United Nations tour

Was postponed for last Friday, due to our flu bug from the week before.

The security checkpoint to get in to the UN was impressive (the line went a bit around the sidewalk). Alexander and I also somehow were asked to go through security separately. Alexander thought that was cool.

Inside the building, a string orchestra played vivaldi's The Four Seasons while huge full-color images of landmine victims - taken portrait style - stood in the backdrop. A got a bit teary-eyed. The music - a beautiful thing created by man - juxtaposed with images of a horrific thing created by man, was deeply moving.

While we waited for our tour to begin, we learned that the current tour guides' outfits are designed by Mondrian, the Italian design house. Tour guides can alternatively wear the national dress of their country.

Our Chinese tour guide wore Mondrian.

Before viewing any of the assembly rooms, we were told that we were now standing in an International Territory, the land for which was donated by Rockefeller.

"Does that mean that we're no longer in the United States?" one man asked.
"Yes, das riiiight," Our Chinese tour guide in Mondrian responded. "And you don need passpor! And da is no tax here, eider!" she said coyly, our cue for shopping at the gift shop.
Everyone looked a bit astounded at this bit of news.
"Cool," Alexander whispered to me, "I don't want to go back to New York!"

We visited the Security Council first. Weird, because for me that was the climax. I got the climax first. Surprisingly, we were allowed to take pictures. I did not bring a camera.

Each chair in the room has a small black dial on the right-hand arm rest. You can switch the dial to the language "English" "Chinese" "Russian" "Spanish" "French" etc. and you get the appropriate translation in that language. Alexander and I had fun with the dials. It was like spinning on the swivel chairs at Denny's. Obviously, the Security Council was not in session while we were there. So we heard none of the languages featured on the dial.

We visited some of the very expensive trinkets given to the United Nations by member states (among them, an ivory carving that took eight elephants to complete). We saw actual land mines. Actual glass and ceramic melted by the A-bomb in Hiroshima. Pictures of children in Hiroshima, post-A bomb.

We viewed the colonized world pre-United Nations, and how the colonized world look today. The pre-UN world was on a map marked in red for the colonized portions. Much of the world appeared red. Africa was almost entirely red. Today, the red portions are tiny pinpoints on the map. This was one of my favorite parts of the tour.

We visited the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly last.

After the tour, because the UN has its own postal system, we thought it would be worthwhile to buy postcard and an illuminated stamp, and mail it from the International Territory that is the United Nations. We also purchased a Coloring Book entitled "The United Nations in our daily lives" which has a preface written by Mrs. Nane Annan explains rather nicely the functions of UN peace keeping, international law, High Commissioner for Human Rights, World Food Programme, etc.

The postcard arrived the next day.

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