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Thaipusam 14
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 15
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 16
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 17
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 18
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 19
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 20
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 01
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 03
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

This is a set of pictures showing Hindu devotee at the hardest part of pilgrimage, the 272 steps to reach the sacred Batu Caves temple to place their kavadi at the feet of the deity statue.

Hindu devotees climb the stairs to reach the temple cave during Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfilled their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burden) to Lord Murugan. They will make an arduous climbing up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposited at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 04
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 06
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 07
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 08
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Uloq: Uzbekistan's Ancient Extreme Sport
Ertosh, Uzbekistan
By TTM Contributor 100
28 Jan 2015

Photos by Umida Akhmedova

Uloq is the Uzbek version of the famous Asian Buzkashi game. This tradition was spread in Central Asia and Afghanistan by Mongols with their cult of horsemen. The rules are simple: riders compete for a carcass of a goat or a young ram. The winner has to cross the finish line on horseback without allowing other riders to rob him of his prey. Like Buzkashi, Uloq is an extremely dangerous sport: 100 or more horsemen usually fight for a one carcass. Major Uloq games are usually held in the spring or autumn, when the Central Asian peoples traditionally celebrate their weddings, and is often played before the arrival of their main Spring festival, Nowruz. The official Uloq Federation of Uzbekistan conducts frequent tournements and competitions, bringing together up to 500 riders and thousands of spectators to watch the fast, intense sport.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Uloq in Uzbekistan 01
Ertosh, Uzbekistan
By TTM Contributor 100
28 Jan 2015

Riders from all the surrounding villages take part in an Uloq competition in Ertosh. Participating in Uloq competitions is considered a good way to demonstrate mens' strength to women.

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Manila Nightlife
Manila
By Ralf Falbe
23 Jan 2015

A singer and band performs at a nightclub in Manila, Philippines.

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Milan 02
Milan
By GC
11 Jan 2015

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Street Gabriele D'Annunzio:
The redevelopment of the new Dock for Expo 2015 (pictured in the advertisement of the area where jobs, targeted by vandals who have changed the words) and that must end before the opening of Expo 2015 the 5/1/2015

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Milan 03
Milan
By GC
11 Jan 2015

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Piazza XXIV Maggio:
The redevelopment works of the new Dock for Expo 2015 (pictured Ticinello bridge) that must finish before the opening of Expo 2015 the 5/1/2015.

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Milan 04
Milan
By GC
11 Jan 2015

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Street Gabriele D'Annunzio:
The redevelopment of the new Dock for Expo 2015 (pictured in the advertisement of the area where jobs, targeted by vandals who have changed the words) and that must end before the opening of Expo 2015 the 5/1/2015.

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Milan 06
Milan
By GC
11 Jan 2015

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Piazza XXIV Maggio:
Monumental oak in piazza XXIV Maggio, the oldest in Milan with its 117 years. Its probably la quercia the most famous of all the Milan Quercus Rubra American born in 1895 and was brought in piazza XXIV Maggio in 1924 becoming then a war memorial of the great war. Supportive interventions are initiated some years ago, when they were placed among the branches and tie crutches that ticcano the ground (do you see in the picture).

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Milan 13
Milan
By GC
11 Jan 2015

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Street Santa Marta:
A five star hotel Santa Marta Suites in the Centre of Milan, an eloquent sign down below the logo. A problem for years and that you cannot solve by educating dog owners to collect bins in their droppings.
The sign says: Please no pee no pup of dogs.

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Erawan Shrine Dancers
Bangkok
By Ralf Falbe
03 Jan 2015

Temple dancers at the Hindu Erawan Shrine, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.

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Afrin Khan, The Princess of Pakistan'...
Lahore, Pakistan
By vincenzo floramo
01 Jan 2015

A crowd of men whistle and cheer when Afrin Khan, alias the “Princess” performs her ’sexy’ dance on the stage at the Alfalah theatre in Lahore. This is not a nightclub or a cabaret show - the theatre is rather a venue for stage drama.

