20 June 2010

Refugee Week in London, Vienna and Kuala Lumpur!

Alright, my original intention was to post the events in these three countries separately. However, due to lack of available information online, I am going to summarise them all in the third and last post in the Refugee Week series!

Since I would spend the better part of Refugee Week in Vienna, I desperately googled for any events happening there. I was therefore really excited to learn about a public lecture on "The EU's Asylum and Border Policy: On Human Rights Perspectives and Questions of Extra-Territoriality" hosted by the Ludwig Boltzmann Insitute for Human Rights (THE think tank on human rights in Austria) in the Diplomatic Academy Vienna. Panelists were certainly promising an interesting debate: Manfred Nowak (UN Special Rapporteur for Torture), Heinz Patzelt (General Secretary of the AI Austria Section) and a third person from a European Migration Research Platform. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances!!!

As far as I could fathom, AI did not organise any particular event on its own and alternative events were limited to a free screening of Nina Kusturica's award-winning documentary "Little Alien" about unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers on their way to Europe (trailer available HERE). This was followed by a discussion with the director, one of the protagonists of the movie and UNHCR in the latter's office. The movie falls into this year's UNHCR slogan, "They took my home but they can't take away my future".

Generally though, there appeared to be little publicity around WRD, compared to similar annual events in Austria like Holocaust Memorial Day and the yearly Christmas fundraising concert on national TV, "Nachbar in Not" (lit. neighbour in distress), an appeal founded in 1992 in response to the Yugoslavian war and has since been re-launched for the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 and the Haitian Earthquake this year.

United Kingdom
In the whole of the UK in contrast, around 500 events were advertised on the online platform for Refugee Week, comprising community events, public lectures, fairs, fundraisers, workshops by or exclusively for refugees and concerts by refugee artists. In addition, you could participate in the Simple Acts campaign which promotes a series of simple acts everyone can do which would make a huge difference to how refugees would be perceived in the UK.

An event of special interest to me was the photo exhibition on the stateless Rohingya people (who live between Bangladesh and Burma) by an award-winning Bangladeshi photographer. Luckily, an online photo gallery has been made available after the closure of the exhibition in Brick Lane's East Gallery and you can access the pictures HERE on UNHCR UK's media website.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur...
... Malaysians could "walk a mile in a refugee's shoes" in KL Sentral, the capital's main train station frequented by 100 000 commuters and other passengers every day. I could not think of a better idea to raise visibility of refugees in KL! The stunt, organised by UNHCR Malaysia and also advertised in TimeOut KL featured cultural performances by refugees themselves and hand-made arts & crafts for sale on site. Also, a selection of Malaysian celebrities contributed as well. You can read up on the event on Malaysiakini HERE (there's even a video clip HERE!) and in UNHCR Malaysia's own official press release HERE.

Any notable events in YOUR area? Feel free to share them in a comment!

19 June 2010

Refugee Week in Oxford: Different Pasts, Shared Futures

Imagine my surprise when one jolly revision afternoon at Blackwell's, I found a stack of colourful flyers advertising a public meeting on refugees with very interesting speakers in - the Oxford Town Hall, which at first I found a quite unusually high profile venue. That was before I learned that in addition to some other long-standing traditions and institutions, Oxford has been home to an established refugee community as well. There are also a handful of local organisations attempting to offer all kinds of services to new arrivals (befriending, signposting, English language teaching, art...), some of which also campaign on a national level for the improvement of the asylum system. In fact, Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty (the NGO campaigning for civil liberties and human rights in the UK) said that she received far more speech invitations from Oxford than anywhere else in the country. Intrigued by the unexpected apparent existence of a local refugee community, I later set about to find out more. I pasted a short introduction below:

"Those born and brought up in the UK are privileged not to have had reason to flee their home country, and the stability that exists in the UK can sometimes make it difficult to understand the desperate circumstances that have led refugees to abandon their homes, jobs, families, friends and all that is familiar to them. But it is to Oxfordshire’s advantage to welcome them and the skills and abilities they bring. Some have previously worked as entrepreneurs, or farmers. Some are doctors, nurses, teachers or journalists. Others bring construction and engineering skills. Many are now contributing to Oxfordshire’s community and economy, in education, the NHS, in manufacturing, distribution, catering and many other jobs on which we all depend.

