I could not wait for the bus ride to be over. It started with me hearing “yabanci” something or other and instinctively I figured it was about me. And it was. The bus was stopped at the second station and all the people from the company who are present are gathered together, white shirts and gray pants… I go out, to meet them, they talk to me way to fast for me to understand anything, then I am rudely shown another seat where a woman in leopard stretch pants and white spandex head band is taking a seat and a half sleeping… I squeeze in there, baglama on my lap, bag at my feet, the guitar is up in the bins and the guy drops a heavy bag on it. I say something and he says “no problem” and I my internal pressure rose.

The 5 hours from Edremit to Yalova are interminable. I can never sleep, in the back of my seat is the sevice station for drinks and tea and food and the attendant yards the stuff in and out of there for a bit, then I try the TV, music, movies screen in front of me but the sound is all messed up. I start to read a book on my laptop and the woman ahead of me with the help of the attendant again, drops the back of the seat so suddenly my laptop flies of the shelf and thankfully lands on my lap.

OK, then, I’ll just sit there. I try to sleep my head against the baglama’s neck but it’s not really successful. As we go I watch the clock, the temperature. I forgot to take a sweater and it’s quite cold with A/C. When I’m about an hour away I took to attempt to read the road signs from my seat but the top of the windshield is tinted and it’s just about impossible to see.

At 4:30 we approach Yalova. I can’t wait to get out. At the Yelova Otogar, 3 of us get out, the leopard wearing woman is one of us. We are outside the town. A woman asks me if I’m going to town, I said yes. We walk inside, looking for some sort of information, but at this point in time it’s either too early or too late for anything.

A man in work uniform shows up, he eyes the three of us. What are you doing? One was waiting for a bus, the other wanted to go to town on another bus, and me, I wanted to know where the town was so I could walk to it. He stands there tea in his hand. The older, fatter woman asks if there is tea. He says no. I’m thinking, of course there is tea… it’s Turkey… He adds that he could bring hot water.

“Come with me” he says to me and the other woman. We follow him up the stairs to an office. There is a big tea pot simmering on a burner… tables, chairs, a laptop, a blackboard and some foodstuffs. He gives the other woman hot water cups, she leaves, he turns to me and says:

‘You can sleep here.”  I never asked to sleep… 

I look around, are you kidding me? So that was his big plan,  get me up here?   I ask:

“I need to go to Yalova, how do I get there from here?”

“I have internet if you need.” he shows me a phone hooked to the laptop. I ask again. He won’t give me an answer. The instinct of the wild horse sees that he is about to be coralled.  I sighed and said under my breath:

“Fuck this.” and walked out, down the hall, down the stairs and headed outside. I ask two people standing there which direction Yalova lays and they vaguely motion nowhere. I sigh. Well I’m going. See ya. At this point I’ve been up for 20 hours walked around 8-10 KM and sweated all day, sat in this stupid bus… I have no desire to stop and wait. There is a gas station a block away so I head there.

In there, I ask the attendant, he says: no you can’t go. Sigh. I can walk I say, I’m fine with walking.  Which direction must I go?  

“Nope. it’s too late.” he says, To which I replied:

“At this point it’s early.” it was around 5 something AM. The Ezan about to ring in the dark morning air.

“Well my friend could take you…”  he says. A taxi driver walks in. I said I had no money. I cannot take a taxi.  I will walk… if you can only tell me where to go…

the taxi driver goes to the washroom. We wait. A long time. Finally when he comes out, they palabre together and the driver tells me

 

“Gel.” I follow. The yellow car is parked there, being washed, there is another driver with graying long hair smoking a cigarette, he has this akiline nose, he looks at me from under his naturally frowning brows. I don’t care.

I get in the cab, he heads down the road, stops for gas, he asks me if it’s ok I say yes. We get to town and he drops me off. No bullshit, no games… I was surprised. Thank you I said. I look around. I have no idea where the Sema is taking place. I need internet to get all the details. I look and there is a hotel right there, The Grand Karot Hotel”  I have to laugh at the name…  I learn later it is a famous, high falutin’ kind of place.  I thought maybe I could ask them, they would know but there is no lobby to be found. I turn around. The Marmara Sea is black, silent laying its vastness in front of me staring back at me. The skies are sulfuric yellow on the horizon, smudged by black smog. Blending gray and blue and some purple. It’s imposibly quiet. I take this all in, stop all thinking, all rushing, all going around. It’s wondrous.

All is well.

I walked towards the main street, a dog sleeps in the fenced area around a monument. Peaceful. I see a tiny hotel lobby. A man sits there alone.

“Merhaba”… I ask about the Sema,he tells me everything I need to know, I ask where I could find a cafe, he says there is none but the borek place across the street has good tea. I warmly thank him. I cross the street and walk in. Waiters in white shirts and black pants, a checkered black and white floor. Red splashes. I’m so tired. I drop the bags the instrument. Order tea and borek, I know I”m getting some looks, but again, I don’t care. I stay there for a couple of hours. I was told the first minibus will leave for Termal where the sema is at 8 AM.

At around 9 I make it there. It is a gorgeous area. One of the most beautiful places i’ve been in Turkey so far, all being so clean, so green, so alive. No decrepitude or stalinist architechture. I walk up the little road to the center, two women help me carrying the instruments. At this point I’ve been up 24 hours.

