Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2006, Siena, the Italian-Nigerian connection and finally reading Zadie and Rushdie

Haven't been on here in a while....first it was the "merriment" of New Year and then I had to go to Calais for a day, taking the ferry from Dover (so I finally got to see the white cliffs....) and then spent a week in Tuscany, so it's my first few days back at work and I have only just started getting back to my normal rhythm. At midnight on New Year's Day it was kind of good to get lots of text messages and calls from friends and family all over the world. Try as hard as I could, there was no getting through to the Nigerian mobile networks- I suspect everyone was trying to do the same as I was.......I finally did get through though and spoke to my folks which was good.

Siena and the part of Tuscany around it was great- fantastic food (especially for a meat lover like me) , great wine and lots of art to see within a fairly circumscribed area- did a lot of walking and so found that I haven't actually piled on weight the way I normally do at Christmas......On a visit to the amazing mediaeval cathedral in Siena, I couldn't help again wondering how on earth they dreamt this up, planned and executed it with the minimal technology available... I remember reading somewhere an interview with Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel Prize laureate, where he said Italy was his favourite part of Europe, because he felt at home there...or words to that effect and I think I can see what he means- the Italians are very like Nigerians in their loudness, their flamboyance, their general over the topness- the ubiquitous sunglasses perched on every face, the fur coats in which virtually every matron was swathed in, the ostentatious use of mobile phones, the carabinieri smoking in front of a no smoking sign........

The other outstanding thing about Siena was the constant references in their history, their art, their politics to their rivalry with Florence. Funny thing was, I was in Florence last year and I don't recall much talk about rivalry with Siena. No points for guessing who's won the prominence contest then......

I also read Zadie Smith's On Beauty and Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown and I enjoyed both. I think On Beauty is Zadie Smith's best book yet, and although parts of it seemed to be trying too hard to sound like a classic and not just a contemporary book to be discarded to the dustbins of time, I was gripped and held by the story- which is always important for me in any book.

The Rushdie started off a bit slow and confusing for me but then soared into the lyrical, humour- tinged celebration of the sub continent- in this case focusing on Kashmir- for which I have always loved his work. His references to a Kahmir where Muslim and Hindu lived peaceably together resonated deeply....

5 comments:

Elitre said...

Hi, I've just read your post, if you're interested in Siena (and its Palio) take a look at my blog with lots of 2005 pics and a link to see the last Palio movie (free). Ciao...

Elitre, http://ilpaliodisiena.splinder.com
http://xoomer.virgilio.it/ilpaliodisiena


Ps. Feel free to link to me through any word in this article or wherever you like.

Pilgrimage to Self said...

Welcome back. There's nothing like a good holiday. Boy, you do seem to lead an exciting life - in terms of travel anyway. Happy New Year by the way.

oo said...

uknaija,

I've really enjoyed reading your blog...i like your perspective on Naija literature and have picked up some additions to my reading list! BTW, your list of favourite books reads eerily like mine (!) so I'm somewhat confident about your opinions even though I don't know you :) Loved Zadie Smith's "On Beauty" but I think "White Teeth" is her best thus far. Anyways, all the best, keep writing and I'll certainly keep reading.

cheers,
-oo-

oo said...

uknaija,

One last comment(question actually)-- are you a doctor?

-oo-

uknaija said...

Thanks all for your good wishes and for dropping by..... for answers to personal questions, please send me an e mail via my profile ;-)