|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line|
16 - 22 November 2000
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* World politicians may not have the an-wers to the Palestinian issue and many other ongoing problems that plague the Arab world, but students of the American University in Cairo (AUC) have found their own solutions. The 11th Cairo Inter-ational Model Arab League (CIMAL 2000) just ended last Sunday, after four days of intensive debating between the par-icipants on various issues covering fields such as economic cooperation and joint Arab defence forces. Although the essence of the conference is that it simulates the Arab League, to its participants it has be-ome far more than that. "It is a simulation of life," says Heba Daadouch, head of the Organising Committee.
This view seemed to be shared by prom-nent media figure Hamdi Qandil, who was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. Qandil expressed his pride in AUC students, and as an alumna you can imagine how gratified I was to hear him say such nice things about the young gen-ration of AUCians, who really deserved the compliment for the efforts they put in during the nine long months of prepara-ion. My dear young friend Khaled Ezz Al-Arab, secretary-general of CIMAL 2000, proudly told me that he considered MAL a ray of sun in his and the other par-icipants' academic life.
Hamdi Qandil at the podium; the Model Arab League in session
photo: Ahmed Abdel-Razek
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* And now, my dears, it pains me to an-ounce the impending departure of a spe-ial sweetheart of mine, India's Am-assador to Egypt Shiv Shankar Mukherjee. He leaves Cairo later in the month to become India's ambassador to South Africa.
Shiv's charm is that while he is suave and savvy in the old school fashion, he is also very sophisticated in the modern sense of the word. Always articulate and always entertaining, he has played host on numerous occasions to the most influential of Egypt's journalists and columnists -- yours truly included, of course. I shall always treasure the memory of the delightful gatherings at his official residence.
During his tenure in office he actively encouraged exchanges between India and Egypt, such as the India-Tech 2000 in September, which included a large delegation of Indian politicians and businessmen headed by Omar Abdullah, India's minister of state for commerce and industry. Shiv also facilitated the Made in India Exhibition, the G-15 Business Workshop and the Fifth Indian Jewelery Exhibition (I hope you did attend that one, dears, it was stunning). I know my dear Shiv shall be sorely missed. On behalf of Al-Ahram Weekly and his many friends, I wish him a pleasant and equal-y rewarding stay in South Africa.
Flamenco at the Opera
photo: Sherif Sonbol
* Since they danced and sang to a full house, I believe that you were all there, my little lambs, and as surprised as I was to discover that the espectàculo de cante y baile flamenco of the troupe of Car-en Linares and Antonio El Pipa was much more than what we are used to here. It really reminded me of the days of my youth, when I spend many a tardy hour with the gitanos in the smoky ta-ernas of Barcelona drinking Jerez... I particularly enjoyed Tia Juana la del Pipa, whose passionate, raucous voice stirred the audience, while the pas de deux that she danced with her son An-onio was a real joy to behold.
* What's that I hear you say, dears? You are plan-ing to head on down to Beit Khatun to admire Suzanne El-Masri's cov-ted creations, and perhaps purchase a pin or a pair of earrings? Excuse me, my pets, while I chortle heartily. I was there at the opening, and let me tell you, all Su-ie's fans descended upon her breathtaking art work -- jewellery doesn't seem to do it justice, somehow -- like a pack of starved wildebeest. You will be lucky if you can locate a trinket or two left behind by the ravaging hordes. Never have I heard such exclamations of wonder and awe, and rarely have I contemplated otherwise quite staid socialites in such a veritable frenzy of acquisitiveness. It must be said, of course, that these are not just accessories: intricately wrought by hand, each piece is shaped around a unique stone in shapes reminiscent of volcanic matter, or shells long polished by the waves... I succumb to transports of lyricism at the very thought.
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