FOUR ELEMENTS IN A PUFF
is against your health. And I will try to keep my narration as less
tantalizing as possible.
is an ever-surprising city. A
Parisien Café, an Italian Restaurant, an Irish Pub or Mexican Food
can be just round the corner. Not
rarely a church will share its garden with a mosque, or will salute
the synagogue on the opposite corner.
people still go to the 500 years old Grand Bazaar for various
reasons, haggle on the prices and extend their ‘negotiation
techniques’, 5 minutes drive will be big shopping malls in ultra
modern buildings and with genuine world brands.
be extraordinary or not to be, is not a question in Istanbul.
Because as you familiarize yourself with this center of the
old world for 17 hundred years, and become an Istanbuller, you will
find at least five surprising reasons in one day, though may also
learn how not to surprise.
the 80s, Turkey was introduced to globalization, and in the 90s,
powerfully struck by global trends so that Mc Donalds managed to
open 100 shops nationwide in about one year.
However, the new millennium reversed the game. Mc started to
shut down (34 stores in 2001). Fast food is still very in, but in an ever Turkish way.
typical Buffet at the Taksim Square sells a rich ‘buffet’ of
‘Turkish’ fast food; despite standardized burgers of ‘from the
fridge’ American food, a Buffet offers fresh and daily tastes;
beef, chicken, (also liver, kidney or tongue), with salad, cheese
and last but not the least fresh fruit juice. Pomegranates, apples, banana, carrots, orange, tangerine,
honey or a mixture. And
when served with pide-bread, yummy.
short the Turkish fast-food alternatives, let me talk about
slow-food choices. A
particular one; smoking nargile.
was one of my fist visits to Tophane, the street of Nargile Cafes
(pronounced Nargeeleah; Water Pipe; Hubble Bubble), when I met
Selahattin. My first impression was of a nice guy around his 50s, with
bright eyes and shining baldhead.
My friends told me that he was one of the oldest remaining nargile
masters in Istanbul. As
I was expecting a standard conversation about the things, up and
down so far, Selahattin brought one of my deepest surprises.
And here I am, (my diligence for writing strikes again)
to tell you his philosophy on nargile, as I promised him long
time ago. He calls this
philosophy Four Elements in a Puff…
was 3 years ago and we were sitting opposite to a statue of Emperor
Nero (original copy from Istanbul archaeology museum), placed in a
cubic glass container and smoking the nargile.
While I was trying to perceive the art piece, suddenly, I
noticed the crawling snake in the cube, dancing with the pipe, oh my
heart jumped up into my brain; drums, drums.
was a design by my sculpture friend Cemil, sitting next to me, and
they both felt my excitement. Between
two well experienced nargile smokers, though only a very
light social smoker myself, I reluctantly sucked the pipe under the
increasing thickness of a surprisingly sweet fume.
sentenced Nero,” Cemil said, “He burned Rome, he cannot burn New
Rome”, “And in a transparent cube, because art must be
transparent, unblocking new horizons, while the snake accompanies
him towards infinity, through his endless journey of fame, which is
a poisonous honey!”
why nargile?” I dared asking.
that is four elements in a puff! Fire, earth, water and air. Burning coal on the tobacco, tobacco itself in a terracotta
cup, water bubbling down in the glass reservoir, and air comes when
your breath.” Selahattin joined our conversation.
you smoke nargile, you incorporate four basic elements into
your body, which is already built on those four.
Thus, you refresh your self-being.” Selahattin added.
though, I recalled my fathers suggestion, “Nargile will fit
you better son, and also to your style, but remember, breathing nargile
cleans up the accumulation of cigarette fume, and to clean
nargile fume, you have to wait for your last breath!”
no, that is tonbeki (tonbeakhee), a full experience, we roll
tobacco leaves around our terracotta cup – using a very special
traditional method – and you directly smoke the real thing”
is a mixture of very few tobacco and mostly dried fruit peelings and
aroma; apricot, melon, cherry, apple or banana!” explained
not. Never, maybe in secret locations – we definitely know not –
this is a public place, and such drugs are forbidden in Turkey.”
sure, but I still feel high”
is the density of smoke, and please give yourself a break and breath
some fresh air, you are sucking like a baby!”
was right. It was like
my toy, and I was really enjoying the apple taste.
continued “There are four principals of nargile joy. Nese
(neshea) = Fun, Mese (meshea) = oak – the coal, Kose (koshea) = a
calm corner, and Ayse (ayshea) = the coal boy – old usage, young
boy in a Turkish Café serving coffee, cleaning tables, etc.”
is totally different than cigarette, no way to compare.
Here, you have to sit, look at someone else’s face, share
some time, some fun together,” he replied my father-sponsored
Cemil concluded our evening muhabbet “Let the Old Rome
inside you burn down, give and share a common breath through the
air, and rebuilt yourself!”
a moment, I thought of starting a philosophical dialogue about
well-developed individuals imprisoned in their “ego cubes”, on
their own will. And other professional cubes that the social life
implies. Then perhaps I
felt some cubes around, thin though and still melting.
And I decided to go with my partner, the time, while it
builds up and undermines my life.
Let’s melt together, into the air.
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