Donnerstag, Dezember 27, 2007

enjoy a classic: Dinner For One!

the same procedure as last year?

the same procedure as every year!

I'm off to SF for a couple days - see you again around 7 January: e guete Rutsch!!

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

All across the nation such a strange vibration
People in motion
There's a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion people in motion

Montag, Dezember 24, 2007

ooooohhhh this is MY xmas gift!!

I just found out - yesterday I went to see the musical MAMMA MIA! for the third time (yes, Sir, I am rather fond of your ABBA musical!) and today I find out they actually make a movie based on the musical, it'll come out in summer 2008!

watch the trailer!

with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth... it's gonna be the same fun as in the musical, I guess :-)

my best wishes to my friends and colleagues in Herat, Afghanistan

making dreams come true

Little Jimmy wrote to Santa;

Dear Santa,
Please send me a baby brother.

Bad Santa wrote back:

Dear Jimmy,

Just send me your mother

Dienstag, Dezember 18, 2007

gspürsch mi?

I really put energy into this post. I went googling for the ü!!

once upon a time, I was member of AIESEC (am still an AIESECer at heart) - you can see from my facebook account that most of my links still stem from that glorious time! in AIESEC, we exchanged students worldwide, offering traineeships in companies and NGOs, and introducing our trainees to the life in our city, taking them out, organising events, and on a more serious note, organising permits and apartements and other official and basic life stuff. Every year we would elect an Executive Board to lead the Local Committee, and every year we would elect a National/Member Committee to lead the country, and all these events and elections and personal learning never went by without a lot of "thank you"s and "please"s and "you are all so lovely wonderful people"s and "my life would be different if"s.

though all of those statement certainly hold true, and AIESEC is a mind-blowing bloody fantastic experience that taught me much more than university and school and ordinary life together, still, along with a few also slightly cynically-minded friends we loved AIESEC + life-long learning + vision + hard work, but we started to despise the not-so-cool tearful touchy-whiney sessions. so, whenever somenbody glided into the ecstatic "u r all so wonderful" speech, we just grinned at each other, and with mimicking waves with our fingers would just whisper: gspürsch mi?? --- "can u feel me?"

gspürsch mi-sessions have a tendency to happen far too often, be far too emotional, are generally more annoying than solution- or forward-oriented, and should be replaced by one hug and a shared beer.

drama queens, go home!! watch the oscar shows and weep away...

so, in the spirit of the season that tends to be tacky - please stay on the line of "is there a santa claus - yes, Virginia", throw a snowball and eat the head of a gingerbread man.

there are enough tears in this world. let's add some laugh and bloody not take ourselves so damn seriously without a break!


Donnerstag, Dezember 13, 2007

one of my all-times favourite

Croatia, Albania somewhere near Romania
Each hero and NATO, why the hell do we go
Pristina blew up a head for Macedonia, I’ll race ya

Somewhere far overseas
There’s a place called Kosovo
That’s where you don’t want to go
If you’re Albanian at all

Protecting human rights
Air strikes and firefights
And we'll be dropping our bombs
Wherever Serbian bad guys hide
Just up from Kosovo

Somalia, Grenada or rescue in Kuwait-a
We screwed ya Rwanda, wish we could've helped ya
Iraqi embargo that’s the way we hustle
Rules are why we’re helping out in Kosovo
We’ll kick some ass and see how it goes
And then we really don’t know
Good luck to Kosovo

Milosevich you sorry son of a bitch

Every time we go
To little places like Kosovo
We never really know
What happens after we go
Tough luck for Kosovo

Croatia Albania somewhere near Romania
Each hero and NATO
Why the hell do we go
Pristina, blew up a head for Macedonia
We’ll kick their ass and then we’ll see how it goes
And then we really don’t know
That sucks for Kosovo

Somalia, Grenada or rescuing Kuwait-a
We screwed ya Rwanda
Wish we could of helped ya
Iraqi embargo
How it ends we don’t know…

how long have we women been kept waiting for a pix like this!

Mittwoch, Dezember 12, 2007


As Delivered today in the GA (12 December ) by video link from Bali (13 December)


Mr. President, and Distinguished Delegates,

It is close to midnight, here in Bali, but I feel compelled to most urgently address you in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United Nations offices in Algiers.

Words cannot express my sense of shock and outrage . This was a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity's highest ideals under the UN banner. One Head of Government speaking today in Bali said it well: those serving the UN serve us all and so this was an attack on all of us.

We are still counting the dead, tending to the wounded, and looking for the missing — not only from our own UN staff, but also innocent Algerians. My heart goes out to the victims. Their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten.

I spoke to President Bouteflika this evening to express my deepest condolences to the people of Algeria and to the families of the victims. I asked the President to take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the UN personnel.

