Saturday, 25 February 2012

Aden: Thanks to my unknown readers

At the moment I have no more Aden material, and I would like to thank those of you who have followed me for all or part of the journey. Now I have finished everything and had time to reflect, here a re she musings arising from my Aden blogging.

Blogging on this website provides me as the blogger with statistics. Some are useful. Some are interesting, such as the ability to know where visitors to the blog have come from. This includes some ghastly search engines in Russia which are not really that. I wish I could eradicate these from my figures. 

Nevertheless, on the plus side I am flattered by the large number of visits from the UK, which is really my target audience as I imagine most people interested in my life in Aden would be there.

However, I am very curious about the handful of visits from the Yemen. Here's hoping the interest is from ordinary individuals like myself and not any state or commercial organisation. If it is anther "man in the street", whoever you are (singular or plural) thank you for being intrigued enough to visit my blog. I wish you and your country peace and stability, especially given the recent turmoil. If you are from Aden, then my wishes are more heartfelt still.

My nomadic childhood has left me with more than one place that I think of as "home". In the 50s I grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong, where being surrounded by ethnic Chinese and Malay was a normal everyday experience. On my first return visit to both places after 30 years absence I felt strangely at home. Its not easy to explain to somebody who grew up in the same place how normal it feels to go back somewhere and feel more comfortable as part of a minority of the population. Home is many places to me. Singapore, Hong Kong, Aden, Gloucester, Cottesmore are all my very early homes in my time of childhood and innocence. I have a bond with them all. 

I fear I have lost my opportunity to visit Aden, given the current political and religious turmoil in the world. I cannot adequately express how much I would love to see Ma'alla, Steamer Point, Elephant Bay, Crater and Khormaksar again and see how much has changed or stayed the same. Youtube has been useful, but not all the videos posted are very good. Too many of modern Aden are more about the persons in the video than the place, but such is the vanity of humans! 

I regret very much not returning to Aden before the recent religious divisions between Islam and the rest of the world surfaced. I feel my presence would not be welcome in certain parts of the world, but I do not mean that all Islamic countries are forbidding to me. For instance, when I was in Penang I felt most welcome by the locals I came in contact with. One abiding memory is of school children saying "Welcome to Malaysia" to us. I understand they would have been encouraged to do this, but a child's generosity of spirit is a precious gift, which more adults could do worse than try to rediscover within themselves. Given a less than happy previous experience in Kuala Lumpur, the people of Penang more than adequately made up for that experience.

However, after that digression I shall return to the topic of religious division. To me it feels as negative and pointless as the Protestant and Catholic divisions in European history, or the Christian behaviour of the Middle Ages which effected a superiority it did not deserve. Then the Arab or Moorish culture was far more advanced than the so-called Western civilisation. One only needs to visit Granada and see the palace of the Alhambra and the gardens of the Generalife to realise how more advanced that society was compared with the regressiveness of the regime of "los reyes catolicos". In my blog about Crater I commented on the Cisterns of Tawila. To this day I still think they are a marvel. I can still remember how awesome (I use that word not in its modern guise) it was as I walked around. You really need to be ignorant or blind to reason not to acknowledge the cleverness of mind and sophistication of a society that brought them into being.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in my case, my absence from Aden has made me realise how lucky I have been to revisit Hong Kong and Singapore more than once. The memories I have of Aden are mainly positive, but the negative memories were due to the British presence outstaying its welcome. I am sure had I been a native of an occupied country my feelings would not have been too dissimilar. Whether I would express my displeasure I don't know. I thank my lucky stars I can express my opinions, which was not always an option open to the Adeni.


A G L said...

Interesting reading, I too am a 'nomad' with a similar upbringing to yours. I have enjoyed seeing your photographs of Aden and have been cleaning up 1 or 2 to reveal more detail. Let me know if that is Ok and whether you would like to see the results.


Tim The Nomad said...

Andy, first apologies as ever, for the tardiness of my response.

The more Aden stuff we can bung up on the web, the more information will be out there. I think we service brats, and in the case Aden, the BP brats too, have as much of a story to tell, even if it is only seen through a glass, darkly. If you're able to tart up the photos, that's wonderful!


A G L said...


I have only just read your latest blog!

Had I realised that you were in Penang I would have asked (if you had time), whether you would be able to visit our old house just outside Georgetown in Jesselton Crescent. My elderly Mum cannot remember anything from yesterday or last week but a picture of our old bungalow may have stirred memories.
never mind perhaps you have friends there that could oblige me?
Was Malaysia another posting for you and your family?

With regard to Aden I cannot find the pictures that I attempted to clean up, but I will keep looking.



Tim The Nomad said...

Andy, we were never posted anywhere in Malaysia. Penang is another of those important parts of the Empire where a good natural harbour was beneficial to Britain's commercial interests, as in Singapore and Hong Kong.

My trip was more of another trip down Memory Lane to see if I could cope with my new single life and revisit another place that held good memories and we both loved. Unfortunately I do not have any friends in Penang. Have you tried looking at the images at street level on Google maps? Maybe a letter to the current occupant at the address might solicit a positive response. You never know, nothing venture,nothing win, and all that!

Best wishes