Sunday, March 25, 2007

BKV: Transportation for a Lifetime

By Meredith Degyansky

I roll over in bed shoving the overheated down comforter into the crack by the wall. My left eye peers open and the glint of the sun comes through the blinds giving me a sense that it is later than usual. I look at my clock beside the bed; 8:06 AM! How am I going to get to class by 8:30?

Quickly, I hop out of bed, slipping into the first pair of trousers I find on the floor. I grab my coat, backpack, banana, and rush out the door. As I am running down Raday Utca, I am repeatedly stuck behind incredibly slow women in babushkas. Finally, I descend into the underground; looking at my watch it is 8:15 am. Perfect. I still have time. I tromp down the escalator impatiently pushing the lazy bystanders to the left. There is a man ahead, wearing headphones and smooching on his girlfriend. I hear the train arrive from below, a rush of people come up the opposite escalator, and the lovers will not budge. I get off just in time to watch the wheels of the metro roll by. Leaning against the wall with lost hope, I wait for the next train. Suddenly, a warm, smelly wind cuts across my face. The smell is a blend of old metal and body odor. I hear a rumble in the distance. Ahah! It is the next train. I hop on immediately, ride it two stops, and rush up the escalator taking it two at a time. Again, a wind blows through my hair from above but this time is the smell of flaky croissants. As I get to the top, I see the control officers guarding all exits. Instead of devising a dodge plan, I search frantically in the bottom of my bag for my pass. I find it and flash it at the man. “Koszonom sepan.” Having defeated all obstacles I use my track skills to sprint to class. I sit down puffing and sweating. The time is 8:33. Not too bad. Gotta love the BKV.

The history of the BKV (Budapesti Kozlekedesi Vallalat) in Budapest, Hungary traces back to the second half of the 19th century. In 1832, the first omnibus came to Budapest, which was one of the earliest renditions of a present day bus. As the years progressed, so did the public transportation network. In 1866, the first horse and carriage tramway began, but the speeds of the horse were not up to par with the hectic lives of the population. Knowing that they needed further improvements the BKV administration took the initiative to update their methods of transport. According to BKV documents, it took 21 months of construction to complete the very first underground system in all of Europe, christened on May 2, 1896. In 1900, the Budapest metro won the gold medal in the Paris World Exposition. The exposition was a world fair to celebrate the latest achievements and gain ideas to continue into the next century. After maintaining such great success, BKV decided in 1995 to revamp their network in honor of their 100-year anniversary. They were looking to enhance the speed, efficiency, and cleanliness of the system. In 1998, the BKV transportation system took it another notch by becoming what they are today.

Several statistics boast and support the quality of the transportation system in Budapest. The five branches or methods of transport include bus, tram, trolleybus, underground, and suburban railways. The company serves 1.4 billion passengers nearly everyday. The percentages of branches utilized are as follows; 41% use the bus, 26% use the tram, 22% use the underground, 5% suburban railway, and 6% use the trolleybus. The length of the entire network is 2,626.8 km. The routes travel to all areas of Buda, Pest, and Obuda, with the suburban railway reaching as far as Szentendre and Csepel. There are 224 bus routes, 35 tram routes, 14 trolleybus routes, 3 metro lines, and 5 suburban railway routes.

The BKV transportation system has outdone all other metro systems from which I have experienced. Never have I had to wait more than three minutes for the underground. It always comes right on time and the countdown clock is quite accurate. The maps are extremely efficient in describing where a certain branch is located whether it is a bus, trolley, metro, or tram stop. Thus making it easy to find access to the fastest, most efficient method to ones final destination. While riding on the vehicles, the commentator clearly annunciates each stop and street, providing an easy departure at the correct stop. It is possible to take public transportation anywhere in the city providing a safe atmosphere for the elderly or those who have difficulty walking.

