Seyahat tutkusu ~ Wanderlust

Looking out at mapMy second attempt to write a Turkish-English bilingual blog post. Does anyone else feel wanderlust??

Hastayım. Seyahat tutkusundan muzdarip oluyorum. Seyahat için güçlü bir isteğim var. Bu benim için sadece bir istek değil, bir ihtiyaçtır. Temel bir ihtiyaçtır. Eğer Maslow beni tanısaydı piramidini yeniden tasarlardı ve seyahati onun temeline koyardı. Bu durumunu değiştirir miydi? Tabii ki değil!
Ya da belki evet… Seyahat tutkusu normal bir durum haline gelirdi. Boş ver! “Farklı” benim mahiyetim. Bu nedenle, dünyada seyahat tutkusu normal olsaydı, ben muhtemelen ev özlemi çekecektim. Evdeyken hastayım… Seyhat benim ilacım. Ve benim uyuşturucu maddem. Bağımlıyım.
Ne kadar çok seyahat edersem o kadar çok isterim. Bir seyahat dozu aldıktan sonra seyahat tutkum olması gerektiği gibi iyileşmiş değil ama daha güçlü görünüyor. Okuduğum kültürlere, hiç tanışmadığım insanlara, hiç ziyaret etmediğim yerlere ve anlayamadığım dillere aşık olurum. Küresel vatandaş olmak isterdim. Her yıl başka bir ülkede yaşamak isterdim. Farklı kültürlere kendimi kaptırmak. Anlamak. Çünkü Henry Miller’in dediği gibi “Birinin varış yeri asla bir yer olmamalı, ama şeyleri görmek yeni bir yoldur.”

I’m sick. I’m suffering from wanderlust. I have a strong desire to travel. Well, it’s not only a desire, it’s a need. A basic need. If Maslow had met me he would have redesigned his pyramide and placed travelling on its base. Would this have changed my situation? Of course not!
Or maybe yes… Wanderlust would have become a normal condition. Never mind! “Different” is my nature. Therefore, if wanderlust were normal I would probably feel homesick. I’m “sick” when I’m home… Travelling is my medicine. And my drug. I’m addicted.
The more I travel the more I want. After taking a dose of travelling my wanderlust is not healed as it should be but seems to be even stronger. I’m in love with cultures I’ve read about, with people I’ve never met, with places I’ve never visited and with languages that I cannot understand. I would like to be a global citizen. I would love to live every year in a different country. To immerse myself in different cultures. To understand. Because as Henry Miller said: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”



Duvarların mesajı~The message of the walls

1185961_440645026048275_169186599_n Photo: Global Street Art

This is my first little Türkçe story inspired by my dear grandmother. English version at the end. Enjoy it! 🙂

Duvarların mesajı
*Gerçek hikaye

Çocukken büyükannem bana:
-“Duvarlara bak! Üzerindeki yazılan mesajını görebilir misin?”- derdi.
Orada hiçbir şey yokken benim cevabım:
-“Hayır, büyükanne…” olurdu.
-“Peki, canım, duvarların mesajını “Öğren, öğren, öğren!”” –diyerek devam etti- “Onu görmek için kendine izin vermelisin. Şimdi, tekrar bak! Görebildin mi?”
Cevabım ‘Evet, büyükanne! Görebildim’- oluncaya kadar duvarların mesajını hayal etmek için mücadele verdim…
“Unutma! Onu görmek yeterli değil, duvarların öğüdünü takip etmelisin. Sadece böylece duvarların arkasındaki gerçekleri görebileceksin’-dedi.
O zamandan beri gerçeği bulmak ve kendimi önyargılardan kurtarmak amacıyla duvarların mesajını takip ediyorum. Büyükanne, teşekkür ederim!

The message of the walls
*True story

When I was a child my grandmother used to ask me:
-“Look at the walls! Can you see the message written on them?”
As there was nothing my answer would be:
-“No, grandma…”
She continued by saying:
-“Well sweetheart, the message of the walls is: “Study, study, study!” You have to allow yourself to see it. Now look again! Can you see it?”
I tried hard to imagine the message on the walls… until my answer was:
-“Yes, grandma! I can see it now.”
-“Don’t forget! It’s not enough to see the message of the walls, you must follow their advice! Only this way you’ll be able to see the truth behind the walls.”-she said.
Ever since, I’ve been trying to follow the message of the walls, in order to find the truth and free myself of prejudices. Thank you grandma!

