Food for Thought-Two Tickets to the Sarajevo Philharmonic (The Twelfth Letter)

prvi_koncert (1)

6 May 1957
Belgrade, The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia
After Breakfast and After My Second Walk of the Day

Dearest Colleague, Keen Observer, and Noble Friend,

I have received the letter of the fourth of the month with which you have kindly deigned to honor me.  I shall take every care to give you an account of my life since we last spoke.  I fear some of my abilities may be slipping. Am I getting older? Yesterday, after taking my breakfast at home, as you know, we returned to the small Turkish café near Knez Milosa*. Our regular waiter, who noted my absence, responded quite blankly to my statement, “Well, It’s good to be back this morning*”, which I uttered in flawless Turkish. Could it be that my Turkish is not as flawless as I have been led to believe? Was something wrong with my use of the infinitive form of the verb “to be”? I’ve been wracking my brain about this all morning. Did I speak in the Ottoman dialect instead of Ataturk’s modern revisions*?

Upon this I cannot dwell. I must speak of my walk. It is not that the birds were loud this morning; it is that they were everywhere. Glimpses of feathers were just beyond my peripheral vision yet sounds were so numerous, I could practically touch each one. Within layer upon layer of notes were volumes upon volumes of songs. Buried, deep within the music, I am certain, I heard the Picus Virdius* calling. I am either hearing the bird or the bird is hearing me.  Is this possible?  The repetitive nature of its call is much like percussive section from the Sarajevo Radio Symphony I have often enjoyed. Like the orchestra, I wonder; are the other birds protecting its sound? As with the orchestra, are we listening correctly? Perhaps these too are questions worth asking.

Until tomorrow, we must think on these things.

Your friend,


*Knez Milosa (Prince Milos) a street in Old Belgrade
*”Well, it’s good to be back this morning.” Approximate Turkish Translation Peki, bu sabah geri dönmek güzel 
*Ottoman Turkish/Ataturk Reforms After the First World War, Turkish was no longer written in a modified Arabic script and began to be written in a Latin script. This is due largely to the influence of the Kemal Ataturk, the father of the modern Turkish state.
*Picus Viridius is the common European Woodpecker
*Sarajevo Radio Symphony (Philharmonic) one the oldest orchestras in the former Yugoslavia


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