In 1914 Belgian refugees fleeing the First World War were welcomed in Bicester and Finmere. In the 1930s refugee academics from Nazi Germany found sanctuary at the University of Oxford. More recently, when Campsfield House in Kidlington became an immigration detention centre, some of those whose asylum claims were successfully settled in the county on their release.

There is great diversity amongst the individuals who are often lumped together as ‘refugees and asylum seekers’. The estimated 2,500 refugees living in Oxfordshire have fled from persecution or war in over 50 countries and speak over 50 languages."

- Taken from Refugee Resource.

Even more fascinating considering my recent re-discovery of poetry and my intention to research some refugee-related poetry to blog, I nearly jumped a metre in the air when I learned that somebody else already has had this ingenious idea:

"Oxford Poets and Refugees project is an initiative of the Poetry Centre and Oxford-based charity Asylum Welcome. It has brought 14 established poets together with 14 refugees and asylum seekers to work collaboratively on some new poetry.

It has been funded by the Arts Council, with support from Asylum Welcome, Refugee Resource, and Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre.

A collection of work arising from these collaborations has now been published.

The collection - See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers (Heaventree Press, 2009) - features a Foreword by Shami Chakrabarti, and includes a new sonnet sequence by John Fuller and the opening of a novel-in-progress by David Dabydeen."

- From the project's website where you can also buy a copy for £10 + £2 P&P.

The Meeting:
Around 300 people turned up for the event: Some refugees, some second or third generation refugees, some involved with refugees in one or the other way. There apparently also was an elderly British guy who was escorted out for causing some kind of commotion by shouting that refugees come to the UK to take away people's jobs and to live on government money (I was a bit late as I had had something to do in London and so I missed that part). One of the topics discussed were the right of asylum-seekers to work: Currently, they are not allowed to and must live on food vouchers (for selected supermarkets and selected items) which are I believe, set at 70% of the amount a British person supposedly spends on average. Another topic was the new administration's pledge to end child detention (read more about it HERE). For those of you not familiar with the UK asylum system: In the UK, asylum seekers are generally held in one of about ten detention centres which are basically run like prisons. People have to stay there while they wait for a determination on their status which as you can imagine, can take months. Those with children are detained with them. Although of course the end of child detention is to be welcomed, this raises the question whether children are going to be separated from their parents and used as bargaining chip in the application process. The panel discussed what the (workable) alternatives were.

Another important topic to discuss was the access to and standard of legal aid. It seems that there have been some changes to the management of legal aid so that lawyers now get paid at the end of a case rather than in regular periods and the largest specialist not-for-profit organisation involved in providing legal aid to asylum seekers and other migrants, Refugee and Migrant Justice, had to go into administration recently as a result of this change in policy, resulting in a lot of criticism and an urgent motion in the Houses of Parliament. Outside of dedicated legal networks, there reportedly are some cowboy legal aid lawyers in the UK who visit you once in detention to collect your signature to get paid - never to be seen again. Also, if your case has been completely destroyed by the Home Office (officers are frequently reported to try to catch you out on inconsistencies and gaps in your interview and from my own experience in working with asylum seekers in the UK, I know that often, the application as summarised by the Home Office after the interview and the personal account of the person in question differ quite a bit in the most crucial points. There are several reasons why this can occur: Availability of translators during the interview, different ways of communicating and organising information even if English language skills are given, lack of evidence or identification (difficult to obtain for obvious reasons) but also - and this is no exaggeration or propaganda but the sad truth - the Home Office trying to substantially reduce the number of asylum applications by misconstructing your story. In order to go for appeal, your case needs to have at least 50% chance of winning which is hard to argue (but not impossible) if your case has just been completely destroyed. If your country is on a list of so-called "safe countries", your case won't even be looked at and you get deported straight on arrival. Controversially, Iraq is one of the countries on this list (read HERE for example about the deportation of about 40 Iraqis earlier this week).

At the event, there also was a ton of leaflets, newspapers and annual reports available - and a discount on the poetry book as well as on the following publication available on Amazon (£8.99):

This is a collection of photographs and interviews with refugees, who have made their home in Oxford after leaving their countries due to persecution. Some have been here for a few weeks, some for more than 50 years. Many have made huge contributions to our society as doctors and philosophers, students, businesspeople, artists and teachers. These are extraordinary stories of courage, endurance and humour. "This is not a book about how refugees are human beings just like the rest of us. Most of them have experiences the rest of cannot even begin to comprehend. It is a book about how some extraordinary people become an important part of who we all are." - Mark Heddon, the co-editor.