The BKV symbol holds true to its values and objectives. Obtained from their worldwide website, the logo symbolizes their desire to “schedule compliant transport, extensive passenger information both at stops and in vehicles, modern electronic ticket punchers, and to clean vehicles daily and stops once a week”. I have already praised most of the above “missions” of the network with the exception of the latter. The trams and buses are clean and newly refurbished. On the contrary, the metro underground could use some work. Graffiti covers the old, rickety blue metro cars. Inside the vehicles, gum is stuck all over the gray, musky floor. The air is dank and dirty and the seats leave nothing to be desired. In fact, I suggest standing up because who knows what is in the fifty-year-old upholstery covering the benches. One time I saw a puddle of liquid floating on top of a black pleather seat. Also, be sure to wear gloves in order to protect yourself from the germ-infested handrails. Although the underground is unappealing, the speed and efficiency outweighs the negatives and on a personal account, I use the metros every single day.

The control officers are often spoken of in a negative light. People who do not like to purchase transportation tickets often feel the ticket controllers are too strict and insist on ticket verifications too frequently. I get stopped multiple times a week by the ticket controllers who are asking to see my pass. It is a very serious matter to purchase a ticket so I suggest not trying to bypass this. You will get caught. Besides, one ticket is only 230 HUF, a one-month pass is only 7350 HUF, and students get the best deal with a monthly pass for a mere 2950 HUF. But if you get caught you will get fined which can cost up to 7500 HUF. It is the least we can do as daily users of the systems to pay the fees. Imagine how much a gallon of gas would cost as well as the stress of traffic and trying to find parking. Do your part, pay, and be smart.

A movie came out in 2003 by the name of Kontroll. The film is poking fun at the control officers mimicking their uniforms with the armband and making them seem like a group of gangsters catching ticket violators left and right. The head of BKV comes on at the very beginning of the film to establish the fact that the movie is completely false. One of the main themes of the story is the search for a notorious attacker who has been pushing people into the underground tracks so that their bodies are splattered by the next metro train that arrives. After speaking with the producer ,Tamas Hutlassa, apparently the gruesome nature of the film made it challenging for the filmmakers to get permission to use the BKV facilities. The head of the actual BKV did not want consumers to think that the metro system was really like this. After much persuasion they succumbed to director Nimrod Antal’s proposal, but only provided the facilities during the off hours when the metro was not open to the public “We had to work in the middle of the night when no one was using the metro system. It was a long process because instead of 12 hour days, our days were only five and a half hours long,” states Hutlassa. Although silly and full of extreme exaggerations, the film Kontroll is entertaining and a video to watch if you are an avid user of the subway system and have a few hours to kill.

Coming from San Francisco in California, I often have to wait twenty minutes or more for a subway and have walked miles along the bus route to my destination before a bus even passed me. With that in mind, I am thankful for the public transportation system of Budapest. The easy access, speed of the trains, frequency, and efficiency are nearly perfect. I feel, therefore, that everyone who uses the network should hold no apprehension in purchasing the appropriate ticket to ride. I also feel it is unnecessary to bash the ticket controllers; they are just doing their job and they always say “Koszonom”. All of the positive factors outweigh the negative and so I will put on my germ protectant gloves and head down the croissant-infused air tunnel to hop on the next train pulling into Kalvin Ter.

Where Budapesters Who Matter Come To Gather

A Review Of Exclusive Budapest Nightlife

By Andrea Mihok

The top-end of Budapest’s nightlife is becoming impressive, extending from the most glamorous discothèques to the swankiest outdoor beach club, with plenty of surprises in between, just as you would expect from a European capital. A good night on the town – in the most exclusive company - may require some initiation. The tourist centre is not really where the elite go to meet, but rather at courtyard bars, huge outdoor clubs and cutting-edge dance venues scattered in nooks and crannies throughout the city.

The main party days are Friday and Saturday, but of course there are some places - the ritzy Moulin Rouge, to name just one - that are open almost every day. Nestled in the heart of the theatre district, MR greets guests not only with an invitation to dinner and what many regard as the hottest cabaret show in the town, but to join the dance floor accompanied by Budapest’s top-dollar DJs. The place is frequently full of local merrymakers, many of who know each other by face. Foreign visitors and expatriates are also known to flock to MR, drawn by its alluring profile and live nightly acts. The price for all this fine variety isn’t cheap, but compares favorably to clubs of this standard elsewhere in Europe.

