Sunday, June 02, 2013

An unusual Friday

An unexpected, and sad call on Thursday informed me of the demise of a friend’s mother, and the invitation to attend the traditional lunch offered by the family of the departed to relatives and friends.  It was taking place at a restaurant nearby my apartment, which specializes in these kind of events.  In fact, very often when I look out of my balcony I see a bus unloading a bunch of people mostly dressed in black, evidently representing the closing of a funeral. 

In Tirana funeral parlors are open 24 hour a day, and funerals and burials are arranged and take place within 24 hours of the demise. The meal follows the return from the cemetery and it is quite traditional and observed by most religions. This was the 2nd time I attended a similar event here in Tirana, the first one being a few years ago. That one was for a departed Muslim, while this one was for a Catholic. In both cases, I was treated as a special guest, and, as such, seated to the right of the hosts, somewhat to my embarrassment. What I found out and interesting is that the mourning periods vary not only according to religious customs, but even from area to area of the country, and from city to city.

The sadness of the morning changed toward evening, with an unusual distraction for me.

At the end of a busy and hectic work month of May, I had planned to attend a musical event organized by the Italian Institute of Culture, which was being presented on the stage of Tirana’s House of Opera and Ballet. The program sounded intriguing and I extended my invitation to a young couple of friends of mine, who happily joined me in attending.  
The theater was packed and the performance was quite fascinating due to its particularly unusual style.  Named ‘Musica Nuda’ (naked music) it was a presentation of Italian popular songs and even classical pieces by only two performers: a bass player and a young lady singer “Voice’n’bass”, who have been performing together for 10 years and tour all over. 
They kind of ‘strip’ the original pieces and produce an eclectic effect  type of sound and singing by a mixture of jazz, rock, and punk that easily grows on you as you listen to it for a while.  Their web site gives a gist of their production. Although I was skeptical about the outcome of this event, I ended up really enjoying the performance, as much as my younger friends.

By 10:30pm we all felt like having something to eat, and  went to a new local pizzeria that apparently has become quite known in town for its good food.  Their pizzas are all the same size (about 2/3 of the large NY pizzas), with very thin and crusty bottom, but an extensive variety of toppings. 

The place was very crowded, but we managed to get a good table. Each of us ordered a different type of pizza and they were all exceptional.  Mine, named ‘Saida’, had a combination of mozzarella, gorgonzola, artichokes and pepperoni (couldn’t finish it, but took home a care package of it).  Real, real yummy!!  

Adding the pleasant company, it was a nice way to wind down the day and the month. 

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