Sunday Night Songs

Sunday night I was invited to a friend’s family party. A nephew and his girlfriend were going to Chile for a conference and the family was seeing them off, helping them get there. I tried to give them 10,000 COP (about $5 USD) as a way to show my gratitude, but my money was firmly handed back to me.

I arrived late, under-dressed, empty-handed. It was misting here (it always is), and I was coming from work (I always am).

They took my coat, sat me down, handed me a glass of hot sangria with a sugar rim. There was a rifa, where I won a hand towel with a green frog, and a small porcelain angel that I unceremoniously dropped and broke an hour or two later.They fed me ajiaco, my new favorite soup.

But the singing, oh the singing! That is what I came here to share. Once the eating and gift-giving was over, the two guitars came out and everyone, everyone sang. Even the shy 10-year-old who held the guitar with the strings facing up towards the ceiling, and murmured Hey Soul Sister. There were songs about aguardiente and being Colombian, being unable to find the right man to marry, unrequited love, gypsies, doing something versus saying you’ll do it.

Of course, with everyone else singing, I was cajoled into singing something in Russian. My repertoire consists of children’s songs or mid-90s rap. I chose Миленький ты мой, a short song, very repetitive. Luckily only the very last sentence of my a cappella rendition was captured on video.

Video evidence presented for posterity

The universality of it all is what I love most. That people in every country I have lived in, have sang together, played guitar. The songs tell the same stories – the beloved country, the hope and despair of love, the fleeting nature of youth. Whether it’s on a friend’s couch in Vermont, around a campfire in Russian summer camp, in dark Massachusetts basements, on Chilean buses –  the words, language, setting may be different, but the guitar sounds the same and the heartstrings respond the same.


8 thoughts on “Sunday Night Songs

  1. Ksenia!!
    I’m love love loving your blog. Thanks so much for all the rich yet succinct details!!
    I’m back in the States and will look forward to reading more about your adventures in Colombia and elsewhere. Stay happy and motivated and healthy! Oh, and happy September!
    Lots of love,

    • Anca,
      How is being back? Are you making friends with all the eager first-years? I wish I could be there for that – I bet they’re great! Thank you for all the compliments. I’ll try to write extra for you – any particular things you’re interested in, dear reader? 🙂

      Happy September and start of school to you!


  2. Being back is greaaaat! Though I miss my Senegalese friends dearly!
    I’m avoiding the first years for now because I’m hanging out in Cali till right before school starts. But I’ll for sure be interacting with some first years real soon cuz I’m TA-ing for Intro to SMS this semester. Looking forward, truly!
    What I wanna hear about is hmmm…more about the ob gyn visits and what you’re learning. I wish I would’ve had a more clinical exposure for my internship, but mine was so short! I was telling Mar how I think it’s great you guys get a whole 6 months because you’ll be seeing so much more!
    And tell me about DANCING! What is dancing like in Bogota? If you don’t know yet, you better find out soon! [IT’S AN ORDER!!] It’s good for the body I hear!
    Oh and tell me about the BRT and getting around Bogota and how easy or not that is. Bogota is so famous in the urban planning and alternative transportation fields because of Penalosa, and I’d love to hear your impressions.
    Thanks chica! Besos!!

    • Wow. Thanks for the suggestions – I’ve actually been working on a dancing post, so that one should be up soon. Looking forward to hearing about your TA-ing adventures. Enjoy the Fall in NY!

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