All posts tagged: Jennifer Acker

The Common Statement

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I’ve been watching the Qasr al Hosn. Watching it since I arrived in August. The boarded-up block below my office window withholds this oldest structure in Abu Dhabi—the whitewashed fort—and the arch-studded building of the Cultural Foundation. The block has so much potential, but for months, nothing’s happened. Or, I’ll see a kick up of dust and realize it was the wind.

The Common Statement
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From the 17th Floor: Second Look

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I’ve been watching the Qasr al Hosn. Watching it since I arrived in August. The boarded-up block below my office window withholds this oldest structure in Abu Dhabi—the whitewashed fort—and the arch-studded building of the Cultural Foundation. The block has so much potential, but for months, nothing’s happened. Or, I’ll see a kick up of dust and realize it was the wind.

From the 17th Floor: Second Look
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From the 17th Floor: Rajasthan, For Example

To reach Kumbhalgarh, one drives two hours north from the charming lake city of Udaipur through the Aravalli Mountains. Until the end, the climb is gradual, and the countryside is rock-strewn and brown, save for the flames of the forest, the shocking orange flowers blooming from dead-looking branches. (When the rains come, the flowers will fall, and the trees’ wide green leaves will be used for plates.) But just when the roadside rhythms have slowed to match the bullock-pulled wheels drawing water from the wells, a throng of pink and orange and yellow saris jump into the road and halt the car. It’s the week of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, and these women extract a few rupees in exchange for a fierce bit of dancing.

From the 17th Floor: Rajasthan, For Example
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Doing a Dérive; Or, Walking 2.0

Late afternoon, late January. I need air, exercise, but my regular walk around Al Manhal Palace is too long; the construction en route to the Corniche too hazardous to navigate. I try to take comfort in the company of my own mind, but today I am a terrible person to be with. Wandering, uninspired, brain-stuck, I find myself in the middle of ten lanes of traffic on a median barely wider than a balance beam. Grumpy as all get out as hot exhaust blasts me by. I need to move, but I have nowhere to go.

Doing a Dérive; Or, Walking 2.0
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From the 17th Floor: Cuttings

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We know that they are coming, but we don’t know when. The glass is smeared with brown dust, and some have complained. We may have been among the complainers.

The first sign is the hand mop dropped down from a higher floor. Dangles there, on the other side of the window pane, like a body part. Next a bucket tilted with supplies—more cloths, squeegees—and a cluster of bottles filled with fluid heavily knocking each other.

From the 17th Floor: Cuttings
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From the 17th Floor: A Shelter and a Point of View

 By JENNIFER ACKER 

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Dates

“That’s the best date I ever had,” I said. I was speaking to the young women with the latte skin and uncovered, long dark hair, but also to the serious-looking Emirati man who had wandered over because I was the only thing happening. Mid-week, midafternoon, the date festival was nearly deserted, save a few clusters of Indian men, single Western men in suits with briefcases, and a grumpy woman with big glasses. I suppose I was expecting this man, this representative of Al Foah, one of the largest date producers in the UAE, to be impressed somehow, or at least gratified, by my enthusiasm. I wasn’t exaggerating. The fruit had a thin, melting skin and a pillowy interior, the flavor rich, heady with sweetness and spice. (Hints of cardamom and apricot?) The serious man asked where I was from, and I proceeded to disappoint him with my ignorance about the production and sale of dates in the United States. Yes, I did think that dates had become more visible in grocery stores over the past five years, though I couldn’t say what varieties. Medjool? I did know that California was a hub, but, by then, I’d lost him.

From the 17th Floor: A Shelter and a Point of View
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Elsewhere, In Foodland

Cooler mornings and nights, the sun sinking earlier each day, dried leaves underfoot. In the States, such season changes are clear heralds of roast turkey and forkfuls of pumpkin pie. Perhaps, too, some related reading on the romance of turkey hunting, or an inquiry into the increasing genetic modifications of America’s Broad Breasted Whites. If you’re a food critic, you hate Thanksgiving and are glad to see it passed. Now it’s Monday, and you’ve eaten your leftovers.

But here in the United Arab Emirates, shorter days and dropping mercury (down into the mid-eighties) kicks off a different kind of national food celebration—the Emirates International Date Palm Festival. Calorific and densely rich in vitamins and minerals, dates are a wonder fruit. A few of these and some camel milk will carry you across the desert; and if the milk spoils, dates are also super for an upset stomach.

Elsewhere, In Foodland
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From the 17th Floor: All These Things So Arranged

Inside Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and other Turkish wonders

 

Some places become museums because they’re ruins. Other museums are houses built to hold the relics.

In fifth century Constantinople, believers built a small Greek Orthodox chapel called The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora. The Greek chora refers to the church’s place in the fields outside the city’s thick defensive walls. Rebuilt, restored, destroyed, and raised again over the centuries, the church became a truly glorified house of God in the fourteenth century under the stewardship of a powerful intellectual named Theodore Metochites, whose vision and funds decorated the interior with some of the finest mosaics and frescoes remaining from Byzantine times.

From the 17th Floor: All These Things So Arranged
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Elsewhere, in Istanbul

In 1453, when the Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II ordered some changes to the city’s eastern Orthodox cathedral, the Hagia Sophia: the altar was swapped out for a minbar, the platform from which the imam addresses the congregation; and four slender minarets were added, among other things. For nearly 500 years the Hagia Sophia was a mosque, becoming, in 1931, a secular museum that enchantingly reveals layers of religious history, art, and architecture.  Today the purple porphyry marble from Egypt glows richly; the Byzantine golden dome displays Islamic geometric adornments; and mosaics of the Virgin Mary sparkle up high. To better show off its wonders, the museum’s upper gallery hosts a permanent exhibition of images by Turkish architectural photographer Ahmet Ertug. In these carefully lit photos, the tiny tiles of the Virgin’s face and robes can be easily discerned. A museum within the museum.

Elsewhere, in Istanbul
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