Wednesday, December 30, 2009
It's Amazing how I can put so much time into things that are really so unimportant, but can't seem to find time to do something that is important, which is to work on my writing. But, with each little post I make, I hope it will get my brain going and guide me towards making bigger, better, more interesting posts. It's one of those baby step things, I guess.
Monday, December 28, 2009
In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great New Year. My resolution will be to write more. No, I I should say that my resolution is to actually write.
Friday, December 25, 2009
I would write more, but, man am I tired. Christmas is tiring! The sugar high induced by fists full of chocolate and candy, followed a bit later by a thudding crash once the sugar stops doing it's thing is part of the reason, I suppose. Excitement? Yes. Even as an adult, after all of these years, Christmas is still exciting. And, now, with a one year old, it is starting to get even more exciting. Oh sure, our little guy is a bit young still to really know what is happening...but, he still have a fun day and it enriched our Christmas experience as a result. And, it's only going to get better as the years go on.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Now that we have a one year old, our traveling style has changed somewhat. We asked the hotel to arrange for a driver to pick us up. I usually frown on this and disuade my wife from ordering such a service, but, I have softened in this stance recently. A driver arrived. He ferried us out to his BMW, bundled us in, and headed down the road. While en route, said BMW lost all power and died...just a few short miles from the BMW factory. Not a ringing endorsement for BMW. I will always remember this warning should we decide to purchase a car we really can't afford anyway.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I shouldn't say that. I have been working on several posts, and eventually they should make it to my blog. It's a slow, slow process this getting the brain functioning once more. It's never functioned at 100 percent anyway. It's always been a bit out of whack, one could say.
With that said, I shall go and work on the posts I one day intend to actually post with the hopes that those intentions will become realities.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Why? My brain has not been working at all. It's kinda like a jelly fish floating around in a sea of...of...uh...what was I thinking about again? Oh yes, cake. I could go for some cake.
Spending everyday with our one year old son does seem to be having that effect on me. I can no longer communicate with adults. I can only talk using one word sentences...and one word doesn't even make a sentence. And sometimes that word doesn't even sound like a word. But, somehow, it has become a word to me because my son, who also uses these words, has convinced me that they are indeed words.
Given that, it's time to get back into writing to help me remember that, yes, there are actual, full length sentences and more than grunts, squeals, and whines to our language.
Don't get me wrong. I do take time when my wife is home to go out and do some exploring in our new and exciting land. However, much of it is spent in the desert, where I end up seeing, and communicating with camels using much the same language as with my son, or in solitude along the shores of the Gulf, where, again, the birds that make their home there sound an awful lot like a one year old.
So, with all of this said, I am turning over a new leaf, as they say, and getting back into writing words down to try and get my "jelly fish-fied" brain back on track...back working!
If you don't see another post for a while, you'll know it didn't quite work as planned.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Obviously, I have not posted in a while. So, I am making up for it with this mammoth book length post. I've just been having this email discussion with a person I used to work with at one point. It is insane. He is insane. I can't believe we are having this conversation. I can't believe what it is I am reading. So, I have to share it with someone! "Why not make it into a blog," I said? "Why not," I said right back!
Here is the background. We were living in ....Turkey..... This guy comes to work at the same school as us. It doesn’t take long for him to make a name for himself, openly saying the rudest things at the most inappropriate times to people. I mean, he was a dick. He made a lot of people very angry. He came to live in a Muslim country, and while doing so was openly hostile to Muslims. There was a lot of crap related to him, all kinds of stories. Alcohol didn’t help matters much it is fair to say. Then, one day, he left. He picked up, moved out, left his job behind, left his key in the door and was gone…the bank looking for him, his colleagues screwed and people shaking there heads.
We had previously been “friends” on Facebook where we would get in arguments. Like I said, he was openly hostile to Muslims and about Islam. One day, while he was writing about how he thinks Muslims are trying to take over the world and are infiltrating countries, hellbent on creating an Islamic planet, I brought up the fact that there are extremists who say the EXACT same thing about Jews. Well, this pissed him off, he defriended me and wrote me an email that was less than nice, got very defensive, etc. Okay, well, I was just pointing out a fact, and trying to show just how radical he sounded. It didn’t go over big. He was angry, telling me I didn’t know anything because I didn’t know what it was like to be a minority (Jewish and gay) and that I had been brainwashed…or…whatever…some such stuff as that.
Fast forward to now. My family and I just moved to ....Qatar..... For some reason, out of the blue, he writes me:
SS: So now, I guess, you are going to pretend that the geographic expression that is ....Qatar.... is a great place to live. Such a nice locale to raise a family, however. Antisemitism, misogyny, hatred of the West and mediocrity are in the water there so you must feel right at home.
ME: ....Qatar.... is what it is. All places are what they are. It has it's pluses, it's minuses, it's faults and it's advantages. There are so great people. There are some not so great people. It's another place in the world to see and experience. What can I tell ya? And...you? Where have you fled to these days?
SS: I have fled as far away from muslims as I possibly could. I am living in southern ....Minnesota..... 100 percent progressive tolerant christians.
I work in a lab testing soil for all sorts of things I don't understand.
Get back to the prairies of ..North America.. and have a lot more babies.
I have a blog now in which I say a lot of apologetic things about Islam.
ME: Ah, yes.....Southern Minnesota... I was just in your area not too long ago. Well, ....Minneapolis...., so, closer to your area. I like that part of the world.
Well, things are going well in the ....land.. of ..Muslims.... here. We all sit around and talk about Jews all day long. It's all that anyone really does here. Nothing else...just hang around, talk about Jews. It's grand.
I will check out your blog...it should be interesting.
A lab testing soil?? How the heck does one go from teaching English to testing soil? Regardless, it sounds like you have taken a different turn in your life now that I hope is working out well for you.
(At this point, I check out his blog...)
Why you have dedicated your life to such hatred is beyond me. Spreading hate? How is that solving anything? Stop playing the victim. Stop with your hatred and your bigotry. Give it a rest.
SS: You are misreading me completely.
Firstly, I am not a victim of anything, despite being a member of a few historically oppressed minority groups. I am, rather, motivated by not wanting to be a victim.
I am the beneficiary of the West and chose to embrace it and appreciate it. That accident of birth allowed me to be who I am. The only thing I can be accused of is not appreciating it sooner in my life and wasting too much time and intellectual energy on delusional apologetics for the left and tyranny like you currently do.
We are heirs of the greatest culture and civilization the world has ever seen. It has produced everything that is good and right and free. That freedom was bought at a heavy price and a long, harsh historical process that you might know very little about. I don't wish to spit on the memory of the millions who died to allow me to be who I am. What are you choosing?
Islam is the greatest threat to that tradition of individual freedom since fascism and communism and I decided not to burry my head in the Arabian sand when confronted with this very real and present danger.
Islam is on the march and has raised its ugly, genocidal, totalitarian head again after centuries of dormancy. It wishes to strip us of our liberal freedoms, repress women, throw gays off tall mountains (according to Sharia, mind you), and erase all traces of other religions if not kill them outright as their "prophet" did in days of old. This is not based on anything I say but what muslims say every day in every mosque in every corner of the world, whether they are black, Arabs, Turks, Chinese, red, or purple.
Now you can look at all that and decide who is spreading "hatred and bigotry," me or them. And who embraces individual freedom, diversity, and who defends the rights for women and sexual and religious minorities, me or them.
We at Savage Infidel will dedicate our lives to that and not be frightened or silenced by accusations of hatred and bigotry because they are simply untrue.
ME: Wonderful. It looks like you have added elements of ultra nationalism to your list of extreme right wing views.
I just thought I would share some links with you...
All lovely reading about Jewish extremism, involving riots, murder, fraud, homophobia, and facism. Enjoy!
Just TWO of many groups that contradict some of your statements.
The point is, as you point fingers seemingly ONLY at muslims (and seemingly ALL muslims) you ignore what is happening within your own religion, and other religions. You ignore the history of your own people by using the exact same rhetoric that was used to help the holocaust happen (among other genocides). You are filled with extreme hate, and have taken an extreme stance, seemingly devoting your life to fighting against something without looking at all sides. You just see what you want to see. Most unfortunate. What is worse is that YOU have the power to do something positive. You have been a teacher, and apparently a good one. How can attitudes be changed in the world? Through education. For reasons unknown, you have shunned this route and decided to dedicate yourself to being an extremist. Sad. What a waste.
