Tag Archives: faith

A conversation about Turkey

12 Jun

chickman
*This is a pretty long post, but just entertain me and read on..*

It started out as a very normal, post holiday conversation about my most recent trip to Turkey.

I usually call it the post holiday mortem report.

THe usual questions always pop up –
Q: How was the weather there?
A: Freaking awesome..! Nice sun, cold winds, low humidity, longer daytime.. simply gorgeous. I wish I had time to check out the coastal towns coz’ it would have been perfect.

Q: Picked up any cute guys?
A: Nope.. They did all the picking up instead.. Asians are like hot stuff there for some reason.

Q: How is the shopping?
A: The emptiness of my pockets and the heaviness of my bags are the best evidence to the shopping experience. I literally spent every single cent I had because I liked everything I saw.

Q: What’s interesting there?
A: Everything! I guess it really depends on what tickles your balls? But as usual, I found everything fascinating – the depth and mix of cultures as well as history in Turkey is not something one can fully appreciate or understand in 1 trip.

Q: Why do you go back so often??
A: Really? Very often meh? This is only my 2nd trip… (-_-)”

I answered them as diligently, dutifully, respectfully and honestly as I can.
Really.
I tried, unfortunately not all questions warrant in depth answers.

Now, because of all the unrest that have been erupting in various cities in Turkey, the conversation I had with this particular person took a more interesting (in my opinion at least) turn.

Q: Turkey is a Muslim country is it?
A: Nope. They are a secular state but a majority of its population are Muslims. They’ve been that way since the Ottoman Empire dissolved? The process to how it happened is pretty interesting, I’d suggest you go read up about since I am no expert in this area…

Q: Oh. Then what’s up with the protests and riots?
A: Umm.. The root of the resentments go way deeper than what is being told in the media I think.. Again, I’m no expert. You might have to go check it out yourself..

And the conversation goes on and on about the state that Turkey is in right now and blah blah blah..

I stopped listening after the last questions, and started planning my ‘escape’ from the conversation before I blew up in that little annoying piece of shit’s face.

Yes, I am actually exercising extreme self-control.

Little piece of shit then asked the killer question – Which side are you on? Will you go back again?

Which side am I on??
Am I even entitled to choose sides?
This isn’t my battle, I haven’t experienced what they have been experiencing.
What or who gives me the right to pick sides?

I am a bystander.
Watching the events unfold from what/ where ever I can glean information from, and the media hasn’t exactly been very helpful.
The information that was disseminated reflect their different interests in the country.

Most importantly, I believe a country should be defined by its people, and not by religion, politics or its politicians.

No offence intended but I think religions are just another political tool invented by power-hungry men as another form of control over the mass populous.

I refuse to pick a side because this is not my battle and it is not my right.
I did not see for myself if indeed the reports were true, that police violence against the protestors were what sparked the initial round of violence.

What I did encounter, however, were the people.

In the last 15 days that I’ve spent in the country, I have been constantly overwhelmed by their generosity with a complete stranger like myself. I have been overwhelmed by their generosity and willingness to share whatever they have, be it stories, shelter or food and drinks.

I did not witness the riots or violence, but I did witness the pride and passion the Turkish people have for their country.

Young and old, men and women.

There was an unmistakable pride and joy in their voice and twinkle in their eyes whenever they talk about their homeland.

I witnessed their excitement at meeting a stranger like myself being as in love with their country as they are. That unmistakable joy they have when introducing me to the different parts of their country, store and homes.

I will return because of these people I have met.

When I finally had access to international news, then did I realize how bad the situation had become.

I wanted to go to Taksim to see for myself; to understand the violence that the media was portraying.

I wasn’t looking for a thrill, an adventure or excitement.

The media was confusing me more instead of giving me the answers I needed.
I simply needed the truth, to understand and see for myself.

That night that I couldn’t sleep and decided to make my way towards Taksim.

The train services had stopped so I dropped at the furthest station I could go and decided to walk there. A dude dressed in slacks and with an Anonymous mask saw me and asked me if I knew where I was going.

Taksim. I need to see it for myself.

He didn’t say a 2nd thing and turned me around by the shoulders, and walked me back.
He told me it was getting ugly and that it wasn’t my battle.
I shouldn’t be there because I will get hurt.
To him, I was an innocent bystander and should not be involved.