In there someone spots me, welcomes me, shows me the place, the do’s and don’ts and I”m on my own. Upstairs, a round room. At the center a wooden floor circled by a carpeted round area where cushions line the perimeter. I was told I could sleep, sit, do whatever. I laid down. There is ney, oud, and various percussions playing. There are whirling people. Some looking like the Mevlana dervishes, others like pagan celebrants but all in harmony. The light sound of the leathered feet on the wood, there is a typical rhytmic sound to the whirling, one leg lifting a little higher and then coming back down. I watch a bit. My weariness caressed by all this. We are electrons… I fall asleep carried by the swirling air, energy, music, spirits.

I slept pretty much on and off the whole day. There was food there, I ate twice small amounts and went back to sleep. There was a closing ceremony, a discourse, the man is a hunchbacked man, gray haired, his eyes piercing, his face beautiful. He sits on a a purple velour chair, next to him is a 50 something German woman who translates his every sentence. She also sits on one of those throne looking chairs. I could be in a fairy tale, a place of spirits and legends. Her hair is long, white, her blue eyes, a long black and red dress… the people attending are what some call the “rainbow people.” spiritually minded explorers, with dreads, cotton dresses of all colors, free spirited, loose in their gestures, no tension… just this floating beingnesses. This is the last day of 99 days of whirling. It was a first. They are all on a high. Presents are distributed. I am the outside particle in this, but I am enjoying the energy, the space. I am tremendously grateful. Calm.

I find a shower. I have two days of sweating to clear. I was starting to smell like a vagrant. I go back to sleep. 8 AM. I wake up. The room is filled with bodies sleeping.  I go gather my things. Eat some food. Most of it was gone, but there was enough for me to go on. I headed out. Minibus back to Yalova. Ferry to Istanbul. It’s a gigantic affair of a boat. It’s full of arabs with too much perfume. I am a bit tremulous. What awaits me in Istanbul I don’t know. Technically I am without home, money and work. I have managed to save my tiny savings from Dalyan on this trip, only spending for the borek and the ferry. I will need the money in Istanbul until things work out.

The ferry stops in Yenikapi. I’m not familiar with this area. I see that I could cut through in a straight line to Eminonu, but loaded like I am the idea of elbowing my way through narrow streets filled with tourists make me decide to walk along the wall, by the Bosphorus. 7 KM. I didn’t know that. I learned that later. It’s really hot, I am loaded, but I walk on. Seems I could walk to the end of the world. There are moments when my shoulders complain, but then, deep breath, and relax into the pain. I get to the funiculaire, up the hill to Tunel square. I made it back.

Izmir to Edremit

August 22, 2014

I walk. It’s very hot. Very. But I don’t ask how hot, the knowledge of those numbers can actually weaken the warrior. I just left behind two friends, Anıl and BT’ian. We had an awesome time the night before. I had, ahem, a beer and smoked cigarettes until my head spun. We told jokes and were being silly and that was perfect. Then the plan was to ride a bus to the airport, sleep there, and the next morning İ would get to the main road up to Bursa. But time slipped by us and suddenly it was too late to catch the last bus to the airport. One thing led to another and we ended up sleeping at TN’ian’s mom’s house, crashing in the living room after eating some food, much laughter and conversation.

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In the morning the two of them take the trouble to come with me all the way to the end of the train line, but before we stopped for coffee and poacha

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So I walk along this road, still inside the city… I am not fond of hitch hiking within the city boundaries, local traffic takes you nowhere… I must have walked a good hour. Then as the city was slowly getting sparser, I lifted my thumb.

Within seconds kind of white cargo van stopped. The guy came out the side door. I say I’m heading to Bursa and he says something about dikili… I have no idea what a dikili is… we go back and forth and I understand he has to stop somewhere on the way. OK no problem. As I walk in I realize that this is a security truck. An armored money transport truck. The guy, whose name is Volkan, tells me he’s not supposed to take passengers. Ah now here’s for an original ride.

There is another guy in the front he looks serious, they both are in their twenties. Volkan drives fast and faster, in true Turkish fashion, crazily but I’m not scared, he knows what he’s doing. We talk a bit, same questions, where are you from etc. Mentioning Canada has many Turks ooing. He says he has a sister working in Cananda, that he’d like to go too. Lets marry and go together he says!

We turn into a small country road. The scenery is gorgeous. I finally get it. Dikili is a town. It is very beautiful. Wow. They stop at a first bank, stay down, don’t talk, he says. They go out and I can see from the rear view mirror they get a bag go in, come back out. We leave. Stop at another bank. Then another.

“You like ice tea?”

“Yes”

He U-turns and stops at a store, comes back in with Fuse Tea. A few minutes later he turns around and says:

“Finish!” it’s the end of this ride for me. I take a picture, he takes one we say warm goodbyes and they take off in a hurry.

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I start walking again. It feels good despite the very heavy bag. The first minutes are worst, then the weight settles and I forget about them. After a bit, I lift my thumb. A few cars go by. I drop the thumb. A large petrol truck stops… shit.. don’t want to get in big trucks… It stopped quite a ways ahead. I’m hoping that he will take off. He doesn’t. I get close to the door. I gesture “no” he says come in, opens the door. No…

“Korkma” don’t be afraid he says… we talk a bit. My bullshit meter says I’m OK. I get in. His name is Erdogan. Like the prime minister. We talk, I say something about the road and he says: Tayip!!! Tayip made these roads. Tayip is great!! I play dumb tourist and say I dunno who Tayip is. He asks me for my phone number. I say I don’t have a phone. We talk weather. He turns off the highway and says I should go where he’s going and take a bus from there. Nope, I’ll get off here. He lets me off.

