So Mr. Muscati and I spend the early part of our Thursday evening at the hospital, calling on a friend who's recovering from (thankfully minor) injuries sustained in one of the many, many car accidents that are a staple of the season in these parts, given that the Holy Month here involves not only fasting, charity, self-sacrifice, and meditation, but also a more or less universal disregard for all trafffic laws (more on that here; thanks, Suburban!).
After that (memo to self: stay out of hospital if at all possible), We decided to head down to Our Fair City's flashiest beach resort, the Shangri-La, to join some friends for seasonal festivities. It's a fair drive from our part of town, but very, very beautiful:
Think of the above, but night rather than evening, the palms strung with white lights, Ramadan lanterns everywhere, and lots of groups of surprisingly varied types sitting about enjoying juices, snacks, shisha, and what is, for here, a lovely almost balmy summer night. Our group was lively and varied, and we settled in for a well-deserved bit of amusement.
The music started.
Now don't me wrong - I like Arabic music. Love it even. I can't think of a more appopriate, romantic, 1,001-nights backdrop to an evening like that. But there's one key word there: backdrop.
That's not a familiar word around here. I don't know if it's simply that there's little enough live music that people just don't know how to present it, or if it's just a feeling that if you have a tower of speakers, then by God you have to use them, but why, why, why must all performers be amplified to a Spinal Tap-recalling 11 on a scale of 10?
After a while we just sat and looked at each other, waiting and hoping desperately for a break in the hissing, crackling, caterwauling din.
And, not for the first nor I'm sure for the last time this month, I prayed for the day that the bars can stay open here in Ramadan. Vodka wouldn't have solved the problem, but heavens it would have made it more bearable.
But then I'd run the risk, given the serpintine, hairpin drive home, of ending up in hospital, so I suppose all is as it should be.
Shortly after midnight, someone must have paid off the singer, for the ensemble packed up and went home. Listening to the fountains and the waves and the soft rumble of holiday conversation all around us, I thought one thing: even so, I'd still like the vodka.
Now, lucky readers who've made it this far, a Special Bonus Image involving Gratuitous Shirtlessness:
All I ever run across on the beach in this vein are large German tourists in inappropriate Speedos. Although it's true that the lashings of local youth playing football on the sand more than makes up for that. But that's a subject for another post.
Happy Ramadan, y'all.