We call this time of the year in Switzerland sour cucumber time. It just means there is nothing going on at the moment, so our news sources have to try and find something interesting to keep people happy, problem being in Switzerland with only seven million inhabitants there is less news than in other countries where our population would fill a town and still have some room left.
At the moment one of the biggest stories is whether to allow the building of a minaret some of our various mosques or not. As in any large city, Zürich and Bern already have a couple of mosques with these minarets. No-one really seems to be bothered that much. We don’t have uprisings, and there is no revolution. The only rebellions we really have is when Zürich and Bern meet at a local football match. A few fights might break out, and the stadium might become a bit uncomfortable, but this certainly does not hit the world headlines.
So let us go back to our various mosques and minarets. Next to the company where I work there is a mosque. The only problem that we have is that on Friday afternoon at prayer time they might use our parking spaces for their cars, but since we have put a barrier between our space and the rest, this problem has disappeared. The political party calling for restrictions on this type of building are the Swiss People’s party, not my friends, very right wing and trouble makers. They have made so much trouble that their minister lost his job last year in the elections and they are still making trouble as the replacement does not suit this party, because the lady follows a different line of politics. I saw an interview with an imam from one of the mosques and he was asked if it would bother him when the minarets would be forbidden. He found not really, we will just try again.
In Switzerland we have voting by referendum now and again, meaning that every 2 or 3 months we all say yes or no to something deemed important by some of the people, but not all of the people. I have never forgotten the referendum when everyone decided that women should only be pensioned off at the age of 64, before it was 62 years old, meaning that I was suddenly confronted with two years more working life. I did not vote for this and am still wondering who did. It must have been a man.
So we are now all waiting for the next referendum about building a minaret on one of our many mosques. I told Mr. Swiss I couldn’t care less and he for once, as an exception, agreed with what I said. I found a minaret would look rather amusing with the background of Swiss alps and chalets. I wonder if they will start building Swiss chalets in Turkey?
And then in this sour cucumber time something came to my mind. I am sure Mr. Mad has many faithful followers tracing the developments of Mr. Tiddlywinkles, his owner, a cat, and other members of the Kitty Cat Club in his blog. At the moment Mr. Tiddlywinkles and Mr. Mad find themselves somewhere in the African continent meeting up with Abdullah bin Hadji Ahmad Candawai and this again reminded me of a song.
There was a singer in Switzerland called Mani Matter. He was a so-called chansonnier, wrote and composed his own songs in Bernese German and loved by all. His songs handled from events in Switzerland, amongst others telling of the Day when they enacted the story of William Tell in a Swiss village, and of all the catastrophes that happened. The song about when he lit a match for his cigarette resulting in the house burning down and many others. This is really a Swiss thing but my favourite is the story of Sidi Abdel Assar of El Hama which brings me back to the Works of Mr. Mad. I could not print the words as they are, because it is completely in Swiss German, but I translated in the idea of Mani Matter’s text. I generally do not write poetry because I am completely un-lyrical according to Mr. Swiss and in a way true. My life is completely based on logic. I can write poetry if it rhymes and my favourite poem is Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll which probably tells all. It is very nice to read about someone’s feelings expressed in a poem but I just cannot do that, probably one of the reasons that the songs of Mani Matter mean so much to me. He was born in 1936, married, father of three children, and met his untimely death in 1972 in a car accident, but is to this day not forgotten by the Swiss nation.
The Sidi Abdel Assar of El Hama
Went out in early morning in pyjama
In the street before the mosque
two beautiful eyes he cost
That was the beginning of his drama
It was the daughter of Mohammed Mosteep
The Abdel Assar could no longer sleep
Until he went to Mohamed
His hand he held and said
For the daughter I offer one hundred sheep
Mohammed answered “By Allah yes of course
Am glad my daughter has found love from your source
But if I want to sell
Costs 220 camel
And less I cannot go, not even for a horse
Then Abdel Assar said “O Sidi
Too expensive I cannot take this lady
She’s gone and I should know
to take a cheaper so
if not so pretty she would be more witty
But when the night comes over the Sahara
He gazes at the moon so bright and clearer
He grieves now and again
The eyes he wants to gain
And thinks I should have started saving earlier
I found a YouTube video so that you can get the idea of the tune, but this is not original and seems to have been made by a school choir. Sung in original Bernese German, but this is the tune. Mani Matter just used his guitar to accompany himself.