I get on the road, and soon a woman pulls over, I get in but we misunderstood each other. She thougth I wanted to go to the bus station. I get out about a mile down the road.

Then I walk and walk and walk. It’s calm. Beautiful scenery. There are all these stands where they sell kara dut suyu. Dut is a fruit similar to blackberry but much tastier.. they make juice, jam, syrup out of it. The sings say “buz gibi” Like ice. As I am progressing there is a little heard of cows. They look happy, they are looking at me puzzled. Then ahead one of these stands appear. A man is standing on the side of the road: “Hos geldiniz!” he says. Hos bulduk! I repy. He invites me. We chat a bit. He offers me the juice, which I intended to taste since I love dut.

“Buz gibi mi?” like ice? I say, he says yes, like ice. He gives me a glass. It’s really tasty.

“Otur!” Sit down he says, which is a typical turkish invitation. He then offers me cay. There is another man, he is with the cows, I drink my juice and say OK, I’ll give you a song then. I pull out the guitar and start singing Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim.

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“Oooohh!” he exclaims! A Canadian singing Turkish!!! We all chat together quietly for a bit, laugh. The day is coursing… I must go I said. He gives me a bottle of dut syrup, offers me more tea but I must go… time is a ticking.

I resume my walk, walk more. Then, a hunch. Thumb up. About 30 seconds later a car stops. A young man. He looks like an Istanbulite. I trust the young generation a lot more than the older men… they are more on an even keel with women. He speaks to me in Turkish, in a bit of English. He’s an artist. He showed me photos of his art and he is an outstanding artist… He says:

“you are strong.”

we talk and then he says:

“This is interesting. I needed to hear what you said. I was sad.” As we talk, I realize this is one of those fateful meetings. Vectors connecting. One of the Gods’s operations… One human being needs an answer and Fate puts you in this being’s path and you give them an answer.

We stopped for a break to eat, drink something and to see where I am supposed to go next. I realize I have to take a different direction. I also realize I am burnt out tired. We eat lahmacun, Turkish pizza, drink ayran, it was needed but it’s not picking me up. I am beat. After looking at the map on Google he says to me:

I am going to put you on a bus to Yelova. This is good for me. I don’t want money for you. You need this… he gets up to find out where to find a bus station. It happens to be across the street… yeah, another “coincidence”. We walk over there. He buys the ticket for me, reassures me again that this is what he wants to do and money is no problem. I don’t know what to say. I could not have kept on hitch hiking today. I am really, really beat. We drink a last tea. As we talk, we realize I almost stopped at his studio in Istanbul a few times.. there are sculptures on the front of the building that I liked very much, I always promised myself I was going to stop, it is situated steps from Lavazza, where I get my coffee almost daily,

He left. I am pondering all this wonder. Now I wait for the bus to Yelova where the last two days of the 99 days of whirling are taking place this weekend. I cannot wait to feel and then disappear in the whirl… become an electron and think of nothing. It’s been incredible. The best decision I could make really was to leave Dalyan.

Auto-stop to Izmir

August 21, 2014

I woke up early. Hmmm… for a moment completely lost as to where, when, what, how… then I remembered: Go. It’s a Go day. I get out of bed, quickly reeling from the lack of sleeping hours, that groggy dizzyness I lay back down. It’s 9:35. relax… then I get into action.

I have gotten so good at packing and leaving. Everything in its place. I have to return my bed sheets and towel and keys to Aleph first. I do that. The day is hot. The cikadas or whatever bugs they are are going mad in their sawing noise, I scratch my eyes… it’s early… for me, I walk along the river, I am not mad at the place anymore. Tourists, tourists… I will not miss that. I get to Aleph, of course no one is up. I put the key under the rock in the flowerpot as instructed, the sheets on one of the benches, Thank you… This thing now officially over. I go back to get my bags and instruments. Up the marble stairs, the off-white dirty walls, my heart is pounding just from the stairs, it’s already very hot. I am slightly wary of the load I have to carry in this heat, but I forget the thought, it is useless. I have the big pack on my back, the regular knapsack on my chest, the guitar slung over my shoulder and baglama in my right hand.

Out I go. Another destination, unknown future. But somehow today all the stress is gone. I read this thing two days ago about Tao. About the sameness of opposites. Pain-joy, happy-sad, winter-summer all existing because one cannot be without the other, all is encompassed into all. Once you accept that, there is much less fight. No it’s not always easy to achieve especially when something that you feel is fundamental to you gets shaken to the roots. Your mind starts running and imagining and twisting… I read this Tao stuff for, yes again, Alan Watts. One of those “open the book to that page and see if an answer is to be found”. I was thinking “sounds good but right now I just cannot let go… let alone breathe. It didn’t quite “take” until this morning. This morning, I am. I am free. All just is. There is nothing to avoid or reach for.

