Landscape 3: Rembetiko

All day it had rained, interrupting a hesitant summer that was late already. I pulled out a sheet of rolling paper, picked a tuft of Golden Virginia tobacco with my thumb and finger tops, and rolled a thin tsigaro. I struck the match against the box and lighted the cigarette with its flame. I inhaled a breath of relief, squeezed my left eye and looked around. The house of the community was filled to the last seat. New seats were passed along over the heads of people waiting for their drinks, cocktails in white plastic cups or cans of Mythos, at the bar, three tables covered with a white bed sheet. A half crescent of chairs was lined up on stage with microphone standards at waist length. Three socialist red curtains hung from the ceiling against the back wall, the stage lightened by six colored light bulbs, green, red, yellow, blue, yellow, red, hanging from a thick black electric cord. The pie baker walked to and fro, occupied and nervous, with a wasteful haste. The petrol man sat quietly at the far end table of the bar with the bottles of tequila and Red Label Johnny Walker. He greeted every familiar face with a broad Ikarian smile and dark frowned eyebrows. I recognized the doctor with his long pony tail, his droopy eyes, who studied the high number of cancer occurrence on the island. The room filled with smoke, leaving a hazy air of ashy smell and the tones of a lost era of open markets, crowded streets, tiny waterfront tavernas, passenger ships and refugees disembarking. The melancholic ruffling of the bouzouki, the bass of a classic guitar, the tearing of the violin and the soothing of the accordion, dancing away on the clouds of drifting mist in the early morning.

BBC Documentary on Rebetika Part 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.