Understanding noises

I sit on a balcony about seven stories above the noisy street. Birdsong and saws, car alarms and hammering, motorcycles, diesel vehicles, horn honking and dropped metal tools. Occasional hollaring and calls to prayer over the loudspeakers.

Beside me is a 1930s radio, which Serkan's father found and repaired a decade or so ago. The station dial has numbered frequencies, but it also lists locations all over Europe, a bit of the Middle East and northern Africa. I keep it ever on the station closest to Moskva/Moscow. The music is crazily varied, but mostly it plays jazz, big band, some blues and classical. Old music melodying out of the old speakers puts the radio to best use, at least it seems more authentic to me.

The music splashes out of its borders sometimes. Earlier this morning: Shakira, Turkish pop songs, Like a Virgin and Pet Shop Boys. Then some Sunday morning music for the kids, some choir songs and now a little opera. Friday and Saturday nights are my favorite, mostly blues and big band tunes, which remind me of one of my favorite radio shows back home. Crazy 'Bout the Blues hosted that sexy-voiced diva, Kathleen Lawton.

Now a circumcision party is parading by below. 'Tis the season for circumcision. The young boys (usually between 6-9 years old) dress up royally in white sultan-like suits with gold embroidery, crowned by fancy white hats. People here seem to hire the same red classic Mustang convertible for the parade. The boy stands up in the convertible and waves at passersby, while a line of balloon-adorned cars trails him, honking. The caboose always seems to be a pickup with three old men drumming in its bed. I wonder if they are hired too. The procession and happy boy waving is, I imagine, pre-circumcision.

I am still in Samsun. Serkan found work a few hours away, damn dam construction, dangling down a canyon on a thin cord in sweltering heat and knocking out the loose rock. There's really no way for us to be together for the next month or so. We had spent pretty much every minute together since April, which is just insane if you think about it. It's good to have a break, I tell myself, but mostly it is strange to be separated.

The idea was for me to set up shop at his parents' house, catch some solitude, run, write and so on. I've been wanting to settle down for a while and enjoy some semblance of a routine. His folks were planning to leave to "the village" for a month or so to tend the hazelnut fields. But plans change, as plans do. His dad never left and his mom is returning in a few days. So, with solitude not so solo, I am also mapping out a temporary escape. I have to hop the border anyway to renew my tourist visa.

In the meantime, I am enjoying theatrical conversations with Baba (papa). We seem to understand each other. He has the most creative ways of explaining things, using utensils or maps or pictures, and a whole lotta gestures. I can't say much, though I'm speaking more and more... as usual, my shyness decreasing over time. Mostly my end of the conversations consists of evet evet, çok güzel, iyi and other non-word sounds. (Yes yes, very pretty/nice/beautiful/etc., good.) All very positive as you can see.

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