From İnşallah to Maşallah

8862194241_92a75d1d2d_oPhoto credits: Anita Gould 

Since I’ve started my irregular Turkish language learning adventure I developed an extraordinary ability to complain. Whenever I get the chance to talk with somebody in Turkish after the usual Merhaba (Hello), Nasılsın? (How are you?) and Ne yapıyorsun? (What are you doing?) a painful need to say Türkçe çok zor! (Turkish is very difficult!) terrorizes my brain. It’s not because I cannot continue, it’s more like an absurd need to inform my interlocutors about how difficult their language is.  I succeed to silence my stubborn mind and to continue the conversation for a while. Untill I “smash into” the first linguistic obstacle… and then my “struggle” is suddenly over.  There is nothing left to do but wave the white flag and surrender by finally saying the “magic” words: Türkçe çok zor! And what do I get instead? Hadi ya! (used to express disbelief) Gerçekten mi? (Really?) Türkçe dünyanın en kolay dillerinden birisidir. (Turkish is one of the easiest languages of the world.) Of course, Turkish is easy… for Turks. But it really is difficult(gerçekten!) for foreigners. Actually is the most difficult language I’ve been learning. Yes, I’m aware that the other languages I’ve studied, Italian, Spanish and French, are Latin languages, therefore it’s not so difficult for a Romanian to understand them.

But wait, I’m half Hungarian!

And both Hungarian and Turkish are Ural-Altaic languages. But so are Finnish, Estonian, Tatar and Mongolian. That means I should learn them easily, right? If only it would be so simple… Knowing Hungarian didn’t make my job (much more) easier. I cannot deny that there are some similarities between Turkish and Hungarian grammar and both have sounds like ‘ü’ and ‘ö’. I even found a common sentence Cebimde çok küçük elma var.(Tr) -Zsebemben sok kicsi alma van.(Hu) (I have many little apples in my pocket.). But that’s all, this is the point where the two languages sign the divorce papers in my mind.

So I’m on my own again…

Me and Turkish. Sometimes we are so happy together! We are in seventh heaven! But our occasional quarrels bring us back down to earth with a bump… Even though I did learn the grammar rules on my own and I’ve been working on my Turkish vocabulary whenever I had  spare time, I still have problems when reading literature. I still need the dictionary, patience and… time. I still make mistakes when writing long complex phrases. Oh, we have such a complicated relationship. Me and Turkish. But we will manage somehow, İnşallah! (if God willing! I hope so!) Adım Adım. (step by step). I’m dreaming about the day when I won’t need to ask people Tekrar eder misiniz, lütfen? (Can you, please, repeat?) or Bu ne demek? (What does this mean?). The day when Anlamadım (I don’t understand) will disappear from my vocabulary. The day when my Turkish will be Maşallah! (Magnificent!) and not just güzel (pretty, good)The day I will talk like a Turk.

On my way to Maşallah… Since I have a busy schedule I will set some milestones:

  • discover my weaknesses and turn them into strengths (in other words find the most common mistakes I make and do some research)
  • read (and finish!) a novel in Turkish (devote at least a half an hour/day to lecture)
  • listen to Turkish music and translate the lyrics (post a song+lyrics/week on blog)
  • watch a Turkish movie/week
  • speak and write in Turkish as much as possible
  • Post every day on Turkish Delight Bazaar’s Facebook page

İnşallah I’ll reach my destination!

Kurban Bayramınız mübarek olsun!

kurban-bayrami-karikaturToday is the first day of Kurban Bayramı (Eid al-Adha), the Feast of Sacrifice in Turkey and all around the Muslim world. I would like to wish all my Muslim readers Kurban Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun! (May your Feast of Sacrifice be blessed!) As I have never been in Turkey (nor in another Muslim country) during Kurban Bayramı, I felt I’m not the right person to write about. I refuse to base my knowledge and judgement upon other people’s feelings and opinions. Still, I couldn’t stand aside and keep totally quiet during the bayram. I cannot pretend there is nothing going on. So I made some research and I prepared a short selection of and extracts from the best articles/blog posts I found about Kurban Bayramı:

  • I’m going to start with Janeyinmersin,a blog I’m always delighted to read. Janey explains us the meaning of Kurban Bayramı:

(Kurban Bayramı) is a 4 1/2 day festival which takes place 70 days after Ramazan has ended.  It is known as the Festival of Sacrifice referring to the story of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son Ismael at God’s bequest.  Pretty much the same deal as Abraham and Isaac if you are running in Christian circles. The festival is all about charity and community.  Each family (who can afford to do so) will purchase an animal for the sacrifice and over the past few weeks there has been an abundance of animals to be found grazing on any spare parcel of land around the city.  After the animal has had its throat cut and the life-blood has drained away the meat is split into three – one third to your family, one third to your neighbour’s and one third to the poor.  It’s a lovely idea (well except for the sacrifice that is).  If you cannot afford to purchase an animal you can make a donation to an organization such as Türk Hava Kurumu and have animals slaughtered in your name. The organization will also make sure the food is correctly distributed to the poor. Read Janey’s piece here.

