the windows of my office view the river. when i am not "following-what-is-happening" i spend my time watching the ships sailing everyday up and down, transporting goods and material. in those moments i feel very empty, all my senses are dull, but i enjoy being momentarily out of flux. I used to drift often, but with time i have lost my energy for drifting, and i am quite satisfied with those moments, out of flux.
before i go to the studio i have to arrange the news for reading. we call it "following what is happening": on every computer there is a copy of a wizard programm installed, called "NewsLine", which facilitates access to all news agencies in the world. NewsLine flushes news from every corner every second. arranging the news is a process of three steps: browsing through the NewsLine news, filtering them according to interest, and then pack them in a slightly different formulation.
TBS* is a huge multi-tongue media castle, concepted to broadcast to the outside world, and prohibited to broadcast inside the country. TBS consists of different departments who cover a certain region of the world each, and who broadcast in their own language. And above the departments there is a solid layer of one-tongue administration. Our arabic department is targeting the middle east, so the news i am reading every day are usually about iraq, palastine, libanon, and the terror attack of the day, plus some home land news. TBS is also very concerned with the so called reform process in the middle east, thus even giving broadcast space to young arabs to produce their own taboo breaking programs.
most of the employees of TBS live in neighbourhood cities, they travel one hour daily or share temporary places near the head quarters. The TBS head quarters building stands in a ghostly quarter formerly called the government quarter, where only shadows of people seem to pass by, going to work or returning. Our social contacts are dimmed to only the TBS colleagues, and as our financial situation is enhanced we do a lot of things together. Actually we are well integrated, into the station, but not into the cities where we live.
the job is ok, no professional qualifications were required. Just be the lay-man and the pay is good. Where else can you find a work here? i started working two years ago and landed in the news section, it was the beginning of iraq war. A lot of people were needed because TBS extended the arabic program broadcast from 1.5 to 5 hours. It was a hard time at the beginning, reading the numbers of the killed and the injured, or announcing the sly and murderous actions, but i got used to it. The only strange thing about the job is, the more i report about the "arab world" the more remote it becomes. It withdraws to a very far point, veiled under the continuous news shower i reproduce and do not quite fathom.
for example, the office corridor is quiet and peaceful. At one end of it there is the persian department, and on the other the urdu department next to the swaheli department. But recently i saw a big crowd in the corridor and i heard weird stories about an unknown group, calling themselves "Falluja Lions". They had declared power on the floor above us, which then launched a period of long and complicated negotiations with the home office administration. Then, a few days later, i saw a collegue from the 3rd compartment arrive, he was very tired and dusty and told me that all his people were wiped out by a group of veiled knights on horses.
sometimes i wonder where are the ends of the news line. The idea of TBS is to bridge the distances between here and the rest of the world, in other words to strengthen the own presence elsewhere. So i imagined a thin line as a bridge, and me walking walking but never arriving anywhere. A line which does not connect to anywhere, and i thought what if.
i heard from the reformers section that things were not going well. After excessive taboo breaking lots of complaints had come in, concerned about the reputation of TBS. An emergency meeting was held at administration, after which was concluded that something had gone wrong with the reform process. Thus all reform programs would be freezed, and only news and service programs would continue. During that time i also heard that the negotiations with Falluja Lions proceeded slowly. The home office refused TBS to assume any responsibility for any conflict, and they pointed out clearly that TBS has a neutral mediator position.
as i passed today through the sliding glass door at the main entrance i noticed a group of blindfolded people in the foyer, their hands were tied back with thin plastic wire. They were walking slowly along, guarded by some of my military-looking colleagues. some irritation accompanied me till i arrived at my office, but i came back to myself when i saw my colleges work at their desks, and waved hello to them. I booted the computer and launched NewsLine to follow-what-is-happening. But nothing was happening! the wizard programm refused to through any news, and left a bleak window on the screen: cannot connect to remote server. And just when i was thinking about this strange behaviour of NewsLine and whether it had something to do with the weird things i experienced here the last days, a huge explosion blasted the door of my room. Waves of heat were largely expanding, everything was flying very slowly, papers, screens, chairs, tea cups and bottles of water.