Magic Carpet

Would You Like to Buy a Carpet?

Do you believe there is magic in our world of computers, e-mails, and stock market reports? Certainly not. Do you believe in magic carpets? You do not.
Maybe we could surf the net and click "Arabian stories." Or: How about Turkish stories? Our 1999 summer-vacation started in Istanbul and when we visited the buzzing Grand Bazaar, we felt to have been magically transported to an enchanting Oriental fairy-tale. Here was a true Ottoman delight of fantastic colors, exotic perfumes, and dramatic gestures. At each corner a carpet seller went through an elaborate performance of dramatic gestures, obstinately trying to sell us the most expensive carpet. "I detest carpets!" I protested, trying to exhibit all my expertise in declamatory pathos.
But let us forget those dramatic sellers at the bazaar who do not have much patience. The true Turkish virtuoso in this art is the "epic" carpet seller: He meets you, quite accidentally, in the street. He speaks German, even Chinese, and shows you around town. He discusses German politics with you. A few hours later, quite accidentally, you are still strolling in the street and passing a carpet shop. You are entering the shop—still discussing German politics. You are sipping coffee—discussing the poverty in Turkey. Your tourist guide turns out to be an academician who is selling carpets.
Do all the academics in Istanbul sell carpets? Or are all the carpet sellers academics? While you are still wondering about this, you are out on the street again, minus a tourist guide and plus a beautifully expensive carpet under your arm.
By the way, do you need a carpet? After all, this carpet—quite modest and of a small size—turned out to be a magic carpet. Our expert carpet seller, it seems, had no idea about this secret quality of our carpet which was woven by a legendary widow in Kasachstan. At 10PM, having sold us the undersized and overpriced carpet, he took a ride in our taxi and boarded a ferry to Üsküdar, disappearing into the Asian suburbs of Istanbul. Five hours later Istanbul’s suburbs were struck by a giant earthquake which caught us in our hotel-room. I checked with my hands under the bed to see if there was enough space to hide. After I decided that no space was available, the shaking ceased and we went back to sleep.
At 5.30 AM everybody had to evacuate the hotel because of a malfunctioning generator. We were brought to the Istanbul Hilton where all the guests were "sleeping" outside on the hotel lawn, safely wrapped in their hotel blankets. Some had squatted a few hundred meters away lest the Istanbul Hilton would fall on their noses. Many guests were in their pajamas but a waiter, properly attired, was still serving snacks and drinks.
It would have been very difficult to leave Turkey at that time and it was only the magic carpet that helped us escape.
When we arrived at Athens there was a tempest and our taxi driver (who could only scream: "Niagara, Niagara!") got stuck in a traffic jam while the city became flooded. The black water, which shot out of the gullies like a fountain, was more than waist high. Some cars were floating in the water. Needless to say: In the end, and after almost not finding the hotel, our driver asked for more money.
Thanks to our magic carpet we were able to escape Athens before the earthquake struck. I shall not talk about the China Airlines crash in Hongkong, because—accidentally—we were not on that flight and our carpet (would you like to buy it?) is now safely decorating our Taipei apartment.

Maybe I should write: It is safely decorating an archeological site.

