Friday, January 16, 2009

Galileo, Iron Bladder Diplomacy and Cricket

Class might have ended yesterday, but the week is still going strong. This semester feels busy already. I spent last night editing submissions for the Public Diplomacy Magazine. I led the charge to nix one article, which simply was not good. I also finished my book review. After I was done, I went out last night with my classmate Kim and some of her friends to the Griffith Park Observatory, where I took in the planetarium. Very interesting, it's been a while since Galileo and I were close. The view over the Angels was stunning from the observatory, the lights of the city sparkled like emeralds and diamonds sequins on the black dress of the Angels. The view was dizzying- a fun night under the banner of heaven (nod to Harry).

Today I had the opportunity to interview Ambassador Edward Djerejian with my classmate Rima. It was fantastic, it's not every day that you get to interview such a distinguished fellow. He was the consummate diplomat. I won't get into the crux of the interview here, I will post it with the magazine. However, after the magazine interview was over, I got to ask him a few questions on his views regarding the Obama administration bringing Syria in from the cold and trying to revive the Israeli-Syrian peace process. He felt that the Obama administration was serious on engaging Syria as a means of furthering the Arab-Israeli peace process.

I also got to ask him a few questions on "iron bladder diplomacy." The late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad was known for giving lengthy lectures on the history of the Middle East, all while tea and coffee were being served. It was expected that no one would dare leave while he was on a lengthy talk- it was his way to test the endurance of his adversaries. I asked him if he ever considered a catheter as a solution. He laughed and said they had all sorts of plans and technological ideas to confront the bladder diplomacy, but nothing worked. He said he was simply thankful that he served as a younger man, because he didn't think he could withstand today.

After I finished a long day of editing and transcribing the interview, I was off to play cricket. Yes, really. I am joining the USC cricket club. I was the only gora on the field, and I was terrible! If this was a test match, I failed. I dropped three fly balls, it's hard with no mitt. I got out on my first batting appearance (I didn't know that the bat couldn't touch the wicket), then they felt bad for the poor farang, so they let me hit again. I promptly got out a second time. But everyone was really nice, and impressed that I wanted to learn- or at least patient. I will keep you all posted of my cricket travails, in the meantime...Shabbat Shalom!

PS: An interesting article about a Japanese Obama and caste class in the Land of the Rising Sun.


harsha kudoor said...

Hey paul...
Harsha here ( the indian from cromwell )... phew! great collection of snaps... both on picasa and flickr... u seem to have travelled around most of the world.. great blog. keep it going.. and yes i'd like to learn some stuff about photography from you...

Paul Rockower said...

Namaste Harsha,
It was nice to meet you too. Thanks for the warm words, see you at cricket.