Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ABC Wednesday: F

F is for Forbidden.
It is Forbidden to photograph the huge military monument that dominates the skyline in Algiers.
Not that it’s anything special.
Imagine on top of one of the buttes overlooking the port, a park with a large flat concrete area at the edge. Rising from this is a sort of teepee, three long white concrete arcs leaning in against each other, three or four stories tall. There are no statues of heros or military leaders, only real military guys patrolling with their guns. A few visitors stroll across the vast empty space in the shadow of the monument.
It’s nothing special, not particularly inspiring, doesn’t recall any particular event.
Just don’t whip out your camera for a shot of the thing, with the city laid out below, and the ships coming into port from the hazy blue sea. Whipping out that camera and raising it to your face to frame the best shot of this panorama will certainly get the attention of the military guys. Who are just looking for something to do. Who are coming over to talk to you with their large guns ready.
It’s a good thing then that you have your passport on hand, and your visa, and the letter from the head of the institute you’re visiting, and in fact the head of the institute is right there showing you the sights of Algiers, including this wonderful monument you think is so beautiful and impressive. It’s not quite so good for your passport to be American, but your colleagues here are French and your French is fluent and they don’t really expect that of Americans so maybe it’s alright not to arrest you. Now about those photos.
Erased! Look, all gone!
I took that trip seven years ago. Today I would be much more discreet. In fact, I’m not sure I’d have the courage to go just now. At least, if I went, I would see my friends & colleagues, give a class or two at the University, and come home with my luggage full of DNA from women with hereditary breast cancer risk. Skip the sightseeing entirely; this is no time to be a tourist there.
ABC Wednesday - with pictures, probably - is over here.


Roger Owen Green said...

FORBIDDEN, eh? Sounds like it's driven by FEAR.

jabblog said...

Very wise to steer clear. Sounds Frightening and Foreboding.

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent post.

photowannabe said...

Fearful times. I think to stay clear would be a good idea.
It would have been fascinating to get the scientific info you wanted though.
Very interesting post. So well written.

Scrappy Grams said...

I've never had your kind of courage. It's so hard to imagine being in the heart of revolutionary changes without constantly feeling that my heart will burst right out of my chest.

steven said...

walls of any kind are so easy to build and so difficult to ignore. steven

Joy said...

Uniforms and guns, never a good combination. Good job you speak French.