… it is to be on top of one’s blog.
I indeed reflect better when I can do this reasonably close to the day’s events.
Whilst I also keep a short day-a-page handwritten diary where I capture the major impressions, other details get blanketed with new impressions of the following days.
So, I shall try to stay close.
The other aspect is of course your, dear Reader, readability of this account. Perhaps, well, no, presumably you’d like to get the stuff ‘fresh’. Reading what happened four weeks ago might not to be all too interesting. Or….?? Lemme know, dear reader/s.
BTW I am writing this sitting in a shady spot close to the fishery port in Eregli, sipping yet another ‘chay’, listening to the call of the Muezzin and the humm emerging from the close by Mosque. Being Friday today, means it is (our) Sunday, therefore an obligation of every good Muslim to pray inside a Mosque.
“Alea jacta est!” again!
Well, my ‘aleas’ seem to ‘jacta’ reasonably well lately, however I am not The Diceman, Michael P would know about this ;-).
A few things are falling into place. “Lock it in, Eddie!”
- I have decided on my loop through Turkey!
- My working future, or ‘return-to-work’ date has been established
- Last but not least Lousie, my much better half, and I shall do our walk together.
So, just briefly:
Turkey shall see me with a final touch-down on the Black Sea coast, Turkey’s mid-north. Then, turning south to Cappadoccia, continue via Konya to Anatayla, Kas, Fethye then another inland turn to Pamukkale and a final run to the west-coast around Izmir catching the ferry to Greece.
I shall be resuming work in mid/late November, bright eyed, bushy-tailed and full of positive energy@RMIT! It is rather motivating to feel such an amount of vigour in oneself and still being primed to pass on knowledge, experience, assist and support, advise and do. I trust it shall continue beyond 2016.
With this settled, it will now allow Lou & myself to do out joined walk to the Camino. We may not be able to walk ALL of it, but let’s see. After, I’ll return to my bike and arrange all necessary shipping before flying home. If I am lucky, I might even be able to have a few days in my hometown, Frankfurt.
But back to my here & now:
Last night, after having spent 5 full days getting-to-know-better my new friend Istanbul, I concluded my stay with a visit to a religious performance. No, I did not attend prayers in a mosque, which would be a No-No anyway as I am not Muslim. Actually writing this I wonder if this IS indeed always the case? This kind of rule (must be of Muslim faith to join the prayers in a Mosque) might be true in some, even many places. But I bet this religion, as all others, has its own different streams and intensities. Subsequently some may allow ‘guests’ or ‘non-believers’ to be present. I shall investigate further.
However, so I went to watch a performance (not quite the right word) of four Whirling Dervishes – the link to this video is Not the same venue, but gives a good impression.
The term ‘Performance’ doesn’t describe it fittingly. It was announced at the beginning of this ceremony (better word) that applause is inappropriate, stillness (by the spectators) much preferred so one didn’t ‘spoil’ or interrupt the dervishes’ state of concentration and NO photography!! However, to me the Dervishes seemed not to concentrate. Instead they rather ‘give themselves in’.
Well, the whirling and bowing , which I observed happening a lot, both of it.
Initially I had planned to see them in Konya, a central Turkish town known as the ‘home’ of the Turkish version of this faith. But I was informed they only perform on certain days and I didn’t want to have the bad fortune to miss them. When I became aware of some small former Hammam, a Turkish Bathhouse, which was transformed into a singe-use Dervish centre – Hodjapasha.
My decision was swift: Get a ticket!
In this centre there was a small exhibition about their history, purpose and even their outfits and accessories. Almost too much information for me to read prior to the event. I became aware that their original spiritual leader was the prophet Rumi and his teachings.
Eventually I entered a round, dome-like space. Three rows of chairs around a round platform, seemingly made of glass. As we, the quiet spectators, filed expectantly into this space to take our numbered seats, I also noticed the room was outfitted with stage-like equipment in terms of lights and speakers. There was even a sound-desk, just as you see them attending a rock-concert. A small stage which soon would seat 5 musicians.. well correctly three and two singers. The latter ones were two old men, about to sing the praises of a god in an Arabic, more unusually tonal melody. So much different to what my ear has been used to growing up in a Christian or Western environment.
