By Alison Bate
Hi! I’ll be joining four other authors at the Vancouver Public Library this Sunday to talk about my upcoming debut novel.
The novel’s set in Sudan, where I taught English for a while, and tells the story of three very different women confronting their individual fears. Fatima, the second of three wives, faces poverty; her cousin Nadia fears for the health of her Down’s baby; and Jodi, a travel-loving westerner, fears a conventional life.
I write about the Muslim way of life in the tri-cities of Omdurman, Khartoum and Khartoum North (Bahri), a capital region dealing with the aftermath of civil wars, blazing desert heat, power cuts and constant traffic jams.
I’ll be reading from my novel and answering any questions at the New Voices event, along with four other authors: Suzanne Chiasson, Roxanne Barbour, AK White and Joan B Flood.
Date: Sunday, April 30, 2017 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Venue: Vancouver Public Library, 350 W. Georgia St., Vancouver. B.C. Alma VanDusen Room, Lower Level.
It seemed an indelicate way to arrive at a religious ceremony. We bumped in, out and around gravestones set in desert scrub, before pulling up in the minivan in front of a huge circle of men in white robes.
The pounding beat got louder as we walked to the edges of the circle and saw what they were all watching: green, red and leopard-clothed mystics swirling and dancing in a hypnotic fashion in the middle of the circle.
Their faces told the story: blissful is the only way to describe it. The bumpy ride forgotten, all things forgotten but the compelling dancing, chanting and smiling faces.
It was Friday evening in Omdurman and I’d never seen the Sufi dancers before, despite living in Sudan for five months in 2007. At the time it seemed too touristy, and a long way to go on my one day off a week. Big mistake. Continue reading
By Alison Bate
My article about the perfume Bint el Sudan and my grandfather was published in Reader’s Digest Canada in December 2009.
However, there wasn’t room to include all the stories I collected during various interviews. Here are more details, including those from former perfumers at the U.K. company of Bush Boake Allen, original makers of Bint El Sudan.
View from Khartoum
Alawiyya Jamal, a Khartoum-based humanitarian officer, told me that no Sudanese wedding perfume is complete without Bint.
She adds: “While preparing for my nephew’s wedding, I found it also comes as an atomizer for everyday use. Personally it is one of my favorite smells, not only as in the perfume mix but also a daily freshener.
“The other use is that it is sprayed on broken down sandalwood for the bride and married women. It is also used on the pieces of the acacia seyal wood with white powered musk as scent. The wood makes the perfume last longer and improves its smell.
“When used with the Acacia wood, it is used to scent the house, bed covers, and for those who can not afford the sandalwood, they use it as an alternative to perfume the tobes (the brightly-colored sari-like clothes worn by many Sudanese women), dresses and cloth.”