Amazing Diversity

It is August and many people are on holiday. Everything is quieter than usual; even the internet seems less busy. I feel the need for a holiday too. I miss Andalucia and it’s nearly a year since I was last there. I can’t go anywhere at present though because I am working hard to finish my MA by September. I have a dissertation to write which also involves field study. I am working on the role of memory in interfaith dialogue and looking specifically at Jews and Muslims ‘remembering’ the times they lived and worked together in Al-Andalus. So Andalucia (present day Al-Andalus) is never far from my thoughts. This topic will be expanded when I begin my doctoral research in September.

I was speaking to a Spanish friend on the phone last night and she said I wouldn’t want to go over there right now even if I had the time and money because it is so hot. Climate change is making itself noticeable in the Alpujarra Mountains as well. Summers have become shorter and hotter. In Al-Andalus of medieval times there was a tendency to build houses relatively high and to keep the streets quite narrow. This provided shade and a measure of relief from the heat in summer. They also used water in numerous water channels and fountains. The Court of Lions in the Alhambra in Granada is a wonderful example of this. On a hot day I find even the sound of trickling, bubbling, splashing water immensely refreshing. Well, to come back to where I am now, sitting at my laptop in Bristol, the sky grey, the air chilly, quite unusual for August, it certainly makes it easier to work on my dissertation. So, Alhamdulillah for all kinds of weather, rain and sun, wind and dust. What a beautiful planet this is in all its natural diversity!

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Back in Academia

There are a few crocuses coming through in the garden and a couple of daffodils, the pond is frozen and there is an iciness in the air but the sun is shining and thawing the frost, this is were I begin to like England, otherwise it’s bleak in the winter. I would be quite happy to stay outside all day in a warmer climate; it’s so conducive to a contemplative mood and an abundance of inspirational ideas. I am missing Spain, the mountains and the sea, and especially the light. Back in academia, my poetic voice seems to be on hold for a while as I grapple with the pressures of financial constraints and essay deadlines. My apologies and thanks to the dear readers who have left comments. I haven’t blogged since September and I want to try and begin writing a regular post again. Inshallah, it will happen.