what i loved about Sydney

i was surprised i liked Sydney as much as i did. i thought it would be uninteresting and all it had was the Sydney Opera House and the Prime Minister's residence. but it had a fabulous mind blowing Taronga Zoo which is where my heart was captured. the animals loved us! we heard tourists complaining that the lions were not out, the leopard seal was asleep, the bears was boring and the chimps were bored. but wherever we went the animals woke up and were proud to be who they were. even the snow leopard that had not been spotted for ages, our cousin said she had never seen him and it was her third visit was awed when he came out. he stretched and strolled for minutes on end. the seal woke up and came to us roaring. the chimps, young and old were banging and swinging throughout the time we were watching. koalas do not move and here they were jumping from tree to tree and posing when they reached the top.

the metro is well organized and spread through the entire city. the ferries reminded me of istanbul except for the bit about bull sharks hanging out at the harbour....the view from the train crossing the Harbour bridge was lovely. the bridges in istanbul are prettier but that's just bias talking...

and the beaches! i had missed beaches that we could swim in! we live by the water in Darwin but swimming is impossible. the beaches here are magnficient, miles of beach...with crocs waiting for poor legs to feast on. in Sydney the water is safe and swimming in saltiness was heaven.  the weather was a breezy mild hot 28 degrees...there is a coastal walk where you watched the ocean turn from turquoise to navy blue to purple.

now we cannot decide if we want Melbourne or Sydney! apparently Sydney has changed quite a bit. the mayor has put in more bike lanes, alleyways have more cafes and the art scene is expanding. we have some serious decision making to do in the weeks ahead. i think i want Sydney. we are off to Melbourne to check it out again mid- Jan to see which city is calling out to us.


another cycle begins in Australia

eclipses bring pushes to start new cycles. this weekend we told our close friends that we were working towards moving to Melbourne. of course we had a barbeque! obviously Stu stayed up till 2 am prepping his beef and Christmas ham, he loves it...it was back to our  the night befores sunrise ceremony flashback. we stayed up till 4 am preparing breakfast for later last year in July.

here in the NT folks like to spend quality time doing absolutely nothing but chat and watch the clouds for hours on end. we started having friends come around at lunch time and the last guests left at 10 pm. like i said the territory scene is a slow one. we watched the rain come in, the sun set and the lightning show in 10 hours, every bit enjoyable. this i thought was yogic...observe and be.

i  am going to miss friends i have made here. almost half of them are leaving as well! such is Darwin, people come and go. those who stay we shall come back to visit and wish we were back. i am going to miss watching the tide come in, the cockatoos fly home to Charles Darwin Park, our peaceful neighbours in the boats out front and the occasional frog, bush rat and python in the terrace. it has been an outback experience for sure.


Lake Bennett diye bir gol

dogum gunumu butun ay boyunca kutlamaya dusunuyorum. Stu tum Subat boyunca kutladi, bende kutlayacagim. neden olmasin? bir kac ay sonra melburn'da is bulursak oraya tasinacagiz ama firsat buldukca etrafimizdaki guzellikleri de gorme cabasindayiz. haftasonu dogum gunumu kutlamak icin Bennett golune gittik. Darwin'den bir saat uzaklikta- kucuk bungalowlar, kamp yapacak yerler, bir de luks evler var. bir is adami kurumus bir nehiri gole cevirmis ve 30 sene icinde kendi habitatini kurmus ve inanilmaz bir kus cenneti olusmus. burda timsah da cok oldugu icin bize timsah yok demelerine ragmen golde yuzmedik. nedeni de, belli olmuyor gercekten. golden 20 km uzakliktaki selalelerde yuzduk, ayni gun timsah gordukleri icin park'i kapatmislar. burasi guzel ve vahsi. tam crocodile dundee havasi var gercekten.


ask for some help

the wet season is about to begin in Darwin...in two months. until then the high humidity makes hot feel hotter and sweat becomes the messenger of the 'build-up'. so bike rides, walks, bird watching for lengthy periods and outings become less frequent. this is where i get restless. and i tend to take on projects that need more than just me to make it happen. recently i wanted our good ole couch to change colour. 

it was white two years ago when i first came to visit Stu. we decided red would be a lovely vibrant colour that would make the room pop. it came out pink. the colour of our love was our luck for the time being. then we figured red could be tried again but alas either everyone in Darwin is dyeing things red or noone is interested in red dye. so we opted for royal blue. it helps to be flexible.