I go for a last cafe at the Limon Cafe, I met these guys, the owners at Aleph one night. He is Greek, she is Turkish and they have this new business and just like Aleph, they are struggling to get off the ground and running. I have been going there because as opposed to other cafes where they just treat me like a tourist to gouge, they gave me a break and were being friends. That short walk from my flat to the cafe, about 800 meters leave me drenched, my shirt is soaked through with sweat.

We talk, laugh, discuss. I learn more things about the job I had at Aleph. I have been grossly underpaid, but at this point it’s all OK. I don’t care. I feel that on a cosmic level I had to go through what I went through to re-organize the particles and continue the journey. When it’s time to leave, they don’t want me to hitch hike. “It’s Turkey!! it’s dangerous!!” I’ve heard this too much… but I’ve also heard that it’s totally fine especially to Izmir, I heard the story of this Russian girl who hitch hiked for 2 months all through Turkey. I have good instincts. They even try to get a deal from a friend who works at a bus company… 63 lira to Istanbul she offers… but I refuse. I cannot spend the money. That 63 lira is a big chunk right now. I will need it in Istanbul. They offer me breakfast, extra coffee, hugs and I am on my way.

I walk down Ataturk boulevard, soon the sweat streams. I experience the feel of my body weight augmented by my load in the sandals, ah yes, I remember my walking in Greece… these are good sandals though. I find a stride, relax under the weight. For a bit I am on the same pace as the local garbage truck, we say hi the first stop. I pass them, then they pass me. Second stop. They ask me where I’m going. They are curious, gentle. I continue. As I get close to the end of the village a trucks stops by. One of those mid-size work trucks. I try to run but it’s too heavy on my back, I hop to the door”

Nereye gidiyorsun?

Izmir’e gidiyorum.

He invites me in. Looks at the baglama, asks me if that is in fact a baglama. Yes, it is, an appreciative smile follows.

We chat sparsely. Where are you from, where are you going. What are you doing. I find myself answering everything in an approximately correct Turkish, he does understand me. that’s cool. Been talking more since Selda didn’t really speak English. I got a bit better with my suffixes. He is going to the next town, I remember going there with Selda and Neco and I know that there is another road I must take.

“Izmir’e hangi yoldan gidilir” I suddenly remembered my Turkish tape lessons…

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I will take you there he says. We get to the intersection. I grab the stuff and thank him profusely. I feel incredibly grateful… peaceful. Aligned. I start walking. Maybe 50 meters, a taxi honks and pulls over… I’m thinking : he’s gonna want money…. I slowly approach and say : Param yok! I don’t have money, but he insists, and I do too. My instinct is all against taxi drivers… after Istanbul that becomes second nature. But I get a good vibe. it’s OK, don’t want money… Uh?? I think. I get in the back seat. There is another man in the front. We go fast. And again I get this incredible feeling of gratefulness, so far I didn’t even had to lift my thumb… They all stopped out of goodness… We get to Gokova, where I was last week. End of the ride. Again, profusive thanks. I start walking. I don’t stop and wait. So far, in Greece it was the same, if I walk someone stops when the timing is right. Don’t ask anything. The right things appear, happen. I’m OK with walking.

Soon the road gets steep. I must slow down. It is close to 40 degrees, but when I was cycling I learned this “mental toughness” skill. The ability to ignore your body’s whining. The road has two lanes up, it is very narrow so I walk in the cement gully for a bit. It gets steeper and steeper, I get slower. But I’m fine. I see a sign for 8% grade ahead. I walked maybe 2 km. A car slows down, the driver says: “you need a ride somewhere?” in English. I said yes… going to Izmir… He pulls over. A father and a son. They are from Istanbul, we manage to fit all my stuff in the small car, there is already a bicycle in there. We chat all the way to Izmir. The man is an EE Engineer (electronic and electric) and he has studied physics. We talk bicycles, since I used to ride seriously, then we get into pretty esoteric stuff. Cool conversation. The son is bright, they are beautiful the both of them together. I feel incredibly grateful again.

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We joke as the road that was ahead of me when they picked me up was incredibly steep. He told me the Tour of Turkey (cycling race) goes here… it’s upwards going for miles and miles. I said something to the fact that I trust my fate in the Gods hands and today he was their envoy for me.

We stop at a restaurant where they wash your car while you eat. New concept! We eat some sort of meat… ah yeah, çöp köfte, something I had seen advertised in Istanbul but that I didn’t understand as çöp means also garbage… I was explained that in this case çöp is the little stick on which the meat is skewered.

We get to Izmir, Kahve Dunyasi, we share a double espresso, laugh. They leave. I now wait for my friend Anıl who will meet me here. He says we’ll go have a beer then he’ll take me to the airport where I’ll sleep tonight. Then tomorrow I”m back on the road… I might stop to Iznik, a friend of mine, Volga the darbuka player is there now. He called me this afternoon. I was thinking of stopping in Yalova, the last days of the whirling dervishes are taking place this week end.

Motion. I always do well in motion.

The job was a bust, everything fell apart in Istanbul but now my heart is light, in a sort of calm wide space. I take one step then the other trusting my Fate to the Gods. Always seems to be the best thing for me.

