Soviet War Memorial in Vienna

The Soviet war monument, found at Vienna’s Schwarzernbergplatz, comes out best  in photographs when taken from a distance. This is because of its size and the fact that it is located around beautiful sights and grandiose buildings. The monument is commonly known as Helden der Roten Armee.20160923_155249The semi-circular white marble stone, among other spectacles, features a 12 metre high figure of a Red Army soldier. The monument was opened in 1945 to commemorate numerous Soviet soldiers who were killed in the Battle for Vienna. It marks victory over fascism. 20160923_155144The fountain at the place is aalways an outstanding feature. But when it is sunny, photography around the area can be very pleasurable. From  a right angle one can even capture a rainbow or two and a variety of artistic shades.

It is interesting to note that the Helden der Rote Armee in Vienna was built by war prisoners and local workforce. 20160923_154919The greyish circular stuff inside the fountain is some type of stone which also adds to the sight’s beauty.20160923_154820The skies were very clear with scattered ligh clouds on the day the photos were shot. That is, a couple of weeks ago. For days now, it has been drizzling a lot ande any serious photography has not been inviting.

Below is an alley close to our place photographed on the same day, but in the evening. The lighting along the lane came out nicely reminding one of a deserted hallway in a horror movie. It was also a bit quiet out there –  showing early signs of autumn (Herbst).20160916_201709

The newly completed supermarket and restaurant in the neighbourhood makes for a bright and glowy scenery in the small business centre of the 21st district of Vienna.Its presence makes the place to look busier than it has ever been before.

20160916_191616

Chinese Luno Festival on the Danube Island

img_5038Photo: / E. Jonathan                                      China Magic – Temple of heavenly Peace in Beijiong

This year Vienna Afrika Tage took place adjacent to its usual place on the Danube Island. Most patrons were asking: why the change of the venue?

A few days later into the Afrika – Afrika festival, a brand new Chinese “Luno Festival” started  to take shape slowly but surely. Organisers were setting up building structures and figures to create a fantastic wow of colour. It finally opened its gates on September 1 and it will be on up to the 9th of October 2016. Yes! six weeks will see the Danube Island tranformed into Chinese magic kingdom and culture of fantastic lighting, colour and music.

img_5023Photo: E. Jonathan                                    The lit Dragon creation at the Luno festival

Taking pictures at this sight can be fun by one has to adjust their wisely to caputure the spectacular creations and to bring out the artistic touch. Below is the dragon from a closer range. img_5024Photo: E. Jonathan

At the moment families and tourists throng the venue of “Chinese Magic – Festival of Light” as it celebrates its European premiere in Vienna.

img_5040Photo. E. Jonathan                  House-sized lit, in the form of Vienna State Opera & Johannes Strauss

 

The festival also offers a variety of Chinese cuisine.

img_5054

Deco, Catering & Wedding Gowns


It is difficult to measure the size of informal busines sector in Zimbabwe just as it is the same for the taxman and ministers who are now seeing a source of revenue through taxes. No matter the government stance on this sector, many Zimbabweans now survive as small scale traders although they are not affiliated to the Small Scale Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development plan. They run independently, just trying to make ends meet in a dire situation. According to research, about 67% of this steady and fast growing sector are women.

On my recent visit to visit that country, I met Nokuthula Siziba-Mguni and her business partner Siphathisiwe Dube. They run a decoration, catering and wedding gowns ‘company’ that is engaged in planning and organising parties. Designing wedding dresses is easy as Nokuthula is professional designer. However, she could not make a signaficant profit from designing and selling her dresses because of the influx of second hand clothes mostly from Mozambique. These were and still selling at a ridiculous e.g one US dollar for two! She therefore partnered with Pathi, who has expertise in cooking and catering, to start a Deco. Catering and Gown company and it operates mostly in the high density suburbs of Bulawayo. They can also take the business anywhere around town, even the posh parts of Khumalo, Hillside and the like. What they need is just an invitation as they are very flexible.

“Business is very slow these days as many civil servants have been laid off through downsizing. Many big companies have also closed down,” said Nokuthula.

