another move… and Syria

August 29, 2013

Yet another move.

I’m almost finished moving to a new room. Yes, I just, just did… what was it.. two week ago… barely.

Again it was a matter of smoke, a different kind of smoke but smoke nonetheless. I have pretty intense physical reactions to some substances. Like pot for example. I tried it in my late teens and did not like it. I remember panic, a sense of out of control-ness. When I had just moved to BC I went to a party and partook in the partying practices… and again hated the pot experience as my eyes felt rolled up inside my head… I never touched the stuff since.

 

Well, in my apartment, for a few days there were many guests, and yes, much of the funny-tabacky smoke and I experienced those physical reactions all over again.

 

On day three, I felt I was heading for a pure true blue panic attack and felt physically ill. I think there is something in my DNA that just abhors the stuff. But in a truth, I get high on Tylenol and people call it a “mild” pain reliever. In 2011 I ended up in the hospital, I was given morphine and that sent me into a full out allergic reaction with a quarter of the dose they were going to administer, scaring the emergency staff, the boyfriend at the time and myself half to death. It seems I do not tolerate these substances. So I had to move, because I could not expect anyone to change their lifestyles… and roommates.. well they are replaceable I out I went.

 

I was kind of sad, because I really like these guys, there was a very nice camaraderie… but life goes on.

 

Tuesday night was when I realized that I had to move. Right after that realization I had retreated to the Chillout once more and there I had talked to a friend who has a friend who has rooms… Wednesday afternoon we met to visit the said friend, just a little way further down the hill near the tower. We meet, talk, shake hands, I see the rooms, there were two available, I picked one, went to the bank to get the rent money, came back, handed the cash, got the keys and home sweet home I had.

 

So here I am, closer yet to my beautiful Galata Tower

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There is a rooftop terrace, kitchen, washing machine, resident cats, internet.  I got my own room with a big window

 

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room for my meditation cushion, as you can see, and here is the view from the window:

 

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here is the view coming out of the building

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and the walk way to the street

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The owner has a second hand, vintage store at the ground floor.

I operated the move in three short trips.  I am home now.

 

But while I go on about these simplistic topics the world shakes and trembles while it waits to see what the mighty powers of this world will decide to do to Syria. Syria is a neighbor of Turkey. Syria has been in a civil war since 2011. Until now besides the “poor guys” uttered once in a while, the issue was pretty much ignored. But then came the Chemical weapons upon civilians… with this outrage, with this ethical line crossed, the big guys ponder war, and a “punitive” action.

 

There is much sadness around me regarding this. Sadness and anger at the powers who give themselves the right to sanction such ugliness.

Whichever way you put it, when you hit “punitive targets” you are pretty much guaranteed of hitting civilians, create more unrest, retaliation and aggravate the risk of an all out war with Iran, Russia, China. The goal of “protecting civilians” nowhere in sight. Oh! those grand objectives… like the Canadian Government telling us that the war in Afghanistan was about protecting women’s rights…. Yeah, sure…

 

War does not work.

 

Never did.

 

People just want to live their lives… Superpowers do not give a crap about people. And the West has no clue about the Middle East and should stay out of it. I am amazed at the coldness I read from comments in most everything I read from FB to news pages from my fellow Westerners. I can’t help but see that there doesn’t seem to be a recognition that we are talking about the lives, cities, countries of people like you and I… There is focus on “issues” it’s not issues, it’s people. Like you and me. Like your mother and brothers and sisters. Like your best friends. Like the guy who works at the corner store. They are not Islamists or arabs or Syrian or Turks, or Iranians, they are human beings. They love, laugh, live just like you. The minute you accept or find acceptable to bomb a city you have lost touch with its humanity.

 

Imagine this taking place in your town, village, city… just think… how acceptable is it? OK then lets bomb this ghetto in Los Angeles to “punish” the drug dealers who get people hooked on whatever the drug is… is that acceptable? Because you might happen to be driving on the freeway that lines that neighborhood and be “collateral damage” Is this acceptable?

 

It is not isn’t it? It never will be. Close your eyes. Imagine… you’re sitting at home, you hear a sound… a jet? A high powered helicopter… it gets closer and suddenly your living room explodes in front of your eyes.. your daughters were playing in there, but as you look that room has disappeared… this is the reality of war, of bombings. Not some cold schema on a CNN screen with arrows showing the trajectory of the prepared attack on target, all looking so clean, neat, reasonable.