Dude actually accompanied me all the way back to the hotel.

He told me what he was fighting for and why he fought.
And that sheer belief he had in his ideals touched me in a way that I could never have felt.

We grew up in a country that is clean and safe.
We grew up in a glided cage, with everything in black and white.
We were taught to pick sides a long long time ago and we no longer know how not to be that way anymore.

These protestors, they are different.

They are fighting for something they believe in, for a future they want to have.

We, as bystanders have no right to judge or choose sides.
No matter which side you choose, someone loses.

Right or wrong is matter of perspective.

Everyone that I have met on this trip were more than eager to help and keep me from harm.

You can say I’m naive or stupid for trusting strangers I’ve met so easily but I stand by my faith, that all men were born inherently good (except the dude who smacked my ass while I was shopping in Grand Bazaar..) and I have been very lucky and fortunate to have only experience the goodness of Turkey and its people.

So yes, I admit I may be biased.

But as I’ve said before.

A country should not be defined by its religion, politics or politicians but its people.

The Turkey I remember, will always be defined by the people I’ve met, by their generosity, pride and passion, and not the violence that has thrown it into international spotlight.

I understand that when I do go back again, it may be a completely different Turkey from what I remembered it as, but it remains to be seen if the change would be for worse or better.

I choose the latter.

I have faith in the people who I have met, that they would want to make their country, a country they love so much, better than it has ever been.

So yes, I will definitely go back to Turkey again for everything it has given and shown me.

Places and memories change, but I know the Turks won’t disappoint me.

I did not tell annoying little piece of shit all these in his face, or I might have slapped him instead,
I simply told him, with a big wide smile,

“Yes, of course! I’m not done with Turkey yet.”

He stared at me blankly and shook his head, repeating all that he said previously.

I continued smiling and switched off.

Some people are simply not worth my efforts.

Quiet nights and quiet stars

11 Mar

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She stares at the woman looking back at her in the mirror, and she realized she didn’t recognize that face anymore.

It’s grown wider, fine to be perfectly honest, fatter.

Lines were starting to show around her eyes.

And her eyes.

They used to look so bright and full of life but now, they reminded her of the fish she bought from the market yesterday.

Glassy, dull and lifeless.

It was only through the mirror that she was reminded of how much time has slipped by so quietly.
What terrible things time does to one.

She closed her eyes, and took in a deep breathe to shake off the memories that were starting to come back.

Time has taken away her youth, her litheness and her beauty but it hasn’t taken away her memories.

Memories.
Just as terrible as time.

She remembered a time when she was still young.
And he was still around.

How he would hold her hand as they strolled down the streets.
How he used to make her laugh so loud, the neighbours had to tell her to keep it down.

She remembered how they would climb up to the roof to watch stars on quiet nights.
Sitting next to each other, hand in hand.
Both saying nothing.
And they kissed.

It wasn’t anything spectacular, wasn’t even passionate.
It was an innocent, slightly awkward kiss that started it all.

That was more than sixty years ago

A smile came across her face as she gently touched her once supple lips.
It felt just like yesterday.

A certain sadness swept over her.

Wait for me, I’m coming…

She looked herself in the mirror one last time before leaving the washroom.

I’m coming.

She went into their bedroom and picked out his favourite yellow dress.
He called her his sunshine and loved her in yellow.
She lowered herself slowly on their bed to put on her shoes.
Tears started to fall as she remembered how he used to help her put on her shoes.

I’m coming.

She lifted her head and wiped away the tears.
She looked into the mirror on her way out rearranging her slivery hair, and took her coat with her.
The medication that she took was starting to kick in, so she took each step with extreme care as she went down the stairs into the waiting car downstairs.

Wait for me, I’m coming.

She sat quietly in the back of the car as children discussed the details.
Whenever they asked for her opinion, she gave a smile and said nothing.
The car quickly fell into an awkward silence.

She wound down the window to feel the cool night breeze.
The night was quiet and the stars bright.

Just like that night

She smiled again at the memories that came back and thanked the stars for letting her keep them.

They reached the hospital and walked her to his room and left them alone.

They looked at each other and smiled.

You look beautiful.
He said as she sat next to him on the bed.
You look just as dashing young man
Come lie next to me, I missed you so much.

She laid next to him, with his arms around her body.
Just like the way it used to be.
A certain smile came upon her face as she laid there.

I’m coming with you, don’t go too soon.

She knew it was it terribly selfish to leave their children like that but she couldn’t bear to live another day without him by her side.

She lifted her head and kissed him on his cheek.
His eyes were closed and he looked so peaceful.

Wait for me.

She held him closer and closed her eyes.
She could feel the medications’ full effects flowing through her body.

I’m coming.

Another 9 things I would like for you and I to know more about you

22 Sep

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1. What kind of art are you into?

A: Everything! Music, dance, plays, operas, paintings, films, photography… You name it, I’ll ‘ve more than happy to go check it out or take a class on it..ha!

I always thought art to be an expression and extension of the artist, so it really shouldn’t and doesn’t matter what form it comes in.

It is the celebration of the spirit and inspiration behind the work produced that truly matters.

Art is and should be more than just a label, it is about the human spirit.

And in my most humble opinion, the human spirit cannot be explained or contained with mere labels.

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2. Would you say you are in love with yourself?

A: of course darling, of course! If one does not first learn to love oneself, how will one ever learn to love others??

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I’m not saying we go the whole way and do the whole narcissistic thing ala Emperor Caligula but love yourself enough to treat yourself with respect and to take good care of yourself.

Everything starts from within, if you have nothing inside, what do you have to give?

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3. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

A: I wish I had ZERO FAT genes and more tall genes so I could look like Gisele Bunchen or any of em Victoria Secret models
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But we all know that ain’t going to happen.

So lets be practical.. I cant think of anything that I’ll wanna change about me self really because I wouldn’t be me anymore if I did change right?

Now where’s the fun in that??

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

A: This has to be my favourite question of the list!!

I fell in love with Morocco when I was 5 watching Lawrence of Arabia (dont ask.. That’s another long story..)

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and then Austria/Salzburg (and Christopher Plummer..hehe) when I was watching The Sound of Music.

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At a ripe age of 7, I fell in love with Turkey/Istanbul watching Sean Connery make love (and mayhem) in From Russia with Love
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and eventually with Rome at age 8 after watching Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (how can anyone not love that film??).

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So if I had to pick a place anywhere in the world to live it would a tough call amongst the 4 locations above!

My vote currently swings towards Istanbul and Morocco.
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Morocco has been a favourite so let’s leave that out but Turkey, oh Turkey!

I’m in love with that place. The people are amazing, the culture is amazing and there’s just something incredibly, intangible-ly lovable about that place.
It has an indescribable charm that not many places have. Not to mention the incredible amount of quality museums, ancient city, cultural and world heritage sites that are there.. The thought of it sends good shivers down my spine..
Oh did I mention Istanbul also has a really awesome cultural festival that runs practically for the whole year??
Le sigh..
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Sigh.. I miss that place already.

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5. List 5 of your favorite movies, and why you love them.

A: This is as good as asking me which limp would I rather lose – my arms or my legs…(-_-)”

So..! I’m gonna cheat and say that aside from the movies mentioned above, my top 5 favourite movies are..

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1. Children of Men
One of the most brilliant films made about a dystopian society in the near future, where women have stopped giving birth for good. Realistically scary.

2. Schindler’s List
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3. The Pianist
Schindler’s List and The Pianist are on this list because I have a thing for war movies, especially if it chooses to focus on the humanity (or lack of) of the victims/abusers.
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4. All Indiana Jones movies
I’m kinda cheating here but it’s Indiana Jones!!
I fell in love with antiques and archeology because of Indie!!

5. All Fast and Furious movies
Yes…I know it’s kinda trashy but all those cars! All those beautiful, sexy, orgasmic looking cars..!

6. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

A: I want the power to read people’s minds and fly?

Ha! Fly because I like the freedom that it entails. The freedom to go wherever I want to and to be able to see the world from up above, that sounds really amazing…
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Power to read another person’s mind because people dont speak their minds anymore!

I think it’s awfully tiring to have to constantly guess whats on the other parties’ mind.