Hmmm! I can only hope that they have the two books in the local library! I am currently job-hunting in two countries and actively unwinding in my home town Vienna but I would like to try to get reprint licenses for not more than a handful of poems to post on my blog when I find the time eventually. I have also been speaking an awful lot of German lately, so please forgive me if my style on this post is not up to standard.

Hope to see you on next year's town hall meeting!

13 June 2010

Refugee Week: Brightwide (Online Film Festival)

Welcome to Refugee Week, a yearly week of events, exhibitions, celebrations etc around World Refugee Day!

Many of you know of my passion for independent movie, in particular documentaries as well as social and political cinema. On this blog, I previously posted about the BFI London Film Festival 2009, movies of interest for Human Rights Day and most recently, Cinema Jenin.

I could therefore not think of a better way to kick off Refugee Week (details following soon), than by presenting an online film festival!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you: Brightwide!
A while ago at SOAS, I received an email notice about a free screening of Michael Winterbottom's "In This World" in the Khalili Lecture Theatre, with a following Q&A about "Refugees and obstacles to reaching protection" with:

Chris Nash - Head of Refugees and Migrant Rights Team, International Secretariat, Amnesty International;
Joanna Oyediran - Sudan Program Officer, Open Society Institute East Africa Initiative;
Tinyebwa Agaband - MA Law student at SOAS, former child soldier and refugee who fled to the UK in 2003.

Naturally, I was thrilled (and you can read up the event on the SOAS Film Society's Blog HERE or in more detail directly on Brightwide's blog HERE). The event was organised by Brightwide, a less than one year old organisation and quite innovative "social business" that aims to engage larger and younger audiences in contemporary issues by providing a platform for independent film-makers to present their work, stimulate demand and a give opportunities to spark a discussion between film viewers, film makers, activists, artists and campaigners:

Furthermore, "the Brightwide web community is the hub where film-makers, opinion leaders, artists and campaigners interact with an inquisitive audience that wants to be well-informed, connected and involved." (from their flyer)

Brightwide was founded by actor Colin Firth (read about the exciting launch event at the London Film Festival HERE) who as some of you might know, has been quite engaged in human rights and refugee issues himself. Partners include Oxfam, WWF, Amnesty International and Refugee Action.

To bring us back to Refugee Week, Brightwide will screen six movies on their online platform which will be available to watch for £9.99 for ALL six movies for the following two weeks (after that, they will be available in their online library for £2.99 each). If that's not an invitation!

So, the first and only online refugee film festival I know of was launched with an offline screening at the BFI Southbank:

"Chair Channel 4 News broadcaster Samira Ahmed will be joined by directors Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen), Mat Whitecross (Road to Guantanamo, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Moving to Mars), and Kenny Glenaan (Summer, Gas Attack, Yasmin) and cultural commentator Professor Terence Wright of Ulster University for this unique event"

You can read all about the reception on THIS link (posted 11 June 2010) and BFI's own pitch for the event called "From Casablanca to Calais - Exile on Celluloid" HERE.
You can also follow Brightwide on Facebook and Twitter.

Without further ado then, the six movies (I tried to find trailers wherever I could):

Moving to Mars – Million miles from Burma (dir: Mat Whitecross, 90min)
Moving to Mars portrays the tender and humorous story of two families of Burmese refugees, as their arrival in the UK from a Thai refugee camp changes their lives completely.

Welcome (dir: Philippe Lioret, 110min)
Scooping numerous awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Welcome tells the story of Bilal, a young Kurdish refugee ready to do anything to be reunited with his girlfriend in England.

No One Knows About Persian Cats (dir: Bahman Ghobadi, 105 min, Special Jury Prize of Un Certain regard Competition, Cannes 2009)
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Un Certain Regard in Cannes, No One Knows About Persian Cats is a moving account of young artists struggling to freely express themselves in the contemporary underground rock scene in Iran.

In this World (dir: Michael Winterbottom, 80 min, Golden Bear in Berlin 2003)
In This World follows the journey of two Afghan boys from a refugee camp in Pakistan as they attempt to reach Europe and rebuild their lives.

La Forteresse (dir: Fernand Melgar, 88min, Golden Leopard in Locarno 2008)
For the first time, a camera looks into the hidden world of a Swiss reception centre for asylum seekers. Awarding it the Golden Leopard, the Locarno festival jury cited La Forteresse as “a remarkably sensitive film exhibiting profound human intelligence.”

