I’ve spent and really enjoyed some time during Ramadan in Egypt, Morocco and Tunis. From dawn to dusk, it’s a time for meditation and prayers. When the sun goes down, the major cities in these countries become alive with people dressed in her best, visiting mosques, relaxing at cafes, visiting their relatives, shopping and enjoying the special foods prepared during the holy month. In talking with Saudi Ambassador Mohamed Kurdi, I learned that, in his country, the center of Islam, things are quieter with full emphasis on fasting, prayers, visiting relatives and acts of charity.
Congratulations to Geraldine Twilley, a highly qualified teacher, interesting woman and a good friend who celebrated her birthday on Oct. 26.
Valgerour Valsdottir, the charming wife of Iceland’s new Ambassador to Japan lngimundur Sigfusson, who celebrated her birthday on Nov. 6 in Nagano at a special party hosted by Sol and Carole Yoshida in their beautiful home. The couple who I met at the Nordic-Japan Environmental Conference 2001, are sure to be highly regarded and popular on Tokyo’s diplomatic and social scene.
Swedish Ambassador Krister Kumlin and his unbelievably energetic and organized wife Ewa on the super successful Swedish style in Tokyo 2001. Several of the events were graced by the presence of Sweden’s 24-year-old Crown Princess Victoria. I introduced Swedish model Torgeir Husby to Ewa, and he worked in the promo’s fashion shows. He said, “The whole thing was wonderful,” and noted chef Frederick Walther who also worked on the promotion, said, “No one has ever done as much for Sweden in Japan as have the Kumlins.” Kudos all around.
I arrived late for the mid-day reception hosted by Luxembourg Ambassador Pierre Gramegna and his wife Sylvie to celebrate their country’s National Day. This still gave me the opportunity to congratulate them, chat with a group of their (and my) good friends and enjoy the delicious buffet. Sylvie, among other things, is an excellent cook. She also proved her leadership as chairperson of the 2001 ILBS Cherry Blossom Ball which many who attended said was the best ever, and her talents don’t end there. She proved her artistic and interior design sense at her very successful “Living Kitchen” exhibition at Tokyo Gas Hall earlier this year. Pierre has been interested in photography since his father gave him his first camera when he was a young boy. His work is that of a professional, and he’s also one of the principle organizers of the exhibitions of photos of Japan by diplomats.
I would also like to congratulate another popular couple, Malaysian Ambassador Dato M.N. Marzuki and his wife, Datin Nora. They were hosts at a glittering reception at the Hilton Tokyo’s newly decorated Kiku Ballroom to celebrate their National Day. The crowd was wall-to-wall people that evening, with guests enjoying the Malayasian, Chinese, Japanese and western food, the ambiance and each other. l spent two weeks in Malaysia a few years ago and traveled from lovely Langkawi Island in the north to exotic Sabah and Sarawak in the south.
It seemed that no sooner had he presented his credentials when Netherlands Ambassador Egbert Jacobs and his lovely wife Francoise Julien got very involved in worthwhile community projects. Their first was a charity dinner organized by the Street Children Committee and held in the Jacobs’ home and garden. There was a big turnout for the event that included a welcome speech by the host, a thank you speech by Philippines Ambassador Romeo Arguelles and a superb bountiful buffet of Dutch foods. Music that evening was provided by a traditional Dutch street organ, flutist Yuka Tsukahara, harpist Midori Tajima and the Chanteclair Choir and Philharmonic.
Roeland Vos, President Europe, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, was in town with a large delegation of the prestigious hotel chain’s general manager. During their visit, they held seminars for people in the travel and tourism business and hosted a festive Starwood Europe 2001 reception in the Star Room at the Westin Tokyo Hotel. Following brief speeches by Vos and Starwood’s man in Japan Akio Hirao, the visiting GMs mixed with the crowd and answered questions about the hotels and resorts they manage.
Due to the success and many requests for its Egyptian Promotion, the Hilton Tokyo will repeat the popular event from Nov. 1 to Dec.14. It is supported by the Egyptian Embassy, Egyptology Tourism Board, Egypt Airlines and the Nile Hilton.
The schedule is somewhat influenced by the commencement of Ramadan, and a prayer room will be available at the hotel. for information on times and special attractions.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender