Karibu Tanzania Exhibit Opens March 2 at World Beat in Bahrain

Lena W Dajani Karibu Tanzania Bahrain 2013

Lena Dajani Karibu Tanzania Spring of Culture 2013




March and April are fantastic months to be in Bahrain.  The weather is comfortable and the Spring of Culture is taking place.

Of course, it is fun to see big names like Bocelli, but what I love about Spring of Culture is we get to see lesser known, but amazing, performers from around the world.  There will be lecturers from Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia; dancers from Cuba and India; an international poets panel; and family events by creative teams from Scotland, Italy, Lebanon and Australia.

The government sponsors much of Revealing Bahrain’s month-long, extravaganza of art, music, dance, poetry, and children’s programs.  Except for the ten ticketed shows, most events are FREE to the public.

Bahrain Nationa Theater

Kennedy Center Washington DC

A new addition to this year’s line-up is the newly opened Bahrain National Theater that reminds me of the Kennedy Center.  Il Divo, the Mahler Orchestra and Yanni will be performing there.  The Cuban dancers be performing at the beloved Arad Fort where every year we encounter a new parking experience.

Arad Fort Bahrain

Spring of Culture is more web-savvy this year.  Their updated website is a huge improvement.  And you can LIKE them on FACEBOOK and keep up on Tweeter.

Sheikha Mai walking with HRH King Hamad Al Khalifa

A big congratulations to Sheikha Mai, who with strength and finesse, single-handedly deals with the opposing voices.  Thanks to the Ministry of Culture team for once again highlighting all that is good about living in Bahrain.

One Billion Dance to Break the Chain – February 14 2013


Fill your Valentine’s Day with love for all people on the earth.  There are at least, two opportunities tomorrow February 14th in Bahrain to teach your children the power of dance.  Join one billion other people in the world move towards freedom from violence and rape.  Dances are being held everywhere including Ames, Iowa and several in Des Moines.  You can find a dance near you by checking out the map at One Billion Rising.

8:45-11 World Beat Fitness is holding a dance workshop featuring African djembes, Egyptian belly dancing and a dance by internally-recognized, multi-cultural choreographer, Valli Batchelor.  The event is BD 10 for non-members and BD8 for members.  The proceeds will go towards a local center for victims of abuse.

2 pm the Rugby Club has a dance instructor-led event for those that enjoy afternoon activities.  The suggested donation is BD 5.  The proceeds will also go to a local charity dealing with women affected by abuse.

It is half-term for the schools on the British curriculum.  And a great opportunity for us mothers to show our daughters that even while having fun we can help BREAK THE CHAIN and change the world.


Sweden’s Mikael Gustafsson – One Billion a Sign for Change

Mikael Gustafsson

“We can’t allow that half this world’s inhabitants have to live in fear of violence and rape.”

Sweden’s Mikael Gustafsson, MEP, was the first man to be elected the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in 2011.

Last December, Mikael Gustafsson produced this video highlighting the upcoming February 14th – One Billion Women Rising – an event highlighting the fact that 1 in 3 women will experience violence and rape during her lifetime.

Good things come from Sweden.

John F Gustafson around 1910 from Iowa

My great, great grandfather was also a Gustafson from Sweden.  In his small Iowa community, where he served as the Justice of the Peace for twenty-four years, John F. Gustafson was “one of the highly honored and esteemed citizens of the community”.

Mikael Gustafsson, a man who declares he is “a feminist”, feels to me like a sign that positive change is on the horizon.

It’s Okay to Think about Christmas Now

I enjoy the anticipation of seasonal events: the start of the school year in September, Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, and finally, a month of Christmas season celebrations in December.  But that’s not how it works anymore in the USA.

School starts in August while the sun is still hot and the pool is cool.  Spooky/sexy costumes are displayed in Halloween stores in September.

Yesterday, a baseball acquaintance said her family was going “to do” Thanksgiving today.  I am sorry, if you miss Halloween or Thanksgiving, you’ve missed it.  There is no do-over.  The point of a designated holiday is everyone celebrates at the same time, giving the day a special energy.

The only “holiday” Americans seem to agree upon, and that grows in importance every year, is Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving.   However even Black Friday’s mayhem has been diluted by Christmas carols echoing through the malls in November.  The early Christmas, shopping virus is spreading faster than H1N1.  Christmas trees and elves have been setting up shop in Bahrain since early November.  It is not right.

