#2, January 2, 2012
I am fed up. I was already fed up actually, but today, with only six days left to go and many friends still not visited, I have the urge to write it down. Istanbul is no longer my city; Istanbul is an ex with a bad break-up.
My relationship with pain was never with relief. I am not one of those who do whatever he can to ultimately avoid pain. I used to easily coexist with it. There were moments of prolonged adolescence where I took pain as “my fuel in life”, and although those days are long past now, I still acknowledge the power and importance of pain. In addition, as I have written before, I found a way to cope with pain in a sweet city to start learning how to cherish life.
Istanbul, however, is such a bitch that it could not stand my “cured” persona, and treated me worst ever: To, most probably, take revenge, it reintroduced the omnipresent pain engrained in herself. And although I no longer live here and now I am an outsider to this city, I am still able to notice and point out painful details of Istanbul life, and it totally ruins the whole experience of holiday and visiting friends.
As stated in the first entry of these chronicles, most of my friends are undergoing an intriguing depression in their lives and they don’t hold themselves back from expressing their resentment on my face– the tourist who came from far away after a very long time. Their fragile emotional state must have turned them into discomfort-disseminators, and their “”life” is not making my “experience” well-pursued at all.
Secondly, my inclination of hearing life not from my friends but from other people that I see on the streets, my personal preference of using public transportation, my sweet but unachievable quest for used books have taken me to many different conversations and over-hearings. What I used to notice, while I was living here, was anger—people shouting on the phone, shopkeepers cursing after a difficult customer, football fans beating other team’s fans. This time, I heard pain openly expressed by people: A shopkeeper gave me a 4-minute long monologue (uninterrupted by me, the fascinated habitant of the purgatory between local and foreing) about how he can no longer support his family despite his corner shop in the middle of Cagaloglu,; a fifth grader failed selling her used text books and her father couldn’t afford buying new ones; a girl who sat by me in Starbucks told her correspondent on the other side of the phone how her New Year’s Eve had been a disaster full of quarrel and beating with her ex; another girl passed by me in Kadikoy crying her eyes out. I was not only doomed to hear and understand all these, but I also carried them home with me. They kept me in an emotional limbo, where I constantly felt like I drank a venti Americano to an empty stomach. I felt like crashing or even passing out emotionally but something also kept me awake, and maybe even too awake.
The cherry on top has been the music, something I earlier had noticed, recognized, and admitted, but also forgotten. Last year, in a state of homesickness, I told my friends in Istanbul that they had the luxury of pain in that city. They constantly listen most painful songs, but they also could defer their blues with a good table of friends and raki—something not easily generated abroad. Anyway, this year, I noticed almost every producer is up to taking advantage of this obsession with pain. I watched a rock video where the singer was in a grave, singing how she dag her grave herself. Another “pop” video followed. A well-groomed male singer was singing a very high-beat song, with a smile in his face, but the lyrics were his cry of incapability of making people’s demands of “more” from him. And finally, I found out that one of my favorite singers, Goksel made a song called “It hurts”, and she sings this line over and over, with her melancholic and melodramic voice. The worst part in this experience is, I believe, my ongoing awe although I had had realized this long before. In my self-imposed amnesia, I probably enjoyed, deep down, this nostalgia for my prolonged adolescence. I may claim myself pain-free but the reality is not that clear-cut.
The pain rarely brings me to burst. I always burn inside within. But this time, due to my heavily altered life in Arizona, I cry that I am fed up. I am fed up with this city’s sickening relationship with pain, and I no longer hold my subjectivity back. When I first moved here, I used to refrain from complaining just because I probably was not the one to criticize this unique city. That’s why I never joined my comrades from Smyrna who used to start complaining about Istanbul the moment they step in it. Those days of respecting Istanbul for its potent place in history have passed, and my personality totally rejects its magnificence. I was never a usual-Smyrnian, I always liked Istanbul more than I did Izmir—which is extremely rare in our breed; but I feel that I am done with it. Interestingly, in a holiday of which I spent only four days in Izmir, this is the day I go back to my roots, and start hating Istanbul with all my guts.
I am fed up, and I am taking no more your BS, Istanbul.
#3, January 8, 2012
I am sitting on the benches of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, waiting for my partner in crime, Deniz, to arrive. I have thirty minutes before check-in starts, lots of alcohol in my blood, and some extra holiday pounds. They will leave me when time arrives.
I am sitting here with two major feelings: An ultimate satisfaction deriving from quality time spent with friends and family, and a major heartbreak created by two important people in my life.