hello purple couch! dark purple. which is pretty cool when the sun rises right on it and it is relaxing after a days worth of rat race work. i asked for help, it was a big job. a few years ago asking for help was not easy or simple for me. we live in a system of favours where people's jobs become asking for a favour to do actually their jobs; people are busy and anything beyond daily life becomes difficult...it's city life. i know how that is. but i have realised that we cannot, especially as women, do everything.

i asked Stu to dye my hair as well. yup! and he is pretty good. i warn two weeks ahead, i prepare the formula, provide gloves, i part my hair while he paints it on. great teamwork and his eagle eyes searches for greys. i cannot do it alone and i have not come across the perfect hairdresser as yet. my next project is to either learn how to cut my own hair or motivate Stu to learn :)


territory wildlife park- bird show

a fabulous show of all kinds of birds coming together- raptors, waders, parrots and an opportunity to get up close and personal with them. i was absolutely mesmerized by their beauty and grace.

the barn owl makes no sound in flight. it has feathers on its feet so when it fles there is no sound of flapping or whooshing. remarkable. it collects sound in its eye disc to process where isounds are coming from. i had no idea who a barn owl really was until now. okay it eats rats but i still thought it was gorgeous...and bloody cute as the aussies would say.

the other bird that captured my heart was the brahminy kite- white chested and the top is brick red- brown. its eyes were alert and it caught anything in the air accurately without a twitch. it did make the strangest sounds. the raptors become very territorial with their space and the owls were hanging out down below which is why he got a little irritated.

my favorite of all time (this time around) was the wedge tail eagle. he is the toughest to tame but it loves to get stroked apparently. he had not seen the ranger that has been with him for seven years, she  must have been on vacation. he actually cuddled with her! i could not believe it when he put his head on her chest, opened his wings and froze for several minutes. it was an unforgettable moment where i felt everything just made sense.


animal vacation in Turkey

Turkey is a country that has a lot going on right now- identity issues, angry minorities that have been suppressed for decades, a democratically elected leader who has gone a little nuts and egomaniacal, a youth that has had enough and want a voice. but let's not go there in this post. with cities in psychological turmoil as ramadan was underway and Taksim Square was a place to have iftar for the conservative politicians, the coastlines were still full of vacationers looking to get some sun. i had missed swimming in the sea. in Darwin you cannot swim with all the crocodiles and massive jellyfish waiting to get you.

there were wild boars in the National Park Davutlar near Selcuk, Izmir. they munch on trash. urban pigs i called them; their babies were very cute.

there were some sweet ducks among which were two black ducklings out in Bozburun near the Datca peninsula. we were there for three days and it was just in time for us to celebrate our one year anniversary. Stu found a place called Luna Bel to have a romantic dinner. we got picked up on a boat, taken to an isolated bay that only yachters can approach  and had a lovely time under the stars. near the dock were these ducks all swimming together continuously, it was hypnotic watching  them.

we went to a place called Olive Farm in Datca. the one mesmerizing thing there were the dragonflies. they were blazing red. blew my mind. i floated in the pool and watched them for minutes. i could not do it longer because i get pruney very quickly.

and of course Turkish cats.


NT day explosions

it was pretty overwhelming yesterday. the only state in Australia that can have fireworks and the only day the Northern Territory explodes into colour and flames is 1st july. the coastlines were full of crowds- families with kids, couples holding hands, folks in front of homes sitting for a night of fire. and it went on all night long started as soon as the sun started setting. it was my first time that i was at a place where the fireworks were literally everywhere. in Pakistan it was pretty much whenever people had a whim and inevitably someone died from it. in the US it was on big days and was very contained. in Turkey it was in specific locations.
the NT beat all that...it was in backyards, frontyards, beaches, streets, parks, rooftops...
i was also taken aback with the names for these explosives- blowjob, bumble bee, evil intent and 666 satan's fury was just a few i could not forget.
and then there were fires. my kundalini awakened and stayed awake for a few hours after this.