The outskirts of Budapest boast a number of large, shiny clubs. Studio is the largest of all, and is located on a Danube river island, “Hajogyari sziget” in the North of the city. Unfortunately, it is open only on every second Saturday. The club itself is incredibly huge, upwards of 2000 m2. There are typically two very good Djs - Barany Atilla and Dj Antonio - producing the music, often accompanied by a live duet consisting of a saxophonist and a female singer. The Studio is divided into two parts: the Crowd, which is the largest part of the place and the VIP section, located at the end of the room, a little higher.

VIPs at the Studio have the option to rent tables, hire bodyguards and even private waiters in sequestered boxes as they watch the Google dancer wiggling just overhead. To enter the VIP you need to pay a premium - 7000 forint - or present a VIP card. The card gives you a one-year membership and lets you in into a few more places without standing in any lines, along with valet parking at no additional charge.

If this still doesn’t fit your idea of VIP treatment, Budapest now allows the well endowed among you to start your party in a rented limousine before arriving to the Studio or other club of your choice.

Studio is considered by many to be a place for snobbish people, but one regular, Amir Derham, had this to say: “If you are together with your friends, it is no matter with whom you are surrounded, anyway you are bound to have a great time.”

Almost every week, Hungary’s young generation of hipsters meets in these clubs, raising the trend to the level of an addiction. On any given Saturday night when it is open, there are about 3000 people in the Studio, of which around 500 are the VIP section, where the overage drink prices are some ten times higher then in the normal dance area. A small bottle of Asti Martini Champaign, for example, will cost you 9500 forint in VIP, while the same can be had for 2000 forint at the Crowd bar. A conversation with the club’s manager reveals, however, that despite such high prices, the place can hardly turn a profit, thanks to high expenses. An informed source indicated, however, that drug dealing plays a significant role in keeping the place open.

When asked why it’s so interesting to go out every week and see the same people, clubgoers are at a loss to give a clear and meaningful answer.

“I’d rather go out and spend time with my friends almost every week,” said Alina, a card-holding member of Studio, “than to stay at home, watch TV and feel lonely.”

One trend certainly is clear: these places are a haven for fashion house heads, looking to show off – or catch up on - the season’s latest. It is now popular at many clubs to commence the evening with a fashion show to attract people’s attention. Indeed, heads do turn toward the allure of tall, slender models sauntering up and down runways decked out either in fashionable clothing or often just titillating pieces of underwear. As a result, these clubs are perfect for people watching - the women are breathtaking, but off-limits to all but the smoothest operators.

Budapest’s clubs are also becoming a second home to such big name DJs as David Guetta, one of the most sought-after DJs in the world. On my last visit to Dubai, he was invited to one of the grand hotels on Jumeriah Beach, where after just a few minutes of pumping music he had everybody screaming, jumping and simply having an incredible time. A similar house-rocking takes effect each time Guetta or any one of many top international DJs takes control at one of Budapest’s discos.

Once summer comes around, there is rarely any need to go indoors to party. Most of the indoor places shut their doors for the season and the “beach” places open up. The Bed and the Dokk beaches are two of the most visited upscale party spots during the summer. Bed was clearly designed very carefully, it is almost totally white: the curtains, the tables, even a few big rounded sofas where you can actually lie down - as the name "Bed" indicates. The place is known for its special parties - which seek to simulate the atmosphere of a Hollywood party filled with movie stars - such as the “white party,” where everyone is dressed in white and no other color is allowed.

The variety and abundance of outdoor summer nightlife in and around the Budapest city centre is unparalleled. Several run-down courtyards have been converted to hugely popular inner city beer gardens and the banks of the Danube are home to a number of open-air clubs. One upmarket favorite is the Rio Café, located on the Pest side of the Danube. The Rio succeeds in generating that special carnival feeling, just as if you were in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at carnival time. To achieve this effect, they often invite dancers from Brazil or from other Latin American countries.

