Monday, November 22, 2010

Into Week 3

Let me hit the 'reverse' button, to share some impressions of the so-called weekend... by which I mean the Sandlands Friday plus the Saturday and Sunday which I still find hard to see as belonging to the working week.

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive...

And very tasty it was, too, served appropriately chilled in the eponymous restaurant where I feel so at home in Abu Dhabi. It went well with a simple late evening snack of terrine de foie de volailles with a tangy compote of onions.

To mark the arrival of the new plonk there was a duo performing Brel, Trenet and some wonderful Gainsbourg to make the evening perfect.

Prior to satisfying hunger of an everyday kind I had a wonderful opportunity to feed my brain. The New York University Abu Dhabi Institute has a splendid program of lectures and debates open to the public at no cost. The venue was an auditorium in the sumptuous headquarters building of Mubadala (the organ established by the Government of Abu Dhabi, with a mandate to facilitate the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy).

Last night's lecture... "In Defence Of Politics"... was given my Dr. Steven Smith, an eloquent Yale University professor.

"What is politics and why does it need defending? Today the very idea of politics is under attack from two different sources: a hyper-partisanship that sees all politics as an existential struggle for victory at all costs, and a trans-political cosmopolitanism that would dissolve politics into a system of international laws and jurisprudence. In opposition to both of these extremes Dr. Smith suggests a return of the understanding of politics to a form of regime analysis, as would have been understood by both Aristotle and Tocqville."

Stirring stuff! There are lectures and events of this calibre almost twice weekly and I look forward to attending as many as I can.

Saturday provided me with my first confrontation with Dubai since returning to the Sandlands. Finally I saw for myself Burj Khalifa and, with my own eyes, the driver-less Metro snaking through the science-fiction urban landscape of 'new Dubai'... from a nineteenth-floor perspective... from a corner office which is about four times as large as my flat in Munich. 

Unsurprisingly I found myself adjectivally challenged... gob-smacked... and so I won't even try to add comment.
Friday was spent... as I planned... at the beach with a new novel by the excellent Henry Porter...

Altogether a very pleasant three days.


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