Geography, geology and icebergs

Sometimes a picture can tell you more in an instant than a piece of writing. With a background in geology and an interest in literature, anything combining the two is bound to catch my eye. The title of this piece by Nirwan Dewanto was enough. This Indonesian poet wrote about geography being a metaphor for the cultural space we move in, while geology is the underlying meanings connecting apparently separate things. Geography we see and live through, moving horizontally, while Click for more

Egyptian Girl

One of the few English language channels we have here is NHK World, the Japanese national broadcaster. It’s a good mix of documentaries, tourist features and news so it’s a popular choice when we can’t find anything on any other channel. This happens quite often… On this particular jump we hit a short musical program called Blends. Traditional Japanese instruments are used to play a western piece of music. There’s some information about the instrument, but it’s best to tune Click for more

Joy in Writing

For many years I have “suffered” from writer’s block. The inverted commas are to indicate that I don’t really believe such a thing exists. But writing was not happening. The impulse is to wonder why and here’s a list that may or may not explain it: Lack of confidence Perfectionism Bad time management Avoidance of hard work with a distant result Perceived lack of good ideas Social anxiety/fear of being seen Time spent reeling between terrorist attacks Awareness of climate Click for more

Lonely hamam

Very close to the stand of oak trees there’s a structure that has interested me for many years. Having only seen it as a blink and you’ll miss it structure from the highway I was delighted to go and see it up close. Beside a typical Turkish water fountain with a low trough to allow animals to drink, there are a few rough stone walls. Most interesting are the remains of a dome above some of the remaining walls. It Click for more

The Last of Christmas

Today is Little Christmas, or Oiche Nollaig na mBan, the Women’s Christmas. Though of course it’s more commonly known as the Feast of the Epiphany and the day the Orthodox churches celebrate Christ’s birth. In Ireland the idea was that today being the last day of Christmas, the women left the men to fend for themselves and took the day off. In our house it was the day the decorations came down and the tree, both tasks that required my Click for more

Sacred Oak Grove

If you spend long enough in Canakkale and are sufficiently observant, you may notice there’s quite a lot of oak trees around. Once you see them, you realise that there are several in little groups dotted around the landscape, apparently lost in a sea of wheat, or with goats grazing the stubby grass around them. There is a nice example in Troy as you move past the sanctuary toward the caves and see that there is a little grove of oak Click for more

Hope and Change

I grew up fed on a diet of Star Trek, both original and Next Generation, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. My science fiction was for the most part idealistic; as humans our ingenuity could solve all problems even the ones we created ourselves. I discovered Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy in university and again idealism won out; Mars was transformed, a multicultural society created and humanity even was freed from the limitations of heavy earth gravity. Things didn’t always Click for more

Away

  A few months ago I spent a week in Istanbul. The first few days were shrouded in mist and damp. Mealtimes were announced by the cries of hungry seagulls circling around the building, screaming for the bread thrown out the windows.   Though right in the centre of Istanbul, we were on an island. I could see Fatih Mosque and Suleymaniye and Beyazit Tower. I could look out into hidden parks, and wonder.       We escaped one Click for more

Against the Clock

Review of ‘Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü’ by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Dergah 1961 (17th Print 2012) This wonderful book tells the story of Hayri Irdal, a man adrift from the times he lives in. He begins as a successful member of the Time Regulation Institute, but very quickly we learn that it’s all gone wrong and he proceeds to tell his rambling story. He grew up in the shadow of a clock called Mubarek (blessed) though his father occasionally cursed it as Click for more

Get Real

It can be easy to assume that life exists in the screen these days. It’s where work comes from and friendships are kindled and continued, it’s where we go for entertainment and distraction and, especially relevant in Turkey, our source for news. As I write there are 3 screens in front of four people in this sitting room. (One now replaced by a tiny square of cardboard and 6 disks, providing a far more engaging game.) In order to pay Click for more