I have also asked the UNDP Administrator, Mr. Kemal Dervi and other senior officials, to proceed to Algiers immediately. They will determine how best to aid those injured in the attack and their families. The security and welfare of UN staff is paramount. We will take every measure to ensure their safety, in Algeria and elsewhere, beginning with an immediate review of our security precautions and policies.

Mr. President, and Distinguished Delegates,

We all remember the attack of August 19, 2003 against UN headquarters in Baghdad. It claimed the lives of some of our best and brightest, among them Sergio Vieira de Mello and many Iraqis. We have taken many measures since then to enhance the security of our staff and
premises around the world.

Meanwhile, our brave men and women continue their difficult and dangerous work. Our mission has been, and will always be, to help those most in need. The Baghdad attack will not deter us. Neither will this most recent attack. Our colleagues in Algiers would ask no less.

Mr. President, and Distinguished Delegates,

In Algiers, we have today one more ugly reminder that terrorism remains the scourge of our times. The international community must be resolute in opposing those who prey on the innocent and vulnerable and those, like the United Nations, who seek only to help them.

As Secretary-General, I wish to assure this august body that I will continue to work with you in meeting this ever-present danger.

Mr. President, and
Distinguished Delegates,

Let us salute our brave men and women. Let us know that this attack on the UN is an attack on us all and our highest ideals. I call on this General Assembly to stand united. We must all condemn this deed, just as we must work, together, to bring its vile perpetrators to justice.

Thank you very much.

sad day for the UN - another one.

The terrorist attacks yesterday in Algiers targeted the United Nations building and the UNHCR premises. They have claimed many innocent lives including at least 11 UN staff members so far confirmed to be among the victims. While many UN staff members have been injured and others still remain unaccounted for, UNHCR is known to have lost two colleagues: Karim Bentebal and Nabil Slimani.

As was the case in Afghanistan and Chad, the UNHCR colleagues who were killed yesterday were both drivers. Mr. Sadequllah, UNHCR driver in Kandahar, Afghanistan was killed while on his way to work on 8 May 2007; and Mr. Mahamat Mahamadou, UNHCR driver in Danamadji, Chad was killed on 6 December 2007 while returning from mission.

it seems like UN organizations regrettably become a soft target for terrorists. Especially local staff, in particular drivers, have become easy targets for the next terrorist attack - which is certain to happen.

in the line of fire. how can anyone be cruel enough to kill those who help the people that are in dire need of assistance? how can one think in black and white, without making differences between political work, humanitarian work, diplomatic undertakings, innocent bystanders - how can anyone be guilty by birth, by nationality, by race?

Montag, Dezember 10, 2007

is there a Santa Claus?

Is There a Santa Claus
by Francis Pharcellus Church
Published in the New York Sun, September 21, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and un-seeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Freitag, Dezember 07, 2007

apart from being 72% New Yorker, ....

You Are Very Happy Being Single

You're not anti-relationship. You just don't need one to be content.
You find plenty of happiness from your life as it is.
And if you find someone you love, then that's just icing on an already decadent cake!

Donnerstag, Dezember 06, 2007

quote of the day

“And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”

guess who!!

Mittwoch, Dezember 05, 2007

money makes the world go round

UN refugee agency seeks 1.5 billion dollars in 2008
Story date: 04/12/2007

The UN refugee agency will ask donor countries for 1.5 billion dollars (1 billion euros) to support its global relief work in 2008.

The UNHCR's total budget amounted to 1.45 billion dollars in 2007.

The agency expects to launch appeals in January for programmes in Iraq, Darfur in Sudan and Somalia, as well as for repatriation programmes for Sudanese and Mauritanian refugees, and aid for internally displaced people in African countries from Chad to Uganda.

  • Africa accounts for 37.5 percent of the UNHCR's budget in 2008;
  • Middle East and North Africa 17.5 percent;
  • Asia-Pacific 9.9 percent;
  • Europe 5.9 percent;
  • 2.8 percent for the Americas.

Le HCR a rappelé dans un communiqué que son budget dépendait presque entièrement des contributions volontaires des pays.

L'organisation aide 32,9 millions de personnes dans le monde.

pumuckl comment: and this money is dearly needed... some is overhead costs, yes, but UNHCR is restructuring... so most of the money will go into the field, into advocacy, into protection of people.

I know, WFP and worldman have more sexy pictures because their mandate is straight-forward - but in the end, it needs durable solution for refugees. and going home in security and dignity is the preferred option. and after all, we are partners.

sadly enough, it is more likely that new crisis emerge than that Iraq, Somalia and Darfur are settled - not forgetting all the others. (and PLEASE, not Iran!!)

PEOPLE: forgotten crisis is not a term for Darfur!! forgotten crisis means what it says: forgotten crisis. everyone knows Darfur by now. forgotten crisis at the moment are Somalia, CAR, and those that might wake up in the aftermath of a Kosovo independence - like Nagorno-Karabakh.