Machan (dir: Uberto Passolini, 106 min)
Machan relates the hilarious story of the players on a fake Sri Lankan handball team who enter an international competition in Germany in order to immigrate.

If you are interested in refugee/human rights-related film festivals, I would like to highlight the following:
_Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (NOW June in New York, see website)
_International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (October 2010 in Glasgow, see website)
_Oxford Brookes University Human Rights Film Festival (February/March 2010 but watch their website for next year's event)
_United Nations Association Film Festival (travelling world-wide, check UNAFF website for dates)
_Amnesty International Austria Human Rights Film Festival (December 2010 in Vienna, Austria; proudly started last year! Website)
_UNHCR Film Festival (October 2010 in Tokyo, see website)
Alternatively, have a look for one in your area in the world on the website of the Human Rights Film Network (watch out for those in Bahrain and Addis Ababa!).

08 June 2010

Cinema Jenin: Coming Soon!

"The Heart of Jenin"

In 2005, Ismael’s 11 year old son Ahmed was shot down by the Israeli army. Despite his grief, Ismael decides to donate his son’s organs to Israeli children thus saving their lives. One and a half years after his decision, Ismael travels through Israel to meet the children he has helped and their families. It is a journey through a territory marked by prejudice.

Cinema Jenin
By definition, a cinema is a place where people gather to view films. In the West Bank town of Jenin, it was the other way round: a film has made hundreds of people gather to bring the vision of a cinema to life. War has closed it more than 20 years ago - we cannot wait for peace to reopen it. Instead: why not try it the other way round again?

Watch the great official trailer about the movie project in high definition here:

The cinema is scheduled to open its doors to the public in August 2010 in a glamorous event. The local team currently involved in the renovation process will act as the core management team. Together with a group of young and old people from Jenin, parts of whom are already receiving technical training, they will be running the cinema. The cinemas programming will be supervised by a board of directors that consists of local dignitaries, Palestinian and international film makers. It is planned to have six screenings along with other activities every day. In each section the audience can vote for the films they liked most. These films will be shown on weekends.

The official ticket price will be 5 NIS (1 EUR). It is hard to estimate the number of daily visitors to the cinema. Yet, the combined offering of screenings and performances inside the cinema and in its open air part as well as the garden with its cafeteria are believed to attract a lot of people also from outside Jenin. The business plan calculations are based upon a conservative minimum of 300 visitors a day, a number which should increase through the offering of additional activities. These will include educational screenings in cooperation with schools and special programs for women to include these important target groups. Film and theatre workshops in cooperation with local and international partners will get more people involved in the cinema. At the same time, the stages of Cinema Jenin will serve as the venues to present all cultural goods created this way, including (short) films, theatre plays, music concerts, etc. as well as for private feats such as weddings. The cultural center that Cinema Jenin is becoming will not only increase Jenins overall attractiveness but also reintegrate the isolated region into an international cultural discourse.

Become a part of this vision: Become a volunteer and/or offer a workshop:
There are many talented and open minded people in Jenin. Help to enable the locals to run this project by themselves, organizing a workshop in your field of expertise. We are looking to qualify people, potentially working for our project. But as we are committed to the idea of sustainabilitiy, we would also like to work with kids not only to increase the skillpool for further activities, but also to offer job opportunities in Jenin.

Currently we are looking for experts to share their knowledge in the fields of:


Let there be Light
To complete our existing team, we need lighting engineers and technicians to help us set up the Cinema lighting, but especially for knowledge transfer: Our goal is to qualify local technicians to run and maintain the lights system independently as soon as possible.

We need an expert sound master to set up the Cinema sound system and to help qualify locals to be able to manage and maintain the important sound system when the cinema will be running. Furthermore, we will begin to build up our subtitling and synchronization studios, starting this summer. Knowledge transfer, the further qualification of local staff for these tasks is an essential component of this part of our project.

This is not an exclusive list. If you have different qualifications and ideas, you need more information or want to start a workshop soon, please contact us: info@cinemajenin.org.

The project is financed by the German Foreign Office, Arte, Kodak, the Sundance Institue, the Goethe-Institut Ramallah, AirBerlin and many others. "The heart of Jenin" won the German Film Prize in 2010.

N/B: The majority of the the text and all the pictures in this post is directly taken from Cinema Jenin's official website.

Oxford Backstage – Fragments of a Working Holiday

"And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,/ She needs not June for beauty's heightening".