During the two-hour show, actors perform comedy, drama or satire. As part of the show, three girls each perform a short 4-minutes theatrical dance. However, every play must be approved by government censors and every night the show is supervised by a city official.

The lyrics of songs played during the shows are also censored. Dances cannot be too explicit and dress code restricts revealing ’too much’. The Princess is well known in town for her daring and sexually provocative theatrical dancing. In a conservative Pakistani society, sex is hidden and therefore, the Princess attracts a large male audience. Punjabi men flock regularly to the theatre to see her perform. However, she was once banned from performing for a week by the government censors because of sexual connotations she made with a cushion. Afrin Khan is not happy with the censorship, she would like to perform more freely on the stage, but today, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is quite impossible.

The Princess started dancing when she was 13 years old after her family fell on hard times as a result of her father’s ill health and struggle with cancer. She began to perform at wedding ceremonies and became very popular. She was then recognized by a producer who promoted her stage performances. In order to be more attractive, she had breast enhancing surgery and she took supplements to make her figure more voluptuous.

"I started dancing at 13 but my body was not developed so i got breast implants,” she said. “I am also naturally too skinny. I get made fun of. So now I take pills to stay plump, because that is what the audience likes.”

Afrin Khan considers herself a western type of girl who would like to be free to walk in the street wearing a mini skirt - not restricted by the cultural local dress-code. Living in a middle class villa complex on the outskirt of Lahore, she shares a house with her mother and a brother, while her father lives with his parents in another home. She drives a brand new car and dresses in nice clothes. While there is a great demand for her performance without moral qualm, there is another face of society that defies its existence.

"I am a modern girl and I want to be able to wear miniskirts to the mall if I want to,” Afrin said. “But in this country, people may be educated, but they are still so small minded. They will always be hicks even if they move to the cities."

Recently, Afrin Khan played a part in a documentary film, Zunn: Showgirls of Pakistan. The documentary tells the story of the marginalized lives of showgirls in Pakistan. On the movie set, Princess could finally perform her provocative dance freely, without censorship. However, in Lahore, where the entrance of the theatre is armed guarded and the audience is individually checked to prevent terrorist attacks, it seems that the Princess will have a long wait before she can fulfill her dreams as an expressive ’sexy’ dancer.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Un Recorrido por el Nueva York de La ...
New York, USA
By Lola García-Ajofrín
30 Dec 2014

UN RECORRIDO POR EL NUEVA YORK DE LA LEY SECA

Estos son los auténticos ‘Speakeasy’: “Había muchas formas de esconder el alcohol cuando venía la pasma”

Si fuese el escenario de un libro de Gay Talase empezaría con un portero que no vio nada y terminaría con un disparo; o viceversa. Es el 102 de Norfolk Street, una calle oscura y solitaria en el Lower East Side de Nueva York. Los obreros que construyeron Manhattan dormían en estas casas.

Una valla metálica desgastada por los bordes resguarda lo que parece la entrada a un sótano. Pasan unos minutos. Nadie transita por la calle. Tampoco se escucha música o ruido, más allá de las tripas de la ciudad que gruñen bajo la alcantarilla y algún coche con prisa en la perpendicular, la calle Delancy junto al puente Manhattan. Hace no tanto, en esta zona, “si querías árboles, ibas al parque”, escribe Nina Howes, en el libro ‘Historias orales del Lower East side’. ¿Nos hemos equivocado de lugar?

Cuando el reloj marca las 9 de la noche, aparecen dos chicas de piernas largas y falda corta, que lucen impecables. Separan la valla con determinación, como si no fuese la primera vez que lo hacen, y acceden al agujero. Descienden por un pasadizo lúgubre que conduce a otra entrada de lo que igual podría ser un trastero que cualquier negocio turbio. Sigue sin escucharse ni un ruido. Las de la minifalda llaman a la puerta y alguien abre y vuelve a cerrar. Un portero sentado en un taburete mira a los recién llegados de arriba abajo, con la puerta entreabierta.

--Hola, hemos quedado con Pete.

--Soy yo, pasad, pasad –responde.

