One mosaic represents the Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria. This structure built between 280 and 247 BC, was one of the tallest man made structures for many centuries. This indicates the deep connection between this eastern part of present day Libya to Egypt. These links are found in some ways to this day, even after the formation of nation states. This walk through the mosaics made me wonder what would life have been for the common people living in this region hundreds of years ago.
In his series on teaching Professor Patrick Allitt tells of an interesting technique to try and gauge the sense of a time. He tells his students to try and make a skit in which each of the parties is represented. To write history, one has to see the views of each side. So for example, if one is to try and understand the conditions during the Civil war of United States, you can chose characters representing four aspects- a Slave, a slave holder, an Abolitionist and a recent immigrant from say Ireland and what he would make of all the conflict going on. In developing these characters and seeing the different aspects of the debate regarding slavery in US of 1860s one can get a more rounded view. This approach to writing history would let one get a better sense of what was at stake, what were the views and positions of each party.
A MODERN SKIT
Applying the technique suggested by Professor Allitt to present times would be interesting and revealing. As an immigrant worker with limited resources, one could only do what one good friend told me- keep out of other people’s fights while serving whoever comes.
This question sparked off some interesting discussions, and one friend suggested to write this play from the angle of a lady who is treating the war-wounded. In every conflict, women are silent sufferers who take care of the wounded and witness most acutely the disruption of the routine flow of life. The schooling issues came to the fore. When are we going to have a proper curriculum and who is going to teach? When will the hospitals have a proper flow of medicines? Is it necessary to really send so many people with their relatives abroad for treatment? Could that money be better utilized in training programs and getting equipment-infrastructure for the local hospitals? One person even suggested writing an imaginary letter to the caretaker of the “Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria” doing a bit of time travel and employing the –Time Balcony approach. When we asked him to elaborate further on the Time Balcony he came up with these insights.
How would these events look if viewed from a Time-Balcony which lets us see things from a higher Time ground-say in a perspective of 500 years? His –Time-Balcony-included the coming alive of a person from the times of the Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria and reading a letter written to him about the present times. Are some issues of common people timeless? Has technology , internet changed things in a way one could not imagine even fifty years ago?
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The mosaics may also represent a muse, sending messages through time.
For a diarist the interesting thing will be being selective