SO YOU'RE a Germanophile who's chained to a job that prevents you from raising a stein at the Munich Oktoberfest every year. Or a bossa supernova destined to spend evenings watching Carl Sagan reruns, though your heart's in Rio. Or maybe you're a poverty-stricken Japan addict with a terrible case of kimononucleosis.
Relax. Salvation is at hand -- at Washington's 148 embassies. Many have cultural affairs departments eager to satisfy your craving for foreign languages, cinema, art, history, music and dance. As one cultural attach,e put it, "I have the show, but I need the audience."
Just contacting an embassy can be an experience in itself and offer the flavor of a country. The French will answer the phone with an insouciant "bonjour." If they put you on hold, they'll soothe you with a taped violin concerto -- on ne parle pas Muzak ici. The Brazilians will tell you that 97 percent of the students at one American university did not know the national language of Brazil, then point you in the direction of the nearest Portuguese language course.
The Spanish embassy will gladly tell you of Spain's role in American history and that George Washington's white battle steed was a gift from Spain's Charles III. It will also keep you abreast of a wide range of Spanish cultural activities, including "Treasures of Spain: A Proud Heritage," an eight-week symposium at the Smithsonian beginning April 18.
As a rule of thumb, one of the best ways to stay on top of international events is to have your favorite embassy put you on its mailing list. Canada's monthly cultural calendar, for example, not only keeps you in the know about Canadian film, art and music, but goes so far as listing the films in town featuring Canadian actors, the latest works published by Canadian authors and even when the Maple Leafs are at the Capital Centre.
Some embassies provide capsule summaries of the political, economic and cultural situation back home. And places like the Brazilian-American Culture Center and the Japan Information and Culture Center have libraries where you can check out videos, films and books.
While embassies tend to have strictly weekday working hours, they often sponsor or know about weekend events at local theaters, museums and concert halls. Here's a sampling of offerings by embassies and international organizations.
ALLIANCE FRANCAISE OF WASHINGTON -- 2142 Wyoming Avenue NW; 234-7114. A non-profit organization dedicated to French language and culture. Language and cuisine courses; films from France on video-casettes; lectures, organized visits to museums, 7,000-volume library. $15 annual membership fee.
ARAB AMERICAN CULTURAL FOUNDATION -- 1204 31st Street NW; 337-1644. Sponsors music, poetry and art exhibitions. "Moroccan antasia," paintings until March 23, Foundation Gallery.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY -- 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW; 797-3000. Temporary art exhibits through the year. Upcoming events: "Old Continent, New Building," an exhibit of photographs depicting Australian architecture will run March 18 to April 19. Following this exhibition, a permanent collection of contemporary Australian leather and ceramic crafts will be on display.
BRAZILIAN EMBASSY -- 3006 Massachusetts Avenue NW; 745-2700. Monthly film series, taped television broadcasts in Portuguese and lectures.
BRAZILIAN-AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER -- 4103 Connecticut Avenue NW; 362-8334. Non-profit organization that cooperates with Brazilian Embassy to aquaint public with Brazilian authors, artists, musicians, theater and language. 4,000 volume library, language lab. Upcoming events: "The Wedding Dress," in April. American premier of a play based on work of Nelson Rodrigues, one of Brazil's most important playwrights; Brazilian film festival.
CANADIAN EMBASSY -- Public Affairs Divisions, 1771 N Street NW; 785-1400. Extensive monthly cultural calendar. Upcoming events: Pauline Martin, pianist, March 10 at the Phillips Collection; Chantal Juillet, Canadian violinist performs with pianist William Tritt, March 17 at the Kennedy Center. Events planned for fall: a retrospective of the ten best Canadian feature films; sculpture from the Art Bank of Canada; a celebration of Canadian literature.
EGYPTIAN EMBASSY -- 2310 Decatur Place; 265-6400. Upcoming events: Egyptian music show, March 8, College Park; Arabic language courses beginning March 18; Saturday feature-film series beginning in April.
EMBASSY OF FRANCE -- 4101 Reservoir Road NW; 944- 6000. Extensive program of theater, music and art. Monthly calendar in French. Upcoming events: Moliere's "Tartuffe," March 8 through April 14, and "Changement a Vue," March 22-24, staged in the Embassy Auditorium; "Robert Nanteuil," Sunday through April 28, National Gallery of Art.
EMBASSY OF INDIA -- 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW; 939-7000. "Festival of India," 5,000 years of Indian culture celebrated in multi-faceted program sponsored by the embassy in association with Washington institutions: "Indian Art Today: Four Artists from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Family Collection," through April 8, at the Phillips Collection; "The Sculpture of India: 2,500 B.C.-1,300 A.D.," May 3 to September 2, National Gallery of Art; "Aditi: A Celebration of Life," June 4 to July 28, National Museum of Natural History; "Inaugural Concert," Kennedy Center, June 13, featuring renowned Indian musicians, including Ravi Shankar; "Mela," holy day fair on the Mall, June 26-30 and July 3-7.
EMBASSY OF ISRAEL -- 3514 International Drive NW; 364- 5500. Sponsors dance, film, art and musical activities. Monthly calendar and news bulletin. Coming events: "Israeli Cinema," through March 19, Smithsonian, American History Building; "Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra," Saturday, Kennedy Center; poetry reading, Sunday, Temple Sinai; "Alexandrion: A Jewish Fortress of the Second Temple Period," lecture, March 19, Jewish Community Center, 6125 Montrose Road, Rockville.
JAPAN INFORMATION AND CULTURE CENTER -- 917 19th Street NW; 775-0847. Branch of Japanese Embassy. Lunch- hour films, weekdays; film and video library; Wednesday evening films; lectures; intermediate level language courses. Coming events: "Cherry Blossom Festival," April 7-14, citywide.
MERIDIAN HOUSE INTERNATIONAL -- 1630 Crescent Place; 667-6800. A non-profit institution that presents international and cultural programs. Exhibition hours: Sunday to Friday, 1 to 4. (Closed this coming Monday through Friday.)
EMBASSY OF MEXICO -- 2829 16th Street NW; 234-6000. Presents periodic cultural activities, mostly held outside the embassy. "Dancing Faces: Mexican Masks in a Cultural Context," through April 15, Meridian House International.
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES -- 1889 F Street NW; 789-6000. Multi-national organization that promotes a variety of cultural events.
EMBASSY OF SPAIN -- Cultural Office, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 966-1078. Sponsors a wide range of musical, theatrical, historical and cultural activities. Monthly calendar and information bulletin. Coming events: Pianist Pablo de la Cruz, March 10, American University; cellist Lluis Claret, March 28, Kennedy Center; "The Treasures of Spain: A Proud Heritage," an eight-week class beginning April 18, sponsored in association with the Smithsonian Residents Associate Program,"Cervantes Day," April 23, Catholic University.
TURKISH INFORMATION CENTER -- 2010 Massachusetts Avenue NW; 833-8411. History films, slide shows, 24-hour daily news tape in Turkish.
EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY -- 4645 Reservoir Road NW; 298-4000. Periodic films, lectures, exhibits in association with other institutions. Coming events: "Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin," March 17, Kennedy Center; "Cultural Dimensions in Foreign Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany," lecture, March 21, Georgetown University Cultural Center; "Bonn Woodwind Quintet," April 1, Embassy Cultural Auditorium; "Representations Abroad," featuring two German painters, June 5 to September 2, Hirshhorn Museum; "The Blue Angel," ballet with the Berlin Opera, July 11-20, Kennedy Center; "Oktoberfest," September 22, Upper Marlboro.