HAFEZ: du hast dich mal wieder selber uebertroffen :-)

Dienstag, Dezember 04, 2007

jingle bell rocks

each of these following points/events in my life deserve a special post, but I just don't manage to come round to write it...

  • I got rid of my bed bugs - do it yourself (al hamdulillah)!!
  • I discovered the book series "the wheel of time" and am reading every free minute
  • I bought a radio and am now listening 102,7 - they call it fresh music. Bryan Adams? Enrique Iglesias? even me know dat's no fresh!
  • the beatings of the former post might have been catalytic. it is ALWAYS good to talk about it.
  • my friend M. who hosted me in my first days in NY, who had a kidney transplant later, who is again on the kidney transplantation list, is now in coma :-( the news every day since last Thursday are short: NSTR - nothing special to report
  • Kosovo contact group to report back to Secretary General on 10 December - unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo is possible
  • my parents are soon coming to visit me in NY!!!

well there would be some other headlines. I am happy, work is great, winter is nice, New York is fantastic, UN in NY not the most inspiring place but plenty to learn. see dilbert above. and just in terms of love life, the local life is pretty much in a vegetative state as well... hehe

Montag, November 26, 2007

the beatings continue until moral improves

I don't recommend the movie "No Country for Old Men". it is well done and good, but sometimes I just can't stand the low-level but so evil and excessive violence. violence in a non-bloody, non-gruesome way. just killing people because they happen to be there. without thought before, during or after. without making a big deal of it, and without big mess. totally insane. totally sad.

and what do you do if a friend of you gets verbally abused in her relationship, and it crossed the line to physical violence in one case? smooth it over, like she does? or point out that she deserves better? support her no matter what she does, even if you think it is not right? what do you do?? what action do you take? when it would be so convenient to forget, to neglect, to downplay it. but what is the role of friend, bystander, family?

Freitag, November 23, 2007

I am startled. or is it, like, apalled?

Thanksgiving is a nice holiday. it's all about stuffing turkeys and eating them in company. it's about sharing and spending time and money together... hehe...

and of course it is also another parade. this time financed by MACY'S (the huge department store)

it was yesterday. and today is BLACK FRIDAY. where hard-core shopper (not a rarity) queue outside the shop from 3am onwards. they do. because shops open from 9 to midnight that day, but if u r not in by 9, my god, this gift of the year might be gone!! GONE!!!!

and what would you do if the gift of the year is gone? give your empty cart to a homeless person, I guess.

online shopper experts recommend you not to let your cart unattended as other shoppers might snatch it away... and people tell that "enemy-shopper" grab really wanted items out of your cart right under your eyes.

the U.S. of A. (as Borat says so nicely) are deeply disturbed shopping-addicts.

or, as Obelix would say, ils sont fous, ces cretes... ces iberiens... ces bretons.... this melting pot!

Dienstag, November 20, 2007

senz' una donna

another hero to come

sometimes when you are not so happy, slightly pissed off, and just a bit edgy-quirky, all it takes is a good movie: BEOWULF!

good might be a too big word, but it is definitely made in an interesting way that does remind you of Shrek at times... it is about big topics like pride and warriors and kingdom and responsibility, in an era where not everything was gender-mainstreamed and politically whitewashed. nice monsters. nice mothers of monsters. and movie that makes for some good laughs, as it is like a parody at times.

Donnerstag, November 15, 2007

filthy little friends (nooo, am not getting desperate!)

right. am back to my happily sucking bed companions.

the EXTERMINATOR Alberto fell in love with me over the phone. and over having seen my studio, I guess. not because it promises richness, but because I had a lot of NYC condoms lying around (I am focal point for HIV/AIDS and just got a thousand of them).

well, all I can say is, stay tuned! I have a cleaning weekend ahead of me. and will then share my newly acquired wisdom of exterminating bed bugs (still in process)

and hey, thanks for all the comments on my blog and in real life!

it reminded me once more that I should be careful on what I publish (there is this one compromising photo I actually would like to see online...!)

Montag, November 05, 2007

I'm really embarrassed

and disgusted... I was not sleeping alone for the last weeks: I have fucking freaking disgusting BETTWANZEN!!!!! bugs in my bed!

New York ist eine Kloake.

in my bed!!! so I slept on my couch last night after this discovery. did not really sleep of course. and arranged today to have the mattress and bed disposed, the studio thoroughly cleaned. it should all take its course already.... I am so disgusted and honestly, I do feel embarrassed.

like a little filthy messy person.

thanks God I can go home tomorrow for a week. escape 'em all....!

song of the day:

auf der mauer auf der lauer sitzt ne kleine wanze
auf der mauer auf der lauer sitzt ne kleine wanze
sieh dir mal die wanze an, wie die wanze tanzen kann
auf der mauer auf der lauer sitzt ne kleine wanze

(freakin' stay on you goddam fuckin wall next time!)