 

We’re not talking about disturbing a daily commute.. we’re talking about destroying lives, defacing neighborhoods, killing innocents and encouraging more violence to follow.

 

Please put it in your minds, hearts, words, actions, dreams and visions of the future. We cannot afford to attack our fellow human beings. Period. There is no acceptable collateral damage.

 

Yes, this part of the world is hard to understand for us Westerners. It is wildly different. The more time I spend here, the more I realize how complex and deep the issues are. The French and English still fight in Canada because of “wrongs” done 400 years ago. In this part of the world there are thousands of years of history involving so many parties, races, communities, political views… it is impossible to assess this with an A to B North American attitude. There is no all purpose cleaner to wipe the problems off. We simply do not understand how this universe functions. Watching CNN political analysis segments does not give us the depth of understanding required to make a reliable judgment or even to comment.

 

I say No to War,

it’s machines,

its machinations,

and the greedy and unconscionable who profit from it.

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Monday, get a note from Eren the drummer….  We play tonight.   OK.  I post an invite on Facebook, email, text..

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the place is quiet but the vibe is excellent…. well except for one friend who showed up totally drunk and started to harass another friend of mine.  At one point I warned him on the microphone…  he stopped a bit…  but he started again and the girl started to look desperate, eyebrows in a triangle… Then, I did something I never did..  I put down the guitar… got off the stage and addressed my drunk friend : This is wrong… stop.  This is not OK…  Eren kept playing the drums… I got back on stage, put the guitar back on and continued the song…  singing the words: “and you need to be set free…”  to my poor friend Morgan… the irony of life sometimes.  Brilliant it is.

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Musically we took off.  I’ve been setting wild, deconstructing my songs on stage… re-creating them into other things.  It is a real joy to play with Eren, he is very creative and I am starting to find where things click.  Oh music, music…

We took a break, then second set.  A group from Chillout showed up, two guys from Kara Kedi picked up percussion instruments and the whole thing rose up about 5 notches.  A thing of beauty.  I think I will adopt this… no more rock band set up but more of a guitar + all the percussion players available.  Something incredible happens…  it becomes irresistible.

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hard to see on there but to the left, there is Ibrahim playing this big ole drum with passion!

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From behind two Chillout friends watching…

It was an awesome night.  In those moments I feel like everything makes sense.  Beautiful magic.

this morning, I got a panicked email from a friend who is saying war is about to break out…  all that “real world” stuff …  Ah… life…

I still had my espresso.  I realize I have to savor each one of them.  Savor my friends, savor every beautiful minute and that real world stuff… I don’t wanna know.  If we blow ourselves out, well so be it.  But for my part, I’ll focus on the good…

all my love

I can see!

August 27, 2013

Ah the days…

 

Saturday night I had been hoping for a call from Eren, hoping to play somewhere, but nothing came. I felt like dancing… yeah, this here girl is once again dancing in her life, dancing her life too. It is a good thing. A text came in from Chillout: “We are going out, wanna join?” Hell yeah!

 

Of all places they headed to Kara Kedi. I saw my beautiful friend Maryam she works there. I also met with a few other friends, yes, I am starting to have quite a few friends all over Beyoğlu. We find a table for the Chillout group.

 

Fast forward to Sunday morning, we had plans for breakfast with friends but things do not seem to materialize… calls yield no answers. We wait for a while we’re getting hungry… OK, says Mica, (My flatmate) what’s the plan now? We decide that maybe we should just go out and grab something to eat. I check Facebook as Mica gets ready: Message from Eren, he’s on his way and, we are playing tonight, double good news! I immediately send a Facebook notice for the gig. At that moment, the door opens, Guvenç and a friend are here, that was not planned but a very nice surprise. Mica runs out to buy börek, I go in the kitchen and cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, melon and peaches and get some olives.

