Traduction : Fêter le Haïk, et Débattre une Icône Algérienne

Saturday, March 22, 2014 | Alger, Algérie (map)

La défilé sur le chemin au centre-ville en haïk et 'ajjar. (Une photo numérique que j'ai pris ; les photos Rolleicord viendront.)
La traduction française de mon dernier post, "Celebrating the Haik, and Debating an Algerian Icon":

Hier j'ai eu la chance d'être parmi une petite armée de photographes officiels pour un événement culturel unique ici à Alger : la deuxième fête annuelle du haïk, la tenue traditionnelle des femmes algériennes qui aujourd'hui ne paraît que rarement dans les rues de la capitale.

Des participantes de l’adolescence jusqu’au troisième âge—celles qui se souviennent de l’ère quand le haïk était quasi-universel à Alger—se sont enveloppé de voiles blancs brochés ainsi que de ‘ajjar, triangle de dentelle qui cache en partie le visage. (Cet ensemble est spécifique à l’Algérie et est particulièrement emblématique de la capitale et de sa célèbre casbah.)

Il y a quelques semaines, lors de la visite de ma sœur, j’ai rencontré plusieurs photographes talentueux qui exposaient au musée d'art moderne d'Alger. Ce sont eux qui m'ont invité à les accompagner hier pour photographier l'ouverture : une scène de 12 femmes en haïk qui recréaient "La Cène" de Da Vinci dans la cour de l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

Celebrating the Haik, and Debating an Algerian Icon

Friday, March 21, 2014 | Algiers, Algeria (map)

The procession winds downtown in traditional haik and 'ajjar. (A digital photo I snapped; Rolleicord pics forthcoming.)
Cet article est maintenant disponible en français : "Fêter le Haïk, et Débattre une Icône Algérienne"

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be among a small army of official photographers for a unique cultural event here in Algiers: the second annual celebration of the haik, the traditional garment of Algerian women that today is only seen rarely on the capital's streets.

Women as young as teenagers and some old enough to remember when the haik (pronounced "hay-yek") was practically a uniform in Algiers participated, donning the brocaded white shrouds as well as the 'ajjar, a triangle of lace used to partly conceal the face. (This ensemble is unique to Algeria, and is particularly iconic of the capital and its famed casbah.)

A few weeks ago, during my sister’s visit, I had met several talented photographers who were exhibiting at the Algiers modern art museum. It was they who invited me to yesterday's event and arranged for me to join them in photographing the opening: a scene of 12 Algerian women in haiks recreating DaVinci's "Last Supper" in the courtyard of the city's fine arts college.

Roma!

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Rome, Italy (map)

This bella donna looks to have been cruising Rome's streets for quite a few years.
Recently I joined Rebecca in Rome for a long weekend, which we spent walking from restaurant to gelateria to restaurant to gelateria. I ate in sufficient quantity to bring eternal shame (or pride, depending on your point of view) upon all my ancestors before me and descendants hereafter. But this was, at long last, my first trip to Italy, so I don't feel particularly regretful about my gastronomic excesses.

In the rare moments between mouthfuls of succulent gnocchi, chianti, or gelato, Rebecca and I had plenty of time to catch up and to explore central Rome.

My favorite experience, however, was a solo walk I took one sleepless early morning. Rolleicord in hand, I meandered along the undisturbed streets, empty but for the occasional delivery man or jogger. I passed a deserted Trevi Fountain and Pantheon before arriving at the ruins that stretch out beside the Coliseum. That was where I heard a faint buzzing noise overhead, and looked across

Guest Post: Stepping Out Into Algiers

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Algiers, Algeria (map)

The guest author Maggie exploring Algiers with her favorite big brother
A guest post by my sister, Maggie Farrand

It wasn't exactly how I had planned to arrive in Algiers. I had envisioned a much more elegant, carefree entrance, where I would gather my luggage and manage the airport crowds feeling relaxed and ready for three days of vacation.

Revisiting my breakfast on my two-hour flight from Rabat, being told by the flight attendants that I was the first person ever to cry on their flight, and then suffering through a 45-minute line at immigration with my head spinning and a slight fear that they wouldn't let me in... well, that was how it really happened.

But I made it, arriving safely in Algiers after a two-week work trip next door in Rabat, Morocco. I enjoyed my time in Morocco, staying in Rabat for the first time (even if I spent most of it in the office), but I admit I had my eye on the next stop of my itinerary: three full days with my older brother, Andrew, in Algeria.

February 2014 Reading List: 'From Russia, No Love' Edition

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Photo source: "Beyond Sochi: Photos of Russia by Russians" (described in list below)
While choosing not to watch this month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia, I had plenty of time to stay current on my reading. As uncertainty mounted in Ukraine, here are a few of the most thought-provoking pieces I came across in the last month:

Inside the Iron Closet: What It's Like to be Gay in Putin's Russia (Jeff Sharlet, GQ)
A troubling, detailed account of the Russian LGBT community's many struggles toward acceptance.

Ottomania (Elif Batuman, New Yorker)
Didn't realize that Turkish soap operas are critical cultural reference points for a huge part of the world's population? Guess again. The New Yorker's shrewd Turkey correspondent strips back the layers of often competing identities underlying the popular Ottoman-era drama "Magnificent Century". Insights abound on Turkey's history, current politics, and complex relations with its neighbors and former vassals. Gated, but very highly recommended.

A Syrian Woman's Kitchen in Shatila (Nawara Mahfoud, New Yorker)
A very human snapshot of daily life for Syrian refugees in Shatila, a Palestinian camp in Lebanon where many have settled, stressing already limited access to resources.
(For those seeking worthy political commentary on Syria, see this Economist piece for an essential point: "As long as Bashar Assad thinks he is winning, diplomacy will fail.")

Chronicles of the Veil (Laila Lalami, Los Angeles Review of Books)
Another excellent piece by Laila Lalami, this one on the unintended consequences of Western efforts to "save" Muslim women without first understanding their local contexts, with an exploration of the awkward narratives that feed such efforts.

A Dictator's Guide to Urban Design (Matt Ford, The Atlantic)
Inspired by the recent uprising in Kiev, this piece reviews autocrats' urban planning schemes to discourage dissent and organized protest, from Paris to Pyongyang to Tahrir Square.

Why Do Japanese People Wear Surgical Masks? It's Not Always for Health Reasons (Casey Baseel, Rocket News 24)
More oddities from the most peculiar country on earth—and a topic of interest to frequent travelers accustomed to seeing masked Asians shuffling through airports worldwide. Surgical masks apparently double as warming devices, fashion accessories, modesty aides, and even alleged weight loss devices.

How Would the Media Cover the Superbowl If It Were In Another Country? (Joshua Keating, Slate)
Sweet satire, sweet perspective. It's true, America.

Why We Still Need French (Rob Wile, Business Insider)
A necessary (though admittedly lousy) rebuttal to an even more asinine argument that the French language is useless in our modern world. D'accord avec moi? Then don't miss the Beginner's Guide to Franglais, which includes such gems as le footing, un hard-discounter, and une recordwoman.

Beyond Sochi: Photos of Russia by Russians (Grant Slater, NPR)
These photos were perhaps less successful than the artist intended at rewriting my existing stereotypes of Russia, but they were nonetheless an interesting look at a country I know little about.

In This Video, It's the Men Who Are Constantly Harassed by Dominant Women (Shirin Jaafari, PRI's The World)
A French filmmaker flips the script, with thought-provoking results.