Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hafteh-e Aval

Before starting the work week, I spent some time with my cousin visiting Kabob Bazaar, a Persian restaurant in Arlington, VA. We then drove back into DC and then spent time walking around Washington, D.C. and visiting the Sackler and Freer Galleries. The Sackler has several interesting exhibits, including an extraordinary exhibit on the Shahnameh. The exhibit has amazing artwork and does a wonderful job showing the history of the Shahnameh and re-telling Ferdowsi’s epic stories. The Sackler website has images of the pages as well as all of the detailed information about them. The exhibit will be at the Sackler until April 17th. For more information, please click here.

(Jamshid is at the left, and Zal & the Simorgh are on the right).
Working in the capital for one week has been great so far. Being back in a big city is such a welcome change from Michigan, especially since I escaped the epic blizzard that caused Michigan State University to have its first snow day since 1975 and did this to one of the busiest streets in Grand Rapids:
Since I basically arrived here and immediately jumped right in, I didn’t ever really have time to figure out public transportation before starting work. DC just confirms my beliefs that every place that calls itself a city should have a metro system (or an el train for Chicago). But, unlike the metros in New York City and Madrid, a commuter cannot purchase monthly passes. While monthly passes are expensive, they are always great investments for frequent metro users and save the commuter money. In Washington, D.C., no such monthly pass exists and rides for all public transportation systems must be purchased individually each way. Additionally, the price for the metro ranges from approximately $2.00 to $5.00 each way (yes, interns should actually get paid) depending upon the time of day. So, I have resigned myself to the bus. There are a myriad of bus companies in DC but one of the cheapest and most convenient is the red Circulator bus. The lines run back and forth through the major parts of Washington, D.C., and the buses come every 10 minutes. At $1.00 per ride and free transfers for an hour, the Circulator makes getting around the city relatively easy.
There are also so many different organizations with three or four letter acronyms that it is impossible to keep them all straight. I’m beginning to think that 26 letters in the English alphabet is insufficient for DC. In working for one of these acronyms, I have also learned how small non-profit organizations can actually be. However, there are also a lot of important and well-connected people in DC and with prominent organizations hosting events daily, there are unprecedented opportunities to interact with the foremost thinkers in various fields. And all of them are addicted to their blackberries. As part of my daily tasks, I have written drafts of current events, drafted an article for the group’s newsletter, contributed in brainstorming sessions, as well as plowing through website database management work.
In addition to work-related events, I had the opportunity to attend the Eurasia Foundation’s Armenian-Turkish Musical Evening concert. The event was held at the Cosmos Club and featured several extremely talented Armenian and Turkish musicians. One of the best songs performed was written by A. Khachaturian called “Maaryam.” There were people taking real photographs, but I was extra classy and snuck a cell phone shot.
There are two interesting film festivals in February that I have heard about thus far. The first is the Iranian Film Festival 2011 at the Sackler and Freer Galleries. Every weekend, on Fridays (7:00pm) and Sundays (2:00pm), a recent Iranian film is shown. On the final Sunday, February 27th, there will be a three-film documentary special called “Art, Politics, and Women’s Voices in Iran.” For more information about the Sackler and Freer Galleries’ film screenings, please visit their website.
I just learned this past Thursday from a fellow commuter on the bus that the National Museum of African Art also has its own film festival, the North African Film Festival. Luckily, the films are on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm and do not conflict with the Sackler’s showtimes. The films are free and also include moderated discussions with leading film directors, critics, and scholars. Because the films are free, the venue filled up quickly. I tried to make it to Cairo Time, but the room had already been filled to total capacity and security was not admitting anyone else. Hopefully, I will be able to attend more after work.
On Sunday, February 20th, there will be a roundtable discussion of Algerian cinema, sponsored by Howard University and the Algerian Ministry of Culture, and will feature Danny Glover, Ahmed Bedjaoui, Rachid Bouchareb, and Manthia Diawara. Should be very interesting. I’ll be sure to ask Danny where the angels are.


Anonymous said...

I am glad you are getting involved and enjoying it right off the bat. DC is incredible and should be experienced by everyone of any age and background at least once. Having lived there briefly it is specially important for the younger generation to become engaged with it at some point and sooner than later. I love your posting and enjoyed reading it. Take all you can in see what you think.

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