Hmmm that was Monday…

September 26, 2013

I can’t believe that last post was only 3 days ago…

A lifetime seemed to have gone by since…

Monday morning I wrote some… then Tuesday came.. and with it Kimberly, fresh from California…  that was a whole post in itself… And now I sit here, I should sleep as last night that did not happen…  at my age when I miss the beauty sleep the beast really shows up!!

OK, so lets go back to Monday morning…

Show tonight…  I am preparing a bit nervously, the last show we played had seemed like an uphill climb, a battle to survive. I often have this feeling that no one wants to hear my music, they want to hear the hits. Then there had been a lack of teamship with my drummer and on to of that, guitar troubles and, and, and… when it starts it is hard to stop the mind from spinning in worry.

 

I showered, got dressed then headed out in the night, up to Istiklal from Galata tower. First stop, Giolitti for a “to go” espresso. They know me there by now, what I drink, how to prepare it. A few laughs and I continued on, turning down on Bayloz sokak, by Chillout, I went in for a quick hello, a few more laughs and then onto the back streets of Beyoğlu leading to Kara Kedi.

 

The people on these back streets have come to recognize me;  the woman with the instrument on her back who passes here on late evenings. Through the Balik pasag, lower onto the brothel street where the girls hang half naked out of barred windows trying to lure in customers while the pimps wait across the alley.  A few more blocks and I am just a few doors away from Kara Kedi. I feel good “going to work” I hope all goes well. At the building’s door, an old man always sits , keeping an eye on the premises, we greet each other and I climb up the 3 – 4 flights of stairs.  My beautiful friend Maryam is there, she works there, it’s always such a joy to see her. Then I see Mar, Mar was “my savior” that day at Chillout when the place had been gassed by police. We have a special bond. I go set up, we do sound check, we’re ready.

 

It starts well, and it gets better, then a saxophone player joins us and it gets really beautiful. At one point I ask the usual: “How are you doing out there?” to which of course no one responds and I continued… “Because I am so happy! Really happy” and laughed.  Flatmates and a  Chillout crew recruited by Yuksel came out to the show.  I heard after the fact that they really enjoyed.  We played two sets. I played my new song, yeah, a new one that I’m quite happy with. I was hoping to dance but the crowd quickly dispersed when we were done. Sometimes the Sunday night is full of fire other times people have to get up early or they partied all week end and they go home or wherever they go early.

 

Maryam and I climbed on to the roof, sat under a moon that was still pretty substantial and we chatted. After a while 4 of the guys came up to join us. Rain started. We went back inside and the drops of rain turned into a downpour. The place got cold, as the roof is partly open and there are no windows to the street. I heard a big “smash” turned around and saw that the plan was now to make a fire in the fireplace so someone was busy destroying an already broken chair to feed the flames.  We sat around the fireplace listening to music and watching the flames dance. Another magical moment in Istanbul. I feel very blessed to be here among them. To be privy to these moments of beautiful humanity.

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I headed into the night. It is a first time for a wet walk back from the gig.  There has virtually been no rain until mid-September in Istanbul. The streets shine from the water, the mood is softer, no one harasses me, but maybe it’s because I have pledged to not feel anger or feel victimized anymore. We create our reality. It’s easy to forget sometimes. A few steps from home, a cute black and white cat came towards me, I pet her. I smile. What a simple great moment.  I get home, unlock the gate, lock the gate. Unlock the door, lock the door in darkness, I climb up the stairs. Put down the bag and the guitar.  as My good friend Asbjorn would say:  We did good.

 

 Monday

oh, woke up late… I wasn’t planning to get up so late but so it is… There are many things to do… Kimberly is coming for a few hours between Tuesday and Wednesday on her way to Germany, I am planning to go to Konya for the end of the Mystic Music Festival then travel a bit… yeah, I’m gonna hit the road for a week or two, depending on how things go… so I need to book my flight out, get ready for Kimberly and prepare for my trip… I need a backpack and some walking shoes.

 

I check my email : translation job in the mailbox. An old client of mine. This is good. A good start. It’s also mom’s birthday and I cannot forget to call. But first things first : Espresso.