SS: I do not really care about some sectarian Orthodox conflict in ..Brooklyn... But I am glad that you are spending your time on such nonsense. At least your are consistent in your intellectual folly.
Are these articles meant to present some sort of equivocally with Islamic jihad? Let's even say they are. Jews who commit crimes are punished whether in ..Israel.. or ....America..... No Jew defends or justifies crime. Jews are clearly morally and intellectually superior to much of the rest of the world. OUr behavior is beyond reproach. I do not wish to toot our horn but in the face of a wave of antisemitism it doesn't heard to reming gentiles of the facts.
All of Jihad is based in the tenets of Islam. Jewish crimes have nothing to do with Judaism. THey are just jews committing crimes. But all these words are lost on you. You most likely think that blacks in prison are there because of us racism and not because they committed violent crimes.
In the meantime I am watching the news about a Muslim who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers after he shouted Allahu Akbar.
Don't forget to visit Savage Infidel. He is very active and correct in his approach to the news.
ME: Um....holy crap, I can't believe I just read this. Jews are clearly morally and intellectually superior to much of the rest of the world? That is a whole pile of bullshit. Oh well, I haven't come to really expect rational thought from you anyway, so all I can do is laugh and wish you the best of luck.
SS: I think you will find that there are very few Jews in prison. There are very few Jews on welcome. There are very few cases of incest among jews. Jews have the highest scores on ACT verbal tests. Jews are less likely to get divorced. Etc. Jews are more likely to get Nobel Prizes than any other people on earth. Jews are more likely to be heads of academic departments at major universities. Etc.
Jews are also more likely to write best selling works of fiction and nonfiction than gentiles. Jews are also more likely to down play their achievements more than any other religious group. Jew are more likely to be funnier than gentiles as well as eat better food in larger qualities.
ME: think you will find that Jews will go to a country, offend a whole pile of people and then flee in the middle of the night, leaving their colleagues and students high and dry, the bank looking for them, and then turn around and tell you how great they are...at least one Jew I know does that. Not the best representative of your religion there.
Anyway, once again, it is clear that you have a very fucked up view of the world, and no sense of reality.
I think you will find that your view isn't going to get you very far in this world and makes you look like an arrogant dick who doesn't pay much attention to the world around him. I would say the slaughter of 1300 Palestinians was a pretty good representation at how low the occupying state of ....Israel.... will actually go. And then, after committing brutal war crimes, will bully and coerce anyone who points this fact out and start throwing around the anti-antisemitism card.
What I think you will find is that, in reality, we are all people...all humans. The idea that one group is far superior to others because of the religion they have chosen is bullshit. That is warped. What scares me is that you just seem to be getting more fanatical. Your rhetoric is mind blowing. I just wonder how far you are going to go with this all? How long before you are signing up with the Israeli army, itching to start killing Muslims?
SS: Oh poo hoo fuck Bilkent and those asshole muslims who run the place. I am glad I took money from them. I will never ever pay them a lira for it.
I was acting as an individual and not a representative of my people. I do not dismiss all christians as delusional liberals who are useful idiots for muslims just because you are.
ME: I should hope you were acting as an individual...and you proved that you are a pretty low individual. It is sad. What a waste...once again.
Besides, if you are referring to me, I'm not christian.
SS: You get scared by a lot of things besides Islamic jihad.
You are no intellectual competition for me when it comes to knowledge of ....Israel.... and its history.
If you really think that ....Israel.... is in some advantageous position in this world when it comes to its perception, you are fucking mental. My position is in the minority. You are in the position of having a lot of stupid people believing like you that ....Israel.... is a problem and commits war crimes. That is a big heaping pile of bullshit.
It sounds like you are a member of Islamic Jihad so that makes sense that you reject Christian belief.
ME: So, when the argument is turned around on you, you start to lose it...as usual. Rational? No. Come on, you can't be serious. You cannot be looking at the world in such a completely warped, one sided way. Just to think about how ridiculous this all is...how blatantly insane this whole conversation with you has been...it's scary. The things you are saying? Come on...nothing but extremist rhetoric. Again, I still wonder where all of this is going to lead YOU?
