A Love Song

Lunch at Qaraqul is a great pleasure. It is a restaurant where I always like to go back to.

The ashak – a kind of ravioli stuffed with spinach – are mouth-watering, chicken is perfectly marinated and even the Kabuli pulao – the traditional Afghan dish made of rice and lamb – is less oily than average. In the two rooms on the side there are often flirty couples and noisy families, while in the main hall men of all ages, social and cultural backgrounds linger over endless cups of tea and smoke shisha in the midst of chatter and laughters. There are young men in suit for business launches, army people with body guards, government employees, and portly old men with imposing turbans and long beards that hide million of stories.

The other day we unexpectedly also found there two musicians playing live. Timeless traditional music, the kind of sound that brings to the surface long lost memories. My mind was wandering in a reverie when Lorenzo made me notice an old, severe man with a neatly starched shalwar kameez and a woollen cap: rapt by the music, he was swinging his head while recording the songs on a mobile phone.

It was all very special, when I found myself in the middle of a strange déjà vu. While conversing, I realised that the musicians had started playing Shirin Shirinam by Mohsen Namjoo, an Iranian love song that I had not heard in a long time.

A little displaced, it took me a bit to figure out where I was and to enjoy the gentle caress that the song was offering to my heart and its current melancholy. Last time I listened to this song it was in Kurdistan, it was perhaps three or four years ago. The Metrography photographers and I were coming back from Barzinja, where we had gone for the yearly gathering of a Sufi sect that lives across the border between Iraq and Iran. It was a late afternoon in spring. I was sitting in the back of Hawre Majid’s pick up truck enjoying the last bit of sun for the day, when Aram Kareem took his saz, a string instrument, and started singing with great passion. The truck was speeding up on the empty road and there was a lot of wind: the horizon seemed to have no limits.

Years later I am sitting in a restaurant in Kabul, in a day full of wind and snow. With the same music in my ears, the same smile on my face and a sense of completeness in respect to the geographies of my life.



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