I'm writing this from the balcony of a cafe in Istanbul, overlooking the Bosphorus...
The time of Sunday's KurdSat (TV) appearance got pushed later, and I wondered if it would happen, but sure enough, Cherise, Karwan, our translator and I took a cab out of Suli, into the hills, into an area with far more serious police officers, past the Presidential Palace. (Under the arrangements of post-Saddam Iraq, the largely ceremonial presidential post tends to go to a member of the Kurdish minority.)
Then our taxi was stopped at the gate and we walked to the studio building.
After a meeting with the producer, who knew very little about the program but drafted some good questions after a while... it was VERY useful to be able to play the beginning of the SBS Kurdish radio broadcast on my phone!
The main presenter came in (we’d just seen her on the TV in the office), and introduced herself. She was remarkably calm to my mind. Although, I don’t do live TV in Kurdistan every day. She came in, saw we hadn’t had makeup done yet, but were due on TV in 5 minutes, so walked us over to the makeup room.
In the interview we talked about the program, the students, our impressions of Suli, and performed a little. Cherise performed two amazing short poems… the first slow, the second in rap format. I played some Bach, the Andante from the A minor Solo Sonata.
Since our taxi had been sent away at the gate, we went in a company car, first towards the Institute (they didn’t have the right information…), then on to the theater. While we were stuck in traffic, Cherise and I worked on the idea of her performing a poem while I repeated the Bach, in that evening’s performance.
Arriving at the theater, there were some mishaps with dress rehearsal, mostly regarding lateness; this had been a common thread in the program from the start. The Kurdish people I met were all very welcoming, family and friend-centered, in a way which can lead to lateness, since to hurry away, even with a pressing concern, could be considered impolite. It is natural that the precision demanded by professional performance should sometimes cause friction. In the end, common effort trumped problems, and the show went on.
Over the few hours it took for things to be smoothed over I got to spend some more time with the American University students who were helping with translation. One of them, a journalism major, was 23 and had been born while their family was in exile in Iran during the Saddam regime. The other was 19 and still taking their common first-year classes while working out her area of study.
I didn’t have time to go back to the hotel, so performed in casual clothes. I only heard Cherise’s poem a little, while playing the violin. To me, it fitted well with the introspective nature of the Bach, and its form worked with the way I played the Andante – taking the first repeat but not the second. I hope we get the chance to do it again!
One of the performers asked me about playing the violin. Violin teachers in Suli had told him that being left-handed, he couldn’t play violin. I told him it was untrue, and to give him my card. If I can do anything from New York, I will.
I’m writing these last words on the plane going back to New York from Istanbul. The flight was delayed a day (caused by pilot illness), leaving Cricket and me in Istanbul for 24 hours. I took the opportunity to visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and take the bridge across the Bosporus, back into Asia.
Now we’re over Iceland (I asked a flight attendant, who called the flight deck), and this narrative comes to a close. I may keep editing it a bit, and adding photos, but it's time to prepare for the Fall which is shaping up to be fun and BUSY!