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Security Issues

June 30, 2009
tags: ,

Vivian and I flew in from Russia Sunday night. We spent Monday counting our blessings. Now is the time to debrief and to appreciate our safe return to Ashfield. Here is a picture that was on my flash drive.

The Chess Move

The Chess Move

This night chess match from Elista was also posted on Asia Central, the blog that I started while in Uzbekistan where WordPress is banned and blocked. I figure that WordPress must be doing something right (because their software is easier to use than Blogger), so I am back on The Coruscating Camera ever since we got out of Uzbekistan.

Busted for photographing tanks in the park.

Busted for photographing tanks in the park.

Uzbekistan is great if you don’t run afoul of issues of national importance. I had several incidents where I was stopped by police for various questionable reasons. I tried to photograph old tanks that were cemented into the ground in a public park in Tashkent. These officers accused me of breaching national security. After checking my papers, the police made me delete all the pictures that I took of their WWII weaponry. There’s more on the perils of tank photography at the end of this post.

The day after my embarrassing breach of tank etiquette, I was stopped for illegally photographing in a subway station, except that I wasn’t in a subway station. I was in a pedestrian crossing tunnel trying to get from one side of the street to another.

The guilty picture.

The guilty picture.

A subway entrance happened to be off of that tunnel. Anyway, the Uzbek’s have a beautiful subway system that they should be proud of.

The Tashkent Subway

The Tashkent Subway

I previously blogged about the driver who got dragged away while we were in his taxi. I hope he got out of that jam. Remember the most famous picture about human rights in China? You know, the one of the guy standing in front of that tank in Tiannaman Square. I saw all kinds of press about that picture recently, but only scant mention of the brave soul who created that rare, world consciousness raising moment. Various blogs were congratulating the many photographers who took the picture while there was no mention of what happened to that guy who was dragged off by Chinese police. What ever happened to that true hero?

Surveillance and harassment isn’t just an Uzbek thing. As we were driving out of the Pamirs in Tajikistan there were road blocks every 10 or 15 kilometers.

Checkpoint

Checkpoint

An Iranian passenger in our 4-wheel drive vehicle was being detained for 10 or 15 minutes at a checkpoint when, finally, one of our Tajik passengers said that she would take care of it. She went into the checkpoint shack and came out with the Iranian. It cost her 40 or 50 cents to pay off the guards. Hell, anyone can get detained, anywhere, at any time, in any country. It’s nice to know that there are a few places where 50 cents can buy more than a cup of coffee. Oh,shite, 50 cents can’t even buy a cup of coffee.

I have empathy for the guards who are ordered to do their unenviable jobs. I was watching these security people at a soccer game in Uzbekistan. They were as interested in me as I was in them.

Giving me "the look"

Giving me "the look"

Radio Contact

Radio Contact

Security Patrol

Security Patrol

On the job

On the job

Stadium Video

Stadium Video

It turns out that I wasn’t the only “person of interest” at the soccer game. This guy was systematically recording everyone in the audience of around 10,000 fans. Too bad they simply didn’t have 100 or so cameras nailed to the tops of poles like they would have in any other decently paranoid country- like the USA.

I’m posting a picture of this kid who was wandering the streets in Tashkent because he reminds me of the cover photo off an old Bob Dylan album.

Nashville Skyline anyone?

Nashville Skyline anyone?

Roof Dog Harassment

Roof Dog Harassment

My answer to the World’s security issues is Roof Dogs. They work almost successfully in Mexico and dozens of other countries. The basic idea is that they bark all night and keep everyone awake. Therefore, no one is needed for low paying security patrols because everyone is vigilant and miserable.

I love the way that traveling reveals the answers to all of civilization’s nagging problems.

Learning to live with tanks

Learning to live with tanks

For instance, the next time you see a tank in a park, just climb on up (with rollerblades and all) and relax. There is no law saying that you can’t have a good time with a tank. You just can’t photograph one.

Good excuse to photograph tanks.

Good excuse to photograph tanks.

Or, maybe, you can photograph your girlfriend who just happens to be straddling a tank. In Russia I saw girls straddling tanks all the time.

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