 

This turns into a nice gathering. Good start for the day. Around 2 PM we all scatter to do what we need to do. Eren said we should play more covers… he said something about the Pink Floyd song Antoher Brick in the Wall so I set out to learn this for the night. I end up working on learning songs until it’s time to go at around ¼ to 10. Another guest arrived while I was working away, an American, I say a quick hello as I gather my stuff to leave for the gig I am a bit distracted and realize that I am trying to put my stuff in this guys’ bag as it is almost exactly like mine…

 

I head out, it’s dark now, I walk up to Istiklal as magical as ever. I see a face… could it be? I turn around and run towards her… Yes. It is Mar!!! Mar is one of the girls who had “saved” me when we had been severely gassed at the Chillout. We hug, what a joy to see her! She says she’ll come tonight. Seeing her puts a massive smile on my face. I walk by Chill out and tell them about the show. I take the lower road, less crowded… through the back streets, shops, restaurants, Balik passage, the man from a restaurant I used to go to stops me: What happened to you?! We chat for a bit, he tells me to stop by to eat. I have to run… Güle, güle… another big smile on my face.

I get to the venue, I have 20 minutes, I go eat bulgur and chick peas while I organize my set list for the night. 10:30 time to go. Up the 6 floors to Leyla Teras. The place is empty. We had been told: if there is people there is money, no people no money… So I cross my fingers, maybe they will come.

 

Eren arrives, we set up, wait a bit… I meet this beautiful Australian girl, Alice, she is also singer songwriter and guitar player. We invite her to play a few songs during the night.

 

I start the set with a song I am working on. It came to me 2 days ago, a 7/4 rhythm and a very sinuous melody… I have to talk about this a bit… Lately I have been spending quite a bit of time working on my poems. Last Monday I sat down to read some of them back, the ones I was working on back in June and I was quite excited to see that they still had power. Sometimes you write things and think it’s the “shit” only to read them back a while later and wonder what you were on when you wrote them.

 

The other thing I had been doing was to work on a couple of Turkish folk songs in written form (charts) and study and analyze them as my teacher showed me, study the rhythms, the solfege and the melodies. Basically to look at the music from the structural standpoint. I have not really been reading music since college… that was back in Vancouver in … 1990… yeah… so those skills are really quite rusty.

 

So all this information has been simmering in my mind… Mid-week as I was sitting down with the guitar and thinking of songs and what to play live… and this deserves another “bracket”

 

Opening of bracket

I have been noticing that the audiences here do not respond to the same sort of music as they do in North America. For one, the tastes are immensely broad. South American, Turku, Pink Floyd, Klezmer, Bulgarian Folk, the lastest pop songs… Live, I have been surprised to see what catches the crowds… it usually is never quite what I expect..
End of bracket
So as I was plunking along navigating towards something rhythmical… “What would Eren like to play on?” Was my creative compass. I did that when I wrote Aventuriere Accidentelle… my French album, asking myself : What would Francois Houle, Jesse Zubot and co. would like to play on? From those parameters I let my imagination run.

 

It started with some chords… then it came: a beautiful 7/4. I recorded the idea on my phone (yeah, the recording technology is pretty basic at the moment!) to be sure not to lose the idea… Then a melody… for that I thought of some of the Anatolian music I’ve been listening to, where the singers’ voices are like calls to the Gods… Nothing held back…

 

So back to Sunday’s gig, I started the show with this “in progress” song idea… I let it gallop around, sang some new melodic ideas, brought it up, then down… Eren is playing magic. It feels absolutely awesome to me. When we end, he looks at me and says:

 

“What was this?”

 

“My new song.”

 

“It is Turkish rhythm!”

 

“Yeah, its starting to work, I’m learning something!”

 

When we start the second set, I play one song and then we invite Alice to play a couple of her songs. Quite a few friends have showed up and it really warms my heart to see them all. Things started to take a strange turn when a friend of a friend’s friend who had too much to drink crashed into my microphone spilling my drink of Sprite all over my cables and very close to my prized delay pedal… After that he started to hit Eren’s cymbal like an idiot.. then a bass player joined us and it was … terrible. I tried to play the simplest songs but it was a harmonic mess. I played one more song and quit…

 

Ah drinking… some people just shouldn’t… me, I don’t drink. For one, I can’t play if I drink. For two, I need to keep my wits about myself in this wild Beyoğlu neighborhood. Especially when comes the time to get back home at the wee morning hours after a show. Riding the motorcycle had also instilled this non-drinking ethic. Be clear, be safe. Stay alive.

 

So one more time, from the sublime to the dismal all in just a couple of hours. I think I like this place so much because it is like a motorcycle ride on a curvy mountain road : you never know what will lay ahead in the next curve but you ride them to the maximum with all your sense on. So alive, so present.

