• the mad dogs of yeniköy

    March 16th, 2013

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    The dogs of Yeniköy occupy a special place in my heart. They go a little bit mental around sundown. The call to prayer can get them going. A passing motorcycle. A hapless homeless man with whom they aren’t familiar. They probably look for just about any excuse to let off a little steam during the gloaming hour. Our evening is a lot like their morning. They sit across from Molka Cafe in the park, sniffing each other’s parts until one nudges another. One mutt probably says to another, “You looking at me?” And the other responds, “No I was looking at your mama, bitch!” And then, the next thing you know, there’s a good old fashioned tussle in the grass. Teeth are bared. Legs are pulled. Eventually five or six have entered the fray. Blades of grass start flying in the air. Girls on top of the boys, the boys on top of girls. But no one gets hurt. It’s simply canine calisthenics. Then, just as abruptly as it started, it ends. Everyone loves everyone again.

    I just wonder: how is it that the dogs can have a better sense of humour than most humans?

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  • Being “right”

    February 10th, 2013

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    Sof, I can think of few more damaging compulsions in this life than the need to constantly be “right.” The only time you need to be right is when you have the potential to physically or mentally damage another spirit. The amount of harm people do to themselves by constantly feeling and trying to prove how right they are is immeasurable, and mostly to their most important relationships — whether those relationships be with family and friends or colleagues and clients. The need to be right will deprive you and others of the joy of learning. It will paralyze you from making decisions or taking responsibility for your choices. So feel free to get it wrong and forgive others when they do so. Otherwise you’re imprisoning yourself and others to the worst kind of life. A boring one.

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  • A fire in the mind

    January 14th, 2013

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    Only one colour can break the tonal tide of white/grey/blue that this season pours down upon us. It’s like a vitamin for the soul. A beacon in a white night. The hue of courage. Unlike cowardly yellow, it knows how to stand up to nature’s desaturation and never blench. Eat red. Drink red. Wear red. See red. Hold back the chill of winter. Kindle a fire in the mind.

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  • Dislocation

    November 22nd, 2012


    Ever wonder where you are? I do frequently. Last week I was in Western Quebec, gazing at lakes, examining a cottage reconstructed from a 150 year-old barn surrounded by trees and silence, eating pizza “stix” from a baker person — now I’m back in the middle of traffic, chaos and noise, trying to get myself back up to speed. It’s no wonder life seems like such a dream sometimes with the ability to transition between so many distinctly different landscapes in such short time expanses. I’m not always sure my mind is ready to catch up with my current experience. Perhaps it doesn’t always want to.

  • Mer Bleu

    November 13th, 2012

    Dear Sof,

    I had to go looking for your grandfather yesterday. I’ve missed him for quite a while now, and have only glimpsed him occasionally in the last few years, mostly in my sleep where he could be himself again. So I visited his favourite place, Mer Bleu, hoping to talk to him even if only briefly. He wasn’t there. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say to him, so many conversations we never had. I’d hoped they might be finished somewhere along this trail. But I couldn’t find him or even something of him that I could introduce you to. There was only a strange emptiness, an endless landscape once familiar to me, now as infinite as the terrain of dreams, merging with the sky above. He won’t be found here anymore despite its strange resemblance to the land of dreams.

    The next time we see Eric Robert Welbourne, may it be a long, long time away, in the infinite beauty of the beyond. Yesterday, our conversations ended. Today, I’m ready to live. There is no one I have ever missed so much as you, Sof, or a father who was ever as proud of his child.

  • Summer Elixir

    July 2nd, 2012

    For some of us, summer isn’t always the holiday we want. Or sometimes it’s too much of what we want—sun, drink, late nights. That’s why when I’m feeling like I’ve overdosed on any or all of these things, I resort to my favorite seasonal elixir, which helps me detoxify physically and mentally. The key ingredient here is fresh turmeric root, something which is not always easy to find in Istanbul. I’ve tried with the powder, but don’t seem to enjoy the same feeling afterwards. Fortunately, as I was watching cool little video the other day, shot by I noticed that the natural food and organic supplier in Besiktas, Kirkambar, had some on the counter. Read More…

  • Something sweet

    June 4th, 2012

    In Turkey it’s not a lack of choice but an abundance of choice that’s the problem when it comes to sweets. I don’t think I know of a place with more varieties of dessert. Want something crispy, crusty and sweet like baklava? Or something cool and sweet like muhallebi? What’s your favorite? It all goes so well with tea.

  • Seeing roses

    May 23rd, 2012

    Everywhere I go lately I’m seeing roses — and I don’t mean this in the proverbial sense. In Yeniköy, Tarabya and all sorts of other places there seems to be an explosion of these flowers. Red ones firing off over fences.  Pink ones blasting through slatted rails. Yellow ones bursting through every imaginable crevice. It’s an assault of color like none I’ve ever seen before. Last year I didn’t notice nearly so many. What happened? Perhaps I simply wasn’t paying attention, or perhaps they were simply planning their attack.  I’m trying not to fight it. We can co-exist, right?

    Though to a lot of people they may seem like a cheesy symbol of romance and bad poetry, I have to say I’m beginning to respect them a little bit more, un-plucked and on the vine. Perhaps it’s all the reading I’ve done on alchemy and Rosicrucianism. Perhaps it’s what natural healer Jayda Uras told me about the rose’s unique properties. Who knows? Am I being subdued by flower power? Should I be worried? Don’t know. Maybe I’m just seeing things differently.

  • Weekday Escape: Atatürk Arboretum

    May 15th, 2012

    In Istanbul green space is at something of a premium. In fact, I read somewhere recently that it’s as low as six square meters per resident. So if you’re like me and have an unusual schedule to keep, or are a gentleman or lady of leisure you might just appreciate the Atatürk Arboretum in Bahçeköy. For a couple of TL you can stroll about at your leisure—whereas on weekends and holidays you need to be a member get your dose of naturally filtered air. While the occasional rampaging student or a gardener with a verge trimmer might shatter the trilling birdsong, there are plenty of paths to explore.

    This will be a great retreat on sweltering midsummer days, when the city atmosphere is thick with particulate. The first thing I noticed was the air, which I gulped down like water. It tasted of flowers.

  • Curiosity

    April 23rd, 2012

    Dear Sof,

    There’s something in your eyes I hope you never lose. Curiosity. You’re brimming with it, and it’s a beautiful thing. For me the process of finding out is more interesting than the actually knowing, or being right. Even when you know a little something, you can build on it by asking the next question. Once you’ve figured out the how, go onto the why. Even if you never find out, you’ll be rewarded with all sorts of adventures which keep life interesting.

    Develop your curiosity. Develop your sense of wonder — wonder, which is not the same thing as gullibility, any more than open-mindedness is the same as empty-headedness. Wonder leads to all sorts of things — creativity, invention, discovery, surprises, friendships, travel, and perhaps best of all, love.

    Some people get to an age or station in life when they think they’ve lived everything they can ever expect to live, and in an effort to defend themselves from disappointment, abandon their curiosity. Then they grow bitter and angry, and adopt an I’ve seen it all before attitude. They tell themselves the world has let them down. That’s tragic.

    Anybody who wants you to believe that the world is certain, predictable or determined by your genes is somebody to be very wary of — seems to me they’ve chosen their reality from an out-of-date guidebook. If there’s not something new around the corner, find a new corner. The universe is vast and full of surprises.

    Whether you’re exploring the microcosm or the macrocosm, curiosity is the beginning of all great discoveries. I hope your life is full of them.

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