Rumi Dances Under the May 18th Moon

Rumi at La fontaine May 18

For all you Rumi fans out there!  A Rumi movie.

According to the the movie promoters, Rumi is America’s best-selling poet. Apparently, his popularity as the number one, daily, Facebook quote has helped him leap beyond the previous favorite, Lebanese- American, Khalil Gibran.  That, and the fact that his copyright expired several hundred years ago.

Poor Natasha Tretheway,  probably few of you have even heard of America’s 2013 Poet Laureate.  She has 1,861 Likes versus the Persian’s million plus.  Just give her another 800 years to build an audience.

raise your words not your voice rumi

Don’t get your tailfeathers in a tinzy, dear roosters.  Just having a little Rumi fun.  I LOVE Rumi.

Amazon, helpful reviewer, Nicholas Croft, wrote about the film,

“The first fifteen minutes of the video relate the biography of Rumi, who was born in Afghanistan during the year 1207. Rumi’s family moved to Turkey, where his father became the head of an Islamic Sufi learning community. Upon his father’s death, Rumi took his place as the head of this ancient community of prayer.

Rumi eventually met with a desert mystic named Shams of Tabriz and mentored under him for a number of years. The grief that Rumi felt, upon the death of Shams, led to the birth of his poetry of longing and also to the creation of the Whirling Dervish dance tradition.

The story of how Coleman Barks came to his decades-long project as translator of Rumi’s Persian texts is then revealed. We witness recording sessions where Mr. Barks reads from his acclaimed translations of the poet. These sessions are often accompanied with musical instrumentation such as the oud, harmonium, dotar, tabla, violin, ney and sarod. Video talks by the various scholars, which were often shot within beautiful natural settings, are interspersed among the studio sessions. All of these elements combine to suggest both the tone and the meaning of Rumi’s poetry.

Rumi – Poet of the Heart is a devotional work that gently guides viewers through an introduction to the life and spirit of one of America’s most widely read poets. Join with Coleman Barks and company to explore Rumi’s compelling inner secret world. You will be transformed through their intoxicating spirit of contagious enthusiasm.”

Saturday, May 18th is the quarter moon.  Where? La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art, of course.  This should be one of those beautiful nights we can be outside before the weather gets too hot.


April the Month of Earthquakes and Art

Earthquakes in Iran

Iran’s 6.3 earthquake and the 7.8 “after-shock” today were felt all the way around the Gulf.

“Why are we feeling them?  What’s does this herald?,” people are asking.

Focusing on the positive, perhaps all the art exhibits opening this month in Bahrain are causing the excitement.

RE exhibit

AWA Visons 2013

Divine Feminine at World Beat Fitness

Big Red House Exhibit  April 27

extraordinary ordinary at la fontaine invite

Raining Yoginis This Weekend in Bahrain

Lucy Roberts Yogini and retreat facilitator

Bahrain gets less than three inches of rain a year.  And sometimes it all happens on one day, and the whole place is flooded.  Seems we have the same issue with visiting yoginis.

This weekend Namaste and La Fontaine are both hosting yoga workshops.

Lucy Roberts will kick it off at Namaste Thursday night.

Last February, Lucy taught a class here in Bahrain.  I attended one evening and was impressed with the depth of the class.  All the elements – breath, postures, meditation and sound – were included in a graceful way.  She taught a beautiful yoga class.

Valerie Jeremijenko from Qatar will be at La Fontaine on Friday night for a talk and the class will start Saturday morning at 9:30.

I haven’t met Valerie before but I can tell we are of like minds.  Not only does she teach yoga, but she is thinker who writes about yoga and likes to share her knowledge.

Of course, I will attend both.  I’ve already informed the family that I will miss their first baseball game against Saudi Arabia.  I will be with them in spirit but not in body.

The Namaste studio is located on Budaiya Highway above Ruyan Pharmacy.  You can book by calling 38855999.

La Fontaine is downtown and you can call or email

yoga master valerie jeremijenko at la fontaine

A Day in the Life of Unexpected Coincidences

Sketch of Old Manama in 1977 taken from the alley we turned left down. La Fontaine is white building on the left in the distance. It has a round balcony. All the other buildings have been torn down now.