 

I walked back with what was left of the Chillout crew. I was starving and was going to buy a durum tavuk when Yüksel said he could make mantı for the hungry ones… so we headed to Chillout, and did just that, chill out and eat in the wee morning hours.

 

I headed back home as the call to prayer was rising from the mosques. Yeah, one more time. Once at home, I started to look for my glasses… could not find them… Where could they be… Then I remembered the American’s bag… crap… I think I might have put them in his bag… which looked almost exactly like mine… Uh ho… not good… I am pretty much blind when it comes to reading.. without them I am helpless… I tried to go to sleep but that stressed me out.

 

In the morning I looked everywhere thoroughly, no sign of the glasses… When Mica woke up he mentioned that his friend had indeed found a pair of glasses in his bag… and he just flew out of the country this morning…

 

Need glasses… I went in a shop on Istiklal, they say they could make me a pair in 3 days with my prescription for 150 lira. (roughly $75) not bad considering that the best deal I had gotten was at Costco for $225 and 10 days wait. I went home to get my prescription and decided to walk down towards Galata as I had noticed a few glasses shops… I walk into the first one I see, I ask them and they said 50 lira for regular lenses, 90 for anti reflection glass and 5 minutes wait as they make them there on the spot as you wait… Uh? Really?! So since I am basically completely disabled without them, I went for it… I sat there and while I waited, was offered tea and got acquainted with the local cats. It was a Turkish 5 minutes but nevertheless I was out of there within a half hour with prescription glasses…

 

Mission accomplished and that is why I am able to write this right now!

 

I’m now looking at a new week. The last one of August. Hard to believe I’ve been here for 3 months… I’m looking forward to my bağlama lesson this week. We are going to start the “formal” thing, with a study program, homework and I am excited about that. I think that between the study, the gigs and experiencing Istanbul head on the rhythms, melodies, the sounds, the voices, the soul of this place is somewhat merging with mine. My ears and music are evolving, expanding. It is so very exciting. To be able to accept the unknown, accept to start over be a beginner so to evolve. Motion, always. Curves always. Grace and thankfulness, as much as I can, in the face of life.

 

 

 

One night

 

Back from the Islands.. I am still tired, lost, it’s so hot. I walked all the way from the ferry in Kabatas and arrived at the Chillout.

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I have to get ready as I am about to play with Eren, at Leyla Teras. I feel some nerves. There are always nerves when I play in bars as I am not really a bar musician and there is pressure to make people drink and that is not really what I do, but I am purposeful and excited to play with Eren. He is an unorthodox drummer… sometimes I am fully unhorsed by his playing, sometimes it is a grand voyage, he is a mix of mad scientist and elf, whimsical, original, unpredictable.

 

I make my way towards Taksim. Istiklal is packed. It is hard to conceive of such crowds when you are a Canadian. There never is that many people on a street. Guitar on my shoulder I cut through the throng. The street lights in the night…everything is lit up, alive, thumping, living. Up the stairs, 6 floors up of a narrow winding staircase of dark dirtied granite, I am glad I don’t have to carry an amplifier up there. I am first there. I talk to the guys, Ali the bar tender and the other guy who is also a musician, meek, brooding brow guy with delicate features. When Eren arrives I help him bring up his drums, which are one floor down, on one of those abandoned floors in this ancient building. Those floors are dark, abandoned black holes where the windows make contrasting splashes of blue night light that make them seem even darker. We set up, we play. The sound system is up and running this time. The last time I had played through my mini amp and that was not great at all. But this time it sounds good. It feels good. We have a great time.

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I try to pick the right songs. Keep the momentum happening. I think we’re doing good.

 

Second set. Then the end. It seems everyone is happy with the night. The waiters, the bartender, the owner. We did good. We hang out a bit. Eren introduces me to two of his friends who came to see us, Guvenc and Mica.

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The canned music starts again and two young guys are dancing. One tall skinny one of about 20 years old and a short guy, about the same age, curly hair, big eyes… He is dancing as if mad. His eyes bulge out of his head and he moves like a broken puppet over the rhythms. I am amazed at such abandon and madness, I laugh. At one point he grabs my hand and roughly pulls me to dance with him.