Whatever club, pub or beer garden you find yourself in, one enduring aspect of Budapest nightlife is that there is no rush. There is always time to get in an after-hours drink. What’s more, things often only get going after midnight. If you still have energy after the main party closes you’ll have the chance to go to the after party. Usually these parties start at 5 in the morning and serve breakfast, with a barrage of arresting music to shake you back to consciousness. And you needn’t worry about lunch or dinner, because they too will be served on time. In other words, it is well worth staying up past your normal Friday night bedtime, because Budapest isn’t sleeping and it always gives you the opportunity to have fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spring Trip In Northern Hungary

A Talk with Mary Kormosói
by Miklós Tassi

The most varied shire of Hungary is Nógrád (Nograd). This region is located in the northern part of the country. The hilly panorama of the Cserhát mountain and the valleys of three rivers (Ipoly, Galga, Zagyva) are coloured by pristine villages, historical towns and the ruins of castles from the 14-16th centuries.

Mary Kormosói, the foreigners’ favourite road manager and tourist guide invites us to a small village in this wonderful scenery.

TM: You often design and organise weekend trips for foreign tourists. What is the program of these trips?

Mary K.: We visit the village of Hollókő. Through the trip we introduce the region, traditionally called Palóc Land, and the history and traditions of the inhabitant Palóc folk.

TM: How far is this place from the capital?

Mary K.: The village is located among the Cserhát hills about 100 km (north? South? East? West? Northwest?) of Budapest. The history of the village goes back to the 13th century, when after the Mongol invasion the castle was built on the top of the rock here.

TM: The name of the village sounds very interesting. Where does it come from?

Mary K.: The old Hungarian settlements are usually called either after the name of their founding tribe (sometimes their leader) or there is a legend behind the name. The name Hollókő (holló=raven, kő=stone) comes, perhaps, from the legend in which the lord of a castle stole a pretty maiden, whose nurse was a witch. The witch sent ravens that took the stones of the lord’s castle away and rebuilt it on the top of this rock. So the lord is forced to climb the rock each time he returns to his castle.

TM: Is the lord’s climb part of the program?

Mary K.: Yes, but it’s possible only in nice weather. The ruins of the castle are rich in rock carving, and this year we have an exhibition of the remains of weapons found here. There is a beautiful view over the surrounding protected area, which is a part of the Bükk National Park.The village is even more attractive than the ruins of the castle. In 1987 the UNESCO Committee gave it the title of 'World Heritage', paying tribute to the unique harmony of constructed and natural scenery. The houses represent a unique style of architedture. The gentle arms of the nearby chain of hills have always protected the tiny houses from the winds of centuries, making it possible for the village to keep its original charm. Parts of the settlement have however burnt down several times, because the buildings are covered with flammable thatched roofs.

TM: Would you call Hollókő an outdoor museum?

Mary K.: It’s more than an outdoor museum, because the houses are still in use. There is a working post office, a nursery school and a church. The people living here are members of the Palóc ethnic group and they preserve not only their ancient traditions, but their richly decorated folk clothes, too. Even the young generations wear these colourful clothes. Their old ladies love tourists, and tourists love them for their hospitality and beautiful songs.

TM: And they also cook well! Is the sweet-smelling dinner part of the program?

Mary K.: Of course it is! They provide traditional meals of Northern Hungary.

TM: You mentioned the church. Is it a shrine?

Mary K.: Yes, it is. There are written documents mentioning Hollókő’s first stone church from 1343, but the mediaeval building was destroyed during the Otoman raids at the end of the 16th century. The Roman Catholic church you find now in the centre of the village was built in the 19th century. It has stone foundations, adobe walls and a wooden spire. The main sights of the church are the statue of piety (from the 18th century, made of wood, it is considered folk art from the area of the present Slovakia) and presents from the Esztergom Museum of Christianity: a flag and a crusifix, also dating back to the 18th century.

TM: After the walk in the village, you suggested to me a tour in the nearby forests.

Mary K.: Even the natural surroundings of the old settlement are special and are also protected. The Hollókő Nature Conservation Area (141 hectares) includes old vineyards, the pasture lands and fields around the castle, the small woods next to the castle and the inner area of the old village.

TM: What are your expectations and plans for this season?

Mary K.: This summer we plan to have evening concerts in the castle. Around Easter some programs and performances will show and explain folk traditions. Year in year out more folk artists sell their products, and they always present the methods and primary commodities of their work. In 2006 the number of visitors exceeded all expectations. I hope this year to greet even more tourists in Hollókő.

TM: Thank you very much.

