Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hava Nagila

Since Amynah and I rarely, if ever, pick up the local paper and the web-news I have for Strasbourg is somewhat less than up-to-date, we are often bewildered as to what and why things are happening outside our window.

Case in point, last night as the sun went down, throbbing tribal drums began to echo in the distance. As the sound drew closer, I looked out my window to see a blast of fire on the street below. Fire-breathing jugglers do not, in themselves, rank high in the grand scheme of bewildering events chez nous, though I will admit I am confused as to who the guy pulling the cart was – the Gimp from Pulp Fiction? A local ne'er do well sentenced to public humiliation?

Crappy photo, but Gimp-man is in upper right. Public executions are illegal now, right?

An historical curiosity, in keeping with the Medieval feel of last night's show: due to the flame-broiled festival happening outside, the 10:05 PM bell on the cathedral did not ring. That bell, the last of the day, rings for about ten minutes, a long, slow, deep mournful tolling. I’ve been told that in the Middle Ages, it was the bell to tell the Jewish residents of Strasbourg that it was time for their curfew, and is supposedly rung these days only to memorialize their suffering.

I’m less certain it is actually so innocuous. For last night was the very first time the bell didn’t ring since we’ve been here. And what happened? A klezmer band set up outside our apartment and partied until almost midnight. Coincidence, or celebration?

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