Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I just have to sing my hymns to the silence (Van Morrison)

Two events to talk about this week - one - a trip to the Al Jazeera network which is based in Doha, and - two - the purchase of a book. I know, I know - can you cope with this level of excitement?

First - the book. I went into the I-Spy bookshop at the City Center mall to kill some time while Jacky bought some more cushions (please - don't ask). I wasn't really expecting to buy anything - I have three books in the waiting room - The Damned United (David Peace) and Moab is my Washpot (Stephen Fry) were bought in the UK recently and Colin has lent me The White Tiger by Aravind Singh.

However, as I walked in, a book immediately caught my eye - it was the cover that you see on the left, and I was semi-hooked. It was the title (A Book Of Silence) and the picture that did it. I opened it up and read the first sentence (I try to never read the blurb if I can help it. I figure that if I'm not interested after the first sentence I will not be interested by the rest).

It is early morning.

MMmmm, good, and it was enough to make me want to read the second sentence -

It is a morning of extraordinary radiance - and unusually up here there is practically no wind.

That was it! Case closed. Halas. I had to read the rest.

It's not been disappointing either now that I'm eighty pages in.

She details the search for silence in the wilds of Skye and analyses silence in a refreshing way. Pure silence, of course, is impossible to achieve. Right now I am typing this in our silent apartment. Well, there is a kind of silence because Jacky is having a nana nap in the bedroom so the music and TV are off, but with the AC going in the spare room (we still call it Jade's room), Najma's periodic chirps, the sound of the keys on the laptop making their noises, the chair scrapping on the floor above me, the low hum of traffic seven floors below, the creaking of my chair and my body noises all combined (we won't dwell on that) - it is hardly silent.

Sarah's book acknowledges that state of 'silence'and analyses her obsessions nicely. She's a writer and that helps too. While I have been reading it I have thought of my own (romantic and periodic) quests for silence. I can't do it. When I lived alone in 1982 while attending Teachers' College I had to have (loudish) background noise to stay sane, yet I love the idea of being a hermit, cut off from communication and alone with my self. I'm sure it would scare the pants off me if I ever found myself in that situation. Still - it's fun to read about Sarah's experiences and thoughts on silence.

And second, Al Jazeera TV network (Al Jazeera means the peninsula and is, in my humble opinion, just below the BBC in terms of quality). I went with Colin and friends from Cognition (one of the translator's husbands is one of the boss bananas at Al J). It was a most impressive facility - state of the art equipment/technology - after I got in that is. The gate man had issues with me - a lack of paperwork combined with his huge Jabba the Hutt presence and sidearm had me a tad nervous for a bit. I realised as he sought the correct approval from inside that unlike NZ TV the media in places like Qatar is a powerful base which is a key target for any potential dissenting voices. I was very polite! And repeated my name clearly every time he asked me for it (which was a lot!).

Here are the photies - taken on my new toy (I have treated myself to a new camera - a Canon EOS 1000D with telephoto lens thrown in as part of the bargain).

I took this about 30 seconds before the Arabic presenters took up their spots. The photo below is of some of the robotic cameras that film the studio presenters.

A brilliant display area shows some of the history associated with Al Jazeera.

I was taken by this picture attached to a work station.

A control room in the Arabic language complex - there is a second English language complex as well as Al Jazeera documentary and Al Jazeera sports (which we couldn't visit - that one is more security conscious than the others for some reason).

Love and peace - Wozza

No comments: