Monthly Archives: September 2008

The spirit is like an ant

purple tulips, istanbul tulip festival, pentax k10d

purple tulips, istanbul tulip festival, pentax k10d

Mathnawi VI: 2955-2962

The spirit is like an ant, and the body like a grain of wheat
which the ant carries to and fro continually.
The ant knows that the grains of which it has taken charge
will change and become assimilated.
One ant picks up a grain of barley on the road;
another ant picks up a grain of wheat and runs away.
The barley doesn’t hurry to the wheat,
but the ant comes to the ant, yes it does.
The going of the barley to the wheat is merely consequential:
it’s the ant that returns to its own kind.
Don’t say, “Why did the wheat go to the barley?”
Fix your eye on the holder, not on that which is held.
As when a black ant moves along on a black felt cloth:
the ant is hidden from view; only the grain is visible on its way.
But Reason says: “Look well to your eye:
when does a grain ever move along without a carrier?”
Mevlana

“Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance”
Camille and Kabir Helminski
Threshold Books, 199

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul

Whispers of love

orange tulip

orange tulip

Whispers of love

Lover whispers to my ear,
“Better to be a prey than a hunter.
Make yourself My fool.
Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck!
Dwell at My door and be homeless.
Don’t pretend to be a candle, be a moth,
so you may taste the savor of Life
and know the power hidden in serving.”

Mevlana


Mathnawi V. 411-414 (translated by Kabir Helminski)
‘The Rumi Collection’, Edited by Kabir Helminski

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul

When someone quotes the old poetic image, Like this

yellow tulips, black tulips from Istanbul tulip festival (pentax k10d)

yellow tulips, black tulips from Istanbul tulip festival (pentax k10d)

Like this

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point
here.

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.

This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, the returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.

Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.

Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.

Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.

Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

Huuuuu.

How did Jacob’s sight return?

Huuuu.

A little wind cleans the eyes.

Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us

Like this.

Mevlana


From ‘The Essential Rumi’, Translations
by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul

Riva castle and visitor

visit to Riva castle

visit to Riva castle

Love rests on no foundation.
It is an endless ocean,
with no beginning or end.
Imagine,
a suspended ocean,
riding on a cushion of ancient secrets.
All souls have drowned in it,
and now dwell there.
One drop of that ocean is hope,
and the rest is fear.

Mevlana

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul

Lovers it is time to set out from the world

yellow tulip

yellow tulip

Lovers
O lovers, lovers it is time
to set out from the world.
I hear a drum in my soul’s ear
coming from the depths of the stars.

Our camel driver is at work;
the caravan is being readied.
He asks that we forgive him
for the disturbance he has caused us,
He asks why we travelers are asleep.

Everywhere the murmur of departure;
the stars, like candles
thrust at us from behind blue veils,
and as if to make the invisible plain,
a wondrous people have come forth.

Mevlana

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XXXVI

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul

Galata Tower (Galata kulesi)


 istanbul

Galata is built on the steep hillside which stretches between Karaköy on the Golden Horn, and Beyoglu on the heights above. The cylindrical Galata Tower , topped by its conical roof, is a convenient landmark.

Galata kulesi (in turkih)

I walked alone in narrow streets of Galata


 istanbul

Narrow and colorful streets  of Galata.

I’ve found a pretty travel blog Euro Trip

Euro Trip – Istanbul

21 – 25 September: Istanbul (Kati writing)

Sunday was a bit of a long, boring, irritating blur.  The plan was to fly MyAir.com from Milan to Istanbul.  Originally, we were going to spend a night in Milan, but from what we had read and heard from other folk, Milan is not the nicest of cities and only really enjoyable if you have lots of money.  So we decided to go straight through from Nice – catch an early train to Milan, then a shuttle to the Orio al Seria airport (which is outside of Milan).

We were supposed to have arrived in Istanbul at about 9pm in the evening, which would have given us some time to wander around and get dinner, but Myair.com changed the flight at the last minute – we only left Milan at 9h30pm and got to Istanbul close to 1 in the morning.  So a lot of time was spent twiddling our thumbs in the airport.

We woke up on Monday and had our first Turkish breakfast on the terrace of the guesthouse we were staying in.  Fruit, olives, bread, cheese, cucumber, tomato and some chocolate cake.  Different, but very tasty and filling.

We then did some exploring of the area we were staying in – the famous Sultanahmet area of Istanbul.  Very touristy but wow – what a place!  One of the oldest parts of the city, so there’s culture and history bursting out of every corner.  We saw a lot over the next few days!

First was the Hippodrome – the remains of a Roman stadium.  It is now a square with two obelisks (one that came from Egypt) and a serpentine statue.  The road that runs around the square follows the original chariot racing track of the hippodrome.  At night, the square is busy and lively and packed with food stalls.  Since it was still Ramadaan, the evening meal is the most important, so we think this added a lot of extra life and energy to the place.  Every evening, we walked past the hippodrome to get back to our hotel and it was packed with people picnicking, socialising, smoking water pipes and enjoying themselves.