the Dalai Lama in Darwin

i miss my own Guru. i miss the overwhelming feeling of love in the presence of enlightened beings. i am grateful that i was able to be in the same room as the Dalai Lama. the familiar wave of pure happiness swept over and into me as soon as he walked on stage. i cried when he was leaving the stage as well. he smiled as he spoke of going beyond the chains of suffering; he wore his red visor to see the crowd better and folded his legs up on the couch...he was having a chat with us you see, with 5000 of us. he sneezed and said 'this will wake up people in the audience'. he giggled and laughed as he spoke of altruism and forgiveness to be the path to being happy and feeling love. i had missed him in Dharamsala and now six years later he was in Darwin.
i felt safe and internally hugged being with him. to identify that feeling means one has felt it before, the challenge is to feel it all the time. and one can cultivate that through yoga or quietness of  mind.


day 20 identity only scratched

the resistance will go on for months. a new identity is forming in Turkey with Istanbulites paving the way. the PM 'cleaned out' the park forcefully yesterday, police hurled tear gas into a hospital and a hotel lobby with kids and mummies screaming, their eyes burning. there are videos of police filling in a water cannon with chemicals that the Governor reassured was not chemicals. people with rashes and allegic reactions filled my newsfeed. police of rooftops shooting tear gas canisters into homes, those who want to cause trouble walking in neighbourhoods with knives and armed. doctors and lawyers getting arrested for helping the protesters.

Turkey's karma is heavy... sharing borders with restless countries is not an easy burden to bear. its soil has seen centuries of war and different rulers. and then there is the new age of awakening and the time to create what you want and when poeple unite to want to simply live a life of freedom, that is when the awakening has only begun. this has to become a habit then a value then a characteristic in ones DNA. there is a road to continue to walk, continue to take responsbility for each step, and hold on to ones integrity. there is no way the awakened Turks will sit down and watch television for hours and believe what is said.


occupy gezi park day 15

it was a new moon yesterday, time for new beginnings. in Turkey it was the beginning of a wave of attacks on peaceful protesters at 07.00 am. my best friend messaged me that she was having difficulty getting to work, there had been a sudden escalation of unrest and she was going to go buy a gas mask. the evening before the Governor of Istanbul tweeted about how there would not be any police or any operations because rumors spread quickly about an imminent crackdown Monday morning, quicker than ever before. the morning of 11th June the police came with the tear gas and their water cannons and the media called in to get people posed as protesers hurling molotov cocktails, some had guns in their pockets. the protesters were screaming on social media that these people were not one of them. the police started the tear gas, a man in a wheelchair was hosed down by a water cannon, lawyers were arrested, dozens of people hurt from plastic bullets, women beaten up with nothing to defend themselves, children were in the crowd because the Governor had said there would be nothing going on.

it is painful to watch this from so far away. all of my friends and family have been directly effected and are resisting. they all believe we deserve to live in a country that believes in free speech and in civil liberties. hundreds did yoga at the park a few days ago as a statement of belief in hope and peace. Turkey has gone through much in the past 80 years- growth has been difficult because people have had to learn from their mistakes and now the learning has come to a peak. Turks have had identity issues. Turkey is not like India or the States where the country has adopted the identity of embracing all cultures and groups as their own. this is the first time that gays, transvestites, kurds, alevis, sunnis and shias, apolitical folks have come together to simply want transparency and honesty from the ruling government. the Turks have been lied to and deceived for a long time, before this current government there were plenty of hidden agendas which is why the Turks have not healed. their stress threshold is extremely high which makes them very strong but how long this trauma can last is unknown to me. something has to change for a new idea to take root.


freedom to dream, speak and live- occupy gezi park

my friends in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir have distraught faces, weepy eyes and dark circles under their eyes. they have been out since Thursday walking and running for their basic human rights. i wish i was there. my little apartment in besiktas would be full of tear gas and pepper spray i am sure because my neighbours are posting on their facebook that they cannot open their windows, there is too much gas in the air. there is gas in their home. they have vinegar by their side to spray on their faces when a canister of tear gas explodes by their side.

after a dictatorship in Pakistan during my teens and then political turmoil soon after Zia-ul- Haq's plane exploded, the chaos and finding my way through to simply try and live a normal life had not been easy. i commuted to college  in Karachi on buses that had no seats because it had been torched a few days ago. i took exams behind locked doors while student activists boycotted exams right outside setting fires to chairs and desks. curfew times, sirens, smoke and media silencing are not new to me but it will never be a normal way of life. anywhere. Turkey's cuurrent state of chaos is actually what the country needed for a long time.