 

“I don’t know how to dance this music.” Says the polite Canadian girl…

 

 

To be honest I should have said “Thanks but no thanks dude.” this music is sort of two time square stuff and I really don’t feel that kind of music, and I really can’t stand the violent pulling as he swings hard on my hand and twirls me around with all his strength. If it is supposed to charm me, it is closer to pain…

 

 

“Just be me.” Says the master dancer..

 

Hmm hmm, be you… I think… I try to enjoy this but after a few violent twirls and back bends I decided to stop there. The tall skinny one comes to talk to me, he says he is a musician. I am starting to feel like I am being corralled between two contenders and seek refuge near Eren who is hanging with his friends.

 

The little man came to me saying : “He’s not your friend!” Speaking of Eren,

 

“Yes he is my friend.”

 

“No he is not…”

 

I figure he means “boyfriend” which he is not but a girl hangs on to what she can… this circus keeps going and I am longing to exit this place…

 

A bit later I say : “Lets go!” and Eren and I exit the club. At this point it’s past 3 AM. We headed out, down the 6 flights of stairs, out into the street, on a party night in Beyoglu into another club, up more stairs we go and into a room with two Djs playing reggae music. I usually am not sold on Reggae but what is playing here is really cool. I started to dance. And dance… I have not danced in so, so, long. But this music is carrying me gently, moving my limbs, freeing my head.

 

These musings came to an end when the two guys from Leyla Teras show up again… The little mad man… He is bound on conquest. I keep going away but he keeps pursuing. He grabs my hand again and forces me into a pirouette and I finally got mad saying “NO! HAYIR!!”

 

He looks at me uncomprehendingly.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because this is not my pace! Because I don’t want to!”

 

He tries obstinately again to grab my arm completely ignoring what I just said…

 

“NO!!”

 

His face now shows anger… I think it is some sort of game. They go out and have some sort of counter and timer ticking. “must find female before end of night.” is the general goal. My saying no means that the night may bring nigh and frustration rises. I move away and try to enjoy myself as best as I could. A bit later, Eren left the room going to the bathroom.

 

The little man came back…

 

“Your friend is gone!” There is a victorious vibe to his words. As if the floor had been cleared for him. At this point I am getting really, really aggravated. It is obvious that this guy is not going to take no for an answer. It feels incredibly stupid and weird as I could easily be his mother… and I tower over him with at least 7 inches… which adds to the motherly thing.. the level of misunderstanding is way up.

 

“No, he went to the bathroom.”

 

“No! He left, your friend is gone!” He says this as he approaches me like a predator.

 

“Fuck”… I think to myself.

 

Eren comes back. The little man is very angry. I stick with Eren for a while. Finally the little man left the club. Oh relief.

 

The music goes on and on. I dance and dance. I laugh and laugh. How good that feels. How much I love to dance… How little I have danced since God knows how many years…

 

I go to the bathroom. This other man I had noticed standing alone all night nursing a beer at the back of the club also comes downstairs behind me. I’m looking for the bathroom, he indicates a direction, I go there. When I come out he is still there… standing there… He says something that I don’t understand verbally but I get a creepy feeling. He had been standing at the back of the club all night eying everyone… was he watching me? I hurry back upstairs…

 

The light of day starts to appear in the shades of the night sky. A slight discoloration. It must be so late…. so early at this point. The DJ’s wind down. Eren and I leave the club. Down at the door I try to open it but cannot find the knob and push the door shut. I started to laugh.

 

“Turkish doors” he says as he reaches down to find the latch and the door opens for our escape.

 

We walk out in the night, the streets are filthy. You cannot imagine. Bottles, detritus, every possible thing that could be spilled has been spilled and trashed and abandoned to the cobble stones. The last desperate vultures walk the streets hoping for a last second adventure. I must not look at them. I buy a simit and head home. Music, dance, a blue sky, the wildness of this place and all this life around.

 

Istanbul.

 

 

a music lesson

August 20, 2013

It was 5 am. I got mad at myself for a second. Once more I end up at the wee hours, no sleep… I went for a lesson… I never know what is going to happen. Every meeting has been its own new adventure. This time I met my teacher at Galata Tower and and we rode in the car, down a precipitous hill then across the Golden horn and up another hill to the grand Bazar. My stomach is not good. I have not gone to rehearsal for the Sunday show with Pery, I’m feeling weak and dizzy. I don’t know if I can do the show but that’s another topic…

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He walks me through the market, we get cornered into a carpet salesman tiny cubicle… They are incredible salesmen… don’t show any interest or you will not be able to escape…

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Out of one of the market doors, outside, we go through an arch, cross the street and he tells me that this arch, is a lover’s arch. A man had been in love with one of the Sultan’s girls. He was to die for this at this very place. He died saying that he would be remembered through the ages and he was right. The lover’s arch..

