Algeria – A visit to Tlemcen

Recently, we had friends over from Germany and we decided to spend a day in Tlemcen, a city close to the Moroccan border. It’s steeped in history and there’s plenty to do and see. One day is not enough to explore everything, but we got a really good impression – also thanks to a colleague who acted as our local guide.

One thing that immediately caught the eye is the countless minarets, all square brick towers. I still need to find out about the architectural background because I used to think of a minaret as a round and much higher structure.

An amazing surprise was the number of minarets with stork-nests on top, a lot of them occupied or under territorial disputes. It was amazing to see so many White Storks so unexpectedly.

One of the many places of interest in Tlemcen is the Mosque Sidi Boumediene and the adjacent ruin of the palace of the Zayyanid sultan. There are some beautiful remnants of calligraphy in the palace and one can enjoy a view of the city.

We also ventured into the surrounding areas, but that’s for another post.

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WorldBookProject – What’s coming and what’s missing

wbp  On the picture are some of the titles which I hope to read in the coming weeks. On my e-reader, I have started with Cameroon, and Brazil, Haiti, Vatican, Antarctica and Kazakhstan are ready to go.

I’m still looking for suggestions for the following places:

Central African Republic, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bisseau, Honduras, Maldives, Mauritania, Monaco, Nauru, Niger, Palau, Panama, Moldova, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Kurdistan, Mayotte, Netherland Antilles, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Island, Reunion.

Please leave a comment if you know of a good book by an author from one of these places. Thanks!

WorldBookProject – Barbados, Burma and Iraq

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged about my reading adventures. Learning French was/is a priority and on top of that, there’s of course work and a different daily routine. I also have “only” about 100 territories left to read, for some of which it’s really tricky to find anything, e.g. Monaco and San Marino. If you’ve got any suggestions, please leave a comment.

150 Barbados: Karen LordRedemption in Indigo

A few years ago, I read another book by Lord which I really enjoyed so I was glad to find her debut novel. It didn’t disappoint! Laugh-out-loud funny and occasionally terribly sad, I was intrigued by everything: the main female character, the cultural aspects, the magic, the way things connected with each other. Looking forward to reading more by her.

151 Burma: Nu Nu YiSmile as they Bow

Here, I’m sitting on the fence. The characters were certainly exciting, especially since there seems to be so little representation of LGBT+ in mainstream publishing and translation. However, I found it difficult to connect to the story because it was so loud. The descriptions of dancing and singing crowds at the festivals were just too realistic, whereas I prefer quiet.

152 Iraq: Alia MamdouhMothballs

This again was a book which left me in two minds. I think, in my late teens or early twenties I’d have liked the story and in particular the narrator. Here and now, for the most part it left me shrugging my shoulders. What’s more, the change in narration from ‘I’ to ‘you’ was quite confusing for me. But I think if a reader likes this kind of challenge they would experience a unique insight into a girl’s life in mid-20th century Baghdad.

Oran – The Theatre

Former Opera House and now used for the occasional concert or play, the theatre is way too underused in my opinion. theatre outside

My students tell me that there’s only sparse information available on the schedule. So we were rather lucky because the friend of a friend was going to perform there with a famous Algerian singer, and we managed to get some tickets.

The interior is the same style as the exterior. It’s not exactly what I like in terms of architecture or design, but it’s being kept in good repair.

The singer we saw is Lila Borsali. She sings in Arabic, Amazight and French in a style called musique andalouse in French. Lots of influences from Spain to Turkey make this really fascinating – check out her youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ekleila.

WorldBookProject – Heute mal auf Deutsch

Ja, wirklich! (Regular reader, fear not. This is a one-off. Probably.)

In Oxfords eher unscheinbarem Vorort Headington gibt es vier reizende literaturbewanderte Damen, denen ich im August über einer Tasse Tee einen Blogpost auf Deutsch versprochen hatte. Daher der Sprachwechsel. Mein WeltBuchProjekt (ha, das macht auf Deutsch genauso viel oder wenig Sinn wie auf Englisch) lief in den letzten Wochen eher etwas ruhiger, da ich ja nach Algerien umgezogen bin. Nichtsdestotrotz hab ich es genossen, in die diversen Welten einzutauchen.

147 Germany: William Voltz – Der Terraner (Perry Rhodan Nr.1000)

Perry Rhodan ist ein Phänomen. Eine SciFi-Serie, die seit 1961 wöchentlich läuft, und der ich seit Sommer 1990 mal mehr, momentan eher weniger, regelmässig folge. Den Terraner hatte ich in den späten 90ern als ausgeborgten Heftroman (mit Originalautogramm) gelesen und geliebt, und brav zurückgegeben. Vor ein paar Wochen war der Roman im Sonderangebot als e-Buch erhältich, und … ist noch genauso komplex, humanistisch, fesselnd und gänsehauterzeugend wie vor 20 Jahren.

148 Latvia: Inga Ābele – The Horses of Atgazene Station

Vom Genre her war das Buch schwer einzuordnen, und demzufolge schon spannend. Prosa-poetische-Kurzgeschichtenaphorismenlyrik trifft es vermutlich am besten. Die Autorin reminisziert über ihre Kindheit, das Aufeinandertreffen von Generationen und Sichtweisen, und verliert sich dabei oft in Melancholie. Mir hat’s gefallen, aber es ist nix für schwermütige Wintertage.

149 Palestine: Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana – Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales

Ok, ich geb’s zu, ich mag Märchen. Nicht den rosa-getünchten Disney-Unfug, sondern von der Volksschnauze weg. So wie hier. Ich war überrascht, nicht wie brutal die Geschichten waren (das sind die Gebrüder Grimm auch), sondern wie derb der Umgangston war (ein Scheisserli ist da noch richtig nett). Sehr gut fand ich, dass der kulturelle Hintergrund und Kontext zu den Typen der Märchen gegeben wurde. Das Buch ist, auf Englisch, frei im Netz erhältlich.

Oran – National Museum Ahmed Zabana

It’s quite a title for a museum that has a vast area available to display its exhibits. Ahmed Zabana is of local and national importance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Zabana). I think it’s his photo hanging in the entrance hall. entranceInside the museum, photography is not allowed. Hence there won’t be any pics of all the bones, stuffed animals (including a goat embryo with a double head), swords, painted landscapes, clothes or pottery. You see, the collection is holistic rather than specialised.

On the whole, I think the way the exhibits are presented leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a name, sometimes a year and place of origin. For animals, the Latin name of the species is given. Other than that, next to no context. So not as informative as it could be, and also a bit dull. Having said that, I realise that keeping such a vast and diverse collection must put an enormous strain on the curators even just in terms of day-to-day house keeping. And I also appreciate that all labels are in Arabic as well as French.

My favourite object was a 20th-century bamboo stick from New Caledonia. I guess that’s a reminder of French colonialism – how else would the stick have ended up in Oran? Anyway, it was beautifully and intricately carved with animals like cats and humans.

On the outside, the museum looks very different again. The murals seem to commemorate Algeria’s distant past during Numidian or Roman times. Judge for yourself: