As a child, living in an oil camp in Sumatra, it was kind of nice to hear the evening prayer call from across the river. President Obama, too, was referring to the evening prayer. He didn’t mention the brutally early morning prayer which comes well before dawn.
Mr. Obama grew up in a far poorer, and much less Islamic Indonesia. Nowadays, with the availability of cheap electronics , and a kind of arms race in ostentatious piety in Muslim neighborhoods( and pretty much anywhere you find a mosque or prayer room, Muslim majority neighborhood or not), the earsplitting cacophony of hundreds of different amplified calls to prayer would drive one insane without a coping mechanism.
I’ve know some folks to use industrial grade noise reduction headgear. Turning up the TV helps. One’s mind does adjust: I found that in a deep enough sleep, the call became incorporated in to my dreams, so that I would wake thinking I had just dreamt of a concert length version of “Stairway to Heaven,” when in fact some mysterious brain function had morphed the morning prayer call into something bearable.
It is evening here, and rather than a prayer call, I hear birds, a bar or two of gamelan music floating on the wind,and children playing.
I like it that way.