Friday, 25 April 2008

Free Things

Living here is truly interesting, if you have time to do all of the things on offer. This past week I attended an evening with a Nigerian-born poet Chris Abani. His poems and novels are widely sold and he is a well-known presenter around the world, dealing mostly with human rights issues which stem from his early experience of being placed in solitary confinement in a hole in the ground which he had to dig himself. He was there for 6 months, fed through a hole every 4 days and survived to tell his story and the story of many others. It was a riveting evening with a gentle giant of a man who has somehow managed to find love in all of this. The venue was our local Arts Unversity,  VCU and it was all free, including the food and the wonderful book of poems entitled Hands Washing Water. The next day I took a cab to the Sheraton where I had heard that there was an International Documentary film convention hosted by Al Jazeera, our local  excellent television network. I was absolutely blown away for want of a better expression. Again the venue was truly elegant, there were 4 spaces where these wonderful documentaries were being screened. It seemed that many of the film makers were also attending to discuss their film. I managed in a very sort time to see documentaries about; the life of a volkswagon beetle in Brazil- meeting all of its owners - fascinating(KVZ-1348); the journey of a photographer and a handicapped boy from Delhi to the mountains where the Dalai Lama resides, also fascinating and filmed totally by these two, a must-see (Bullets and Butterflies), and several others entitled Say Goodbye, (a family in Gaza), Symphonic Poem (about a Kuwaiti musician). I am so mad that I only attended one day of this festival, I had found out about it too late. I am carrying the program with me so that I can catch up on  some of those I missed which look unbelievable. Again this event was totally free to the public and I came home with gifts as well! I have said this before but it needs to be said again that I do love living here! I am looking forward at present to the graduation ceremony for all of our university students here on Education City from the Universities (Weill Cornell Medical College, Texas A and M, Virginia Commonwealth U,  Carnegie Mellon U Georgetown Uni, Faculty of Islamic Studies) here. This year there will be around 20 students graduating (it is all very new!) For the celebration and graduation ceremony the Queen (Sheikha Moza)  has invited the London Royal Philharmonic? Orchestra along with Sarah Brightman to perform before and during the ceremony. It will all be held outside in the ceremonial court specially designed for these things! It has water, white posts, lights, steps, marble etc etc. You just can't believe it sometimes!

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