June 2006 really surprises me — 2

Believe it or not I do not spend all my days combing my archives, but with the new month I first checked that I did have a June 2006 archive and then, having found it, surprised myself! So this is the second of up to 3 reposts! I may add in some pics…

Crash-tackling the stereotype

Some of you remember my fifteen minutes of fame in 2002. There had been mutterings around The Mine about “Asians” and “coaching” (cheating?) and not playing Rugby…

How amused I was then last night to get an email from one of my (“Asian”) coachees to say he couldn’t attend this week as he would be playing Rugby League in The Shire.

He’s an athlete too.

As time goes by… Meeting Madam and a Buddhist.

It has been a week for running into people, one way or another. Delenio will know who I mean when I mention that I saw G, a former colleague, especially in many a GPS debate, a couple of days ago. He looks different, healthy and very friendly. He’s pretty much done with teaching and is very much into Buddhism these days. He hadn’t heard about my becoming involved with South Sydney Uniting Church, but could relate to the need for a spiritual home. He certainly seems to have found his, and that is great.

By the way, I do not put great store on the exclusive truth claims of any religion, including my own; as soon as religions seriously go down that track you can be sure they are wrong. But that’s a matter for another day.

Tonight I saw Madam in Elizabeth Street, and this will mean most to The Rabbit, after whom she asked. She was pleased to hear about the English teaching. She is still doing some catering, she tells me, has some Japanese students staying with her, and is enjoying the freedom of not running a cafe. She seems to be over her Bulgarian period. (Mind you, I liked him.)

Her cafe was a bit like Rick’s. If smaller. Much smaller. And there was no piano. But it was as much a haven for all kinds of refugees as Rick’s ever was. I am sure The Rabbit remembers it with as much affection as I do.

Ah, Cafe Max. I haven’t really taken to its replacement.

Cafe Max – Madam and Dimmi 2003

Rick’s Cafe Casablanca

I really love the movie Casablanca, which is the same age as I am, or pretty close…

And now it appears, so I saw on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent tonight, that an American named Kathy Kriger has brought it to life in the city the movie celebrated. It looks great, and the Rick’s Cafe website is just a delight. She has a blog too: Salon Privé.

Welcome to my Salon Privé and please take a seat at the table. This is a dinner conversation and all the usual subjects are welcome: politics, food, music, film, design, religion, travel, drink, business, gossip, shopping…ok, even sports. So make sure your glass is topped up, and let’s start the meal…

Do yourself a favour: go there online like me or, if you are very lucky, in actuality. Looks like a great idea beautifully done.

I found this suitably humbling…

I have said quite a bit about refugees and asylum seekers at various times: those links search my Big Archive. But I was suitably humbled by MyScribbles writing about June 20: World Refugee Day.

June 20 was the World Refugee Day. Did anyone notice it? Despite being an Afghan refugee and a member of the largest single refugee group in the world, I didn’t notice it come and go. Although I do not believe in the symbolic efficacy of the day, I do believe that if such days are marked properly with awareness programs, a real change can be brought about in the lives of refugees.

I believe that in an overwhelming number of cases, people become refugees when the profits of a multinational corporation are at stake or when a number of immoral, corrupt leaders play dirty politics on the international arena. However, I also strongly believe in the power of the collaborative strength of the human beings as an agent for real change. Therefore, when a day such as this is used to educate the general public and urge them to take action, it can have a real impact on the lives of the refugee population of the world…

I am not going to improve on this teenager’s statement. Visit his page and read the rest.


MyScribbles’ Refugee Day entry was read aloud at this morning’s service at South Sydney Uniting Church. Vlad had also alluded at some length in his reflection to The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003).

If you go to MyScribbles and read his previous entry, No Radical Islam, Only Radicalized Muslims, you will find a statement that may cause you to do a double-take:

The creation of Al-Qaeda by the United States was a step in the direction of creating one such group. Al-Qaeda not only interpreted Islam militantly, but also used it to radicalize and inspire many Muslims to join them.

But he does have a point. As Wikipedia says:

Sources differ on the origin of the name. Robin Cook, the late British member of Parliament and former foreign secretary, wrote in 2005 that “Al-Qaida, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.” [1] Supporting this most likely origin of the name, Dr. Saad Al-Fagih, a surgeon at Peshawar (where the recruiting happened) explained that creation of the computer database (Al-Qaeda) was necessary to fix problems associated with a lack of documentation about the fighters who were recruited. [2] Some others have said that the name means simply the base as well as claiming that the organization chose its own name.[3][4]

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to a few weeks after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when a cadre of non-Afghani, Arab Muslim fighters joined the largely United States and Pakistan-funded Afghan mujāhidīn anti-Russian resistance movement (a guerrilla war against Soviet occupation forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government). Osama bin Laden, a member of a prominent Saudi Arabian business family, led an informal grouping which became a leading fundraiser and recruitment agency for the Afghan cause in Muslim countries; it channelled Islamic fighters to the conflict, distributed money and provided logistical skills and resources to both fighting forces and Afghan refugees.

See also “What is al-Qaeda?” by Jason Burke, and Burke’s book Al-Qaeda: the True Story of Radical Islam (Penguin, rev ed. 2004). The first edition (Tauris, 2003) was called Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror.

Congratulations to my young Afghan friend

On my WordPress dashboard I just noted:

Fastest Growing WordPress.com blogs

1. MyScribbles: Write-ups of an Afghan
2. THEOcracy
3. hot BODS’ abode
4. The Rambling Men
5. Canucklehead
6. Evolving Trends
7. Brechi Reborn

Well done!

See also from this year How 15 years ago my blog reached into Afghanistan and encouraged at least one teenager…

Post Script

In the previous post in talking about Lord Malcolm and Lillian Crombie, I linked to the page I posted at the time of Malcolm’s death, 1 June 2007. Looking at it again I noticed among the many comments this one:

 MyScribbles: Write-ups of an Afghan Says:
June 16, 2007 at 3:54 am May he rest in peace. I offer my condolences to his family and friends.He must be feeling proud of having friends like you who remember him and pay such nice and sincere tributes to him after his passing away.