Thursday, July 15, 2010

The muezzin and the smile on your face


Downtown Urgup. I have a free evening and we choose to try out a new place for supper. It is a nice venue in a garden with the usual exquisite soft stone cave walls that make me wonder why we ever decided to make our dwellings from straight lines. Plasterboard seems like another universe.

I start recounting my class about curved notes to Julian, quoting first Sandor Vègh ('Avery note is carved') and then one of the students who explained to me that they all learn Russian method (which, as far as I can see is locked elbows and bemuscled shoulders) , and that is why 'all the cellists in Turkey suffer from shoulder problems'. I have a running joke in the class about Dutch landscape as in FLAT (uncurved) notes, but I realize that most of these Turkish students probably have no clue about Holland or how uncurvy it is....


On and on I go about curved this and curved that. Curved concert halls and bedrooms, curved surfaces of tress, bodies, bows and cellos. The local Efes beer is refreshing. However, over the too-sweet houmous (too much pomegranate syrup?) I start to regret that we didn't go to the incomparable Ziggy café for the third time in a row, where the aubergine is deliciously smoked, the aromatics - dill, mint and parsley - perfectly judged, the bean purées like butter and where they have one of my favourite vegetables, okra...

I am struggling. I am at once trying to let go of my culinary disappointment and blot out fortissimo twang of the tourists at the bar when, suddenly, I know why we are there. 'The smile on your face', is playing on the radio. The muezzin starts up not only in the same key and the same pulse but the same feel as the old favourite. When the song has a lull the muezzin embellishes; when the song is busily letting me 'know that he needs me' it lays back with just a hum; when it rises up in an arc of extatic love, so does the muezzin. 'There's a truth in your eyes, saying you'll never leave me...'

And than the song modulates and the muezzin is left behind, calling the population of Urgup away from their cafés and to prayer. Lonely. Mildly unnoticed. We pay our bill and head up to Ziggys where we hear Anatolian folk songs (all part of this extraordinary festival ) and where I eat smoked aubergine to take the taste a way of the houmous. We bask in jazz tunes and micro-tones under a starlit sky till the early hours.

However, I will never forget what was said, between the muezzin's heart and those of Paul Overstreetand Don Schlitz.


Anonymous Barbara said...


8:45 AM  

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