 

Later when I return home, I call mom it’s her birthday.  I dial.  Success, my timing was perfect as we just had enough time to catch up before her friends came to whisk her away for a birthday lunch.

The phone rings. 

“Are you busy”

 

“no”

 

“Still wanna go for tea?”

“yes”

 

“Where do you want to go?”

“We could do the passage or Galata tower” 

we opt for the passage.

 

“I’ll be there in 12 minutes.” I was in the midst of figuring out my credit card transaction for the flight, I dropped everything and went.

 

Friends.    I have never so appreciated the value of friends than in the last couple of years..   I feel so happy he’s my friend. I wish I could hug him. I am laughing out loud, so much fun, he has an incredibly sharp mind. After much laughter and conversation we head back out  to Chillout. After debating for a while, he talks about going for a ride (motorcycle) but then decides against because there was no “practical” reason..  I said, well then ride one for me!  and he says: 

You want to ride?

 

Of course!

 

So we went to Pierre Loti. The view is astounding. Another tea. We sit there talk, enjoy the night… the tea house lights go off.  time to go.

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We ride back.. it’s so cool to ride. From Chillout  I walk back home. Smiling. It’s amazing. So, so, so amazing. I do the translation… Meditate. Thank you.

Tuesday… well that turned out wild… I went to the airport to get Kimberly.  Waited 3 hours searched for 1 hour all over… No Kimberly…  I am a bit concerned.  I check with the airline, yes she was on.  Yes she landed…  but she is nowhere to be found at the terminal..

that will be the next installment!

hugs all around…!

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today

September 22, 2013

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Fish market in Karaköy

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we spotted where we wanted to go as the sun was heading down

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this was the view across

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with me was Michelangelo, my ex flat mate we met on the street as I was coming back home from having coffee with my very good buddy Sarah… so it was double friends whammy…

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here’s a photo of me…   yeah, there are few of those I know!

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the view kept evolving with the setting sun and the lights going on at the mosque across

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here’s the panoramic view… pretty cool eh?!

 

then we started going crazy on the “panoramic” function on my camera…

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walking back through the market

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along the street

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traffic… looks like New York!

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then we tried to use it the other way…

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cat playing with a digital light a kid was waving around…

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then it was close to the tower and we kind of went nuts… I was laughing so hard… especially with this one…

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that is on the square around the tower

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a good one of the tower!  Galata that is…

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we walked back towards my place, Bin Bavul, vintage clothing store…  we hung out a bit more, then Miche left and I took my bağlama went downstairs, Yula joined, Fehmi was there.. we talked.. I played, ordered Chinese soup, hung out some more… the nights are getting cold!  it’s amazing…  17C feels SO cold…

A “friends” day that was really heart warming… made me reconsider my thoughts of late…  I’m pondering, pondering… I need to not throw the baby with the bath water…  This day was blessed and I am deeply grateful.

 

 

 

 

The moon was shining bright tonight and called me…  actually, after what took place I just wanted fresh air.  I am a big fan of air…  lots of it.  A big fan of the moon too…  and not of big fan of bullshit…

Whassup?  You ask.  Well, I’ve been here for 3 and a half months.  It’s been awesome in so many ways… it’s been amazing, mind blowing, exciting, freeing, challenging… all sorts of things I really love.  The one thing that has been shitty, and I use the word meaning it, is the bağlama learning…   it has just not been happening.   Lets politely say that there are major cultural differences that make it really hard for a white,  foreign, single woman to be taken seriously.  

I am tired of getting approached as a “loose” woman.  Being touched when I don’t want to.  Being freakin’ manipulated as if I was the last idiot to come in town.  

As a westerner, I tend to expect to be treated as a human being.  You know… basic respect. Basic communication skills.  Basic professional courtesy.  

