Elif's view on objects-people-events, science-art-sports-culture, language-communication-internet, home-work-travel, and you-and-them-and-everybody-she-knows..

Friday, May 08, 2009

Recently read: Portrait of a Turkish Family (Irfan Orga)

I bought this book about 3 years ago in Turkey as a gift for my husband. I was on a visit to my family who lives in Ankara. It was the only time that I had visited my parents for bayram (religious holidays similar to Christmas or Easter) since I had left Turkey. Such occasions are always fun since the whole family come together, eat together, and exchange stories. For me it was a great chance to see them all together, again.

However, I was alone, my husband had to stay in Holland due to business related reasons. I thought he missed out on witnessing several, sometimes funny sometimes eerie, traditional events. Such as eating baklava and drinking Turkish coffee at each visit to family members.. or again eating kavurma which is made of fresh meat.. The eerie part comes from the fresh meat.. sacrificing an animal (cow or sheep or goat) and extracting meat out of it.. I cannot witness that kind of a cruelty nowadays, but as a child these scenes were normal.

During bayrams, people followed certain rituals just like waking up early in the morning, men doing the morning praying and women preparing bayram breakfast.. children wake up after their parents, put their new clothes on and before breakfast they kiss their parents' hands, who will grant them with pocket money or presents :) I loved that part of course.. and on bayram's eve I used to place my new shoes beside my bed and fall asleep dreaming how beautiful I would look in them :) If it was the sacrifice bayram, families would kill one cattle head per family. Later, something like 90% of the meat would be distributed to poor families, the rest would be used for the eventual guests and of course for the first bayram lunch for the family themselves. Bayrams are always about sharing and it felt, even as a child, awarding to do the good deeds.

And my husband, who is Portuguese, had missed all these events. He was not able to experience any of it.. Living in Christian societies in Western Europe, I know quite a lot about Christmases or Easters, Ascension Days, etc. Likewise, I wanted to share with him the culture once I was living by..

To my grief, I found this book in the bookstore. The title pretty much explained my intentions when I offered it to my husband. I hoped that he would find a piece of me in the book. He still hasn't read it, but I did... recently.

It's a real story about a boy whose wealthy family go through varying degrees of suffer and sometimes happiness during the 1st world war and after in Istanbul. I liked the author when he was a little boy, what he saw and understood. He was vulnerable but also strong. I didn't quite like what he became of as an adult. I felt quite distressed about his incapacity to act on things, to decide for his family and being very obedient to the women of the house, who needed a strong man to be looked after. Overall it was a well-told story and nothing wrong with the author's literary talent. I just could not become friends with the author, that's all :) While reading I sensed that he didn't do what he preached and hadn't learnt from his past experiences. I am not sure whether this can be attributed to Turkish manhood. Also, I don't want to deny the fact that, he was born and raised a century ago, which could also explain some of his conservative behaviour.

One thing was very interesting to see. Turkish women of the time seem to be very opinionated and autocrats. Especially, the oldest woman of the house seems to have a heavy vote for family decisions. I also was very happy to discover that there was always a bottle of wine at the dining table or some liquors for after dinner as digestives. Women had their equal share in this :) So, if you want to discover such little things, then the book is for you.

The book was a best-seller in the 50s in US and England. It is written in English and received praise about the author's conduct of English language. Orga had lived in England for only a couple of years when he wrote this book all in English.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

canned PhDs??

Photo taken by Alex, in Taipei

How would you like your PhD? Canned or fresh? as written on the box, yes a PhD takes four years to complete, probably if you buy a canned one you can use it whenever you want, the fresh ones are more problematic, because you have already started the process..

Well, as a PhD student at the moment, seeing these cans made me smile. And a s a PhD student who is about to finish and have her title soon (yay!) I started to think how easy and difficult it was to go through this whole process of scientific research. Therefore, I dedicate this photo to all my fellow PhD students who have just started or about to finish. All I can say is: Just enjoy every moment of it and realise it is worth to undergo the difficulties!
For me it has been a very special four years, in a way I'm sad that it is about to be over.. but I know that something 'very nice' (and whatever that is) is waiting for me afterwards! :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

don't feel like dancing

I have been searching for sometime for a happy band to listen to. It would have been also great to have found some happy songs. But that didn't seem likely. I knew some happys songs: Monthy Python 'Always look on the bright side of life' or Grease 'You're the one I want'. They are nice songs but they still are very much associated with the happy/funny movies. Then, it seemed like I didn't have much chance. This made me think that maybe 'happiness' is not a good source of inspiration for a song writer. There are love songs, there are sarrow songs, or songs that are provocative, or that are about certain desires like sex or money. This again put a question mark in my head: are songs written in a certain way because the writers are feeling that way? But how about then the recent status of the music industry, it seems that nowadays music is treated as an entertaining medium rather than an artistic expression-just image the millions of dollars that is going around popular bands and people's desire to listen to them in concerts. Then why aren't there more happy songs to cheer up people?? Isn't a little caress and push what we need when we feel lonely and desperate or just sad..