Freitag, November 02, 2007

dehaim :-)

nid eso scheen wie die griene, aber es git trotzdaem vorfreud uf dehaim!

Mittwoch, Oktober 31, 2007

don't worry about me :-)

it is just an overdose New York.

when everything is available, perfect and easy - then, it seems, people start obsessing about stupid things. superficial things. the western culture is - no, not correct. the culture and values is great. it is civilisation that is SICK.

and, I guess, working for the UN at HQ in New York does not really add to comfort for your soul.

but who cares!!!!!!!! I am going home next week :-)

and this is the way the world ends. who cares, anyway.


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Montag, Oktober 29, 2007

adjust your watch

it seems to be confusing for the US to turn their watches back to wintertime one full week after Europe. most of the computers here seem to obey European time, also the one in the elevator.

for one week, time difference for me to call home is only 5 hours!

Montag, Oktober 22, 2007

grrrrrrrrrr -- not my day

working for the UN, the challenge is more about how to keep your mouth shut when attending the 100th meeting to initiate a task force to have meetings on working level in order to map the different actors contribution to identify the gaps and coordination needs, in order to support the implementation of a regional strategy - notwithstanding the complexity of the effort.

funny. it is mostly the departments that are not operational that like to look for coordination needs.

and all in all, I think I find life boring. a friend of mine suggested that I should have a baby. I guess that's what people do when their life is going so fine that they get bored. get married - in order to have problems you would not have otherwise - and reproduce yourself, to see the world newly again through the eyes of a kid.

oh, and of course calling it a very un-selfish, very altruistic decision.

grrrrr >-(

Samstag, Oktober 20, 2007

z Basel an mim Rhy

suggestion: to read this post, go over to Worldman and listen to the music he chose for me :-)

me and my wonderful parents. in general, there are great people in Basel. it's not that I would want to live and work there - but being home a bit more often would be great.

and I am admitting it: New York starts to wear off. it is still a fantastic city and a great job, but I long to go either back home or to the field.

first, I will go back home. Basel time, Herbschtmaess - one week in November. just because I feel like and because I can afford it (and guess because I got used to a friendly RnR cycle!)

and when I am at it, I do miss not only Basel, but some other places where after all I had a great time - Kosovo and Afghanistan. Kosovo especially - I keep thinking about doing the Swisscoy thing again....!

Freitag, Oktober 19, 2007

sigh. okay. I think it is all in below article... but why did it have to be a Swiss initiative??

National Post, Published: Saturday, July 15, 2006

UN Potato Heads

A United Nations designation of an "international year" once actually meant something.

  • The International Women's Year in 1975 produced a World Plan of Action to improve women's health, education and employment opportunities, and led to the creation of the UN Development Fund for Women.
  • The International Year of the Child in 1979 resulted in the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly.
  • The International Year of the World's Indigenous People in 1994 led to the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

But what to make of the UN's designation of 2008 as International Year of the Potato?

It has been clear for some time that the world body has run short on subjects that merit a year of their own. There have already been international years of

  • tolerance,
  • human rights,
  • older persons,
  • disabled persons,
  • youth,
  • health,
  • peace,
  • literacy,
  • volunteers,
  • sports,
  • space,
  • deserts,
  • mountains,
  • oceans,
  • freshwater,
  • refugees,
  • heritage,
  • microcredit,
  • physics and
  • "dialogue among civilizations."

Yet that has not stopped the UN. To the contrary, where the General Assembly would formerly declare an international year only every few years, it now designates several international years at once.

For example, 2008 is not only the International Year of the Potato, but the International Year of Planet Earth, which will force people to make some hard choices.

In approving the International Year of the Potato, a UN declaration described it as a "major event." Indeed it is. Vegetables rarely get the recognition they deserve. There has never been an International Year of the Parsnip, for example.

And as the UN declaration states, it "will present many opportunities to raise the profile of the potato among civil society."

Yes, but will the UN designation do for potatoes what it once did for women? Will the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is organizing the international year "in collaboration with governments, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), other United Nations bodies (UNB) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)," produce, in conjunction with the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) and the Alliston Potato Festival (APF), a Declaration of the Rights of Potatoes and other Starchy Edible Tubulars?

and will it make for nice pictures to raise some more funds??

Dienstag, Oktober 09, 2007

Samstag, Oktober 06, 2007

just a small post during my vacation

Jede Region bekam ihren eigenen Dialekt. Und alle freuten sich darüber.

Zürcher: "Läck Böbbi, mir händ sonen gäile Dialäckt, ode?"

Berner: "Dasch aber uschön, was mir fürne schöne Dialäggt becho hei!"