Tonight I reacted.  Finally.  Because since I’ve been here, I have been trying to be polite while figuring out what was going on, not wanting to judge or not being patient enough (which is an easy thing for me..)  But tonight it was my spirit that spoke instead of my analytical mind and my spirit said NO.   THE PUCK STOPS HERE.  (A very Canadian expression)  Tonight I was going to be Luongo on a good day.  Ken Dryden during the good ol’ Montreal days.  I was going to be a Boston Bruins equivalent of Tim Thomas :  fucking invincible.   (for the non-hockey initiated all these are legendary hockey goalies) 

I was supposed to meet with my teacher.  First it was going to be at 6….  then it’s  7:30 and now I have to cab it to his place… and I started to feel annoyed…  I was expecting to meet somewhere in a public place.  Because there were some things I wanted to speak up about:  like how at some point he starts getting his hands over me a little too far for my own comfort…   There has been in his defense some really good moments, moments of what felt like honest friendship and kinship.  I have learned many things…  But no baglama program, that was something we were going to do 2 months ago and that still has not materialized.   So now we’re going to meet at his place… nothing fundamentally wrong, I had been there before but…  it’s a residential area which meant that it might be hard to find my way back home after the meeting.  I really have this thing… I have to be independent, able to leave when I want.

I was on the phone when I was told about where to meet and suddenly my spirit  screamed at me:  NO.   THIS AIN’T HAPPENING LIKE THIS. PERIOD.  I was shocked into silence…  I said:

“I dunno why… Sorry… I’m not going to do this.  I’m not comfortable with this.”

At first I had no idea what the hell was going on with me, except for this VERY strong inner voice saying “Hell no.”  and I accepted to listen.   He said:

 “When you feel OK call me back”.  I hung up very confused.  

 

Then I wrote him a text saying that I wasn’t comfortable to meet at his place to which he made fun of me, pretty much calling me a coward.  To which I replied : it’s not about fear, it’s about respect.  It’s about being respected as a human being.  Would you grope a male colleague sitting in your car with you?  I asked.  

Now I am angry.  But a good kind of angry, the kind that is about not letting anyone push me around anymore.  

Needing air, I decided to go out for a walk.   I put my boots on.  My ass kicking boots.  When I wear these, no one messes with me…  you know my black, tough, heavy, motorcycle boots.   I grabbed my camera.  I headed out tall and strong.  Then I saw this cute cat.  I smiled.  OK.  I thought.  “Don’t  just be angry.  Forgive.  but don’t take the crap anymore.  The truth… the truth is that this ain’t working out  and that’s fine.  The truth is that I am getting impatient because I’m not riding the curves… I’m idling in a parking lot thinking about how not to do the wrong things…. Not my style.  I’ve catered to everyone’s mood so far but mine.  That is now over.  

The moon was out and I resumed last night photo adventure with the full moon.   I checked myself again:  tall, strong, self determined and I thought : fuck all of ’em who will not respect me as a human being.   I don’t need to bend over for anyone to do music.  I can make some freakin’ awesome music on my own.  I’ve waited long enough being politely Canadian, trying to respect, trying not to ruffle anyone’s sensibilities while I let them stomp me all over…  Fuck that.  I came here because this place is amazing, because Turkish music is amazing.  I came here to see this crazy land,  to walk in Rumi’s steps and to see where Asik Veysel lived.  Where the Amazons roamed.  I came here to feel the wind of the steppe on my face…

Imma gonna do that. Period.  All the people who see me as a yabanci, as a foreigner to rip off can go to hell.  There are some impossibly awesome people here and Imma gonna find them.  At the first hint of bullshit you’ll hear me say : “watch my dust.”   There is going to be some high firin’ going on if things are not right.  (wink to Asbjorn here) 

So down the streets I went and here is the harvest…  

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motorcycles…  yeah..

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back streets of Beyoglu

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cutey pie cat

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Yeah….  mad isn’t it.  Like a movie set

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So I am walking around my neck craned hunting the moon between buildings, looking for something to capture…  and for the first time since I’ve been here…  I feel like me.  I look at people in the eye and tell them iyi akşamlar, (good evening)  men or women.  I’m being me.  Enough of the PC crap. Oh how liberating this is…   I’m not angry anymore, I am determined.  I am free.  

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doesn’t he look like a hard worker?  I think he does..