Leaving Dalyan

August 21, 2014

I looked at the time and it was 1:11 AM. I am sweaty, empty, my voice is rough and it seems I can’t even play my simplest songs with any sort of beauty. Tonight was my last show in Dalyan. After the show I went to the jazz bar, the owner there wanted to hear me. I obliged, music whore that I am… The minute the guitar came over the speakers I knew this was going to be painful. Not memorable. The guitar sound is thin, nasal, dead. I sound thin, nasal and dead. I feel a freak, I am out of place out of energy out of a directional sense of anything. People politely watch. Clap. What am I doing… All the finesse is gone, It’s a struggle, I want to vanish in thin air, the guitar sounds like a banjo, my voice is making me a huge favor barely carrying some of those notes despite the dry throat, the strained vocal from the last 12 days of playing non-stop. And the most important ingredient, The Heart, it is dessicated. What am I doing?

Last night I could not sleep much at all, couldn’t, I actually haven’t for a while… too much things in my head, too much noise from the physical world and from my mind. Too much of a feeling of having corralled myself into the wrong place. having hurt people unintentionally and now being absolutely guilt ridden to the point of self hate. I was aimlessly pacing back and forth, inside the flat, then on the streets outside into the wee hours, meeting drunk and horny men that give you a feeling of hopelessness about the whole lot of us on this earth. I don’t want to put a judgement yet, but I think I don’t like this place. Maybe I actually hate it. I was supposed to stay here and work at the cafe until somewhere down the line in September. But I’m leaving.

My life right now has thoroughly discombobulated on all levels. Job, music, money, personal. Job wise, no customers, Goddawful playing conditions where me and the little guitar have to compete with Guns and Roses, Lady Gaga and a karaoke bar across the street all blaring sound towards the street which is to say towards me. A few days into the gig I was asked to play cover songs ’cause my stuff was not cutting it. Too quiet. No, really, to cut it I would have needed a Marshall stack and Forrest on Gretchen with the double kick and maybe we would have stood a chance for a fair fight. And with the absence of customers the patron is impatient, I feel the bad vibes and I get nervous make mistakes, get more nervous.

3 days into the gig they asked me to play covers… this is when I should have bowed out. but I stuck with it because of a stupid sense of responsibility.. commitment. Play happy stuff, stuff people know. My whole being went in a knot. I dont’ play covers… So dutifully I spent a good 4 to 6 hours a day searching, downloading, writing, practicing new songs. I suck at covers… Stress. Yeah, that’s how it works in this business… no customers, get the musician to be a clown. I struggled like mad to learn this bunch of songs,succeeded on some, failed on most. And that unsuccessful struggle brought my confidence down under my toenails. A performer with no confidence is a dead performer

And after I left Istanbul everything that was there fell apart. My home situation and my personal life… Right now, I’m totally out of wind. I hurt.

it all coalesced last night. again a phone call changed things irremediably.

The first event that brought relief to this mess that was looking like a bad infection about to burst was to decide to leave Dalyan. From my standpoint now, with the luxury of looking back at the events that took place since I left Istanbul it is as if a whole energetic field that was holding all of what was my world in equilibrium completely collapsed the minute i left.

Now what?… I fucked up. Made the wrong call. Now I go back to Istanbul, to no home, no work, no idea. Empty.

Meron is gone, Mahir is gone. there is no home. no gigs. I am holding to my meagre savings from working here. I’ve been eating 1 meal a day and a few pieces of fruit around that meal hanging on to my liras.

Oh and I almost forgot… I had been asked me to purchase my flight to come here and then I’d be reimbursed once I was here…. Yes, yes, you see it coming… tonight I was told that “maalesef” there were electrical and plumbing problems in the cafe so now there is no cash to reimburse me for that flight. I didn’t even get mad or sad. There is a vague possibly that maybe a friend in Istanbul after a bit of time might, could, maybe get that money back and if I want to come here for a holiday, I’m welcome anytime…. yeah, this time the joke is on me. The irony of all this is that if I calculate what I spent to come here, and what I made here. It’s even. Yeah, the joke is definitely on me.

Bekir said it wasn’t stupid. It was experience. Yeah baby.

Tomorrow morning I head out North. I’ll put my thumb up and carry my life on my back. See how that goes. In a way the idea of being flattened by a semi-truck is seductive, it would save the world a bunch of trouble and patheticness.

After two weeks.

August 19, 2014

Crescent moon. Warm night. My hands hurt, throbs, little mini light blisters and thick calluses, the left one actually. I have been spending 7 hours a day working on the guitar for the last week. It’s 2:30 the night is winding it’s way to the morning. I played my 2.5 hours. I smiled and I laughed. I wish I had a softer guitar, I wish I knew some of these songs better… it’s trial by fire, learn a song in the afternoon, perform at night… got 30 something now all hand written in a notebook, … and it’s not all tight.

I play, sweat soaking through my shirt, I feel a drop rolling down my face, another down my neck. When I play something I actually do know, I can take my eyes off the music stand and watch the street life… so many walk by, I noticed that the little girls really watch me… they trail behind their parents, big eyed and they watch, to be then pulled along, come on.. they say. Tourists, so many tourists. lots of Brits and Dutch people. I didn’t realize but the Brits are getting quite large. One of them, a young guy told me that they are now the 2nd fattest people on the planet after America… colors, summer clothing, cute girls, young Turks speeding on scooters or very tiny motorbikes. the Gendarmes walk by, their uniforms calquing the old French gendarmes uniforms, with the leather strap crossing the back.. like in the old movies.