In terms of violence, no I don't condone it. I don't condone terrorist activities. But, I also don't condone sweeping statements and extreme rhetoric against a whole group of people.
SS: I am a defender of western civilization and its freedoms. I am not really interested where it leads me. But I feel it is my responsibility to stand up for the freedoms that I enjoy and inherited. That seems like a good thing to me. I am not really interested in seeing sides that blames Jews and ....America.... for problems in the world. That is the least rational thing on the face of the planet.
ME: So, your willing to completely trash other societies, ideas, beliefs, etc...but completely shut yourself off when it comes to criticism of the world around you?
SS: Whatever. I don't get where you are going with that. But yes I am completely willing to trash other societies.
And by the way, do you really think God cares that you're agnostic?
ME: Huh? I don't get what your asking.
SS: Your problem is, besides being borderline antisemetic, is that you are the victim of multiculturalist nonsense which dictates that you must view things from that paradigm. That is a problem. So I would argue that I am much more intellectually free than you are.
I am more than willing to point out the problems of Jewish life. But those things are private and really do not concern gentiles. ....America.... has its problems and I would be more than willing to point them out. But why should I when the voices are already so numerous. The greatest problem in our world today is Islam and not enough people are saying it. That is where I come in.
ME: Borderline antisemetic? Because I tried to point out that the world isn't quite as you see it and that people of all faiths do horrible things, I am antisemetic? No, I'm not. I've never understood hatred against Jews. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
No concern to gentiles?? I see...interesting.
The greatest problem in the world today? Islam? No. Extremism is a huge issue, and based on your view, you are adding to the extremism.
SS: People do horrible things. Many of them are members of religions.
Muslims do horrible things in the name of Islam. Get that through your head.
Extremism does not exist among Jews. This is a myth and it does not exist among Christians. Also a big myth.
Yes, the problems among Jews, such as they exist beyond the real existential threat, are not your concern and remain a private matter for Jews to deal with. You can read all you like about sectarian differences in the hasidische communities of ....New York.... if you find that shit interesting. It seems to me that you are using it as fader for you moral equivalent arguments and that gets close to antisemitism.
I have posted your mail and my response from a few days ago on my blog fyi. I have withheld your name to protect the intellectually deficient.
ME: Again...you honestly belief all of this? You honestly don't believe that horrible things are done in the name of a christian or jewish god?
What I was trying to argue and show with ONE of the articles I presented is that within each religion, there is a wide band of interpretation...including very extreme views. I was not trying to demonize your religion. I was also trying to point out that there are Muslim groups who speak out AGAINST extremism and violence and point out that the Koran does NOT condone these activities.
I wish you could see that there are many interfaith groups who are working for peace and against radicalism on all sides. I wish you could see that for the most part, muslims, christians, jews and people of every religion live amongst each other and for the most part, everything is just fine. I wish you could see that radicalism, extremism is dangerous and adding to that is not helping anyone. I wish you could see that you are not part of an elite society that is superior to everyone else...that you are a human, surrounded by other humans, and we must live together, although there is no denying that there are people who make that difficult through extreme rhetoric and actions. You, unfortunately, seem to have chosen to be one of those extremists.
……And, that has been the conversation thus far.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Qatar's roads are infamous for being life threatening. To the credit of the Qatar government, they have been working very hard to change the situation. However, there are folks who just don't give a flying squirrel about other drivers on the road and do whatever they please, at whatever speed they wish to do it. This makes driving a tense...and intense...experience.
As a throwback to the days of Qatar being a British Protectorate, there are round-a-bouts everywhere. Now, round-a-bouts are scary enough to a North American like me as it is, but to be on these things when no one is actually following the rules of the round-a-bout, and not following those rules at breakneck speeds, is, once again, heart stoppingly scary at times.