Walliser: "Mir hei awer en scheeno Dioläckt üwercho"!

und so weiter...

Nur für die Basler blieb leider kein Dialekt übrig.

Da sprach der liebe Gott: "Jänu, denn schwätzet Dir halt glych wien ych!"

Samstag, September 29, 2007

recommendation: sunset sail in NYC

as a tourist, or just to unwind after a busy working day. next morning, u still wake up with a smile on ur face and a totally relaxed feeling! besides the opera, the second quiet place I've found in NY

Freitag, September 28, 2007

sorry! got carried away with words instead of pictures :-)

wow. I actually live here!!! deepest field, I'd say. at least a lot of people in the field pretended to be really sorry when they heard where I'm going. and that's why you should never listen to other people...

Donnerstag, September 27, 2007

I don't want to be a (...) ... I wanna be - a LUMBERJACK!! leaping from tree to tree in British Columbia.... the pines....

I was so strongly reminded of that Monty Python sketch the other night. took a cab home with a lovely friend of mine - also Swiss, but working in Rome and here on business - so we hopped into that cab and told the young driver to go to her hotel, Broadway and 75 Street.

after a lot of chatting and giggling, the driver slows down and says here we are. lookin' outside. eehm - this is 75 Street, but not Broadway... so the driver gets all nervous (or rather, even more nervous than he was when we go into the cab first place), consults a street map (what is GPS?), and after hectic search I tell him where to go, explaining that actually broadway is the one street that crosses the other avenues (a NY basic essential knowledge).

and then the driver confessed - it was his very first day of work, and he does not even want to be a taxi driver, he wants to work for the UN, and he wants to live in the City like rich people do, and he is not making a lot of money because he is so nervous he does not take many clients but usually just drives by.

a true lumberjack :-)

Mittwoch, September 26, 2007

Tao Te Ching with another solution

Let nations grow smaller and smaller and people fewer and fewer,

let weapons become rare and superfluous,
let people feel death's gravity again
and never wander far from home.
Then boat and carriage will sit unused and shield and sword lie unnoticed.

Let people knot ropes for notation again

and never need anything more,

let them find pleasure in their food and beauty in their clothes, peace in their homes and joy in their ancestral ways.

Then people in neighboring nations will look across to each other, their chickens and dogs calling back and forth,

and yet they'll grow old and die without bothering to exchange visits.

UNHCR welcomes resolution on Chad, Central African Republic

This Press Release is issued by Media Relations & Public Information, UNHCR, Geneva.

Tuesday 25 September, 2007

NEW YORK -- UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres welcomed the adoption today of a UN Security Council resolution establishing a multi-dimensional UN mission in Chad and Central African Republic (MINURCAT) that will help strengthen security in the region.

He looks forward to an early decision of the European Union to send military troops so that MINURCAT can deploy in the coming weeks and months.

Improving the security of the refugees, IDPs and other civilians in danger as well as facilitating the provision of humanitarian assistance will greatly contribute toward stabilizing the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and may
contribute to the return of displaced persons, Guterres said.

This is most urgent given that the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad is "very difficult and serious" and the fear of increasing violence, causing more people to flee, with the approaching end of the rainy season.

He also emphasized the need for a comprehensive and sub-regional approach to the conflicts in the Darfur region, eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR. In the longer term, UNHCR appeals to the international community to provide recovery and development assistance so that the displaced can return and restart their lives as well as rebuild communities, given the heavy burden the people of Chad and CAR face.

Since 2004, eastern Chad has hosted some 240,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps who have fled the fighting in Darfur. In addition, Chad is facing a surge in the number of internally displaced persons, now totaling more than 170,000.

North-eastern CAR hosts some 2,660 refugees from Darfur.

Today's resolution establishes MINURCAT for a period of one year, with a mandate focusing on the security and protection of civilians -- particularly refugees, IDPs and civilians in danger -- and on human rights and the rule of law in eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR.

MINURCAT will consist of three components:

- a UN multidimensional presence, composed of UN police, rule of law, human rights and other civilian officers;

- a special Chadian police/gendarmes unit (some 850) dedicated exclusively to maintaining law and order in refugee camps, sites with concentrations of IDPs and key towns, and assisting in securing humanitarian activities in eastern Chad;

- an EU military deployment (under Chapter VII).

The military contingent would have a mandate to contribute to the protection of civilians in danger, particularly refugees and displaced persons; to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of humanitarian personnel by helping to improve security in the area of operation; and to contribute to protecting UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its staff and UN and associated personnel.


