Sunday, June 22, 2008

125 virtual flags

We have just had our first visitors from Syria and Montenegro. A hearty welcome to you and all visitors from your countries!

Damascus, the capital of Syria, was also the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire, but Syrian roots go back even further into antiquity, of course. The language of the country is Arabic. Syria is the site of much important early Christian history and the land is replete with historic structures from all periods. The Syrian Christian Church exists in India, btw.

He would probably not appreciate the comment but, politics aside, I think that Pres. Bashar al-Assad is a bit of a hunk and would qualify for prince blogging. He is the current head of a powerful dynasty, after all.
While glancing through Wikipedia's article on Montenegro I got nostalgic. The photo in the flag graphic above is the Bay of Kotor and I can hear Dr. Krekič saying "Kotor" in my memory of two semesters of medieval Balkan history at UCLA. This is the ancient land of the Illyrians. A referendum in May 2006 decided for independence from Serbia. The capital is Podgorica. The official languages include the following: Montenegrin (a Slavic language), Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian. The old royal capital is Cetinje.

Some nice photos and music, touring major cities of Syria:

Syrian folk-pop:

Let's shake our hips and line dance (I want one of those big drums):

Boka Kotorska - Bay of Kotor (history, music, photos - 9:59m)

Ljubomir Ðurović - Eh da mi je, da me želja mine

Tekst (Na crnogorskom)

Tamo đe je Lovćen slavni
Tamo po kraj plavog mora
Tu je moje rodno mjesto, tu je moja Crna Gora
Eh da mi je, da me želja mine
Da popijem loza s ceklina
Ili jednu oko iz mješine
Čuvenoga Crmničkoga vina
Daleko sam od svog doma
Al' se srce svega sječa
A čežnja za rodnim krajem, svakog dana sve je veča
Eh da mi je da ponovo probam
Pršute i sira sa Njeguša
Kraj ognjišta u svom toplom domu
Da se sita gusala naslušam
Ostade mi dusa željna svih ljepota svoga kraja
Stare majke, prijatelja, Crnogorskih običaja
Eh da mi je u svom rodnom kraju
Gledat kako sviču rujne zore
I kod svoje ostarele majke
Kačamaka jesti i krtole
Lyrics (In English)

There where famous Lovcen is
There at the end of the blue sea
There is my homeland, there is my Montenegro
Oh what it is to me, to my wishes
To drink water in Ceklin
Or to drink the old Crmnician wine
I am far away from home
But my heart remembers everything
And the yearning for my homeland, every day gets greater
Oh what it is to me, to try again prosciutto and cheese from Njegusi
The firey region, in it's warm home
For me to listen to the Gusle
Leave my wishing soul all the beautifulness of my land
Old mothers, friends, the Montenegrin customs
Oh what it is to me, in my homeland
Look how the red the sunset is
And with the old mothers
Eating Kacamak and potatoes

[To this I can add that my early efforts at Russian enabled me to understand the gist of one line above from two familiar words. I am encouraged about plunging into the Slavic world. Given that Arabic is the language of Syria, I can share that on a ride to the NOLA airport a few weeks back I had a driver from Jordan. I know only one sentence of Arabic, namely "I do not speak Arabic." He thought I said this one thing very well and we laughed. I do plan to return to my CDs of beginning Arabic some day but need to focus on Russian for now.]

This is music from the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (Crnogorska Pravoslavna Crkva) and seems to be related to a celebration for a hierarch. The music is truly beautiful and I offer it to you for a Sunday evening blessing.

--the BB

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