All posts filed under: interact

>>> Time Thieves: Eduardo Galeano on “Bureaucracy”

The Bureaucracy/3 Sixto Martinez completed his military service at a Seville garrison. In the middle of the patio was a bench. Next to the bench, a soldier stood guard. No one knew why the bench needed guarding. They guarded it because they guarded it. Day and night, all nights and all days. And generation after generation of officers transmitted the order and the soldiers obeyed. No one doubted, no one questioned. If as such it is done, and as such always have been done, a reason there had to be. And like this it continued until one person, I don’t know which general or colonel, wanted to see the original order. He had to forage the archives. And after much digging, he knew. Thirty-one years, two months and four days ago, an official ordered a guard to be placed by the bench that had recently been painted so that no one happened to sit on the fresh paint. –Eduardo Galeano, El Libro de los Abrazos, Trans. Nathalie Alyon As a little girl, I loved listening to my …

>>>>> 01.01.2017 Quiet on Israel’s Northern Front; Massacre in Istanbul

I entered 2017 at Kibbutz Malkiya on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. On the first day of the new year I woke up to the view of snow-peaked Mount Hermon in the horizon, erect with might. The sun shone strong even at 8:00 am and warmed the crisp air. I strolled through the fields towards the Hermon. I wanted to smell the snow. The Lebanese across the border are simple farmers, my host had said the night before. Outside of Tel Aviv’s urban hum, the quiet of the kibbutz and its surroundings gave me a sense of inner peace. I felt calm despite walking along wires and fences guarding the Kibbutz from Israel’s northern enemies, despite watching tank-like military jeeps patrol the border, despite my knowing that just behind the white snow that graced the Hermon lay the bodies of tens of thousands of people drenched in the blood of the Syrian civil war. On the morning of the new year, I woke up cheerful, filled with hope for the coming year. “2017 is going to be great,” I hollered towards the …

Nurcan Baysal: “Living with the Curse of the Armenians”

Last week, on April 24, 2016 thousands of people around the world commemorated the genocide of the Armenians under Ottoman rule. Once century ago, between 1915 and 1917, hundreds of thousands of Armenians living in the lands that today make up the Turkey were deported from their homes, exiled to faraway lands, and murdered. The Republic of Turkey does not recognize the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under the last years of Ottoman rule as “genocide.” According to the Turkish official position, the events were the unfortunate consequences of war wherein both Turkish and Armenian civilians perished, along with tens of other ethnic populations that call Anatolia home. Despite the state’s official denial, an era of reassessment and reappraisal has begun in the streets of Turkey, especially though the works of civil society organizations, academicians, journalists, and others. In this post, I would like to bring your attention to one such journalist and author, whose main focus is not the Armenians but rather the Kurdish minorities in Turkey. Nurcan Baysal is a Kurdish …

Buraları Asla Unutmayın

 “Sosyal hayatına bir dur demen gerekecek yoksa Meksiko’yu göremeyeceksin,” dedi Eva. Mutfağında organik kefir yapan, balkonunda kaplumbağa besleyen Eva, AirBnB’den kiraladığım evin sahibiydi. Üç odalı evinin bir odasında ben, diğerinde kendi, üçüncüsünde ise İspanyolca kursu için gelmiş 19 yaşında iki Amerikalı öğrenci kalıyorduk. Meksiko’ya vardığım günden beri iki Yahudi-Türk ailenin himayesi altına alınmıştım. Bitmeyen Şabat yemekleri, pazar kahvaltı davetleri, akşam üstü çay sefaları derken Eva’ya hak vermemek mümkün değildi. Ama öğünlerimi İspanyolca – Türkçe karışımı sohbetler eşliğinde zeytinyağlı fasulye, fırında tavuk, pilav yiyerek geçirmekten de pek şikâyetçi olduğum söylenemezdi. Dışarı çıkıp şehrin kalabalık sokaklarında yürümeyi başardığımda ise her köşe başında karşıma başka bir dönerci çıkıyordu. Bir yandan ızgara et kokuları, diğer yandan rogar kapaklarından yükselen lağım kokularıyla bir an kendimi lodos günü İstanbul’unda hissettim. Ama bir zamanlar göllerle çevrili Meksiko’da ne deniz vardı, ne de domuz etinden yapilan, mısır unundan Meksika pidesi arasına servis edilen tacos al pastor dedikleri bu yemeğe döner diyebilirdik. Ertesi gün, anne babası da Türkiyeli olmalarına ragmen Türkçe bilmeyen iki kardeşten bu temel Meksika yemeğinin Birinci Dünya Savaşı döneminde Osmanlı topraklarına …

A World through Transcultural Eyes

With globalization a trend of the past, cultures are no longer clashing but rather mixing, people are no longer stationary within the traditions that they are born into, but rather constantly evolving. Over two months have passed since I arrived back in my apartment in Tel Aviv. Once again there is a drawer designated for my underwear and I reunited with my electric toothbrush. Almost every day, I run into friends and acquaintances on the street. After all, Tel Aviv is a microcosm for cosmopolitan urban living. They ask if I have “returned.” I don’t really know what to say. I am here. For now. I don’t know if I will stay, how long I will stay, where I will go when I go. And I am fine with not knowing. My dear friend Aditi’s wedding in Portugal provided the perfect excuse for flying back to this rusty corner of the world. (Posts on Portugal are in the works). But I had other reasons, too. In Mexico, I realized that a year of gallivanting around …

Want to Wave a World Flag?

