The Sanjak of Novi Pazar revisited June 20, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, remember this? Not that I expect you to, of course. In fact, I’d be a tad worried if you did. But what I thought was a one-off, one-man extravaganza on a boiling summer’s eve in fact turns out to be something of a tradition.
Not that I should have heard music on Berlin’s most boring street at all in weather like this. I should have been living it up. Soaking up the sun. Showing off my favourite new clothes item, a pink t-shirt handed down to me by my ex-boyfriend. (Although I think he and his present must have a live-in lover. My ex is a large gentleman. His present is tiny. I am neither, really, yet it fits like a dream. I like it so much, in fact, that it’s the only thing I can bear to wear and have to wash it constantly and then put it back on, so it’s bound to fall to shreds any sec.) Not that it’s turned me any heads, mind you.
But I can’t. Because of the demon work. Stinking, bloody work. Work for people who pay such a pittance that I, for once, was willing to haggle an extra few tugriks out of them. “Look, I really can’t be bothered to work for that sort of sum,” I said, honestly, and, if I don’t have to chase the person round the world to get my tugriks out of them, it might put off death from starvation by a couple of days.
And who should work in this weather? With midsummer upon us? Mind you, I’ve had guests galore of late. And then there was gay festivating to do last weekend (and more this). So I suppose it is about time I picked a translatorly pocket or two. But, honestly, I really can’t remember the last time I could take a well-deserved month off. It must have been at least WEEKS of work in a row now, I tell you. Weeks!
I am having computerly problems of late. I decided to remedy this by deleting half the programmes I didn’t recognise on my non-laptop. Unfortunately, this included the internet browsers too – I knew I recognised that big e from somewhere – and I seem to have sent the bastard into permanent meltdown. So it’s my rubbish old laptop to the rescue. It does its best, bless it, but does see fit to crash about eighty times a second. Still, nothing for it. It’s me and my laptop against the world.
Which means I can work on my sunless balcony. It’s logistically tricky. I don’t have some sort of table and I can’t put my feet up on the metal railings to prop the comp up as I’m worried the neighbours from the 100%-long-term-unemployment-house across the road will see my dirty feet. The clothes-horse needs to be positioned carefully, and to have a strategically hung drying item on it, to accommodate my cigarettes, lighter and mobile, which last rang in 1983. Then it’s jiggling of knees, bemoaning my lack of non-mouse skills and taking breaks every three seconds to stretch my nagging limbs.
To break the relentless boredom, I thought I’d have Serge, whom I’d cleverly downloaded into the laptop a second before, to distract me with lovely old ditties about incest and coming and going between someone or other’s kidneys. But I couldn’t hear Serge for the wailing of, as I thought, someone’s Bulgarian folksy music going loudly in the background.
I looked at my watch, germanly. Gone 8. The music was awfully loud. And quite an odd choice. I couldn’t work out what type of neighbour would happily admit to listening to accordiony, mouth-organy music with such pride that he’d subject the rest of the street to it too. Naturally residents’ heads popped out onto balconies at regular intervals. None seemed particularly happy. There was frowning and tutting. I began to enjoy the music more and more.
And then an odd sensation. The music seemed to be getting louder – it would be a brave neighbour who cranked his Bulgarian folk music CD up even louder having already brought the disdain of 90% of the street on him – and the quality seemed rather good. I rubbernecked for all I was worth. And within seconds a troupe of actual musicians wandered into view.
Darlings, I was thrilled. Last year, it was just one drunk accordionist. This year it was two grown-up men, a grown-up woman and a child in a baseball cap. I think the child’s cuteness was meant to be an extra selling-point. He was wearing a German national team football top with an 11 on the back and the word Deutschland emblazoned across it rather than the name of any player – I think the German no. 11 is Beckenbauer – presumably for the sake of neutrality. He occasionally shook his baseball cap at the people hiding behind the plants on their balconies. The woman would sometimes join him, with a plaintive cock of the head. And the two men beed men, holding things together, bossing the choreography, setting the walking pace. One of them was just – not that he’d have noticed – waiting to be spotted on the street and turned into a top model. Ravishing. And he could play. And it was a lovely contrast to our boring old street. This genuine taste of central Europe. Dark-skinned, proper travelling musicians. And the odd yellow-haired local dashing into their houses to escape the danger. But I took a quick mental straw-poll of the neighbours’ reactions and, do you know – it must be because it’s midsummer – I’d say they were mostly positive. Just as Ed told me was the case last time this happened, some people hurled coins at them at well-timed intervals.
The session appeared to have come to an end. There was a two-minute silence as they wandered to their next mobile bandstand a few hundred metres further on and, having counted the takings, the boy could put his baseball cap back on. They then warmed up a bit as they went. The boy, who, I realise, hadn’t played a note, decided to join in. He shouldn’t have.
Thrilled, I got back to my translation. Still, it was quite nice when they stopped.