Musings from Turkey

On the way to Çukubag

We are in a mini bus. The ottoman semi moon hangs from the mirror and it smells like sweat. The smell permeates all common transport here. It’s only the second bus today. We’ve been lucky. Guided by good people and money from our overly priced cave hotel in Goreme, Cappadocia. First a lavish breakfast (which reminds me, this place has the best figs I have ever gotten my taste buds on). Followed by a stop at the carpet weavers. Women weave, men roll the carpets and get our money. Beautiful carpets of all shades from crimson to dark blue. And for a moment, I forgot I don’t even like carpets. Humans are cruel. We boil butterflies to get silk. I’m wearing a pretty silk scarf on my wrist now. Next stop, pottery. First time i got dirty dancing. I feel watched here. People are kind. But I can feel them weighting me. What would it take for the women to wear mini skirts in a place like this?


I am part of the few women I see around, making maybe 10% of the whole. The rest are men. Small men. Looking old, tired and dusty. Sipping tea at child-like table, stealing glances at me. At my naked, infidel legs. I love the tea habit. Everywhere, in little glasses, people gather to take little sips. It’s not the 5 o’clock tea, or the tea ceremony it is just a respite. Available to all. Even the sheperd in Ghimbar Gorge will be able to offer it to his guests around the fire. The farmers count their gains in the fields around a pot of tea too.

The women are covered. The naked skin around their ankles seems alluring. I wonder how they breathe under their black robes, under their black scarves. But you can sense the air of dissent even here, the tension between secular, modern and the conservative, islamic way. An average provincial town where we stopped because the bus company decided it was a good midway. Midway to Konya, the land of Rumi and then further to Egidir.


The Teacher of Cheops, Albert Salvado

It strikes me that we are not living our best lives in this great city, in this life. It’s like an experiment to see how well we have been trained. Like a mouse (why are we so preferentially cruel to mice I wonder…) or a dog that has been taught helplessness, and now we don’t even look for the lever anymore. Just keeping to our boxes, following draining patterns.

I do love all of our colours though. The noise, the cacaphony of sound and emotion. By no means perfect, but a thread running through, keeping us together despite, or perhaps because of our differences.

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A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, Atiq Rahini

A few days ago I got the first book in the Around the World Project: A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahini. I found it in a pile of post we pushed our way though when returning from Greece. It was like a flash from a movie, where the main character has gone missing for months. But we have a home now, and I guess that comes with post. From the pile, mine were the four first books from the list. Books from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria and Andorra.

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Project ‘Around the world’

The game is easy.

One Country.

One Book.

One Post.

For however long it takes, until I’ve reached all the countries in the world

I am not going to pretend I invented the game. But I don’t see why that should stop me from enjoying it. So this is my literary journey around the world, inspired by Ann Morgan and her Year of Reading the World.

PS. I haven’t put a stop to actually going around the world. Just being slowed down a bit by the times…

In zbor

Cu ce viteza zboara un avion ? Cu ce viteza poti sa alergi pe deasupra unui nor fara sa te misti din loc? Oare un avion poate sa dea cu spatele?

A privit pe fereastra, si nu numai ca avionul nu zbura in nici o directie, dar parea sa mearga in revers. Suspendata pentru eternitate deasupra unui camp acoperit de vata pe zahar, de zapada, de sare, de nori. Dulce, sarat, rece, ud. Si apoi, varfurile Alpilor.

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Waiting for Ulysses

Sometimes, when there is silence, he creeps in. Shows up unexpected in the dead of night. When I least expect it. He came last night riding a tune by Ben Howard together with the image of a bamboo hut in Koh Pagnan. We sat there in the heat, smoking weed and eating Malaysian noodles from the supermarket. We didn’t care. They were spicy and hot and savoured them together. I would say we found this place by mistake. But actually, it called me. We drove the hills on a rented scooter, further and further till I spotted it, from the corner of my eye. The name is now lost and I couldn’t find it again if I tried. Tomorrow, I want you to take a photoshoot of me! I said. On the swing by the seashore. Waiting for Ulysses is the theme. And we burst out laughing. Our joy carried away by the wind.  It was dark. I can’t remember if for lack of electricity or because feeling each other’s presence was enough. Only the light on the cigarette wasting away. It was my birthday. My 28th.

She said ‘interesting’.

She said interesting. Interesting, the way she always said it when she knew nothing about it, but could sense the possibility of importance beneath those words. Something she considered she might sometimes look into, but probably won’t. Trust in the law of serendipity to bring it back, if it needs to be part of her thoughts. Part of the story bag she’d pull stuff out of, over and over, to be able to contribute to the conversation. Apear almost afable to the ethraled audience. And on occasion, she would like to do that. On others, she mainly wanted to fall back. Head strangely devoid of thoughts. No matter anyway. Continue reading

Price of a Cretan breakfast

Sitting with a cappuccino and a Cretan breakfast in the beautiful and most importantly peaceful city of Rethymno just reminds me how the world is incompatible. Breakfast here costs 11 euros. About a third of the 23thousand naira given to a family of 7+ members to cover food needs during a cash-out in Maiduguri. Nutrition needs are painstakingly calculated to make sure donor money are not wasted. They say there are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.

I landed in Maiduguri in early September. A hot and dusty town dotted with yellow Keke Napep, a sea of refugees, bullet shot marks, and pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns.  Young men dressed up in military kakis manned a seemingly endless stream of checkpoints. Young men looking fierce with deadly weapons, smiling like children at a wave. Hard to believe they were the ones fighting Boko Haram. That they would ensure my safety. Together with the barbed wire around my house, the 8pm curfew and the 18y.o. guard. An illusion I learned to embrace, even as news of suicide bombers and attacks all around steadily streamed in. I learnt much, including that the life of a humanitarian has nothing of the glamour I thought it did only six months ago. Continue reading

A traveller’s life is an addictive one…

The traveller’s life is an addictive one. Once you’re on to it, chances are you’ll have a hard time adapting to anything else. The thrill of not knowing what will happen next. The excitement of getting out of impossible situations. The cool people you meet along the way. All that, while hoping your own brand of Shangri-la is just around the corner. Continue reading