We have rented a nice little Nissan Tiida. Lovely little car. But, that is the main problem...it's little. Little cars don't seem to fare so well. One needs the biggest frickin' vehicle possible to get real respect on the road. I was talkin' to the guy next door who bought himself a Hummer. I asked him how it was for driving. He said it was great...that because of the size of it, he actually got respect on the road...as if people feared the thing. He didn't get people driving on his bumper trying to shove him out of the way anymore, like he did when he had a Tiida sized car. So, all we have to do is save our Riyal's and get ourselves a Hummer, and then, it sounds like the problem will be solved!
Mind you, having an large, off-road vehicle would be nice anyway. As it is, I have been taking the rental car places where the rental car really shouldn't be taken. A Nissan Tiida is not built for driving around in the rocky, scrubby type of desert that can be found immediately around Doha. That doesn't mean it can't be done. I have been doing it. This poor car is not going to have much of an underside when I'm done with it, lemme tell ya.
All in all, this car has added a new dimension to the Doha experience. And so far, I have lived to write about it.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Okay, so, the story thus far. We are in Doha, Qatar. It is HOT, it is sandy, and it is interesting. Gigantasaurus buildings are everywhere. What for, I'm not sure. But, they are being built, left, right and center...especially center. The other day, I was downtown and it was rather surreal to be standing in the unfinished parking lot of a skyscraper that was empty. It had obviously just been finished. I have never seen a brand new skyscraper. Here it was, towering above me, stark and dark. All around were other half finished buildings surrounded by cranes and big constructing machines. So, they offered no light, or warmth. It felt more like a scene from an apocalypse than the birth of a new city. But, there is no doubt, it is another piece of what promises to be a pretty amazing city in the end, depending on ones view of what an amazing city is, of course. I guess the true test will come when it is all done, and residents take up space in these pillars. Then the true personality of the place will come out. The architecture, the ideas and the sheer scale of the projects are impressive, there is no denying that.
So, that's downtown, along the water front. Then, there is where we live. It's dusty, hot, and rather dull looking, but that is part of it's charm. Villa after villa that look identical are being put up faster than one can say, "Hey, could you build me a villa?" They are all massive, and, mostly empty at the moment, hidden away behind walls...compounds really. It wasn't that long ago that this would have been just barren desert. It still is, really, it just has villas on top of it. I like it though. There are enough gaps, enough spaces, enough odd little places mixed in to make it interesting. The odd shop here or there that looks pretty run down, right next a brand new McDonald's adds contrast. Big, expensive cars driving by migrant workers dressed in dusty, sweaty clothes. People hanging around mosques, skinny cats diving in to dumpsters, cars speeding by, kids whizzing around on bikes...there is life amongst the walled compounds.
And, as far as people go, I can't say I have actually met anyone who is from Qatar yet. I have met people from India, Nepal, Egypt, Iran, Canada, and seemingly anywhere else BUT Qatar. It makes sense in many ways. Only 30 percent of the population is from Qatar. The rest are here to help build Qatar, work in the oil industry, help the country become a leader for education, and sell hamburgers.
So far, it's an interesting place. I will try to continue to write about it, as much for me as for any other reason. Like when I was in Turkey, I do want to keep a record of what I am experiencing. It is worth it. These have been amazing experiences, and I'm sure there will be plenty more coming in the near future. At least, there better be!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Obviously, we are now here. So far, I have not seen much of the place, but what I have seen is very dusty.
Whence it starts cooling down, I hope to be able to see more. Right now, I've been seeing great things like the swimming pool in our compound. It is a glorious thing, even though it is as hot as...well....a hot tub. It's still an escape.
On a related note, I have now begun my full time job in Doha...being a stay at home dad. So far, so good. The two days I did it worked out a-okay. I stress....two days. This promises to be the most challenging job I will have ever had...and possibly ever will have. Can I do it?
I think so.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
So, first off, my wife got a job in Dubai, and thus ended her contract in Turkey. Now, she got an even better job in Doha, Qatar, and we are no longer going to Dubai...we are going to Doha.
In the meantime, before we go in August, we are homeless, per say. I mean, we are staying at the houses of our parents, and that has been great...but, at the same time...well, it's not our home. I don't mind not having a home, but it does become much more challenging when you have a baby! But, we are managing.
