Tuesday, September 30, 2008

United Nations: Off Duty

Imagine the center of diplomacy and global debates among world leaders from every corner of the globe, the conference rooms and the General Assembly Hall all deserted, elevators and escalator throughout the United Nations Headquarters completely off duty and out service - and it's Tuesday afternoon!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish New Year. It appears that everyone in the building was aware that it is also an official UN holiday... Except for yours truly, who came to work this morning, prepared to tackle global issues and the highlights of the General Assembly's 63rd session, when at the very entrance of UN radio, I realized that although the building's not shut for staff, it is pretty much deserted... I should have known, right?

Instead, I foolishly stayed up last night drafting my radio script for today's show... and now I am writing my blog next door to Conference Room 1 in the very heart of the basement floor below the main lobby. It's never been so quiet here - not ever since I first walked inside the chaotic UN lobby to the my "introductory" meeting in the summer of 2006.

I have just emailed my radio producer at PRN to let him know about the unsuccessful attempt to record my weekly show - I tried in all honesty... On top of that, I was actually looking forward to it too... But needless to say, an extra hour of sleep would've been equally blissful after a night of horrors one after another!

Oops, somebody just walked by the computer lab... I wonder if he's off duty too - clearly, as he's totally under-dressed for a regular day at the UN: no suit, no tie, just a checkered shirt and dark blue jeans... hurrah, what a day for the officials!

And the newsstands are all empty, the cafeteria is closed, my favorite radio engineer is off, too. If any of my friends were here from my former UN madness days, we'd have had a blast taking pictures "behind the scenes"... today is the day for the freedom of press, that's for sure!

Remember "The Interpreter" with Nicole Kidman? That scene where she overhears the conversation (or a plot, rather) at the General Assembly on a late night on the way out of the building...? Spooky!

Anyone fancy a private tour through the UN chambers? Just kidding, of course, but really, it's worth a visit if you haven't been to the building yet. Fascinating - and looks nothing like what you see on television.

My first visit to the General Assembly - the big hall with green marble and a gold-plated UN logo on it - was breath-taking, I have to admit... had never felt so... important. No, really. There's a sense of "being a part of something very important and vital on a large scale", honestly. But that wears off with time, it does. Except during the GA week when you hear every world leader of every country - big and small - taking the floor to address the assembly, one by one. Staggering.

At times I wonder if the UN would be a more effective and less controversial place if it were only active during the General Assembly...? If it isn't so already. For as much as I love and admire the organization for what it stands for (but not always for its actions when it comes down to it) I often wonder if it's effective nowadays......

Getting back to the main topic, I just heard back from my producer (of United Nations Uncovered, my radio show) and being his usual sweet self (no many of those around, eh?) he told me not to worry about it... But I do! Why? Because I always worry, especially if I'm told not to! But seriously, only now I realized that a week off air is boring - radio can be addictive and now I miss it!

No other choice but to wait till next week, so for the time being - Happy Rosh Hashanah to those of you celebrating the holiday, and a great week to everyone!

"This was United Nations Uncovered for Progressive Radio Network. I'm Tinatin Japaridze; please tune in next Tuesday for more news and updates from the UN..." :-)

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