Tag Archives: respect

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.

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The wound is the place where the light enters you

17 Nov

The wound is the place where the light enters you.
– Rumi

The wound is the place where the light enters you and fills you up inside; the light that brings you wisdom and the ability to see things clearer.

A light that perhaps, encourages you to move on and let go of what is not meant to be.

A light that teaches you that all these hurt and aches that you feel will eventually go away.

A light that tells you there’s so much more to look forward to in the future.

Your future only begins now.

When you have allowed the light to enter, you are acknowledging the fact that you have a wound.

I’ve always believed that the truth will set you free, provided you first see it and accept it.

Once you’ve seen the truth,  your wound is ready to heal.

You have allowed your wounds to be pried open again and again, tears needlessly shed for people who are not worth it. Don’t torture yourself anymore.

A fragile heart can only take so much, give it time to heal and start over again.

Give yourself only to those who would give themselves back to you because there’s only so much left in you.

This time round, pick a more worthy opponent.

Last 10 things I would like for you and I to know more about you

3 Oct

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1. If you could describe your life currently, how would you describe it?

A: ha! How can you efficiently and accurately described something that is still happening? Your description of current events would perhaps be skewed based on current biases, wouldn’t that then make the description no longer accurate? If you report it factually, then it would be no better than reading a really boring instructional manual isnt it?

If I really had to describe my life now, I’d say it’s comfortably suffocating. I’m still looking for outlets to release myself from this self induced slavery.

But if I had to describe how life is in the past and future, I’d say the past has been an amazing learning experience and the future can only get better because I will not allow otherwise.
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2. What’s your favourite food?

A: Food glorious food!! Sigh.. How does one point to a favourite food when her favourite channel on cable is the Food Network??

That channel is basically food porn..

But as questionnaires goes, there has to be an answer to each question, without which the questionnaire is useless ain’t it?

The most unforgettable food I’ve ever had has to be my great grandma’s minced black olive paste. Everything hand made from scratch!

We used to very poor so that was all we could afford to eat with porridge..ha
I’ve tried looking for that same taste everywhere but it’s just not the same.

The other food that I really cannot forget is my late grandma’s fried pomfret in black fish sauce..

Simple dish but the goodness is brilliant. Words cannot describe that joy whenever we see that dish on the table…ha!

Maybe it tasted that good because of the memories attached to it, that’s why I could never find the right taste to replace it.
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3. Black and white or colour pictures?

A: Black and white!

Now dont get me wrong, I like colours very much too but my preference skews towards black and white.

To me, pictures taken in black and white are a throw back to simpler times, and because of it’s simplicity, it allows me to better focus on the subjects in the photos. Not too many colours in the back or foreground to distract you.
Plus, black and white pictures kind of allows me to paint the image in my head any colour I want.
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Theres no right or wrong because to begin with, the picture is a blank slate in terms of colours…!

Okie, fine, maybe it’s not completely a blank slate but there are more possibilities!

4. If you had the power to change this world what would you change?

A: Oh man… Tough one eh..
There are so many things wrong, I dont know where to start..

I think I’d start with re-educating people about what respect is.

Think of all the things we could achieve and prevent if we just had a little more respect for each other.
Respect for nature and between each and every one of us.

There’ll be more equality between every gender, every race, every sex, every religion and every belief.
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We’ll have less wars, less conflicts and more advancements.

To me, respect is the root to love and eventually peace.

Without respect, no matter what we might achieve, its really just empty glory.

5. If you could be a super hero, who would you be?

A: I will the female Batman or Ironman! Hahahha..! Both characters are conflicted, intelligent, problematic rich men. Whats there not to love??

Most importantly, they were not born superheroes (fine, neither is Spiderman), they were self made superheroes, forced by circumstances to become who they are.

They could have gone rogue but they didn’t so..yeah! They are my superheroes..ha
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6. If I gave you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

A: I’ll wish for another 3 wishes!! Hahahhahahaha!
But then again, I don’t know what to do with 3 already, what am I gonna do with another 3??

Blah…

I’ll wish for more courage and wisdom I guess.. Oh and for people in general to have more love in their lives.

Ha, yeah, if I had a past life, I’d be a hippie, gypsy or one of Rumi or Buddha’s disciples..

FREE LOVE!!

Yeah.
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7. If there is afterlife, what or where will you be?

A: I’ll DEFINATELY be in hell for all the shit I’ve done (or not done) and put my family and friends through…ha

8. What irks you the most?

A: Rude, ignorant, shallow and self centered people. Enough said.

9. If there was something you wish you could be better in, what would it be?

A: I wish I was a better cook, better speaker and maybe just a little wiser.
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Better cook so that I could have learnt how to cook the awesome traditional foods both grandmothers do so well.
My maternal grandma is Teochew and paternal grandma’s Peranakan.

Unfortunately, my maternal grandma passed away 2 years ago and my paternal grandma stopped cooking when she had her heart attack.

Better speaker because I’m really not very good at speaking publicly. Sometimes I have so much to say, to tell but my inability to speak fluently and convincingly makes these ideas go to waste…!

10. Lastly, when you die, what would you want to be most remembered for?

A: I want to be fondly remembered as a joy to have and be around. I’m hoping that when I die, the ones who still remember me are happy to have known me in their lifetime.
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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..