Tag Archives: turkey

Storytelling: On the flowing stream

What does it mean to be a storyteller? My lecturers discussed this a million times over the four years of my undergrad career. I call it a ‘career’ because I have been creating stories ever since I was eight, if not even earlier. Do you mind taking a walk with me through the memory lane? Even though I look like I’d prefer being alone while I do this, I still think I need company today.

I love bedtime stories, and I would use all of my little power to stay awake through those. Luckily, my dad had a million stories to tell. Every time he started a new story, he would reassure me saying that it is a really old tale and he is not making it up, because why would he? I would get mad at him because, after two or three years of hearing a new story every night, I think I was somehow too smart for a six-year-old, and I realized that they all told me the same thing over and over again: “You can explore, but listen to your parents when they warn you, or else you’ll get in trouble”. Oh, and no love interests, mom and dad will save you, there is no prince charming here!

But my dad was a professional. “Dad you are not making this up, right?”, “No, this was absolutely real”. The little black sheepdog always wondered what happened outside the farm. One day he decides to take a long walk, jumps across the fences and explores the endless fields. It suddenly starts getting darker, he is scared, and he hears a pack of big bad wolves howling. They get closer and form a circle around him, the little sheepdog is scared. His parents come and save him, later, getting mad at him a little bit but hugging him tight still. Dad, I miss your stories. I know you didn’t make any of them up.

If you thought my dad was an okay storyteller. Let me tell you about his mom, my grandma. Whatever she tells you, you are ought to believe her. She always had something in her voice that would make you feel like she is pulling you deep into this thought bubble that is inside her two hands. She was a magician playing with her words, and a bit of a witch, I am never sure if her hands are telling the story or casting a spell.

Oddly enough, her story never changed because she only had one. Her mother was adopted, had a very tough childhood but grew older to be a loving mother to my grandma. But this loving mother died too soon. I have seen my grandma pulling out a small photo of her mother from the very last drawer full of tablecloths, that is a part of an 80 some year-old dark brown wooden cabinet. Every time she pulled out the picture, she would blame herself for forgetting what her mother’s face looked like. She says she needs the picture to remember. I bet it hurts.

You remember the stream, dear? —  In the old town, it’s by our old home. – How can you not remember? – Well, I’ll take you there when we go. Oh, dear! – It was night time, very late. Maybe after 11 or 12. We had to sail through the river, so mom put me and my sister in a small wooden boat. And she was rowing and rowing. Oh! All of a sudden! – We saw a light from deep down. Oh, it was beautiful. It was shining and so bright that it hurt our eyes. My sister was younger, you know. And mom said to put our heads down. We put our heads down, but I peeked out on the side, mom didn’t see. Oh, it was so beautiful. A woman, she had ginger hair. It was so long. Her hair was like Leipzig silk! She was shining. She swam next to our small boat. Was it ever beautiful? – No, no. She didn’t hurt us or anything.

Then, what happened? We got off the boat and went home, but it was beautiful. I never told mom that I saw it!

But you are not lying? Right? How can you see it in the old town? Like here? Is it true?Maybe, I was dreaming, I don’t know. I was young. (She would shrug off her shoulders and move on with her life at this point, after charming me with the story. It was so cruel because I would think about it all night until I finally fell asleep).

There are things I wish I could remember better lately, and my mind won’t let me. But, can’t we all tell stories? All of the stories I heard, had a bit of those people that touched the narrator. And, no, my great grandma is not made up, but loving and gentle, just like in grandma’s story.

Dogs can talk, and mermaids are real – if only you believe.

 

Photo Credits: http://kopriyet.blogspot.com/2016/05/kirmasti-koprusu.html

[Photoblog] 2018 in Review: I did all this?

2018 was my ride or die. It was full of moments that left me in awe, put my capabilities in a trial, overwhelmed me with joy and with its last bit, challenged me with deep sadness as well.

I love the photoblogs because it has always been hard for me to see the small successes. As I looked through these moments, I said to myself, “I did all this?“. Believe me, there were a lot of question marks, not just one.

As always, thanks to the many friends I made along the way.

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A hero is born: Disappointments, hopes, and expectations after Turkey’s General Election

After his heartbreaking defeat by Erdogan, Ince gave this speech during a press conference that will echo in many people’s heads for a long time: “To Erdogan, please from now on stop acting like the general president of AKP. Become the president of 81 million people, put your arms around all people”. Ince continued, “I recommend you to use my slogan: The president of all. Become the president of all, from now on. End this tension that this nation is experiencing, put your arms around this nation, hug all of them.” He, then subtly mentioned his disappointment of what was to come for Turkey,  “If I were elected, that’s what I was going to do.” Ince continued, “I was ready to put my arms around the AKP supporters, as well as the nation as a whole. Now, that’s what I expect from Erdogan”.

Early Sunday morning, I got into my car, much like rest of the Turkish citizens, and drove off to my hometown to cast my vote, with a different kind of hope that I never had before. Muharrem Ince the presidential candidate that came out of the much passive Republican People’s Party (CHP), visited every inch of this beautiful yet hopeless country just under 51 days. Kids all around the nation sang his campaign song, his rallies pulled all time records for CHP, and I, for once, thought I could live here, in peace. The whole campaign was based on love, unlike Erdogan whose, words could only sound like hatred. Above all, Ince knew how to smile, and I saw, for once, that many people believed, like the New York Times article said, he was “the man who could topple Erdogan”.

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The story is simple: Muharrem Ince became the father that loved his two children so dearly and equally. The two children just couldn’t listen to each other over their differences, and he tried to teach them how to love. But, my guess is, it wasn’t quite the right time.

Ince spent the day in the YSK building, vowed to protect the votes of the nation from AKP’s illegal games that Turkey faced every single election since Turkey became a toy in Erdogan’s hands, in 2002 (Erdogan’s first win for his party AKP to have 365 MPs at the parliament). Once the clock hit about 9:30 pm, the media started airing the data from AA (Anadolu Agency), Ince warned the nation about the expected ballot manipulations. He was right, AKP started off strong with a high percentage, then landed on a 52.5% win, successfully playing with our feelings. İnce finished off with 30.68% breaking the record for a candidate of his party, CHP.

We were all aware of the extra ballots that have been given to people in exchange of a good amount of “pocket money”, the threats people received before entering the secured-voting area, and the home supplies they were provided to keep this economy that enables increasing poverty for another 5 years. An older lady I talked to right after elections said these words: “I prayed for a long time, I went to the ballots and I was praying on my way there. I was scared, I just hit Erdogan for the presidency”. This is just the pure feeling of oppression brought to many by something we cannot call democracy, anymore.

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The general elections contained the parliamentary elections, with AKP having the majority of seats with the help of its ally, MHP (AKP; 295 MPs, MHP, 49 MPs). Having over 300 MPs in the parliament, AKP secured the new constitution that was expected to run due to the referendum that was passed just over a year ago, in April 2017.

Erdogan now holds a dangerous amount of power, given to him by a scared, poor, and unaware nation. The president is able to directly appoint public officials, intervene in Turkey’s legal system at all costs, and declare a state of emergency whenever he finds suitable (Turkey is in a state of emergency since the coup of July 15, 2016). Moreover, the Turkish council is now unable to detect the MPs, unable to state verbal questions or receive information from the prime minister nor the MPS, and finally, the vote of confidence from the council is permanently taken out of the regimen.

Looking at this picture the Turkish nation voluntarily drew, I expected to be hopeless, scared and full of hatred to those who dragged our country under Erdogan’s presidency, once again.

The next day after I heard Muharrem Ince’s words at the press conference, I wasn’t any of that. He was the light that I could still trust within the familiar yet unbearable darkness. This time, it was bearable. Ince said, “We destroyed the dam of 30%, we can do the same for 50%. I am right here. If this nation tells me to walk in front of them, I am ready”. And millions whispered, “So, are we”.

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[Photoblog] What you and I have been waiting for.

A quite hello from me,

I’ll try one more time. Hello. I miss writing here.

I have a lot that I have been holding close to my heart that I would like to share with you. I’ll try justify why I haven’t been able to pour myself out to Hazal’s Camera. My time in Washington, DC, came to an end. Just couple of weeks before I left the penthouse apartment, my one-year-old laptop let me down. Don’t even ask me about it, in the words of one of my favourite co-workers at the little organization I spent most of my days in DC: it was “tragic”. I left writing all together for a little longer than I would’ve liked, and embraced being upset about leaving yet another place– And, returning home.

So it is. I am torn into pieces, but I am also home to collect one that I left over here. With the courtesy of Hazal’s Camera, where I see things more clearly: Here is home.

Isn’t it lovely all alone?

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Side view of the Green Tomb (‘Yesil Turbe’). May 20, 2018

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The Green Tomb (‘Yesil Turbe’) entrance. May 20, 2018

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Looking out from within. May 20, 2018

A couple praying for the spirits of the Sultans who served in Bursa during the Ottoman era. May 20, 2018

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The Green Mosque

The Green Mosque.