I feel better, I was in a very dark place. I will not explain, it’s not worth it. I don’t want to wallow in my madness. Yes, I call it madness. Feeling a lot makes for good songwriting, but it can make for life threatening mind sets. Tonight I am grateful for Facebook. Sometimes I think it is a curse,but tonight it made all the difference, it pulled me out of the abyss. I connected, first before the show, then after the show, with some really important souls.

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Here to learn they say. Yeah… I know, I know…

What am I doing here… I wonder, been wondering. I came to work, to make money.. ha ha ha, one of those tourists I talked to laughed, he had just been asking me “what can’t you do?” and I replied “I’m not good with money. So when I told them what I was making… they laughed. Yeah, never had a knack for the money thing.

Mosquitoes. Dogs barking in the night endlessly. I love dogs but last night I had sinister dreams of strangling that mutt… Noise, it seems everywhere in Turkey noise is a constant. Even in the village, there was noise all night long, dogs, scooters, cows, roosters… that is one thing I long for. Silence. For a little bit. Then the other thing I long for is a bath tub… and a motorcycle ride, with me driving… oh and these days I would really enjoy playing one of my guitars, the PRS or the Gibson, my hands are begging for it… Fresh strings, that would be nice too… how did I get to this… ? I wander.

So yeah, after work tonight I spent two hours on Facebook, with friends, it was a wonder, Really. I would like, sometimes, to turn everything off, the facebook, the email, the blog.. not have this compulsion to see who wrote or who liked or if there are little red icons signifiying that someone cares or thinks of me. I should not need that.. I guess being new in a new place makes this social media so incredibly attractive… necessary.. but in the old days, real travelers just went on…

I did this until Selda closed the place… then I walked home. Saw a dog feasting on garbage, then a cute cat lying on the street.. then another mama cat with two young ones. Then home… up the stairs… it’s stifling hot in the hallway, there is a restaurant downstairs and I think the ovens, grills are against the wall.. during the day it must be 50 C in there… astounding. I walked in my place, dropped the guitar, went to the back balcony. Crescent moon. Stars. Be happy… they all tell me. I hear a nice song coming from the Jazz Bar, two doors down. I decide to head there. Three steps away. There is a little courtyard. There is wifi, so I looked at the cheapest thing on the menu, saving my money. Water 3 lira. OK.

The owner comes. I had talked to him the night before, I had stopped her very briefly to hear the musicians that I could hear from my flat. we spoke just a tiny bit, I was keeping a very low profile. Hello, how much, then he asked where I was from, I said Canada, he asked French or English, I said French he said he knew a lot of French Canadian backpackers and it seemed to be a good memory for him. And I left. That was last night. So tonight I slide in a seat in this inner garden. Pull out the laptop. He comes to take my order.

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“Bonjour mademoiselle”

“Bonjour”

“So, you are a musician?”

“And how do you know this?”

“I asked around… I was told, you play down the bar street.”

“wow, I am very quiet… don’t know many people how could you know this…”

“I was told. Well when you came last night I had a feeling, you were watching the musicians intensely…”

“And I carry this funny thing.” I said referring to the Go Guitar’s unusual size.

“Yes, well you looked like a musician. I was right. I have met many musicians… I met Eric Clapton in Dalyan…”

I am wondering… one of the customers at Aleph mentioned that he knew the jazz bar… and he really liked me… so maybe he talked to this guy.. but it’s a small place, so I know nobody but they all know me…

“i was told you were the best performer in Dalyan right now.”

On the heels of all my worrying about playing these new songs so poorly, I didn’t know what to say…

“could you come and play one night, a few songs?”

“Yeah I could.”

“I wouldn’t pay for that…”

“like an audition, that is fine.”

“The guys here right now are not good… he had a girlfriend, she had a great voice, she was entertaining the people… but now.. it’s terrible.”

Again, I thought of my own weaknesses…

“How long are you in Dalyan for?”

“I am playing every night until the 21st then I am not sure, they said every other night.. but I don’t know if I will stay and do this… “

I can see him make calculations.

“you could come and play for an hour…”

“I’ll play a few songs, then you can see…”

“I would pay for an hour..”

He offered me free water, I went and asked for the internet code, he gave it to me. They were about to close.

“You are closing?”

“you can stay, in the dark here with your machine and the internet… just pull up the cushion when you are finished. Come this week, come and play.”

“I will.”

And so life goes, one thread linking to the other. and a design of life takes shape. The question being of course, is this a picture you want to draw? a shape you want to carve?

I’ll have to keep working on those songs. Looks like my guitar is going to feed me for a little bit more.

Monday night. So I sit here, a plane goes overhead and we can hear it, it’s actually quiet for once. The sound of a fridge humming in the night. A critter is crittering somewhere… maybe a cat. The sound of the last dishes being washed at the restaurant behind. An ever so slight breeze. I feel the tiredness in my shoulders… the stickiness of my skin from sweating so much.

