Friday, March 30, 2007

A Journey Into The Odd & Wonderful World of an Ancient Place Called Yemen

Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
It was the most unusually fascinating five days of my life. My trip to Yemen was for the memory. I can't believe that I even hesitated for a second about going!

I have never in my life seen and met and spoke with such people as the Yemeni people; they are accommodating, friendly, generous and welcoming, in the sense that you read in ancient stories of true Arab values, cultures and traditions.

In this sense, Yemen is a country of people and landscape, and the two cannot be separated. They are almost one and the same.

I had a wonderful chat with a farmer, who had a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, about his crops and listened as he told me a story of a German tourist who ran in fear as he saw men waving rifles and bazookas at a wedding celebration.

Children love to be photographed and as soon as they catch a glimpse of a camera they put on their vast smiles and repeatedly ask you to take "Soora! Soora!"

The mountains and the landscape were simply and truly breathtaking. Standing on top of a mountain playing football with a couple of guards and young boys over the helicopter platform – breathing in the intoxicating fresh air and surrounded by white fluffy clouds – was something I had never thought I'd do in my wildest dreams!

Someone said that visiting Yemen was like being in a time capsule, and I thought that was true. A strange and wonderful world enrichened by its people.

I took a little over 300 images with my beautiful new baby the Canon G7 (I'm in love with it!) – I've posted some on my flickr. These aren't the best of the bunch as those will be used in my Ohlala article next month, once that runs I'll post them there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Which I Announce I'm Going To Yemen, Present You With This Month's Elham Program & Tell You About a Twisted Little Thought!

I'm going to Yemen!!!!!!!

For some reason I can't stop laughing everytime I say that! But, I am actually looking forward to this trip. I'm leaving this Friday and coming back Wednesday. Which sucks only because it means I'll miss this month's Elham which will be held over three evenings! How cool is that! Below are the details of these events:
25 March - Launch of the University of Cairo Book Fair
26 March - Culture: Wondering and Pondering (Local writers Hisham Khalifa and Deonna Kelli Sayed use creative prose to share thoughts on the meaning of culture. Additionally, there will be selected readings from book fair features.)
27 March - Expression in the Internet Age (Discussion with bloggers in Bahrain and others how technology enhances/limits creativity.)
28 March - Language: Translation and Expression (Bahraini Ali Al- Jallawi poetry reading, with translation read by Ayesha Sardhana, followed by discussion on the effectiveness of translation. In Arabic and English. Moderated by Hameed Al Qaed.)

There are a couple of very improtant developments. One of which concerns the short film I have been working on for the past several months. The decision was finally made to postpone the shoot until autumn to ensure our cast and crew are fully prepared.

For anyone who's missed my last week's GDN in which I explained how my laptop's hard drive has been damaged. I've been running around asking people to try and hopefully salvage something out of it. Staying optimistic is proving very difficult.

And as a footnote, I urge you to check the latest post on Twisted Little Thoughts about an unusually esoteric Red Apple!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We Are Cultural Terrorists

Everybody has been talking about how farcical the parliament (and certain MPs) have reacted to the Spring of Culture, claiming it is immoral and brandishing it as the Spring of Sex (is there a bun in this?) and calling for it to be banned and investigated.

What a load of bollocks!

In my GDN column last week I talked about how absurd it was to even think that way, and to consider culture and art as another source of "devilry", another evil tool of the "West's" making!

And anyone who celebrates it – by admiring and indulging in dance, music and art – is looked at as some sort of "cultural terrorist" threatening all that our community stands for! We're sick of this maligning look we are given by those few idiots out there thinking that they are they are our "saviors"

They go on wasting valuable time and resources on an invalid case while they should really be focusing on the real important issues. Is the country really going into "darkness" because a boy and a girl wore stretchy pants and danced on stage?!?!? Come on fellas, get real, and get over it and for once let us enjoy this freedom of artistic expression instead of trying to stifle us some more. We've had enough of that and we're not taking anymore of it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Closer to You

Closer to You

Come closer
Give me your hand
Look up and see the fireworks
Explode in the cerulean sky
It’s how I feel inside
Colorful bristles sparkle and glow
Every time I am near you

Come close and
Give me your heart
I'll wrap it and keep it warm
In my honey-coated hands
I'd jump over the crowds
To give you a better picture
And I'd swim amidst the bodies
To fetch whatever it is you seek

Just come closer
Come close to me
I'm all yours
And I'm right here
Standing next to you

Monday, March 12, 2007

F*#!%ing Brilliant!

It was absolutely fucking brilliant!

The two-day Dubai Desert Rock Fest was filled with awesome rocking moments and I had a kick-ass time watching bands like Iron Maiden, Incubus, the Prodigy and Robert Plant perform as their lives depended on it!

