Jackie Chan in Janadriyah?
Jackie Chan in Janadriyah?
“We are honored to be this year’s guest of honor and we have sent an invitation to Jackie Chan to attend as he is the cultural ambassador. We have a role to showcase our traditions and cultures at the event,” said Li Chengwen, Chinese ambassador in Riyadh. “We are still waiting for a confirmation from his side to attend and as soon as we know for sure, we will spread the word to make people come and join us at the festival,” he added.
Every year, the popular Saudi heritage festival invites a different country to attend as a guest to showcase its cultural tradition and heritage alongside the Saudi heritage. The Janadriyah festival showcased its events at the Chinese Capital Museum in Beijing, wherein Chan received a certificate appointing him as an honorary chairman of his country’s pavilion at the festival.
A press conference was held last Monday and was attended by officials from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Beijing municipality and organizing committees, in addition to the Saudi Ambassador to China, Yahya Al-Zaid, and representatives of agencies that will participate in the festival.
Deputy Director General of the Bureau for External Cultural Relations at the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Zhang Aiping, and Al-Zaid were pleased about the participation of China in Janadriyah as a guest of honor.
Aiping and Al-Zaid later exchanged flags that read in Chinese and Arabic, “China is a country shining beauty,” which is the slogan adopted by China for the festival.
The event will be an opportunity to highlight the robustness of the relations between Saudi Arabia and China in the political, economic and cultural areas, according to Chengwen. “The Saudi public and Arabs will have a good opportunity to gain insights into the rich Chinese culture through the special stand at the Janadriyah festival,” he added.
Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets
KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”