Next was the Basilica Cistern –this was an underground cistern for storing water that was built around the 6th century.  It still holds water today and is eerily beautiful with its columns, arched ceilings and dim lights.

On our way to the next stop, the Topkapi Palace, we passed a traditional marching band dressed in Turkish costumes, playing a few tunes and drawing a crowd.  The palace is a vast complex of rooms, chambers and halls, all built under the orders of Mehmet II.  Most interesting was the harem, the spacious and luxurious living quarters of the Sultans’ many concubines.  The palace also has a vast treasury, holding some incredible pieces.  These include Muslim relics and relics from various prophets (I couldn’t help but notice the similarity to the Catholic fascination with the relics of saints).  The palace’s collection also includes an 86 carat diamond!  This was apparently “discovered” by a local peasant about 400 years ago who found it on a rubbish dump and sold it for a few spoons would you believe.

All in all, the palace was fascinating.  Not quite the beauty of the Alcazar in Seville, nor the intricacy and delicacy of the Alhambra in Granada, but still a grand, glorious building.

We spotted a lot of cats in the palace courtyards, lounging about and lapping up the attention of the tourists.  This is something we noticed frequently in Istanbul – healthy, well-fed cats and dogs lounging about all over the place.  People either ignore them or are kind to them, so they have a good life out on the streets!

A place we visited more than once during our stay was the Grand Bazaar – a massive covered market that sold clothes, shoes, souvenirs leather goods, teas, sweets and lots of jewellery.  Quite overwhelming at first and easy to get lost in, but once you’ve wandered around for a bit, you notice that much of the goods are the same and the prices aren’t as cheap as you hoped.  But I did find a cheap scarf and a pair of sunglasses (third pair on this trip. I’m clumsy – can’t help it).

Also on our Sultanahmet tourist list was the Haghia Sophia, probably one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul.  It was originally a Byzantine church then converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul.  This is what makes the place so fascinating – the different layers of influences and religions in this 1,400 year old building.  Really worth the visit!  Across the road is the Blue Mosque, which was built to rival the Haghia Sophia in size and stature.  It’s still a working mosque, but it caters well for non-Muslim tourists who want to view the interior.  They provide plastic bags for you to carry your shoes in and shawls for the ladies to cover their shoulders.  Visitors pass through a cordoned-off area, which is the same area that the women use for praying.  I thought this wasn’t so great for them – how are you supposed to carry out your prayers when there are throngs of tourists hovering about you taking photos and jabbering away? Nevertheless, the Mosque is lovely inside, and covered in valuable blue Iznik tiles, from which it gets its name.

North of the Sultanahmet area is the Beyoglu area, which is also on the European side.  This area is separated by the Golden Horn, which links up with the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara.

The Beyoglu area is easily accessed by the tram line, and is the city’s more modern and decidedly European section, but still contains a number of interesting historical sites.  We visited the Gelata Tower, which provides fantastic 360 degree views of the city.  Also in this area is the nostalgic tram up the hill to Taksim square.  The nostalgic tram is a surviving tram from early tram days in Istanbul, and crawls up the hill of a very fashionable and mod area that’s packed with designer shops, bars and restaurants.

We also visited the Asian side of Istanbul by catching a ferry.  We did this on the advice of a crazy German we had met.  He lives in Istanbul and reckons that the best shopping is on the Asian Side, because that’s where all the locals go.  It is indeed a much more Turkish area – very few people speak English, and not many tourists were spotted. There was a fresh food market with really yummy looking fruits, veggies and sweets, and we stopped at one of the many cafes for some lunch – fresh calamari and fish soup.

Oh yes – the food.  We ate well in this city!  The most common fare is meatballs (kofte) or kebabs.  We ate a lot of that – and although Allan grew a bit weary of it after a while, I couldn’t get enough.  We even visited a famous restaurant that supposedly serves the best meatballs in town.  It was great – the menu was basic, the waiters were nutty (and couldn’t speak much English), but the food and place were great. Locals queue up for ages before sundown to grab their delicious kofte and eat them for breaking of the fast.

On our last day in the city, we did a boat cruise up the Bosphorus (along with hundreds of other tourists).  The cruise is 1.5 hours each way, plus a 2.5 hour stop at Anadolu Kouragi  – a small fishing village on the north-easterly side of the Bosphorus near the mouth of the Black Sea.  The cruise is nice, and very picturesque, and Anadolu Kouragi has a ruined castle on a hill with stunning views of the surrounding sea and river.