I think the stores should close on Wednesday, put out their Christmas merchandise, then re-open on Friday, blaring their Christmas music, hopefully surprising and delighting their customers with their displays.

Wednesday November 28th is the Winter’s Tale Bazaar.  Although winter here means the temperature has dropped to the mid-80s and the bazaar will be held on the floating islands, at least we have put away our kitschy, Thanksgiving decorations.

In the Beginning – Creation in Paradise

It is quite an ambitious project to set the Creation story from Genesis to music.  But Joseph Haydn felt he was up to the task and his masterpiece was rolled out in Vienna in 1798.

For the first time, on March 23rd, The Creation will be sung in Bahrain by the Manama Singers.

Musical Director Michael Natzke must have decided it was only fitting that the choir residing in Paradise should sing about the parting of the waters and the creation of all the animals.  Resident artist Seanna Mallen was commissioned to paint her vision of Creation for the official poster.

The Creation covers the story from the beginning – when God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) – until Adam and Eve sing their love duet.  Although neither Genesis chapters 1 nor 2 specifically mentions any serenades, I think Haydn basically brings us up through the end of Genesis where they were naked but probably not singing.

The concert ends with the Angel Uriel vocalizing his advice for the pair to be happy with what they have and not wishing for anything more.  And again, although I really respect Angel Uriel, the only angel I could find was an unnamed cherubim.

I think Haydn wanting his oratoria to be popular committed two sins; the sin of pride – telling the story his way – and the sin of omission – telling the story but not the whole story- when he left out the part about the snake.

Still it promises to be a fabulous concert.

You can buy tickets for Friday’s concert at Al Osra, the Bookcase or at the Diplomat Radisson Hotel.

You Can’t Be Grumpy When Julio Sings

The last three days I have been feeling quite grumpy.

It’s because I am having to come to terms with the age-related adjustments I must make to my yoga practice.  As I watch my young teacher bend, bend, bend, my ego is having difficulty accepting that I cannot mimic her without injuring my knees, back or _____   (insert nearly any body part).

Perhaps next week.  If only I stretch a little further……..

Last night Mojo and I attended Julio Iglesias’ concert at the Arad Fort.  He came to Bahrain as part of The Spring of Culture.  Even though I only knew his “All The Girls I Loved Before” duet with Willie Nelson, we both agreed the show was terrific.


The good news was his voice is still strong.  And he was still surrounded with young women whose legs sliding out of their evening dresses trounced Angelina Jolie on the red carpet.

HRH King Hamad was impressed too.  He presented the 69-year old Spaniard an award for his prolific musical achievements.

I can only imagine Julio must be pretty grumpy today after the local newspaper featured his award on the front page.  Why? The photo was taken from his left side.

Based upon his myriad of publicity shots, Julio prefers his right side.  Even in his younger days, he entered the stage from the left and sang to his partner so his right side faced the audience.  The same was true last night.  His three sinewy backup singers all stood on the right side of the stage.

After flying in from a concert in Moscow and two nights outside in the Bahrain winter, I hope today he is resting and not obsessing about the photo.  But I know as I watched him carefully execute his choreographed moves, his age was on his mind.

“I am 47 years old” he joked with the audience.

He pretended his water was vodka.
When his saxophonist offered him a scarf, he turned it down, shouting “I feel terrific!”

Wearing only his suit jacket, he sang for an hour and a half while being pelted by an icy desert wind.

Watching him I wondered “at his age, why is he subjecting himself to this?”

Today I went to see my young hairdresser after a two month hiatus.  He looked at me and said, “You look great.  Have you lost weight?”

“No,” I said thinking a moment.  “But I have been immersed in my yoga training since January.”

“I have never exercised.  My doctor told me I should do yoga.  Everyone says yoga is excellent for you.” He continued, “You look different, better.  After seeing how you were walking, I am motivated to find a yoga class for me.”

I was so pleased.

“Yoga is great,” I agreed.  And thinking about Julio telling us how his music came from his heart and how much he enjoyed singing to people around the world, I added,

“And always do what you love.  That will keep you feeling young.”

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