The tomb was finished 40 days before the death of Celebi Sultan Mehmet (the 5th Ottoman Sultan). The tomb is also home for Celebi Sultan Mehmet’s daughters and sons, as well as Yildirim Beyazid’s son, Celebi Mehmet. May 20, 2018

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Flip the coin to the other side: Ataturk’s Turkey. May 19, 2018.

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Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day. May 19, 2018

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Tophane, top of the old historical Bursa. May 20, 2018

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The view from Tophane. May 20, 2018

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The new highway in process (view from Mudanya to M.Kemalpasa road) May 13, 2018

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Kids playing, view overseeing Trilye yacht marina. May 13, 2018

Extended Travel Guide for the Ultimate Wanderer Series: Antalya, Part II

20993452_10213785634023511_1285690521_oIn my last post, which is the part 1 of the Antalya within the Ultimate Wonderer Series, I introduced you to the city of Antalya, and its both central historical places(Kaleici) as well as the suburbs (Aspendos). I talked a fair bit about some day and nighttime activities and gave you a bit of a foodie guide… nom! Let’s get deep into this city, and go a little further back in time too within its districts.

  1. CENTRAL KEMER

Oh my, the central Kemer is a money-making machine itself. As I heard from many, it is one of the most expensive places in Antalya. No doubt because it is by far the most populated area by the tourists. Believe it or not, every 9 out of 10 people there were foreigners. I thought Turkish tourism was dying after the so-talked coup and state of emergency it brought, well… not in Kemer. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are mostly Russians too. The first time we went to central Kemer on our way back from Olympos, it was nighttime so we just threw our stuff by the shore and jumped into the water. After Konyaalti, this place is going to feel amazing. The water is so clear and it felt like cotton to me that night. How I miss that place… After walking all day under the sun, it is all you need. A bed of water that feels like cotton. It felt exactly the same after visiting Lara beach and returning to Kemer with disappointment. The cotton beach was there to hug us and let us float.

What to do in Kemer? Shopping is a no. Even on the highway going into the county there was a leather factory/showroom. There are all kinds of offices for touristy tours. I will assure you these are for tourists. If you are foreign to the county, read up and rent a cute little Vespa to drive around the popular spots (unless you are going to Olympos because the roads get messy deep in after the highway). They had two people motorcycles (can I still call them vespas?) for rental. They were extremely cute! Oh, I almost forgot. If you are staying in Kemer or just going there for the day, stay a little longer and experience the night clubs. I haven’t been inside –YET— but If I were you, I would be going to Inferno or Aura. There are DJs that display incredible performances and if this is your kind of fun then you’ll have the ultimate night club experience there.

  1. OLYMPOS and KIMERA21014541_10213785634543524_1477522359_o

Alright, okay, listen up and bring all your attention here. Before I tell you anything, DO BRING non-slippery, comfy shoes that you can hike with. Flip flops won’t save you when you go there. End rant. Thank you, ma’am.

Olympos was our first stop. Lucky enough, as I think back to it now, if I went up the mountain of Kimera first, I’d have no energy to go on whatsoever. Olympos is another city from the Helenistic era that Antalya is protecting as a historical site. It is the biggest city in the Likya areas. There is an entrance fee that is about 10-20$ depending on your age group. If you are an Is Bank credit card holder or own a muzecard (‘museum’), I believe you are able to get in for free.

Here’s a list of what you should bring:

Comfy shoes/sneakers

Beach umbrella

Towels

Water! (no place to buy inside)

After you go in, it is pretty simple to find your way. You will walk along a straight road made from stones that shine under the sun. One of the first things you will see will be the pond with ducks floating happily on your right. That pond connects to the beach that you will see at the end of your walk. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to see the ruins but I think the ancient part of the whole walk actually starts when you take the road on your left, right before you enter the beach. Walk through the tiny water pool and you’ll find the hidden side of the ancient city. There are so many spots to get pictures. My favorite part was sitting on the tree that fell over across the water. It makes such a cute spot to just sit and think. It helps that you are in the shadows too, a break from the hot Antalya sun. At the end of your walk that takes you back in time, right there, you find the perfect Akdeniz waters waiting for you. It will feel amazing to throw yourself in the water of the 3.5 km long beach, just to get away from the heat for a few minutes. Turn your back to the shore and enjoy the view of the Tahtali mountains as the salty water carries you.

