Monday, November 07, 2005

I quickly yank the cord hanging above my head, requesting the bus to stop. I was on my way to the Hill, but saw a crowd of people gathered about a few blocks from the National Archives and though I should investigate. Quite serendipitously, I stumbled upon a Turkish heritage fest taking place on this seemingly sleepy Sunday. Immediately it was as if I had stepped into another world; the neoclassical facades on Washington’s buildings seemed to be more like a block out of Istanbul than America’s capital.
Traffic was diverted and the streets were satiated with pedestrians; those of Turkish decent and others, like myself, who had wandered into the commotion. Several of the areas finest Turkish restaurants had set up shacks to compete for the best kabob. Meat roasting on spits filled the air with a thick smell—my mouth began to water as I strolled past stand after stand, each full of Turkish delights. Children ran in the streets as a band played faintly down the street, with the Washington Monument looming, omnipresent, in the background.
Walking further down the road, I approached the band. They played traditional music, and although I was unable to understand the language, it seemed familiar, as though I were really in Turkey and the procession around me were a regular occurrence. Women in flowing garments danced, beads twinkling in the sunlight and chattering as they knocked together. Twelve women performed the dance, it seemed like a harem performing for their sultan; ritualistic, but powerful, their movements seemed to flow almost naturally. It was not they whom moved, it was the music that moved them.
Finally I reached the end of the festival, back in Washington, back to the familiar. I pull out my transfer and hop on an approaching bus, immersed again in my own life. Perhaps it isn’t possible to travel around the world everyday, but it is nice to try.


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