KKT North Cyprus News issue #24Thu 23rd Jan 2014                                    

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Life in the TRNC

Random Ramblings
By Mr. R.R.

This week my ramble starts with what to both my wife and I has been a bit of a puzzle.  During the years that we have lived here we have, on a number of occasions, seen what appear to be Philipino (Philipina?) young women waitresses in various cafes and restaurants.

We have absolutely no objection to being served by a person of any nationality, religion or creed.  Our query - why travel (literally) halfway around the world to be a waitress?  Are the wages that good?  Of course not, if they were, the Turkish-Cypriot women would be waitressing!  Mind you, as the first rung in the career path of a Turkish-Cypriot in the commercial world is “vice president”, they would all be known as “vice -president waitresses”!

Sorry, I got rather carried away with my little rant at the end of the above paragraph, so back to the subject in question. 

The other day we went to Bellapais for lunch, on one of those lovely winter days, when the sun shone on a windless day and, suitably attired, it was very pleasant to sit outside on the balcony.

For the information of readers, unfamiliar with Bellapais, it is the village and area that surround the “Abbeye de la Pais”, an abbey founded in the early 13th century by an order of French Augustinian monks after they were expelled from Jerusalem.  The abbey, set in a picturesque location between the mountains and sea, is very well preserved and a magnet for weddings as well as tourists!  It is also the village where Lawrence Durrell wrote his book “Bitter Lemons”, which is about life in Cyprus.

As Bellapais is a “tourist trap” we expected to pay inflated prices, and we were not disappointed!  We were, however, very disappointed in both the quantity and quality of our meals.  To revert (again!) to the subject, the service provided by our Philipina waitress was excellent.  There were very few customers on the balcony, so she had time to answer when we asked her why she had come to Kibris to be a waitress, as it must have been very expensive to get here?

She replied that her sister, (who had preceded her here by six years) had told her what a wonderful country this was.  We agreed with this!  Regarding her travel costs she only said that it took her two days to get here, but wouldn’t be pressed on the actual cost.

An acquaintance of ours, who became a widower a few of years ago, whom we occasionally bump into, recently married a Philipina woman in the Phillipines and returned to Kibris.  She also loves living here, not only because of the climate, people and way of life, but mainly because she feels so “safe”!  Apparently, most of the commercial and financial centres in the Philippines have a level of violence and gangsterdom that exceeds Chicago in the Al Capone era!

Our curiosity about people from the Philippines was sparked by a situation that arose in Hastings in the UK, where we lived for some years before emigrating here.  A new multi-ward, multi-theatre hospital had been built.  However, there was insufficient nursing staff available in the area to meet its needs.  The National Health Service (NHS) initiated a local and worldwide search.  The best, and cheapest option, was to import around 30 suitably qualified nurses from the Philippines!  As these nurses would have had their travel costs paid for, and, no doubt other financial benefits, this migration is understandable.  However, we both think that for these waitresses to use their own capital to travel “half way around the world” to work in a comparatively low paid job is a very long-term money making scheme.

Having mentioned the UK in the paragraph above, I spotted a couple of articles recently in the UK newspapers.  Both were about defence, this is a matter that Britain appears to be both paranoid and over-concerned about.

The first was an article that stated that a (yes, only one!) Russian warship had dropped anchor somewhere out at sea off the Scottish coast.  This caused major panic in the nuclear bomb-proof bunkers under Whitehall!  Is this the start of World War Three?  What can we do about this?  Will I have to cancel my afternoon game of golf?

The Lord High Admiral, Sir Totally-Incompetent, was asked “can we send the navy to force this scurrilous Ivan back to where he belongs”?  He replied “Well, Prime Minister, there is a lightly armed and armoured canoe in Portsmouth that could get there in about a week, maybe only three days if we put two oarsmen on board.”  And this was done!

If the Russians were there to test the response time they certainly got it!  Surely a more intelligent response would have been to wait for a few hours then “leak” a radio message in an (almost) unbreakable code; “the stealth technology on HMS Sneaky is working, she is 10 miles of their starboard bow and hasn’t been spotted yet”!  Assuming the Russian warships intentions were hostile; this would have caused some concern, even if only for a short time!

The other article about defence was about an American politician stating that with Britain’s defence cuts, it could no longer be regarded as a “full military partner of the United States”.  How did the British Prime Minister respond to this?  “Britain is the world’s fourth largest military spender after the United States, China and Russia.”  Why?  Is Britain a large country?  Yes, but only if the comparisons are Monaco, Luxemburg and San Marino!

Does Britain have a large empire or commonwealth to protect?  Well, it has the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar and....er ...um... did I mention the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar?  Oh, yes, I did, so no, she doesn’t have an empire any more!

Does Britain have any mineral or natural resources or anything that would attract an invader?  North Sea gas (a finite substance) is close to running out, and the “hostile” Russia mentioned above is already exporting vast quantities of gas to Europe, so no, Britain has nothing to attract an invader.

What the British taxpayers must ask themselves, or preferably their local members of parliament, is why so much of their money is being spent on defence?  This is at a time of austerity and there are a number of cost-cutting exercises on the domestic scene.

There are already cuts in benefit payments as well as others planned for the future.  When the income of a family on benefit is compared to one on the minimum or low wages, I believe that these cuts are justifiable.

However, leaving aside the bloated and inefficient management, there are life-threatening cutbacks and “downsizing” in the National Healthy Service (NHS) that seriously affect the health and wellbeing of the British tax-paying public.  Why should Britain’s ability to kill someone in “some foreign field” take precedence over prompt and efficient medical treatment in Britain?

Returning to my domestic soil, I understand that some 3½ years after the collapse of the North Cyprus airline, the CTA/KTHY staff are, at last, getting their final payments of the money owed to them by the government!  I think that the withholding of wages or associated payments is illegal, but no doubt the airline’s trade union has done all that is physically possible for the staff.

More next week folks!

Photographer

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