I am sitting here with my coat on and with one song in my ears looping. The song summarizes the major heartbreak, the expected moment of my life. After two great nights spent with friends, who know how to love and deserve more love than I normally give them, I am waiting for my departure time to arrive with a bittersweet feeling, tending to darken due to those heartbreaks.
During this visit to Turkey, I did not have the time of my life, but luckily, last two days were amazing by all means. I reconnected with most of my dearest friends until next time—this June or another cold and rainy December. Throughout this stay, I have eaten more than enough Turkish food, many of them being delicacies I craved in the middle of warm Tucson nights. I have seen four amazing Turkish movies, took many positive steps for my academic and literary career, talked to many strangers about life in Turkey and grasped an overall sentiment about the latest developments. It was better than I expected in certain issues, and worse than in some others.
When I started this entry, I was expecting a catharsis on this heartbreak. My alcohol level, my sleepiness, the song in loop signaled this very-needed catharsis. However, as I realized and explained in these chronicles, I had changed a lot. I fire frustrations faster and easier than I used to, and this is totally new to me. I think as Istanbul becomes a more touristic, attractive, sign-board invaded city, my character complies with it: The loses are obvious, the human cost is huge, and the history is massively neglected, but to become more flexible as a person, to have a life with more lights, to welcome more people, I quit burdening friendships easier and quicker than usual. My friends at college used to mock my short temper towards people close to me. It was something funny, because although I claimed ending my relationship with many people, I never had succeeded, and my short temper was only a funny reaction of mine to human conditions.
This time, the heartbreak occurred so gradually and deep down, no one challenged me when I talked about my heart breaking. They all admitted that my relationship with those two former friends was over. It was easy, apparent, accepted by everyone around. The decadence was recognized with ease.
And just like that, after two amazing nights, I took a cab from Taksim to the Airport, and started waiting for my flight. It was that simple.
Filed under: music, the city | Tags: arizona, ezginin gunlugu, istanbul, leaving, music, proust, tucson
As you would remember from some previous entries, I take music as a conveyer of my personal past. Due to my shark-like nature, my past does not only consist of time periods but also different cities. A la recherche de mon temps perdu, music defines eras, therefore geographies. That’s why a song can take me to the museums of Paris, humid mornings of Augusta, beautiful campus of Middlebury College or a drunken festival night on the Bosporus.
In a day or two, I will publish three entries about my visit to Istanbul in December 2011. There, with awe, you will see how Istanbul and the meanings it encompasses in my life are in constant change with time. Although I no longer live in Istanbul, this city still holds such a potent and influential place in my life that, it can change meaning even if I only visit it now.
Due to my horrible experience back in December 2011, I had removed Istanbul from my life for the last four months. I barely thought about the city, had only a couple of Sykpe conversations with my dear friends still residing in that behemoth, and did not listen to a single song that is directly related to the imperial city in my personal universe of signifiers. It was tough, and full of remorse. I had spoken big when I talked about “never leaving Istanbul/Istanbul never leaving me”. My relation with the city came to a point where one side had to sacrifice a lot to reduce the pain resulting from this relationship. Of course, I was the one who had to sacrifice. And I had taken Istanbul out, maybe not completely out, but to an extent never explored before.
But on the day before my trip, on my way back from my first proper camping experience with the spiritual purification bestowed upon me by Mount Lemmon, I inadvertently played “Siyah Gozler” by Ezginin Gunlugu. A song from the very heart of Istanbul, dedicated to my quintessential pain felt for this city. Listen to the song; you will know what I mean.
It started as an “innocent” move to expose my friend some Turkish music. As I was imposing my patch-worked taste in music, I stumbled upon Ezginin Gunlugu and said, “Oh, you will love them. They are quite interesting.” I hit the play button unconsciously, and it took only five seconds to hit me back. All of a sudden, due to the amazing clarinet solo, as we were driving down the mountain, and the fauna was changing from pine trees to cacti, I was surrounded by Istanbul, the city I had removed from my life. I, there, realized I had been successful in exiling Istanbul away, and it was emotionally safe to recall it on such a moment.
Elif Shafak always compares and insistently contrasts Istanbul and Arizona, she calls them “two places on earth that could not be more different.” One time, she however noted, Arizona and Istanbul resemble each other in terms of “huzun”, the concept that is at the same time possible and impossible be translated to “la tristesse” in French, or “melancholia” in English, according to Orhan Pamuk. I agree, in both geographies, a sense of melancholia is omnipresent. Istanbul’s huzun is more consecrated to human interaction and its imperial past, while Arizona’s melancholia is more limited to contrasts, such as sun and shade, different definitions of border, and city’s eclectic architecture juxtaposing a skyscraper and a Mexican cathedral together.