View a selection of village photos by clicking below.

How Teen Girls Can Get A Yes From Their Moms

by Eugene Idigbe

Some mothers still see their teenage daughters as little girls. Here's the secret to getting her to treat you more like an adult. The following tips will help you stop complaining about how impossible your mom is and figure out how to change the no to Yes.

Tip one: approach your mom only when she's relaxed.

Even if you've been waiting to talk to her all day. If she just walked in the door from a bad at the office after being struck in traffic for two hours, and she has to let the dog out to pee, or has to start making dinner . . . stay away!

Think about it: if you just got home after failing a test that you were up all night studying for and your little sister says, "can i borrow your new top?" You'd probably say no. But don't go overboard; if you approach Mom with a fresh drink and you've never made her one before, she'll immediately be suspicious, it might look to her like you’re buttering her up because you expect her to say no and that will make it easier for her to actually say no.

Tip two: share the details.

Don’t just yell over your shoulder on your way out the door that you're "going out" You have to give your mom time to react or she'll think you have something to hide. Approach her at a relaxed moment, like over dinner: “Mom, I’m going to a dinner party at a friend's house. I'll be home later in the day". Then if she has any questions, answer them calmly. Make her less likely to get to you.

Tip three: Use key words.

You can win your mom over with certain phrases. Follow up a request or suggestion with something like: "what do you think, Mom?" Another good one: “just think about it a little before you answer, okay?" This will make her view you as very mature and responsible.

Tip Four: Put aside what you want for a second, no matter how urgent it is.

Now think about what your mom might want. Perhaps some help cleaning the home? Someone to keep her company on a Friday night? This isn’t about sucking up. Its about trading places with her so you can get a glimpse of her life. You will be able to better understand what makes her tick. You will stop seeing your mom as a barrier between you and a good time and start seeing her as someone who really wants the best for you.

Tip Five: Reassure Her.

If your mom still hesitates to let you go to a party on a Saturday night no matter what, then try compromise: offer to call during the party so she'll know you're okay. Then do it no matter what. Because if you don’t, you will just be showing her that you're irresponsible, and you may find yourself with even stricter rules than you had before. Always ask for permission to do anything no matter how little, and win her trust. This way, you’re not just asking for permission, but also support, advice and blessings.

First Day At The Airfield

By Philipp Sigrist

It was a cold, grey Saturday afternoon, not really a nice day for flying. But the prospect of flying was not what brought us to Budaörs Airfield. Instead, my friend (?) Ferenc and I had come to meet my future instructor, Gergö Lajos, to discuss the details of my upcoming flying lessons. Gergö, a good friend of Ferenc, first took to the air as a pilot at age 22 and has been an instructor for 13 years.

Arriving at the airfield, Gergö happily greeted us with a smile and, with our full agreement, proceeded to show us around the airfield first before discussing my lessons. We encountered various types of old soviet AN2’s, and Czech Grob’s and Zlin’s . While walking along, an old DC3 made its final approach towards the runway, I was compelled to stop and witness it land. Nothing beats the sound of an old DC3 prop.

At the hangar, Gergö presented the plane we will use for our upcoming lessons, a great-looking Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Since I’d already flown in one of these with my godfather a while back, I couldn’t help but show off my expertise about it . On our way back to the cafeteria, I noticed a lovely old control tower.

“It is mostly unused,” Gergö said. “Only avionics engineers and gyro specialists still work in there.”

Back at the cafeteria we started discussing my lessons. Gergö explained that, before I can start, I will first need the blessings of the Civil Aviation Authority of Hungary (CAA); they will test me to determine whether I am medically fit to fly. The actual course will be split up into several smaller courses such as meteorology, aerodynamics, radio communication, basic mechanics, and so forth. If I make the courses intensively I might achieve it in less than 3 months, which surprised me. What surprised me even more was the price. It will cost me no more than 5000 euros to receive the Private Pilot License (PPL), which is a real bargain compared to other countries such as the United States. One might think that with such a low price quality might suffer, but from my point of view, everything seemed very professional.

“Both the instructor and the airfield personnel are highly qualified,” said Ferenc.
After our discussion was over, we thanked Gergö for his time and told him that we would contact him as soon as it is possible to begin my lessons. On our way home I was dreaming of my PPL already, a dream that might soon become reality.

