Thursday, August 14, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
So I posted a video on Facebook that resulted in some fairly concerned messages from my nearest and dearest; I feel I need to explain it better!
Everyone has seen some worrying changes in the government, and a prime minister who is a little too big for his boots. Over the past year there have been many protests, often violent, and often heavily dealt with from the police. This protest is different and not so much related. Labour Day, International Worker’s Day, or ‘Work and Solidarity Day’ was cancelled in 1980 after a military coup, but has a fairly bloody history. (See the Taksim Square Massacre in 1977, where unknown people opened fire on a crowd of approximately 500,000 people.) Rallies are traditionally held in Taksim Square, and after the cancellation of the national holiday, small demonstrations continued to be held but were banned from entering Taksim Square. Most years have ended with violence from the police. In 2008, police fired tear-gas into hospitals and a local primary school.
This year Taksim was completely shut down the night before. And when I say shutdown, I mean a double fence was built 3-5km around Taksim Square and no one was allowed to get even close. Which meant that the demonstrators didn’t leave Besiktas (where I live) and ended having skirmishes around the area with police. Somehow this happened on our street, and Liz and I got stuck in the house with a birds-eye view of events and more than our fair share of tear gas wafting in the house.
We both made a runner from the house at 2pm when it seemed to calm down. The streets were bizaare, police everywhere, students calmly walking back from university, no traffic, and a beautiful sunny day. There was debris everywhere, even the pavement had been ripped up in places for the stones to be used as ammunition from protestors.
Anyway, everything was cleaned up by the next morning with no sign of anything that had happened except for a sad looking man standing next to his newly-discovered beaten up car, and some graffiti on the walls.
While there are many things I absolutely adore about this country, the total mess of the governing system here is scary. With little to no accountability, an executive power that steps in and messes with the legislating and judicial powers whenever it feels the need, and a police force trained to believe they are above the citizens they are supposed to protect, Turkey has a long way to go. I feel the frustration my friends feel at being unable to change anything, and that their voices go unheard. It doesn’t surprise me that the passion of those ends often violently.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
It’s not the most exciting title I could think of, but don’t be fooled; this area in Southeastern Turkey is WONDERFUL.
I spent the weekend with a friend and her family being hosted in the most incredible way. I have always found Turkish people to be incredibly hospitable, and generous beyond measure, and these guys were not different.
I arrived late Friday night, and Yasmin and her cousin picked me up and took me straight to Harbiye for a spicy durum kebab, a cold ayran, and a walk around the extremely beautiful site of Apollo. My immediate impression was how different the atmosphere was from the other parts of Turkey I had been to. The province of Hatay used to be a part of Syria, and that is very clear. Arabic is written everywhere, and the daily language seems to sway between Turkish and Arabic. I was told that many older generations don’t even speak much Turkish generally!
The city itself was much bigger than I expected, and also less conservative. From what I could garner from the family I stayed with, life is still fairly traditional, with traditional values and customs upheld, but with a very open-minded and fairly tolerant approach to other people. The city is home to not only a large Muslim population, but also Jewish and Christians. Indeed, the first church of St Peter is located here (though currently under renovation so i didn’t get too see it unfortunately!)
The food itself is also quite different. My favourite food is Antakyan (and therefore my favourite restaurant in Istanbul is Antiochia, in Asmali Mescit) and I was extremly well fed – high quality meats in ichli kofte, durum, tepsi kebabs, sish kebabs, the wonderful kunefe dessert (stringy melted cheese in pastry covered in syrup and pistachios) more coffee than I could ever drink in a week in Istanbul, and a new favourite – rose flavoured icecream, mastic flavoured ice cream, and something called “bucibuci” or something, bought from a roadside stall.
We went for a wonderful winding drive over to Samandag on the coast. We stopped off in a beautiful street of laurel trees ‘Dephne Yolu’ for the best gozleme I’ve had yet, hand made and cooked on a steel disc over a wood fire. We also stopped at a tiny Armenian church where I picked up some beautiful lace for my mum, handmade by the village women. (Sorry mum! I realised I forgot to send this to you!)
Samandag had a beach! And surf! The first I’d seen in Turkey. And a tunnel called Titus Tunnel. I could be less lazy and find something out to tell you about it, but I’m not going to. I’m sure you can wiki it :P
It was an incredible piece of engineering anyway, a good few thousand years old, and a few of the old stone houses were still intact to explore. One of the most incredible sites was a crypt from Byzantine times. As you can see the structure was still in fairly good shape, and I was mildly (but not overly) surprised to see all the tourists wandering all over, and throwing their rubbish into the empty burial plots.
Does anyone speak latin? Or read it? I think its latin but I’m not sure.
My last meal was a mangal, or barbeque amongst the greengage trees, with homemade wine and spicy chicken, kebab, hummus and babaganoush. Yasmin’s family gave me fivekgs of eriks (greengages) to take back to Istanbul, which Liz and I have tried our best to make a dent in!
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
I didn't really get back into the blog the way I intended. Lots of things have been changing and I'm trying to work out what the hell I'm doing generally, but it looks like it's kind of settling down and I'm doing a million things at once and answering that age old question (which I hate) "What do you do?"
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
It’s official. I seriously hate February and March in the Northern hemisphere. I don’t ever remember being so effected by short grey days in NZ throughout October and November though. So I’ve had a hiatus on the blog, but have been running, rediscovered yoga, and actually been pretty busy with the girls. Yesterday they had friends over for the day and we headed to Emirgan Park down the road for some playtime. I foolishly forgot my camera so enjoy my phone-taken delights where I was playing around with settings and trying to keep an eye on five wee ones with bounds of energy.
The tulips have started to come into full bloom for the Istanbul Lale Festavali, or Istanbul Tulip Festival. Emirgan Park has had a re-do or two over the winter and their are new shiny playgrounds, outdoor gyms and some strange aquarium things around the place as well as an absolutely stunning array of tulips – hundreds of beds across the park.
The park is a completely different place today. Over winter there was hardly a person to be seen – a few teenage couples sneakily holding hands on the park benches, the occasional dogwalker, middle age men ‘jogging’, and a fair few veiled women with their toddlers – except myself running like a mad woman in shorts and a tomato-red face. Today its overflowing with families, groups of teenagers, school groups, couples, elderly groups; everyone wandering along the neat little paved paths, (security guards blowing their whistles every time someone dares step on a blade of immaculate, ever-so-inviting grass.)
The Istanbul Council plants over 11 million tulip bulbs around the city for the festival usually lasting throughout April. The tulip is a symbol of Istanbul since the Ottoman period – being brought over from Iran centuries before. I never realised how many colours and types there are! It’s understandable how they were the pokemon card of the 16th century