Hi guys. Oxford being Oxford, I am sure that you have all been burning for this post. My situation being my situation, I did not write about this beautiful city earlier. That does not mean though, that I have not been scribbling ideas on the edges of old power point slides. Below you find my impressions of the last two months, loosely put together.

Out of the Metropolis: A Breath of Fresh Air
Alright, I said I would be offline until Monday but after spending up to eight hours straight in the library Monday to Sunday, I feel the need to blog.

Oxford is a lovely town, even more so in spring. The branches of blooming Magnolia trees adorn old stone walls stretching along the side of the road up to a bridge overlooking a low canal with a promenade leading you downstream to where a small group of houseboat owners live.
Historic church-like sandstone buildings radiate a warm golden glow everywhere around the city centre and light up beautifully in the sun. Pedestrians and cyclists who occasionally dodge one of the many buses, give the city a rather bohemian-bourgeois character reflected in the kind of fashion displayed in the shop windows on the busy High Street. Basques of all kinds perform on Cornmarket Street, the central pedestrian zone and meeting place. I have heard some fine acoustic guitarists there, sometimes playing right outside HSBC and making the trip to the bank actually worthwile. Even HSBC is different though. The reception is more formal and “professional” in the European sense and the more mature staff generally more knowledgeable compared to busy London drive-throughs. Also, the bank does not look like a dump.

Everything is within walking distance and I have already made out some beautiful places to rest in, such as the Buttery in Broad Street (their warm chocolate & pecan nut brownie with fresh clotted cream is to die for!) or the first floor cafe inside Blackwells wherefrom you are on level with the thoughtful stone faces of the Old Bodleian Library opposite while indulging in contemporary poetry and snuggling into your window seat. This cafe has also turned into my alternative academic library for Blackwell aims to provide all books on Oxford University reading lists and has a VAST room in the basement stocking everything from Philosophy over Medicine to International Relations. Staff is generally very enthusiastic and helpful – like real librarians! Only once did a lady in her fifties ask me how to spell “catastrophe” when I enquired for a book. By the way, the terms and conditions for the free wifi on the Oxford Tube talks about “interlectual” property rights – What irony!


Get me out of here, I'm no monkey!
No six-letter word evokes as much awe and is as pregnant with projected symbols as “Oxford”. It allows you to charge £140 per week for an English language course and draw the respect of anyone whom you proudly present your student card with the dark blue strip on top.

Studying in the grass outside Christ Church Cathedral in high season is like studying in a zoo – with you as the animal. I was sitting under a tree to enjoy the sun without baking in it while reading a book to prepare for an exam. Tourists, instead of walking in the middle of the way in the hot sun, prefer to walk under the shadow of the trees and just so inconspicuously peek at your reading with an admiring smile when they walk past, obviously taking me for a local student. Often, when new people in the hostel ask me what it is that I do and I reply that I am a student, they immediately ask me with large eyes if I am an Oxford student.

But look at me talking! When I first came here, I was observing other students too and at one point found myself with my folder in Starbucks surrounded to 90 % by groups of East Asians staring into their iBooks, plugged into their iPods and their designer bags tucked neatly to the side, fancy stationery scattered across the table. What a cliché, I thought to myself. And me right in the middle with my mini stapler and large pins and mini colouring pens.

Nightlife is a bit of a different matter. That is where you see hundreds of US-American style donned-up and made-up and dressed-up students letting out their inner beast. Scantily clad girls on high heels dress to impress or perhaps it is just the clubs around my area.


Oxford – The City where people dream to aspire*
On first coming to Oxford, one immediately notices that the city is full of very athletic young people, apparently always on the way to sports practice (every college has its own gym and those that do not, offer free gold memberships in local gyms; you also see a lot of students engaged in ball games every day in the University Parks) or music practice or at this time of the year, the library or exams – easily recognisable by their subfusc they have to wear during the examination (if you do not wear it you can be failed in your exam unless of course your professor does not properly wear their own gown).

Indeed, much of the city reminds me of Vienna or the nearby town I went to school in: The “middle-class” flair, the green spaces and groomed vista of urban architecture, the overviewable character of town – you can walk, cycle or take the bus everywhere. The student flair similar to any student city like Cambridge or Leiden. My most frequent haunt was the Social Science Library – part of a modern glass and concrete complex to the Eastern outskirts of the city. The library has recently absorbed the previously separately located Refugee Studies Centre collection, the probably greatest collection of its kind world-wide. I swear, the first time I picked up my requested items, it was like touching gold! I am sure many researchers and other relic hunters who come to Oxford to access Bodleian collections in any of the around 40 locations share the same feeling.