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Up the road, he shows me this ancient tower. Put there by Romans, the stones are so worn out by time, thousands of years… How to imagine such a thing? I put my hands on the stones but somehow I don’t feel much… the structure is impressive. One earth quake and it will be down in a dust pile… but there it is girded by metal loops to keep the top parts together.

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Then we walk towards the sunset, the light is amazing. There are hundreds of tombs on our right with Arabic script. This is so old… I think of the remains and imagine there musn’t be much left in this tired earth. They are so close together… some are topped by types of stone hats and turbans. The person’s status in living life. Children’s graves. Royal children… all that went by, all those lives that we recall because of old worn out stones. We keep walking.

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Into another structure near the university. He tells me of the students who were machine gunned down by the army in the 70’s… They died hugging each other as the soldiers obeyed orders. How does one live on after such a thing? The history is deep. The blood is thick. All these factions still fight and my heart aches.

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We get to the university’s plaza. The place has an incredible energy. There are people sitting everywhere around there. I can see why.

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We head back to the car. He plays music, explains some of it, indicates various voice techniques, we drive around and I look. “I want you to see how the people live.” I look around, all around. It is another world. In the car the feeling is one similar to watching TV. We stop by a grocery store. I look and look… the rhythm. I am so outside all of this. Can I get inside? He wants me to see this in order to understand the music. I am only seeing the broad strokes with a few touches of color here and there. The broad lines. But do I understand them? I don’t know. Will I see more as I penetrate deeper into this world?

 

This voyage has put me time and time again in front of the fact that I don’t know anything. Even what I thought I knew, I don’t know anything. It seems that so much of what I’ve done has been barely skimming the surface of the topic. Besides my own artistic explorations, I don’t know anything about anything. Besides my connection with a motorcycle I don’t know anything of the engines of them. I am a particle floating, always have been, maybe that explains how quickly my viewpoint becomes one of a short lens, with the past blurring quickly away. So to only be in this very instant.

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We get to his place, he gives me something for my upset stomach, two pills… I hesitate, I don’t ever take pills of any kind then I decide to trust. He brings a bağlama and shows me a right hand technique. I try and I sound so pitifully like a beginner. I am a beginner. I cannot pretend anything else. He makes menemen, a concoction of tomatoes, eggs and pepper. It is delicious. Then we start watching videos of various bağlama players… I am taken. I have not had a chance to do this, I actually did more of this when I was in California. There they go, one musician after another. He then shows me another technique for the right hand, explains the rhythms…

 

The night turned into morning. He drives me back. I got home surrounded by the sound of morning prayer bouncing off every hill from multiple mosques. It is surreal. The city still sleeps. A black cat runs nervously down a hill in the yellow light of the lampadaires.

Istanbul.

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How fast things change, move, evolve, shift, redirect. I am constantly amazed by this fact which is the reality of Istanbul. There is no making plans, no predictability. Like a wave on the ocean, the word wave suggests a thing, object but actually that thing never really exists as it is the description of motion of shifting particles giving the illusion of a whole, of an object we call wave…

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Yesterday I thought I had a steady show booked every Thursdays at Leyla Teras, yesterday that did not exist anymore. This is just one single, insignificant thing but a good example of the shifting reality.  Yesterday 400 people were killed in Egypt. Yesterday there was a demonstration on Istiklal and the police did not intervene. No gas, no TOMA… Yesterday, yesterday this that and the other thing… Yesterday, is gone. Today, well, it is going to be one minute after the other, one experience after the other and again it will shift and the future will be altered at high velocity.

 

Is it just me? I don’t think so. I’ve heard others commenting on that. I think our world is accelerating. Throttle on, shift, 4th, 5th, 6th gear… hear the whine of the engine. Yes, the life here reminds me of a motorcycle ride, every moment one has to be on. Ready. Willing. Flexible.

