Sunday, October 5, 2014

Journal Entry for October 30, 2003

Went to a reception at the Turkish ambassador's residence last evening. There was the usual crowd of diplomats scanning the crowd for targets and then swooping in for a quick info pump. The British ambassador and myself did our info exchange up front and then went off in our own directions. Since everyone thinks the U.S. knows everything, everyone wants to pump me. That's okay, that's what we do. Someone said they recognized me from the picture that appeared in the paper on Monday (part of a long interview I did). The publisher of the newspaper and I chatted. He said he got lots of favorable comment on my interview, especially the part where I said if the Sudanese talked more about the important issues, we foreigners could shut up.

I try to talk to actual Sudanese at these things. They are usually there. Spoke to a businessman. He wanted to know why the U.S. still has sanctions on Sudan. He said that business and investment do more to change things than sanctions. I said that I agreed and hoped we could remove them sometime next year. I also met the Indian ambassador's wife. She looked like an Indian movie star.

On the way home, the crescent moon hung low in the sky over the Blue Nile. The month of Ramadan starts with the first sign of the new moon and ends when the last of the old moon disappears. Struck me how the Arabs of the deep desert could look up every night and tell exactly what part of the month they were in even if they didn't have clocks or calendars. Many of the Muslim holy days go way back into the Arab past. I'm beginning to get a feel for the flow of life when you live as much in the cool night as the brutally hot sun. There is something there vaguely familiar, maybe from the Arabian Nights.

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