Soon the three musicians joined the men’s singing rather gently: a double drum, an Arabic flute and a Lute, all very traditional looking instruments. As the four dervishes appeared, one-by-one, they started their ritual of greeting and bowing to each other (showing each other their heart) and after a moment started to whirl. Beginning gently, then progressing into a fast and consistent whirl (anti clockwise). Both arms reached towards the sky. The palm of the right hand pointed upwards, signifying to receive the blessings – material and immaterial – from above. The left hand palm pointed downwards, indicating that all they received they passed on to others, keeping nothing for themselves.
Their head slightly tilted and their white long frocks creating almost a Cinderella-like picture. Walt Disney would have liked it – perhaps had even seen it anyways. Then again, on second thought, ‘No”, he wouldn’t, he was way too much an intolerant redneck.
All four now whirled around their own axis, almost even speed, eyes closed and at the same time slowly circling the round dance floor at its edge. I’d say they whirled for some 10 minutes and almost suddenly coming to s stop. None was staggering to fight any dizziness – I certainly would have … If they were in a trance-like state when whirling, they certainly mastered to be immediately back in the here & now, moving slow but purposeful and in unison, after they came to a halt.
Then, more bowing and the ritual repeated itself. Apparently each round of whirling denotes a certain meaning or dedication … have to read it up.
After whirl number 2, I could detect a slight lifting of their chests, even so their white, blousey outfits did best to camouflage this, humans after all.
My favourite Dervish was a man probably in his sixties, so he looked. Grey-bearded, slim and with a focussed and happily-devoted facial expression he became my top-whirler. Well, yes I know – a clear protection or is it a counter-one ??
The other three were equally tall, I would guess the youngest was about mid-thirty, all of them.
Overall it was more than interesting, perhaps intriguing. For me , I will need to read more about this Rumi-guy. Post event, I spoke to another attendee, a women from Oman offered some interesting insights into The WD’s and the ‘prophet’ Rumi. She’d done her homework. She recommended a book about the life of Rumi: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. Here you can get your hands on an English edition.
The next morning I had an extra early and extra-helping breakfast at my wonderful hotel, packed the bike and rode to Eregli about 297kms away.
It took less time than anticipated to get out of Istanbul’s inner city. I opted for the freeway-like road. I have learnt not to waste time getting out of big cities for the next etappe. Choosing the freeway gets me out faster, and the sooner I can enjoy country roads.
60kms later, still on the freeway, I had finally reached what looked like the industrial outskirts of greater Istanbul. A port with many ships docked to my right, large container cranes and even larger factory buildings to my left.
Soon I turned north-east towards having a last encounter with the Black Sea, which actually looks rather blue.
Riding the road along the coast for the first time I saw several small tent-cities. I presume these might be migrants having escaped the conflict or similar hardship. This brings up last night’s walk back to my hotel (in Istanbul), passing two lots of people on the roadside begging, Not necessarily unusual, but both were holding a laminated page of paper. It carried an English printed message that they are Syrians and ask for help (money). I passed them within one km and both had the identical paper & message, being in English clearly aiming for tourists. Not sure what to make of it….
A final impression of today, arousing my curiosity, was riding past a large, spread-out tarpaulin with ‘stuff’ on it, positioned in the full sun, so the ‘stuff’ could dry. Eventually I stopped at one and took a closer look. Hazelnuts! There were Gazillions of Hazelnuts raked to one single layer on these plastic sheets. I reckon this is where Nutella comes from: northern Turkey around the cities of Karasu and Akcakoca. Now I noticed to both sides of the road one hazelnut bush next to the other. A mono-agricultural enterprise. Some bushes had grown into the size of small trees. “Fındık” and lots of them.
Today’s destination, Eregli will make tomorrow’s trip somewhat shorter: all the way past Ankara (won’t stop there) to Goreme and the close by Cappadocia. A balloon flight might await … cheezzze I am soo hesitant about this ….