Next up, have you every heard of a stone that burns permanently? As we were driving, I saw the sign that says Yanartas (‘burning stone’), and randomly asked my boyfriend to take me there. We had no idea about what this place was all about. After googling up some research, Yanartas or Kimera, its ancient name, was the literal definition of a burning stone. The rocks that are up on the mountain generate a gas that creates fire and keeps the fire alive at ALL times. I’d call it mother nature’s scientific experiment. Before going up, you’ll need to purchase a ticket of 2$ and you are good to go. Oh, I almost forgot—remember what I said about the shoes? The climb up is very steep and slippery. Me and my boyfriend climbed all the way up with Birkenstocks… I tend to be clumsy and he is the sporty guy that did not complete a workout that day. It took us probably about 20 mins to climb up the mountain that an average person would take almost 40 mins to an hour. Thank you, fitness.

As you get close to the top of the mountain, you’ll find a tree that people tie the sticky plastic paper that was once on their water bottle OR, like normal people, they tie a tiny string or a ribbon. This is obviously a Turkish tradition that you tie the ribbon and make a wish. The explanation: They had no ribbons and just tied the water bottle paper. I don’t know why I talked about this for so long, it just tackled my humour. Walk up the slippery stairs from the tree, there you are, you now feel HOT. The heat that comes from the stones fairly effect the environment around them and as you get close, you’ll feel your bare legs burning(!). There were people that brought their pots to make Turkish coffee on the fire of the nature. Many told be they came across people that barbeque’d up there! Whatever you bring, don’t forget your water. You’ll need to drink up before you get ready to go down the mountain.

  1. ADRASAN

Adrasan was a spontaneous trip for us. As we were heading out of Olympos, my boyfriend spotted two hitchhikers, and we agreed to take them up to the main road. They were a student couple doing an Akdeniz tour and were looking to camp out at their next stop, Adrasan bay was on our way, why not take a quick look around?

3-minute observation: I must say the beach looked lovely, parking was expensive, and we should’ve just parked and sunbathed.

BUT—Of course I saw another signboard that said, ‘This way to Kiz Kalesi (The girl castle)’. So, the way we go! There was a dusty very harsh looking entrance to the road that goes up the mountain. The sign had a stick figure man carrying a backpack and a hiking stick. We asked the ladies by the side road before entering with a car whether it was okay, and they advised us simply not to. WE HAD TO GO UP THERE WITH OUR DEAR CAR ANYWAYS. We drove up the mountain through the narrow road along the cliff. The car was shaking pretty harshly. I told my boyfriend that maybe he should stop and call the cops to take us down… I was about to cry. He stopped the car and we somehow managed to turn the car backwards in that narrow space. Those 15 minutes I was writing death scenarios in my mind. I took a breath of relief and got off the car, looked at the amazing view in front of me. This was one of the moments in my life I felt so grateful. That is all I have to say about this place.

Moral of the story: Do not drive up to Kiz Kalesi, take your tree branch and hike up like the stick man on the signboard.

  1. CENTRAL LARA

Welcome to the rich neighbourhood of Antalya. I cannot compare this place to Kemer because I spent far more time in Kemer than I did in Lara. I am sorry but I will be biased here. Lara Beach has a pretentious name: Altinkum, meaning ‘golden sand’. Our friends love the beach here because it is soft sand, unlike the rocks that aim to murder your feet as you walk to enter the sea. We stopped at a public beach but sadly, I wasn’t impressed. The entrance to the beach was a walk through a picnic area that had garbage all around. I did not find myself being comfortable with the population that decided to come to the beach so we didn’t stay long. However, do take your time to find a beach club that might work for you! I prefer Kemer!

What can you do in Lara for fun? If you are by the public beach, just a few minutes walk will take you to the Sandland. I did not enter in however, there is great feedback about this exhibition. I imagine it to be like walking in Egypt (Antalya weather is no less heat, I’ll tell you that!). Sandland is an international sand sculpting festival that takes place in 10000 m2 area. Sand artists create their work with 10000 tonne river sand within 3 weeks, and the exhibition is opened for viewers after this process. Additionally, TerraCity is another mall you can visit during your trip to Lara. It is enormous and you will find all high fashion brands there, if it tackles your fancy. Do go—when you need some air-conditioned environment for your soul!

  1. DUDEN FALLS

Duden falls are about 10 km away from the centre of Antalya. It is an easy getaway from the crowd of the city, to the crowd of the nature😊. Right by the parking lot, you are able to ride a camel along 100-200 m sidewalk, if you fancy that. I believe it is not expensive but I just think camels should be in Arabia or Egypt. Although they seem to be fine just laying there. Entrance fee to the park is 1$ per person. The walkway facilitates an enjoyable walk along the falls. You get to have a panoramic and closer view of the falls. The walk way then leads you into a cave where you have a chance of getting wet by the dripping water of the falls. There we meet again slippery ground! My Birkenstocks do not do well with you! Anyways, the whole experience is wonderful and another clever opportunity to escape from the heat.

