|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
5 - 11 October 2000
Issue No. 502
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of Cards
By Madame Sosostris
* One of the loveliest receptions I have attended in a long time is the one held by Australian Ambassador Victoria Owen at her elegant Zamalek residence to celebrate the Sydney Olympic Games. As I was getting ready to make my usual much-noticed entrance, I heard hurried steps climbing the stairs behind me and I was unceremoniously pushed out of the way by a gentleman in running shoes carrying a torch, which he handed eagerly to Victoria. She had donned an Olympic T-shirt for the occasion, and looked the true sportswoman. The bar was thereby declared open, but the guests preferred to crowd around our delightful hostess and the enthusiastic torch bearer, who was none other than my dear friend Maged Farag. Out on the terrace leading to the charming garden, an excellent band performed while various views of Sydney were shown on the wall of the next-door building acting as a giant screen. And that was not all, my darlings; as I walked gracefully around, I met everyone in Cairo that is worth meeting although I must confess that conversation was not the high point of the evening. Victoria, who is certainly among my very favourite ambassadors, had made sure that her guests would be served an amazing quantity of delicious tidbits, which kept their mouths full and their attention riveted on the waiters passing huge trays laden with appetisers.
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* And since good things come in packs, my diplomatic agenda included another soirée worth a million of its kind. Cypriot Ambassador James C Droushiotis personally sent yours truly an invitation to his country's 40th anniversary celebration held on 2 October at the Gezira Sheraton. Who could decline such an invitation? So, off I went garbed in a slinky number fit for Aphrodite -- the Greek goddess (and Cyprus native) who, legend dictates, rose from the foam of the sea.
When I arrived (an hour or so later than the indicated time), the Versailles hall of the grand hotel was buzzing with activity. Some 200 guests mingled, nibbling away at the sumptuous feast set up in the centre of the hall. At the furthest extremity, a large screen depicted historical, cultural and political realities on the Mediterranean island -- from souvlaki parties to the de facto division that has plagued the country since 1974. The German ambassador was among those in attendance, as was Armenian Ambassador Sergey Manassarian, Australian Ambassador Victoria Owen, Ethiopian Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis, Russian Ambassador Andrey Ivanovich Denisov and US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer. I had the good pleasure of meeting Dennis C Droushiotis, who came to visit his look-alike brother on this festive occasion. Droushiotis is trade commissioner with the Cyprus Embassy Trade Center in New York. I chatted with Nikolaos Papaconstantinou, newly appointed press counselor at the Greek Embassy, who was posted in Ankara before coming to Cairo. From the Al Ahram family, I noted writer Hassan Fouad, the Weekly's international page editor Gamal Nkrumah, and passe-partout Tanya Goudsouzian. Apart from diplomats and journalists, there was also a large Greek community presence, including clergymen from the Greek Orthodox church. Everyone agreed the Cyprus embassy staff had pulled together a superb reception.
* My dear colleague Reham El-Adawi has just attended a most amazing festival entitled "Peter Patzak: Between Cinema and Plastic Art," which was inaugurated by the Austrian Ambassador to Cairo Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, the Cairo Opera House Secretary-General Mohamed El-Homsani and Austrian artist Peter Patzak at Al-Hanager Centre. There she met a bevy of well-known figures including Al-Hanager Director Hoda Wasfi, actress Laila Eloui and many other high-profile personalities. The festival, running till 8 October, showcases works that depict Patzak as a film director, painter and author.
It will feature six of the artist's best movies, an exhibition of some of his paintings at the Opera Art Gallery, and a workshop, run by Patzak himself and gathering students from the Faculty of Fine Arts, as well as the Cinema Institutes of Cairo and Vienna. Cinema and art lovers can flock to www.peter-patzak.com to become fully acquainted with his entire oeuvre.
"Patzak is well recognised in western Germany as a film expert, writer and painter. Although he is a key figure in the Austrian cinema of the '70s, his main field is the German TV where he made smashing hits and received numerous prizes," commented Trauttmansdorff at a press conference that preceded the festival, presided over by Opera Director Samir Farag. The artist's rich career inspired festival head Dessouqi Said to compile an Arabic book titled Peter Patzak: An Austrian Legend in Cinema and Plastic Art.