how my translator and I were gone the entire day, only to return after sunset all dirty and exhausted... About how we would drink shots of Brandy till the wee hours of the night, only to fall asleep next to each other. In the same bed!

Not only my translator and I weren't amused by these stories - as they portrayed a very suggestive image of our stay on the island - also the soon-to-be husband of my translator wasn't really pleased with the fact she slept next to another guy.

... you know that feeling when you feel like a third (or is it fifth?) weel on a wagon? Let's just say the days after our return were rather awkward. Anyhoo, things are calmed down again and everything between my translator and her boyfriend is okay right now. Even the boyfriend and I are on speaking terms again, as he realised everything was taken out of context after we explained everything.

However, looking back on it I think I've made some mistakes. I realize our behaviour could have sent out wrong signals to outsiders. Even though nothing happened on the island, others could think bad things of us. Of course that was never our intention. It just shows you have to be on your guard all the time and be aware of the cultural differences constantly.

Ah well, I learned my lesson Razz Things are going great again: next week I'm going to visit some hacienda's on Negros. After that: back to the Netherlands!

Update: WTF, I think there is a bedbug or lice plague at the office where I'm staying: everybody is covered with itchy red dots. Driving us insane! Gross...


Last edited by Niels on Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:27 am; edited 6 times in total
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Kevin on Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:21 pm

OMG

I think i've never ever read a text as quick as I did just now.
The last sentence of the second alinea made me sooo curious!!

We want PICTURES niels!! Please entertain me with a gorgeous pic of your translator in bikini Cool

I daren't look at women here. In the first week someone introduced me to this girl so i pulled out my hand to introduce myself and shake her hand, but she nearly bit my hand off. I didn't know girls over here in Palestine would be that traditional (not shaking the hand of a boy/man).


I've had some troubles too with my translators. I think the first one, she had a crush on me and after two interviews she send me a text saying she can't help me out anymore because her boyfriend wouldn't allow her anymore.
The second one (a friend of the first one), while we were having a drink yesterday, got a call from her boyfriend. She answered, spoke for 2 minutes and then started crying. I didnt know what to do. She hang up and was sobbing her head off. She fell into my arms and continued crying. WTF.

If i wouldn't have a girlfriend, it would have been the perfect opportunity to take a chance. She's the prettiest girl i've seen in 2months time.

Anyway. My research is going great! The boys/men who I have been interviewing have been so open to me. Took me a lot of effort though. Like Mario said, sometimes you have to spoil them. For instance I bought a box of the best cookies in town a few times and gave them to the families of the boys. I invited them into my house and cooked dinner for them a few times. 7 days a week I go out to this coffeeshop (not like the ones in Holland) in the evening to play table tennis and watch football with them. Even when I was so tired or wanted to read, I had to go. They insisted. Saying 'no' can be insulting.

So I've built some really good relationships. I only recently told them about my research. The first 6 weeks I said I was here as a volunteer doing social work.


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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:30 am

@ Kevin: we are just too damn attractive for these natives haha Wink

Btw, what was your researchpuzzle again?
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Cameroonian on Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:25 pm

You guys lift me right out of my malaria medication induced depression. fortunately I don't suffer from it every week. only when the times are rough. and they are. because my computer died! it crashed. but it was only two more weeks to go. and now it is only this week. i have finally cleared the office computer of all the scary viruses and worms so now I have a temporary new one!

So a last update. this week I will do my last 5 questionnaires which will bring the total to a whooping 50! and then i will sit on a beautiful bounty beach for a few days. go to Douala to chill for a few more days at an air conditioned apartment and then it is over for me! must say i am looking forward being at home again. normal food (that does not make you sick), a fixed computer and a social life! cuz unlike you guys I have basically no social life here at all except per email/facebook/phone. anyway I am really happy with the experience and now actually looking forward to writing my thesis (which will happen the moment my computer is fixed)!

cheers!

from the armpit of Africa (did not come up with that one myself)
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Davey on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:42 pm

Took a trip to the refugee complex to give english lessons to north kroean refugees. talk about security, we had to take a bus out to the middle of nowhere, 2 hours from Seoul to arrive at this complex with barbed wire all around and security check points. The complex was unbearable quiet. there was fairly big lecture hall with a south korean flag above the chalk board, and soon after we entered, about 20 north korean women aged 12-30 came streaming in. If I had to describe the north koreans that I met, I would probably say that I was struck by how humble they were. they were incredibly nice, and they did pretty mcuh everything i told them to do. In the end the seemed like they really enjoyed the lesson. One of my coteachers told me that one girl eyes were "sparkling" at me the entire lesson. hah. We ate in the complex dining hall with the students there after, and the students seemed really happy to eat with us. They kept on coming up and greeting us, thanking us for giving the class. It seemed a bit surreal that you ewre eating next to somebody who at one ppoint in the nineties was likely almost completely emaciated. Perhaps they even had friends or family die in the famine. And yet, we eat seasoned pork and rice so casually. Maybe I was tihnking too much into it. It was an awesome experience none the less. I couldnt really document anything for research, nothing that would serve as reliable substance at least. I just have my memories though, sigh.
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Re: Stories from the front lines?

Post by Niels on Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:28 pm

Amazing story Davey; cherish those memories. We have to remember that eventhough we are busy with our research, we also have to enjoy moments like these.

Speaking of which, I experienced some nice things myself as well. Last week I went to Negros to see the bungkalan. Bungkalan is the process in which farmers occupy parts of the hacienda to grow their own crops - instead of sugercane as demanded by the landlords. In Hacienda Luisita the peasants engaged in a bungkalan, but it turned out to be a failure. In Negros, however, the bungkalan became a success.

It was great to experience the process. First, peasants take over the land by destroying the sugercane. They plant their own crops and set up guardtowers and an HQ (where we slept) to guard their crops at night. They sometimes even arm themselves in order to prevent the landlord from destroying the crops. When everything goes according to plan, the peasants can reap the fruits of their labor and make a living. The end goal is communal farming, where all the peasants work together in a big collective.

In Negros I also turned from an innocent bystander into a participant when I joined the Lakbayan: a march from Escalante to Bacolod: 80 km in a blistering 37 degrees C. Unprepared and wearing my flip-flops, I walked 20 km on the first day. The second day I walked 40 km and in the morning of day 3, I walked another 5 km... than the sun and the lack of sleep took its toll on me and I collapsed. It took a dozen of slaps in the face to bring me back to the Philippines after being out for a good 20 minutes: ah, the joys of doing field-research! tongue

Anyhoo, at the moment I'm sick as a dog: for 2 months I felt great, but since yesterday I'm feverish and suffer from constant head- and stomach aches. Luckily my research is done: I've got what I came for and I did what I wanted to do. May first I say goodbye to the Philippines (for now) and fly back to the Netherlands where the real hardship can begin: writing my thesis...
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