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Then I met Yuksel on the way back.  I stopped at the ChillOut, had food there, my little photo journey took over 2 hours!  I was hungry.  It was good to see Tuba and Feza.  Yes there are some AMAZING souls here and I love them from the bottom of my heart.  I told them that I will be hitting the road.  Yes.  Made my decision.  I will see my friend Kimberly who is on her way to Germany and will stop here for 24 hours on September 24th.  Then I’ll leave for Konya, Rumi’s hometown..  There is the Mystic Music Festival taking place.  From there, the adventure will proceed.

I’ve been antsy, not liking the “settling down” lately and I realize that the discomfort was cause by myself, by acquiescing silently with conditions that I did not like.  it’s actually always so simple… 

There is going to be much to in the next 5 days… need a back pack and walking shoes…  I feel good.  I feel aligned with the life vectors, finally.  One last show at Kara Kedi next Sunday with Eren… and maybe I’ll find the time to go see Hagia Sofia before I leave for the great open roads… here… in Turkey!  😉

Love to you all my friends.  So much love…  xxx

 

 

Istanbul night textures

September 19, 2013

Went for a walk with the camera, one never knows, one had fun.

 

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full moon night.  of course there was a mosque on the way, then city lights and adverts… then I took up this sinewy road.

 

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and the textures started to reveal themselves

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Then I was back on Istiklal and the crowds were dense and I just headed home.  On the way I saw my friends at Ozan Muzik and stopped for a while, got to listen to some songs from Ufuk on baglama…   and the night ended.   Trying to get to bed early.  I’ve had issues lately with vertigo… like very serious dizziness where the whole room spins like mad, so much so that I get motion sickness…  I read about it… I need to do a little “maneuver” that is supposed to help cure this… other than that.. all is good.

görüşürüs…

I could not help but post again…

I just received my very first official album review for my latest, BEAT IT TO PIECES

From Vancouver… from Cal Koat at World Beat Canada.

Some of you actually have been in the know because you have been following this since 2010… 2011… 2012…  2013…  Yeah, time flies.

I had started to write the songs in late 2009.  Went in the studio in January 2010,  March 2010… then the whole thing just about died as one of the producers, the one who had money, ran away in the middle of the night…  I got mad and got even and got the bed tracks done when all seemed doomed.

then it took months to be able to go back in the studio…  finally in September I could go.  Then I did most of the guitars and vocals… it was so much work as I was the only one doing all this…  Then months went by again… in March 2011 I was finally able to go back.  I had that feeling that if I didn’t get it done then it would never get done… like a premonition.

at the end of the 21 days, the mixes were “almost” done… then I waited… and waited… there was about 10 hours of work left to do but for one reason or another it was not getting done…  Finally 18 months later I finally got the masters… then there was an issue with the masters… then… In July 2013 I released it… almost symbolically…  I was sitting at the Chill Out hostel in Istanbul and pressed the “go” button and “released” the album with a constant contact email to my friends… Then… I sold one copy.   !!!! yes.  One copy.

Last week, I got an email.  I had submitted the song “I tell my heart” to the “Song of the year” songwriting contest.  No I did not win, I was semi finalist… so I went as high as I could before winning then didn’t.  But that’s really good because that means I passed thousands of songs…

So I thought, lets put a little video together… I’m here in Istanbul with a simple laptop and Windows Movie Maker, which is about as basic as you can get for video making… but I put this together:  http://youtu.be/FgUB7GVexbQ

Then… tonight I get this message… a review…

http://www.worldbeatinternational.com/reviews-and-articles/worldbeat-album-reviews/2-worldbeat-album-reviews/496-Beat%20It%20To%20Pieces

And this is what it says:

