Contact Photo + CBC Foreign Correspondents = a full day

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Today was a really long day. It feels really long because I walked a lot. After dropping off a car to my dad by the Queensway Trillium Hospital, I headed downtown early in the afternoon. I finally got my time to work my way through some of the photo exhibits for the Contact Photo Festival, which is being hosted in galleries, restaurants, café’s, and some other interesting locations for the month of May. I walked on Queen Street from Dufferin all the way to Spadina. Of course I strolled leisurely through Queen West, enjoying the just-west-of-downtown hubbub, sights, and snacks. In between dropping in galleries, I sampled some sublime Middle Eastern snacks.
In the Arabesque café, I sampled a baked sweet dessert (I forget its name – it’s something like baklava), rich in honey and topped in pistachios. I ordered the “Arabesque Coffee” which is coffee boiled with cardamom. The Lebanese shop keeper (who I gather is also the owner) told me this is how coffee is consumed in the Middle East. The coffee is ground finely and mixed with ground cardamom. Water is boiled with this mix in a small metal container. You pour a sip at a time into an espresso-like cup and then drink it.
I know there are so many little treats to be found around town, as I continue to explore Toronto. After walking for a while, I ended up at 401 Richmond. I went up to Gallery 401 where Catherine Lash is exhibiting her wedding photography. I ended up chatting with her for a while, about entering photography as a career, the business of it, and for some people, balancing it between work and hobby. She was really encouraging as we swapped some stories from shooting weddings.
By then it was 5pm, and most other galleries were closing. I ate dinner at Fusaro’s Kitchen (penne with pencetta in a tomato cream sauce made with some vodka – for only $7.50!), which I have been recommending to people. There were a bunch of people gathered there, watching the soccer game between AC Milan and Juventus. Milan won 3-2 after the penalty shoot-out.
Afterwards, I met Phil at CBC for the live audience taping of CBC Foreign Correspondents. This was a 90 minute taping, straight without commercial breaks! The conversation was great, candid, and humorous at times. The questions included how the correspondents kept their emotional distance and what tricks they used to get their story in restricted access countries (“lies in the service of truth” as Patrick Brown said), but started with an elderly gentleman asking what makes them wake up in the morning to do this job and if any of them get on their knees and said a prayer before starting the day.
I really resonated with Neil McDonald’s answer to the second half of the question. It goes something like:

No I don’t get on my knees. Being previously stationed in Jerusalem (for an extended time), my family lives there with me. After seeing all the violence perpetrated in the name of religion, my daughter now will not willingly step inside a church. And it is not a value I’ve passed on to her.

Isn’t that so sad? To the question of whether the correspondents are optimistic and hopeful that the (Israeli-Palestinian peace) roadmap will happen, David Halton voiced that a strong evangelical Christian wing in the US is pressuring Bush against the roadmap, especially in light of the coming presidential elections in 2004. He noted that the rationale for this evangelical group is grounded in their belief of certain prophecies about Christ’s second coming in the holy land. I find it appalling and outrageous that Christians will uphold dispensational theology (which is popularized in the “Left Behind” series) and sacrifice Jesus’ call to be bearers of the good news of the kingdom, which integrally includes being a people who are peacemakers. Dispensationalism is actually a relatively new theological development, accepted (quite unthinkingly) by a vast majority of evangelical Christians, unfortunately. Read Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind for a good treatment of this subject.
After the show finished, I had the chance to talk with Nahlah Ayed. We chatted whether or not being a non-white journalist opens up access to non-white regions (particularly ones with a history of suffering or abuse at the hands of whites). Answering another question, she says that there is a new generation of Canadian journalists of ethnic minority descent coming up through the ranks. It was a little odd noting that the panel of foreign correspondents does not represent Canada’s multicultural diversity. The conversation ended with her wishing me well and hoping to see me on TV some day!

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