Huzun is both similar and different in Arizona and Istanbul. The Oaks on Ciragan Caddesi and theSaguaro cacti on UA Campus share a common feeling not only in the habitants of Tucson form Istanbul but in a larger sense: just like paradise and hell, they share human.
As I am typing this entry on my way to Istanbul, not back, I am thinking how long will I have to individually struggle to tell people the commonalities of different geographies are much more than their differences. Since the beginning of humankind, some people may not be changing where they live from cradle to grave. But their fixed residual habits are miniscule, especially once compared to the traveling human element in every city’s content. The words we use can be forgotten, or ignored; but the eyes we see cannot be forgotten, or ignored. Especially when their universal humanity is considered.
For me, Ezginin Gunlugu also belongs to Arizona now. And Istanbul does not seem so vicious any more. Especially out of the plane’s window, when the Bosporus’ waters are shining like gold.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: can bonomo, Dix Points, eurovision, jedward, loreen, nina zilli, tooji
It’s tonight. The final of Eurovision 2012 or just Eurovision 2012 since we don’t really care about the semifinals. Ok, I did some comments about the first semi-final so I will do the same for the second semi-final as well. So I guessed that ten countries that would go to the finals would be: Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania. I guessed 7 of them right, while Estonia, Malta and Ukraine were the lucky ones instead of Netherlands, Bulgaria and Slovenia. All three of them are going to be at the bottom part of the final chart so it doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to comment about Sweden, Norway and Turkey for the moment, since I will have another section for them further down in the post.
Serbia: I don’t have anything to say about the song. I can’t understand the lyrics, but I suppose the lyrics are great since they passed to the finals. Nothing special about the song, the singer or the show. Oh wait, this is Serbia, right. Every year Serbia is a favorite because they always get a lot of votes. This year they won’t get so much since all balkan countries are coming somewhat strong and I don’t think Serbia is better than them. So boring, really!
FYR Macedonia: I like this song, it’s actually a good taste from the Balkans for a change. Singer has a nice voice and the performance was good. Can get a moderate amount of votes, not gonna be very high on the chart.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: When I saw the performance, I thought about last year when Italy came second. Yes, because of the piano. If piano gets votes, than this song can be high. But I don’t think so. I think this song is weak and will not top the chart.
Lithuania: Love is blind and what a great idea to wear a blindfold! Yaaay! Come on Lithuania, be creative. Anyway, it was not that bad. The boy has energy and sings well. I was sure he would be in the finals. However only 12 point he’s going to get is from Estonia and vice-versa. pff!
Estonia: Handsome guy singing a ballad and he’s from estonia. Nothing much to say really. I don’t know why we have to listen to him in the finals again!!
Malta: I think it’s a crappy song but they were funny and had good energy. In the end, both people in the hall and those who were watching them on tv enjoyed them. I didn’t expect them to go to the finals, it was a big shock for me. However, I’m convinced they deserved it.
Ukraine: I really think the song of Gaitana should be forbidden but somehow she made people like it. The show was funny with moving screens and dancers. The dress of the woman was horrible. I still think Ukraine shouldn’t have made it to the finals.
So, finally let’s talk about Eurovision !!
In this part, I will only talk about my favorites. However, first I want to draw attention to the so-called Big Five: Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France. Since they are not in the semi-finals, we always forget about them. Generally Germany is somehow good while United Kingdom and Spain is horrible. France sometimes sends good songs although nobody understands what they are doing. Italy is generally not very good either. This year, I think all of the Big Five have very good songs.
Spain: I start with Spain because I don’t feel she can get in top 10. But Pastora Soler may very well have the best voice in the contest and the song is perfect for it. Her performance in the rehearsal is great and she can give Spain one of the highest ranks of 21st century.
Germany: Although the song is good and the singer is cute, I don’t think Germany will get good votes. For me, they are not one of the favorites.
United Kingdom: The song of Engelbert Humpledinck can be the slowest song of the contest but I believe it is a good song. I can at least say that he might break the tradition and put U.K. in the top ten.
France: Anggun made a great song. I honestly think it’s one of the best songs of the contest. It’s one of my favorites and I would be very happy if she wins. France prepared an exciting show as well and I believe the performance of Anggun will also be good. However, the competition is though and just nobody votes for France.
