change and standing still

what never changes is change itself. riiiight! and what must one do when its happening? not panicking... riiiight! ever noticed what happens to you when you have a craving and you took care of it, or you cry your eyes out, or you get really super angry, what happens after?

one calms down. and for a few seconds there is peace. the kind of peace one feels when snorkeling on a hot day, or sleeping after an exhausting day at work, or after yoga class, or when holding your new born baby. that peace is equivalent to happiness. it is a moment fully lived. it is a moment paid attention to completely.

and that is standing still when events around you are changing. each moment there are unseen events- your cheek cells are reproducing because you bit your cheek accidently, your kidneys are working and your eyes are looking for the bathroom as you shop at a mall, your friend is tring to reach you on your cell to tell you she is getting married, a plane schedule is changed due to a hurricane, others are hammering down planks on their windows to sheild against the wind...

and amidst these multitude of events, we are all changing physically within whilst an unchanging part of us is connected to each other trying to live moments as they reveal themselves...


beylerbeyi palace

it's not a palace many people visit or seem to know much about. it isn't as big as dolmabahce but with 26 grand rooms, beautiful gardens, facing the bosphorous with the view of the bridge...it has much to offer. i had not been to a palace for years so getting a tour from a tour guide, and rules to not take pictures without having had permission which is shown by a 'permission tag' for your camera...needless to say i was impressed. saturdays and sundays are discount days which is always a treat when one doesn't know what to expect.

ege. ege is a good friend of mine who like me has led an interesting life of travel, adventure and her own share of roughing it in life. she is nuts about old historical architecture and is just as passionate about cultural heritages in abu dhabi as she is about istanbul. she was the perfect person to go to beylerbeyi palace with.

firstly a little bite to eat at the coast of beylerbeyi is a good idea. one has the atmosphere and it is a lesser rip off version of ortakoy. beylerbeyi is close to the bus stops and easy to get to. the tour guides were very capable and friendly. since beylerbeyi palace is open to wedding ceremonies sometimes there are a few complications; famous or politically strong indivuduals cannot be turned down and the place ends up like a garbage dump. besides that beylerbeyi is beautiful.

each room had a name, each room had a theme, each door had a different door knob painting and each ceiling was spectacular. i love it when my eyes sweep up upwards. i don't want everything to be at eyelevel aaallll the time you know. ege's passion for preservation came out with the move to complain to the authorities about the treatment of the grounds by allowing loud and crowded wedding parties with no regard to history.

the doors were ornate. i have always liked strong doors. i like doors with character. doors say so much about a house. for example to red doors of apartments in cambridge. bright and coinfident. the gold and black doors at beylerbeyi was saturated with pride and humble grandeur. it was the summer home of sultan abdulaziz and those who came after him. that is also where they entertained heads of state.

anyone who comes to istanbul and is not interested in the asian side should take a trip out to beylerbeyi. it's a pleasant relief from the crowds one finds at all the sights on the european side.


istanbul duraklarinda...

yoga ders'ten cikmisim, gece olmus, hava serin, bogaz'dan pufur pufur ruzgar esiyor. sahil yolunda bir dugun var herhalde, gelis trafigi yogun, gidis akici. bir minibus yildirim gibi gecti, isaret parmagimi kaldirdim, durmadi. otobus duragina yurudum.

durak'ta bir amca. yola bakiyordu, beni hissetti, dondu. onceden paldir kuldur yururdum, artik o da degisti. dondu ve gulumsedi. kadikoy'e mi gideceksin sordu. yoo dedim, uskudar'a iskele'ye dedim. ziyaretcisin galiba dedi. evet dedim ama buralari cok seviyorum dedim (cok anlamsiz bir sey demis oldum da oyle iste). 300 senedir burdayim dedim. nasi yaniii dedim icimden. 4 nesil biz kandilli'de yasadik dedi. haaaaa anladiim dedim icimden. emlak ofisim karsida dedi, gel bir cay'a dedi. aa dedim oluur gelirim. buralarda istiyorum ev dedim, veee dolmus geldi, atladim, vinnn firladim.

ismi ozer bey. eskiden denizci, 20 senedir emlakci. sokak kedileri ve kopekleri yasatan ve yardim eden humanist arkadasim. dunya'yi gormus, baliklarin her cesidini bilen, hikaye anlatirken sinemadayim gibi hissettim. butun emlakci arkadaslarini aradi. cay, pogaca, brownielerle agarladi. gelen giden ona ugrayip sohbet ettik. seni korurum dedi ve sana istedigin evi de bulacagiz dedi sen inaniyorsan ben de inaniyorum dedi.

kendim mahalleleri dolastim, sicaktan delirecektim galiba. ozer bey'e gittim, serinledim. bugun bir numarayla piyangoyu kacirmis. 5 bilmis! milli piyango idaresinden parayi almis. dondurma istermisin diye sordu. su icmek istedim. hadi on numara senin sansina oynayalim dedi. suyumu icerken kafama gelen numaralari karaladim. arkadasim bizi alacak ve bir yer gosterecek dedi. daire'yi gordum ve inanamadim. bu kadar mi cici ve harika olur. istedigim hersey icinde. hemde binada ciddi kendi ayaklarinda duran bekar bayanlarla dolu...manzara istiyordum...aydinlik istiyordum... guvenli ortam istiyordum...temiz ve ferrah, tatli ev sahibi olmasi da bir bonus...