Solo falta "Nucky" Thompson para trasladarse a la serie de HBO “Boardwalk Empire”: sofás de terciopelo granate, pinturas de mujeres desnudas sobre paredes enteladas,  alfombras orientales, chimenea, suelos de madera y mucha niña mona. La banda sonora la pone un grupo de jazz con traje y sombrero de la época.

El garito de Lucky Luciano

Es el pub "The Back Room”, uno de los dos únicos auténticos ‘speakeasy’ –como se conoce a los bares clandestinos de la Era de la Ley Seca— que sobreviven en Nueva York”, presume Pete. Dice que muchos detalles de entonces se han conservado, “no solo la entrada”. En la barra, un grupo de turistas bebe cócteles de vodka en tazones que más bien podrían ser de cola-cao. “Había muchas formas de esconder el alcohol cuando venía la pasma”, apunta divertido.

La conocida como “Ley Seca”, que prohibió la venta, importación y fabricación de bebidas alcohólicas en todo el territorio norteamericano, fue establecida por la Enmienda XVIII de la Constitución en 1920 y derogada por la Enmienda XXI, en diciembre de 1933. Trece años de aparente “sequía” en las calles que dio alas a la imaginación de los granujas en los locos años 20.

Como los chicos de “The Back Room” –literalmente “la habitación de atrás”— uno de los muchos locales clandestinos que germinaron en aquella época. Se fundó en 1920 bajo el nombre de "The Back of Ratner’s,” y en él pasaban el rato los “barones de la cerveza”, como los denomina J. Anne Funderburg en su libro sobre la Era de la Prohibición. Uno de los habituales era un joven judío de origen bielorruso, delgaducho, con orejas de soplillo y raya a un lado que se convirtió en el “cerebro financiero” de la mafia y el rey de los casinos de Cuba, ‘Meyer Lansky’. También su compañero del colegio, Lucky Luciano, considerado el padre del “crimen organizado” y un amigo del barrio, Bugsy Siegel, que acabó manejando los bajos fondos de Manhattan.

En una pared del fondo de “The Back Room”, una librería discreta de madera oscura sobresale entre el terciopelo de las paredes. Pete se apoya sobre ella, se abre y aparece “la habitación de atrás”. “Todos los ‘speakeasies’ tenían este tipo de salas ocultas”, explica con una sonrisa. En su interior, otra pared, ahora tabicada, conducía al tejado, “por si había que salir corriendo”, aclara. “Y esta otra te llevaba directamente al sótano y luego a la calle”. Había cuatro formas de escaparse.

La barra que desaparecía en el club 21

Si al ‘Back Room’ asistían los “midas” de los bajos fondos, “en el Club 21 se reunían la ‘crème de la crème” de la farándula, asegura Avery Fletcher, directora del Marketing del local. Su entrada, a diferencia del anterior, no aspira a disimular. Está presidida por

enormes esculturas de jinetes a caballo y un veterano portero, Shaker, que lleva 36 años custodiando la misma puerta. Algunos ‘speakeasies’ blindaban la entrada tradicional con una palabra secreta que solo conocían sus clientes. Hoy es un restaurante de lujo, que recibe a muchas de las mismas caras, “algunas de los más ricas del mundo; también españoles”, presume Shaker, que dice que “por aquí han venido mucho los Fierro”, “los Rockefeller de España”, puntualiza.

El Club 21 lo fundaron dos primos, Jack Kreindler y Charlie Berns, con pocas pretensiones en un principio. “En 1922 habían abierto un local clandestino en el Greenwich Village, llamado “Red Head” –hoy un bar de tapas español (“Tertulia”), entre W4 y la sexta avenida— solo para sacarse un dinero y pagar sus estudios”, asevera Avery Fletcher. “Se mudaron varias veces hasta acabar en el 21 W de la calle 52”, continúa. Lo llamaron: Club 21 por el número de la calle.

