Broadband

It is 2006. Some of my friends have broadband at home, but most of us are still using dial-up. The first time I came across broadband was in a privileged squat. They had managed to hold the house for about a decade. Different generations of squatters, but stable enough to think about long term commitments. They, too, were managing with a dial-up connection.

“Who is using the internet!”

Shouts up and down the stairs.

“Me! It won’t be a minute!”

“Come on, I’ve been waiting to make this call for hours”

It was all so frustrating, and so often, they decided to look into it and they were the first ones I saw enjoying – and sharing, with me among others – the pleasure of being able to use the internet from different computers, and still make phonecalls. Which was a necessity already, especially when house- sharing.

It is my turn today. I have been using dial-up for about six years. I have even been able to transfer my dial-up account from my previous address to this one. Five pounds a month, and I can use as much internet as I need from ten in the night til eight in the morning. It has been enough for the last five years, in four different addresses. But now I house share with another four – and I work nights.

So, after convincing the house to chip in, it is so exciting. No more browsing only in the night time any more. And no more cutting off the connection to let some one else use the phone line.

This is exciting. Yes, it is 2006.

Welcome (to the detention centre)

We meet at the tube station and we get on the train to the end of the Picadilly line together. They are blonde, confidently English to the point I’m back to the place where I don’t understand the conversation happening around me. For a split of a second they all look at me and I grab the chance to ask my question:

No Borders

On one of the email lists I am in, there is an email from No Borders. The work they seem to do now is the punctual service: visiting asylum seekers locked up in detention centres.

‘We need people to help / visit detainees, asylum seekers that are awaiting deportation’, the email says.

My mind goes to the gospel, to the bit where God rewards those who visited people who were ill or in jail.

This is punctual help to individual people. Mostly men. The women seem to be locked up in another detention centre, too far away from London for unemployed or low-waged volunteers to afford to go regularly. So they stick to the detention centres next to Heathrow, one tube ride away.

Visit detainees. That is not going to tear apart the borders, NOBorders. But it is (sold as) part of a wider strategy, against all borders. This is the ‘detainee support group’ part of NoBorders. Because it is not fair that people have (or not) the right to live here based on where they were born.

I write back to offer to volunteer.

The Guardian

Very first day at The Guardian. Some kind of induction day.

A tall guy who seems that will be my supervisor spends too long explaining how the articles are classified, tagged and formatted, ready for uploading. I am also supposed to read them and pick up mistakes that may have slipped through the several layers of sub-editing. These are articles that have already been sent to the printers; any correction will only come up on the online version.

London home

London room

I live in a shared house in London. I don’t know any one who doesn’t. Most of the people I know have moved in houses already inhabited with strangers. Then we make friends, or not. It seems easier to just find a room in the kind of house you like than getting together with friends, decide to look for the same kind of accommodation and then once found, distribute the very different bedrooms among the, in principle, similar people.

Talk on Palestine in Zaragoza

A lot of emails and phonecalls are needed to arrange a talk in another city. My friend J.M. had a visit to pay in Zaragoza and we were arranging to go there together. But now there is so much snow he has cancelled the visit. I can not, or I do not want to cancel this. I may get stranded somewhere in the middle of the railway. But I have to try to get there on the day we have scheduled because if I do not, then the chance will be gone. Maybe another year. But I can always try another year, I feel the need to make this one happen this time.

Telling it

Back in Europe, it’s Christmas time, so it is not quite going back to normal. Not just yet. In one hand, it is Christmas time. Lights in the streets, jolly and empty music. So, even if Palestine had not happened, this would still be that time of year where routine breaks to make it all family and all special. In the other hand, I am eager to tell as many people as possible about what I have seen and heard in Palestine. Part of my family listens, and then there are comments like “So out of the whole world to go on holiday, you had to go to a war zone?” “yeah they want independence, just like here” “well we probably don’t see as many tanks in the streets as they see there”. Besides, they all have their own stories to tell.

Priests and privileges

I need to spend a few more days more in Jerusalem. Which doesn’t qualify as time in Palestine, because as I mentioned in this previous post, Jerusalem is no longer considered Palestine by any one who lives there, despite the ‘efforts’ by the ‘international community’ in making it a shared city between two countries … of which only one exists.

Clashes

There seems to be some kind of clash between Dissent! people and these Christians… I see more a cultural clash than anything else. It is not easy to simply start working on a consensus based structure with no structure whatsoever, specially if you come from a hierarchical background – which we all do.

Hospital 2

Every time I see L play with his mum’s mobile, I think of how different childhoods mine and the next generation’s are. I took me fifteen years to see a computer for the first time of my life, and a few more to see a mobile phone.