the decade i  lived in Turkey was during Erdogan's government.  he started off promising democracy and he was able to push Turkey towards being more financially stable. only a few eeks ago Turkey was upgraded in ratings but OECD did show the Turkish people were unhappiest in the world. living in Turkey i saw the unhappiness and the growing misery....even though the EU applauded the PM for weakening the military in Turkey, the way it was done was not right. most of the military is behind bars with no court dates, all of them in there with a charge of conspiring against the government. then there are all the news of clashes on the border that the media could not report because if they did people would get fired, blacklisted or jailed. in the past three years things have gotten worse though. i felt judged getting on public transport wearing a dress, waiting at the bus stop was uncomfortable, overheard snide rude remarks, more western looking women were attacked...and then there was a recent ruling that stewardesses on Turkish Airlines could not wear red lipstick, alcohol would not be served...the ban encompassed public spaces followed a  few weeks later.

a few friends of mine were at Gezi Park, they had their books, they had their tents where academics had their documents supporting the fact that the mall project was illegal. 5 am May 31st police came and attacked folks with tear gas and water cannons. they destroyed the tents and started to uproot the trees. the brutality sparked anger and friends of friends became a larger group that had enough. there have been reports that some protesters are taking out their anger on cars and  shop windows and facebook posts are beginning to yell out stop to harming property, that would only decrease credibility.

Stu and i are in Darwin watching events unfold, watching our friends out on the streets make a point and express their dissatisfaction. i dedicate this video of a sea eagle that flew over our apartment to my Turkish mates. i wish i was there and i know that freedom is a right.


keeping it together with a bully

i have always and i am serious about this, always known that working with a bully and keeping it together will be cleansing some unknown yucky karma. there is much to learn from them. both bullies i have worked with and been bullied by have been women and it is fuelled by intense jealousy and hatred for their own life. so yes coping with rudeness, passive aggressiveness, loud whispers to other colleagues that are meant to hurt, degrading comments start with understanding their behaviour...i have been in this position and i know that once you confront it with dignity and poise the path opens up to new possibilites.

for example the first professional bully i was with the job required extensive travel. once she did not want to pay for my room so i had to share the king size bed with her and her 14 year old son. she would also ask me to manage clients who wanted escorts and she did not want to deal with them. sometimes she refused to pay me. the second bully was more a whisperer. she whispered loudly to another colleague about how i slurped when i drank my tea and endlessly used profanity for 7.6 hours especially rude if i made an error that she forgot was made because she told me to do it that way. i was not hallucinating, friends at the office said she had become unbearable. and more folks are moving their desks away. yes i am still here.

it is a cliche i know, this whole "testing your patience" aspect but it is bigger than that. even a look of disapproval, voicing your own values real short and sweet, basically playing the game without ruffling feathers is empowering. you walk away knowing a karmic manifestation to teach your soul an important lesson has been resolved. and if it does not get resolved it will come back to bite a bit harder. the enveloping negativity and "this should not be happening to me" syndromes can be wiped away by kapalbhatti, mantras you like that can be repeated in your head (so-hum and aum are brilliant), copious amounts of green tea and a plan. i strategized to leave the first time around by committing to learning all i could from that business and moving on which i did. the second time around i moved to a desk far away when the time was right. trust the movement of time once a decision of action is made. patience is no good if there is no direction. and the direction needs to be one of personal growth and to exercise more compassion.


yogic frustration gives answers

having given many yoga classes and attended just as many there are moments of frustration. my first ever frustration was as a teenager not being able to do the handstand until a teacher in a class in New York (15 years later) said because of my overflexed arms I could do it with a strap, which i then did. so there are the frustrations of the physical poses that you find is tough and the self-judgement that goes with it...until another teacher in India said only 5% of yoga is physical. that was an epiphany right there. and it is the one thing students focus on until i tell them there is more to yoga, there are many paths you can follow and the physical one is only one of them. the poses keep one toned and who wouldn't want that. but there is more to the pose when a specific breath is paired with it. it all starts and ends with the breath.