Unexpected Adventures Reward The Budget Traveller

Getting to the Balaton Airport on 1110 Forint

By Meredith Degyansky

A cheap flight from Hungary to London may be a challenge to encounter. However, with the aid of budget airliner, Ryanair, a one-way ticket can cost a mere 5000 forint. The catch is that there are only two flights departing from the Balaton airport each day, one to London and one to Frankfurt. Meaning one must be punctual when arriving to the airport. This can be challenging because Balaton is approximately 186 km southwest of Budapest. But have no fear, I have discovered a cheap, efficient, well perhaps not so efficient, but cheap way to get to the Balaton airport from Budapest.

A train departs from Deli Palyaudvar in Budapest and arrives at a small Hungarian town called Balatonszentgorgy. The ticket only costs 860 forint. One negative factor may be that you must depart at 3:45 am in order to get to the airport by the 11:00 am flight departures. Despite stopping for what feels like every 100 meters, the train will get you to Balatonszentgorgy on time after four hours of lovely views of Hungary’s countryside. If traveling by car or on a train of normal speeds the trip would take about two and a half hours, but for 860 forint, it is bearable.

After arriving to the station in Balatonszentgorgy, which is still 12 km away from the Balaton airport, it is necessary to transfer to a small two-car caboose train for no additional charge. The train ride is approximately ten minutes long. Seats offer plenty of legroom so long as you put your bag on your lap. The cars also come equipped with a public water closet, just be certain to bring your own toilet paper. The caboose drops you off in Keszthely where you will have to board a bus to take you to the airport, the final destination. The bus comes every 15 minutes and it only costs 218 forint. You can pay the driver when boarding the bus; no reservations are necessary. The bus winds through the narrow roads of Keszthely with a few stops along the way. In a matter of minutes, you arrive at your destination.

The bus drops you off directly in front of a sign that reads, “Balaton Airport 1500m”, with a convenient arrow to point you on your way. As you walk on the tiny gravel road, make note of the old Russian bunkers surrounding you. The airport location used to serve as a mock battleground for Russian soldiers stationed there. This told to me by an old Hungarian communist who happened to walk beside me.
There are conveniently located signs every 500m to inform the distance left to the airport, reassuring when you have been splatting through mud puddles for awhile and have seen no sign of an airplane. Finally, you arrive at the airport and do all other procedures as usual. The actual flight is comfortable, reliable, and safe, giving Ryanair thumbs up.

The total time of the trip from Budapest to the Balaton airport is approximately five and a half hours and costs 1078 forint. I must include that unless you are a Hungarian speaker, you should befriend someone who is on the way. If it were not for the friendly British/Hungarian man that read the signs for me, spoke to the ticket controllers for me, and basically held my hand through the process, I would still be in Balatonszentgorgy. If all this seems daunting, you can take the airport fly bus shuttle from Deli Palyaudvar to the Balaton airport. It departs at 6:00 am and arrives at 8:50 am and it costs about 3000 forint. I think I will do that next time.

Shaping The Minds Of Young Kids And Teens

New International Organisation Builds Cultural Bridges Between Young People

by Eugene Idigbe

Afromopicx is a non-profit organisation set up to engage the minds of teens and young adults. Established one year ago with its heaquarters in the Brixton neighborhood of London, England, it now has about 20 mini theaters around the world and over 200 members. On the 17th of march 2007, all roads will lead to the Golgota kapolna at Erzsebet krt 13 in Budapest’s district VII for the introduction of Afromopicx in Budapest, Hungary. The event will showcase several acts including a fusion of Afro-American/African music, European contemporary classical music, drama and stage performance from Brazil and much more.

At its inception in the UK in 2006, Afromopicx set a primary objective to bridge gaps in intercultural relations, encourage oneness and togetherness and to bring people together - especially teenagers - from all across the globe who have different values, norms and manners of thought to share ideas and culture with each other. The organization now has branches and members in Spain, Ecquador, Brazil, Madagascar, South Africa, Nigeria and in several other nations.