Italy: I love Nina Zilli and Italy is my “the favorite” this year. Zilli had a very confusing journey to Eurovision. She was chosen at San Remo Fastival to represent Italy in Eurovision 2012 with her song “Per Sempre” which was a nice song an I quite liked it. Then few months before Eurovision, she announced she changed her song to “L’Amore E Feminna”. Then she made the song more english with a second title in English: “Out of Love”. I think this may even be a first for Italy to be represented by a song in english (at least most of it in english). She made 2 video clips for the song. It seems she just can’t decide. Although I expected his stage show to be better, her performance is amazing on the stage and the song is just perfect for her style. After finishing in second place last year, I feel Italy may win the contest.
Those were the “Big Five”. It’s surprising to see all of them coming strong this year. This year really is a very good year. There are so many songs that can win and so many good songs. It’s going to be a wonderful show. For me, I see all of the Big Five as favorites. So let’s check the other favorites of this year.
Ireland: Jedward added to their popularity since last year and their stage show was very exciting. I believe they have a very good chance at winning. Otherwise they are sure to be in top 10. GO JEDWAAARD !!
Sweden: Euphoria is really amazing. Although we have never seen much success from electronic songs in Eurovision, Euphoria is already very popular around Europe. She is seen widely as the favorite since she won Melodifestivalen. Everybody’s saying Loreen is the winner just like 2 years go when Lena rocked Europe with Satellite. This year Loreen is rocking the house and she’s most likely going to win it.
Norway: I expected to Tooji to strike hard but I think he’s intimidated by Loreen and I don’t think he has the confidence to win this. People compare his style to Eric Saad but personally I believe that “Stay” is a much better song than “Popular”. I think at this point, it depends on the performance of Tooji tonight. He has the energy and the perfect song to rock the house in Baku.
Turkey: Can Bonomo managed to get everyone in Turkey excited about Eurovision this year. Although this year it’s practically impossible for Turkey to win the contest, with a very cute stage show. Can Bonomo guaranteed its place in top ten. The song is not good so of course he needs to be cute. Everything may depend on the performance tonight since it was very sloppy at the semifinals. I think he was excited since he’s very young. Nevertheless, the Turkish trust in him and will still be proud of him even if he doesn’t win.
Russia: Yes, there is a big possibility that Grannies from Russia will win the contest. That reminds me of “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Figure it out why. I’m so afraid that Russia will be the winner tonight because there are so many good songs that it would be a disastrous joke to see them perform a second time tonight.
Azerbaijan: The host of this year has Sabina singing a ballad with her amazing voice. I believe Azerbaijan will get some extra votes since they are the host this year and those votes may put them in top ten.
Other countries which may find themselves in top ten are Romania, Serbia, Denmark, Cyprus, Greece and Iceland. I don’t want to comment further on them since I already said everything there is to say about them. This year, the competition is crazy, there are so many good songs and I’m so curious to see the results.
Finally, I’m going to make my top 10 after watching the performances tonight. I’m watching the contest at the famous Eurovision party: “Dix Points” (#dixpoints). So it’s gonna be a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Catch you up after the results !!
Those were the 10 countries I predicted would be the finalists from the 1st semi finals: Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Latvia, Greece. I got 6 of them right!. First, let’s check those who didn’t make to the finals:
Israel: For me, it was the biggest shock of the night! It was one of the songs I liked the most from this year’s competitors. I would have liked to see them at the finals. They didn’t do any performance mistakes, however I believe they were only voted off since they represented Israel.
Austria: I don’t know why I picked them. I guess I thought that there should be a group of people on Europe who would vote for them. But honestly, so glad we’re going to see a finals without them.
Switzerland: Another disappointment. The song was very good in my opinion and they did a very clean performance of “Friendly Rock”. I believe they should have made it to the finals. I guess nobody votes for Switzerland either.
Latvia: I liked the song before the semi-finals. However, their performance was poor and the rythm of the song didn’t keep up to the pace of the semi-finals. They were boring and didn’t deserve to win.
And now those who made it to the finals:
Moldova: One of the 4 countries that I didn’t expect to see in the finals. They performed better than I expected them to and deserved their place in the finals. I don’t think they will make their way to the top in the finals, but they can certainly get a good amount of votes.