“Gracias a la buena relación con la policía”, reconoce Fletcher, “todo marchaba”. Con fiestas a lo “Gran Gatsby”, con “la misma gente, o al menos, la misma clase de gente”, “la misma profusión de champaña, el mismo alboroto abigarrado y multitonal”, que describió Fitzgerald. Fue así “hasta que vetaron la entrada a un columnista cotilla, Walter Winchell, y se vengó en el ‘Daily Mirror’. La broma les costó a los primos contratar a un arquitecto, Frank Buchanan, e instalar un ingenioso sistema para ocultar el alcohol “e incluso hacerlo desaparecer”. Fletcher explica cómo lo hacían: “Empujaban una palanca y los estantes llenos de botellas de la barra caían a una rampa que conducía al alcantarillado”. “Era muy sofisticado para la época”, agrega.

La barra que desaparecía ya no está pero sí la bodega y su robusta puerta de dos palmos de ancho que solo se abría al introducir un metal en una ranura determinada. Se dirige a ella. El interior del restaurante es como uno se imagina “El museo de la Inocencia” de Pamuk pero con glamour, con todo tipo de juguetitos que cuelgan del techo. “Jack era un gran coleccionista”, apunta. Atraviesa la cocina y se detiene sobre las escaleras: “Se dice que Hemingway, que lío más de una en este bar, se vino hasta aquí con una guapa morena que había conocido en el local e hicieron más de una cosa en estos escalones. Al día siguiente supo que era la novia del mafioso Jack ‘Piernas’ Diamond y no le hizo tanta gracia”, presume de leyenda. Lo que realmente es un museo es la bodega. Entre las más de 2.000 botellas del local, algunas aún conservan los nombres de su prestigiosa clientela: “Frank Sinatra”, “Richard Nixon” o “Presidente Ford” se lee en las etiquetas desgastadas sobre el vidrio.

El bar secreto de la estación

Estos dos bares son de los pocos testimonios que sobreviven intactos de la época dorada de la Prohibición. Otro de los Speakeasy famoso de la época, el “Bills Gay Nineties” cerró sus puertas. Pero la herencia coctelera de la época no acaba ahí. No muchos de los 21 millones de viajeros que cada año pasan por la estación de tren más grande del mundo, Grand Central, saben de la existencia de su bar secreto: el ‘Campell Apartment’. Se encuentra en la esquina de la monumental estación, a media vuelta con Vanderbilt Avenue. No fue un speakeasy como tal sino la espectacular sala con un techo de 7, 5 metros de altura que el magnate John W. Campbell alquiló como oficina y demás usos. Una oda a la ostentación con una enorme chimenea señorial de piedra, vidrieras, un piano de cola y una alfombra persa que dicen le costó 300.000 dólares en 1924 (unos 3 o 4 millones ahora).

Algunos cócteles también deben su receta a los apuros de la época. F. Scott Fitzgerald era un apasionado del “Gin Rickey”, un combinado de ginebra, lima y soda, que cuando apareció en el siglo XIX se preparaba con Bourbon, pero que durante la Prohibición empezó a servirse con ginebra, que no requería envejecimiento. Y dos clásicos del momento fueron el “Sidecar”, a base de hielo, brandy, Cointreau, zumo y corteza de limón y el “Manhattan”, con whisky o bourbon, Martini rosso, angostura, una guinda roja y piel de naranja.

