Saturday, December 6, 2008

Season's Greetings, Now Get Me Out Of Here.

When the Christmas lights go up, I check out. Not just mentally, from the canned jingles and barrage of advertisements, but physically as well. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I count down the days until my yearly exit from December’s chill, when I travel home to the U.A.E for the Holidays.

I’m suppose I’m exchanging one brand of glitz for another, and cities like Miami or L.A. could do just as well at bursting the bubble of seasonal gloom; but really, Dubai for the holidays? Yes please! Bring on the long-lashed young men wearing their dishdash with baseball caps. Bring on the sixty-degree nights and the infinite ways in which to spend them: whether to wrap up in a pashmina and lounge creek-side with a hookah, kick back with fresh, foamy pomegranate juice at the Madinat Jumeirah, or wander the gold souk till the wee hours trying on Indian bridal jewelry, what to do?

I will start simple, and walk along the open beach at sunset until the sail shaped Burj al-Arab starts its light show. The arcs that form the frame of the hotel start up a rhythm: first, a slow pulse of white light, then a twinkling that builds up in speed to a flashing pattern that seems fit to eject the hotel off its island like the Millennium Falcon out of Mos Eisley. The hotel body then starts to flush with color, sometimes a lush peach, sometimes a virulent grape; fading back and forth between cool tones and the odd chartreuse. I won’t leave until the Burj layers itself in all the shades of a peacock feather.

The Isha prayer call will travel from the minarets of the waterside mosques, along the damp sand towards me, and out into the water where the Persian Gulf will swallow it. The culture travels through the senses, recycles itself, and begins anew.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IFC Media Project

Gideon Yago heads an investigative news program that deconstructs media. It debuted tonight, and the centerpiece of the half-hour show focused on " the pro-Israel lobby influences the narrative in press coverage of Israel and US-Israel relations."

I was especially touched when Mark LeVine, a Middle Eastern scholar, reminisced about his first trip to Israel. His voice, as he describes learning of the Palestinian word for the creation of the state of Israel: Al-Naqbah--the disaster--resonates with sadness and curiousity. Clearly the reconciliation of that discovery with his all-American Jewish upbringing is ongoing, and provides the background for this report.

It was only ten minutes but it was one of the most thrilling, and nuanced, reports I've ever seen. It tackled AIPAC--in a hysterically chill "hey dude" manner--and the American media's aversion to criticizing Israel, or its part in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

My culture shock wore off just a little. This show is a must-see.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Post

In a way I've jumped ship from livejournal, where much of what I post is to keep friends updated on my oh-so cosmopolitan life. This is a home for the urgent words I need to express as an East-West woman so that I might retain my sanity. I divide my time between the New-Old Dominion and the City of Gold. I'm both an authentic, native Arab and a native American who is unsure of her authenticity.

Bush is on his way out of office, but one of his legacies is a smoldering rift between Arab-Americans and America. Mr. 43 left me with a huge chip on my shoulder. Is it time to brush it off? I'll let you know as I keep tabs on the "post-racial" America that isn't even post-911.

This isn't political, because others are far better at that. I'm over the political blog; this is a CULTURE blog because... I'm in culture-shock.