Sounds of Silence

Silence comes from many sources, as darkness comes in many shades. Silence from those whose lives were taken or voices silenced. Silence through technology that brings people together by keeping them apart. Silence from commercialism that values things more than people. Silence from fear that has sparked new life to nationalism all over the world. Our world becomes ever smaller and ever darker.

And so on the darkest day of the year, listening to the sounds of silence, let’s remember that when all the evils from Pandora’s box were released, all that remained was hope. People may be the cause of these problems, but people are also surely the solution.


The Sound Of Silence
by Paul Simon

(Click here for my new favorite version of this song by Disturbed.)

Frankfurt Holocaust Memorial Wall
Jewish Holocaust Memorial Wall in Frankfurt

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Brussels cobblestone street

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp

Dublin pub
Church behind McD’s and money exchange in Vienna

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

Watching the light show through camera phones in Frankfurt (German Reunification Day)
Paris subway station

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Downtown Dresden
“Welcome culture” for Syrian refugees caricature in Frankfurt

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

Frankfurt Red Light District
Red Light District in Amsterdam
Tourist season in Amsterdam

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming

Panier district of Marseille
Revolution mural in Leipzig
Graffitti-allowed wall in Prague

And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

Signs of globalization in Bucharest
Political palindromes in a London underground station
Political palindromes in a London underground station

And tenement halls

Housing in Bucharest

And whispered in the sounds of silence”


European Feast

European Feast

In honor of not cooking this Thanksgiving, here are some of my all-time favorite food and drink pictures from all over Europe over the last three years. Guten Appetit & Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: I wasn’t too big on taking food pictures until recently. A few not pictured favorites include mussels in Belgium, Indonesian food in the Netherlands, Sacher torte (a kind of chocolate cake) in Austria, stuffed peppers in Romania, Scotch and shortbread in Scotland; Guinness in Ireland, fondue and Raclette in Switzerland, pasta-sauerkraut-cheese stir fry in the Czech Republic, smoked salmon in Sweden and Norway, and gelato, coffee, pizza, etc., etc. in Italy.

Minding the Gap in London

Minding the Gap in London



Barbican Tube Station

(Apologising in advance for the use of British English in this post.)

On holiday at the weekend, I found myself under a light but constant sprinkle of chilly rain along rows of cosy brownstones. It was very much as expected, the first visit I had organised to London. Glad I had worn a thick jumper (sweater) under my winter coat, I looked right, left, right (repeatedly) trying to figure out which way cars and lorries would be coming from. I ducked into various places to stay dry as I acquainted myself with the city: Shops filled with elaborate rainy day activity books (England seems to have perfected this for obvious reasons!), a tiny sandwich shop called the Breadline Café (for chips [fries] and a paper-wrapped bacon sandwich on thin white bread), and the famous Tube stations.

Helpful signs on the street

London is a great city to visit from A to Zed: Vibrant, international, and full of culture, it reminds me of New York only with a more polite population. Except for the bloke I saw laying into his car horn for a solid minute or two because traffic happened to be moving slowly. Aside from that, the most frequently heard words are “pardon,” “sorry,” and, of course, “mind the gap.”

Near the Thames

As we had only got a long weekend in London, it was rather a whirlwind tour of a few of its many highlights. And while I don’t think I’d be keen on moving house to England, I would definitely fancy another visit.

Having wandered the city on foot and by Tube, our first sightseeing stop was to the famous Tower of London. One of the 37 tower warders/queen’s bodyguards, known as Yeomen or Beefeaters, gave us an extensive history of the tower, home of centuries of royal intrigues as well as the Crown Jewels. Dry British humour is still not my favourite, but the tour did occasionally make us chuckle.

Saturday happened to be the infamous 5th of November, celebrated as Bonfire Night in England to commemorate the foiling of an attempted attack on Parliament involving Guy Fawkes. From the banks of the Thames River, after fish and chips with mushy peas and a round of ales at a local pub, we could see distant fireworks from various points in the city. The Tower Bridge itself was lit with beautiful colours.

The next morning, after an absurdly fatty (hardy?) English breakfast and a proper cuppa tea, we set off to 221B Baker Street, home to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Today these apartments are a well-touristed museum, though we skipped that and just popped into the ground floor gift shop for a peek inside.

And in the afternoon, after a delicious vegetarian Indian lunch buffet from Chutneys (one of many choices near the Euston Square underground station), we had got just enough time to explore the amazing ancient Egyptian and Assyrian exhibition at the British Museum. Colossal busts of pharaohs in amazingly good condition tower over visitors, even accompanied by the famed Rosetta Stone that led to the ability to decipher ancient hieroglyphics. The incredible donations-only museum is massive, and several more days in
London could easily be dedicated to visiting here alone.

Lunch from Chutneys

A few of the more mundane aspects that give character to London deserve mention as well:

Cabs. They’re clunky and old-fashioned in design from boot to bonnet (trunk to hood), like a scene out of a Dick Tracy movie.

Taxi cabs

Phone boxes. Today these throwbacks stand as monuments to a bygone pre-mobile era, as well as unintentional rubbish bins. Some of them are even marked as WiFi hotspots. I saw one stacked with fresh, still-wrapped sandwiches and another… well, let’s just say it had been used as a loo.

Phone boxes

Ghosts. As briefly mentioned, England has a long and bloody history. And because of this we were able to enjoy a ghost tour through the streets of London led by a fantastic storyteller. Too much to retell all of it here, but suffice it to say it was full of suspense and stories of unhappy Brits buried with the heart of their murdered spouse, buried alive and brought back to their senses by grave robbers, and so on.

Haunted pub

Charming train stations. Many of which we know from British literature, including Paddington Station, home to the practically dressed Paddington Bear. A teddy bear wearing the note “Please look after this bear” left at a station seems like it would be a different story today, what with the modern station messages of “See it, say it, sort it” in reference to unattended belongings.

I hope you enjoyed the Queen’s English and learnt a bit on this quick tour around London. Cheers & cheerio!

Tube station