Un cóctel a escondidas

“Nos interesa el límite peligroso de las cosas. El ladrón honesto, el asesino sensible. El ateo supersticioso”, escribió Robert Browning. En la actualidad, decenas de locales, aparentemente clandestinos, en Nueva York, recrean aquella época, en una especie de competición por preparar el mejor cóctel, en el mejor escondite. Aunque no lo fueron, parecen auténticos “Speakeasy”, como el “Apotheke”, ubicado en el 9 de Doyers, la que se conocía como “esquina sangrienta”, en China Town y su vecino “Pulquería”, un caprichoso restaurante mexicano camuflado entre carnicerías, tiendas de bolsos de imitación y restaurantes asiáticos; el “Please Don’t Tell”, entre la calle 113 y la plaza de San Marcos, al que se accede por una vieja cabina de teléfonos dentro de una tienda de perritos calientes; el “Raines Law Room”, en la calle West 17, entre la quinta y la sexta avenida, que aparece tras unas escaleras subterráneas y una puerta, a la que hay que llamar para entrar; el “Bathtub Gin”, en el 32 de la novena avenida, su nombre hace referencia al alcohol que se fabricaba en casa de manera ‘amateur’, generalmente en el baño, de lo que hace gala una enorme bañera de cobre en medio del local; el “Dutch Kills”, en el 27-24 de la avenida Jackson, en Long Island City, inimaginable desde el exterior, con su rudimentario cartel de madera en el que solo pone “bar”; el Attaboy, en antiguo “Milk and Honey”, en el 134 de la calle Elderidge, en el Lower East Side, al que para entrar también hay que tocar el timbre; “The Garret”, bajo una cochambrosa escalera en el 296 de la calle Bleecker o el “Blid Barber”, en la calle 10, entre las avenidas A y B, aparentemente una barbería.

En aquella época, “la mayoría de los neoyorquinos, desde los policías hasta las prostitutas, recibían sobornos o estaban buscando lucrarse de alguna manera”, narró Talase en “Honrarás a tu padre”. Y “parte del éxito de la lotería ilegal, que era la fuente de ingresos más lucrativa de la Mafia, era el hecho de ser ilegal.”

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Milan 11
Milan
By GC
22 Dec 2014

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Cathedral of Milan:
The renovation of the Cathedral of Milan wrapped in fog, an expenditure of money that involves several institutions.

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Milan 08
Milan
By GC
21 Dec 2014

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Alzaia Naviglio Grande:
Tags on the walland the plaque on the AlzaiaNaviglio Grande, where a few months ago we are redoing the channel some collapsed from neglect.

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From Runes to Ruins - Anglo Saxon Pag...
By Tom Rowsell
14 Dec 2014

From Runes to Ruins is the first ever documentary film about Anglo-Saxon paganism. Independently produced and funded, it is unique in its emotive and artistic approach to religious history.

All over Britain there are people whose lives are influenced by the largely forgotten culture of the Anglo-Saxon barbarians who founded England. There are landmarks, place names and aspects of our language which are remnants of Anglo-Saxon paganism. It is from Woden, the god of war, that we take the name for the third day of the week, Wednesday (Woden’s day). There are many places around England named after Woden, like the ancient earthwork of Wansdyke which was probably a cult-centre of the god. In this film, Tom Rowsell, an expert in the paganism of early medieval England, travels around the country looking at places like Wansdyke and talking to people whose lives are influenced by the Anglo-Saxons and their pagan religion. The film features all kinds of peculiar characters; like neo-pagans worshipping Thor in Oxfordshire, the leader of the London Longsword Academy and historical re-enactors who like nothing more than to get dressed up in armour and swing axes at each other.

From Runes to Ruins combines amusing and characterful interviews with informative history all presented with beautiful cinematography and an original and haunting synth soundtrack.

Despite the significance of Anglo-Saxon paganism to the history of Britain, no one has ever made a documentary exclusively on this subject. In this film, Thomas Rowsell reveals a forgotten aspect of English history that many are oblivious to, by uncovering paganism in runes and ruins

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Milan 01
Milan
By GC
14 Dec 2014

Milan 2/5/2015: Street Gorizia
An advertisement on the new Dock for Expo 2015 pictured a self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci cleverly retouched by writers in the area where redevelopment work.

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Milan 05
Milan
By GC
14 Dec 2014

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 Street Gorizia:
The redevelopment works of the new Dock for Expo 2015 that must finish before the opening of Expo 2015 the 5/1/2015.

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Milan 07
Milan
By GC
14 Dec 2014

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015:
The final design of the new Harbour redevelopment which will be definitively returned to Milan before the opening of Expo 2015 the 5/1/2015.

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Milan 18
Milan
By GC
09 Dec 2014

Milan (Italy) 2/5/2015 piazza XXIV Maggio:
The headquarters of Unicredit Bank in Ticinese and district where a clochard used it as a dormitory at night and a guy crosses with his skateboard.