The following link will take you to the above:

Dienstag, September 25, 2007

"mine is bigger"

it's interesting looking at the CIA World Factbook and especially its comparative area size - compared to the US, obviously. gives me an impression of the size of some US states ;-)

did you know that

  • Switzerland is slightly smaller than twice the size of New Jersey
  • Sudan is a bit bigger than one quarter of the US, China is slightly smaller than the whole US, while Russia is 1.8 times the size of US
  • Spain is twice the size of Oregon, while UK is slightly smaller than Oregon
  • while Andorra measures up to twice the size of Washington DC, Monace is three times the MALL in Washington DC ;-)
  • Afghanistan is almost as huge as Texas


wow! there is a word that brings up absolutely no result on google search!!

MINURCAT - the resolution was just voted upon in the Security Council this morning.

it will be the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad - a multidimensional presence
with a mandate focusing nearly exclusively on the security and protection of civilians, in particular protection of refugees, IDPs and civilians in danger, and human rights and the rule of law in eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR.

Montag, September 24, 2007

NY and UN this week

sorry for the tourists who wanted to see the UN-asbest-building this week... without the UN badge you don't even come close to First Avenue. there are lorries full of sand, loads of police officers and those men in black with little cables going to the ear, police cars and other hurdles...

curious what your state is going to say at the General Assembly in New York? or just interested in seeing how it looks like? or wondering if Ahmedinejad is going to cause another scandal? and not wanting to get the news through the media filter?

try the UN webcast.

Samstag, September 22, 2007

after Lonely Planet Afghanistan and prospects of peace talks, some might feel like travelling in Afghanistan


Thank you for showing me your marvelous gun.

I am delighted to accept your kind invitation to lie down on the floor with my arms above my head and legs apart.

I agree with everything you have ever said or thought in your life.

It is exceptionally kind of you to allow me to travel in the trunk of your car.

If you will do me the kindness of not harming my genital appendages I will gladly reciprocate by betraying my country in public.

I will tell you the names and addresses of many American spies travelling as reporters.

Whatever you say!

The red blindfold would be lovely, excellency.

Freitag, September 21, 2007

International Peace Day

Tom Koenigs, SRSG for Afghanistan, just had a press conference at the UN in NY a couple of minutes ago. Like all other public meetings, it is possible to follow press meetings online through webcam on the UN homepage.

"everybody calls for peace negotiations" - it might be the time that those who were merely alienated by misgovernment now might be brought back to the government. the government of Afghanistan is ready for peace talks on the baseline of the Afghan constitution. This constitution was a major achievement over the past years, and it is not to discuss. The aim is to unite and join all Afghans under the constitution.

Upon a question Tom Koenigs explained that "the taliban" as such do not exist, they are a very diverse group and it is difficult to identify who belongs to them at times. In the South, 10 - 15% of the population is Taliban, while about 40% are on the side of the government, and the middle is in between. UNAMA does not have a mandate to negotiate, as Afghanistan is a sovereign state, but UNAMA does talk to all parties involved and facilitates and mediates.

There are statements since 2002 that President Karzai only has power in Kabul, that he is merely "mayor of Kabul". "this is not true!" Koenigs says. Karzai since 2002 has governors in every province, and though there are difficult provinces the government does not have control over, Karzai is respected throughout the country in the circles that are not Taliban.

While warlords do have a certain roles, they are not a destabilising force as they once were. UNAMA is working on DIAG and wants warlords disarmed for a safer future. The tribes are another difficult topic, as there are often blurred lines.

Drugs are a major problems. the last report of UNODC shows a decrease in the North and in the Centre, but an increase in the South. In particular the province of Helmand is the number 1 province of drug production accounting for over 50% production.

The remarkable new element in the new resolution for Afghanistan is the "re-inforcing protection of civilians which is mentioned three times. The new resolution has not been accepted unanimously, as Russia abstained their vote apparently because there was an element in it that was not mentioned before (from press reports: naval element). However Tom Koenigs has always experienced strong support from the SC.

Among other statements, the importance of committed donors was underlined, citing the example of Japan who has long-term commitments both in DDR and DIAG, working in Afghanistan and in Northern Pakistan, and has detailed knowledge and commitment.

Donnerstag, September 20, 2007

bleeding for Afghanistan

I miss the wind, the lines in the faces of old people, the caj at every meeting, the sound of the plastic covering the windows in winter - the hot air that feels like stepping into an oven - and the cold that bites, seeing your breath even inside the house. sitting close to the oven, cuddling with a friend and drinking a glass of chilly red wine... these are some of my memories. and I have friends there. young men mostly, one with twin daughters and his wife pregnant with a third kid.

and then you read something like this press article:

Afghanistan to come under UN scrutiny in troubled times

KABUL (AFP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai will address the UN General Assembly next week on the back of some disheartening news about the state of his country six years into a global effort to set it on its feet.

Opium production reached a record high this year; more people are being killed in a Taliban insurgency that has seen suicide attacks spiral, and some of Kabul's hard-fighting international military allies are thinking of leaving.