I asked them why they were cooking over an open fire.

“Electricity is not reliable here. We can be cut off anytime even when busy preparing for a function,” she said.

“What about the heat from the fire, can you stand that?” I asked Siphathisiwe.

She smiled and said,”As you can see, we’re used to that now. At first it wasn’t easy.”

The resilient women also had round belly three-legged pots as part of their kitchen utensils. Washing soot off these pots is a challenge.

20150815_121559

Every one of the helpers looked happy and grateful to be employed and able to take something home. The problem with the informal sector in Zimbabwe is that the government does not want to engage with them or create a conducive environment for them, although there is funny talk to start taxing them.

No matter what conditions they face, Nokuthula, Siphathisiwe and other small scale business women need to work and sustain their families, they say. The income from such projects go a long way to supplement whatever income their spouses bring home – and it can’t be much considering the overall economic condition of that country.

It all got me thinking. If only the government would not interfere adversely with such courageous providers including vegetable and second-hand ware vendors. A meaningful dialogue with them may be the only win-win situation.

Summer Perspectives

20150625_102624

Summer is here and may it give all of us a new perspective about how to live a happier and more positive life.

This weekend the hottest temperatures recorded in the city of Vienna were up to 36.C (96,8.F) and the forecast was even 37.C for some areas. I hope we won’t hit a new high after the record breaker, “all-time high” temperature of July 2013, which was 39,9.C (103,8 F).

The barbecues were at full swing along the new Donau and further out, close to the part of the Donau Auen National Park. Actually, one of my associates and her friends were having a good time with full barbecues at a place called Lobau at the weekend.

The cold gloomy days are over and we are all looking forward to more days of sunshine and time to be outside before the next fall returns.
It was interesting though to overhear some individuals complaining about the heatwave we experienced during this weekend. Some were wishing for the past season, winter. I was also caught doing the same thing. After some consideration, I realised that humans’ worst folly is not knowing exactly what they want and forgetting to live life as it come, enjoying every bit of what it is worth.

My pastor’s sermon last Sunday hit the nail on the head. It was as if he knew how some of us were ungrateful for the season we were in and had forgotten that everything has its own time. Then, I thought of putting down here and share some of the summer perspectives he talked about:

#1 “Don’t use emotional energy on things you can’t control.”
I realised that it is equally important to know what one can and can’t change, otherwise they waste their energy unnecessarily, leading to an unhealthy life.

# 2 “Don’t waste time your mistakes or failures”
To err is human as the cliché goes. What counts most is trying one’s best not to repeat same mistakes, but to learn from them. At times the voice of condemnation keeps on whispering phrases to pull us down. Instead, listening to the voice that says ‘you can turn this around and make something out of your mistake’ must guide our steps always, especially this beautiful summer. Always be positive this summer and things will take a right about turn. Moreover, God still loves us even if we make mistakes.

#3 “Be happy when others do well.”
Those who celebrate others’ success most times also succeed in life whereas haters may even feel sick for their unhealthy feelings. This can also lead to bad behaviour intended to pulling others down. At times we even criticise others for the sole reason that we see them more blessed than us. The most harmful thing one can do is comparing oneself with others. This summer let’s celebrate others as they do well and see ourselves blessed.

20150625_102252

#4 “Decide not to complain or criticise.”
Live is full of opportunities to complain, but this summer let’s make it a point not to complain but be grateful of all we have. We can also be content with the little we have. Today (09/07/15) I looked at a disabled couple holding hands, happy as they strolled along with other holiday makers in the first district. I felt at times I complain when I am supposed to be thankful about what I have. The pastor even said, “If you feel like criticising others, look at yourself in the mirror and see if you are perfect.” That I am not, I wonder who is out there? However, God’s power is perfected in our weakness, if we let Him be God in our lives.

