Eat A Second Dinner
By Zak Rosen
Hello. Zak Rosen here. I’m one of the SOTRU producers.
I learned a very important documentary lesson last night. When someone goes out of their way to make dinner for you, even if they didn’t tell you they’d be cooking, even if it’s 10:30 at night, and even if you’ve eaten an obscene amount of sushi less than an hour prior, eat nonetheless. Because in the end, it’s the right thing to do. It will please your host, and it will serve the story.
Last night, Al, Taki and I went over to the Al-obaidi’s house for a late-night interview. The Iraqi family of three has been in Des Moines for less than a year. Prior to that, they lived in a refugee camp in Syria, and before that, were among the intellectual and cultural elite in their native Baghdad. As part of State of the Re:union’s Des Moines show, we’re telling the the Al-obaidi’s story. From their comfortable and affluent life in their pre-war torn country, to their son’s death by roadside bomb, to their fleeing to Syria, and finally, to their humble new beginning in Des Moines, Iowa of all places.
We knew we would be asking the family to re-visit some very ugly, difficult memories for the sake of a radio story, so our goal in doing so was obviously to be as sensitive and delicate as possible, while still doing our best to unravel the detail and nuance of the story.
We had already spent a few hours with the Al-obaidi’s earlier in the week, and had established somewhat of a rapport with them. So when we got to their house last night at 9 p.m., we expected to schmooze for a few minutes, and then start in on the interview. Instead, we sat in their kitchen drinking beer and wine, watching Mr. Al-obaidi prepare a feast just for us (they had already eaten dinner)!
Finally, at around 11 p.m., gorged and a little tipsy, we moved into the den where we proceeded to have one of the most emotional and challenging interviews I’ve ever been a part of.