Its target audience is the teenagers and young adults, who represent the next generation and who have a lot to express and share, explained Afromopicx representative Ayo Bamiro in a recent interview. Afromopicx aims at deviating their minds from negative vices and occupying their time with productive activities in a friendly, loving, extremely comfortable and condusive envinroment. Activities like drama, poetry, singing, dancing, capoeira, stage performances are encouraged, shared, taught and perfected, and this will go a long way in curbing crime, street violence and other immoral vices especially among youths.

“Afromopicx is a social organisation open and for free to all,” said Bamiro. “We currently have branches in over 20 countries around the world. Our aim is to engage young minds in acting, dance, salsa or any thing of interest which is positive especially to teenagers. It is both recreational and mind building.”

Mr Bamiro explained that his organization has grown rapidly with the help of a few corporate sponsors and notable individuals like UK rapper Plan B, along with the dreams of some high spirited teenagers and young adults who advocated positivity, global communion, and building young minds.

“We now have about 200 members 20 branches worldwide,” Bamiro added. “I will say it is definitely a right step in the right direction. We have mini theaters where kids, teenagers, and young adults can come to on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. If some of the youths are interested in singing, we give them a microphone, they get on stage and sing, the other youths will be the audience. also every week we have professionals come in to advise, share and give lectures and talks, and help the youths work on their skills. Last year we had guests like Plan B in London and Ronaldinho in Brazil. It helps a lot because the teens listen to role models and are much happier to strive for perfection in whatever they do.”

Asked about those teenagers who are feeling left out but would like to know how they can become members, Bamiro responded by beckoning all those interested to attend the African Cultural Evening at the Golgota Kapolna on 17 March at 7 p.m.

“Membership is free,” Bamiro said. “Parents can come to the event with their kids to see exactly what we do and why kids who are members are always excited. After the show teens and young adults who are interested can register and get the ID cards absolutely free.”

The Journey Of Self-Discovery

By Dadvey Zargaran

What did I like as a child, what do I like as an adult, what has consistently brought me happiness and what gives me a reason to live?

If you have ever thought about these simple but crucial questions, then you may also be asking if you have found the right answers. Finding your path in life may appear simple. But success often depends on how your logic muscles have been trained and the depth to which you observe the moments of life.

Many of us can recall our parents coaxing us to fulfil something that they might not have achieved themselves. In so doing, they became manipulative – albeit unconsciously - by saying some typical phrases that you might have heard: “you should become a doctor, a surgeon, or an architect!” You may well have writhed hatefully when they compared you with one of your spoiled, freakish relatives.

“Look at your cousins! They are A-students…and you?”

To sort our selves out, a centrist approach is inevitably desired. We take sum of all the opinions and experience of the people who know us and the people who inspire us in order to come up with the best choice and solution for ourselves. We want of course to be in the right position and choose the right subject or major to suit us best. But we must first clear our minds and reflect: What am I going to do, what did I like the most as a child, as an adult? Or simply, what has brought me happiness? And perhaps most importantly, what gives me reason to live?

Doing what comes naturally - what fits our talents and interests - will bring us the greatest pleasure. Having pleasure and reaching happiness are the keys to a developed and satisfying life.

A typical, healthy day of life consists of three main parts: work (usually 8 hours), recreation (about 6-8 hours of fun, learning, sports, etc.) and a good night’s sleep. Rationally and wisely, in order to end up getting the work done and having fun too, we need to learn about ourselves - basically speaking – our talents, skills and abilities, along with our weaknesses.

In sum, first get straight with your self in the first stage and know what you’re really good at and what you want. Second, get along with your parents and try to use all effective methods and tricks to convince them about your goal in life. And finally, work hard and be perseverant. I promise you will be successful and enjoy a desirable, enjoyable life. So, my friend, what was the first question, oh! I can remember it now, when I was a child I was quite good at… I loved to play…perform….

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Real Estate Laws, Restrictions and Ethics Yet To Take Hold in Dubai


Dubai’s real estate is about to take a new phase as its government, together with top real estate builders, embarks on measures to clean up the sector; this in hopes of lifting tensions surrounding the safety of the tiny emirate's real estate markets.

