Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Soundtrack for Turkey

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I’ve only been away from Turkey for three days, but there is already something that I miss: the sounds. (There is a lot that I don’t miss, too!) There are four sounds I specifically hope to remember:

The Muslim call to prayer ringing out from the mosques is the No. 1 sound I will miss from my six weeks in Turkey.

1. The adhan

The adhan–the Muslim call to prayer–is haunting and beautiful. Five times a day, the adhan goes out from mosques everywhere, calling the faithful to pay homage to Allah. For those of us brought up in non-Muslim societies and fed anti-Muslim fear messages in the past decade especially, the adhan is at first surprising. But I also found it soothing.

I’ve listened to the adhan in countless places, but those I specifically remember are on nighttime walks along the Aegean Sea, waiting for a bus, hashing in Istanbul, sitting in my hotel room, having dinner in a port-side restaurant, writing from a hostel terrace, exploring a new town, and while on a Skype call to one very lucky friend who was also able to hear it.

It’s peaceful, reliable and a little haunting, and I’ll miss it.

Welcome to my "jungle" in Turkey.

2. Jungle calls

Between the main house and the kitchen on my second volunteer assignment in Turkey, there was a section of woods we called “the jungle.” When I worked the early shift and was the first to enter the jungle, the sounds were deafening. It’s nature at its best, yet I know I’m totally safe and secure here—no worries about wild cats or orangutans. I could enjoy the bird calls, the trickling creeks and the random chicken sounds without care.

3. The Aegean Sea at night

I am not a big water person in that I don’t love swimming, but I do love watching and listening to water. Being near water makes me happy.

The Aegean Sea sounds especially magical at night.

At my first volunteer eco-farm assignment in Turkey, I had a mile of Aegean coast to watch over and listen to. My favorite time was at night, when most of the boats had gone home and the other visitors had gone to sleep. I would sit and listen—just me and the moon. I had shoreline time in Concarneau, France, too, but the sounds were different. This was my seaside in Turkey, and I will miss the sound of how waves and land met there.

4. The horns

In Turkey, using your horn is a national pastime. Drivers honk for people walking alongside the road, to greet other drivers, to overtake other drivers, and whenever else the mood strikes them. The horns are awesome. Rarely do you hear a standard honk-honk. It’s more like an ooga horn, a brief melody or a few notes on a scale. I think it’s hard to take drivers seriously when their horn sounds like a rip off of the Beverly Hillbillies soundtrack. This might not be a sound I’ll miss exactly, but it’s one I would like to remember, just for the hilarity of it all.

One Comment

  1. Hey – I’m sorry I didn’t check in sooner. I’m so envious. Tornado warning drama is THE way to start Monday morning – No caffeine necessary. Not in our end of the county at least.

    RE your visit: There are about 75 U.S. Polo Assn. stores in Turkey; they are some of my very favorite licensees! Your remarks about the subtle and soothing sounds of the adhan really hit home with us. And I’d forgotten about the horns! Our local contact said they could drive without tires, without steering wheels, but the horn – impossible to drive without one. Stay safe and happy.

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