MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Can I help you?

pilesIt was a bright sunny day. No clouds in the sky. Mr Hudson decided to go to the Citizens’ Service Bureau to collect the necessary forms to complete his tax return.

[Ground floor, after taking a number and waiting 25 minutes]

“Yes, sir. I will have to see your ID please.”

“But I just want that form – A9 – I think it is called. I need that to complete my tax return please.”

“Yes, sir. Can I please see your ID?”

“You can, but why? Anyway, here you go.”

“You have to first fill in the green form – G5. From the third floor.”

“Why?”

“That’s how it goes sir. Fill in that form. We’ll insert it into the system and then you will receive the A9.”

[Third Floor, after 30 minutes waiting in line, a quarrel between two men, and an old lady fainting]

“Good day, I would like a G5 form please.”

“What do you need it for, sir?

“To collect the A9, for my tax return”.

“You need to fill out the B12. You’ll find it on the fifth floor.”

“So I don’t need the G5?”

“No. The B12.”

[Fifth floor, after waiting 15 minutes, giving up his seat for a woman who seemed pregnant but wasn’t and slapped him for having thought so]

“Hello. The B12 please.”

“The B12 sir, is no longer in use. You either need to fill out the C4 or the D8. What do you need it for?”

“To get the A9 for my tax return.”

“The D8. On the fourth floor.”

[Fourth floor, after 25 minutes and with patience running out]

“D8 please.”

“May I see your ID please?”

“Here.”

“We will have to submit an application for the form to be sent to you. It will take about 4-5 working days.”

“Seriously? I have to submit an application for a form to be sent to me, so that I can receive a form which I need to complete my tax return?”

“Yes sir, that is correct.”

“Mmfff. Fine can we submit the application then?”

“I’m sorry sir, but the central offices are now closed for today. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

Happened to you?!

 

Call me Rain

rain windowThe rain started pouring down heavily now. As if the skies suddenly opened and a bucket of water was swung out forcefully. The only sound that could be heard in the room was that pit pat the drops made as they smacked the freshly cleaned windows and trickled down leaving a curvy life-line path behind them. “Why does it always rain when I clean the windows?” thought Miranda, as she sat on the window-side pouf listening to the rain.

She loved sitting inside when it rained. There was something magical about being engulfed in the warmth of your home when outside the gods of wind and rain were lashing out their wrath against nature and mankind.

But above all, she loved the melancholy that came with the dark rainy days. It was a period that made you think. That made you reminisce on your life and consider what you are doing, where you are going. The ‘what could have beens’, the ‘what still can be’, the ‘what ifs’. And it all spread inside an emotion of sweet gloom. One that caused tears to well up in her eyes.

Watching the rain coming down outside and gathering up in piles all the dirt off the roads and sidewalk, Miranda was also filled with hope. That the rain will pass, as will the bad times in her life. That her soul will be cleansed and she will come out stronger. Just as the clouds will pass, so the good times will return.

A doleful smile formed on her face as she let herself fall asleep wrapped up in a fleece blanket, to the lullaby of the gentle tapping of the rain…

Silence in the Metro

303366_underground_-subway_-metro_-station_2048x1536_(www.GdeFon.ru)The sun had already slit under the horizon as Lisa entered the metro station. This was one of the recently renovated stations and its marble walls were still shining white. People were rushing to arrive at the platforms, perhaps even catch the metro that would swing by at that very moment, instead of having to wait that extra 3-4 minutes.

There was plenty of noise, both from the trains arriving and departing and from the people, young and old, speaking to each other, to their phones, to anyone in general.

Lisa got off five stops further down. It was a trip that lasted less than ten minutes. And it didn’t seem any longer.

But there was something strange in that very moment she set her foot off the metro wagon. As if there was an eerie atmosphere, sending chills down her spine and causing her to shiver. It felt as if the whole world around her was moving in slow motion. There were so many people on that platform, queuing at the escalator that would lead them up to the exit above and to the square outside. No-one would take the adjacent stairs. “Typical of how comfortable our lives have become,” thought Lisa, as she observed the people surrounding her. Students, teens, middle-aged, elderly, there were people of all ages, forms, sizes and styles. But there was one weird thing everyone had in common.

No-one was talking.

There was absolute silence in that underground metro station.

The only thing heard was the faint footsteps from women’s heels, if there were any. But there was no noise. Nothing like what she had left five stations earlier. It was as if everyone was expecting something to happen. Not something good. As if at any moment now you would expect a rifle to sound. Running. Voices. Screams. Something. Something that would indicate there was still life down there.

Lisa felt as if she was being watched. She could even see herself from the back, as though she was part of a film noir. And she was the one in the red dress. The one sticking out from the crowd. The one targeted.

The escalator ride to the top seemed to take longer than the metro ride to that station. But at last she arrived.

Noise returned to her ears. The corridors leading to the square outside were bustling with life, instantly crumpling all conspiracy theories that had formed in her head.

“There you are!” shouted Francine as she grabbed Lisa’s arm and gave her a hug. “Wanna go to those cafés on the hill for a drink?”

“Yes. Please. Let’s!” breathed Lisa as her heartbeat returned to its normal rhythms.

 

Also part of  Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone

Also part of Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion

Also part of Daily Prompt: Safety First

Also part of Daily Prompt: Close Call

Also part of NaBloPoMo (November 2013)

‘Déjà vu’s and crystal balls

cloudy-ball224 hours in a day sometimes do not seem enough. Apparently, the right division of the day is 8 hours work, 8 hours play, and 8 hours sleep. When the first two are sort of combined, i.e. you actually enjoy what you are doing as a job, then there is a bit of a muddle-up and you end up simply not having enough time to do all the things you want.

