|Posted by Jay Menes on October 24, 2015 at 8:00 PM|
15th Sharjah International Narrator Forum
September 25 - October 1, 2015
By: Jay Menes
"Mr. Menes, your ticket is cancelled." said by the ground personnel at the Emirates check-in counter.
Since this is my first time I asked what to do, they advice me to call up the one who booked my flight. I tried making a call to Mr. Aziz, my contact person in Sharjah, but my phone is having a problem of suddenly turning off when I am using it more than three minutes. Fortunately I was able to make a call however, I can't understand the voice. So, I just decided to send a message through texting, email and WhatsApp.
In the airport the free WiFi is not reliable so I've used my mobile data instead. My phone's problem is still occurring while I am typing the messages. Good thing that the person in charge is online, he answered my WhatsApp message, even though it is our first time using this medium in communicating. He advised me to wait for the confirmation of my plane ticket.
After a couple of minutes someone called up to my phone saying "Please go to the Emirates ticketing area" I"ve waited inside their office and I was there alone. As I approached the staff about my ticket, she told me that it wasn't there yet and I looked at my watch it was already 10:00pm. The last check-in for luggage is at 10:45pm.
One guy came inside the office inquiring about how much is the ticket from and to Dubai for December flight, this made me stop thinking for a while about my situation and eavesdrop. After their conversation, the ticket is now ready and they gave me the printout. I went to the check-in counter around 10:30pm. Finally I have my boarding pass and baggage claiming card.
The guy inside the Emirates office passes by to the boarding gate, we have the same flight schedule and I just say hi. After a few minutes chatting with him we became friends, his name is JT. Inside the plane we sat together at row 31 zone D. This made the eight hour flight not so boring. We talked about business in the Philippines and in Dubai.
I arrived at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 at 6:00am. The Marhaba services got me covered as they gave my original U.A.E. Visa and assisted me go through the immigration procedure. Proceed to their lounge and have some coffee. After introducing to the driver he took my baggage and rides the service car - a brand new Chevrolet Impala. From Dubai airport to our hotel in Sharjah is about 10 - 20 minute drive without the heavy traffic.
All of the participants met at Copthorne Hotel lobby.
We are from 20 different countries. In the evening, we leave to Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH) to meet the Chairman, Mr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam Al Khaaldi and welcome us to the event.
The first day of the festival was held at The Cultural Palace. While waiting for the opening ceremony we stayed at the Reception Area for the chance to talk to each other. The program starts as the master of ceremony greets us in Arabic. The Chairman of SIH gave his speech and then followed by a performance from Spain who is a Syrian.
In the evening the opening of the book exhibition and the street of stories held at the Tales Road Tent. It contained what represented the street, shops, kiosks and corners that are all connected with the arts of narration. A stage is also been set-up for the three day performances.
In the morning a phone call is received saying that we will go to SIH earlier. At the Institute, when we arrived there's some security measure going on, they checked my belongings and I wondered what is happening. A few moments later the Guest of Honor came, His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah.
When he was inside the building he shook hands with everyone. All of us lined up and waited. Finally it's my turn to meet him "This is Jay from the Philippines" introduced by the Chairman. This is exciting, for it is my first time to shake hands with the "boss" of one of the seven Emirates. We were directed to the conference room to have a roundtable discussion with him.
After he left, the first forum was held at the Theater Hall. Consequently, they are speaking in Arabic.
In the evening it is my first performance. The venue is an open space but with roof in Al Majaz Waterfront. I am with Rosamaria (Mexico) and Julia (France). When we are having our sound check with the microphone the person manning the equipment is a Filipino, he's name is Gerry.
I started to extend the invitation to let them come and watch a storytelling show. Apparently, some are having apprehension because I am speaking in English. Nonetheless, I insisted to call the kids to sit down and we will start after getting less than ten spectators then I will perform my story. It will be followed by Rosamaria, supposedly after her is Julia, but her story will be in French and the translator is not available. So, I performed another story to complete the set. We ended up with good numbers of listeners including some workers in the area.
We depart to SIH for the symposium. After the function, snack is served outside the Hall. I've noticed this lady who was also there at the opening ceremony. I approached her and asked. She is a Filipina, her name is Marjorie. We talked a bit about her work and the reason why I am in the Festival.