7. What would your ideal holiday be like?

A: Lets see… Lounging on a white sandy beach by the turquoise blue sea, with a good book in hand and an ice cold beer by my side..
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I love beach holidays but let’s be honest, I’d probably be sick of it after 2days..

I’d much rather be backpacking through antique cities and ancient sites really.

What can get more exciting than checking out, touching and feeling old places??
I love history and art, anywhere that fulfils both that criteria would be my ultimate holiday!
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Oh oh oh.. I’ve just figured what would be my ideal holiday..

A bloody good mix of lounging, Musuems and getting lost.
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It’ll be even better if it’s fully paid for.. 😉

8. Do you believe in any faith/religion?

A: I have no religion. I believe religions were created by men to explain things they couldn’t explain naturally and as someone or somebody to turn to when they are scared or need someone to blame.

While I have nothing against religions or religious people, religion to me, is another way for those in power to control others.
I respect your choice and the god(s) you believe in so please allow me my right to observe and not participate.
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But I do believe in faith.
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I have faith in humanity and the inert need and desire to be good and do good. I intend to hang on to that faith for as long as I’m alive.
I mean no harm or ill intent, please do not take offense at my beliefs.
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9. What was your favourite subject in school?

A: Music, history and language! I recently did Philosophy and Gender Issues, and I think they are pretty awesome too!

This may sound a little crazy, but I want to pursue philosophy and cultural studies further..ha!
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Yeah… I like topics that require me to argue with myself. I’m a nerd..

Letter to my 25 year old self

18 Sep

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Dear Self,

I know things haven’t been easy for you. I know that feeling of wanting to be irresponsible, even if it’s just for a day. I know that feeling all too well.
That feeling of wanting to drop everything, pack up your bags and disappear for the next 3months. The adrenaline of wanderlust fuelling your every day and the joy of meeting new people everywhere you go.

Yet sometimes, the thought of being irresponsible scares you.

You wonder what will happen if you did just leave. Who’ll pay your bills? Whats going to happen to your parents? If you simply threw your responsibilities aside, who will take over? Will that person hate you?

I know I probably would.

I know how you feel.
That sense of helplessness, of being stuck in a rut and constantly wishing things could be different.

I know that dreadful feeling you have as you drag yourself to work early in the morning.
Like a cattle herded to a certain death at the slaughterhouse. Each day as you squeeze yourself into that train cabin, you are certain a part of you died by asphyxiation.

You could see responsibility’s hands wound around your neck.
Tightly.

I know the times when you feel like you are all alone in this world, even though you are constantly surrounded by people. No one really understands you when you are hanging out with certain groups of people. You don’t really understand them either. It almost feels like you are all there out of loneliness, to fill that aching need for companionship in your soul.

Your skepticism gets the better of you sometimes. You struggle to trust people because you’ve been disappointed by a number of people in your short life. Childhood memories are hard to erase, you can suppress them, but memories really works like a bitch.

You will begin to wonder if you’ll ever meet the love of your life, someone you can walk down the streets hand in hand when you are old. Skepticism keeps you from picturing anything nice, rationality tells you the probability of that happening to pretty low, judging by the state of affairs you are currently in.

You will feel all that and more.
You’ll regret not travelling earlier, further, more adventurously.
You’ll regret not starting school earlier.
You’ll regret letting responsibilities rule your life.
You’ll probably regret having spent the last 20years of your life being someone else you are not to please everyone else.

You’ll regret all that and more.

BUT, no matter what happens, don’t lose hope or faith in the future. It may not seem like it, but things will eventually become better.

What else is there to life if you have nothing to be hoping for?

There will never be world peace in your lifetime, so dont stress out too much about it.
Let others fight their own battles, you have your own inner demons to deal with.

Hold on to your beliefs because you’ll need them in the future. Your beliefs make you the person you are.

I am hoping too that life would indeed ‘ve better by the time you re-read this letter. You’d be in a much better place, doing something you truly enjoy and believe in.

Don’t worry too much about it, eventually it’ll all pass.

In the meantime, have as much sex, drink as much booze, smoke anything you want (as long as you know your limits) and travel whenever you can. Take as many courses as you can humanly manage.

You can rest when you are dead.

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