Roiling city. Roiling mind.

June 12, 2013

June 12 2013


We spent the night hearing the blasts of tear gas and the protesters voices in the distance. In my new apartment I hear the sounds coming from Taksim more clearly. On the internet the RT, Russian TV, broadcasts the events live. Within a minute or so of delay, I would see on the screen what I just heard in the air.


Around 7 PM or so at the Chill Out it is the relaxed regular scene. I was hanging out there.


Harkan is out with the protesters and while we hang, Harkan is in the midst of the action at Taksim Square. Someone threw a rock… That is enough to set the police loose. They start firing tear gas bombs at people. (not in the air as it is supposed to be done) Everyone runs. He says it’s a panic. Cannot breathe, cannot see… The promise of non-violence made by the prime minister in the morning does not hold.


At the Chill out we heard the blasts, voices, the tone, the mood, the meaning is unmistakable. Something bad is going on. We run downstairs as the smell of tear gas permeates the building.


On the main floor, people rush in to take cover. Eyes red, tearing up, choking, coughing. The group of Iranian musicians, masks around their necks were playing on the street when this all broke out. At the hostel there are many reporters, from France, Ireland, from all over. They are part of small organizations or groups who came to report on the events. We wait. Even indoors, my eyes burn so much it’s hard to keep them open. I hear that the tear gas now used is of military grade. The first batch used was “civilian” grade but they ran out of supplies(!) This is nastier, stronger. I learned later that night that the stuff is actually quite dangerous for the liver and other organs.


In a conversation the topic of the cops themselves came up. A young Turkish student says :


“They are poor… They have to do this job, their parents were poor..” They are now in this impossible position of having to shoot at their brothers, friends… Psychologically an untenable position.


“They are very tired… Last week, 3 of them committed suicide….” No one talks about this side of things…


“What do you think of this?” He asks me. Well, the more I listen, read and watch, the more I see how complex this situation is. I feel ill equipped to be a commentator. But I replied:


“I admire the people who fight for their rights. Who stand up.”


While we talk, Harkan is running away from the tear gas. He runs into a little cafe along with a group of strangers trying to escape from the horrid effects of the gas. Soon the police bursts inside. They threaten to shoot. There is shouting and chaos. Intimidation, scare tactics. They worry that they’ll be taken into the police quarters.


At the hostel, when the gas dissipates a bit I head for the flat. The air is still ripe with fumes. My eyes tear up. I cough. But I make it home.


Later at night, after practicing, I get in a conversation with two of my room mates. One is Italian, one is a young Turkish student. There is so much at stake for him. The fear of the establishment of a Muslim state with Sharia haunts him. He wants his freedom. The right to be able to choose.


I listen… I take it in. I think of how much we have in North America. Howmost of us are completely unaware of what we have. What we consider some sort of given right. Something owed to our very persons… We’re caught up in all sorts of trivial quests, like losing weight and the value of the latest I-gizmo, flat screen TVS and such things. We complain and don’t vote. Our comforts have dulled our senses. The way I see it, we have a responsibility to uphold these rights. To be aware. To keep our minds, doors and ideas open so that those who cannot even sing, make music or choices have a hope… These Iranian musicians are here in Turkey because in Iran they cannot play music on the street. Seems trivial but think again…


In a conversation, one of my Iranian friends said : “Why is it that in the West we lose the awareness? Even my people become blind and forget everything when they get there… the materialism engulfing all. Many questions.



So … I moved into a flat. Two days ago. I miss the Chill Out… but I’m saving quite a bit of money. I am not sure I can stay there though. As nice as the people are, everyone smokes relentlessly and I find myself feeling ill from the smoke. Yes, everyone smokes in Turkey. Chain smoking. My Italian room mate said that in Italy there is a saying that goes like this: “ to smoke like a Turk”


I am slowly getting into the pace of this place. Yesterday and the day before I felt a blast of loneliness, a stranger in a strange land I am. Being outside of everything. A complete foreigner. Floating. It’s a man’s world, without a hint of a doubt. Even the young boys have a certain attitude that speaks of this. But I do feel a polishing of my being taking place. Asbjorn had told me that “I was going to find myself here.” This thought popped in my mind today.


There is much I am not telling here, but I can say that since being here, the timing of events, the words being said, come with perfect timing. I am forever amazed at these timings. Ask and you will be provided.


Yesterday a vision occurred to me. An impossibly high cliff… a being, tipping into the void. Falling. the emotion was so vivid, I cried as I felt the emptiness pull and the gravity push. Fear of the fall that steals the body, but this naked being had wings.


So alive. So alive.   


2 Responses to “Roiling city. Roiling mind.”

  1. Sheila Says:

    Thanks for sharing Danielle. Very scary time for the Turks and it seems to be escalating, I guess this must happen to be heard. Please stay safe and listen to your intuition when it’s time to get out of the area. So much passion for their freedom can create a very dangerous stand off with the opposition.

  2. Bertrand Nayet Says:

    My thoughts are with you Danielle.

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