Contemporary global music is woefully underexposed. That is the sole impetus behind our work in presenting, programming and promoting its artists. But, sometimes I feel like we do them an additional disservice by focusing exclusively on the aspect of their work that falls into the global genre. Most well-rounded artists have musical interests beyond the styles they are known for, and many will make the time and effort to apply themselves in these other directions. Danielle Hebert is a gutsy vocalist and a wicked guitar player who bears the markings of a multitude of influences. Visit her online at www.daniellehebert.com and peruse her biography. It’s an engaging and adventure-filled tale that begins in rural Quebec where she studied classical and jazz guitar; classical from her mother’s musical love and Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix from her father’s. In storybook fashion, the tale moves from the new world countryside to the old world’s great cities; Berlin, Paris and London, equestrian competition, sculpting, French albums, bilingual albums, then an English language album. All of these things play integral parts in shaping her musical vision. She’s currently in Istanbul studying the baglama or saz, a tear drop, long neck lute that is shared by many cultures around the Middle East. No doubt, this experience too will manifest itself in more global sounds from this versatile musician. But, that’s not what Beat It To Pieces is about. Before Turkey, Danielle found herself playing the part of a 21st century wandering minstrel. With no fixed address, a travel guitar and a motorcycle she struck out on a 40 thousand kilometer solo odyssey around the USA, returning to mix out this, her 5th album, a summation of a tumultuous chapter in her life, filled with themes of love, resilience and courage. And, it rocks big time. A wispier voice wouldn’t be up to the sonic challenge her guitar throws down, but Danielle retains control and confidence. The opening power pop juggernaut, ‘Gonna Lose My Fear’ hooks the ear with a mighty declaration of defiance, couched in a Bob Mould-style wall of guitars. Other tracks like ‘ Wicked Girl’ and ‘Make Sound’ are as heavy as anything ever recorded by Soundgarden or Alice In Chains. Deeply anchored bass work by Robbie Harrington, solid drumming from Matt Luneau and production by Commodor Perry Barrett (that’s his given name) flesh out a vital record that reveals more of the fascinating story that is Danielle Hebert. No, it’s not global; you’ll probably have to wait until the next chapter for that. Stay tuned.

so there you have it….  I am so proud, excited…

I’m so thankful!!!

Went for a walk

September 13, 2013

crowds and a TOMA negotiating for space on Istiklal

crowds and a TOMA negotiating for space on Istiklal

After practicing my Turkish then music for a number of hours I set out for a walk.  At the Tunel end of Istiklal, the police was already setting up

Police getting into position amidst tourists

Police getting into position amidst tourists

 

more of the same

more of the same

I took some back streets I don’t usually take and saw quite a few little places I want to come back to.  Arriving at Taksim Square, this view was there… then when you looked around, right and left much, much police were set up.

Sundown at Taksim Square

Sundown at Taksim Square

 

Waiting across Taksim Square

Waiting across Taksim Square

I went across the square, into places I don’t normally go and saw this sign, I guess for some, this could look like Nirvana after all that has happened and all that might come.

seen on the way.

seen on the way.

 

Tonight's half moon and a bit

Tonight’s half moon and a bit

From Gezi Park

From Gezi Park

a few panoramic views…  I like those!

Taksim Square from the park's border

Taksim Square from the park’s border

 

Police encampment

Police encampment

 

Monument

Monument

 

dramatic skies

dramatic skies

I walked the rest of the way, despite all the police presence it is a peaceful night (so far) in Beyoglu.  I stopped for espresso, got a double, some chocolate.. I’m ready now to go back to practice …

All my love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts.

September 12, 2013

Many thoughts. Many points of views. I am not sure where I stand in the midst of it all. This week the protests started anew all over Turkey. In Ankara there was a big gathering Monday to protest military action in Syria. A young man was killed by a tear gas grenade. The next day, there were protests all over Turkey.

 

From a logical standpoint it seems that if Erdoğan was to let people demonstrate then they would and go home afterward. The ultra violent use of police force, the tear gas, plastic bullets, TOMA and other armored vehicles usage plus, the use of plain clothes policemen who act as agents provocateurs to “justify” the use of the above means is now what people are fighting against. Forgo the confrontation, and you have a citizenry who has its right to expression respected and politically we would have something closer to the democracy this government postures as having but doesn’t.

Police getting ready for the night...

Police getting ready for the night…

But logic is usually not part of most human affairs. An it is from a huge pot of human emotions and reactions that boils over with bitterness, anger, fear and all its tributaries be it of conservative or aggressive nature, that we, sadly, eat from.

