Kurdistan Bloggers Union Why I love Kurdish villages - Kurdistan Bloggers Union

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004 

Why I love Kurdish villages

Last week I watched Abbas Karostami's movie, Wind will carry us. It remembered me how much I am fond of Kurdish villages. Some of villages are exceptionnally beautiful but in general, Kurdish villagers (gundî) say : "my village is the most beautiful in the world". And I answer authomatically : "Did you see ALL the world ?" ; "No, but my heart knows it" is the frequent conclusion... Well some villages are situated in mindblowing landscapes, some others are modest in appearance but life in villages is the same, in any part of Kurdistan : still, time passing like a river, not so quickly, no in a borrying way, but with the good tempo, especially in summer... Slow mornings, lunch, sleepy afternoons, lively nights... Of course, peasants are working hard, but if you are a foreign mîvan (guest) you are spoiled like a goddess... good deal... the other side of the coin is that you are a mîvan, so it means that 150-200 persons want to see you and it is quite impossible to refuse, or there will be a war between them and your hosts for twenty generations... Then "sleepy afternoons" become often "visit afternoons." : you lay down on the flat bed, in the saloon, ready to close your eyes, and suddenly everybody jumps on their feet, announcing : "mîwaan (visitors)" , and arranges the room in order, and you get up, welcome people, everybody sits down around you, you make a turn for greeting (if there are 10 persons you ask to each of them "çawa yî ? - rinde, tu çawa yî - spas dikim, bash im" and so on... so on)...

Then after everybody has greeting everybody, presentations begin. Your host designs a woman, absolutely similar to the others (same dress and scarf) : "Here is Fatma (or Nazlé, or what you want). She is the aunt-of-the-cousin-of-the-nephew-of-the-father-of-Mustafa-that-you-have-seen-yesterday". Silence. I guess that I should say something : "Aoh...Merhaba, çawa yî ?". Your host, (very willingly to help you) insists : "You remember Mustafa-the-son-of-the-uncle-of-the-cousin-Rêbwar ?" Of course you remember. After all, this Mustafa is just the 15th Mustafa you have met in the week. I give an advice :Never confess that you don't remember a guy. Never. Because this guy remembers you (of course you are the ONE stranger to visit him for the last 20 years and he is the 500° visitor you see, but it is not a valuable objection). So after all these preliminaries, you are ready to answer to their questions. Not difficult, always the same questions : You speak Kurdish, where did you learn, how is Paris ? what is the most beautiful place, their village or Paris ? and the funniest : Do you miss your mother ? What do you miss the more, your beloved or your mother ? (they laugh a lot when you answer NO to the first and "your beloved" to the second). Well, after you have made them laughing, they begin to talk each other about their own buiseness, marriages, diseases, children, etc., above your head without caring of you anymore (but you have to stay there and listen patiently, because, as your host recalls you, they are coming to see YOU). Ok. So after one hour, and two or three glasses of tea, people get up, hosts protest, with a mask of indignation : "Where are you going ?", or "Do you leave so soon" ?, visitors explain that they are busy (in general they have another visits to do), so you get up too, "merhaba, xitrê te, etc." , your legs are quite numb and you would like to walk a bit, but five seconds after the leaving of people, you hear another cry : "Mîwaan !" and the second batch of visitors is coming... (now you can read all that passage again, because it is the same scenario and the same dialogues for each visit)... and it goes on until evening, where you have a few time for eating, just before the first visitors of evening :))....

Sometimes, in a crisis of revolt, you could exige to make a walk because you NEED to move your legs. And as people around you are ready to kill themselves for your comfort, they accept of course. You go out of the house, you walk five minutes, then neighbours call you, you have to enter in their house, to sit down, and to drink tea... In average, you could steal 10 minutes of walking for 1 hour of sitting-and-drinking...

One of the finest time I have had in a village was in Rêzan in 1994 (under the village of Barzan, where I would like to stay firstly, because they have a guesthouse, but I was kidnapped by Peshmergas' chief, who blocked the road because I should stay in HIS house, with HIS family... ). So I stayed in Rêzan, a nice place near to the river. It was the civil war, but the village was quiet and peaceful, built around a road leading to Iran. Pesghmergas watched the road all the day, and may be the night, though I have never seen a car nor a truck passing on this road, just a tractor, going at morning to fields, and coming back at evening. But they watched the road as a strategic place. Probably their life was quite dull, so they were very happy to have a French tourist with them. I was invited to eat lunch in their small blockhouse. Rûber (the chief) said with solennity : "Sandrine ! Men have cooked for you !" And they brought a huge marmit of rice and meat. "Very nice men, thank you" I answered, thinking that if I had to eat all that meal, they should carry me in a wheelbarrow, after... So 10 peshmergas sat down around me, and we began to eat, legs crossing and their kalashnikov (or another specy) targetting the roof and me sometimes.. "Would you be so kind to not kill me by mistake ?" (I adore to tease them). So they jumped and tried to explain me all together that no, I should not worry, guns were not put on, well, they showed me how to do... Moreover, they were really good shot, and they practiced by fishing. Yeah, fishing with a gun seemed to be a national sport. They shot trouts from a high bridge. I tried to fish in a more classical way, with a rod, but I've never caught one. Vexing. Should have better to learn shooting.

But in villages I learn beautiful Kurdish. I mean there are the places where language is very pure, (zimanê paq û zelal, as we say), more than in cities, and I am proud to speak like a gundî :)). In 2001, I was in Diyarbakir, in the shanty towns around the Great Walls. There are refugees from everywhere, Mardin, Mus, Bingöl... Young people spoke often a awfulf Kurdish, full of Turkish words, I hardly understood them. But when I talked, there was like a light on their faces, a sunrise of surprised happiness. They said, slowly, like watching the awakening of their memories : "You're speaking like my grand-father.... " "You're using the words I heard when I was 8, in my village..." as if I were a magician sweeping the dust of the past, bringing the picture of things that had diseappeared, and will never come back : the burning villages 's voice, the memories of these exiled peasants... their songs, their tales, their trees, the mountains and their shepherds...

So Kurdish villages are one of the places I love the more, with bazars and otogar stations, where you're waiting your bus and when people, all around you, comment your travel, your nationality, and explain what you are doing there, without knowing that you understand them... but this is another tale :))...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

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