Right now, I have no clue what is going on. I don't know how much money we have. I don't know where half of our stuff is. I don't know where my second rechargeable battery ended up, my diet is completely out of wack, I'm experiencing plenty of culture shock, and I need new socks and underwear....I think. I might have enough, but where they are, I have no idea.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Well, on Twitter yesterday I posted a link and said "Please remember the Armenian Genocide." Now, this is a very sensitive issue in Turkey. It's a no-go topic pretty much, and I found it difficult to handle while I was in the country. From everything that I have read and listened to, there is no doubt in my mind that in 1915, towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, there was a genocide of Armenians in Turkey. Yet, not only the Turkish government, but it seems most of Turkey's citizens steadfastly deny that this is true. Public debate is non existent. Even suggesting it gets blood boiling. And, obviously, it got this friend angry, and he has blocked me. That is his choice, though I feel bad about it.
The reality is, there is not a country in the world without skeletons in it's closet. This includes Canada and what has happened in this country to the aboriginal population, which was horrible...and still is in so many ways. But, it is important to deal with these issues. When a country denies what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to an issue like genocide, it is creating a sad situation. How frustrating it must be for Armenians to know that their culture in Ottoman Turkey was destroyed in brutal ways, and then to have the extra insult of complete denial of these atrocities thrown in their faces. Accounts abound from within the Armenian community, from representatives from other nations who were in Turkey at the time, in newspaper reports in the US and Britain, etc., of what was going on. Before these events there were other mass slaughters of Armenians. There was an utter contempt for Armenians. They were dehumanized within what what was left of the Ottoman empire, seen as a danger, and a hindrance to a Pan-Turkish dream. I don't see how it can be said that a genocide did not happen. But, there is an insistence within Turkey that it was not so. Why? Why is this denial so strong? I do not understand? If it happened...and, like I said, based on what I have read and heard, I believe that it did...then why deny it? What advantage can possibly be gained by doing this? All it creates is pain and resentment all around. If the country thinks it is fooling the outside world, it is wrong. If the country thinks that they are not causing damage to their reputation, then they are wrong. It baffles and saddens me. Turkey is a fantastic country. The people are warm and friendly...VERY warm and friendly. The sights are incredible. It has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The father of Turkey, Ataturk was a progressive, interesting person who did amazing things for the country. It is a wonderful place. There is a lot for the people of Turkey to be proud of! Acknowledging the acts of 1915 to be a genocide cannot take away from what Turkey has become and can be in the future. Again, there is no country without faults. There are still issues that need to be dealt with in the Turkey, including the treatment of the Kurdish population, and the gap between the rich and the poor as just a few examples. But, this is reality. All countries have issues to deal with. Turkey is no exception. That doesn't mean it is not a great place, because it truly is, and I loved being there and miss it so much. I would LOVE to go back. The experiences that I had there were incredible.
So, yes, I don't think there can be any doubt that a genocide occurred there. Owning up to it is important. Debate is important. Discussion is important. It is a topic that should be tackled. It can no longer be a no-go issue. Turkey and it's citizens must look at those events and talk about them...consider acknowledging them as a genocide...understand them...and move on. Turkey is too great of a country to NOT do this. I hope my friend can one day be a part of this discussion.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Anyway, we are no longer in Turkey. Two years has come to an end. Next up, Dubai. Judging by what the internet tells me about the weather there, it looks like it might be the hottest place on the planet. How my pale Canadian skin is going to handle that, I'm not sure. We shall see.
But, looking back, I just can't believe we are no longer living in Turkey. That two years went by so fast. I miss it. That was an amazing time and an amazing country. I wish I was still there. But, life does keep going on...and on...and on...and now it's time for a new adventure, of course. However, this is a good time to reflect. Right now we are in Canada, staying at my parents house for the moment. It's sort of a down time. I've been catching my breathe, thinking about the past...and the future...absorbing it all...adjusting...trying to understand.
