Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Remembrances from lives past, 2

Continuing from my previous post, this excerpt was written a few weeks later. As a reminder, you can find the complete text of this unpublished book on my website, in the Reading Room, in the bookcase marked Ottoman Beachcombing.

Edirne, Late April
...Nine a.m. and the day was brilliantly clear, and already warm. I found the bus to the border, though I forget how. On the Greek side, the guards harassed me a bit, then let me go. I love walking across borders, and this is both a beautiful, and a very intense one, with Greek-Turkish relations being what they are. Crossing the long, empty bridge, I could hear the sparrows and crows, the frogs and insects, the river bubbling. The banks are marshy and lined with poplars, willows, and dense reed beds. They trembled in the slight breeze. Behind me a Greek soldier glowered. At the other end of the bridge, as I passed, Turkish soldiers saluted playfully. I was laughing, dancing inside. Freude, Freude!
Turkish customs welcomed me. How could they not! Stamp, stamp, and I was thru. I was told that Edirne is seven kilometers, there was no bus, but by my good fortune there was a taxi.... [But] I had already decided to walk, to savor every moment and every image of the beauty around me. I set out, wrapping a turban around my head to be all the more outrageous.
The land was deep green and fertile, and as silent as on the other side of the river. I passed a few groups of women in the fields. In the Turkish manner, they worked together in a line, all bent over, legs straight and spread wide, picking weeds, or planting seeds. They wore baggy pantalons, baggy blouses, and head scarfs, all in bright mismatched floral prints, and they slowly moved in unison down the rows.
After I had walked about two k's in complete silence, a car passed. The driver stopped and opened the door for me. I shrugged and got in....

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