Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Got a Day Job?"

9.30 on a Tuesday morning: Turtle Bay's busy staff entrance of the United Nations; security guards surrounding the metal detector doors; visitors queuing up in the main lobby for a multi-lingual tour and suit-n-tie, prim bureaucratic silhouettes going up and down the escalators and waiting by the Secretariat elevators.

Yet another General Assembly resolution is awaiting its approval and the Security Council is pondering over its adoption in the SC Chambers behind the milti-national flags and the famous sky-blue UN backdrop that we often see on television across the world.

Dashing over to the 2nd floor briefing room to attend a "UN accredited press only" conference with one of the head bureaucrats, humanitarians, diplomats, etc. Usually, it's the same old story: all the goodwill in the world, highly enthusiastic speeches and rather critical questions (slowly crossing over into more "editorial" comments) posed by the press corp...

Welcome to work, Tinatin - the day job has now officially kicked off!

When I first stepped inside the Turtle Bay building, the last thing on my mind was making a career out of it... Or a side-career, anyway. The purpose of my initial meetings with the UN Department of Public Information was a song that I had wanted to dedicate to the struggle against HIV/AIDS - "I Pray". From then on, one meeting after another with various diplomats in different departments spread up and down across the building... Months of hand-shakes, introductions, letters, CDs sent back and forth through various bureaucratic corridors. It all shaped itself into a brand new project of its own - "We the Peoples", my UN song, or in other words, a song based on the United Nations Charter. An idea that first crossed the mind of an incredibly creative author and UN expert, Ian Williams.

When Ian first mentioned this unusual idea to me ("Put the 'I Pray' idea on hold for now - at least until you are more established so that you can really try and make a difference with the song and its purpose - and think about doing something that has never been done before - write a pop song based on the UN Charter... Now that's original!") I didn't immediately grasp the originality of it until I went back and read more about this big organization that I had only driven past throughout the years but had never known much about.

Whilst working my way up the bureaucratic ladder (and that did take a few months, I have to say) I read overwhelming amount of literature about the UN, asked questions (Ian Williams and my other friend, Mark Seddon, who at the time was the UN Correspondent for Al Jazeera English, were incredibly patient and generous in their informative discussions with the new student of theirs!) and tried to learn all there was to know about this fascinating place located in the very heart of Manhattan.

Up until the entire music project was fully and officially approved on all fronts (no one had ever written a pop song, or any other type of song, for that matter, based on the sacred Charter of the United Nations, so having no analogy to refer to, we really had to cross every single bridge up the UN ladder of approvals), I had quite a few months at my full disposal and I slowly developed a serious interest and enthusiasm for "everything to do with the UN"... Hence, I landed a job at one of the Russian papers as the UN Correspondent.

To make the long story short, it really did become a day job after all. Now I host a weekly radio show on Progressive Radio Network here in NY, a station run by Gary Null (a highly inquisitive mind, I admit!) and to be honest, the split-personality (singer/songwriter vs. political/diplomatic correspondent) has become a serious habit - it's not so easy to distinguish between the two... The music being a passion for life, the journalistic side of my life is a real bonus in every way - not only do I get to live and experience work on both sides of the fence, but the inquisitive mind and an overwhelming thirst for all this information across the board is more or less satisfied through the day job.

Referring to your question earlier on whether I'm a part-time DJ, well I guess you could say that - except not a club DJ but a radio DJ with a political flavor.

So there you have it... That's the day job...

Back to music now! :-)

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