  • I’ll continue the list with one of my favourite blogs: Natalie Sayin’s Turkish Travel Blog, a must-read for those who plan to visit Turkey. Natalie wrote about her role in the celebration:
    ‘I will dress in my oldest and drab clothes (bear with me- there is a reason why I am wearing old clothes), then head to friends and family to join in with this age-old religious tradition. My role in the celebration is simple. I will stand and listen while a verse from the Quran is read. The throat of the sheep will then be slit and the blood drained into a hole in the ground. Once this has been done, I will join in with the other women to clean and cut the animal up, hence why I am not dressed in my best gear. A certain amount of the meat will be allocated to the poor. Neighbors who have not had the opportunity to purchase an animal will be given some and the rest will be divided between the families.’- Click here to read the whole article.


  • Another expat, Danni (Living the Turkish Dream), explains us why sacrificing sheep during Kurban Bayramı is not as bad as it seems:

‘I have seen comments from people in the past who say the process of sacrificing millions of sheep over a few days for a religious festival is barbaric and inhumane, however, the meaning behind the tradition and the process of giving meat to those less fortunate people is a good one in my opinion, it is not meaningless killing for the sake of it, it has a purpose. Some people do find this an outdated, old fashioned tradition and some modern families like to donate money to charity instead.’- Click here to read more.


“Soğuk” stories VI: “Urfalı” for a day


And here’s the prove that I was an Urfalı kız (girl from Urfa) for a day 🙂 Girls love dress-up games 😛



“Soğuk” stories V: One night in Urfa

Thank you Nicéphore Niépce for inventing photography! When memories start to fade away in our overloaded “hard disk” pictures work like a “Refresh” button!

I sat cross-legged like a Turk and smiled to the camera as I knew that one day this picture will steal a smile and give me back my memories.


And it did. It took me back to the summer of 2012. To my first traditional Turkish evening. In Şanlıurfa. And I decided to take you with me. I won’t hold your hand… but hopefully I’ll hold your imagination. Ready? Imagine yourself entering a 450 year old konuk evi (guest house) in Şanlıurfa. The perfect place for tarihi kokusunu arayanlar (those who are seeking the scent of history) as stated on the Harran guest house’s website. And I was one of them, proud and somehow overwhelmed to be in the place where diverse people, histories and identities meet, in Mesopotamia, the so-called cradle of civilizations… A strange, nameless feeling embraced me and made me realize that we don’t have enough words, and sometimes living our dreams simply paralyzes our thoughts. My introspection was interrupted by the tempting flavors. I must say that South-Eastern Turkey’s history smells delicious. And spoils your tastebuds with its domatesli ve patlıcanlı kebap (tomatoe and eggplant kebab), bostana (Turkish gaspacho), salata (salad), lebeni çorbası (youghurt soup).

dscn0857After dinner I found out that preparing  çiğ köfte (raw meatballs, yes the meat is actually RAW, is not cooked) requires artistic skills. It is believed that çiğ köfte was invented in Urfa in the time of Abraham. Nimrod (the king of those times) wanted to execute Abraham by setting him on fire and ordered to collect all firewood in Urfa for this purpose. As a result people didn’t have firewood to cook and ate raw food. One day somebody found a way to make meat tastier by adding bulgur, herbs, spices and kneading the mixture. I mentioned above that making çiğ köfte is not an easy task. See the aşçı (cook) in action:

dscn0863The best çiğ köfte is made by dancing on the rhythms of the davul (drum) or on the davul 🙂 .

dscn0871And here’s the result:

dscn0874Well, çiğ köfte is not my favourite, and not because is raw meat, at the time I didn’t even know what I was eating! Actually it doesn’t even taste like meat… It’s like a strange combination of herbs and spices worth to try at least once!

The hallucinating combination of flavours, the rhythm of the drum and the traditional Turkish music made the evening unforgettable.

img_2951And prepared us for the next level: Halay (Anatolian folk dance) which is quite simple:  people form a circle by holding each others little finger and the leading dancer waves a handkerchief.

img_2961Dancing requires energy, and the best ‘fuel’ to boost your energy are taltılar (sweets), elbette (of course)!