Did you know that there have been various attempts at creating a flag of the earth? One that would represent our planet as a whole rather than a conglomerate of imaginary nations. Flag of Earth by James Cadle is very modern and flag-like and the UN flag has been suggested as a place filler until one can be decided upon. Just this year Sweedish artist Oskar Pernefeldt proposed the International Flag of the Earth, but no contender to represent humanity has gained legitimacy. My favorite flag of the earth is of course Anne Kirstine Rønhede’s “World Flag” and not because she is a dear friend. She came up with the idea that we need a flag that represents everyone: No matter where you live, what you believe (if you believe in anything) and what you do – you are a human being and you live on this planet called Earth. We have flags that symbolize countries and organizations; we should also have a flag that symbolize that we are part of the same world. I’ve always had …

Who is this creature called the “backpacker”?

Yesterday a Frenchman accused me of being a fake backpacker at a Cuban bar in Lisbon. His allegation came after I revealed that I was staying at an AirBnB rather than a hostel. We had a lot to chat about–he had recently returned back to his nine to five IT job in Paris after a seven-month “backpacking” trip in Australia and Asia. “I bet you don’t even have a backpack,” he said with a smirk. “I’m not a backpacker!” I said in protest. “And I certainly don’t carry a backpack on my sensitive shoulders.” Our discussion made me realize once again why I decided not to stay in hostels and why I defied the categorical “backpacker” label. Though I indeed was once a “fake backpacker” and it was while I slept in hostels in Colombia. Thankfully my fraudulence only lasted five weeks. Before arriving in Colombia I read various blogs on traveling alone—all posts instructed staying in dorms for a fulfilling social life on the move. So who was I, a novice solo-traveler, to stray from the path? While staying …

A Fashion Megaflop (me) with Professional Women’s Network of Istanbul

Many professional women are unaware of the consequences of the Beauty Myth. As a guest at one of the monthly meetings of the Professional Women’s Network of Istanbul, I learned about the issues faced by women in Turkey, whether they are professionals or home-makers.  Women in Istanbul often intimidate me. I watch them hold their coffee with nails always manicured to perfection, their slick, ironed sleeve revealing a bracelet or a watch that matches the tiny handle of a handbag that always looks brand new. My fingers boast nails with varied lengths and my scruffy bag decorated with ink stains looks like that of a bazaar vendor. When Istanbul’s professional urban women walk about town on a windy day their blow-dried hair seem to remain immune to frizz when mine scrambles into an unruly mess. Their knowledge of the latest fashion trends is reflected in flawless combination of color and style. Clothing stores, instead of hiring models could just as well walk into any coffee shop in Nişantaşı—a trendy neighborhood in Istanbul—and just photograph the women going about …

A Rosh HaShana Meditation

I entered the year 5776 sitting on cushions around a meditation circle of five in the living room of Eva and Juan’s apartment in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. As Juan practiced sounding the shofar that Eva had brought back from her last trip to Israel, we cut apples in to thin circle-shaped pieces, placed two bottles of wine and a jar of honey on the floor in the middle of our circle. On the wall were posters of Buddha and various yantras. A corner table displayed traditional objects of prayer and meditation from Buddhist to Pagan to Jewish traditions. Juan grabbed two incense sticks and a pair of candles, which he lit on silver Shabbat candleholders decorated with a Star of David. He explained the idea behind the celebration, in particular to the two other women in our circle, who learned about the Jewish New Year for the first time. He spoke of the ten days of repentance and purification that begin with the New Moon and culminate in the last hour of the 25-hour …

Mexico, Francis Alys, and Brotherhood

I would have never imagined that Francis Alÿs’s exhibition “Relato de Una Negociacion” at Mexico City’s Tamayo Museum would have such an effect on me. I wasn’t even planning on going there. I had left my AirBnB room that Sunday morning with the intention of going to the Museum of Anthropology—one of the city’s “musts”—and that’s where I had gone. But before I purchased a ticket, some sort of a protest art in the museum’s palatial lobby caught my attention. As I stood there trying to figure out what the lines of empty chairs with photos of faces on them meant, a lady who I later learned to be a history professor named Angelica, handed me a flyer. She told me that the chairs represented the 43 students who “disappeared” almost a year ago in Iguala while protesting the government’s discriminative policies in teacher placement. The demand of the protestors, of which there were two, was simple: the disclosure of the location of these individuals, dead or alive. “Since this museum is part of the INAH research …