 

So many thoughts… Last night I had a conversation with a French expat, a designer. Her view of the situation is that it’s all going to boil over. She believes that the stage is ready to make Turkey a fundamentalist Muslim country, that the next elections are going to be show and that the vote is already bought. In this perspective, one can see that the protests become very useful as they are portrayed on the mainstream media here (government controlled) as caused by a bunch of “terrorists, anti-Muslim, spies and agents from other places” and that this government has the answer. The mis-information is prevalent. She was telling me that she figures it’s a matter of time before the country is clamped down.

 

Two nights ago I spoke with a Turkish musician, artist, intellectual. He says : “ I’m turning into a fascist and I don’t care. He sees the application of all these new laws about drinking, women being forbidden to wear high heels, as the sure steps towards fundamentalism. “I am Alevi.” he says. “For us, God is the people…” And for the Alevi, religion, belief, the culture itself is based around music, celebration. With a fundamentalist country, as in Iran, music, dancing, performing becomes forbidden in public. He is angry. What he sees for his future is the necessity to move away from the country he loves…

street music

street music

 

The music… As I spend time here, I can see how much the music means to the people of this country. It is a deep, deep culture that has roots going in all directions… Armenian, Alevi, Kurd, Ottoman, Indian, Persian, and much more that I don’t know about… I was listening to some songs that just take your breath away.

 

Istanbul… Yes, Istanbul is not Turkey. Istanbul is a planet. It’s a planet where the winds change within a wink’s length. Up, down. Good, bad. Sad, happy. From the destruction, filth, dirt, one night, the next morning all is cleaned up, made up and ready to seduce again. The broken pavements, the decrepit buildings all blend into this beautiful city comes morning. It is something to behold. As if timelessness always prevails, the city’s soul has been here for eons and keeps on going.

Monday's sunset

Monday’s sunset

That same spirit can be seen in its people. As TOMAs race by, the men still sit at the tea houses watching mayhem at their doorstep. A friend explained to me that Turks don’t really care about who’s in government. War could be across the Golden Horn and they would still sit there and drink tea. Then grab a rifle and shoot. But he says that if the people decide something has to stop then nothing is going to get in their way. He says the Turks are a nation of soldiers. He talked about being 6 years old in a school gymnasium listening to some man rattle propaganda. He says very few countries have this culture. A boy will be raised as a soldier. A mother will demand his son go to war. He says the census says that the Turkish army numbers 1 million. He says that is nowhere near what the actual effective forces are. Think many, many millions. And it makes sense.

What else… Well there are all my friends who choose to be here, who choose to see peace. Who thrive on this roller coaster ride of ups and downs and zigs and zags. Who live the very minute, who enjoy each cigarette, each drink, each human being without asking about the future and what’s in it for them. It is us, Westerners who worry. They as a people know there are no guarantees, no insurance policies that apply to life. They know strife. So every good moment is a gift.

haze

haze

I sit at my little fancy Kahve Dunyasi espresso shop, outside, overlooking the Golden Horn. It is sunny and beautiful. The water sparkles in the distance. There is a haze over the city. Horns blaring, people walk around, men holding hands, women in scarves, women without scarves, tourists, beautiful children, the yellow taxis scurrying tirelessly for the next fare, the stray dogs walking around and the cats watching them. A scooter zooms by, no helmet for its rider, the ships on the water, the smell of cigarettes, a man looking at his girlfriend with too much possessiveness, more tourists, the beautifully groomed Turkish women, a dark youth, slim and nervous, the working men in their tired working clothes walking down the street at the end of a weary work day and the sun going slowly down.

my baglama in Turkey

my baglama in Turkey

I am outside. Outside looking in. I have no answers. No answers for this country, no answers for myself. I’ve been getting into a bit of a routine of coffee, Turkish study then playing…  Pretty much like I was doing in California and I am not sure this is OK.   I am not sure I want to settle into this routine. Actually, I don’t want to settle into this routine, I have a feeling of waiting. Why am I waiting? What am I waiting for? Dunno yet.  This week I play at Kara Kedi on Sunday, for the first time Eren and I are actually on the posters. But I question this too. Getting into this routine. The routine allows me to write music, but I am here and I am not seeing half of what I could see… Should I hit the road again? Go from place to place and gather no dust? I can always come back to this.

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