Players in the country's fraught efforts to right itself after more than two decades of war say, however, there have been significant achievements since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001 for sheltering Al-Qaeda.

Besides new roads, schools and clinics, 80 percent of the population of around 25 million now have access to health care. Maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped, even though they are still among the highest in the world.

More children than ever are in school -- although half are still not -- and economic growth is estimated at 13 percent this year, albeit mostly on the billions of international dollars spent on reconstruction.

UN special representative Tom Koenigs said in an interview this week that despite the trouble in the south, it is not all bad news given the effort put in by the international community and the state of the country.

The south bears the brunt of the daily attacks and battles that overshadow the progress.

Most of the rest of the country only experiences around one "significant" security event or less a week, said General Dan McNeill, head of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"But where the insurgents position themselves, that's a different story and that's were we are engaged and where we are fighting," he told AFP.

The UN-mandated ISAF force is at 39,000 people from around 37 nations, its most powerful since 2001, even though original estimates of troops and equipment requirements still have not been met.

It operates alongside a US-led coalition of about 15,000 and the fledgling Afghan security forces which were in tatters when the Taliban fled Kabul.

There is concern some nations could decide to quit, like The Netherlands which has 1,665 soldiers on a mission in the difficult province of Uruzgan that is scheduled to end August 2008.

Canada is also under domestic pressure to leave after 2009 with its 2,500 soldiers in the southern province of Kandahar among the hardest hit.

Few doubt there would be chaos without the international forces. Karzai reportedly urged Ottawa this week to extend its mandate, warning that without help Afghanistan could again become a "refuge for terrorists" who could strike across the world.

These rumblings and Afghan discomfort with the presence of foreign soldiers have added to a sense of urgency about getting the Afghan security forces strong enough to take charge.

The army has done well and is set to reach its target of 70,000 soldiers by the end of next year although developing the capacity to plan and conduct operations might take longer than that, McNeill said.

But the Achilles' heel is the police force: it may number nearly 62,000 out of a planned 82,000, but it is ill-equipped, ill-trained and notoriously corrupt.

It is also on the frontline of the insurgency, stationed in remote areas and easily overrun by insurgents.

Around 700 policemen have been killed this year, some in efforts to stop the production of opium which jumped by around 30 percent this year despite US- and British-led counternarcotics efforts costing millions of dollars.

Altogether about 5,000 people have died in the violence since January, most of them rebels, according to an AFP count. This is the highest annual toll yet.

With the unrest dragging on and the Taliban described by some as weakened after the killing of several commanders, Karzai's oft-made offer of peace talks has meanwhile attracted more attention this month than before.

"The climate, mood for talks is better than it has ever been," a senior NATO official said on condition of anonymity.

I repeat: Maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped, even though they are still among the highest in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and: More children than ever are in school -- although half are still not --

oh my god. what a country. it's rough, it's tough, it's proud, and it's bleeding. as if it had not been bleeding for the past 30 years already. it's a gruesome situation, and still, it is better than with the taliban.

and don't believe anyone who says taliban times were better. except for the taliban profiteurs, no Afghan would ever say that.

wonder what will come out of the high level meeting in NY. I will be able to tell you... I will be there :-)

UN hierarchy

case study - about how hierarchy makes you nervous

a joint statement of all the principals of the main UN agencies and secretariat: principals means the big big BIG bosses of UNDP, unicef, UNHCR, WFP, and UN Secretariat several Departements big shots.

a joint press statement is being prepared, it takes quite a while as it is being discussed in the Interagency Working Group, back and forth, change a comma, delete a sentence, do some other wording, everyone consults also internally etc.

and in the end you have a smooth text, and you need the agreement of the principal because his/her name will stand underneath. so of course, the lead agency sends out the statement to all principals, but it is YOUR responsibility to report back timely that it is okay.

and what if every single one of your contact persons is on leave, on mission, on paternity leave or just simply not responding?

what to do?? despair? start calling the world? write some hierarchy levels higher? bother everyone with it? commit suicide so you are out of the line? stay in the office until Geneva gets up again?

here's what I did. I wrote an email that as there seems to be no objection, I will give the okay.

daring, I tell you, that's DARING! if there was one thing that I hear again and again in critics about my work, is that I have a tendency to work too fast (overlooking smaller mistakes) and to take too much responsibility. oops... I did it again - even though I really really told myself to lay low here in the office and just do my job (not too little, not too much - confucian thinking ;-)

well it worked out fine in this case. I got the okay today (like, six days after the deadline) and the guy was kind enough to copy no one else on the mail (it was also his responsiblity to be around for this kind of things, no?)

but I know that things like this can seriously backfire. this is UN. no private initiative wanted.

it's rare, but some things make you smile and hope for the good to prevail

In this Oct. 2005, file photo, Iranian actor, Shahabeddin Hosseini, acts as a hero, named Habib Parsa, in a scene from an episode of an Iranian TV series titled "Zero Degree Turn," It is Iran's version of "Schindler's List," a miniseries telling the tale of an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helps Jews escape the Holocaust _ and people around the country are riveted, tuning in every week to catch the latest episode. That's surprising enough in a country where hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned whether the Holocaust even took place. What's even more surprising is that government media produced the series, and is airing it on state-run television.

