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Greeks and Persians

from Vanamonde #631 (2005)

Reception at L's for Anna Mavrou Bouziani, from the Dodecanese island of Kalymnos. At the Greek folk dance club Kypseli, the night before, L had put me second after Bouziani, before herself, in the Kalymniote dance Issios. "Come at four," she said, but it was five. Bouziani came at half past seven. "You Greeks," I said to K, "think you own tardiness. You say Greek time, but my other friends say Armenian time, Bulgarian time, Persian time." He said it showed a humble acceptance of fallibility. Books of Gary Larson's Far Side on one table, another had Shams C. Inati's 1984 translation of Ibn Sina's Logic, which I'd been meaning to read, and borrowed. L had shelved Nabokov's Lectures on "Don Quixote", which I'd given her, next to F. Miale, The Nuremberg Mind, it being, I remarked, an antidote. S introduced me to other Persians, his sister and nephew, as a man who liked Mullah Nasradin stories; I told a few and brought laughter, not bad for coals to Newcastle. S had at last found a teacher for classical song. I begged him for a little, and he gave me some Hafiz, in the Isfahan mode, We drunkards with no pain, we have given our hearts away, we have become confidants of Love, breathing cups of wine. Supper began to emerge, but I had to go put on white tie and tails for something else. At one I telephoned. There had been no dancing, and everyone was gone.