So, Turkey....how do I sum up the past two years? I don't even know. Everything I saw and experienced...wow. What I learned...again...wow. I don't even know where to start. To go from Canada to Turkey on the one hand seemed like such a massive change in culture...and yet, there are so many things that I found were universal. To go from a predominately christian country to a predominately muslim country taught me a lot. Being on the other side of the planet, away from everyone and everything I was familiar with...big learning experience. The traveling I was able to do... Bulgaria, Egypt, Germany, Ukraine, France, England, Belgium....they were all within easy reach, and I got to spend time in these places. Different cultures, different people, different music, different foods, different realities...they were all available to me and I did everything I could to take it all in! I saw things I never, ever thought I would see. Istanbul? I didn't think in a million years I would ever see Istanbul. I saw it, and I loved it...still love it. We met so many interesting people...at work, while travelling, through living! And, the biggest event of all, our son was born in Turkey! Wow...again. I know, I know, this is all seeming so vague. And it is. I'm just skimming the surface. It's so much to think about...so many small events, experiences, that combine together over a couple of years. I've written a lot about specific things that have happened in my old livejournal blog. I've taken thousands of pictures and pasted them up on facebook and flickr. But, there are still so many stories to write. There is still so much that can be analyzed...laughed about...cringed over...and I want to savour these...all of these things as I think about them, and hopefully write MORE about them....
And the future? Dubai? Another wow. That's not a place I ever thought I would see. That's in a part of the world I never thought I would live in. Within a few months, that is where we will be! Unbelievable! I love life. I love this life. I love my life. I love what has happened. I love what I expect to happen. I have written the word wow a few times...and I will write it again....WOW!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
On a completely different note, there was an attempted suicide bomb attack at school yesterday. That was a little freaky.
I have more to write about that.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I just reserved my spot on a train to Kars, leaving Ankara at 1:30pm on Thursday afternoon. I'm looking quite forward to this. I haven't been on a good adventure in a while, and I'm in the mood for one, given the fact that it is spring and all. It still looks pretty cold out east, but I can take it. I'm Canadian!
Traveling in Turkey is great. It's pretty darn cheap. I am going on a 1000 and some kilometer journey, in a sleeping car, for 89 Turkish Lira. That seems like a good deal to me. I haven't figured out where I will sleep or anything once I get there. Hopefully there will be some nice ditches, or small wooded areas or something. Or, I suppose, better yet...and safer...would be to find a relatively cheap hotel.
So, this is what I know about Kars. Apparently, they have lots of different types of cheeses. This is significant because the rest of Turkey does NOT have a lot of different types of cheeses. Why Kars does, I dunno. This area of Turkey was part of the Soviet Union for a good number of years so, there is plenty of interesting Eastern European architecture, or so I hear. The town is not far from the Armenian or Georgian borders. There is an interesting place not far from Kars called Ani, which promises to be interesting, if I can figure out how to get there. It used to be a midevil Armenian town that is now abandoned. It seems to be the big thing to see in that area.
Over all, I'm just looking forward to getting on a train and going! It's a bit different nowday, given that we have a little family. I'm going to miss our little son a whole lot, and of couse my wife. And, I know it will be very hard on my wonderful wife to be left alone with the little guy. This will be the first time that I have gone on a trip like this since he was born, so, it will be a new experience. There will be a learning curve. But, I think we can all do it.
So, Thursday, 1:30, Ankara train station....I shall be there.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Now, there is an old lady who lives up in that castle. She can often be seen either giving out religious literature, attempting to get people to come into her house for a fee to see what a real Ottoman home is like, or setting up a small, sad display of second hand items on a TV tray to sell. She's a bit of an odd duck. Generally when I see her, she is yelling at someone about something. This time...it was me that she was yelling at. I had sat for, maybe a minute when she saw me, and started yelling. She grabbed a water container filled with water, running towards me yelling "GET UP! GET UP!" She speaks perfect English. I was caught rather by surprise, and in not the best of moods to begin with. I said "No!". Oh boy, she was screaming and yelling about this stone and how it is a historical relic and it must be preserved (well, I can't honestly say that she wasn't 100 percent right on this subject, and, realistically, it might not have been the best idea to sit there) and she kept yelling at me to get up because she wanted to pour water on the stone so I couldn't sit their anymore. She started yelling at me and asking me if I would I would do this in my country. I yelled back "I LIVE HERE! This IS my country!" And, if I was in Canada where I am originally from, yes, I probably would sit on a square rock, and it would probably be just as old as that one...say 4.2 billion years or however old the earth is...that's generally how old many rocks are. Oh sure, there are newer ones...upgraded models if you will. But, most rocks are pretty darn old. And, this one appeared to have survived a good few thousand years, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to actually break it. It was good and solid, as rocks tend to be. Heavy. I wasn't about to obscond with it or anything. It was fairly safe as far as I was concerned.