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Laughing at Death: Europe's Happiest ...
Sapanta
By danubestory
04 Dec 2014

While the lives of Sapanta residents is marked by the rhythm of horse-drawn ploughs, of looms spinning wool into rough blankets and cloth for clothes, and the distilling of 'tuica' (TSUI-ka), a potent local fruit liquor; their deaths are marked with color and humor.

In this northern Romanian village, the “Merry Cemetery” brings smiles or cheeky grins to the faces of visitors and locals there to pay their respects to the dead. Colorfully painted, handed-crafted oak tombstones tell the stories of the lives and deaths of the deceased in a humorous, brutally honest tone. The “Merry Cemetery” in Sapanta is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and draws thousands of tourists every year.

The tradition started when a local woodworker named Stan Ioan Patras carved and painted the first tombstone in 1935, gracing it with a lighthearted epitaph that he came up with to commemorate the death of a neighbor. After his death in 1977, woodworker, painter, poet and farmer Dumitru Pop took residence in his workshop and kept the tradition alive. When a member of the community dies, he goes to work coming up with an (often hilarious) epitaph that best represents the deceased, carving a playful scene and painting the tombstone in bright blues, reds, greens and earthtones. Mr. Pop’s background in classical and contemporary Romanian literature gives his epitaphs a resonance that goes deep into the village’s collective memory.

Some ethnologists studying the cemetery believe that the lighthearted and humorous attitude towards death in this region may be a remnant of Dacian culture. Early inhabitants of Romania, the Dacians greeted death with open arms because it meant meeting the greatest of their gods, Zalmoxis. As in many cultures, certain attitudes and practices were easily integrated into monotheistic worldviews that came later, in this case Orthodox Christianity. According to a local Orthodox priest, people in the region do not necessarily see death as if it were a tragedy, but rather as a passage to another life.

The practice even survived Romania’s communist era despite Soviet communism’s largely atheistic and secular worldview. A grave marker commemorating Ioan Holdis, a local Communist official reads:

“As long as I lived, I loved the Party And all my life I tried to help the people.”

However, the best loved epitaphs are the funniest, the ones that make mourning and remembering the dead a hilarious affair:

“Under this heavy cross Lies my poor mother in-law Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause' if she comes back home
She'll criticize me more.
But I will surely behave
So she'll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!”

Shot list and Subtitles

(00:05 – 00:11) W/S In a small village in Romania, a cemetery makes people smile. (00:12 -00:17) D/M Cheerful, colourful tombstones tell the stories of people who lived in the village of Sapanta in country’s north. (00:18 – 00:23) D/S The unconventional way of commemorating the deceased cheerfully and honestly shows death as an inevitability. (00:24 – 00:29) D/S Gravestones here tell of the persons virtues but tell the truth about their vices. (00:30 – 00:35) W/S The “Merry Cemetery” was declared as a UNESCO site, (00:36 – 00:41) W/S one of the reasons Sapanta is among the most visited Romanian villages. (00:42 – 00:47) W/S A church in the middle of the cemetery solemnly venerates the saints (00:48 – 00:53) D/S But common mortals may be humorous. (00:54 – 00:59) M/M Thanks to vibrant illustrations, visitors understand the stories of people from the village even if they don’t read Romanian. (01:00 – 01:05) M/S “Here lies the good tractor operator.” (01:06 – 01:11) D/S “Here the hardworking farmer rests in peace.” (01:12 – 01:17) M/M This person died in a car accident. (01:18 – 01:23) D/S “Father and son.” (01:24 – 01:29) D/S “A man drowned in the river.” (01:30 – 01:35) M/S The first painted wooden cross was made here in 1935. (01:36 – 01:41) M/M This humorous way of commemorating the dead was the idea of local woodworker Stan Ioan Patras. (01:42 – 01:47) W/M He lived and worked on his carvings in this house near the cemetery. (01:48 – 01:53) M/S He even carved naive portraits of Romanian communist dictator Ceausescu and his government (01:54 – 01:59) M/S and of notable townsmen. (02:00 – 02:05) W/M The workshop has bustled with activity and honest humor ever since. After Patras’ death in 1977, Dumitru Pop took over the workshop. (02:06 – 02:11) W/S Locals believe that humorous verses are the best way to remember their loved ones. (02:18 – 02:23) But they are not allowed to tell Dumitru what shall he write. (02:24 – 02:29) D/S Each wooden is crafted precisely by hand.. (02:30 – 02:35) D/S They are all made from local oak (02:36 – 02:41) M/S and painted with vivid colours. The main color is blue, the color of heaven, where the living strive to end up. (02:42 – 02:47) M/S Dumitru says that the epitaphs are all true stories. (02:48 – 02:53) D/S Perhaps death is easier, knowing that his learned hands will make a cheerful tombstone in ones commemoration. (02:54 – 02:59) D/S “Busy housewives but also mischiefs are waiting for them.” (03:00 – 03:05) D/S On the tombstone of a distiller the epitaph reads: “Everybody in Sapanta loved me, as I produced elixir of life.