inanamiyorum. otobus duraginda bir minik sohbet nerelere getirdi beni. hem ev getirdi hemde bir denizci arkadas...


so what's yoga anyway?

do you know how many people have asked me what 'yogo' was? many. many people. most people are under the impression that yoga is this group of people trying hard to get their bodies into these weird contortions. hardly. yoga is not about those contortions, it's the path that leads one to look beyond the senses.

it's not easy. yoga has been in my life since i was 16. and i am still trying to live yoga in my life. yoga is a way of life. it's a choice. i choose to be happy and to be free. it's a choice to wake up every morning with that. it's tough being free in the world we live in. i would rather give a shoulder massage to the cashier than pay money for groceries. i wish everyone was biking in istanbul. i want to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not have to think about cellulite. so even at the tiniest level of existence being free is not simple. but what is simple is making the choice to be simple.

simplicity can start from giving away clothes you haven't worn for 2 years, buying detergent that is environmently friendly, giving a compliment to someone or just going for a walk after work and switching off your cellphone. simplicity is cleaning out what you do not really need. do you really need to have a kofte ekmek in the middle of the night knowing you are going to suffer the consequences all night long? do you really need to make excuses to not meet a friend instead of just saying "let's meet another day"?

what has yoga done for me? it helped me cope with life for starters. just doing the sun salutation in the morning helps me feel alive. you go through a routine and you feel safe but how safe is it? it's a whirlpool of kidding yourself that you are living life but are you able to do what you want at any point of the day? do you know what you want? to answer some of these questions of course you need time! and time's only responsbility is to keep going. it's a rule for me to make time for myself everyday and that means not answering emails, not talking on the phone with my mom, not runnig after errands. all that are resoponsibilities. making time for yourself is just being. you could be in the car at a red light and make time for yourself by going blank. going blank is tough. the times i have been blank involuntarily have been when someone told me shocking news or i fell hard when playing. here's news for you: go blank once a day and things become clearer. when i made the choice to live certain moments in awareness i go blank and i am all there in that moment. it's in what deepak chopra calls 'the gap' that one becomes the most alert, where one can create their dreams and one where there is peace. this blankness can also be achieved in yoga poses that are held for a long period of time.

enough about yoga for now. try to go blank for at least 30 seconds. the trick is to watch and concentrate what thought is going to pop up next in your mind.


evin olmasi ne demek

istanbul'da kac ev degistirdim henuz evim diyebilecek bir yerim yok. tamam arkadaslarimin evleri bana hep acik ama herseyin bir suresi var ve ileri gitmek zorundasin. "ileri gitmek" de ne demek? kendini asmak, yeni olanaklara acik olmak, karsi koymamak...3 sene onceki halimden ilerideyim mesela. of biraz rahatladim.

pakistan'da dogdum ve buyudum, amerika`da universite hayati ve is hayatini yasadim, turkiye`ye gelip dunya'yi gezme firsatlarini yakaladim...ve nerde en rahat hayati yasadim karar veremedim. yasamimin her suresi farkli bir irem'in ilerlemesini gosterdi. simdi amerika'ya gitsem tuhaf olur. guney amerika olabilir mesela. ama cok hizli olmama gerek yok. daha 7 aydir istanbul'da bir hayat kurmaya calisyorum ve bunca senenin tecrubesinden sonra da kolay degilmis.

onceki kaldigim evlere baktigim zaman hepsi birbirinden farkli. biri deniz kenarina yakin, biri orman'a, universite hayati nehir manzarayla gecti, florida'da gol ve orman icinde, ankara'da manzarasiz ama sehirden uzak ve sessiz bir daire'de...istanbul'da bogaz manzarasi sart degil ama yesillik, deniz ruzgari alan bir yer istiyorum. minik tatli yoga ve masaj seanslari yapilabilcek bir yer. evim artik olsun istiyorum. kac senedir her yerde kisa donemli ama uzun kalan yolcu gibiydim. istanbul'un ruhu bana uyuyor sanki. su anda en azindan... benim gercek evim denize sifir, allahin koyunde, kendi bahcem ve sessiz serin bir ev. yeni zelanda'da ya da peru'da. ruhumun huzurlu oldugu yer evimdir.


the cats in my life

i have never owned any cats. had a cat babysitting job way back when i was 10 but that was not a great experience for the cat. my relatives out in selcuk are cat freaks- cats having babies and the babies having more, feeding the cats on the streets, giving the babies away to deserving families, naming the kitties and watching them grow, cousins moving away and still getting reports of cats who have mysteriously disappeared or died in fights or hosed down during a fight (by my mother in her garden and that's one of her pet peeves).