#5 “Believe God wants to give you favour.”
Our behaviour, which we know is not pleasing to God will make us to feel far away from Him. We need to know that God is always close to us. He is love. What we need to do, beginning this summer, as we barbecue, go for weekend excursions and to places like Schönbrun and the like, is to pray and ask him through His Holy Spirit to help us change our perspective and see things from His perspective. Reading the bible will help us hear His voice. As we do all this, we must trust in the Lord that He has good plans for us all. (See Jeremiah 29:11).

Finally, cheer up! Things could be worse, but because God is in control your tomorrow will be bright.

I hope these points from my pastor and my brief thoughts on the summer perspective will add to your enjoyment and joy this year’s summer.

Happy Summer!

A Car Nearly Striped of Wheels at the Weekend

20150613_154728

20150613_154554

In Vienna motor vehicles are permitted to use designated bays along the rail so long they use them responsibly, following traffic rules. If car drivers park along these roads they must make sure they leave enough space for trams to pass unobstructed. In any case, the rail doubles as road for motor vehicles.

At the weekend, when riding on one of the trams to the Prater Park, we witnessed drama involving a tram and a private car.

It was late in the afternoon after wandering around town that we got into tram number 1 at Schwedenplatz. On reaching Rudolf von Alt-platz, in the third district, the tram stopped for longer than usual and all passengers were wondering what the problem was. After some time, the tram driver announced that the delay was caused by a small private car that was parked too close to the rail line. Sure enough, if he’d tried to pass, he’d have knocked off the rear view mirror. The motorist had parked their vehicle inconsiderately.

20150613_155119

The tram driver pressed the horn several times to alert the owner of the car in case they were somewhere close by and had a legitimate reason to have parked there and that way. The owner was nowhere to be seen.After waiting for sometime, the driver made a number of phone calls. After about ten minutes, the fire brigade truck and a police arrived within minutes of each other. They all talked with the tram driver in low tones; probably trying to establish if the driver of the offending vehicle had been given enough time to rescue their car. Before the police arrived, the firemen seemed to be discussing whether to lift the tiny car out of the way, but they seemed not to be in agreement. All parties took photos of the car’s number plates.

As spectators and the police watched, one fireman went back to the fire truck,  took out cutters, and went straight to the offending vehicle. It remained to the spectators’ imagination to guess what he was going to do to the car. Suddenly, the owner emerged from nowhere . She was a woman in her early fifties. She signalled the police and the firemen to move aside, to which they compiled. Without addressing any of the people around, she unlocked her car, got inside and drove away mumbling inaudibly.

“What will happen to the woman after this?” That was the question in most spectators’ minds.

Was she going to get away with it after the firemen and the police had been summoned to the place because of her?  What about the delay which might have cost Wiener Linien some money?

One spectator volunteered to give answers: ” I don’t know. I hope that Wiener Linien won’t  send her a bill for delaying the tram and that the fire brigade department and the police will just let her off with a written warning for wasting their time.”

‘”How sad that somebody can risk their car  and a possibility of pumping out  a couple of thousand Euros because of careless parking. She must have been very upset-minded to park her car so close to the rail line.” That was what one passenger said.

After that dramatic incident, the train continued on its route.

Photos from Africa-Africa in Vienna, Austria

It’s going to a week now since we promised to post a few photos. One thing or the other has been conming. Here we are, finally. We used  Canon IXUS 99015 and Samsung Galaxy S 111 instead of iPhone.

In the first  two pictures is an example of how people who live in deserts in Africa dress. This helps to protect them from the heat. In front of them and on the floor are wooden seats and a variety of foot wear.

africa africa

IMG_4466

 

IMG_4454

Wosho and other musical instruments from Africa.

IMG_4458

Decorated Fruit Bowls. Artistically engraved with animals and various mortifs.

Super Summer – The End of Thunderstorms

It’s mid-summer in Austria, but of late there has been occasional thunderstorms. It has been raining mostly in the afternoons and at night.

Florisdorf

When will real summer come once again? This is the question many have been asking themselves after the recent storms that left the Danube very high with murky waters that made swimming a health risk. However looking at yesterday’s weather forecast for the next few days, there is cause for swimmers, sunbathers and Spaziergang to rejoice.Starting from today, Thursday, tempearatures are expected to go beyond 30 degrees celsius.
Actually, looking through our kitchen window as I take a break from writing my book, ‘The Return of a Diaspora’, and sipping some mint tea, I can see lots of blue sky and the sunshine that we had so much missed in the last few days.