My second performance is at Central Gold Souk. The place is a mall for gold only. The stage is set near the entrance. Rosamaria and I were performing together. She goes first and then me. It is my first time to use the "Kubing" a jaw harp, before the story. We finished early because our audience is already there just roaming around.
Our driver, Rustam - a Kenyan living in Emirates, advised us to wait a bit for a cameraman will cover the activity.
For the second round, I go ahead and then Rosamaria. After we are done, an Indian guy approached me, saying that my story is similar to what they have in India. I told him, maybe because we are Asian; it travelled all over our continent.
A roundtable discussion happened at the SIH. This time we have an interpreter and they are using a device by listening to the headphone.
My third performance is at the Tales Road Tent. I am the second Storyteller. Our audience are all grown-up who doesn't speak much of English. I tried to utter some Arabic words like kursii (chair), malik (king), jabar (giant) and shokran (thank you) to somewhat get their attention. Some stayed, some left and some are just being curious.
The last roundtable conference was held at SIH. Right now, I actively participated by asking questions to the panellists. My thought that everything can be learned was mentioned. The use of technologies, gadgets and other modern approach were taught only, because another person introduced it to them. I suggest that if we can only offer to the young generations the beauty of our heritage/history in a way that is fun, interactive and interesting they will be engaged. Everyone in attendance seems got my thought.
While having our snacks, I asked Mr. Aziz if we have the time to visit Dubai for picture taking only. For the reason my flight back to Manila is tomorrow at 9:00am. He answered me with a yes! This was made possible due to the schedule of the closing ceremony will be at 8:00pm.
The journey begins from Sharjah to Dubai with my new friends Rosamaria and Julia. We reached the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall past four in the afternoon. What a joy!
As we travel back to Sharjah, Mr. Aziz informs us that expect a heavy traffic flow on our way. True enough; the streets are full of vehicles! This made me to get my camera to point and shoot some luxurious cars and beautiful buildings.
The path going to our hotel is not usual as we are observing. There are police cars and ambulance on the street. As we recall that we've seen a thick black smoke the other day. It is the Nasser Tower that was burned and that day they are making a clearing operation. The other lane is closed for they are cleaning the fallen debris on the street. And another incident happened on the next block.
We are at the hotel thirty minutes past seven in the evening. Quickly we change our clothes for the gathering.
A different driver fetches us going to SIH. It was Salah, whom he is married to a Filipina. We shared our experiences to him. While talking to him his phone rang, few minutes later he handed his phone to me, it is his wife. We speaks in Filipino during our conversation, her name is Allona.
During the recognition, Mr. Al Musallam gave the participants a certificate of appreciation, plaque, box of gift set and a leather bag. They also made an Arabic writing of my name.
At the hotel I saw the Filipino workers and I let them know that it is my last day to stay in Sharjah. They are Cember, Marian and Antonio, the others I didn't manage to have their names. These guys made it feels like home!
THANK YOU NOTE:
I am grateful to all of the men and women who worked hard for the success of the five day celebration which is always a one day event. Thanks to Mr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Mr. Aziz Reznara, and Ms. Aisha for making me part of the SINF.
Happy to have found new friends: Rosamaria, Julia, Rawan, Hassan (French translator), Muhammad (one of the drivers that I gave the Kubing) and among others.
To my countrymen that I've meet in Sharjah, you make my life far easier!
To my wife and to my children, you are all my inspiration.
Living the Filipino Dream. Mabuhay Pilipinas!
Indian Photographer and Jay inside the car
J: What is your name?
J: You know what in the Philippines, your name means nine in English.
IP: In India nine is gay.
J: Oh, I'm sorry. How about Jay in India?
IP: Your name is winner.
J: Thank you! (fist in the air)
Tunisian and Jay inside the car
J: I saw your photos in the souvenir publication?
T: Really! J: You are with the Chairman and His Highness.
T: Where is it?
I show the page where it is located.
J: You are like the three wise men and then I sing "Three Wise Men" (to the tune of Three Blind Mice)
After which he shared it to the Chairman. (facepalm)
A Mexican woman revealed that my name Djalma - Jalma means "soul" and De is "to tell".
I will tell more stories coming from deep within - the Filipino soul.
Hop on for more adventures to come!