Today I was also told that I could play every other night at Limon cafe, the owner, such a nice guy, Greek guy in Turkey, he had some eyebrows to lift about that… but it looks like I can play, play, play… don’t matter where. I don’t know if that is what I want. I still have high suspicious about my own ability to carry this cover song solo show, if I had a percusionist, it would be a blast… but this jukebox gig, I’m not good at it. He says I can play originals.. then says people want to hear songs they know. But some things, people, are pulling me back towards Istanbul Coming here has truly shown me what I left behind.. it’s been difficult. To follow your heart or the logic… the math of life, with money in the balance. I went for logic, I had massive regrets… It is a fucking lie, actually. Money is never the cause, source, reason. it’s an excuse. Because money is just energy. And somehow, when I need it it comes. I think maybe I ran in fear. And maybe it’s too late. Maybe not. Maybe I am delusional. Maybe not. Does it make sense? No. Nothing does. So what’s to worry about? It’s the main cognition about life.. Nothing at all makes sense. Choices are there, and they’re only choices because we think so, because we decided to look at them, because if you didn’t then they wouldn’t be there. Then ad the other illusion, Fear, and the soup is spicy. Life becomes “interesting”.

So anything makes sense if we decide it does. Then that goes into “Decide what you want.” and the other thing I am realizing is the “wants” those too are fucking lies. Those are another set of illusions. because truly, we need nothing much. The wanting is just a way to not be here.

ahhh and so it goes. Conundrums. Lack of drums. Live like bums. All all that hums.

Sincerely yours.

a52

One thing, then another

August 12, 2014

Saturday. Market day in Dalyan. Most of it is aimed to tourists but in the middle, hidden was the vegetable market. One must buy fruits and vegetables there as the supermarket’s prices will kill you. Got tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, parsley ,peaches, pears and a couple of lemons. Dalyan is more expensive than Istanbul when it comes to basic living and if I am to save money, parsimony is going to be the law.

***

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I think of my friends today. I was peering through pictures from 2010 on, since I don’t have any photos from before that, I saw Forrest’s smile and I cried. I saw Asbjorn being silly with his chef’s hat on and I cried again. I saw photos of myself and I wondered who was that… who’s this woman? I seem to change face with the places I live at. These last few mornings, maybe it’s because of the heat… but each morning the puffy face staring back at me in the mirror scared me.

***

And where am I? Dalyan…. Seems I am in a dream… It is definitely beautiful. Seeing nature is a major shock after more than a year on the cobblestones of Istanbul. The greens, they are… unreal. the air… the earth, soil being so close to my feet… Yesterday on the boat going to the sea, looking at the hills, at the reeds growing so tall, dancing with the wind…feeling the wind… It all felt alien, strange, yes, again: dreamlike. Am I waking up after a long dream, or, falling in a deep, deep, surreal dream. Push and pull of ideas, sensations and feelings.

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***

Moons. Every night, filling up, rounder and rounder. Coloring itself with fire. I watch her from the terrasse after the gig. It’s one AM and there is still so much noise. Maybe at some point, I will want the lone vastness of North America. Be in places where when you turn off the engine and an immense silence surrounds you. Maybe it is that I will welcome frost and snow and blustering winds after all this heat. The disappearance of the horizon as the sky and snow line blends perfectly. Not in a big city though. I hate winter in the city it is a slushy, calcium infested hell.

***

Not hanging on to anything. I had a bit of a fit yesterday and I was quietly reminded, with few words, that I should just be happy. I said: “but… I miss…” my hands reaching into empty space… the reply was “you are on earth, I am on earth, so, we’re in the same place.” With those words my mind, my viewpoint were instantly swirled into a much broader, wider, far sighted point of view. Oh haow I can get blind. That made everything much closer to me. OK. I get it. I am not lost… Like Maryam telling me that she was watching the same moon as I was. So we are together. Yes… my friends are much wiser than I am…

***

Yesterday I saw something I cannot accept. No matter what… I’ve commented many times on the cruelty…. it’s 30 degrees or more outside and these women walk with scarves, long dresses, pants, this covered with an overcoat and usually the feet are also covered with socks and full shoes. Next to them, walks their husbands, wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals.

“How can they do it?” I asked Orçun.

“For God…” and then for a moment I saw it. The piety. The love and submission to God… But yesterday I was at the beach, we’re mostly foreigners sporting many states of undress, from shorts to tiny bikinis. Then they came. Walked by us. Three women, a little girl and two men. The men wearing shorts and sandals. The women… well, they were packaged into a sort of stylish nylon sport over clothes; long pants, jacket and head scarves. Nylon. NYLON!!! Like the stuff you put on after a cold fall workout… to keep the warmth in. Or maybe I am wrong, maybe it is fancy GoreTex… nevertheless. It’s fucking 100 degrees on the beach. There is a magnificent wind… The men go for a swim, tanned,looking like they swim and feel the sun regularly. The women sat under the umbrella modest, resigned in a dignified way then… they started to eat.

I could not keep my eyes off. I wondered how her skin felt under this clothing. I see the outline of a wide bra that is a bit too tight, the flesh expanding slightly from the elastic borders, it looks restrictive. It makes my breathing hard. Imagine the sweating. They started to get the little girl ready for a swim. She might be 7 or so. They put a bikini top on her, her tan marks reveal that she’s been in the sun before… I guess those will be memories for her to hang onto when she becomes “a woman” and has to cover herself at all times and places to show her devotion to God and to protect herself, her dignity and family’s honor from the men who are supposedly too horny to control themselves. But that protection is a lie. It has been observed that since this conservative government has taken power in Turkey violence against women has soared out of control. There are more murdered women in Turkey than ever before “Turkey is one of the world’s worst countries to be a woman. Between 2002 and 2009, the murder rate of women skyrocketed by 1,400 percent. Yeehaw.

