Monday, 14 March 2011

4 a.m. call

baby does not like to sleep after four a.m. and kind of decides it is high time i woke up cuddle her a bit, sing to her and walk and dance around the house holding her in my arms. this goes on till 6 - 7 am... must admit it took some time to get used to this far from amusing routine...but there are some elements of fascination in being the only person up and about while the rest of izmir (i.e. 4 and a half million people) is still sleeping deep and cozy.

first, it is the only time when our otherwise buzzing street is actually silent. as we live along a stretch of restaurants, cafes and clubs - usually you can always hear music and voices from the crowd dining and chatting below. second, it is the only time when there is no movement of boats, seagulls and ferries around the gulf. this, seen in pitch darkness from our living room is somehow breathtaking - with the motionless waves looking like an open, endless pond of petrol black mud...and the lights of the other side of the harbour projecting longer sparks over its shiny surface.
and then there is the first call to prayer of the day (around 5.20 am) - a long echo of one, two, three chants coming from three or four different mosques... and, while when i listen the muezzin singing at other times during the day i hardly pay any attention...the first call of the day, heard through the still air embracing the empty, quiet city is a totally different thing - reaching me like the song of a siren in pain, with vibrations that seem to pervade every wall if the minarets' cry was actually transmitted through the water pipes of the house, coming out from the kitchen sink like the tune of an old fashioned radio playing in the background. it is a sound with no real volume - yet with a persistency and an allcompassing power that sorround every corner. a prolonged chant breaking the stillness of the night and kind of flooding the whole body of the city, its gulf and sky alike. in the dark, it creates a very surreal, eerie atmosphere - then, as i listen on and look out at the sea...the night gives way to the dawn that slowly but steadily lights off the sky with warm, soft colours. undeniably magical, i will concede - and it is indeed the most unusually intense way of beginning the day i have ever experienced.
a bit like daydreaming in slow motion.

started teaching again and must admit i do get a kick out of meeting my new classes. have met three so far + am doing some private teaching on the side. there is a very fixed pattern to my first classes with my new students. i introduce myself, i ask them to say something about themselves (where they are from; what they do in life; etc) - then i always ask whether they like izmir and how izmir compares to istanbul. i think i have had this conversation about 890 times so far and the answers i get are more or less predictable. istanbul is "very crowded" and the traffic is very bad there. izmir, on the other hand, is beautiful and people here are relaxed...etc - hardly any surprises, although younger people quite often point to how exciting and happening student life is in istanbul - especially if compared with sleepy and more family-friendly izmir. however, i will have to write a more detailed post about this - as it is indeed an all-time favourite topic of discussion...and not just for english as a b language.

am very happy to be back at school - even if i have come to notice how emotionally straining going back to work can be. at the end of every class i find myself in cold sweats. perhaps the result of jumping about all the time (i cannot seem to sit down very much)...or rather, i figure the result of... nerves! i just seem to try the hardest when i teach - going to great lengths to listen, talk and explain with great energy and enthusiasm. a bit like an acting rehearsal really. adding to this, i must say, there must be also some kind of unconscious fear of failing / not-being-able-to-function-post-partum kind of thing. but that's just me, i guess. and waking up at 4 am does not help!

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