Manic Trumpets, Friends from Seattle, and Uralic Languages

August 14, 2011

August of 2011 marks an interesting time in my stay in Serbia. On August 9th (interestingly, also the date that my family left on our first trip to Europe 14 years ago) the first person that I knew from Seattle came and visited in Belgrade. She, who will henceforth be referred to as Meredith, came with her friend Brook, both of whom recently finished up a Peace Corps tour in Swaziland and are taking a bit of a trip around Eastern Europe. Fortunately, their stay here coincided quite perfectly with Guča.

Many of you have probably at least heard of the Guča Trumpet Festival down south in Serbia. For those of you that haven’t, it’s a several day long festival centered around a particular type of Balkan music characterized by extensive (read: exclusive) use of horns and the classic syncopated Balkan rhythm. The festival lasted from August 10th until today, August 14th. Here is a pretty good example of what it’s like:

After a few days of hanging out in Belgrade and heavy consumption of bloody marys, we hopped on a bus down to Guča on Friday. We got there and found a place to pitch our tents and proceeded to eat, drink, and be generally merry (no pun intended). We only stayed for one night, but got to check out what the festival is all about. I’ve concluded that it’s fun, but staying there for much more than two days would be a little over-the-top for me. Trumpet music is blaring from about 5am to 3am the next morning and it’s hot, dirty, and inundated with nationalism. Fun indeed, but not really my thing.

You may be wondering what Uralic Languages have to do with all this, and you’re rightly doing so. However, I’m just too excited to exclude it from this post. I ordered a book from Amazon recently called The Uralic Languages. It’s a tome of a publication belonging to the Routledge Language Family series. I’ve had a chance to read the preface and the first few pages so far, undoubtedly a fascinating and indispensable resource for the budding Uralicist (not urologist…) like myself. It’s generally split up into a number of chapters, each focusing on one particular Uralic language (or collection thereof, in the case of Permic and Saamic languages) in considerable detail. Needless to say, the only thing keeping me from carrying it with me wherever I go and sneaking pages in here and there is it’s sheer heft. You’ll probably be hearing more on this front soon.

The dynamic Peace Corps duo who are currently staying with me are likely taking off early tomorrow morning and heading to Istanbul for their final stop. It will be a sad day indeed, but just in time for a short break before another friend from Seattle will be visiting later in August! Anyhow, props to these folks for being the first to come out and visit me. Stay tuned for upcoming information on Outlook Festival in early September and then the Leisure System three year anniversary in Berlin later in September.

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