Wednesday, October 19, 2011


image via
The other day I was reading about Executive Producer Grant Scharbo. He just finished filming an episode of MISSING for ABC in Istanbul and he had a couple of interesting points. In fact, I'm going to pull a few lines for you:

“[Istanbul] is a city you can’t fake anywhere else. You can’t shoot somewhere else and say it is Istanbul,”

“We were scouting on a rooftop near Süleymaniye very early in the morning. The call to prayer started and I had never heard that before in my life. For someone who has never heard it, it is a unique sound and beautiful.”

(For the full article: Hollywood production sets in Istanbul’s historic venues)

His remark got me to thinking.

I have a scene with the morning call to prayer in my book. Eerie and beautiful. I don't think there is any substitute. However, there are five times a day that the muezzin broadcasts his call to from those slender minarets. Each has a distinct feeling associated with it. Imagine hearing the call in the middle of the day, with traffic screeching, music blaring, trams braking, etc. The afternoon ezan adds to a vibrant, chaotic feel of a big city like Istanbul, but eerie is not the word I'd use for it.

Sort of cute story:

As newlyweds, dh and I lived in the Göçmen neighborhood, one short block away from the Yesil Cami Mosque in Mersin. On the fifth floor (no elevator). When we moved in that summer, it was so hot that we slept with all the windows open (no AC) and were eaten alive by the mosquitoes (no screens). The first night, I listened to the fan whir and hardly slept. In the early pre-dawn hours, a breeze finally came down from the mountains and we fell asleep.

Loudspeaker at the same height as my window: BLARES THE CALL TO PRAYER!!!! PRAYER IS BETTER THAN SLEEP!!!!

I practically fell out of the bed. My husband jumped almost to the ceiling, swearing that it was judgement day.

Yeah. It's OK to laugh about it. We still do. Funny thing though, no matter how loud that darn megaphone was, eventually we stopped waking up from it.

The moral of my story is that the ezan has different effects, depending upon a character's emotional state.

Something I didn't know:

There are different versions of ezan, and I'm not referring to pronunciation variations. (Turks say ekber as opposed to the Arabic akbar. Bugs me a bit, actually.)

1) The Shi'a have a verse recognizing Ali as a Viceregent. (Better send you to the link where I got that info, because I know somebody is going to squawk about it.)

2) With his ban of the Ottoman Arabic alphabet, Ataturk implemented a Turkish version of the ezan for eighteen years. Clerics rejected it, but had no recourse until Adnan Menderes declared Arabic the liturgical language in 1950 and repealed the ban for an Arabic ezan.

Tanrı uludur
Şüphesiz bilirim, bildiririm
Tanrı'dan başka yoktur tapacak.
Şüphesiz bilirim, bildiririm;
Tanrı'nın elçisidir Muhammed.
Haydin namaza, haydin felaha,
Namaz uykudan hayırlıdır.


Now, on a completely different topic: The winner of THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern is Laura Pauling.

 Thanks for playing!


Sarah said...

I've only ever heard this in movies or documentaries, but it is a wonderful, eerie thing to listen to. Thanks for explaining more about it!

Old Kitty said...

Oh but I did laugh at your first experience of The Call! LOL!!! Awwwwww!!

I'd love to hear it for real - only ever do so on documentaries or on films but maybe not when I'm recovering from mosquito bites and asleep!

The languages here are incredible - I can't even pretend to understand (being so linguistically challenged!) but all just looks very beautiful! Take care

Carolyn V said...

Wow. I bet that's amazing that everyone stops for prayer. So cool.

Deniz Bevan said...

I kinda like hearing the ezan... Oddly enough, though, I was used to hearing it in Istanbul - and the first time they built a mosque close to my grandmother's house in Kusadasi, and we suddenly started hearing the ezan, I was kind of annoyed. Not sure why, still.
Why "uykudan hayirlidir" I wonder? I mean, for the next four ezans, people aren't necessarily sleeping?

Southpaw said...

What a first experience! I'm glad you can laugh at it now.

LTM said...

LOL! Carolyn! You are so crazy... And it's funny b/c the skeeters up here in Indiana are so fierce! They're much more aggressive than in the south--prob. b/c they have less time to live. Anyway, I have a new friend who uses strong fans to "blow" them away... this is what I thought of~ :D <3

Jacqueline Howett said...

Hearing that sound is something else. I think I suffered culture shock at first, then I got use to it. said...

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