Saturday, October 29, 2011

colour among the grey

October brings grey. Grey skies, grey water, grey faces.
It is essential to find the colour among the grey— if you want to make it through what's to come.

happy republic day!

Eighty-eight years ago today, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared Turkey a Republic, officially dissolving the Ottoman Empire. Happy Cumhuriyet Bayramı, Turkey!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

hello, scanner

Here are the first three spreads of my entry for The Sketchbook Project 2012, brought to you by my new scanner! The excitement I feel to have my very own scanner again is beyond words— just look at that colour and resolution! It's like looking at the actual drawings! I can't stop using exclamation points!

The theme I selected for this year is Travel with Me, which I have taken a less direct interpretation of. In this book, you will travel into the recesses of my heart— into my memories, thoughts, and emotions. I do hope you enjoy it.

While I get cracking on the next spreads, feel free to check out my entry for last year's project, Boys and Girl.

Monday, October 24, 2011

earthquake in van

I am deeply saddened by the news of yesterday's earthquake in Van, in Eastern Turkey.
My thoughts are with the people of Van, and all those affected by the devastation.
Geçmis olsun herkese.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

look on the bright side

Yesterday, as I was walking into my cold little apartment (winter has wrapped her long fingers around our greying city, and I have yet to figure out how my heating system works), I was thinking to myself while switching on the hallway light, "I'm so thankful to have electricity."

Not 10 minutes later, as if on cue, I found myself in pitch black. Yes, the electricity had gone out. I fumbled for a lighter and a fat candle, and had a good laugh. This was reminiscent of the time when in the shower, I thought to myself how grateful I was to have good water pressure, only to find the very next day that my shower hose had busted. If there ever were a divine force of mischief, I do believe he or she would live in Istanbul.

Istanbul, Istanbul. I know that on Harika, I focus on the bright side of living in Istanbul, frankly because I feel that the positives far outweigh any negatives— and who the hell needs or wants to hear anyone else's whining? My life has been a series of international moves, of learning to adapt, and to appreciate different cultures and ways of living. I love this; I love all the differences that exist in everything between the concept of personal space, to how bank tellers behave. The differences make this world a fascinating and colourful place. I am not trying to paint a rosier picture of life here, I truly love living in this city— even when the power goes out, or I am stuck in two hours of traffic. Ok, maybe I don't love the traffic so much.

This brings me to something that has been irking me for some time. Every once and I while, I stumble upon an expat blog which starts a boiling inside me. I will never consider myself an expat— I actually despise the term if used in reference to me (I have nothing against actual expats). I am a patriot of no nation; I am a nomad. Every land is my land, and I both belong to and am foreign to every soil I step on.

Often, these expat blogs will share the wonders of discovery and differences, and offer insight into such a challenging and wonderful lifestyle. Leaving your home and attempting to make a new home in a new culture is not easy— there isn't an experience quite like it. To do it successfully, you have to have an open mind, and an open heart. Many expat blogs are wonderful examples of open people celebrating adaptation and lessons learned, and these are the ones I enjoy reading. However, I have come across quite a few blogs which are nothing but tirades of endless complaints. I understand that not everyone is going to like it here, but is it necessary to rip apart something that is just different? So people bump into you on the street— the concept of personal space on the street does not exist here. So people stare— staring is not considered rude here. So your bakkal doesn't sell artichokes out of season, or the peanut butter sucks— get creative and try making your own. So you got a little ripped off today at the market— perhaps you should have learned a little more Turkish in order to get a better bargain. I grew up around expats. Some fully embraced the local culture, and others isolated themselves from the country they lived in, only interacting with people from their homeland, only looking for products they were familiar with, and shying away from anything "foreign", when in fact, they were foreign.

So to those expats I say: please dive fearlessly into the culture you are in, and stop complaining. Negativity only creates more negativity. Istanbul will never be Dallas, Toronto, Sydney or anywhere else. Istanbul is, and will always be Istanbul, and there is a reason why people have flocked here for centuries. There is nowhere on this planet like Istanbul, nowhere like Turkey— just look at that Bosphorus!

When I peeked out the window this morning, I found a big hole in the street, which no doubt has a connection to the darkness in my apartment. As I turned to look at the other windows across the way, some veiled with lace, some crammed with plants, I met the eyes of a young woman behind one of those curtains, who I had never seen before. She pulled the curtain aside to show her face, and smiled.

Wherever you live in the world, you will encounter a degree of hardship, and there will always be challenges.
If you focus on the big, ugly hole in the street, you'll never see that smile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

the 33rd intercontinental eurasian marathon

Twelve degrees and wet— not optimal for the 33rd Intercontinental Eurasian Marathon, in which runners and walkers have the unique opportunity to cross the Bosphorus bridge, from Asia to Europe. Buses on the European side picked excited participants up in Europe at around 7:10, and drove us to Asia, where we huddled together to wait for the start. Not being a runner (only if my life depends on it!), I took part in the 8k Fun Run, which began at 9:30.

I was lucky to come across this lovely scene on the bridge— fortunately, she said yes.
Proposing on a bridge may not be the wisest decision if you are rejected!

A European welcome.

I sketched while I walked, until the rain got so bad that I had to put away my sketchbook and pens. Red-nosed, with numb fingers, I walked the rest of the way home from the finish line. Walking and sketching from Asia to Europe only took me about an hour and a half; which surprised me. When I got home, I immediately peeled off my soaked clothes, ate a baked potato and crawled into my nice, warm bed for a nap.

Stay tuned for more pictures and the sketches.
Speaking of sketches, don't forget to enter the Win a Sketch competition!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

win a sketch!

With a massive sigh of some sort of sadness but no regret, I'm going with my gut and passing on Cairo. But! Being the travel-hungry girl that I am, I've already booked a ticket and room elsewhere. This city could not be further from Cairo in culture, climate, and cuisine.

I've decided to try something new here. I'm going to have a contest. Guess where I'm off to next, and you could win an original sketch from my little adventure. When I think of this city, I inevitably see images of violins, harpsichords, and powdered wigs in my mind. I've somehow never been to this fine nation, though I've been to five of the seven countries which surround it— two of which I have blogged about on Harika. I'll be needing a very warm coat, a hat, a scarf and gloves, as November there is quite cold. Thankfully, the plane ride is merely a hop from Istanbul.

If you can correctly guess the city where I am headed to in about two weeks, comment on this post with your answer and I'll put your name in one of my stylish hats, along with the names of other correct guessers. On November 9th, I'll draw the winner's name.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

plan b

Hello, friends.

Well it looks as though my plans to zip off to Cairo in early November will not come to fruition. I am wary of what seems to be an escalating violence in Cairo, and though I have a ticket bought and paid for, I am seriously considering flying off to a calmer city, elsewhere. I was really excited to return to one of my former homes, to smell the Sahara and see the tips of those pyramids rising above the curved blue spine of the Nile. I spent the last three years of high school in Egypt and have not been back since I left, a skinny, awkward seventeen year old girl. Memories hang in the acacia, the jacaranda, and blow in the dust, which finely coats the city. Cairo has long held a piece of my heart, and I have ached to revisit it.

Another time.

Meanwhile, I've got to think of another place to discover.