 

I was coming back from a rehearsal at around 8 last night, taking a dolmuş (A kind of minibus) from Beşiktaş back to Taksim Square. Oh, rules of this society, where are you supposed to sit… I’m still not sure sometimes where, what and how, but so far I have not blundered too badly. Women sit next to women on the buses and subway, on the dolmuş the space is limited… There seem to be an unspoken rule as to how to sit next to each other… The drivers swings that thing around the bends up the hill to Taksim. At one stop light, an angry man standing in the middle of the road yells at the closed window of another dolmuş next to us, I can’t understand anything he says, a child inside that dolmuş, wide eyed, watches the man. I can only see the back of the head of that man, short black shaven hair and the reflection of the right side of his face in the window, his dark eye, the white of it… We take off, leave it all behind.

 

The sight of Istiklal takes my breath away… the sun is down but there is still light, the street is packed. Packed from side to side, heads, bodies, clothes, colors, shoulder to shoulder, as far as you can see. It’s dizzying. I will walk through this??? I have my guitar on my back and my little amp that I hold with one hand… It seems impossible. Yet, I progress, at a fairly quick pace. I practice gliding, yeah, like on the bike, smoothly progressing, finding lines and open spaces. It is incredible that so much randomity, so many wills, directionalities, changes of mind actually work, everyone moves, no one crashes into one antoher. Music comes out of every store, bar, restaurant. Ice cream sellers yelling and banging rhythms that would make any drummer envious with the long thongs they use for the ice cream.   Lottery salesmen shouting…   Amazingly, we all keep moving towards our individual goals…

 

I feel like I am a cell in a large artery to the heart of some giant.  Along with all the other cells, red, white blood cells, antibodies, bugs, H2O…  We do not know that our fates are all interrelated in this mad course.  We are individuals, we are cellular, we are part of a whole, insignificant and meaningful all at once…  What is this entity we are part of?

 

At Galata Saray, there a huge amount of police in riot gear and with plastic bullet guns, police busses, a TOMA.  I don’t like the sight of them all.   At this point there are so many bodies in this artery, even the side streets are filled wall to wall with every possible kind of human being. Veiled, unveiled, men, women, children, tourists, locals, young guys, old guys… I keep moving.

 

Istanbul.

 

On the way I stopped at the Chillout.  My little Chillout family.  I finally eat. I’ve been trying to keep things to one big meal a day besides a late breakfast of fruit and simit. It’s so hot these days it’s hard to eat anything. I get falafel from Pepitto’s, say hi to everyone. After a while I head home… yeah, home… kind of a sweet thing to say. On my way there, I meet with Tuba, and I have to smile; I am meeting a friend on an Istanbul street… that too is very sweet. So very sweet.

 

At home I turn on the laptop and I learn that there will be no show at Leyla Teras on Thursday night. I’m a bit disappointed, but in all truth that is better. I got myself involved with another musician’s project and the show is Saturday as of today, there are still half of the songs that are not written yet. At rehearsal I realized that I was going to have to work pretty hard to get the music down… this cancellation is giving time to do so…

 

As I look at my Facebook page I see that it is Asbjorn’s birthday. Happy Birthday Asbjorn! Swiftly, almost brutally my memory transports me in time, a year ago only… I had crossed the continent on two wheels, heart broken, lost, beaten,  high on a kind of pain I could not get rid of… The intensity of the memory hit me with a resonant slap. Wow. A year ago…

 

I thought of Asbjorn, of these incredible moments we had. Of how the King of Bears was there for me. I recall his birthday party, at Jack’s… California, those endless days. Who am I now? I don’t know yet. Much has healed since then and if not healed fully, seriously faded. Seems like dreams from another dimension. So much is shifting, like the life here. Am I just a mirror? Reflecting my surroundings? Or are the surroundings a reflection of who I am?

 

I sit here in the shade, yet again, having my double espresso at Kahve Dunyası (coffee world) where the waiter surprised me yesterday by bringing my double espresso without me having to ask. A regular I have become. In front of me, the Golden Horn, a slight breeze touches me as Istanbul buzzes around. Women wearing headscarves, zillions of taxis, waiters bringing food to some home somewhere, water deliveries on hand carts pushed by wiry men, the sound of car horns, a boy carrying construction materials, more impatient horns sounding, tourists, the ubiquitous smell of cigarette, sounds of construction, rubber on cobble stones…

 

A dog sleeps in this one shady spot, next to the Şişane metro station. Everyday he is there, that is his spot. I pet him, he seems thankful.

