Camels April 17, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Just an amusing detail from the night out, to make sure strangers are familiar with EVERY detail of my life. I met a wonderful, kind, nice, humble, beautiful, lovely friend – excuse the enthusiasm. It’s to make up for all the rude things I’ve written about German friends here in the past – and we went and danced and smoked and drank and beed merry. Over the course of the evening, drink taken, I chatted to some of the other patrons of the establishment. Nothing major. Just a minor greeting, say, as we waited for the barstaff to pay us their attention. Berlin, being a big city, is, not surprisingly, an international place. Within minutes, I had two international encounters at the bar. An Israeli queen said a hello but could only be unbitchy for ten seconds at a stretch and reverted to rudeness within moments. That relationship didn’t flower, then. An American queen and I then got chatting. I mentioned the bitchy Israeli queen and he said, I thought amusingly, “Shall we beat him up?” That tickled me, I must say. (He wasn’t serious, obviously.) He then said to me, “We could. You look pretty tough.” I look like Charles Hawtrey.
But camels. I abused my innards woefully and decided I needed a walk to start the detoxification process. Just as I was nearing our flat, on a patch of what is normally wasteland, a camel was wandering around with that dispossessed look on its face that camels always have. A touch surprising to see a camel in a fairly dreary bit of northern Berlin early on a Sunday morning. I didn’t pinch myself, or double-take, or anything like that, because I’m not in a book. But I did think it was decidedly odd. Awfully odd. Perspective, as is so often the case, saved the day. Once I had a full view of the exciting patch of wasteland, I could see the circus had come to town. (I must say, the circus can’t be raking it in for them to choose such a dreary location.) There was in fact more than one camel, and there were tigers doing that pacing-up-and-down thing in their cages. And tents. And ropes. And it all somehow looked utterly uninteresting, though maybe I have been inured to the circus since seeing a bear riding a motorbike at the circus in St. Petersburg and one of the tiger stunts getting cut short for fear of a Siegfried-and-Roy moment when a new recruit seemed a touch too frisky for his handler’s liking. (Mind you, a visiting friend from England told me it was better than what was on at the Millennium Dome.)
Anyway, I don’t know if it was the camels or a programme about folk driving across some desert or other I caught in a moment of insomnia, but it all got me thinking about desertification. Even the BBC’s come up with the goods to satisfy me today with a video story on its site about sandstorms now being a frequent feature of Beijing life. So couldn’t it be stopped? Couldn’t it all be turned green? I remember on one long-haul flight, the aeroplane map plotting our route had very nice graphics and I could see that the Sahara was now creeping into northern Nigeria. And as pretty as the middle-of-the-night programme was, and as much as I like Le Petit Prince, it’s not much good, is it, this desertification lark? No good to man or beast. Well, OK, camels, but as the circus shows, they can adapt happily to wasteland in Berlin, so they wouldn’t mourn its passing too much.
So what do we do? Haven’t the Israelis managed to turn the desert green? Or bits of it? And didn’t Gaddafi/Qadafi/Gadafy have some project which involved boring down incredibly deep and eventually coming across water, thus turning the desert green again? And didn’t the Chinese have some huge project to plant trees between Beijing and the desert precisely to stop the sandstorms? (They’re perhaps not being very successful.) I don’t, as anyone who’s lingered here for more than half a second might have gleaned, know my arse from my elbow when it comes to anything practical, but I DO know words like capacity-building, sustainable, empowerment and ownership so think I have the savvy to start an NGO to undertake a massive tree-planting/irrigation/whatever-it-takes programme to make the Sahara bloom. All we need is a whopping EU grant to do a bit of fact-finding and write a mission statement and then do a bit of evaluation of something or other and we’ll be laughing. So who wants in? And I suppose we’ll need a sexy, punchy, catchy name. All suggestions gratefully received…
Update: flip, others are onto us. Better be quick…