Inflamed already with an increasing number of unqualified freelance brokers, operating in the sector, the Dubai market has witnessed an increased number of complaints over cheating, illegal transactions and a lack of professionalism among brokers, says Khamis Mohammad Al Muhari, head of land valuation and studies centre at Dubai land department. Examples of such misconducts include brokers selling properties they do not have the right to sell, those that buy properties for themselves or their relatives and sell it off at a higher price, and cases where agents charge clients regardless of their failure to provide sufficient brokerage service. Other misconducts mentioned by Al Muhari include the collaboration of agencies with one another. In order to get phone calls from potential clients, agencies post advertisements even when they do not have anything to offer. After receiving a call, they look around for agencies that have the same properties and split the commission or add an extra commission to the poor unsuspecting client who ends up being offered the same apartment ten times over by different agencies.

As part of its efforts to correct the situation on the ground, the Dubai government drafted new regulation in May 2006 aimed at banning freelance brokers as well as unlicensed real estate agents, but this was not enforced until the 4th of February 2007. The new regulation allows for a new broker registration law, which effectively rejects all sales and transactions carried out by unlicensed real estate brokers in Dubai.

The land department in Dubai currently refuses to register sales transactions by brokers who are not officially recognised by the government. This could go a long way in helping the land department gather data-base of real estate firms and individuals that operate in Dubai, says Al Muhari. It will also signal the government’s commitment to ensure that land transactions in Dubai are foolproof, secure, competent and transparent In addition, legitimate brokers will receive registration cards issued by the government to transact real estate deals. Under the new law, individuals are expected to pay Dh500 fee for registration, while firms are to payDh5, 000. Given a one week frame of time, real estate agents, have begun registering with the Dubai land department.

The removal of unqualified real estate brokers is believed to be a step toward remolding the credibility of the Dubai real estate market. Given all this, the department will subject agents as well as companies to a training program and a series of professional tests to weed out those who don’t make the grade. Craig Johnson, general manager of Landmark, a Dubai-based property consultancy, says that the process will be beneficial to both clients and the industry as a whole, since it allows for transparent and professional structuring - a condition which the industry has been sadly lacking and hence leaving many clients with extremely bitter experiences.

Russia Sits High Atop Oil Markets - For Now

By Miklos Tassi

Russia, the second largest oil producer of the world after Saudi Arabia, exported 19.32 million metric tons (more than 144 million barrels) to non-CIS countries in January 2007, up 17.7%, year-on-year, the Industry and Energy Ministry said Tuesday. Such heady results for January follow a year that saw Russia earn an estimated total revenue of 139.4 billion U.S. dollars on its oil and gas exports in 2006. Closer inspection of the world energy market, however, raises questions about Russia’s future as an oil superpower.

Increasing demand

A recent study by the US Department of Commerce shows that the largest demand for oil comes from freight and human transportation. Such demand is increasingly being met by substitutes for oil-based fuels, but transportation is still expected to draw 50% of world oil usage in the 2030s, the study states. The centers of the growing oil demand are Asia and North-America. The projected long-run tendency of rising prices could be good news for the oil business, but may not reduce the huge demand for oil until substitute fuels become price competitive.

Markets in motion

The USA and Europe consume roughly half of all oil produced globally, approximately 45 million barrels a day. Japan uses a proportionately similar amount, while China and India together burn 10%, with consumption in those two nations rapidly on the rise. Europe is making efforts to decrease its dependence on oil exporters, meaning Russia, to a large extent. Because EU programs to develop renewable energy sources will not be successful enough to make much of a difference in the foreseeable future, the only alternative to Russia is to increase the number of importers and create competition. This raises the issue of change on the supply side of the oil market, with new sources emerging in Asia.

Fate of the oil bear

Russia appears to be fighting hard to maintain its premiere status, which may not be easy, considering its disadvantaged geographical position. The cost of oil extraction is six times higher in Siberia than in Iraq or Saudi-Arabia. Look for Russia to use its political power to offset its unfortunate circumstances, market watchers say. Such trade weapons as suspending deliveries to European customers are historically in Russia’s arsenal. Time will tell if high production costs and increasing competition – along with the rise of alternative fuels – prove the undoing of Russia’s oil supremacy.