Tip: Have a gozleme (a traditional pastry… yum!) and home made ayran (yogurt drink) if you feel hungry. We tried the restaurant in the upper area across the chicken cages. It was 10/10.

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I hope you enjoy Antalya as much as I did. There is so much more to do than what I have seen so far. I miss my tour guide a fair bit when I leave so, I will return for more next summer. Until then, see you soon Antalya.

Extended Travel Guide for the Ultimate Wanderer Series: Antalya, Part I

Ahh! I have been waiting to write this post for so long. I cannot tell you what a great time I had this past few weeks. It has been so busy, busy that I had no time to breathe, but in a good way. Wasn’t there a saying? It goes about something like this ‘life is not about how much you breathe, it is about the moments that take your breath away’. I must thank my amazing boyfriend for facilitating that part for me. Effortlessly. Thank you for being my tour guide in this crazy life, everything looks different when I see it with you 😊. This one is for you…

This city feels like home too, after all.

  1. KALEICI

I adore this part of the city. Whether you want to walk along the stone roads with a book in hand or holding someone’s hand that knows you like a book. Kaleici now consists of narrow streets however, the stone walls were once part of a castle that was built in the Helenistic era. It is believed that the Pergamon King Attalos II united two cities of north and south, and their ports. There were numerous ramparts over the castle for protection, which clarifies many narrow walls of Kaleici today.

You will enter Kaleici through the Hadrianus Gates (‘Uc Kapilar’), walk through the streets and you will find nostalgic coffee shops, bars and oh, fish restaurants! You are very close to the yacht marina. This place is amazing in the morning, but magical at nights… You can take a yacht tour for two for about 15-20$ in season, (for 5$ if its on May and sailors are desperate!). I am not the person for water-related tours as I get bored, these tours are approx. about 30-50 mins long. Let me tell you, they are worth it. Take a mind break, and just watch the waves crashing to edges of the small ships. 20160509_182247000_iOS.jpg

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15 July 2016 – TURKEY’S ATTEMPTED COUP

Disclaimer: This post will be my best attempt at explaining this event without being biased. None of the text written below is meant to reflect political views.

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15 JULY, FIRST PERSON COMMENTARY

I was sitting in our living room in Turkey, checking my phone and sipping my cup of steamy tea. I was home for a 2-month summer break from university. Suddenly I saw my ‘WhatsApp’ (online texting app) group receiving multiple messages, telling me to- TURN ON MY TV.

“Breaking News: Loaded tanks are driving around in the roads of Istanbul.

Horror as jets open fire.

Military took over TRT state television building.

Military forcefully aired a declaration regarding their takeover.

Turkish Grand National Assembly is surrounded by the military.

Government announced State of Emergency.”

First thoughts were that the military themselves attempted this coup and many believed they would not hurt anyone. As a few hours passed second thoughts were whether this was planned by the government itself. The government declared ‘state of emergency’ and I was terrified about the likelihood of not being able to see my relatives and friends and, not being able to get out of my house for weeks. Lastly, the story was carefully closed by it appearing to be planned by the organization ‘FETO’. Erdogan stopped the coup by calling out people to fight with the military (via FaceTime!). The day ended as I fell asleep in front of the TV a little after midnight, like half of the nation. The rest were out on the streets with their lives in danger. One thing to be sure- All were confused.

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WHO WAS BEHIND THE COUP?

The Turkish government claims that the coup was planned by FETO (Gulenist Terror Organisation) which was led by Fethullah Gulen. Gulen was a conservative whom influenced many people (especially poor families) in Turkey through education. He gave students places to eat and stay, provided them with scholarships, sent many students abroad for greater education and conclusively, raised them up to serve his purposes. Gulen has many schools all over the world. Moreover, he owned hospitals, newspaper, media companies, private and public associations that were present in Turkish people’s lives (almost all are publicly closed or re-owned by the government now).

However, let’s note a selection of Gulen’s statements as published on Telegraph: “Mr Gulen said on Sunday he would obey any extradition ruling from the United States. He has insisted that he had nothing to do with the uprising and suggested that Mr Erdogan could have staged the attack himself in order to legitimise a fresh crackdown on the judiciary and military” (2016). Read more