The canteen on top of the library serves hot food for £3.50 to every one who walks in – the closest you get in Oxford to Hare Krishna food. It also makes a great place for brainspotting. Once, while writing my essay there, I could not but stare in voyeuristic intrigue at a representative of the more snobbish variety of Oxford undergraduate student who for nearly 30 minutes (!) practically entertained her two companions entirely on her own through a self-indulgent soliloquy on some political scientist's hypothesis – which thanks to her penetrating airy voice (√† la Luna Lovegood), made it impossible for me to get my work done. Her male companion would agree hastily every seven minutes or so without being able to articulate much why but his body language spoke volumes: Most of the time, he leaned back widely in his chair with his hands behind his head, showing off his athletic chest and strong arms. The third person, a girl appeared to be bored or unimpressed but anxious to be found out, especially when she noticed me watching.


My hostel world
To begin with, staying in a hostel was a bit of a daunting prospect at first. I arrived alone late at night in an unfamiliar city with two suitcases, a backpack and a bag full of scavenged food from my London kitchen cupboard and expected not to get too much sleep.

Ultimately though, I met some of the nicest people with whose help I finally managed to overcome some of my issues. They also reassured my faith in people. I met a OU researcher from Marseille on the lookout for a flat who daily practised his juggling skills when he was not playing his Balalaika (absolutely impressing a Russian girl who just came from participating in the Irish Dance championships in Glasgow) and who taught me how to Salsa. He also goes to work in Rwandan clothes. I overheard his boss saying that he (the boss, a Professor and the most refined English gentleman I have met) actually had a working class background which you would never be able to tell. I also befriended a multicultural but mostly German-minded biochemistry PhD who currently drives taxis until she finds a job. Her wisdom and knowledge of human nature are impressive. There also briefly was a merry and cheeky middle-aged man from West England who had come all the way to Oxford with his wife for her to have a surgery the doctors would not agree to do elsewhere. His wife, I should mention, is physically disabled but tests outdoor sports for other disabled people and then publishes them as editor in a dedicated magazine!

Currently, I am sharing a room with a smart Polish student doing a research project in Oxford as part of her PhD in Stanford. The other girl is a professional model/actress from New Zealand who could just as well kicked ass in Genetics. I also met a funny guy from a North Italian village (50 people in winter, 200 souls in summer) who did not speak any English apart from “Hello” “How are you” “Thank you” “Me too”. Although he retains a strong and somewhat endearing Italian accent, I have to say his English has improved substantially in only two months. There also is a woman from Spain who did her PhD on olive oil there and has been hired as a botanist by a rich family in Oxford and previously, by the Madrid City Council. There also was a Spanish teacher from Argentina who had previously evaluated Masters programmes for the Argentinian Ministry of Education and is now looking for consulting jobs with “the big four”. As I said, a lot of interesting people in about to do something - a great company to be with if you are an in-between as well.

As for what comes next for me, that is a matter for another blog post entirely!

*Oxford is often referred to as the “city of dreaming spires”, referring to the “harmonious architecture of the old buildings”, after a poem by Matthew Arnold in 1865. The two relevant lines are excerpted at the beginning of this post.

05 June 2010


Two months it has been since I last entertained you with a post. Many of you are aware of the things that happened in the meantime. I shall not repeat them here and give them more space than they have already taken.

How often in the last few weeks I longed to jump back onto the blogosphere and I've been keeping lists of things to write about and snippets of intriguing newspaper articles, flyers and other material. I was planning to give you Oxford backstage, literature and the new media, Burmese theatre, the Gaza aid flotilla, diaspora art and give you a sample of the soundscapes in The Big City.

Discovering my joy in contemporary poetry, I intend to write a poem myself telling the tale of my past several weeks.

But today - today, I just want to write something. Anything. I have never felt this exhausted in my life. It is like crawling towards the finish line of a five-year marathon to collapse with your outstretched fingers 2cm away from victory.
No podium, no handshake, no ceremony.

I can well need a holiday. I am looking forward to the times when I can just READ and won't get a static cracking in my head where words should be, when I can walk into a library without the shelves blurring into tunnels of terror.

I am just tired, so tired. All I want is just to go home.