On the first day I caught Mastdon, who were pretty alright, and In Flames who really rocked the place hard. By the time Stone Sour came on I was already starting to get weary – I had only had 3 hours sleep the night before. But they did play my fave song "Looking Through the Glass" and ended their set with the brutal "Get Inside"

I retired into the press room for a while, almost slipping into sleep (out of tiredness not boredom!), when the Prodigy came on. And man, if you've not seen the Prodigy live, you've no idea what you're missing. The whole place went wild as they played their big hits starting with the rocking "Breathe" and the intensely mad "Firestarter". I have never felt or been through what I did in my entire life during the set of the Prodigy. The music – and the ferocious way they perform it – takes you to places you never thought existed!

Iron Maiden. Well, Iron Maiden was every bit of the Iron Maiden that I grew up with 10 years ago. Bruce Dickenson is a great showman and to see him darting around the whole stage, jumping, diving, dancing and sliding, you cant help but admire the guy. They played the very songs I and my mates used to sing along while we cruised around the streets of Bahrain "Run to the Hills", "2 Minutes to Midnight", and the fantastic "Fear of the Dark" among others.

Featuring giant-sized Eddie dressed in World War gear with a machine gun and the "biggest tank" Iron Maiden could find popping out of the ground onto the stage, that was what you would call a proper rock show!

I'll write about the second day of the rock fest tomorrow. (will try to post more pix I promise)

For now I have to figure out what the hell happened to my laptop which refuses to start and makes disturbing sounds as it tries to do so!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We Built This City on Rock and....!

I'm leaving tomorrow early morning for the Dubai Desert Rock Festival over the weekend.

I'm getting giddy about it. Bands like Incubus, Stone Sour, Iron Maiden and Robert Plant are gonna play. I used to listen to a lot of Iron Maiden in my cousin's crappy Huyndai hatchback ten years ago.

It’s a two day line-up, so it should be a lot of fun, considering that I've got a press pass and all that and I'm gonna meet up with Samar who's gonna use her artistry with a camera to cover the thing.

Run to the hills people, run to the hills…!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Cock & A Bull

Last night I attended a musical performance unlike anything I've heard or seen before.

Kamilya Gubran's evening could've been enjoyed even more if it weren't for those inconsiderate idiots who kept chattering and whispering and giggling and moving about through most of the performance. I wish people would just grow up and stop acting like children.

Once those irritants departed, it was easier getting into the music. Kamilya's way of playing the Oud is refreshing, teasing the tones out of it with seemingly the slightest touches of her fingertips, while her voice traveled high and low with each verse.


After waiting to see it for several months, I didn't expect to be in for such a disappointment. M. Night Shaymalan's Lady in the Water is likely to be his worst offering yet. The film lacked a whole lot of magic and it was no more than an average exercise that didn't amount to what it should have, which is a real shame. I wanted to like the film so much. Signs is one of my favorite films of all time and Unbreakable was excellent. So I was looking forward to this.

But I was in for a wonderful surprise in Tristram Shandy: a Cock & a Bull Story! The film was hilarious, intelligent and extremely human. Rob Brydon in a wonderful actor who's work I enjoy a lot, seeing him in the likes of Human Remains and Marion & Geoff

Lady in the Water (2/5)
Tristram Shandy: a Cock & a Bull Story (5/5)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

One Side of My Face

One Side of My Face
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
For some reason, reaching 10,000 views on flickr seems to be a feat worth marking! So, when I found out I had passed the mark, I thought I should do something. But I just sat and stared. I wasn't sure if I was meant to do a little dance or sing the 10,000 views anthem (there must be one surely!), or what. Then I figured that would be silly.

This apparently is my most viewed image (214 and counting).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

How To Save A Website!

My main website was hit by a virus recently. It was inaccessible for about two weeks or so, I only knew about it a few days ago and have been trying to fix it. Thankfully, the guys at the hosting company were quick to act as soon as I contacted them and the site is now up and running again without any problems. So, apologies for anyone who's tried to log into the site recently, if I knew earlier I would've put up a warning!

Anyway, the third Elham night was a tremendous success and a whole lot of fun. The Saudi poet Nimah Nawwab was awesome; watching her perform was a real treat. And the "chopper"-like bicycle was a talking point! We've got big plans for this month's event as we focus on film.

Speaking of film, Samar, Hisham and I are preparing to shoot a short on Friday. We're finalising things tonight. It's gonna be crazy! We're doing the whole thing in a couple of days!

Last night I watched: The Squid & The Whale (3/5)
Recently I've been listening to: The Fray "How To Save A Life"