as the 40 approaches i am edging towards kundalini yoga- 90% of the class is manipulating breath for a specific intention. yes i intend to keep doing the crow just to see if i can do it at 80. with the majority of the day spent at work in front of the computer, yoga is simply catching yourself breathe funny and correct it. catching yourself slump and sitting upright is awareness. yoga is to get to know yourself and bring the best out in you.


learning to let go

seriously, letting go has been the one goal in my life that has haunted me everywhere i have gone. i had a rough time letting go of my father's death while living in Pakistan. then had a hard time leaving feelings of resentment for my brother's determination to overcome everything and how easy it appeared to be for him (i know better now). then letting go of silly feelings of being miserable with miserable children at therapy camp in Florida (good thing i went for therapy while giving therapy). letting go of bitterness and anger when i was kicked out of the US after 9-11 when employers said 'visa expires too bad'. letting go of mental lists of what i believed in was right for the first three years i lived in Turkey. i slept in my apartment on the ground until my aunt said 'time you bought a bed, you have been living here for three years'. it helps when people care and when folks tell you the truth. as i type this i see my journey....meeting Stu was the epitome of my let go-ing, lower walls, less exclamation marks in my conversation bubbles and more calmness. the journey has helped with yoga (almost three decades of it) and envisioning the kind of life i have wanted to live- a fabulous good adventurous life that is.

the one thing left to let go is the artery constriction in my brain when i see a circle of wetness on furniture from a sweating glass and dirty feet. Stu has captured it well right here.


northern territory cockatoos

i started early this weekend. i went to get my lymphatic system drained at a physiotherapist, biking against the breeze in an 8kg bike was not easy. Stu waited at the Cav having a cup of coffee while i was getting cupped across the street. the session made me pretty groggy but it all passed when Stu spotted two big cockatoos at dinah boat club. i had seen one at the wildlife course but never in the wild (Darwin is wild). here's a video of them and me having a small chat with them.


biking in darwin

and then again biking in darwin is stimulating as well! i cannot be unfair to beauty here.

melbourne stimulation

melbourne rocks. darwin is beautiful however it is time to face the facts...there is more happening in melbourne than darwin will ever see. i had been culturally starved a little bit i think. there is so much drinking based activities in darwin and not much else except movies. the sunrises, the magnificent views, the birds, the sounds of nature are unparallel to anything i have seen and that shall be missed if we move.

yet i have missed city life. my buddy Shaye and i went to the national galley of victoria, walked the streets of shopping haven, people watched at yummy places, went to a theatrical performance in east brunswick, listened to folky tunes in a random pub and ended up talking to the band's mom....it was great. at the agllery i was hypnotized with the pool of bowls  twirling around each other and creating the most beautiful tones. it felt like i was back in dharamsala and the monks had their singing bowls out. blew me away.

i want to go back now!


what being together means exactly

i really did not think i would get married but what changed in me was my mental construction of a partnership  as i got older. for the longest time,  possibly upto my early thirties i envisioned an amazing love that lasted forever and this dramatic falling in love story. back then i saw all this amazing-ness. in that picture there was no laundry to do, no bills to share, no sleepless nights after a stressful day. there was this continuous 'date' that never ended and what helped me deconstruct this unreal picture was relationships that did not work out. women and men need past relationships to make us healthier human beings.  yes broken hearts after healing makes us have healthier expectations and help us form dreams that do come true.

with Stu it has been a wild ride. it reminds me of my mom actually. she met my dad in Turkey, he was living in Pakistan. years of long distance courtship led to marriage and she packed up her things and moved to Pakistan. she reacted when i said i met Stu, thought this was the real thing and she was bewildered when i  said i would move to be with him. she had forgotten her own story. i  reminded her. karmas are linked and we copy those we love i think.

what i have learned in the past year and half is there has to be sacrifice to get what you want. not crazy sacrifice like sacrificing your sanity to be with an alcoholic who does not want to get better, but healthy sacrifice with the vision of growing together. to be emotionally intelligent is key to having a good relationship and also to know your own values. it is values that one lives with and it is values that dictates what you do and choose not to do. i am essentially living together with my values and Stu's. the love only grows and is fed by the same values.