 

I will finish here and head back home, work on the songs for Saturday then head for rehearsal. I will have a lesson on Friday. I have not been playing the bağlama… I’ve just been trying to keep up and rest, catch up on sleep… I am feeling a bit off track. I am trying to keep up with life’s lessons, directions. Life’s whispers showing the way, prodding me gently this and that way so I can learn some more.

 

Last night I had great conversation with my new room mate, Mica, the Italian bass player-film maker. In the face of the uncertainty of the world, of our fates, of the political shifting scene here all we can do is be fully in the Istanbul moment, the flitting, shimmering, Istanbul moment where anything can happen and everything can change in the blink of a eye.

home sweet home

August 11, 2013

I now have a home. I moved yesterday.

 

The way it happened is kind of neat. Thursday night I played with Eren, he had invited some friends which I met after the show (which went really really well) I shook hands with them and the night went on…  (that might be a whole other post coming up…)

 

with Eren at Leyla Teras

with Eren at Leyla Teras

Then next day, Friday, I was putting the computer away when I suddenly remembered that I should be looking for a room. I was really tired as I had slept only a few hours and my head was foggy. I turned the computer back on and went online to Craigslist, first doing a generic search for a room for rent, then asking myself:

 

“Where do you want to be?”

 

I answered to myself

 

“Galata Tower, I love Galata Tower and the area…”

 

so I punched in “Galata Tower” “Room for rent”

 

the second ad had a picture that captured my attention… two chairs that looked Egyptian, a bit of floor and rug and a bookshelf.

 

“That feels right…” I thought to myself. I wrote an email, kept looking a bit but didn’t really see anything else that spoke to me.

 

A few minutes later my phone rings.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi I call from the apartment. Is this Danielle?”

 

“Yes, it’s Danielle”

 

“I was at your show last night.”

 

“Uh??”

 

“Yes, I am Eren’s friend Güvenç.”

 

Then I remembered.

“That’s crazy! How cool is that!!!???”

So we set up a rendez-vous for me to see the room and I hung up. A couple of hours later I went to see the room, the apartment, and I loved it. I decided to take it. The other funny thing is that my room mate is the other friend. We agreed and set the moving day to Saturday. I love the way this was so simple, full of magic and coincidence… These days there is much of this sort of things going on. Meeting Eren at the Kara Kedi set out a whole slew of events, meetings… one of these times of connections. And I am not the only one living this, like a time of accelerating events… very interesting…

So yesterday, Fatih and Yüksel helped me move from the Chillout to my new home. I am REALLY grateful for their help, as my suitcase, containing mainly electronics, cables, books and stuff like that was incredibly heavy! I would have had to make 3 trips… My Chillout family… it is hard to leave them behind, but they are not far and I can stop by anytime…

And speaking of stopping by, Saturday was also Yüksel’s birthday. I had bought him a small gift, a black braided leather bracelet, there are tons of really nice ones around Galata. I made it there kind of late, but in time to catch Yüksel, light up a cake, play him some songs and share a warm really good time.

Yuksel and his birthday cake

Yuksel and his birthday cake

One of the people there started making flaming Sambucca drinks, then more of the Hostel’s patrons came back and more alcohol flowed. Yüksel was very, very happy. He is now officially my soul brother.

flaming Sambucca

flaming Sambucca

my new front door

my new front door

Sunday morning, well, afternoon to be truthful, after a good 10 hours of sleep which I needed so badly I went out for espresso. For the first time since I arrived I actually felt that this was my home. I felt I had arrived… and it was a beautiful feeling.

the view from the espresso place

the view from the espresso place

I am playing music, I found a bağlama (saz) teacher, I’m starting my classes very soon, I have friends who really care, the city is incredible, it feels like many things are lining up. I am really enjoying playing with Eren. He is a whimsical player, a beautiful free soul.

Tomorrow night (monday) I play with him at the Kara Kedi again. I am hoping to get my delay pedal adaptor replaced… I fried it one day using it without the converter… I hope the pedal is not fried… The little Go Guitar is keeping on. I’ve been having some issues with it, yesterday I cleaned it, changed the strings and tightened the jack which had started to get loose. So much possibilities. Life is amazing…

view from my window

view from my window