Like what happened with the prohibition of alcohol, if you make something sinful, remove it from the realm of the normalcy a mad craving ensues. Like putting oneself on a diet and suddenly there is chocolate in sight everywhere.

Here is a photo of one of these “swimsuits”. Tailored, stylish, a show of humility, conservatism and dignity. Fuck that.

islamic-swimsuit-for-women-alsharifa-grape

I will never agree.

I was raised on the mantra of woman’s self reliance, independence, strength, power of decision for what concerns her, her body, her life. Self determinism. I see this bathing suit as an act of domination, and more pointedly, of actual hatred towards women. Yes, hatred. The men subjugating the women to this extreme, making them suffer every minute of their lives, emprisoning them in these clothes, making them disappear from the world. To wrap someone in a sweat suit in the 30 C plus degree heat and put then on a beach is actual torture.

This is the sort of thing that wears me out. I was raised in the complet polar opposite philosophy. I was raised seeing myself as a human being, of course there is still a fight to carry regarding equality of the sexes but in front of the law and the society, I am a full human being. I can dream whatever I want. Aim for whatever I desire. Being a man in Turkey would be awesome. All the travelers, male travelers, keep saying how incredible it is… I have wondered countless times how I would have fared if I had been born on this side of the globe. Would I just take it? Would my spirit rebel? Or would I just walk along the dotted line.

****

I walked back last night after the gig. There is a cooling breeze. Nihan is leaving tomorrow, the gay young couple left tonight, Sinan and Juan are leaving in the morning. Here, like in Istanbul, people come… and leave. Rebeca said she was looking to put roots in the ground, she was tired of constantly lifting the anchor to get to yet another place. Nihan asked me yesterday what I was going to do after this job.

“I don’t know” I said.

“You want to put down roots?”

“I don’t know, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

This morning, I slept through Juan and Sinan’s departure, they were staying at the appartment, they are hitch hiking their way back to Istanbul to vote on Sunday. I found a note from Juan, written on a piece of cardboard, that came from a sign they had written for “Kaş”. In a purple he wrote “goodbye beautiful copaine, we are returning to the road and the winds… for a moment I envied their fate of roads and winds. I know that feeling of road and winds. I know the aliveness of it. Now I am working. That is why I came here.

After?

Roads and winds? I don’t know. I wish I did.

***

played the fourth night. It was a bit of a weird night for me. We are situated in a bit of street where 4,5 bars compete for customers with sound, loud volume music of all sorts… no one stopped… I made mistakes on the first song, couldn’t quite find my groove. It’s hard to play when no one listens. It’s hard to choose what to play, there is nothing to build on. At one point a little girl seemed mesmerized. I’ve noticed a few times how little girls stop to watch with great intensity. Little ones of around 9 years old, big eyed and long haired and sweet looking. The family came inside, she sat right next to me… at the end of the song I talked to her, she was super shy… They left a bit later.

I took a break at 11 when I was about to go back Neco said: forget it. So I sat with them, met new people, a woman painter and a musician. It was nice. I will make some friends. I realize I feel a bit out of sorts… much Turkish spoken and I drift into space… I will learn.. I will learn…

***

Sunday elections day… we take a surprise trip to a village… I am transported into another world. another face of Turkey. in a village… friends meet, they are so beautiful. We eat hand made, organic food… it’s incredible. the vibe, the moon is full. No one frets about the election… they know what will happen and let it be.

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on the way there, Neco and Selda

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the village from the distance

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crazy house cat

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kırmızı biber

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the feast

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on the way out

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this too was like a dream. Cows, chickens, the full moon over us. I drank raki and had to sleep it was too much for me. I laid in a hammock for a while, the full moon above. then I went inside the old homestead which felt so full of human lives… it was so gorgeous. a place you’d think you could disappear into. Make a garden, watch the seasons pass by. If you had friends it wouldn’t be a bad deal.

A surprise in the inbox

August 11, 2014

Of a horse.

Email. You never know what will come, who will find you, what can appear in that inbox. Today I was about to write about my little surprise journey to Gokova, I turned on the laptop, checked messages… I see this header : Khali. Khali? Khali was the best horse I ever had. There are really now way to describe what he was… my equine soulmate…. sounds stupid… but he was magnificent. I had been forced to sell him at a point in my life when I couldn’t even take care of myself anymore because of a severe concussion. All my life I wondered what happened to him. Was he in good hands? A huge heavy guilt had always been in my heart. I felt I had abandoned him… I have had dreams ever since where he would come and visit me…

Then this email, a woman, friend of a childhood friend of mine in Quebec… this feels so far and deep… seems like 5 lifetimes away… they were talking… and made the connection. So in my inbox was a photo of my beautiful Khali, looking good, looking peaceful. I left Quebec in 1989, that was the year this woman bought Khali from the previous owner. I’m trying to put a timeline and all these years are confounded in my mind… I cannot remember…

Here he is, that was us

D&K nap

this is him when this woman had him…

Khali

Time, time, time… history, hearts, stories, this makes me swim in an in-between space between now and then, I am not sure how I feel. I sure am glad he found a good home… She said she had him until he died in 2004. How wild it is to put a date on his death..

Maybe it’s all the change in the last week or so, but I feel a bit like an astronaut floating in space aimlessly these days. To get this email is like going into an unexpected galaxy. Oh Khali… My lion hearted wonder of a horse.