The day passes by really quickly, particularly if you’re running around trying to get things done, that you end up filling up your working place with post-its and lists of what needs to be done, other notes on what not to forget, meetings and even key words. It’s great getting to cross things off your list. But it is a bit of a problem when you cross off one thing and add another five onto another list.

I’ve also realized that no matter how many “déjà vu”s you may have, these don’t really help. Simply because even if you do feel that you’ve lived that specific moment before, it never enlightens you about what may happen next. No-one can foresee the future, no matter what they say. It is something that you are supposed to create on your own.

Life would be different if we all had a crystal ball into which we could look and prepare ourselves for the future, but then we wouldn’t have all the emotion, the rush and adventures in getting there…and where’s the fun in that?

Also part of NaBloPoMo (November 2013)

Also part of Daily Prompt: Twenty-Five Seven

A Journalist by any other name…

twitter-journalismThe other day, as I was blissfully walking across one of the city’s busiest shopping streets (no, I had not bought anything, strangely enough, and yes that does happen), I had an interesting encounter.

A young man was trying to promote a beauty salon and caught my attention with a joke. He asked me what I do. When I responded that (among others) I am a journalist, he frowned and said “well, I can understand the rest, but that, I am not so thrilled about”.

It got me thinking. Why do journalists have such a bad name? And since when? I grew up believing it was so cool to be a journalist, a reporter roaming the streets, cities and countries in search of news, and always being the first to find out exciting information.  It was an ideal job.

But now? Now, journalists are one of the most underpaid and overworked professions there are, with citizen journalists trying to steal the show, and all these social media attempting to take over traditional forms of information.

Journalists have gained a bad name. Why? Because there are so many bad ‘journalists’ out there, that it makes the rest (of us) look bad too.

Everyone suddenly thinks they can be a writer, a journalist, a reporter. Because it is easy to just sit and write whatever comes to mind. But not everyone can express this adequately. And this is something few realize. A journalist is more than a writer and a storyteller. It is a person who searches after news, who can sense what is newsworthy, worthy of reporting; who can understand what the public is concerned about, and who can express it in such a way that every citizen/reader can understand what it is s/he is saying. It is about being concise, comprehensive and to the point. It is about being able to challenge the status quo when necessary, prompt change, and above all make the reader think.

In today’s digital and socially interconnected world, real journalism has lost its meaning. Instead it has become what Frank Zappa called “rock journalism” and most of it “is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read”. And media today have become associated with this bad journalism.

Trying to stand out of the crowd in this storm isn’t easy. But they say that s/he who perseveres wins, and what is more, there is always the faith that a good journalist will never get lost. At least in a world where people still strive for perfection, quality journalism will remain a necessity always searched for…

Also part of NaBloPoMo (November 2013)

Also part of Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well

Indebted to the future

DSC05826“We live in a Europe of mistrust”. This is what European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz stated yesterday Monday 4 November speaking at a very interesting conference in Athens. Organised by the EP Information Offices in Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – the countries worst hit by the crisis and forced to implement austerity measures – the first of its kind international conference entitled “South for Growth” aims to address the challenges and prospects faced by the countries on the south of the European map in managing the crisis.

In a densely packed room at the Athens Concert Hall, keynote speaker Schulz uttered “it is time to come to an end with the rhetoric of crisis and start a new debate – the rhetoric of hope”. He outlined four proposals which he said are the key points in forging a strategy that will help the south exit the crisis.

Calling on personal experiences, Schulz stated that during the post-WWII period governments asked parents to make sacrifices, with the promise that this would bring a better future for their children.
“These promises were kept,” he said, noting that his generation lived a better life with unprecedented opportunities. “Europe was a promise”. But now, how can we ask parents to make all the more sacrifices, when their children are unemployed, desperate and have lost hope in their future? It is for this reason, Schulz said that youth unemployment must be the first step in promoting growth.

In a passionate and dynamic speech, the EP president stressed that it is unacceptable that the European Central Bank (ECB) maintains interest rates at such a low  figure (0.5%), but Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) do not have access to liquidity. This money is not injected into the real economy, he said, and for this we need a strategy to overcome the credit crunch and help realize the SMEs’ projects. This in turn, he added, will help with employment opportunities.

“We are not bold enough,” he stated. “Let’s dare more, be more imaginative, let’s seize the potential of the resources and geostrategy of the Mediterranean”. Greater economic cooperation in this region will lead to a stronger south and as a result to a more powerful Union.

But “for all these proposals to be realized we need to regain confidence between north and south, between citizens, politics and institutions”. Using the word “trust” over ten times, Schulz was striving to pass the message that without the trust of its people in the EU and the principles of the EU forefathers, the EU structure cannot move forward.

Himself a probable candidate for the post of European Commission President, Schulz delivered a speech that by far responded to the expectations of all those people from all over Europe, mainly young, who filled the room for this conference. It is unknown as to whether the EU officials’ persistence on immediate actions that deliver results is actually due to the campaigning that has already begun ahead of the 2014 EU elections. Because it is widely acknowledged that to stay on board, you need to have achievements to show in your favour.

“The trust of citizens cannot be gained by speeches. It can only be gained when we deliver solutions,” said Schulz with MEP Thodoros Skylakakis (ALDE) adding that “we are just talking heads…we do not realize the extent of the problems, and for that citizens don’t listen to us”.

We live in a Europe of mistrust and of debt. And as EP Vice President Anni Podimata said, “we are indebted”. Not only because of the money we owe, but because of the hope and future we promised to provide to the next generation.

 

Also part of NaBloPoMo (November 2013)

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