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Archive for September 29th, 2007

Not the Greatest Protesters in the World

Since the last round of demonstrations started in Burma, Austrians have been remarkably quiet. In fact, you’d hardly know that anything was afoot on the other side of the world.

That’s it. The Other Side. Here, on This Side, things are just cuddly and sweet and everybody are enjoying the tranquil tranquility that is Austria, drinking copious amounts of Most and Sturm, gobbling up their last heaps of ice cream before all the ice cream places shut down for the season, tucking into the first offers of roasted chestnuts and potato wedges.

In the middle of this idyll I find myself dressing in bright red in quiet support of the Burmese monks, like a lone beacon among the happily satisfied Austrians. I had my own little protest wearing red from top-to-toe in front of the Stephansdom today, silently meditating on a stone bench facing the cathedral. At regular intervals people of any and all nationalities shoved me out of the way to rest their weary tourist legs, sometimes plunking their bums down on my knee – no sense of personal space there – or elbowing me in the back of the head in the process of removing a too-warm jacket in the hot sunlight pouring from a clear, deep-blue sky.

A friend turned up. I ended my quiet protest and joined the rest of the happy throng in their ice-cream devouring and we went and sat on the steps of a fountain. My bright garb drew just attention, though, and eventually a Saddam Hussein look-alike had his photo taken with me. I hope the Burmese people will one day have the freedom to travel and can come and eat ice cream in the middle of Vienna. And have their photos taken with a dictator look-alike. It beats most experiences.

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