The Bell Tower vs. The Minaret  

SmartType 51F
560 posts
7/29/2006 5:43 pm

Last Read:
8/3/2006 4:29 pm

The Bell Tower vs. The Minaret


I live very close to a large church, the nice kind unlike that Osteen monstrosity. It's quite traditional in its appearance and has lovely trees on the grounds, overall a very serene and welcoming place. The bells chime on the hour throughout the day and when there is a wedding, it's a symphony of ringing (think Quasimodo on crack). All in all its really a beautiful sound, very light, ethereal and charming in its lilting fashion.

Which brings me to my point (yes dear readers, I have one). Several years ago I lived in Instanbul and would run in the mornings, just as the muezzin were making their call to the faithful. One of the things that struck me as being really obnoxious was that most of the calls I heard in the 6 miles of my run, were in fact recordings. And bad ones at that. Every single one of them had a scratchy, tinny, piss-poor quality to them, and that was just the recording. So in addition to bad equipment, the call itself very much reminded me of stepping on a cat's tail. Now mind you, I do not step on tails intentionally, but it has happened and the screech and wail is pretty distinctive. Now this particular sound (a truly shit recording as appealing as nails on a chalkboard), is now compounded by the fact that each minaret seemed to be working off of something besides the atomic clock. So each screechy call to the faithful, was drug out over 15 minutes while their various seikos and timexes kicked off the recording. It was rather painful to listen to. All I could think of (would you please get off the damn cat's tail!!!)

It was annoying to say the least and certainly didn't contribute to a positive state of mind either. I'm a huge fan of global music, and was wondering what it would take to get these guys on board with something more pleasant. Maybe adding a Brazilian beat or adding some Ghanian drumming. I'm sure even Bono could offer some vocals that would make a huge inprovement. Maybe then after listening to a peppier call, instead of going to the market to blow something up, they actually fetch some tea and sweet rolls.

tierratexas 52M

7/29/2006 7:28 pm

Having spent several years in the Eastern Province (Khobar, Damman, Dhahran), I understand that one develops an ear for a good or bad muezzin. Sometimes they are in a rush, or sometimes they sing as if they are divinely inspired. The funny thing is that the locals obviously know this, too, yet they tolerate bad performances. (Thinking back, I now imagine that there may be all sorts of personal politics within the mosques as to who signs when and where.) And I think that I also heard recordings, but this was about 30 years ago--maybe they didn't have hi-tech tape recorders yet.

The most surprising thing about your story is the fact that you were jogging in Istanbul. I have not yet been to Istanbul, but I imagined that it was not the type of environment in which a woman would commonly jog. Did you have a male jogging partner along with you?

Have you heard "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by "They Might Be Giants". Great song.


SmartType replies on 7/29/2006 10:28 pm:
It's Istanbul not Constantinople, It's Istanbul not Constantinople: why yes of course I am indeed quite familiar with their song and in fact have been to a TMBG concert (nerd alert). Seriously, this shit was recorded. Hell, read my profile, obviously religious (granted I don't believe in anything) music is appealing - these muezzin recordings were down right painful. At the time, Istanbul was quite European (hopefully not too much of a change since then)- and although I got a few looks, it was quite tolerant. I did run faster through certain neighborhoods though.

rm_emergent5 56M
15 posts
7/30/2006 11:04 am

Hey ST-
You are right that those on this site are self-selected for sexual desire and generally come with experiences or appetites beyond the canonical missionary.

However we are not self-selected for "smarts", but slow as I am, I discern a leitmotif emerging in your recent blogs:

… is it something to do with religious and sexual fundamentalism as the root to this world’s problems (at least those in the middle east)

. . . or can it be that a horde of smart AFFers having wickedly erotic sex on the sand to the sound bells could build enough good karma to drive the world to joyful peace (worth a try, though the bells could get annoying)

. . .no its probably not that either…

Anyway keep these Smart blogs coming and we might yet figure it out ...


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