No.38- April 2004
On Spring Being in
the Air and Other Things
you know, spring is in the air? Now,
under circumstances other than those in Istanbul, that sentence could
sound trite, but here . . . here is a different story.
Here in Istanbul that difference is so deep as to be almost
palpable. Yup. Spring is
most definitely in the air.
year I plant flowers in the garden around this time.
Usually I choose pansies (menekþa).
I will still use them in one bed, but there is another space
which gets sun and so I am thinking of trying out geraniums (sardunya). I don’t know how they will do, but this year I feel like
trying. You know, some day
I hope to have a large house with a big, big garden, but for now, I must
make do with the little one that I have.
Although my manicurist has told me over and over not to garden
without gloves, I can never seem to follow her advice.
I love the feel of soil on my hands.
I love putting a new plant into the small hole I’ve dug and
then using my hands to cover up the roots with earth and press down on
it. It’s strange, really.
I was born and bred in a city and the only contact I had with the
Earth was from the few potted plants my mother had and our summers which
were spent in a small cottage in the mountains.
I guess the connection began in my hippy days, when I spent a
good part of one summer living amidst the redwoods in a northern
California forest and in the wooded hills above the Pacific Ocean near
Big Sur. One night, I
actually slept wrapped up in my sleeping bag inside the hollowed out
trunk of an enormous redwood. That
connection developed during the three years I spent on a sheep station
in Australia and later, during my time living in the French countryside
in a guest house on the grounds of the same chateau where Stendahl wrote
The Red and the Black. The
connection with the Earth, with Kara
Toprak, has certainly deepened here in Turkey. There is something positively holy about being out in Nature.
It is not for nothing that they call the Mother Goddess Ekmek
Annesý, Bread Mother, in Anatolia.
As I grow older I understand all this more and more.
I imagine this is why I cannot get excited about the “new”
Maslak nor can I contemplate spending half a million dollars or so for
the dubious privilege of owning a luxury apartment atop Metro. There is something dehumanizing about skyscrapers.
They function to cut us off from the earth.
some time now (and I am sure that some of my more astute readers have
already picked up on this) I have been going through some devastatingly
painful things in my personal life.
Last weekend found me full of energy and I got through quite a
lot of work. But for some
reason when I got up on Monday morning, I knew it wasn’t going to be a
good day. Maybe it had to
do with the rain. Anyway, I
had to go to my bank in Bebek and on the way back in the taxi I heard an
old Zeki Moran song playing very softly.
Somehow it seemed just right what with the rain and my feelings
and all so I told the driver to turn it up.
We drove on to my house with the song playing, the rain, and a
greyed Bosphorus alongside. Went
right through a red light. It
wasn’t that my driver was reckless or anything.
It’s just he was an old style driver and had no use for red
lights that had no function. He
was right, you know. The
red lights he ignored had no function at all and so there really was no
reason whatsoever to pay attention to them.
It was strange, but for a few moments what I experienced was the
sensation that the taxi driver and I were fighting our way through life,
doing what had to be done, and somehow supporting each other as we did
it. Interesting, that.
It is a quality I have never experienced anywhere else but here.
And this wasn’t the first time.
The fact that it managed to penetrate my suffering attests to its
parts of me would definitely like to loll around in the increasingly
warm air, there is no rest for the wicked, as they say.
I find myself using the energy which the season generates in my
efforts to help organize a very important congress at Fatih University
where I teach, “Perspectives
in Higher Education in the 21st Century,” which is going to
be held 27-29 May. We have
just about finished dotting every ‘i,’ crossing every ‘t,’ and
putting the right mark on every soft ‘ð’ on the program.
It is an exciting prospect, this congress.
Around 160 people are on the program and they come from something
like 18 different countries. I
have high hopes that it will actually make a difference to the future
direction of education in Turkey. For
those of you who are interested, you can go and visit our website: www.edu2004.fatih.edu.tr.
is open to the public, there is no registration fee, and if you attend
you will have the chance to hear some cutting edge thoughts about
education. We have sessions
on transdisciplinarity, justice and the university, multidisciplinarity
and interdisciplinarity, the academic study of religion and world views,
and more. “This,” as a
friend of mine says, “is going to be good.”
am sitting here finishing up this column in the midst of what can only
be termed chaos, surrounded by piles of books on the floor in the living
room, which is relatively organized compared with the rest of the place.
It seems that my upstairs neighbor’s bathroom pipes have been
leaking for years, slowly, and the result was that a couple of weeks ago,
I heard a loud crash which turned out to have been caused by a large
portion of the ceiling in my dining space.
falling down. Üstas were found and today (Saturday) they came and began
repairing the damage. Turns
out that the entire ceiling has to be worked on and they spent the day
using hammers and spatulas to clean off much of the old plaster and
replastering. At five o’
clock they told me they would come tomorrow morning at 8:30.
Even assuming they do come on time (and they just might, ‘cause
these seem to be pretty good guys—they didn’t eat the leftover döner
sandwich, but gave it to me ýnstead) I have a terrible feeling they
won’t be able to finish tomorrow and will have to come back again on
Monday. I also know that I
am going to have to have a difficult conversation with my neighbor
because frankly, I would rather not bear the entire cost of this repair
myself. Given that his
leaking pipes created this problem, it seems fair that he should pay
half at least. He is a very
nice man but paying half means money, and money has a way of turning
someone who is nice into someone who is not.
Wish me luck.
well, there you have it. Life along the Bosphorus goes on. For newcomers to
Turkey, reading this might give you pause.
“Hey,” you might say to yourself, “This all sounds like
life back ‘home,” wherever “home” is.
Well, yes, it probably does.
There are interesting conclusions to be drawn from this, but I
will leave you to ponder them until next month.
|No.1- April 2000||No.11 April 2001||No. 20 July 2002||No 29 April 2003|
|No.2 June 2000||No.12 May 2001||No. 22 September 2002||NO 30 MAY 2003|
|No.3 July/August 2000||No. 13 June 2001||No. 23 October 2002||NO 31 JUNE 2003|
|No.5 October 2000||No.14 July 2001||No 24 November 2002||NO 32 JULY 2003|
|No.7 December 2000||No.15 August 2001||No 25 DECEMBER 2002||NO 33 August|
(No. 8 Ocak 2001 - Türkçe tercume
|NO 16 September 2001||No 26 January 2003||No 34 September|
|No.9 February 2001||No. 17 April 2002||No 27 February 2003||No 35 October|
|No.10 March 2001||NO 19 JUNE 2002||No 28 March 2003||No
36 January 2004
|No 37 February - March 2004||No 38 April 2004|
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