Friday, December 26, 2008

Dec 26 2008
Idgah mosque Kasghar

took a taxi to the idgah mosque right after lunch----started walking around , to realize that it is Friday. everyone rushing into the mosque, ultimately a sea of men dressed in black suits and hats forming row after row, first inside the mosque then the gardens around it, then spilling into the streets.
a string of face covered beggar women sit by the side entrance. i stood by the doorway taking pictures till some of the older men shooed me away. i knew i wasn't doing the kosher thing, but couldn't resist. my foreign looks help me slip through the cracks of resistance and when i say I'm Pakistani makes things even better. 'you musli?' yes 'i musli' 'you don't look Pakistani' 'you speak urdu?' haan mein urdu bolti hun - aap boltay hain? khuda hafez...shukriya, tashakur, so forth. often the eyes fall on my ya Ali pendant--invariably elicits 'you musli' question. i don't think most of them can actually understand its significance, it just looks Arabic and Koranic and that's enough to make me 'musli' and 'meiyman' welcome in their city.
once the prayer finished rows of scarf clad women holding plates of dry fruit, bread, fresh fruit, dates, water etc stood on either side of the front doorway; as the men poured out they'd phooko on the offerings being held out by the women. this went on till the very last man.
ill ask Ali tonight what that was all about. all sorts of Muslims with all kinds of ways of worship.
they've painted the mosque a perfect shade of yellow- painted in all the blue tile work.. . ruined a beautiful old mosque with this white wash--all for the hordes they were expecting after the Olympics, touring this historic outpost of Chinese sovereignty. crying shame ruining a historical building like this.

dap - tambourine like instrument with rings
tambour - 5 string
rawab - also 5 string but harsher sound
ghirjek - like a violin, held over the knee
i walked into a musical instrument store just outside the mosque, ended up spending two hours being serenaded by the dap, tambur and rawab. it was truly lovely. the most beautiful string music. the best part was eating grapes, naan and sipping green tea with the musicians - this was offered to them by the store owner, which they promptly offered me, an i joined in happily. i ended up buying a dap? paid rmb150 after listening to a 2 hour performance - gave the musician rmb 50, he was quite taken aback. such a simple life, just walk into a store, be fed, be entertained and go away buying something with happiness and deep satisfaction
i walk around now slowly taking in the sights and sounds of the heart of this city- life around the idgah mosque. I've stumbled upon a antique selling vendor wed bought some scrolls from last year. i sit outside his old antique stall writing away, while three curious Uighur men peer over me, reading or trying to read what I'm writing.
ended up buying a scrolls for a friend who'd liked mine. one for myself. some oranges, the ubiquitous naan, some raisins, I'm constantly nibbling.
---- now a curious young boy now peers over me deciphering what i write in such a hurry. he got tired standing so hes sitting. now asking me for my pen as 'saughat' ill give it to him in just a minute. Alim Jaan is 8 years old.
4.40pm chinni baagh hotel - back at the hotel I've come to the dining room upstairs to munch on my leftover pilau lunch and hot glass of water. its delicious even cold. they have a Christmas party for 150 people. the waitresses running around putting on last minute touches. the organizers Chinese the workers Uighur. they have some awful blaring Chinese music playing on a large screen TV.

tomorrow to yengesar and yarkand.........

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