Wisdom from an old Serbian Farmer
A world traveler was talking about his trips, He would enter one country and make friends during his stay. When it was time to go on the road again, they would tell him that their country was friendly, but to look out when he went into the neighboring country because they were of a different background and it was a dangerous place. He would enter the new country and again find new friends. As he was leaving that country, he smiled as his new friends, in turn, warned him about the people in the next country.
During these travels, he met an old Serbian farmer who told him something that I know from my heart to be wonderful advice:
“Dance with your heart, and
Smile with your eyes”
That’s an overwhelming combination. Hopefully, you have had the gift of knowing someone like that. More importantly, I hope you have the gift of being that person.
If you have any plans of going to Europe (I do), there is a new website that could help you get around. With GoEuro.com, you can enter your departure city, your destination city and date, and the site will respond with the availability and price of the different travel modes available (rail, air, bus). For example, if you wanted to go from Madrid to Barcelona, Bus is the cheapest (and longest 12 hrs.) for $56. Rail is the fastest and most expensive $147. Air is a hair longer (2 minutes) but somewhat less expensive at $112. Couple that with AirBnB.com and Bon Voyage!
A Wedding, A Cello, A Tenor and A Song.
I was invited to a wedding down in Puerto Rico. The ceremony was held in an old catholic church that was refreshed for the wedding. The bride was beautiful, her gown was perfect for her and truly complimented her. The groom was young and lively, also an engineer. They were a great couple. The selection of the musicians was also well done. Two violins and a cello provided the music and then then during the ceremony, a young tenor began to sing. He hit the notes perfectly modulating between soft and strong, and sang with great feeling. The tenor and the strings filled the church with their music through the ceremony playing so exceptionally that, by the end, the two hundred families and friends were applauding both the new couple as well as the musicians – particularly the tenor, Carlos Feliciano.
One of the songs that he knocked out of the park, I wanted to hear again, but didn’t know the name – it was in Italian and operatic in style. Searches of Puccini and Verdi were unsuccessfully. So, I called up my cousin, father of the bride, and found out the piece was called Nessum Dorma for Puccini’s Turandot.
The story line is that a beautiful, icy (and dangerous) princess, Turandot, daughter of a powerful king. She doesn’t wish to be married, but accedes to her father’s wishes with the condition of requiring that any suitor must answer three riddles to win her hand. If they answer incorrectly, they lose their heads.
The latest suitor is the Prince of Persia. But, he couldn’t answer the riddles and will have his head cut off at moon rise. In the crowd for that event is a young man named Calaf, the hero. He runs into an old man with a young slave woman, Liu, whom he recognizes as his father – a deposed Mongol king. The slave girl he recognized from his youth.
When the moon rises, the crowd pleas for the life of the Persian Prince, but Turandot appears and silently motions for the execution to proceed. Calaf sees the Princess for the first time and is overwhelmed by her beauty. After the execution, Calaf orders the gong sounded to announce he will be the next high risk suitor.
Calaf is presented the deadly riddles. The first is “what is born each night and dies at dawn?” He thinks and answers “Hope.” He is asked the second riddle – “What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?” He thinks and then responds “Blood”. He is asked the final riddle – “What is like ice yet burns?” Calaf reflects on this and answers “Turandot” and survives the test.
Yet, the Princess refuses to marry him. So, in order to win her heart, Calaf offers her a challenge – if she can tell him what his name is by sunrise, he will forfeit his life.
Turandot accepts, but issues a proclamation that No One Shall Sleep (Nessum Dorma) until they find out the man’s name. If they don’t, she will have the entire city killed. Frantically, they try to find out his name. They figure out that the slave girl Liu knows the answer. As a young girl, Liu had fallen in love with Calaf, Turandot has her tortured with no result. She asks Liu how she can resist the torture and Liu says “Love”. Turandot directs the soldiers to increase the torture and Liu grabs one of their knives and takes her own life, before she gives Calaf up.
As the sun rises, the Princess has run out of time and Calaf sings he has won (vincerò) and forcibly kisses her for her first time and begins to turn her heart.
Here is Luciano Pavarotti singing the same song from the wedding: Nessum Dorma – Calaf’s song of victory.
Yesterday, listening to my smorgasbord of stations on Pandora, a song started playing! Turns out it’s a fairly recent song – very melodic with a touch of wistfulness to it. There lyrics are even more so:
“There is no light if you are not here with me. Lands that I never shared with you, I shall experience with you on ships across seas that exist no more. With you, I will go. I know you are with me”.
Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli
This was my first exposure to Bocelli and he too can hit the low as well as the high notes. I think of him as an international Frank Sinatra – only more mellow and with less brass. He also did a classic Spanish song that’s a mix of love, passion with a dash of the uncertainty , insecurity and ephemerality in relationships . It’s a great song for lovers to dance to:
Besame Mucho –Andrea Bocelli
Looking over his songs, there was a surprising discovery – a duet cover of another classic Mexican love song “Somos Novios” sung by Bocelli and Christina Aguilera, who, although having a latin name, I have never heard sing in Spanish. (Shakira sings in English and Spanish, but her voice is most powerful in Spanish).
The words start: “Somos novios,
Pues los dos sentimos mutuo amor profundo,
y con eso, ya ganamos lo mas grande de este mundo…”
“We’re a couple, we both feel profound mutual love,
and, with that, we have won the biggest thing in this world…”
So here are Andrea and Christina:
Somos Novios – Bocelli and Aguilera
Speaking of Shakira. she was a judge on The Voice and had a thoughtful, soft approach. Though English may not even be her second language, she has an incredible English vocabulary to describe precisely what she’s feeling. In fact, they did a compilation of her comments over the season that was really impressive to listen to. She’s a polyglot speaking five languages! In addition, she is reported to have an IQ of 140. (She gets more amazing the more I learn about her.) Her mom is Colombian and her dad is Lebanese, and she honors both musical traditions. Her name means “Thankful” in arabic and you can thank her paternal grandmother for introducing her to belly dancing. Here’s a short clip of her on The Voice and another while interviewed on-tour.
Shakira on “The Voice”.
Shakira Interviews On-Tour
Below is the song that I was thinking about in audio format.
Ojos Asi – Shakira (audio)
Ojos Asi – Video – The Mongoose Tour – Rotterdam
Shakira puts on a great show and selects a team of top musicians, stage and lighting designers and managers.
Petraeus and the “Terrrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad
One of my current reads is “All In” about Soldier/ Scholar David Petraeus. He’s a man of amazing abilities, talents, intelligence, a leader by example, and he has his own weaknesses (which he, like everyone, also has to live with ). Back in 2007, David Petraeus was transferred from the US and reassigned as the commander of the rapidly disintegrating situation in Iraq. Nothing was going his way, but stabilizing and turning it around was his challenge. In reflecting on the situation, he said:
” The situation …is dire, The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard…
But hard is not hopeless.”
He consistently did new, multiple, different things, took risks that exposed his troops and himself to danger, got involved with the local population and leaders, created security for them, won their trust and turned the situation around.
His philosophy, and practice, is useful in life: Hard is not hopeless.
Food for Thought – A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. – Thucydides