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'Islam Chipsy' Brings Egyptian Electr...
Beirut
By Joe Lukawski
04 Dec 2014

Egyptian 'shaaby' (pop) music phenomenon Islam Chipsy has begun taking the indie electronic music scene by storm. From the streets of Cairo to international stages, his take on Egyptian wedding-pop, known locally as ‘mahraganat,’ (festival music) combines Arab beats with hardcore drumming and phrenetic electro keyboard melodies that sound like someone's old Nintendo gaming system has been possessed by a flamboyant Egyptian groomsman. Chipsy, however, is a self-taught virtuoso keyboardist and a wonder to watch live.

In December, Islam Chipsy played in Beirut at the Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival while touring in the Middle East and Europe, making stops in France, Germany, Switzerland and in various Scandinavian cities. The global appeal of his music perhaps comes from its proclivity towards all-out partying, however, his stop in Beirut was special.

“People [here] are excited to see us; they have received us well,” he said. “Being in this country is like seeing your brother who wants to know how you are doing. So you feel that you speak with each other through music, not with words.”

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'Islam Chipsy' Brings Egyptian Electr...
Beirut
By Joe Lukawski
03 Dec 2014

FULLY PRODUCED VIDEO (07:21) -- TEXTLESS AND SUBTITLED VERSIONS AVAILABLE

Egyptian shaaby (pop) music phenomenon Islam Chipsy has begun taking the indie electronic music scene by storm. From the streets of Cairo to international stages, his take on Egyptian wedding-pop, known locally as ‘mahraganat,’ (festival music) combines Arab beats with hardcore drumming and phrenetic electro keyboard melodies that sound like someone's old Nintendo gaming system has been possessed by a flamboyant Egyptian groomsman. Chipsy, however, is a self-taught virtuoso keyboardist and a wonder to watch live.

In December, Islam Chipsy played in Beirut at the Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival while touring in the Middle East and Europe, making stops in France, Germany, Switzerland and in various Scandinavian cities. The global appeal of his music perhaps comes from its proclivity towards all-out partying, however, his stop in Beirut was special.

“People [here] are excited to see us; they have received us well,” he said. “Being in this country is like seeing your brother who wants to know how you are doing. So you feel that you speak with each other through music, not with words.”

Director of the Beirut & Beyond Festival Amani Semaan first heard the young Egyptian artist on YouTube.

“[Lebanese audiences] have heard about him and they know there is something special about him,” she said. “They want to watch him, especially since this kind of music does not exist in Beirut. Islam Chipsy started his career in weddings; he has performed professionally on stage only six or seven times. He only started his professional career effectively only now. Everyone is excited to see him, especially musicians. They are looking forward to discovering something new.”

Hailing from Imbaba, a section of Cairo known for outdoor wedding parties, and also for being very conservative, Chipsy and his two drummers Islam and Khalid have invented just that. Totally improvised, their music is largely the result of Islam Chipsy’s signature playing style, developed while playing in the wedding circuit.