Iceland: I don’t know why I didn’t expect them to win. Maybe I thought that without their scandinavian buddy countries in the semi-finals, they wouldn’t get enough votes to advance. However they have a great song with a theatrical and impeccable performance. They can get good votes and make their way to top 10 in the finals with a bit of luck.
Hungary: I think they have a very ordinary song without any special performance. I don’t think they should have won the semi-finals and don’t think they will be on top of the chart in the finals either.
Albania: Last of the 4 countries I didn’t expect to see in the finals. I guess they received votes of solidarity from some countries and for the great mystical voice of the singer. I still don’t believe they should have been in the finals and certainly they won’t get good votes.
Romania: A very catchy song with happy tunes. Although they had some problems during their performance, they were lucky. Could be a summer hit in Romania. They will not make it to top ten in the finals but certainly deserved to be in it.
Denmark: Although I didn’t like the song, I guessed that a lot of people would and they would be in the finals. They had a cello player dressed like a rapper and a singer with a sailor hat who was acting like a fish. We see a lot of sailor and sea themed performance. I guess it’s because Azerbaijan is a landlocked country. Anyways, although I still don’t like them, I think they will get enough votes to be in top ten.
Cyprus: They were on the popular songs of this year. Again, I didn’t like them. On top of that their performance was horrible, the singer didn’t sound right. They were popular enough to get the votes to win the semi-finals but hopefully they won’t win the finals, although I still expect them to place high.
Greece: This year, they are not as popular as they should have been. Greece is always a Eurovision favorite. Although this year, I don’t expect them to win. They have a catchy song with an appealing performance but they are just not popular enough. The song can be a summer hit in Greece and Turkish coast. They will place high in the finals, although not that high since we have seen better songs from Greece fail.
Russia: Come on Russia !! and Come on Europe. Yes they are cute and yes they should perform in the finals. But aren’t they also scary?! Seriously, although Russia always gets a lot of point, this year I’m annoyed at every vote that goes for Russia, s.Grannies are a nice addition of freakiness to the contest but please don’t let them place high in the finals with their horrible song.
Ireland: JEDWAAARD! You love them! Last year, their song was better but they performed poorly. This year, their performance is great and have an appealing stage show. I believe they will place in the top five in the finals which means I place them higher than any country in the 1st semi-finals. And who knows they might just win it ! Just don’t forget to vote for them!!
So that was it. I believe the second semi finals have better candidates to be the winner of Eurovision 2012. See you later and don’t forget to listen to all eurovision contestants in the special playlist of AvukatFM on Youtube.
Filed under: college, event, web | Tags: academics, blogging, ML 2.o?, multilingualism, symposium, The University of Arizona
Do you have too many blogs?
When I started blogging, my first entry was about the very nature of this action. What was I personally expecting from blogging, and more than that, what was blogosphere waiting from me? These were my central questions. I tried to set myself free of limitations, because blogging was itself being limitless, or less limitless than usual. I only wrote about things I wanted, with no time limitation or academic concern.
This weekend, at the University of Arizona, we are holding Multilingual 2.0?, a symposium dealing with the timeless phenomenon of multilingualism. We will be hosting amazing scholars, and the coming together of leading scholars with participants from all around the world will contribute to the local, national, and international debate(s) of languages.
And guess who is “the blogger-in-chief”?
When Dr. Gramling, one of the core faculty members of the organization committee, asked me what I would want to do for the symposium, I had no idea. I had been volunteering for such events since my early undergraduate years, and I have done a wide range of things, from serving wine at the cocktails to making opening speeches. He looked at my perplexed face, and asked: Do you want to blog the event? I said “why not?”
However, how do you blog events? I have blogged mostly personal stuff about life and death, or music, or traveling, or changing the continent I live in—but how could I blog a symposium? Do I cover the whole thing, summarize every speech, note down every question, and then say “Wow, this was a great conference?”
Dr. Gramling said, “No. Make it personal, introduce your analysis.”
I should tell the truth: When he bestowed me the title of “blogger-in-chief”, I was intimidated at first. I felt a huge pressure on my shoulders. Mary Louise Pratt is going to speak, and I will record it? Me, a graduate student who one day wants to be an academic? But David quickly gave me the freedom I needed, the freedom that actually blogging signified: Be free, be ridiculous, tell us your take on the issues. Write like an aspiring academic, but don’t write academically.
So, I accepted the challenge. Dear Readers, if you wonder what are the contents of the speeches, please go to our website and watch the symposium live online. If you wonder what is going on in the symposium, keep on reading my blog.
And see how I deal with a roller-coaster of ideas.