On 9/21, the name of a famous earthquake, I was still sitting in my small computer-room—which is packed to the brim with messy piles of music, photo-albums, and contracts—still fooling around on the Internet. The lights in my room were getting tired already, apparently telling me to go to bed, which was in the process of being warmed up by Lina. Throughout the computer-room, the corridor, and the living-room the light dimmed and for a few seconds an eerie flickering seemed to announce the arrival of a ghost. Right away I was disconnected from the Internet and my modem asked me politely if I wished to re-dial or to cancel the connection. I still had time to click "cancel" when a sudden flash turned the screen, the apartment, the house, the city, and the entire country black.
The shaking started almost immediately. With a very strong feeling of "deja vu" I slid off the chair and cowered between the extension cords under the computer table. "Me:" That is my head and arms, which—after all—are still the vital tools for net- and keyboard-surfers. My poor behind owes its survival to the sturdy and somewhat inflexible character of the book-shelves, loaded with 20 years worth of music and documents. Meanwhile the amplitude of the shaking had surpassed any of my earlier experiences in Istanbul and the noise of crashing furniture, books, and objects—emanating from the living-room—proved the efficiency of the quake.
When it finally—and somewhat reluctantly—stopped, Lina and I used "voice-mail" to reestablish our lost connection. The damage in the living-room could not be seen, but whenever my foot stepped on some piece of broken pottery (Ming Dynasty?) a protesting crunch could be heard.
We had hardly managed to find our flashlight (low battery, of course), when the first aftershock decided to visit. Having seen my in-laws on the 11th floor, called my parents in Germany (handy), and quaked in another three or four aftershocks, we finally decided to continue the party on the street. We walked down twelve floors and went to the corner "Seven-Eleven" which was still open—complete with noisy pop music.
Two houses further on, we met a violinist friend of ours. He volunteered to go back to his 14th floor and get a delicious salami—an offer we were too polite to accept. Instead we went back to the Seven-Eleven for some beer. Then we decided to visit an eighty-year old conductor, who lives on the 14th floor in the neighborhood. He was sleeping, but did not fail to offer us a bottle of red wine in his dream (we refused).
That morning we managed to fulfill most of our social obligations—thanks to the earthquake. At 5AM we went back home—quite reluctantly. We climbed up to the 12th floor and the sweat of exercise flowed into the sweat of anticipation. How would our living-room look in daylight?
We visited many ancient sites in Greece this summer. Having acquired a certain expertise, I could determine right away that our living-room was a very special site of particular historic value, because many remnants of the former inhabitants extinct culture were still visible. Especially the floor was a rich archeological field strewn with revealing fragments of pottery, furniture, and books. My baby teeth, which my parents had collected in a photo-album, had mixed with broken pottery of Lina’s grandmother. One of my antique Chinese chamber-pots was broken and I could see into its belly. The complete edition of Goethe was still standing—though slightly tilted. No wonder: This year is his 250th anniversary. Two antique volumes of his adversary, Schiller, were floating in the flower water. I opened Volume 1: Ironically it was the ballad of Hero and Leander. A somewhat corny Art Nouveau drawing depicted Hero flinging herself from a castle into the tormented sea in order to join the corpse of her beloved Leander. I also wanted to fling myself out of the window in Art Nouveau fashion. But then I decided to view our piano-room. Nothing was broken here. The floor looked clean. A strange little carpet looked quite pretty in the morning light.

And—by the way—would you like to buy it?
"Ich mag es, wenn jemand originelle Ideen hat..."


Det er meg igjen!
Ich muss sagen, dass ich mich beim Lesen ein bissel an meinen eigenen Worten verschluckt habe. :)
Ich kann hier meine eigene Aussage in bezug auf "The Green Eye of Jealousy" geradewegs umdrehen.
Will sagen:
Du hast einen "Flow" im Text, d.h. sprachlich finde ich ihn sehr sehr schøn - aber die Idee ist nicht mehr so originell wie noch bei "TGEoJ"

Irgendwie macht mich das jetzt neugierig - mit deiner Erlaubnis werd ich mir noch ein paar mehr deiner Geschichten durchlesen... :)

Snakkes igjen
Hallo Snakkes,

...dies ist eigentlich keine erfundene Geschichte sondern es sind zwei verschiedene e-mail reports ueber zwei verschiedene Erdbeben, die ich tatsaechlich erlebte. Ich hab' dann einen Report daraus gemacht und die Idee des fliegenden Teppichs (den es uebrigens auch gibt, nur dass er nicht fliegt) als Leitmotiv eingebaut. Aber einen besonderen literarischen Wert hat es natuerlich nicht. Das "Green Eye of Jealousy" hingegen ist reine Phantasie.


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