Bahrain is filled with the unexpected.  I never know what might happen or who I might meet.

Yesterday after yoga, I picked up Susan and drove across the island to the smaller, Amwaj Island for the market.  When I asked the guard for directions, he told me,

“Two roundabouts drive straight.  Left at three roundabout.”

After two roundabouts I came to a real intersection and saw umbrellas to my left.  The guard must have meant for me to turn at the third intersection.

We parked at The Lagoon where umbrellas were set up along the water’s edge.  As the DJ played Chammak Challo, Susan and I danced around the mostly Bahraini vendors selling mini-cupcakes, personalized towels embroidered with Fatima and Ahmed, Manchester United shirts, bedazzled abayas, plants, Lebanese costume jewelry and paraphernalia featuring the Bahraini flag and the Prime Minister.  We never found the photographer Mairi Thomas’ table and I wondered if something happened to her.

Susan and I only had 30 minutes to shop because we were supposed to meet Sensai Amr and Debbie for a Bahrain Karate Association photo shoot with local magazine, Woman This Month.  I understood the magazine was going to take photos of our karate class.

It was only after we exited the elevator at the Intercontinental Hotel’s rooftop health club that I realized our class was doing an exhibition for a women’s health expo.  Dressed in my Gi, I passed my friend Shandra who was there for socializing.  She kissed me and for some reason wished me luck.  I slid in the door just in time to bow to Sensai Amr.

Sensai Amr split us into two groups – the white robed BKA members and the Others, a rag-tag army of leotard wearing initiates.  As the TV camera focused on the anticipated action, my opponent, who was much bigger than my regular classmates, attacked me like she was on Survivor.  Despite defending myself against her flailing arms, I got voted off BKA’s debut production.

When our hour was over, Susan and I zoomed home so I could get ready for an event where I knew I would shine – the Bahrain Writer’s Circle dinner.

A holiday party should be easy, but I worried about the journey to my favorite Bahraini venue – La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art.   Located in the heart of old Manama, it is one of the most difficult places to get to even in normal circumstances.

My friend said “trust me, I know an easier way,” and navigated me between the new concrete barriers behind the British Embassy.  I wove through a series of dark, narrow alleys where there was only room for one car to shimmy between the parked cars on both sides.  In front of a cold store, a man waiting for his wife halted our progress.   Bumper to bumper, I tapped – beep, beep – and like a typical Bahraini, he kindly backed up.  After an unexpected left turn, we ended up right at the front door where a parking spot was waiting for us.  Amazing!

Our good fortune continued.

Visiting Poet Christopher Merrill

Visiting American Christopher Merrill stepped off his plane and arrived on time to read from two books of his poetry and his 2011 non-fiction work The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War.  Mr. Merrill is the Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.  A very generous man, he spoke with nearly every writer at the meeting.

Gulf Daily News - Visiting poet Christoper Merrill and Oud player Hasan Hujairi

Like Mr. Merrill, my family was from Iowa.

Hasan Hujairi at La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art

Next, experimental musician Hasan Hujairi played the oud for us.  He described Cherry Blossoms as a fusion between a traditional Japanese song and a well-loved Iraqi tune.  He got the idea while studying in Japan and playing with Japanese guitarists.

That was interesting.  My sister lives in Japan.  And her Japanese husband played guitar with a girls’ band who sang traditional Japanese songs.

Afterwards I chatted with this talented – and charming – Bahraini musician.  Not only did he speak perfect English and Arabic, but he also spoke Japanese.  And he studied in Iowa!

December Moon over La Fontaine Centre, Manama Bahrain

I don’t know whether the eclipse last night played a part in this mysterious night of coincidences but under the December moon in Bahrain,  we proved there were less than six degrees of separation between people.  Thanks to my friend, the writer/bouncer Robin Barrett, it was a night of unexpected pleasures.

Later I read an email from Mairi Thomas.  She wrote two markets were held in Amwaj on the same day demonstrating once again I never know what to expect in Bahrain.


Tales by Chapter

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