bu dogum gunu biraz farkli

enisteniz dogum gunlerine cok onem vermiyormus. bence veriyor. almak istedigi, yapmak istedigi, yapmak istemedigi seylerin hepsi dogum ayim deyip istedigi gibi yasiyor. bizimki oyle. ben dogum gunumu kutlama delisi degilim ama hatirlanmasi guzel bir duygu veriyor. coktan beri konusmadigim, iste koptugum insanlar mesaj atiyor filan. iyi geliyor.
Stu'nun dogum ayi bu sene Merkur gerilemesine denk geldigi icin hediyesi Mart ortasi alinacak. bir bisiklet. birlikte gezelim diye ve gobeklerimizi eritmek icin. ya da onun gobegini eritmek icin bir yontem, bahanesi cok. aklim duruyor. bahane uretmek bir maarefet. tatli ama yaaa, bahanesiyle bile tatli. onunla birlikte calisan biri ona kek yapti eve kadar getirdi, pek begenmedi ilk tattiginda ama sonra gidip gelip yarisini yemis oldu. bu erkekler enteresan. yastik almaya gittik, hic birini begenmedi ama almak icin israr ettim. bu sabah yastiklar harika dedi.
bunu ogrendim: kendi inandigim seyi soylerim, tartismam. artik. evet evet kocam bana bunu ogretti. zaten fikrini degistirecek, degistirdigini kabul etmeyecek ondan rahatca izlemeye karar verdim. dogru olmak mi onemli, ic huzurumu korumak mi?
hayatinda babasi pek hediye almamis. ilk defa bisiklet projesi icin babasina hadi paylasalim bu hediyeyi dedim. babasinin dogum gunu Stununkinden iki gun once. dun aradik kendisini, babasi bisiklet plani konusunda heyecanliydi. ne zaman alacaksin sordu. dogum gununde soyleyecegim ama merkur gerilemede oldugu icin Mart ortasi aliriz dedim.
Stu da artik bu huylarimi kabul etmis durumda galiba.


yay! i have my first job in this continent!

my second week finished doing account receivables at Tiwi Islands Shire. i had always done account payables back in Turkey but here i am following debtor activity. well i guess not that different from what i did at the bank in Istanbul. different system, different routine, different people. i am liking it. it's subbing for a legendary gal who is out safari-ing in Africa for six weeks. the aussies take long vacations, that's the way it should be.
here at the office i noticed at the get go that there were no plants. i always have to have something living in my office space. i have had a turtle, fish and crawly plants in every professional environment i have been in. even in part time jobs. something about having a plant, or even a rock grounds me, makes me happy to have a companion while working.
in the absence of plants here is what two funny ladies presented to me last week.

i heard michelle and renee giggling and squawking at the back. they even came to rummage through stationery behind me but i was pretty surprised to see the installation. it was so elaborate too! they had given a 3D effect to it by sticking accordion like attachments to the bird, sun and pot so it was all juxtapositioned perfectly in front of each other. very unexpected.
i got what i wished for, flowers in my office space.


Top End Vixen's role in our life

we have had to take care of Vixen for 2 weeks now. another two weeks to go. it hasn't been the easiest since she has had to get used to two strange strangers- one a nutty brit kiwi in the Top End and me the multi-faceted paki-turk- american mutant. first we thought we could win her with pink lady apples and crunchy carrots. that idea lasted a week. then we figured she needed more riding and was very pleased when Sarah rode her. but Vixen continued to be irritable and agitated. even her jealous neighbour Polka would snap at her when she was walked out of the stall. Polka is as her name suggests dotted with black spots and funnily enough has white and blue specks in her eyes.
how does a horse show irritation? she refused to wear her bridle for one. all she wanted was her feed. i am in charge of the feed, it is like my morning oatmeal so i am pretty good at it. or so i would like to think. she would stomp and stomp and stomp until her head was buried in food. 
Vixen had ripped her fly jacket in her moments of boredom i theorize. we got it fixed by a thai lady in town. it was a great feeling putting the jacket on Vixen because she was so sweet and quiet during the entire event that i thought something is changing. or is it?
even Stu said i think this is a turning point. 
that fly jacket has calmed her considerably. amidst the peacocks, cockatoos and magpies, the flies probably have driven her up the wall. no fan or long tail to whack did it, the ninja fly jacket did.

waking up at 06.00 every morning was tough for the first few days. we pass out like 80 year olds at 10.00 pm from exhaustion. the diehard urban horse babysitters we are....now it is easier. Vixen has not just brought  early rising into our lives, we get to witness more beauty and quiet here in the Top End.