Monday, October 24, 2005

Turkey- Day one...

I almost lost my turkish mittons at last night's party. It's a pair of red mittons that hang on my front door from Turkey. I keep them there because the restaurant owner who presented them to us smiled and said "they are for your good luck" never have I ever felt so at home and at peace as I did in Turkey.... The mittons hung on my door almost forgotten but Saturday evening as I saw them absent I felt a sense of loss, over a silly pair of mittens... the truth is, Turkey was the beginning of a change in the way I saw life. Lately I feel myself growing and changing spiritually and emotionally. Seeing things with new eyes as though for the first time. The evolution most markedly began from my trip to Turkey. Remembering the mittens and how much they mean to me... I began reflecting on my trip, trying to understand exactly what it was that moved me so deeply from that trip. As I browsed my old entries from a journal I kept on our trip, I found myself nostalgic for that magical city that touches two continents, and thought I'd share my entries... This is day one:

Turkey here we come! We got off the airport. Got our luggage and took a cab. Let’s rewind. We 1st get approached by a man saying he’ll take us to via their airport shuttle. How much? Mind you, he didn’t blink an eye-30 euros. Is he crazy or does he presume we are? I knew he was lying without shame and attempting to use us. Yet, at this point I found it amusing. Particularly when the price fell every ten steps we took away from him.

Taxi driver stops at a friend’s hotel enroute to Side hotel (pronounced Seeday otel). “Side no good!” he shakes his finger and grunts. I saw you taxi-man. Talking about us… fresh bait in your car, now you tell us where we should go. How much commission will your friend give you for redirecting us? Interesting.

Side hotel- not bad. Clean-bed-shower-toilet. Rug on the floor and even a sofa. Not so bad. Can’t complain.

Day one, I feel… Turkey is beautiful, well Old Istanbul what I have seen. But the people- not so nice. They’ll rip you off in a minute’s chance and call you their Muslim brother while they do it.

Walking through the crowded never-ending bazaars. Haggled by vendors again and again. They jump in front of you, and if you just glance at them- you’re history. They will start following you. Yelling, pleading, begging- come just look. Looking is free. I love India? Oh? I love Pakistan! I love Shah Rukh Khan! I can’t accurately describe this- you just have to be there.

Kashif is upset at the last Muslim Brother. Taxi-man who says “2 dollars” has no meter running, then demands liras.

Liras- all in the millions- makes no sense ….maybe that’s me- the dumb American.

American- “Hm” says the puzzled hotel owner. “Then why are you dark?”

Ok- Pakistani then?

Am I though? Really?

Am I neither to these people? Absolutely nothing at all?

We went into a musjid. Drab and gray with a rounded dome and heaven reaching minarets. But oh- they trick you outside. Inside- so beautiful it will take your breath away. I will never forget what it felt like to see this for the first time. Calligraphy praising the Almighty and intricate mosaic patterns, blue and white and yellow. If this was in America, it would be filled with visitors standing inside marveling in its awe. But it was empty. It was mine and Kashif’s to explore. No one else. Not a soul. We were able to reflect there in silence.

I prayed Maghrib at the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque stuns with its opulent grandeur. How can I describe what it is like to pray where thousands have prayed for centuries? To pray in a place that at one time was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world.

Kashif says… based on history… It as built to rival the Haghia Sophia. Is that worthy of awe? A thing built simply to rival another. Good point. A musjid built by a man with 4 wives and a thousand concubines incase he got bored?

I agree. But you cannot deny the musjid inspires awe. You can’t- it’s a fact.

And I sit here and I see people. Scarfless women, scarved women, Muslims, Christians, etc. coming here to admire this musjid. See the former housing they had by the musjid for the poor and travelers? See the buildings that used to serve as food halls for the poor and elderly and provide medical help free of charge? Do they learn by seeing this…. That yes, Islam is not all we see in the media today. That looking at this musjid…. Islam undeniably is not without beauty?

It is the end of the day and its an interesting feeling I have. I feel at once foreign and in the quiet tranquility of the musjids so completely at home.

18 comments:

Obese Girl said...

Heya, loved Day one - seems Magical. By the way that's how they're marketing Turkey here,"seems magical!"

:p

momyblogR said...

Sounds like a moving trip. Like your were completely at one with where you were and what you were doing.

That's for the one day trip to Turkey. I fully enjoyed it.

momyblogR said...

Oops! I meant to say Thanks.

Aisha said...

Hey OG- They're using my term for advertising Turkey? Hmm I guess I missed my true calling- Marketing! :)

Thanks Mommyblgr :) Turkey is a fun place to go, but with two young uns i'm sure you're a bit too busy be to cross-atlantic! :)

~ruthie said...

beautiful posting.

Aamina said...

Do you know how to make posts where only certain people can read it?

ASH said...

Did you ever find the mittens? If not I'll quiz Ji some more to see whether he knows who was playing with them.

I believe the Sultan Ahmet mosque or Blue Mosque is absolutely stunning. But the hubris that went into it's building is a bit sad. The Sultan wanted something that was more impressive than the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) Byzantine Cathedral next to it.....in the end Sinan did an excellent job but even he admitted defeat in the end.

To this day architects do not know how the huge dome of Aya Sofya stays up, as it has no supporting pillers or squinches. Sinan tried hundreds of different ways and failed every time....in the end he utilized archtechtural squinches to balance the dome of the Blue mosque.

In the end regardless of how the Byzantines managed to defy gravity with their dome, it is beautiful. But also precarious, it was destroyed and rebuilt 4 times during the time of the Byzantine empire due to earthquakes.

Just thought I'd throw some useless knowledge around. What the heck....

say what? said...

my fathers been to Turkey three time on official visits. before that he was in merchant navy so he was tere almost every other month. teh last couple of times were weird because everytime he went there alwasy was a co worker who had an enormous crush on him and wrote to him when he came to pk. lol

obviously teh reply went from my mother afterwards :D

Aisha said...

TDH, interesting, I wonder how his experiences were.

ASH, yes, i did find the mittens:) Isnt it interesting how little moments can trigger so much thought? You know, I heard that about the Blue mosque and Haghia. BUT i heard that the Aya is crumblking and the dome has to be butteresed numerous times to stay up. (When we were there it was undergoing major construction)... Have you heard of that?

Hasan the Not-So-Great said...

the Blue Mosque is beautiful.

Peter Sanders took good pictures of it. (dunno if they are on his site though)

Marel Lecone said...

I enjoyed this too. I feel your appreciation and awe of the experience. Such a good post. :)

Baraka said...

Beautiful!

I've always wanted to go to Turkey & your post only deepens that desire. InshaAllah, one day...

Jane said...

As always, wonderful storytelling Aisha. So detailed it is almost as if I am there with you. I hope that you will continue to tell your stories.

mystic-soul said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post !!!

(Someone rightly siad: "Safar waseela zafar")

Tee said...

Brava Aisha! I am almost speechless. It's been awhile since I have read something that moved me so.

I am having so many thoughts and can't find the words to communicate to you. To ask questions, even. I just want to sit here and join you in your beautiful memory.

ASH said...

Aisha: Yes, unfortunately there have been many earthquakes in Istanbul...as a result the dome has become unstable (since technically it shouldn't be up in the first place). As a result the Turkish government has used stop-gap buttresses to fix it or at least stabilize it. The bad news is that another earthquake will probably bring it down just like it has before and the Byzantine architects that figured out how to make it work have all long ago returned to dust.

FunkyB said...

Wow...more more! Please share more! I feel like I just had a mini-vacation!

KTara said...

thanks for sharing!!

sydney, australia

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