blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Persian meal and tombak solo

We were invited by a very gracious Iranian couple to share supper with them at the weekend. They have a huge hammock hanging in their living room, from which the gentleman likes to watch TV. His nephew from Tehran lives with them at present, studying aeronautical engineering at the university and playing the piano and the tombak (a Persian drum) at home for relaxation. He demonstrated on the tombak, our host singing along, Persian style, in the background.

Black tea was handed to us on our arrival, with bowls of sugar crystals, to warm us up on a cold evening. Chris drank all of his without complaint (he doesn't usually touch tea)! Four other people had been invited, besides: one was a retired Professor of Philosophy and another was the CEO of an Ottawa company that, to quote from the website "manages a large portfolio of accessible taxicabs, airport transportation cars, executive black cars, limousines, shuttle buses and tow-trucks." We had a wide ranging conversation, talking about Wittgenstein and Aristotle, the analysis of 'plane crashes, the enjoyment of crossing Canada by train, various interpretations * of Schubert's Ave Maria, how to make hummus, how to give children their freedom, linguistic pedantry, etc., etc. It was that kind of dinner party. Chris and I were charmed by the company and ate a delicious Iranian supper of that homemade hummus and pita, chicken with apples, saffron rice and crispy slices of roast potato, served with a casserole of celery, onions, mint and parsley (Khoresht karafs). Small cakes topped with creamy yoghurt and dates, along with a plate of big grapes, were served for our dessert.

*Helene Fischer's version uses neither the original script nor harmonies!
Ave Maria. / Heut sind so viele ganz allein. / Es gibt auf der Welt so viele Tränen und Nächte voller Einsamkeit / Und jeder wünscht sich einen Traum voller Zärtlichkeit. / Und manchmal reichen ein paar Worte, um nicht mehr so allein zu sein. / Aus fremden Menschen werden Freunde und große Sorgen werden klein. / Ave Maria. /
Ave Maria, weit ist die Reise durch die Nacht. / Es gibt so viel Wege zu den Sternen und jeder sucht eine Hand die ihn hält. Vielleicht ist jemand so traurig wie Du. / Komm und geh auf ihn zu. / Verschließ heut Nacht nicht Deine Türe und öffne heut Dein Herz ganz weit. / Und lass den andern Wärme spüren in dieser kalten Jahreszeit. / Ave Maria. Ave Maria.
Fashions change, don't they? (although sentimentality remains). The original Schubert Lied went like this:
Ave Maria! / Jungfrau mild, / Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen, / Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild / Soll mein Gebet zu dir hin wehen. / Wir schlafen sicher bis zum Morgen,  / Ob Menschen noch so grausam sind. / O Jungfrau, sieh der Jungfrau Sorgen, / O Mutter, hör ein bittend Kind! Ave Maria! 
and so on for two more verses. This was the German translation of a hymn to the Virgin, extracted from The Lady of the Lake, a long poem by Sir Walter Scott.
[...] Ave Maria! undefiled! / The flinty couch we now must share / Shall seem this down of eider piled, / If thy protection hover there. / The murky cavern's heavy air / Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled; / Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer, / Mother, list a suppliant child!  / Ave Maria! [...]

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