Saturday, May 19, 2007

Under the Crescent Moon, I Tear


Today, I'm bowled over by the very impressive and thoughtfully curated exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, Living Under the Crescent Moon: Domestic Cultures in the Arab World. It closes on Monday so for those of you who have the time and inclination, GO SEE IT!

Walking through the various exhibits was like stepping two years back in my life, almost to the day, when D and I spent six weeks travelling through the Middle East. One display in particular, stopped me in my tracks, and I was thrown back in time by the images in front of me and the Arabic music playing in the background. It was a glimpse into traditional Nubian housing, much like the houses we walked past when we were in Elephantine Island, near Aswan.


Nubian house, Elephantine Island, Aswan, Egypt (June 2005)

Coupled with the new scent I was wearing, Hermes' Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (see my previous post), it was like I was back on the banks of the Nile, wandering through the ancient paths, surrounded by the improbable whiff of green mangoes in the middle of the desert.

The exhibition even featured a full-sized Bedouin desert tent, with traditional silverware and woven mats. Which now gives me an excuse to post D's very arty (and I think one of his best) shot taken at Petra.

Bedouin silverware against The Monastery, Petra, Jordan (May 2005)

The exhibition is part of a larger festival, Under the Crescent Moon, which aims to bring to light the "cultural vitality" of a region that tends to receive international media attention for its unrest and turmoil.

I'm struck by a quote from featured Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, whose name is synonymous with Egypt's modernist architecture movement. He says of Arab architecture:

The exterior must reflect the power of the interior. Islamic architecture is an architecture of space, not of walls.

The words resonate with me; for that was my experience of the Middles East - where walls may be built to ward off the heat, but doors are always open and welcoming; and where despite social barriers of language, protocol, and differing cultural norms, we mostly experienced genuine warmth and kindness from the people we met.

Then tonight, we watch Bridge to Terabithia. The movie is based on the 1977 children's novel by Katherine Paterson, and honestly, I haven't cried this much in a movie since Brokeback Mountain (which by the way, was probably in my top three movies of 2006). The book was to D what I am David was to me, and at the end of the movie, we were both a bit zombied cos the movie was just so heart wrenching.

I go to Page One Bookstore immediately after the movie to try to get a copy, and predictably, they're all sold out! This, after two failed attempts to find it at the library. I'm still waiting for my reserved copy to come through.

Anyway, the film is probably the most genuine, sincere depiction of childhood I've seen - there are NO irritating child actors (like hideous bespectacled kid from Jerry Maguire), or preachy themes about dreaming big or whatever, it's a tribute to the power of friendship, of imagination and ultimately, loss.

I also love the fact that the film didn't present moral absolutes; there is no one evil bully, or cruel teacher, or prudish parent. Just flawed, but basically good people, who make up the fabric of a someone's life.

So now, I'm writing this feeling just slightly wrung out, but in a good way. Good to have a good cry now and then :)

1 comment:

Ruby@SF said...

Hey Ferunk

I saw the 'Bridge to Tabithea' on the plane to SFO. So malu,I cried at the end of it too and the poor Korean man next to me must be wondering what the heck man...

This entry resonates very much with what i have thought as well. To me, the greatest strength of the movie is it demonstrates humanity's ability to turn sorrow into strength. In his loss, he has also gained. He finally broke through all the he has holding back and found himself (in a way). N moving from loss to strength is one of the hardest and courageous thing to do, i feel.

Second thing which touched me was childlike wonder and imagination that resides in everyone and the need to unleash it so that life is less mundane, work stress becomes more manageable and you need not alot of things or the best amenities to be happy.

Sum up, i enjoyed reading this entry and the show is definitely worth the bleary eyes and sniffles.