“I started searching and experimenting for two years and without showing anyone what I was doing,” he said. “A friend of mine put me on stage to DJ. It was very weird to have a keyboard on stage without a band. I started this technique as a kind of joke. In weddings people were very crazy. They would take their clothes off and dance. So I went along and used my technique. They responded very well and were on fire. I had a lot of work offers and I started to develop my technique, which became famous.”

However, Islam Chipsy doesn’t chalk up his music to where he and his bandmates come from. Early on, while still playing alongside wedding DJs and beginning to discover just how open people were to new music styles, he was propelled by a wish to see the world.

“Whenever I was asked ‘Why do you do this kind of work?’ I would say that I wish to travel around the world,” he adds. “I didn’t have any papers or anything else but it was a dream that I tried to realize and I succeeded, thanks be to God. When Islam and Khalid participated in this, this gave me more strength and energy and my music was renovated. We were able to create a lot of new music together.”

With two drummers playing loud, full drum sets on stage, and Chipsy in the middle practically beating up his keyboard, the live experience is loud, high-energy, and yet totally danceable. Taking their act from the streets of Imbaba to the stage was a risk for the group, but one that paid off.

“It was rather unusual,” Chipsy said. “Any band needs to have one set of drums, while the rest of the instruments would be tablah or tambourine if it was an oriental band, or you could have a guitar. But to have a keyboard and two sets of drums and be able to accomplish something that a large band cannot was something very difficult. It was a dream but we were able to realize it.”

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Chinese marriage 14
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

A chauffeur driven car awaits the arrival of the wedding party in Dongsheng Town. Luxury cars line old Chinese villages on wedding days to take guests from the couple's homes to the wedding dinner venue. 20 years ago it would have been a sight to even see a car in these parts of China, let alone a luxury Mercedes.

Dongsheng Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province China.

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Chinese marriage 15
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

Wu Yongyi getting her make up done for her wedding. The bride must rise early on the day of the wedding and can end up spending long periods of time in her bedroom until the groom arrives to take her to his house.

Young women in China face many pressures from their family, like finding a potential husband and also starting a family. These are very traditional values held within China and often put pressure on young women who wish to travel and explore life further before settling down.

Dongsheng Town. Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.

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Chinese marriage 18
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

The bridal party are attacked with silly string as the initiation ceremony begins in Dongsheng Town, Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.Games and initiations for the groom and his party make up a huge part of any Chinese Wedding ceremony. On the morning of the wedding the groom and his party must prove their worth before the bride will be presented to the groom from her bedroom. Examples of such initiations and games include eating Wasabi sauce or bird food from the floor while doing press ups, getting sprayed with silly string or drinking coke laced with soy sauce.. In modern Chinese society these games and initiations are becoming slightly more rumbustious as Chinese youths are now drawing some influence from Western Society and more traditional practices particularly in larger cities become less prevalent.

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Chinese marriage 8
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

Wu Yongyi follows the instructions of the women on the right, who is known in China as a Meiren. Her father holds a red lucky umbrella over their heads in a wedding ceremony in Dongshen Town, Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.

The Meiren or Medium goes to the bride's house on the morning of the wedding and officially starts the ceremony. The Meiren is considered the link between the bride, the wedding party, and the spiritual world. On the wedding day, the Meiren will ask the gods and ancestors of the family for their blessing. She will also instruct the bride to follow the processes that are considered good luck, directing the bride and holding her hand throughout the ceremony.

In modern day China, weddings are becoming much more extravagant and Westernized. Many families will not use or require a Meiren as the idea of a spiritual connection becomes forgotten. However, in small villages the traditions of old are still deeply rooted in each ceremony.

Dongshen Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China.

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Al Aqsa and the Conflict in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel
By Iliay
27 Nov 2014

November 2014
Jerusalem

As tensions in Jerusalem boil over into open conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex remains one of the key issues in the conflict. This story explores the cultural and religious significance of the complex to the two sides and illustrates how the area has yet again become a catalyst for violence. Some fear this newest round of violence may lead to a third Palestinian Intifada.