Posts by Omar Crawford

  • Hard News: Prague,

    Oh Prague!

    I lived there for a year in 2012/2013 and I'd go again in a heart beat. A really gorgeous city and tremendous fun. Winter is tough, but summer is magnificent.

    Russell, did you do any research into the drug policy there? As far as I remember, possession of smallish amounts of almost any substance is legal, though buying and selling is not.

    I don't know much about the Slovaks except they are seen as a 'little bit country' by some. My understanding is that they were keen to separate as they speak a slightly different language and have a different culture, but were dominated by Czech culture via the state institutions in Prague.

    My Czech housemate is 26 and he pointed out the second wave of cultural change is starting to show through as the first generation to grow up almost wholly outside of communism begins to mature and influence Czech culture. I think you can see a difference in the way Czechs of different generations hold themselves (though I suppose that's true everywhere).

    And finally - Czechs like to remind you that they are a Central European country, Prague is west of Vienna! Of course being part of the communist bloc they tended to be associated with the East, perhaps understandably.

    Melbourne • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report

  • Feed: My Life in Curry, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks Russell that's really nice to know!

    Aromatics is still going,. Luckily dad had a right-hand man he'd been working with for a while and one of my brothers is working alongside him now, so we are keeping the passion alive!

    I got back from overseas in time to cook a few meals with him before he got too ill.

    A kitchen full of love would be up there with civilisation's greatest joys.

    Melbourne • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report

  • Feed: My Life in Curry, in reply to Dan Horne,

    Can you recommend one or two? I was a big fan of the Sri Penang on K Rd before moving to the capital.

    If you like Sri Penang then you would have loved Satay Kampong. Sadly I hear that institution has recently closed down. My late dad Noel was a helluva of a chef (Aromatics smoked mushrooms anyone??) and he introduced me to Satay Kampong when he came to visit during my first year of university in Wellington. They had a weird little joint opposite Chaffers Park New World, in front of what I think was a brothel. At the back was an enormous photo of a German(?) castle that took up the whole wall.

    Their Roti Chanai was the best I've tasted and we used to go everytime dad came to town. They later moved around the corner to much flasher premises but the old man who cooked could still be seen through the kitchen door. I was pretty upset when I heard it had closed.

    Not sure where to go in Wellington these days that could compare. I'm partial to Satay Palace on Cuba street, less for the authentic flavours (it doesn't compare), more for the fact that when I walked in after three years away he remembered my order.

    Melbourne • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report

  • Hard News: London's Burning,

    I headed over to Bethnal Green early this evening to meet some friends for dinner. We were planning to go to the local Tesco supermarket for some ingredients as the Sainsbury's in Whitechapel had closed their doors early in anticipation of trouble. Coming up onto Bethnal Green Rd you could feel the heavy tension in the air as people milled about on corners, fervently looking about for signs of trouble. Shopkeepers had their shutters half pulled down, ready to close at any moment.

    I passed the Tescos and found my friend, just as an unmarked police car full of riot police pulled up outside. We decided to just head home to check out the news. About half an hour later I picked up my wife from the tube station and walked again down the high street. Rubbish bins were ablaze in the middle of the road and there were a hundred or so people pressing forward towards police several blocks away. Then the smashing started and the crowd surged, hooting and cheering each other on as police fans were pelted with debris. I wisely took my wife home then headed out again to get some photos with my friend.

    Even by then, maybe 10 minutes later, police had regained control. People were complaining they'd 'missed it' and large groups were cutting down side streets and through the park, heading towards the next spot to try it on.

    From what I could see the rioting was definitely opportunistic. At the same time it was extremely fluid, with police and rioters playing a game of cat and mouse. The reasons for the underlying current of unrest are complicated. I think for many people it is frustration in not knowing how to communicate the feeling that they are somehow outside of the society being constantly reconstructed around them. Some councils have seen over 80 percent cuts to their budgets, which I believe include youth programs and libraries.

    Melbourne • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report

  • Hard News: Too Good to Be True,

    I wrote an article a few years back in the student media discussing the use of cannabis as medicine. One of the things I read at the time has always stuck with me.

    Legal philosopher Douglas Husak proposes that the fundamental question that should be asked regarding the legal status of drugs is not 'should drugs be legalised?', but, 'should drugs be criminalised?'. It is the second question that must be convincingly answered in the affirmative by those who support throwing people in jail, or for that matter any criminal sanction. For a free society to be worth its name, punishment by the state should only occur for very good reasons.

    Drug abuse is a health issue and is unlikely to be solved by jail time. Drug use by teens needs to be addressed by families and communities in a way that encourages openness and honesty. Somehow I don't think random drug testing and overblown propaganda are the way to go about it.

    Melbourne • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report