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed Istanbul and strongly recommend it as a place to see before you swivel off of this mortal coil!  It’s busy and chaotic at times, but it’s clean, well-organised and fascinating.  It’s truly an East-West city where anyone can fit in and feel comfortable. The kind of place you can happily stroll around in for hours on end.  The city is huge though, so you’d need lots and lots of time to get to know the city well.

So we sadly bid goodbye to the great city on our last day, and headed to the bus station to catch an overnight bus to Selcuk.  The bus station was probably the worst part of our trip here though – total chaos!  Turkey doesn’t have a great train system, so everyone uses buses instead.  In a city of 15 million or so people, that’s a lot of buses…  We almost missed our bus because we had absolutely no idea where it was parked in the vast parking lot of hundreds of buses (literally)!  But luckily, the bus itself made up for the stress of trying to find it by being very luxurious – comfortable seats, and an attendant who looked after your bags, kept you refreshed with cold water, coffee, tea and even some cake.  So we had a fairly pleasant trip to Selcuk, which was part two of our incredible trip in Turkey.

Yavuz Sultan Mosque


 istanbul

a story from Masnavi Book-I .  Original translation is from Sacred Texts

The Prince and the Handmaid.

A prince, while engaged on a hunting excursion, espied a fair maiden, and by promises of gold induced her to accompany him. After a time she fell sick, and the prince had her tended by divers physicians. As, however, they all omitted to say, “God willing,1 we will cure her,” their treatment was of no avail. So the prince offered prayer, and in answer thereto a physician was sent from heaven. He at once condemned his predecessors’ view of the case, and by a very skilful diagnosis, discovered that the real cause of the maiden’s illness was her love for a certain goldsmith of Samarcand. In accordance with the physician’s advice, the prince sent to Samarcand and fetched the goldsmith, and married him to the lovesick maiden, and for six months the pair lived together in the utmost harmony and happiness. At the end of that period the physician, by divine command, gave the goldsmith a poisonous draught, which caused his strength and beauty to decay, and he then lost favour with the maiden, and she was reunited to the king. This Divine command was precisely similar to God’s command to Abraham to slay his son Ishmael, and to the act of the angel in slaying the servant of Moses,2 and is therefore beyond human criticism.
Description of Love.
A true lover is proved such by his pain of heart;
No sickness is there like sickness of heart.
The lover’s ailment is different from all ailments;
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
A lover may hanker after this love or that love,
But at the last he is drawn to the KING of love.
However much we describe and explain love,
When we fall in love we are ashamed of our words.
Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear,
But love unexplained is clearer.
When pen hasted to write,
On reaching the subject of love it split in twain.
When the discourse touched on the matter of love,
Pen was broken and paper torn.
In explaining it Reason sticks fast, as an ass in mire;
Naught but Love itself can explain love and lovers!
None but the sun can display the sun,
If you would see it displayed, turn not away from it.
Shadows, indeed, may indicate the sun’s presence,
But only the sun displays the light of life.
Shadows induce slumber, like evening talks,
But when the sun arises the “moon is split asunder.” 3
In the world there is naught so wondrous as the sun,
But the Sun of the soul sets not and has no yesterday.
Though the material sun is unique and single,
We can conceive similar suns like to it.
But the Sun of the soul, beyond this firmament,
No like thereof is seen in concrete or abstract.4
Where is there room in conception for His essence,
So that similitudes of HIM should be conceivable?
Shamsu-‘d-Din of Tabriz importunes Jalalu-‘d-Din
to compose the Masnavi.
The sun (Shams) of Tabriz is a perfect light,
A sun, yea, one of the beams of God!
When the praise was heard of the “Sun of Tabriz,”
The sun of the fourth heaven bowed its head.
Now that I have mentioned his name, it is but right
To set forth some indications of his beneficence.
That precious Soul caught my skirt,
Smelling the perfume of the garment of Yusuf;
And said, “For the sake of our ancient friendship,
Tell forth a hint of those sweet states of ecstasy,
That earth and heaven may be rejoiced,
And also Reason and Spirit, a hundredfold.”
I said, “O thou who art far from ‘ The Friend,’
Like a sick man who has strayed from his physician,
Importune me not, for I am beside myself;
My understanding is gone, I cannot sing praises.
Whatsoever one says, whose reason is thus astray,
Let him not boast; his efforts are useless.
Whatever he says is not to the point,
And is clearly inapt and wide of the mark.
What can I say when not a nerve of mine is sensible?
Can I explain ‘The Friend’ to one to whom He is no Friend?
Verily my singing His praise were dispraise,
For ‘twould prove me existent, and existence is error.5
Can I describe my separation and my bleeding heart?
Nay, put off this matter till another season.”
He said, ” Feed me, for I am an hungered,
And at once, for ‘the time is a sharp sword.’
O comrade, the Sufi is ‘the son of time present.’ 6
It is not the rule of his canon to say, ‘To-morrow.’
Can it be that thou art not a true Sufi?
Ready money is lost by giving credit.”
I said, “‘Tis best to veil the secrets of ‘The Friend.’
So give good heed to the morals of these stories.
That is better than that the secrets of ‘The Friend’
Should be noised abroad in the talk of strangers.”
He said, “Without veil or covering or deception,
Speak out, and vex me not, O man of many words!
Strip off the veil and speak out, for do not I
Enter under the same coverlet as the Beloved?”
I said, “If the Beloved were exposed to outward view,
Neither wouldst thou endure, nor embrace, nor form.
Press thy suit, yet with moderation;
A blade of grass cannot, pierce a mountain.
If the sun that illumines the world
Were to draw nigher, the world would be consumed.7
Close thy mouth and shut the eyes of this matter,
That, the world’s life be not made a bleeding heart.
No longer seek this peril, this bloodshed;
Hereafter impose silence on the ‘Sun of Tabriz.'”
He said, “Thy words are endless. Now tell forth
All thy story from its beginning.”
NOTES:
1. As enjoined in Koran xviii. 23. One cannot converse with a strict Mosalman for five minutes without hearing the formula, “In sha Allah Ta’alla,” or D. V.
2. Koran xviii. 73.
3. Koran liv. I.
4. There is a tradition, “I know my Lord by my Lord.”
5. See Gulshan i Raz, I. 400. In the state of union self remains not.
6. The Sufi is the “son of the time present,” because he is an Energumen, or passive instrument moved by the divine impulse of the moment. “The time present is a sharp sword,” because the divine impulse of the moment dominates the Energumen, and executes its decrees sharply. See Sohravardi quoted in Notices et Extraits des MSS., xii. 371 note.
7. “When its Lord appears in glory to the Mount of existence, Existence is laid low, like the dust of the road.” Gulshan i Raz, I. 195.