In fact it seems like I've found a band and a particular song that cheered me up today! Although the lyrics seem to mention some disappointment to somebody, the whole sound makes the 'problem' a little lighter. Well, the name of the song is
'Don't Feel Like Dancing' by Scissor Sisters. The band sounds and looks really gay - in both senses! :). They are great fun to watch and listen.

The lyrics go like this:

Don't feel like dancin', dancin'
Even if i find nothin' better to do
Don't feel like dancin', dancin'
Why'd you break down when I'm not in the mood?
Don't feel like dancin', dancin'
Rather be home with no one when I can't get down with you"

... but it's impossible not to dance along! When I hear the song I do undertand the lyrics but still my legs and arms detach from my stiff body and mind then I start moving back and forth, and my whole body soon shakes with the tempo of the song!

This song is definitely an oxymoron to the senses! and that's what I needed today!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

a little melancholy doesn't hurt..

I thought tonight would have been one of those nights which I normally would work on my PhD isolating myself from the rest of the 'far' world. In normal circumstances, I would turn on my computer (which is always idle on my bedside table) and open up the file that I'm currently working on and start on typing. Meanwhile, I would have my internet sites open to have little distractions when and if I need to.. So far, it had all started well. But today I had the new iTunes installed, so wanted to check out the new functionalities as a distraction for a change.. There something went wrong and my eye grabbed the word 'podcasts'. I don't know why I had this urge to check whether the radio station that I previously worked in Ankara had any podcast. I googled "radyo odtu podcasts".

And there it was, they had a website with all the podcasting programs. My favourite friends/programmers are still there and now even podcasting! "Modern sabahlar' ('modern mornings' in English) is the first one that I checked, because these guys are the funniest people I have ever listened to. They sounded like as I left - except the subject they tackle daily are different of course. Even the radio jingles are the same as I used to play. I remember perfectly the day those jingles arrived. They were ordered from US, and American singers who are extremely talented in imitating the language of others had recorded our 'Radyo ODTU' jingles. It costed us by then a fortune. But that was money well spent! They are still in use even after almost 10 years.

Then, I discovered that one of my best friends, Fulya, also has her podcast under the name of 'Tozlu Yapraklar'. It's a melancholic way of saying old days in Turkish.. it literally means 'dusty pages'. I had a short listen to Fulya's program and immediately decided to subscribe to her. In her programe she talks about the music history beyond 60s and playbacks the hits of the week chronologically. So, there were these songs from my past too playing and reminding me of 'my' Turkey, my past, my stories..

High-school days, platonic loves, my first dance, my first dj-song, friends, on-air hours, top-40s, in-radio intrigues, songs which I hadn't heard ever since I left Turkey, etc. etc. were storming in my mind.. I admit.. I miss Turkey. I had great time there.. great friends, and a fantastic family which I had to leave behind.. it was without question worth for leaving for the love I had found abroad. But still Turkey is where I come from.. it's this special place that shaped me, sculpted me and my character.

This is not to announce people that I'm thankful for all.. It's rather an internal struggle that I needed to get rid of. I always 'acted' like I'm OK with living abroad and being away from my past. I visited my country only once a year if at all, and even then never stayed there long enough to kill my 'longing'. Maybe, I unconsciously chose to pretend that all was cool.
In fact it's darn too difficult to be where I'm at the moment. If I hadn't 'strategically' ignored my longing, would I have been coping well as an alien in somebody else's land???

who knows actually.. but at this very moment I couldn't care less about my daily struggles. Now I'm turning up the volume to catch up with Ankara while enjoying my 'dusty pages' and dreaming of the next trip back home! ;-)

Monday, September 11, 2006

where were you five years ago today?

Probably 9/11 was a signficant day for many, either because of lost relatives or even luckily surviving the crash.. those people do traumatically remember well what had happened that day. But I guess even the people who didn't directly experience the catastropy have their own stories about 9/11..

on flickr.com Jennifer Hawke has started this post related to people's experiences about that horrible day... what were you doing at the time of the crash? Well, here goes my story:

I was working in Lisbon at the time for a design agency. It was lunch time and we had gone out to eat at the nearby shopping center. As we were walking back to the car, we saw a big crowd of people watching tv in front of an electronics shop. In fact this could have been a normal scene in Portugal during important football games or so.. but there was nothing important that day to happen.. so I was curious. What I could see through a couple of people was the twin towers one of which was in flames-I still remember the exact picture. We hurried up to go back to the office not knowing what caused the fire. When we arrived we saw our colleauges in the transparent meeting room watching the tv, as we approached to ask what had happened the second plane just crashed into the next tower. It was horrible, all I could think of was how rescue teams could save people from the fire... I didn't care why it happened and how, but really worried about the innocent and all they had been / were to be through..

the rest of my day was just like anybody's... watching the tv and not beliving the stupidity of what had happened... and no one worked in Portugal that day...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

a new blog has been born!

Finally, I have my own blog. I'm curious to see how this will develop. Will post stuff as I want to share something with you.. If there is no recent post at my blog, then there's no news from me either. Cheers!