yeah...in istanbul and living with my closest friends, crystal and scott. they came to turkey with 4 cats, all of which i will introduce shortly. they adopted 3 more from the streets of yenikoy. living with cats has not just been an unforgettable experience...it has been the only one and that makes it pretty special. i have learned more about yoga from cats than i did in my 4 week yoga course in india!

al. al is scott's baby. the sensitive delikanli in the house. al teaches the girls how to fight without hurting them, sleeps without snoring and does not push closed doors. he wants to be friends with everyone but is not insistent when it comes to human beings. he is insistent with bella who definitely does not want a platonic relationship with him.

beatrix also known as miss bee is al's best friend. she was the only one left in the pet store that scott found her at. he took her home to a weeping al who was lonely from having lost his feline friend. miss bee walked in, al and miss bee touched noses and they have been inseparable since. open hearts welcome the open hearted. miss bee gets bitchy with beautiful nina for reasons crystal and i cannot figure out. we believe it is the dynamic needed for the balance of energies.

nina. a grey blue half siamese cat, the prettiest and most spoilt of all. crystal's baby. she will never grow up. she reminds me of cleopatra...nina will just come to my room, gracefully hop on the bed and lay stretched out ready to be flattered and loved. she asks without being pushy and she does not flip out if you are unavailable at that moment. nina loves laying up high on doors, shelves and cabinets. she likes it up high because one can see a lot when removed from the chaos. i understand her...

bella. orange, chubby and a sleepy head. all she wants is to be left alone so she can get some quality sleep goddammit! she does not want to socialize or talk or meow, she just wants a breeze to chill out in. that's all. a cat who knows what she wants. how lucky for you if you know what you want. bella is adapting rather well to the heat of istanbul, she has previous experience of the humidity and heat of florida you see...

jack is the brother of megan. the 2 black kitties rescued from the dangerous streets of istanbul. their mother died fighting for their safety and crystal and scott made it their duty to take care of them. jack and meg are siblings but very different from each other. the only way to make out jack from meg is his big green eyes and panther like tail. megan is the tinier version of that except for the turkan soray kind of eyes. jack is the duh jockey who loves new things and will take unnnecessary risks. jack loves turkish food too. megan on the other hand is a cat from cat hell who believes she deserves everything she wants. she likes nibbling on arms, hands, chin when she is in a loving mood. she also likes to touch your face fiercely for no reason whatsoever. everyone stays away from her unless she approches someone.

little black and white, also known as LBW. she was rescued and had to go through a hind leg operation. she sits on window sills and human laps with the left hind leg outstretched, kind of like a sexy greta garbo pose. she does have a sexy tush which she keeps tight with frequent leg stretches. her fur is like a rabbit. LBW has become a house cat finally. she had a rough time just being home instead of being outside. scott always says, 'you can take the cat off the street but you can't take the street out of the cat!'

cats are amazing to watch. their adaptability, their love and caring, their reactions to conversations with them...they are yogic ALL the time. having them in my life has given me an inside look at how to just relax and live. one shouldn't make life so complicated...



annemle olan iliskim degisyor. nasil anlatsam... biliyorum 40 yasima geldigimde de annem gibi davranmaya devam edecek- acikmissindir yemek isitayim mi sorular, dikkat ediyormusun kendine gibi sorusturmalar olacak ama istanbul'a tasindigimdan beri bir seyler degisti.

annem hic bir zaman mudahele eden biri olmadi. fikrini istedigim zaman acik ve nettir. onun fikri benim icin hep onemliydi ve cok etkilenirdim. istanbul kararim ne kadar ani de olsa 10 ay bahsetmistim ama ortada plan yoktu. annem plan sever. amerika'yi terk etmem de ani olmustu ve yine plan yoktu. ama nedense bu sefer tepkiler ve sozler az ve ozdu.

istanbul farkli bir hayata adimdi. nasil her tasinma gibi. burdaki tek fark annemin onayini almamistim ve tamamen fikir alisverisi yapmadan attigim bir adimdi. annem alinmaz. destegi hep vardir ama korkulari da var. kiminle kalacagim, ne kadar sureligine, is var mi, sigortasi var mi, maasi nasil... bu sorular benim icin anlamini yitirmisti. kendime olan guvenimi gec, evren'e olan guvenim goklerden yukariya dogru uzaniyordu. ve annem beni izleyerek, ve ben ona anlayis gostererek 6 ayim gecti.

selcuk'taydim gecen haftasonu. haftalardir benim moralimin bozuk oldugunu biliyordu ve soyledigi tek sey "ozledim, gel" dedi. gittim. onceki senelerin sorularini sormadi. sadece kollarindaymisim gibi bana olan guvenini tazeledi ve destekledi. yine destekledi... sessizce.

ihtiyacim olan da buydu. kararlar verdim ve bedeli var her kararin. bozuk kirik dokulen panik olan durum yoktu. istanbul'un dinamigine alismak zaman alacakti. annem bunu benden daha iyi biliyordu. evlenip hemen pakistan'a giden annem kizina verecegi akil ne olabilirdi ki? kendini unutma, dikkatli ol.