Sunday, May 16, 2021 | Shawwal 3, 1442 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

World from a window

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IT was sheer courage from a Zurich-based journalist and researcher that led her to launch ‘Window Talks’, a documentary blog project, during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Helene Aecherli was not to be cowed down from physical isolation or being confined to four walls. Through her initiative she set out to examine her close friends, the neighbourhood, or what prevails in faraway cities.


Helene along with colleagues Meret Michel and Franziska Grillmeier started to wonder how people were hit by the pandemic in Ecuador, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Gaza, Yemen, or the Sultanate.


Thus ‘Window Talks’ came up and most countries from the Middle East are featured in the blog.


The Sultanate finds spotlight through talented writer Lubna al Balushi, also a multilingual poet, whom Helene happened to meet in 2016 during her visit and has been in touch ever since.Lubna writes poetry in Arabic, German, English and Balochi.


Helene says Lubna makes a great role model for other women and is a very modern representative of her country which the Sultanate can be proud of. Thus, Lubna was featured in the blog as she is a ‘great observer and analyst.’


“She reflects what she is doing around her and is not afraid of speaking her mind and choosing her own path in life,” she mentions.


She is the only Omani author to publish a poetry book in German, Schönheit des Herzens (Beauty of the Heart), an exquisite collection of 54 poems which was published completely in German.


Lubna learned the basics of the German language in 2007 at the Goethe-Institute in Muscat and gained a scholarship to continue her studies in Freiburg, Germany.


Lubna was in quarantine for 14 days upon her return from The Netherlands where she visited her brother and family. She had planned to visit for three weeks but went on for three months due to the pandemic.


Luba’s chapter in ‘Window Talks’ begins with a poem titled Language of Heart where she, like others, was asked to answer four simple questions.


Many times


I have battled for a window


Actually windows!


Many times overtime


I have the desired windows


At first, as soon as shifting to a new house,


Everyone chased the room with windows!


Finally, I have mine!


But then, mine has no meaning without a view.


Then, years later,


Clouds stopped suffering;


Trees have grown


Birds found the way to my triple window!


A lot of times overtime


I have the desired windows


Here is me in a pleasant office with large windows


Then, years later,


Here I am again


In a less pleasant office with narrow windows!


Unfortunately;


They have an eye on such a window!


O God


All the times overtime


They have an eye on my windows!


O God


Room with a heart view, please!”


Language of Heart


These lines were penned during quarantine from her room at their Al Maabela South residence. She was immensely grateful for her family who organised everything for her quarantine.


Her second floor room with a cozy window view to the garden provided amazing views of the sunset. Lubna says she opened the window and waved like a queen to her parents, sisters and nieces who stood in the garden below.


Recollects Lubna: “I could not have imagined surviving inside blind walls and would have felt like in a prison. My sisters placed the food in front of my room, and my nieces wrote heartwarming messages that they pushed under the door. They sometimes even placed some cash in the bag which made me feel happy which helped me through the day.”


Helene says that despite the physical distance between us, it is more important to open up the windows to each other, at least virtually. She was deeply moved about the readiness of the people to share their stories, to give insights into their lives and to connect with others.


One of the followers say that she loves ‘Window Talks’ because the stories open up a window to other countries and sees them as an alternative to travelling.


Helene selects people randomly; connects with people they know or ask them to connect with other people.


She however explicitly looks for people in areas that are in the focus of the news.


Helene is also working to get some funding so that she can pay the people writing for ‘Window Talks,’ where people tell stories about their everyday lives.


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