I was mad. I was livid. I was feisty. I was not putting up with this lady. We had a good row. I told her off. She told me off. We assembled a good crowd of onlookers, and, then, a very nice gentleman stepped in, and he was very nice. I would not have moved for that lady, but this guy, yes, I would move for. And I did. But, ohhh, this lady...grrrrr. The problem is, when incidents like these happen, I have so much trouble letting go of them. They stay with me for years. They come up and they haunt me. When I'm lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, my mind will race, and things like this pop in and get me all wired up. I can imagine myself 10 years from now, whereever we happen to be, lying in bed at 2am thinking about this lady in the castle in Ankara and saying "I wish I had said...."
I wish I broke that block...just out of spite.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
I hope this picture of chickens that I took a few weeks ago in the Yenimahalle district in the city of Ankara can distract from the terrible grammar, all of the typos and general slopiness of my last post.
In the shadow of bland, pastel coloured apartment blocks are chickens...and goats...and sheep...and all kinds of other farm friends. I love this city.
And, this Rufus Wainwright does Judy Garland disc that I'm listening to is pretty great as well.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I'm also thinking of another stab at Bulgaria. I want last year for a few days and really quite liked it. I went to Plovdiv. I'm thinking of going to Sofia. In particular, I want to go to a football game, especially a CSKA match. This team has a hardcore following of neo-nazi skinheads. I'm sure other Bulgarian teams do to, but this one I know for sure does. I don't know why I have an interested in seeing these guys doing their neo-nazi thing at a football game, but I do. Partly, I think, because I have never experienced that. I will avoid wearing my t-shirt that features a swastika with a giant red line through the middle. I may get beat up.
As well, I'm interested in the South East of Turkey, a mostly Kurdish area, which has been very unsettled for many years. I would like to go to the province of Hakkari...to see the point where Iraq, Iran and Turkey meet. I have this desire to at least see the Iraq border. I'd love to go to Iraq, and I know that it is possible, but, I don't know if I'm that adventorous yet. A friend of mine was there during the recent elections as an observer representing the UN. I think she has the best job on the planet. She gets to see Obama in Istanbul. Damn her.
I'm also thinking about Diyarbikar or Van, maybe Mardin. There is just so much to see here in Turkey, and I wonder how I can see it all! I know that isn't realistic or possible, but, I can try. But, even beyond Turkey's borders...Georgia, Iran, Armenia, Syria, Bulgaria, Greece...all within close range, all interesting places, all places I either want to go, or see more of. So, I just have to do it. I have to pick my next destination and go. Maybe I should go to Kars and see how I would get into either Iran or Georgia? Who knows. Or, maybe I should just jump on the bus and head to Sofia. Or, maybe I should do something completely different. Maybe I should just go to the otogar and get on the first bus I can get on going...somewhere...and see where I end up. I like just rambling along, not really having a destination, or even knowing where I am for that matter.
Oh, I appear to be in luck! I have found out how to get from Kars into Georgia. http://www.seat61.com/Turkey2.htm#Eastern%20Turkey Mind you, it doesn't seem to be on a train, and it does seem to be a bit of a logistical challenge, but, it looks pretty interesting. The temperatures are still a little cool in that area though for sleeping outdoors...maybe I'll have to wait a month or so to do that run. And, if I do that, I have to find out something about Georgia. I know very little about it. But, it seems like a good idea to go there....no?
Well, we will see where I end up. Tomorrow, a friend of ours is driving to a town not far from Ankara, near the ancient Phrygian capital, Gordion. Who are the Phrygians, you might ask? Good question. I'll find out the answer tomorrow. This place is, supposedly, where King Midas was buried...and where Alexandar the Great slashed the Gordion knot, which was a good thing, apparently, at least for him. I really must find out more.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
On a related note, I always thought the best name for a wiener dog would be Bratwurst.
Monday, March 30, 2009
But, not right now...
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a diaper to change, and I don't like the smell of this one!