However, those who like going for walks or hiking up the mountains may leave raincoats and umbrellas at their peril. I say so from experience. On our last visit to Punkersdorf and the villages beyond it, last week, we were caught unawares in the rain and soaked to the skin. Forewarned is forewarned.

As fine weather can be short-lived here, let me leave this book writing business for later. Now, it’s time to go outside. The idea here is to get out as soon as one sees sunshine, otherwise the weather can suddenly change before one does so. Probably we shall visit Africa Africa, where they are show casing African paraphernalia, food, music, you name it. The spot is on the green near the Millenium City. Africa Africa programme will go on for two weeks and today it’s the sixth day, I think. Time allowing, we will go on to Rathaus, the city hall where a lot is also happening this summer. It is a colourful festival with an excellent atmosphere created by the big outdoor screen at the square outside the city hall. Those who loved classical plays, this is a place not to miss. There is also a wonderful selection of world food and drinks that are reasonably prized.

Walking around the Rathaus park can be soothing, with shady trees under which one can rest and enjoy nature. The gardens and palaces around the Rathaus offer breathtaking views. Who knows, I may capture panorama scenes with my new iPhone and post them later.

For now, enjoy the rest of your summer, get as much fresh air as possible whenever you can.

Tourist Numbers on the Increase in Vienna as Summer Sets in

Image

Among other things, Vienna is known for its rich educational and cultural background. The enlargement of the EU, open trade internationally and its geographical location has placed the city in the centre as a business hub. It is not surprising, therefore, that Vienna is one of the most popular cities in Europe during the summer period.

Image

 

Image

It is also a peaceful city and one of the best to live in. Tourist attraction places are in abundance in different districts of the city.

Summer in Vienna is wonderful and restaurants with outside terraces work well in the warm weather. However, whenever you go for an outing never leave a cardigan, umbrella and/of a raincoat.

Today (Friday the 13th), the weather is excellent for walking and cycling, especially in the first district. For a light lunch, we visited a popular gourmet sausage stand at Schwedenplatz. They serve the popular cheese sausage called Kaserkrainer. Most people love to wash it down with beer – stiegl, but I enjoy it with a cold drink of coca-cola. Those who love pizza and kebab also visit the same place. The atmosphere is great. You can meet people from all over the world.

Image

 

 

Image

The other day we shared a stand with this easy-to-talk-to couple from Los Angelo’s. Anyway, it’s as if this weather has a lot to play in individuals’ behaviour. Everyone is jovial and more talkative in summer here. A very big contrast to the behaviour and experiences in winter.

Image

Image

Image

 

I somehow agree with Natalie Paris who says, “…if you are interested in quality cuisine and culture … then you should come to Vienna.”

Enjoy your summer.

Early Summer Scenes

Scenes captured on camera during a family outing this weekend:

 

walking dogs

zee Picnic

‘Summer is cheating’,  is one phrase one hears as people retrieve coats and jackets from basements. They’d thrown them there a couple of weeks ago when temperatures were even hitting  26 degrees celcius. This weekend, starting as early as Wednesday they’d dipped down to 7 degrees – not so pleasant.

However, any hint of sunshine is enough to send all sundry out to breathe  some fresh air after the long winter months and cool spring. Carrying umbrellas during this time is the norm in Austria; downpours are not uncommon during early summer.

One impressive place at present is the Prater amusement park:

prater 2 Dinosaurs still empty at Prater

Finally, the afternoon before the opening ceremony of the ‘Life Ball 2014’ at the City Hall Square. No, we did not attend, but were curious enough to take a few shots.

Life Ball 2014

We finished the early summer scenes with canned Afro Ice coffee from a decorated mobile van, which I thought of photographying when we were a mile away from it. Next time I see it I promise to snap it.

Enjoy your summer.