Love Requires Two People

white tulip

white tulip

Love Requires Two People

Direction of wind changes
Leaves fade suddenly
Ship loses its way on the sea
looks for a harbor in vain
Laughter of a stranger
has already stolen your lover;
The poison gathered in you
will kill only itself
The only thing experienced alone is death
Love requires two people

Even its a memory did not remain
from lovemaking during nights
The skin I touched thousands times
the poems you can write is thousands year far.

Ataol Behramoglu

Aşk İki Kişiliktir

Değişir rüzgarın yönü,
Solar ansızın yapraklar;
Şaşırır yolunu denizde gemi,
Boşuna bir liman arar.
Gülüşü bir yabancının,
Çalmıştır senden sevdiğini;
İçinde biriken zehir,
Sadece kendini öldürecektir;
Ölümdür yaşanan tek başına
Aşk iki kişiliktir.

Bir anı bile kalmamıştır,
Geceler boyu sevişmelerden;
Binlerce yıl uzaklardadır,
Binlerce kez dokunduğun ten;
Yazabileceğin şiirler,

Ataol Behramoglu

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul
Ataol Behramoglu
Ataol Behramoğlu was born in 1942 in Çatalca near İstanbul and graduated in Russian Language and Literature. He spent part of his life in exile in Paris and Moscow. His collections of poetry are Ne Yağmur…Ne Şiirler (Neither Rain… Nor Poems, 1976), Kuşatmada (During the Siege, 1978), Mustafa Suphi Destan (Epic of Moustapha Suphi, 1979), Dörtlükler (Quatrains, 1980), Bebeklerin Ulusu Yok (Babies don’t have Nations, 1988), Sevgilimsi (You are my Beloved, 1993), Aşk İki Kişiktir (Love is two Person Thing, 1999), Yeni Aşka Gazel (Gazel to a new Love, 2002). He was arrested and sentenced to hard labour as a member of the Turkish Peace Association in 1982, and subsequently went into exile in France where he studied, worked and lived until 1989, when he was acquitted in Turkey. His Epic of Moustapha Suphi (1987/88) was the first play in Turkish staged at the 1989 Avignon Theatre Festival. He was the president of the Turkish Writers Syndicate between 1995-1999, and has been the literary and political critic on staff of the Cumhuriyet daily since 1995. He is the Associate professor and Chairman of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the Istanbul University. In 2003 he was awarded The Great Prize of Poetry 2003 by Turkish International P.E.N.

completely clear-hearted

white tulips

white tulips

Let go of your worries

Let go of your worries
and be completely clear-hearted,
like the face of a mirror
that contains no images.
If you want a clear mirror,
behold yourself
and see the shameless truth,
which the mirror reflects.
If metal can be polished
to a mirror-like finish,
what polishing might the mirror
of the heart require?
Between the mirror and the heart
is this single difference:
the heart conceals secrets,
while the mirror does not.
Mevlana

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII

taken by Pentax K10D, at Istanbul