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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Sunday 1 March 2009


I'm flying early tomorrow and will return to this blog in about 2 days.

I lost my luggage key in the Kilamanjaro mountain somewhere and chose to leave part of my luggage in Africa for when I next returned...some months from now. The thing is I only realised the loss 4 hours before catching my Dubai flight.

It would have been a simple thing for maintainance at the hotel where I stayed to have broken the lock, except that things are dangerously slow in Dar es Salaam and that being a veteran traveller here, I knew better than to take the risk. So at the time, I went out and bought another bag.
Had I ferried my locked bag with me, I would have subjected myself to the further perils of a missed flight in case any airport security officer, settled on some curious attention towards my contents. You just never know with East Africa, so it's always better to play safe, especially that my bag stored no valuables.
This morning in Dubai, I purchased a winter wardrobe all over again and I have numerous books I picked up at the festival. I also bought some arabic world-cinematic dvds - in this case, I chose Beirut, Lebanon. I also greedily I must say, picked up various cds on the arabic chillout series - such seductive sensual and trance like music - I haven't really been able to find any of these anywhere else except at the Virgin Megastore in the UAE. It's London branch doesn't stock them. The tracks are totally out of this world. I was told by the cashier that I wasn't the only foreign visitor to have felt this way about the music. At least, I'll know where to come for my modern arabic cds next-time.

Now I have to start the business of packing once more.

When I return to Dublin in about a week, I will write about all the events I attended and too, the many authors I met and listened to. I haven't said anything here especially of how theatrical the talks on Middle-Eastern literature turned out to be, how terrific the likes of Kate Mosse, historian Victoria Hislopp, Rachel Billington or Wilbur Smith were, or how interesting yesterday's celebration of a major poetry reading conducted by Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols, the amusing John Agard, Simon Armitage or London-based Indian poet, Imtiaz Dharker, turned out to be. Or even - and forgive my clumsily-spaced sentences here - that Rajaa al-Sanea for Girls of Riyadh had suddenly hugged and kissed me when I told her that her novel was to be found in the UK and that I myself had picked up a copy in Dublin.
Living in Chicago, al-Sanea had no idea her bestseller was stocked in West Europe, was simply elated and said that I had made her day. She is a pretty little thing, easily tickled at her picture in the papers, naturally affectionate and everyone's darling, is pint-sized dentist , Rajaa al-Sanea.