Mittwoch, September 19, 2007

New York during the General Assembly

...all the big shots are floating in... high-level delegations, high-level meetings, especially on Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur and Kosovo. UN HQ is never really lax in security, but now it's really tight. every other floor looks like a airport security control. in some places they hung dark sheets over the windows. am happy not to be a big shot - some things you just don't want to get used to. I mean, living and working in Afghanistan was already special, but at least there security measures are because of the SITUATION, not because of your personal PRESENCE.

in any case, also in our office things are gettin slightly hectic, but nowhere near the Secretariat who is actually organising all of it.

let's just see... hope the outcome of those talks will ease some people's life, not lead to more suffering in a country so far quiet, like Iran.

for god's sake, Iran!! I have been there several times last year, enjoyed it so much.

Dienstag, September 18, 2007

finally I see the haka

aah - I would love to watch another rugby game... it's another sweet Herat memory

yes, this fall makes me TOTALLY sentimental! apart from my kickboxin' classes ;-)

Montag, September 17, 2007

the difficulties of being consequent ;-)

"It is Iran's version of "Schindler's List," a miniseries about an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helps Jews escape the Holocaust -- and viewers across the country are riveted. That's surprising enough in a country whose president has questioned whether the Holocaust even took place. What's more surprising is that government media produced the series, and it is airing on state-run television." (AP)

aille - tengo agujetas!!

I wish I were a man. instead of suffering every time I have to sink backwards on those bloody low toilet seats, I could just keep standing and not torture my muscle-ache legs even further!!

Samstag, September 15, 2007

I miss Herat

it must be the cooler weather here in NY now. it is a fantastic, wonderful September - still the hint of summer heat in the air but also the slightly melancholic cool breeze. it does feel like a last deep inhale, after a big summer, before a winter where... I have to put one of my favourite poems from Rainer Maria Rilke. I found a translation even!


Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let thine shadows upon the sundials fall,
and unleash the winds upon the open fields.

Command the last fruits into fullness;
give them just two more ripe, southern days,
urge them into completion and press
the last bit of sweetness into the heavy wine.

He who has no house now, will no longer build.
He who is alone now, will remain alone,
will awake in the night, read, write long letters,
and will wander restlessly along the avenues,
back and forth, as the leaves begin to blow.

I was reading a post from when I got back to Herat sometimes last winter. and I just missed Herat and those winter days SO MUCH. not sadly, not in a way of wanting to go back - just looking back, feeling like back there, with a smile and sigh of how good it was - I have similar feelings for Bern, Vushtrri, Camp Casablanca, some roads in Kosovo... mixed with the knowledge that you will never be back to that time and that place. maybe not even to the place (not true for Kosovo, though). whatever. it is a great feeling, sad, melancholic and happy at the same time. grateful for what has been, a sweet grief that it is over, but it once was. well - see the poem again :-)

Donnerstag, September 13, 2007

did you ever wonder what anaesthetists do while the patient is asleep?

thanks swisslondonlad - I keep laughing like a madwoman - and I've heard it about 20 times already :-)

facebook... and my favourite series

I did it. I finally gave in to all the "friends" requests and joined FACEBOOK. I am not totally overwhelmed and fascinated by it, and still find it a bit sad that the word "friend" gets a bit of a shallow meaning, but what to do... the loss of values in our time!

The Useless Tree is a great, calm, interesting blog I discovered yesterday, and I especially like his post about facebook. have a look there.

but what facebook did achieve was make me realise again why I love 24 so much :-)

Audrey: Do you really think that Jack would want to come back to C.T.U. after the hell he has been through today?
Tony: Some people are more comfortable in hell.

Jack Bauer: I have killed two people since midnight. I havent slept over twenty four hours. So maybe, just maybe, you should be a little more afraid of me than you already are.

Audry " Who are you calling"
Jack "The only person I can trust"

Henry Powell: Who are you guys? Police? FBI?
Tony Almeida: Actually, I'm currently unemployed.

Terrorist: Jesus Jack, you broke his ankle
Jack: He shouldn't have been playing with adults.

Jack Bauer: I need some information. Are you going to give it to me, or am I going to have to start hurting you?
Graem: Actually you’re hurting me now
Jack Bauer: Trust me [shakes head] I’m not

Jack Bauer: Chloe i need you to set up a perimeter

and so forth.... I gotta buy it and watch it again... my heart starts pounding just by reading this!!